The world is angry at George W. Bush. Iraq and climate issues are the main grievances, it seems. But US foreign policy in general, and US refusal to be a part of the climate change party, insisting on standing alone, in a sense, against the world, are the underlying issues. The Iraq war, has, in my mind been a sad affair. Necessary, same may say. Others, of course, say immoral and unethical. But whatever stance is taken on its rightness or wrongness, it has been another sad chapter in that nation’s recent history. Thousands have been killed, both Iraqis and foreigners. Thousands, no millions, have been displaced from their homes and country. Cities and towns have been wrecked. Billions of dollars have been spent. But how much progress toward peace and stability in the region has been made?
Climate change is a confusing and scary issue. Daily the press prints stories of impending doom from the prophets of our age, the climate change scientists. Doomsayers have always been popular. There seems to be something in our human consciousness which is drawn to predictions of catastrophe. Al Gore has capitalised on the whole thing, making his millions our of his modestly named, “inconvenient truth.” The Nobel Institute has got in on the act with its awarding of the Peace Prize this year to the IPCC (and Al), for their efforts in alerting the world to this disaster in the making, thus elevating the science and its prophet to the level of serious, international respectability.
Meanwhile, poor old George has become the scapegoat of the Western world. Up until last week, John Howard, the now deposed leader of the Australian people, was also seen as a scapegoat. But that is history now. The US stands alone. The new Australian prime minister has promised to get Australia out of Iraq. He has promised to ratify the Kyoto treaty. Australia, to the relief of many in Australia and abroad, seems to be finally coming in line with the enlightened ones, while George and the USA stands alone as the thorn in the flesh of the West.
An article from Reuters today highlights the drop in US carbon emissions (1.5% in 2006) recently. But this is clearly no cause for rejoicing. The credit for this drop is given to climate variation (a cool summer and a warm winter) and to the rise in fuel prices. Not to any intentional action on the part of the USA to respond intelligently to the problem. The credit goes to other things. George remains a problem. Read this statement from Reuters, for example:
The United States, which since the beginning of the oil age has emitted more of the gases than any other country, does not regulate the gases scientists say could spark an increase in deadly storms, droughts and floods. Bush pulled the country out of the Kyoto pact, saying it would hurt the economy and unfairly leave rapidly developing countries without limits.
Instead, Bush set a goal in 2002 of cutting greenhouse gas intensity 18 percent by 2012. The intensity fell last year by 4.2 percent, or more than double the average 2 percent decline since 1990, and has fallen about 10 percent from 2002 to 2006, the EIA said.
There seems to be a contradiction in there somehow. First the writer says that the USA does not regulate greenhouse gases. Then he says that Bush has set goals of reducing greenhouse gas intensity. Which suggests to me that the USA does mean business when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Bush just doesn’t believe in the Kyoto Protocol, the creed of the climate change movement.
Anyway, Bush’s days are numbered. He will soon be just history as Howard is. I assume the next US government will ratify Kyoto, as Mr Rudd will in Australia. I assume the next US government will pull the US out of Iraq, as Mr Rudd says he will Australia.
The problem is, who will we have to blame then? Iraq will not be fixed. Greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise. And in only five years Kyoto will have expired, having made very little difference (which of course is the USA’s fault) with the world still on track to catastrophe. Al Gore has refused to stand as president. He knows it is much easier to make a (very profitable) living on climate change prophecy than by leading a country. Perhaps the next UN secretary general should be a scientist, since science is the Western world’s new religion, the source, it would seem, of ultimate truth.