« January 07, 2007 - January 13, 2007 | Main | February 25, 2007 - March 03, 2007 »

February 13, 2007

More hot air on global warming

By Carl Goldstein

One thing puzzles me about vociferous attempts from mostly rightwing commentators to debunk the international scientific consensus on humankind's role in global warming.

Why exactly should that be a Right-Left issue?

I got to reflecting on this topic while reading conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg in the Minneapolis Star Tribune this morning. He's basically saying that, even if man is responsible for the "little bit" of warming the globe has experienced during the last century, the cost of doing something about it is just too high to even envision.

In recent weeks I've read a host of articles along these lines. Just the other day, someone at the American Enterprise Institute, which has been leading the charge against the scientific consensus, called people warning of the dangers of climate change "the new inquisition." Presumably that means Michael Crichton is being fitted for thumbscrews as we speak.

The best answer I can come up with to my own question is that these thinkers -- to use the term loosely -- are intent on sparing their corporate allies and funders from having to bear the cost of improved environmental controls and carbon emission-reducing practices. We've seen people for years calling for hard-headed calculation of costs and benefits when it comes to environmental protection. Anyone criticizing this line of argument is likely to stand accused of advocating "junk science."

What's odd, however, is that the corporate world is truly starting to "get it." Just last week, the chairman of Duke Energy, one of the country's biggest electric-power companies, launched a new coalition -- the US Climate Action Partnership -- with a speech at the National Press Club.

The group includes firms like Alcoa, DuPoint, and G.E., as well as NGO's like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resource Institute. It is supporting Congressional proposals for a mandatory "cap and trade" system to stablize and then reduce carbon emissions. "We know enough to act now," Rogers is quoted as saying in the current New Yorker.

So why is the Right being left behind by its erstwhile corporate allies? The corporate sector increasingly realizes the wisdom of acting sooner rather than later. Some are undoubtedly motivated by the belief that participating in the building debate, rather than simply digging in their heels, will give them a greater influence over the outcome.

But the Rightwing Commentariat seems wedded to their position. Perhaps it has to do with the distrust -- or outright disbelief -- in science. Maybe it's knee-jerk opposition to anything Al Gore says. Maybe they're just out of their minds.

Posted by Carl at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)

War drums ring hollow

By Carl Goldstein

Here's how much trouble the White House is having in selling its new campaign to stampede the nation into war with Iran. (The latest gambit, in case you haven't been paying attention: a dog-and-pony show in Baghdad's Green Zone showing off allegedly Iranian-made explosive devices. Supposedly it all proves that the Iranian government is to blame for the death of "at least 170 Americans" in Iraq -- and by implication that Iran is primarily responsible for US troubles in Iraq.)

Skeptics have been out in force since their little show. Even Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pretty much flat out said he doesn't believe it. His actual words were only slightly more judicious: "I don't know that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this." Maybe the US military leadership isn't keen for another disastrous war.

It's worth pointing out that the first piece to appear on the new "evidence," was by the NYT's Michael Gordon. Remember him? He co-wrote with Judith Miller a number of the most influential stories on Saddam Hussein's WMDs during the run-up to the Iraq war. Miller was thoroughly discredited, but Gordon somehow escaped signifant criticism.

No one would deny the possibility, even likelihood, that some Iranian-made weaponry or explosives make their way into Iraq. There's a huge black market for munitions of all kinds, from Saddam-era stockpiles to US-made products stolen or bought from our Iraqi "allies." But there's zero evidence that such shipments are being ordered or directed by senior levels of the Iranian government, despite US claims.

And the fact is, most US soldiers are being killed by roadside IED's laid by Sunni insurgents. While Shiite militias (which are supported from Iran) have sometimes attacked US forces, they are very much a secondary factor. Most of their firepower is aimed at slaughtering Sunnis.

So what we're left with is the certainty that the Bush administration, reeling from its colossal failure in Iraq, is trying to gin up support for yet another war -- this one against Iran.

We must stop them.

Posted by Carl at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)