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:
Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail