Bad News October 31, 2002


Popular wisdom has it that you should never make decisions while angry. Especially important decisions. Well, we're of the belief that voting is one decision that should be made while enraged, especially in light of the shameful state of environmental activity in U.S. politics.

To help stoke the fire in your collective belly, we've carefully excised the Good News section of this week's column, which wasn't all that long to begin with. So enjoy your Bad News, and get out and vote on Tuesday!

Bad News

After the ineffectual disaster of August's World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, lots of folks looked with bright, shiny eyes toward India's much-ballyhooed follow-up climate change conference this week in New Dehli. What started out badly when the Indian gov't omitted any mention of Kyoto as a "courtesy" to the Bush Administration quickly got much worse as the host country refused to take steps to limit its own greenhouse gases.

As expected, Bush's promise to "overhaul" the Clean Air Act is going to raise air pollution from refineries and factories. Someone should pass a "Bush Legislation Decoder" law, which would reverse the meaning of any cleverly-titled bills he comes up with or "improves." You know, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, USA PATRIOT Act, Compassionate Conservatism, etc. etc.

More Bush goodies: his proposal to drill in wilderness areas of the Rocky Mountains will provide only a few weeks worth of energy. Like the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Do you think it's possible that he actually gets off on destroying pristine nature? All signs point to yes...

And the Bush hits keep on coming: When two parties that are on the same side of an argument end up in court opposite each other, is that a fair fight? A settlement by the U.S. gov't in a lawsuit brought by Bush's friends in the timber industry has "forced" the Forest Service to stop surveying for endangered species before logging in Pacific Northwest forests. Surely the negotiations for that settlement were hard-fought, including much arm-twisting, and possibly some yelling.

Similarly, a federal wildlife biologist has asked for whistleblower protection after revealing that political pressure from the White House violated the Endangered Species act in favor of agricultural interests in the Klamath Basin, and killed tens of thousands of endangered coho salmon.

Enough bad news from the government. How about some GM food bad news? There's always plenty of that. The U.N.'s World Food Program(me) announced this week that it, too, adheres to the belief that GM foods are the same as non-GM foods, especially when it comes to GM food shipments for famine relief. This despite the fact that Zambia made its "final decision" concerning GM food shipments. (That decision was "no," by the way...)

This week, the biotech industry began hyping a ban on some biotech crops, put in place by biotech companies, supported and endorsed by biotech companies. Similar to whenever Bush wants to "overhaul" a piece of enviro legislation, as soon as an industry begins touting a "voluntary" program to regulate itself, we get a little jittery.

And this story just sucks eggs, no two ways about it: Monsanto announced this week that it was not going to produce biotech grass for golf courses and lawns. Who knew Monsanto was considering it in the first place? Not only are golf courses already horrendously wasteful and destructive, now Monsanto wants to soak them in Roundup? Rage ... building. Urge to destroy ... increasing ...

There's certainly no shortage of alarming statistics about global warming these days. Regardless, Greenpeace announced that New York and Shanghai will be submerged sometime this century without some serious action on global warming. Ho hum, nothing to see here...

Meanwhile, climate-destroying countries are trying great new tactics for maintaining their wasteful excesses. After it was announced that Europe's cod-fishing areas have essentially been fished dry, the EU made a deal with Mozambique to deplete its seas of fish for three years, presumably while the North Sea repopulates.

Oh yeah, and Australia is facing a serious drought, so clever Australian cattle farmers have decided to send their cows to destroy some Malaysian turf until it blows over.

And the hits keep coming: A team of scientists discovered oil in the sea bed off the coast of Massachusetts from an oil spill thirty years ago, leading them to believe that oil spills pollute, oh, pretty much forever.

Meanwhile, the owner of the Belgian tanker that may have suffered a terrorist attack on Oct. 6 has refused to pay for cleanup because "it's not our fault." This is why we never trust industry to do anything civic-minded, EVER.

One last little thing: Apparently, fuel efficiency is getting steadily worse.

Thanks for your time. When you go to vote on Tuesday, vote wisely, and vote angry. Here are some links to enviro-friendly organizations with campaign endorsements: U.S. Green Party, The League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, and Friends of the Earth

Matt Wheeland is a torch-bearing, pitchfork-wielding, angry-mob-forming AlterNet Fellow.

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