Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Green as night

The Nytimes has a nice summary of Bush's environmental record for his first 3 years in office. A lot of the information has been covered before, but it's useful to see how all the rollbacks unfolded. Still, there were a few nuggets of info that were quite revealing and, of course, very disturbing. Take this quote from Michael Leavitt, ADMINISTRATOR of the Environmental Protection Agency:

In a recent interview, Michael O. Leavitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, summed up the Bush administration's philosophy. "There is no environmental progress without economic prosperity," Mr. Leavitt said. "Once our competitiveness erodes, our capacity to make environmental gains is gone. There is nothing that promotes pollution like poverty."

Most of us knew Bush and his right wing republicanut cohorts were driven solely by dollar deification ideology, but rarely do you get to see such important players be so frank about that ideology. I mean, these quotes almost leave me breathless. Where to begin?

Ok, for one thing, take his first comment to the opposite extreme, without economic prosperity, there is no environmental degradation. That said, I don't think many of us, even on the left, really want to go back to living in caves. Has this guy read ANY history books? I mean, almost all economic prosperity for the past 150 years has been through environmental backwardness. Only in the past 30 years has the argument been put forth that environmental degradation does not necessarily have to go hand in hand with economic progress. What Leavitt is referring to is the pattern you see in the developed countries that demand certain environmental standards, mostly related to health, with a few scraps thrown at recreation, wildlife, and aesthetics. This did not happen because economic indicators were humming along. This happens because these countries have vibrant court systems that allow these issues to be debated in a public forum, and if the process works properly, legislation follows that seeks to protect "the environment." But let's not forget that any environmental progress we see in the developed world does not occur in a vacuum. As we consume resources from all over the world, developing countries typically pay, environmentally, for our "economic prosperity."

"There is nothing that promotes pollution like poverty." Oh brother. That is pure pig methane on sooo many levels. So in Leavitt's world, the rich American family, with two SUVs in the driveway of their 4500 square foot home, 3 kids, and a house full of crap, has less an ecological footprint than a dirt poor Bangladeshi living off a dollar a day. I can't believe these poor bastards are screwing up the environment for the rest of us!

-MB

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