Monday, April 02, 2007

Global Warming, Bush And The Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court has issued a sharp rebuke to George Bush on automobile emmissions, telling him that the EPA has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that spur global warming and writing, in a 5-4 judgement, that the Environmental Protection Agency "has offered no reasoned explanation" for its refusal to regulate carbon dioxide and other emissions from new cars and trucks that contribute to climate change.
The ruling in one of the most important environmental cases to reach the Supreme Court marked the first high court decision in a case involving global warming.

President George W. Bush has opposed mandatory controls on greenhouse gases as harmful to the U.S. economy, and the administration has called for voluntary programs instead of regulation. The states and environmental groups that brought the lawsuit hailed the ruling.

"As a result of today's landmark ruling, EPA can no longer hide behind the fiction that it lacks any regulatory authority to address the problem of global warming," Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said.

"Today the nation's highest court has set the White House straight. Carbon dioxide is an air pollutant, and the Clean Air Act gives EPA the power to start cutting the pollution from new vehicles that is wreaking havoc with our climate," said David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
I can give the Supremes an explanation for Dubya's actions. The short-term thinking of an asset stripper. Asset strippers don't have to care about the state they leave their aquisitions in one they are finished getting every last dollar they can liquidate out of them. They don't have to care about the people who work for the companies they take over. They only have to care about their own shareholders. The company that is being stripped to line the pockets of Dubya and his backers is USA Inc. and the assets involved belong to all of us.

The short term thinking of BushCo and their corporate backers, who have worked assiduously to deny man-made global warming in an attempt to suck just a bit more money out of the current system before pressure to change that system grows too great, is about to become obvious. We may not be able to halt global warming, but if we take action we can reduce its effects. And those effects are going to do more damage to the world's economy and to USA Inc. than any number of emmissions regulations ever could.

On April 6th, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of 2,500 experts will release its report outlining regional impacts of warming. Reuters says it isn't going to be happy-joy-joy reading.
a draft seen by Reuters projects heatwaves, droughts and floods that could cause more hunger for millions of people, mainly in Asia and Africa, and water shortages for up to 3.2 billion.

It also says, however, that world farms could gain from up to a 3 Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) rise in temperatures because of better crop growth at higher latitudes.

And less cold towards the poles could also mean fewer deaths in winter, lower heating bills and more tourism -- aiding nations from Scandinavia to New Zealand.

..."With a temperature rise of perhaps 2-3 Celsius (3.6-5.4 Fahrenheit) you would see benefits for the whole temperate zone," said Richard Tol of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin.

"But if you approach it from an ethical perspective -- that your emissions will affect people in Bangladesh -- then clearly you have to think again," he said.

In Europe, he reckoned places north of about Bordeaux in France could benefit. Portland, Oregon, in the United States and Vladivostok in Russia are roughly on the same latitude.

Among regional losers, the draft report says Himalayan glaciers could shrink on current trends to 100,000 square kilometres by 2030 from 500,000 square km now. Glaciers regulate river levels and link to irrigation for hundreds of millions of people in Asia.

Low-lying small island states, such as Tuvalu in the Pacific or the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, fear they could disappear below the waves as seas rise. Millions of people from China to Florida live in low-lying coastal areas.
But even benefits for the rich North at the expense of poorer nations closer to the equator will only last a couple of decades.
many dry regions -- such as the Mediterranean basin, the Western United States, southern Africa and northeastern Brazil -- "will suffer a decrease of water resources due to climate change".
Say goodbye to San Antonio, the US's ninth largest city, for a start. Down here, the pressure of population growth is already outstripping the capacity of water sources - and once those all-important aquifers are gone they are gone for good. Most of the SouthWest is in the same position.
"It's a very dangerous avenue to say there are benefits from climate change," said Anders Portin, senior vice president of the Finnish Forestry Industry Federation. He said that paper producers would "certainly not" be net beneficiaries.

Pine forests might grow better but insects, normally killed in winter, could thrive. Heavy transport machines are already getting bogged down on normally icy forest tracks as spring arrived early, and storms in Scandinavia in recent years toppled record amounts of timber.
Moreover, while Canada and Russia may get better growing conditions further North, the sub-artic soils couldn't support agriculture to the same extent as regions that will become arid in any case. Not to mention the effect global warming might have on the oceans, an important food source for billions. We may all be reduced to eating jellyfish.

That's the worst case scenario, and we all hope and pray that it never comes to pass. But let's make one thing clear - every day that goes by with the BushCo asset strippers in charge, helping their corporate sponors keep paying dividends to shareholders (and no other economic measure matters a damn in their view) is a day's delay in heading off that worst case.

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