Environmental Pioneer Decries Bush Environmental Damage
A major new book explains why global efforts have failed to curb the world's most serious environmental threats -- and lays a large share of the blame at the feet of the Bush Administration.
"I think the biggest problem we have in facing these issues is the lack of U.S. leadership. In fact, what we've had is negative leadership," said longtime environmental leader Gus Speth, author of Red Sky at Morning. Now dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Speth offers eight approaches that can deter global environmental deterioration, as well as an analysis of why most efforts thus far have failed.
One of the pioneers of the modern environmental movement, Speth was co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental advisor to President Jimmy Carter, founder of the environmental think tank World Resources Institute, and CEO of the UN Development Programme.
Speth described to BushGreenwatch a pattern of obstructionist policies throughout the Bush tenure that have impeded global efforts to address pressing environmental issues such as climate change, renewable energy development, fossil fuel emissions, population measures and depletion of the ozone layer.
Rather than join with European nations to forge agreements on how nations can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, combat global warming, thwart further depletion of the ozone layer or reduce exposure to toxic chemicals, the Bush administration has chosen policies that curry favor with industry, Speth said.
"I think they've been more concerned about their own future from the outset," he said, "their own political future, rather than the public's future and our country's future. In my judgment this is really reprehensible."
Specifically, Speth criticized the Bush administration for:
Backing out of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce man's contribution to global climate change, and breaking "his own campaign commitment to a bill that would have regulated carbon dioxide emissions," a major contributor to global warming.
Opposing multinational efforts to reach goals on renewable energy development at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Attempting to water down an international treaty to strictly limit or eliminate exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and "dragging its feet" on getting the treaty ratified.
Opposing legislation put forward by Senators McCain and Lieberman that would establish a federal goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Blocking support for international population program measures because of pressure from the right to life movement.
Seeking massive exemptions from a successful international treaty to reduce production of methyl bromide (a potent ozone-depleting chemical). This would reverse U.S. progress on the problem, and has caused international anger.
Perhaps the most egregious acts of the Bush Administration have been in the area of U.S. energy policy and the failure to support the Kyoto Protocol, Speth said. Not only did the U.S. pull out of this historic agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but doing so has delayed Russian ratification, and will likely deter European nations from participating in the latter phases of the treaty, he said.
"This is huge in historic terms," said Speth. "We are rapidly losing our chance to prevent extremely serious and costly climate disruption. We haven't acted on this problem, and the U.S. is the biggest culprit. If we don't tackle this problem now we will reap very serious consequences."
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."