Studying the climate

December 2nd, 2002 § One comment § permalink

Another article from the New York Times describing the Bush administration’s plan to study global warming for another 10 years before doing anything about it, then explaining the likely consequences of this plan:

Under what is considered a best-case model, global annual emissions of carbon dioxide will have to start declining by 2020 to stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million. Even at that level, there would probably be substantial losses…including a global die-off of coral reefs.

Societies have probably already missed that turning point, scientists say, and the longer societies wait to act, the higher the eventual greenhouse plateau and the greater the consequences.

If emissions do not start declining until 2033, carbon dioxide concentrations will plateau at 550 parts per million—more than double preindustrial concentrations. That level raises the likelihood of more calamitous consequences, including intensified storm and drought cycles, wider extinction of species and perhaps the eventual freeing of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which could raise sea levels a century or two from now 15 feet or more, inundating coasts where most human settlements are concentrated.

More federally-mandated morality

November 17th, 2002 § Three comments § permalink

In yet another fine example of “compassionate conservatism,” the Bush administration has begun to appoint critics of condoms to an AIDS advisory panel. It’s all part of the Bush administration’s efforts to promote abstinence instead of responsible, effective sex education programs.

Christ on a clutch

November 8th, 2002 § One comment § permalink

A coalition of evangelical Christians is trying to convince thousands of churchgoing Americans that Jesus wants them to get better mileage. The campaign presents transportation choices as an ethical issue, encouraging Christians to consider the environmental consequences of their SUVs.

Meanwhile, under President Bush–whose favorite philosopher, as you may recall, is Jesus–the Environmental Protection Agency is forcing fewer polluters to pay fines, and collecting less money in fines overall.

Tiptoing to defeat

November 7th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert does a much better job than I did of summarizing this week’s election: “Republicans didn’t win control of the Senate on Tuesday. The clueless Democrats lost it.

Post-election thoughts

November 6th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

I don’t have much to say about yesterday’s election, except that the Democratic Party got what it deserved.

No, that’s too harsh. Better to say that it reaped what it sowed; after a year of letting Bush have his way with the country, Democratic politicians have compromised their way into irrelevance.

Was that less harsh? Probably not.

Adapting to catastrophe

October 24th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Diplomats are meeting right now in New Delhi to discuss global warming. They’re not talking about how to prevent it from happening; they’re talking about how to adjust to its effects. And an anonymous United States negotiator is pleased: “‘We’re welcoming a focus on more of a balance on adaptation versus mitigation,’ said a senior American negotiator in New Delhi. ‘You don’t have enough money to do everything.’”

Okay, let’s look at some of the predicted effects of global warming that we’ll have to “adapt” to. For starters, there’s the likelihood that harvests of wheat, rice, and corn will drop up to 30 percent. If starvation doesn’t worry you, perhaps property damage does. In addition to deforestation and mosquito infestations, Alaska has already suffered enormous property losses caused by the thawing of permafrost; houses in Fairbanks must be supported on jacks, and engineers worry that the Trans-Alaska Pipeline may become unstable.

As for the claim that mitigation is too expensive, I would note that in the United States, companies nearly always complain about costs when they’re told to implement new regulations. It does not appear that American capitalism has collapsed as a result. (If that’s too flip for you, I’ll offer an example: Would it really bankrupt American car companies if they were forced to improve the abysmal fuel economy of sports utility vehicles?)

My hope is that it’s not too late to prevent massive, worldwide disaster. Just in case, though, I’m stocking up on shorts, T-shirts, and plenty of Soylent Green.

Making the world safe for plutocracy

October 20th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

In today’s New York Times Magazine, Paul Krugman weighs in with an insightful article about America’s growing gap between the rich and the poor. Krugman makes a convincing argument that the country has entered another Gilded Age. For example, in 1998, according to Krugman, “the 13,000 richest families in America had almost as much income as the 20 million poorest households; those 13,000 families had incomes 300 times that of average families.”

Incidentally, you can use “pinchydotorg” as the login and password for the New York Times Web site.

Why I am not a diplomat

October 19th, 2002 § Two comments § permalink

The United Nations would probably be more popular if it portrayed itself as a bunch of lovable screw-ups who always save the day at the last minute. You know, kind of like the cops from Car 54, Where Are You? The U.N. could even adapt the show’s theme song:

There’s a tyrant in Iraq
North Korea’s got the bomb
Hamid Karzai sees resurgences of radical Islam
Dubya’s theories are unsound
Cheney’s hiding underground
Kofi Annan, where are you?

Global politics roundup

October 17th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Okay, let me see if I have this straight:

North Korea, one of the countries on President Bush’s “axis of evil,” has admitted that it’s developing nuclear weapons. It may already have them. At least one American official has been told that they “have more powerful things as well,” which I suppose would be chemical or biological weapons, or some sort of enormous death ray, although that seems less likely.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to prepare for an invasion of Iraq, based on a presumption that it might be trying to develop nuclear weapons and could still have stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. The United Nations is still not particularly interested in backing the U.S.; nonetheless, Bush, a self-described “patient man,” says that he may only be able to wait for a few weeks before invading Iraq, in defiance of international law.

So, um, that means we have to invade and occupy North Korea too, right? Are we toppling regimes alphabetically by country, or should we just invade every continent all at once?


September 18th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

The scientific advisory committees that assist the United States government don’t always agree with President Bush’s views. In response, the Bush administration is packing the committees with members who support Bush.

This seems like an opportune moment to mention a quotation from that radical leftist Dwight Eisenhower: “May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.”

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