Friday, July 08, 2005

The Aesthetics of Rhetoric

Despite a recent "Sense of the Senate Resolution" acknowledging a causal link between human activity (increased greenhouse gases) and global warming (i.e. "climate change"), and despite finally publicly acknowledging the reality of said warming, the US still refuses to formally agree to pass legislation or enforce regulations requiring businesses and citizens to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Of course.

At G-8 this past week, Bush himself was heard to say,
"Listen, I recognize that the surface of the Earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem."
Whoa! What's that? The Bush Administration is finally, after years of trumping out global warming skeptics like MIT Professor Richard Lindzen, acknowledging a causal relationship (not just a correlation!) between human activity and climate change? But they're still not going to take formal regulatory or legislative steps to address it? Not surprising. The Sense of the Senate Resolution acknowledging the causal link and the need for mandatory caps on emissions came shortly after the Senate voted down the McCain/Lieberman co-sponsored Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. It's a big step from acknowledgement to action, particularly when there's so much at stake politically and economically -- and socially.

Strangely, it's much easier to "justify" a war -- to fix intelligence and "facts" around a policy that benefits . . . who, again? With war, the status quo remains remarkably untouched and unaffected. When it comes to global warming, however, we must rethink an entire economic system, and begin to radically restructure the ways in which we do business. This takes massive amounts of creativity, effort, and possibly even sacrifice (gasp!). War isn't nearly as frightening as this -- in fact, in this case, it seems to be classic avoidance behavior. Do you enjoy irony? How's this -- we're fighting to make the world "free" for a way of life (read: a way of doing business) that is destroying the world. Remember when Bush encouraged us all to fight the terrorists by going shopping, rather than by taking steps to reduce energy consumption and dependence on "foreign oil"? Remember back in 2002 when members of Congress held aloft pictures of shiny new SUVs and waxed eloquent about the American "right to drive" whatever we want to drive, and went on to defeat a proposal to increase fuel economy standards for cars, light trucks, minivans, and SUVs? Let the market decide! The Invisible Hand will guide us to greener pastures (here I'm reminded of such pseudoscience as that funded by fossil fuel interests and the Greening Earth Society, the folks who claim that increased levels of greenhouse gases are good because CO2 makes the plants grow up to be big and green and strong).

In a Nova/Frontline investigative report on global warming (2000), a "regular citizen" had the following to say about the matter of our heating planet, "It's a question we need to answer, but do we need to pay for it?"


Meanwhile, as a sidenote, Wikipedia has a very thorough entry on Global Warming, with lots of chartsengrafs.