July 11, 2008

Goodbye From the World's Biggest Polluter Indeed!

Hokkaido, Japan was the setting for a rather unusual exchange between world leaders. As the G8's meetings on climate change and policy were wrapping up George Bush decided he would say "goodbye from the world's biggest polluter" and then pump his fist in the air and smile.

The rest of those in the room sat in silence, shocked that they had just heard that statement on the back of the most important climate talks between nations. And that is a hard thing to do, most of the people in the room were world leaders who have made a career out of speaking their mind. And maybe they were stunned because it wasn't so off-the-wall that he would say something like that.

As The Independent put it, the "remarks were taken as a two-fingered salute from the President from Texas who is wedded to the oil industry. He had given some ground at the summit by saying he would "seriously consider" a 50 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2050."

Bush's comment was most likely an attempt at humor after a few grueling days of talks, but I think it speaks volumes about the administration's views towards environmental protection, conservation, and securing the best basis for economic growth in the future. If this was a meeting of the Coalition for Life or MADD I doubt Bushie would've injected levity about those U.S.'s transgressions, but the health of our planet and finding ways to manage it is not out of the realm of sarcasm.

To make the situation more disturbing, Bush probably has the best chance to secure an emissions and trade deal before the new President comes in. Although the Democrats can install a President who will take a more proactive and aggressive stance on environmental issues, pressure to protect American farmers during the election campaign will make it hard to secure a deal after a new U.S. President is in office in January. This fully places the issue of our nation's environmental health (which I stress includes our health, think: rivers, air, soil and crop contamination, ocean pollution, etc) in the hands of someone who has shown little respect, and even contempt, for the environmental pressures we are placing on the planet.

I feel like Bush has check out though and is coasting these last 6 months, he has had a lot of pressure on him and even the record number of vacation days couldn't keep him fresh and interested in issues that will affect his population (that he will leave to his mistake while he sips mojitos and looks for the next business venture he'll run into the ground) and its children.

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