Friday, August 12, 2005

Bush v. Tree

For the past four years or so, I’ve heard repeated messages from the left, that President Bush hates the ecosystem. “He refused to sign onto the Kyoto Accord, didn’t he?” is their strongest evidence. Of course, there is also the drilling of .004 percent of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil, destroying vast centimeters of “untouched” wilderness in order to slake the thirst for oil that Bush and his minions have shown. Like President Ronald Reagan, like all neo-cons in the corporate entity that has taken over the country, the man is obviously an embarrassment to other primates: he’s a thoughtless, tree-hating brute.

Yes, signing the Kyoto Accord would have saved our planet, wouldn’t it? Exempting China and India from clean-environment codes wouldn’t affect the planet - - after all, they’re only just developing nations, with not much better than 23% of the world’s population between them. Their dirty coal- and manure-burning factories would have no impact on the planet’s ecosystem, and their economies could be adversely affected by any expectations that they build their new factories to operate cleanly. And, of course, the President showed himself to have no understanding at all of global warming, when he rejected the same pact that Congress voted against unanimously and President Clinton said he would reject if it reached his desk. The facts don’t matter. Bush hates trees.

But, now, he’s ruining his reputation. The Bush administration has joined with the leaders of China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Australia, to work out an exchange of environmentally friendly technologies, in the hopes that our six nations -- who comprise approximately half of the population, productivity, and consumption of goods for the world -- will work together to reduce greenhouse gases, among other goals. This agreement, the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, has no penalties for not abiding by it (except that you still have to remember the pact’s working title, or its appalling acronym, APPoCDaC). Mostly, it opens up new possibilities for safe, clean trade. It seems to me, B.F. Skinner once demonstrated that the proverbial carrot prompted swifter, more effective behavioral changes than did the stick. If a reward of increased trade and greater political trust is provided each country for its abiding by this agreement, it’s likelier that they will want to continue the trend without resentment or fear. Nobody ends up hating anybody. At least not over the trees.

One small concern from Australia, Japan, and the US is that we will suffer from an initial economic downturn, as the trade lines equalize. This is, in essence, an open trade agreement with ecologically-minded strings. There may be the chance of a slight recession. So, do our informed electorate have the fortitude to opt for long-term improvements in international relations against the short-term job market, or will we vote out the folks who support the new pact? Here is where the Left gets to put its money where its mouth is: if we abide by the agreement, and work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, is it worth it to lose a few more factory jobs to China and India? Or will the crumbling labor unions and the “I-hate-conservatives-and-everything-they-stand-for” brigade still have more sway, within the Democratic party, than the genuine tree-huggers?

When you add this new agreement to the Energy Bill just passed in our nation’s capital, plus the measures the President has pushed for, involving the restrictions on industrial mercury emissions (the Clean Air Mercury Rule), his Clear Skies Initiative, the Clean Air Diesel Rule, Clean Air Interstate Rule, an increase in funding to the Environmental Protection Agency which gives it some (small) teeth, the Healthy Reforestation Act of 2003 (which Congress drafted after his Healthy Forest Initiative), and at least a half-dozen other projects and initiatives he’s sponsored in one manner or another, you have a pretty solid footing for defense against those who accuse President Bush of being careless of our trees.

Don’t get those hackles up, put those hacksaws down. This is not the Texan’s Chainsaw Massacre. Since Bush has introduced some of his tax initiatives for private land developers -- and other programs -- this country has seen an increase in fertile and renewed wilderness lands (you can’t blame the President for the heat wave and drought in Illinois. That’s the fault of Cubs’ management and their mad contract with the devil’s goatherd), and air quality even in the cities has begun to show signs of substantial improvement. Plus, with our joint signing of the new pact, the greenery and the cleanery are expanding to those developing nations, as well.

So, if by chance, you’re a tree-hugger in a panic, if you’re looking for somebody to help you save a tree (or two or three), look no farther than the nearest Gee Dubya Bush. The opposition ought to be green with envy. He’s branched out nicely.


Recommended reading: The African American Environmentalist Association's President Bush: Innovative Environmentalist

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