Thursday, December 20, 2007

Booed in Bali

And rightly so: the United States has been standing in the way of meaningful effort toward combatting global warming, protections for endangered species, habitat preservation, and pollution reduction for around, oh, seven years. Actually, we've been in the way for a while longer than that, but we used to be leading the environmental charge, back when Carter was in office. It's finally pissing off other countries to the point that they're not putting up with it, much, anymore:
In a hushed conference hall, as envoys from 186 nations looked on, the world's lone superpower took a tongue-lashing from its most powerless, nation after poor nation assailing the U.S. ''no'' on the document at hand. Then the delegate from Papua New Guinea leaned into his microphone.

''We seek your leadership,'' Kevin Conrad told the Americans. ''But if for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way.''

The U.N. climate conference exploded with applause, the U.S. delegation backed down...
Still, we managed to finagle our way on benchmarks. No actual binding limits. Which makes this treaty toothless.

Congress has passed, and Bush signed, a lily-livered increase in the CAFE standards that doesn't take effect for twelve more years, and only to a paltry 35 mpg. Mark Morford says it best:
This "milestone" legislation, which raises the fuel efficiency standards of cars and light trucks to a record high in America, will still be comfortably well below that of China.
That's right, China. Yes, it was fully five years ago that those pesky commies mandated that every car on the road (as opposed to fleet averages, as U.S. automakers get away with) get at least 38 mpg, to be increased to 43 in 2008 - 22 percent higher than what our "landmark" achievement won't accomplish until after the next three presidential administrations, and still far short of what many 50-60 mpg European cars can already achieve and all well short of what modern technology could accomplish if we had the slightest bit of nerve and Big Auto wasn't so appallingly gluttonous and the GOP didn't have raw, reeking crude where their humanity used to be.
It seems to me that the American car industry is doing its damnedest to make itself irrelevant, outmoded, and obsolete, and Congress is helping them kill themselves. But probably the auto industry is counting on a government bailout when they start going bankrupt and have to lay off thousands and thousands of American workers because nobody in their right mind will buy a gas-guzzling crap American car. (But then, it's pretty clear that a lot of Americans aren't in their right minds, these days.)

And then there's the idiocy of NOT rescinding the oil company tax breaks. That money would have gone to fund alternative energy research and incentives for your average Joe to install extra insulation or solar panels. But no, let's encourage our dependency on oil, let's keep ourselves in a precarious financial position, let's keep on making ourselves beholden to any oil-rich monarch or dictator out there! Let's make sure there's no controls on carbon emissions for autos! $90 a barrel, record profits for years, and the oil companies get government subsidy and tax breaks? And poor little ExxonMobil can't afford the nasty tort for all the damage they did to Prince William Sound back in 1989?

Free market, my ass.

1 comment:

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

I was in Petro Eng for my first few years at UAF in the early 80's. Once I found out how corrupt the oil patch is I quickly switched to something else.

Oh, the stories we get on the news and such about big oil and the oil patch is very sugar coated. The real stories are waaaaaay worse.