The Concoction

An Ethiopian woman's musings on Africa, the world and everything in between

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        Saturday, April 22, 2006
        Earth Day

        April 22 is Earth Day. Ironically, the celebration started in the US in 1970 in a response to the worsening situation of pollution in cities. It is ironical because now the US is back pedaling to wiggle out of any real commitment on environmental policies, and succeeding too.

        Earth Day has become a global campaign to save mother earth. Although nothing significant has been implemented, at least people are aware of the issues surrounding global warming and environmental degradation.

        I was eager to read the US governments Environmental Protection Agency’s website to see what is being done at the federal level. It was a very disappointing site because it just gives some lousy information about what people can do at home, in the classroom, at work…. There is nothing about what the government is doing (or at least, planning to do). Let me check again…. Nope. Nada!

        I, foolishly, expected to see some sort of explanation about the mess that Phil Cooney, Bush’s ex-Chief of Staff, has created by altering the reports of government scientists (mind you, he is a lawyer by trade and had no business tweaking scientific reports, and he was an ex-lobbyist for the American Petroleum Association – ke ching, ke ching – and after leaving the Bush administration he has started working for Exxon.) Just imagine having Bin Laden as the Chief of Homeland Security.

        And yet, the EPA chairman, Steve Johnson, has this message for:"Our nation's environmental accomplishments are rooted in our goal to leave the Earth a better place than when we found it. President Bush and I invite you to nurture the health of our global environment by renewing your environmental ambitions this Earth Day." Yes, siree! I will do my part and tell my eight year old to be more persistent in forcing us to wipe our hands on our clothes after washing rather than using paper towel (to save trees). But somebody has to do something about domestic energy policies to help. Won't you agree?

        Even countries like the UK who signed the Kyoto protocol are far from achieving their self-imposed 20% cut (they were required only 12.5%, but it was election year, they got carried away, the were shooting their mouths, and now they are slightly embarrassed). Their problem is that they have competing departments who can’t just get along and get on with it. According to the Economist (April 1-7 2006), the environment department and the Department of Trade and Industry can’t agree over carbon allocations. Also, instead of investing more on scientific research sites, they close down centers in the name of re-structuring. The Guardian has a list of interesting articles on global warming here.

        Awakening interest
        As the dangers of global warming are becoming more and more apparent, the media focus is becoming intense. Time magazine nge (April 3) had a special report on global warning showing a lone polar bear standing on a small strip of ice. Despite last ditch efforts of skeptics (mostly business lobbyists), there is now consensus that global warming is happening and strict regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are desperately needed. Actually, Time has announced that “The debate over whether Earth is warming up is over.” Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth is coming out in May. There is even a US coalition of Evangelical Christian leaders formed to do something about global warming.

        Even traditionally right-wing FOX broadcasting company, cannot be quiet about global warming. First, it aired a documentary on global warning under the title The heat is on: the case of global warming in 2005 and the movie Ice Age: the meltdown in 2006. I saw the movie, and I am certain that the greedy squirrel who doesn’t give a damn about the number of holes he’s poking on the ice while chasing the acorn must be representing petroleum and automobile companies.

        Global warming in Africa
        Global warming is already impacting Africa. Droughts are becoming more frequent and prolonged, lakes and rivers are diminishing, malaria outbreaks are expanding to highlands etc. Undoubtedly, the poor are more vulnerable.

        This is directly linked to development aid and poverty eradication efforts. The gang ho about reducing poverty by 2015 should be put in the context of global warming (among other things). There isn't much point begging for money to help against drought while Western environmental policies are contributing to the drought in the first place.

        Time’s list of global warming related topics
        All you want to know about climate changes
        The natural resources defense council (NRDC) information on global warming, and it has been organizing virtual marches (if you inspired enough to do something now.)
        Skeptics also have a comprehensive list of why global warming is just a hype by environmentalists.
        In the beginning there was... The history of global warming
        Science based updates on global warming
        For global warming 101 or Global Warning for Dummies (like energy lobbyists – could not resist that, cheezy me.)
        The Kyoto protocol
        The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
        Earth Day information
        posted by Fikirte @ 2:15 PM   Digg!
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