"It's not a hardship to drive it. It's fun." -- George Shultz, former Secretary of State, referring to his Toyota Prius, a hybrid car that uses much less gasoline than a conventional vehicle, at the second annual summit of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, February 11. I found this nugget in my inbox, tucked into the recent issue of @stanford, "a monthly newsletter of campus news and research," in the "Heard on Campus" segment (I am an alum of the law school). How great to hear another respected Republican foreign policy leader touting the benefits of cleaner and more efficient automobiles. Over the past several years, it seems the chorus is getting louder and louder, with testimony, articles, and op-eds about and from Republican and Democratic foreign policy and military leaders.
An article in the Washington Post last week prompted me to remember the history of our rhetoric on Kyoto, global warming, and developing countries. Since at least the 1990s, polluting industries and their friends in elected office have argued that until developing countries such as India and China are required to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, the U.S. should not be bound by it. They claimed that this would be unfair, and that our industries would be rendered uncompetitive by the treaty's costs. This disingenuous claim is instead causing us to miss out on global opportunities.
Ever since his 1995 book A Moment on the Earth I have been disappointed by Gregg Easterbrook's message that because we have made so much progress in cleaning up our environment, we need not remain vigilant in fighting to protect our air, water, and natural places from those who would profit from their destruction. During the Bush administration's tenure, for the first time since our environmental laws were passed, key environmental indicators (such as urban air quality and rate of cleanup of our toxic waste sites) are reversing. Easterbrook's latest missive, "Clear Skies, No Lies," regurgitates arguments and statistics fabricated by the nation's largest polluters and oft cited by the Bush-Cheney administration in its war on our environmental protections -- particularly when touting its "Clear Skies" bill.