Who Will Win the Battle of Global Warming?

Yes, folks, it’s back in the news, and with good reason. Climate change is on the front burner in Washington, where the Senate is taking up the climate change bill the House passed recently. It’s also being debated at the G-8 summit in Italy.


In the Senate, one should keep in mind a climate bill has been rejected three different times. We ought to pray there isn’t a fourth, but the politics of the environment isn’t always a cut and dried thing, Al Franken’s swearing in not withstanding.

What’s troubling about the latest round of “what should we do about the environment?” is the strong pushback against the idea that global warming is even a problem. Don’t believe me? Keep in mind that Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe once called global warming “the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people”. He’s still at it, and at the same time arguing about the cost, and whether US action alone will make any difference.

That’s where the G-8 comes in.


Despite most developed countries agreeing in principle with the notion of fighting global warming, some countries are resisting the idea, especially during this time of economic crisis. That’s all the cover Senate Republicans need. Their thinking goes like this. If countries like China and India aren’t ready to work on the problem, why should the US? At the root of their argument, however, is Imhofe’s skepticism about the need for any action at all. Global warming, the argument gores, just doesn’t exist.

Al Gore speaking at Oxford and comparing the threat of global warming to that of the Nazis only pours gasoline on the flame. To top it off, the media seems to be giving more and more time to scientists who side with Inhofe. Some have fall back positions. They argue against the need for unilateral action, then the need for immediate action, then the need for any action at all.

Part of the problem is that the consequences of inaction could take years to be made manifest in a tangible way. Despite what many of us say about making the world a better place for those coming behind us, if we have to sacrifice in any real way, our words ring hollow. The Republicans know this. That’s why they try to link nuclear power with solar energy in legislation. They don’t figure any of them (or us) will be around for the next Chernobyl. Or will we?

Reasonable people may disagree about how long it will be before the effects climate change smack us in our collective face. Yet the science is there. The world, no matter what the temperature where you may be now, is getting warmer, little by little. The question is whether our Beltway lawmakers have the guts to tackle the issue.

What do you think? Do they?


Two Journalists Get 12 Years- For What?

We may never know what “grave crime” journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee committed that got them sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean gulag.

koje-do_prison_camp_mess hall_distance

We do know they were detained at the border with China back in March, and there are those who think the North Korean government will use the pair as some sort of bargaining chip with the US.

If that’s the case, President Barack Obama will find himself in the same box he does when it comes to the country’s nuclear program. North Korea’s government is secretive, and the motive for its actions aren’t always clear.

In this case, those motives are clear as mud. Lee and Ling are reporters for Al Gore’s Current TV, a network, by the way, worth watching.

al-gore_current-tvThere are conflicting reports about the story they were covering. Suffice to say it may not have been flattering to the North Koreans, but how would they know that in advance? The answer is, it doesn’t matter. This government is low enough to use the lives of two reporters as a means to gain a political end. They certainly won’t be the first, but they ought to be the last.

Is the North looking to avoid sanctions the UN is considering for their nuclear weapons testing? Many in the US diplomatic community think so. Those sanctions are being pushed by the US. Secretary of State Clinton says the two issues are “separate and apart” from each other. Does that mean the US isn’t prepared to offer any concessions to North Korea in order to free Ling and Lee?

There’s talk of a high level diplomatic mission to the North. Two prominent names mentioned are New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Vice President Al Gore himself. The latter has maintained a low profile so as not to be perceived as politicizing the effort to free the pair. Richardson says there’s much diplomatic groundwork to be laid before any such effort would have a chance of success. Despite such daunting talk, however, there is some hope. Richardson himself helped arrange the release of US prisoners back in the 1990s. And he also points to the fact that neither reporter was charged with espionage as another hopeful sign.

Yet this entire ugly affair points out a critical vulnerability in US foreign policy. How do you deal with nations that are willing to  jeopardize the lives of our citizens by locking them away in prisons where large numbers of people die of malnutrition and neglect? Do you try diplomacy, or do you take a hard line and simply condemn the action while pushing ahead for sanctions?

There is no easy answer, is there? You tell me.