Is it just me, or is anyone else troubled by the way global warming is being treated as just another weather prediction?


There is something creepy about the way the news media can run stories about how global warming is going to be making poison ivy more toxic, as if the biggest problem we and our children are going to be facing is more risks when we go out to weed our flower beds.


Even more bizarre is the lackadaisical attitude of the government towards the inevitability of major climate change.


We know that the polar icecap is rapidly disappearing, that the Gulf Stream current is dwindling and slowing down, that carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere, and that melting of the ice in Northern Canada, Greenland and parts of Antarctica mean dramatically rising sea levels that will eventually swamp many or our coastal cities.


All of this guarantees enormous threats to global populations, to the U.S. itself, and perhaps to human survival, if one is to believe the warnings of those like James Lovelock (who just wrote a very scary volume called The Revenge of Gaia) and NASA’s Robert Hansen. And even if you don't believe those cassandras, there are plenty of scientists who are warning of less dire disasters, from collapsing crop yields in the world's and this nation's breadbaskets to mass extinctions of critical food sources, like fish stocks.


So where are the contingency plans for such disasters?


The U.S. government has squandered billions of dollars stockpiling oil in salt domes as a contingency against an interruption in oil imports. The half trillion dollars spent annually on the military is largely defended as a contingency for threats--currently nonexistent--that might be posed in the future by other countries--a resurgent Russia, a modernized China, or perhaps an aroused Mexico. Tamiflu and flu vaccine are stockpiled in the event of a flu epidemic.


But global warming? Is there any contingency planning being done by this administration just in case the worst-case, or even second-worst-case scenarios prove to be right?


Nope. Not a thing. Not only is there no contingency planning going on. This administration is actively denying that global warming exists, is busy trying to silence government officials who want to warn that the evidence is there, and has been using everything from the courts to trade sanctions to threaten those state and national governments that are trying to do something to slow down the increase in greenhouse gasses.


We Americans deserve some of the blame. We are blithely going about our business, still moving out to the suburbs as though there will always be cars to drive us one by one to our jobs in the city, still buying SUVs that use two and three times as much gas as other vehicles on the market, still cranking up the air cons to make our houses 60 degrees when it's summer, and still buying the argument that economic growth is an unmitigated good.


The media deserve blame too, for trivializing the issue.


But the real blame for our national inertia with regard to global warming has to fall on this administration, which has for five years actively sought to bury all talk about climate change. With time growing short to take action that could prevent or stave off a global disaster, this political stance on the part of the Bush administration is nothing short of criminal.


This is why Barbara Olshansky and I have made the ignoring of global warming and the obstruction of domestic and international efforts to combat climate change one of the impeachable charges against President Bush.


For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .


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