Good News/Bad News December 5, 2002

Semi-Good News

These first few items are kind of good news, but also kind of not. So they get their own category. Keep 'em apart from the real Good News. To avoid spoilage and all...

Sure, Arctic ice will be gone within the century, and that means some serious flooding, the loss of Tuvalu, and some petulant polar bears, but at least the shipping industry will prosper greatly!

British Petroleum announced this week that they were no longer going to donate money to a lobbying group that intends to open up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Sounds good, right? Well, their little caveat was that if the ANWR does open up to oil drilling, they'll be right there with Shell and Chevron and Exxon to get their share.

Talk about something we should have had a long time ago: Some European and North American countries are hammering out a pact to publicize what toxins are released into the environment and by whom. The hope is apparently that this sort of "name and shame" tactic will provoke some enviro-friendliness from the main offenders.

Regular Good News

It was a good week for grocery shopping, as Trader Joe's, the rapidly expanding chain of grocery stores, announced that they are finally phasing out GMOs from their in-house label of foods.

In other food-shopping news, Whole Foods has converted one of its Los Angeles stores to solar energy. That's their second store this year switched over to solar, the first one being in good old Berkeley, Calif. Now if only we could afford to shop there...

For better or worse, (and mostly for better) the E.U. has voted to label GM foods. The good side is that the labeling requirements are highly stringent, and will hopefully show food companies that people don't want GM foods, but the bad side is that now these GM producers have a gigantic new market in which to sell their dastardly products.

The Bush Administration took a few on the chin in the nation's courts this week, as a Federal judge ruled that Vice President Cheney must release his energy task force documents by Dec. 9 or face even more legal hassles.

Next, four enviro groups sued Bush Administration for raising the allowance of snowmobiles in two National Parks. The groups say they're tired of Bush "jerking [them] around." Aren't we all, and amen to that!

Hooray for even more Bush-spurning news! For the second time in as many years, a federal appeals court denied the Bush Administration the right to drill for oil and gas off California's coast.

Oh, the momentousness! Canada's government has announced it will vote on the Kyoto Protocol as early as next week! This is crucial, because if Canada approves it, the treaty will have the numbers required to go into effect once Russia signs on next year. Although it's increasingly distressing how much Bush is isolating the U.S. from world opinion, our only hope is that it will turn out to be his undoing.

Bad News

We blame the fact that we were on vacation that we didn't cover this earlier. But we saw it coming, does that count? Bush decided to loosen Clean Air Act regulations so that polluting power plants will be more "flexible" on being able to implement cleaner technology. The only ones that need to be flexible here are We the People, as we're now required to bend over and get screwed. Grr!

The next swing of his presidential hatchet was aimed at easing forest management rules. Bush claims that by not having to file those pesky environmental impact studies, the forests will be preserved quicker and easier. He calls the current state of forest management "analysis paralysis." Clever, that. Sound-bite politics work so well to distract people from thinking about the issues at hand...

But wait, speaking of analysis paralysis, Bush made some slow rumbling noises this week suggesting that he may start beginning to plan to think about re-evaluating his stance on climate change. He says that more study is needed on the issue, but that future findings may convince him of the necessity to take some action. Conveniently enough, these studies will be finished in five years, just before (or, God and the American voting public willing, long after) he leaves the White House.

And with all these great, revelatory changes proposed by Bush, James Jeffords, the lone Independent Senator, claims that Bush is moving the environment backwards. Well, duh! But we suppose it's a good sign that at least someone is questioning Bush's REIGN OF ECO-TERROR...

So aren't GM crops great? Yeah, they're super-great. Ultra-Terrific, even. They can poison animals not only through the original plants, but through everything they contaminate with their drifting pollen.

Kudos to that! And now the doors have been thrown wide open to plant pharmacrops throughout the Midwest! We'll all be eating Prozacorn™ from now on...

So let's see: the forests are going to get chopped down, our crops are going to have (legal) drugs in them, and let's not even think about our oil dependency. And the air took one hit this week, but it's still not bad enough. Fortunately, the National Research Council this week urged the Feds to incinerate 31,000 tons of nerve gas and blistering agents by 2007. Incinerators, mind you, are incredibly bad. Can it get any bleaker than that? It's hard to imagine, but we're cynical enough to believe it's possible.

Oh yeah, say hello to some dark days in Alaska. The Senator most in favor of drilling in ANWR is now the Governor of Alaska. Also, he is "looking forward" to working with the Republican government. We can just imagine him rubbing his hands together grinchily as he says this...

That's all for this week. Keep your chins up and your eyes open and maybe we'll pull through this REIGN OF ECO-TERROR intact.

Matt Wheeland is an AlterNet Fellow, but you can just call him "Fella."

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