Bush does speak for us -- REALLY
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Addendum (04/08/01): A bit more to the story
This is an excellent article. When reading it I'm reminded that in
our arrogant irresponsible stupidity we have embraced the high-
tech "revolution", the dotcom goldrush and the information society
with near total disregard for the negative effects -- increasingly
unaffordable housing, increased energy consumption and
dislocation of energy production, sprawl, gentrification, gridlock,
eviction, ruin of local economies, production of REAL goods in
sweatshop conditions somewhere else... I think about how many
of us have replaced economy cars with SUVs, moved from 1,200
sq. ft. homes to 4-5,000+ sq. ft. McMansions, use all the latest
high-tech this and that because we "need" them or promote their
use because we might make a buck even though their real value to
society is negligible or negative. When we travel, buy, care, worry
and want, it would be good to begin thinking about how our actions
(or non-actions) reinforce exactly what Bush is doing. There is, of
course, much more to the story and here is a small beginning.
Published on Friday, April 6, 2001 in the Boston Globe
Who's to Blame on Global Issues?
by Derrick Z. Jackson
IT IS NO secret why President Bush is tightening his colonial grip
on Earth's environment. He is doing it for us, the ugly Americans
who must confess that we enjoy this modern imperialism, our
sovereign right to suck the planet dry.
Except for some howling environmentalists, there still is no major
sign that the average American is seriously offended by Bush's
rampage of environmental reversals.
The most flagrant have been his abandonment of his campaign
promises and the Kyoto accords to curb the industrial carbon
dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. This week
USA Today reported that Bush is preparing a blueprint to open up
millions of acres of federally protected lands for oil and gas drilling.
These lands are currently for scenic or wildlife protection purposes.
Bush does not care one whit that he has become a lightning rod of
protest from world leaders, ranging from the European Union to the
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is warning that global warming
could be ''catastrophic.'' France's minister for the environment,
Dominique Voynet, said that Bush's actions are ''completely
provocative and irresponsible.'' German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder said, ''Nobody should be relieved from his responsibility
for climate control.''
How the tables have turned on these former imperialists. The
British once said the sun never set on their empire. Now it is
America that boasts that Sunoco will never set.
The environment has become the issue that most nakedly fixes the
arrogance of the United States toward the rest of the world, an
arrogance not seen since Vietnam. Our notion of globalism is a
one-way street. Our corporations exploit the cheapest of labor for
our clothes. Our oil companies foul the marshlands of the poorest
of people for our gasoline. Our cigarette companies dump cancer
on the least healthy, and our trash food and soda companies
addict the most malnourished to our sugar, for what? The sake of
But when it comes to the fact that our 4 percent of the world's
population belches out 25 percent of the industrial greenhouse
gases into Earth's atmosphere, we invoke the Global Rule. ''Them
that gots the globe make the rules.'' You would expect nothing less
in a nation where indulgence is now an imperative.
The proof is in the polls. A new Time/CNN poll found that 75
percent of Americans considered global warming a very serious or
fairly serious problem. Last year a Gallup Poll found that 67
percent of Americans said that the environment should be given a
higher priority than economic development.
All that goes up the exhaust pipe when decisions get personal.
Now that gasoline prices are up and Californians are being held
hostage by the power companies and their suppliers, a
Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll found that 46 percent of Americans
favor relaxing environmental standards to build more power plants,
compared with 39 percent that do not.
In the Time/CNN poll only 48 percent of Americans said that they
would be willing to pay 25 cents more for a gallon of gasoline.
Earth Day is now officially marked on many calendars, but in
America, the percentage of Americans who consider themselves
''environmentalists'' has plummeted from 78 percent in a 1991
Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll to 50 percent in 1999.
So Bush did speak for us when he said, ''In terms of the CO2 issue
... we will not do anything that harms our economy. Because, first
things first, are the people who live in America.'' Translated, Bush
said, ''We will not do anything that restricts our right to drive SUVs
that get 12 miles a gallon in the city.''
Bush did speak for us when he said he wanted more ''energy
supply so that businesses can grow and people can heat their
homes. We've got a shortage of energy in America.'' Translated,
Bush said, ''I'm interested in getting more energy supply so that we
can have more Wal-Marts and Best Buys, help the wealthy heat
and cool their 10,000-square-foot homes, and maintain night-game
revenues for the Giants, Dodgers, A's, and Angels.''
Bush does speak for us because we are now the world's most self-
absorbed people. Our desires have become a demand on global
resources that too much echoes the imperialism that once sucked
developing continents dry of people and raw materials.
The sun has set on that kind of an empire. Americans are not
ready for Sunoco to set. The way we behave, we will not believe in
global warming or the end of our empire until we cannot see the
sun at all.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company
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