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Cube Jockey
There was an interresting article in the LA Times recently titled: On the Environment, the US is the Rouge Nation.

If you want to know just how far the United States has drifted from the global conversation on key environmental issues, consider a speech that was given this month and one that wasn't.

Michael Howard, leader of Britain's Conservative Party, attacked Prime Minister Tony Blair for his stance on global warming. Blair wasn't doing enough, Howard said. Carbon emissions weren't falling with sufficient speed; the Labor Party was too focused on wind-power development and ignoring the energy-producing potential of tidal, solar and biomass technology. "Promoting greener behavior need not hold back economic growth or restrict choice," the Tory chief said. "But the longer we delay action, the harder it will be to achieve the outcome."

The point is not that Blair is bad on the environment (he shot back with a speech of his own, pledging that the country would meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions 20% by 2010). The point is that it's more or less impossible to imagine any U.S. conservative leader rising to demand that Americans take tidal power more seriously, that we start spending some real cash on biomass.


As people hunkered down from Apalachicola to Grand Isle, one might have thought that it was a teachable moment. But that assumes our leaders take the problem seriously, and clearly they don't. Bush abrogated the Kyoto accord, an international global warming treaty, within weeks of taking office and since then has steadfastly ignored the issue. Though Blair's government has put forward plans to cut carbon emissions 50% by 2050, Vice President Dick Cheney's energy plan for this country foresees a 20% increase in our CO2 output over the next generation. Even strong environmentalists like John Kerry are a little cowed he's barely mentioned his green credentials in the campaign, almost certainly for fear of being perceived as too liberal.

Also, there was a poll conducted by Mother Jones recently that noted only 3% of people actually consider the environment to be an important issue. Most don't even consider it a secondary concern.

The Iroquois had a principle they held dear - every public decision should take into account its potential effect on the next seven generations. Our politicians seem to not think past the next quarter.

Questions for debate:
1. Why has the United States started lagging behind the rest of the world as far as environmental concerns go when we lead the way for almost a century?

2. Why does an environmental agenda make you "liberal" in America when you have "conservative" politicians in European countries pushing for environmental changes?

3. Would you say the statement, "In general the American people don't care about the environment" is accurate? Why or why not?
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