While the Bush government has been busy fighting the "war on terror," Mother Nature has been preparing a wake-up call for it. While Bush has been busy filling government with corporate hacks who oppose the Kyoto Protocols, who poopoo global warming every chance they get, who rewrite and edit science reports written by real scientists, and who ignore the realities of the natural world, the natural world has been preparing to fight back. While Bush has waged his failed war for world oil dominance in Iraq, Katrina and Rita are undeniable real life warnings to this blind, deaf and dumb government.
How ironic is it that it will not be al-Queda that strikes at the heart of America's bankrupt, and bankrupting, gang of thieves we call our leaders, but rather that Mother Nature spanks them for their lying ways? What does it mean that the conciousness of Gaia is striking at the heart of the oil industry in this country?
Ross Gelspan writes:
The Hurricane Katrina disaster is also a curtain-raiser for the largest-ever challenge to public planning: the consequences of global warming. If the present complacency continues, we will see more ﬂooding, more breakdown of democratic civil order, more loss of human life and dignity, and more vivid divisions between rich and poor.
His conclusion is bleak:
...the president appointed as our new ambassador to the United Nations one John Bolton, a diplomat who has been consistently antagonistic to much of the UN's body's work. Because a more aggressive UN-sponsored Kyoto Protocol does not ﬁt the president's preconceived agenda, his strategy boils down to sabotaging the authority of the United Nations in the area of climate change. To the president, this sounds like a plan. To the rest of us, it seems a fast track to climate hell.
In 2000, while Al Gore was declaring that confronting climate change should be the "central organizing principle" of human action, Bush Oil Inc. was preparing to undermine and dissipate that principle into oblivion. Bush won. The world lost.
Bill McKibben is more optimistic, but not by much:
Now the National Association of Evangelicals has said that it will lobby Congress about global warming. The hope that it, or anyone else, will go deeper and use climate change as one wedge for a broader, left-right cultural critique of our consumer culture is for the moment just a tantalizing possibility. But given the numbers -- that 70 percent to 80 percent reduction -- it's the kind of movement we need.
There's no guarantee such a force will ever emerge; you can make a decent argument that our hyper-individualism is terminal, and that the chaos that will start to break out as the world's climate comes unhinged will only make it worse. But you could also make a decent argument that this issue is one of the doors into a new and more interesting politics.
A politics that is about living the good life instead of acquiring more things. A politics that is about guaranteeing one another medical care and retirement security and a planet to inhabit. Those tasks all seem beyond the every-man-for-himself ethos of post-Reagan America; they rely on some emergent solidarity. Exactly how it will emerge and who will embody it are not yet clear, but physics and chemistry seem to require it.
Rep. Henry Waxman, perhaps our most persistent government watchdog, "sent a letter to the EPA Administrator today expressing grave concerns about EPA's draft legislation that would allow the agency to waive any provision of the Clean Air Act -- including limits on toxic emissions and the health-based air quality standards -- without any notice or public comment whenever the Administrator chooses to declare an emergency." Read the letter here.
So, as we contemplate the Bush learning curve on global warming, we have further evidence that it may just be a flat line. As we try to be hopeful that some light will shine on Bush's protruding Cro-Magnon brow and on his knuckle-dragging government, it's difficult not to conclude that they probably do not have the capacity to learn from their mistakes.