Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When McCain Bit His Tongue

The treason past, the traitor is no longer needed.

Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Life is a Dream

It’s nice to have Mr. McCain back on our side. He went missing before the election. It turns out he hadn,t changed his spots. He’d just hidden them for the sake of expediency. They were hidden when he campaigned for Mr. Bush thus giving the impression that George Bush was a better friend of his than was the environment. His betrayal of the environment was only brief-its consequences will be longer lasting.

Mr. Bush’s awkward relationship to the environment goes back some time just as Mr. McCain’s friendship to it does. It was Mr. McCain who, with Joe Lieberman, wrote a bill intended to curb greenhouse gases. It is George Bush who opposed that bill and other environmentally friendly measures.

In June 2002, Mr. Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency issued a report that said global warming is primarily caused by emissions from cars, power plants and oil refineries. It said in part that “greenhouse gases are accumulating in the Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing global mean surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise.” Gas emissions, said the report, will increase by 43 percent between 2000 and 2020. The report said that: “There is general agreement that the observed warming is real and has been particularly strong within the past 20 years.”

That report and its conclusions. flew in the face of Mr. Bush’s scientific understanding, such as it was. Summoning his most persuasive arguments against it Mr. Bush said that it was “put out by the bureaucracy,” thus, he hoped, vanquishing it. Not to be outdone by his boss’s ignorance, his toadie and then press secretary, Ari Fleisher, said that there is “considerable uncertainty” on the scientific causes of global warming. Any way, the administration said, it had a plan of its own to deal with global warming. It needed to say it had a plan since Mr. Bush had disavowed the Kyoto Agreement on global warming.

Unlike the provisions of the Kyoto Agreement which mandated that steps be taken to counter global warming, the Bush plan relied on voluntary compliance and lower expectations. Whereas the Kyoto agreement envisioned reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent overall and 7 percent in the U.S. by 2012, the Bush’s plan sought reduction of only 4.5 percent in the U.S. by 2012. Kyoto had mandatory goals for reduction of greenhouse gasses that applied to 30 of the most developed nations. Mr. Bush’s plan set voluntary goals and gave businesses the right to decide whether or not they would participate in the program.

Two and one half months before the election, a report was delivered to Congress by Dr. James R. Mahoney, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and the director of government climate research. It concluded that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are the culprits in global warming that has taken place over the last 30 years. Mr. Bush didn,t call that report any names. That may be because Dr. Mahoney said it reflected “the best possible scientific information” on climate change. It may be because it was signed by Mr. Bush’s secretaries of energy and commerce and his science adviser. (Of those three, it should be noted, only the scientific adviser has not announced plans to leave the administration. Mr. Bush didn,t have to call them names-he could just let them know their resignations would be accepted.)

On November 16, just two weeks after the election, a strange thing happened to John McCain. Having spent the fall campaigning for the enemy of the environment Mr. McCain treasures, he suddenly found his voice again. On November 16, 2004, he convened a Senate hearing on the effect humans have on the climate and how to address those effects. He came out publicly with a statement that made one wonder how he could ever have supported George Bush. He said that the White House position on climate change was “terribly disappointing.” He said that there was no excuse for the White House’s inaction given the available scientific evidence.

If he cares about the environment as much as he says and his convening of a senate hearing suggests, one has to wonder why he was on the campaign trail with Mr. Bush. Perhaps he forgot about Mr. Bush’s environmental record and only recalled how bad it was after the election. Or perhaps he remembered but hoped he’d get a good job in a second Bush administration. Either explanation would be believable and each suggests that one of the first qualities politicians often abandon is principle. In Senator McCain’s case that’s too bad-not only for us but for the environment.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a Boulder, Colorado lawyer. His column appears weekly in the Daily Camera. He can be reached at: brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu

 

More articles by:
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail