Roger L. Simon

High Sierra

According to the AP:The United States defended its decision not to sign the Kyoto Protocol on Monday, saying during the opening of a global summit on climate change that it is doing more than most countries to protect the earth’s atmosphere.

Well, who knows? But a short way down in the article:

Dr. Harlan L. Watson, senior climate negotiator for the State Department, said that while President Bush declined to join the treaty, he takes global warming seriously and noted that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions had actually gone down by eight-tenths of a percent under Bush.

Wait a minute. The US economy grew at a fairly good clip under the Bush administration and yet greenhouse emissions actually went down? How could that have happened? Some people, of course, as noted in the article, are skeptical:

Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club Canada, however, accused the world’s biggest polluter of trying to derail the Kyoto accord, which has been ratified by 140 nations.

“We have a lot of positive, constructive American engagement here in Montreal – and none of it’s from the Bush administration, which represents the single biggest threat to global progress,” May said.

Fighting words from Ms. May indeed, but then words from a Canadian these days may be worth as much as a drink of water in Harbin. What’s beginning to interest me in my… er… “modern maturity” (?) is how things are rarely as they seem. We residents of Los Angeles, if we’re honest, are now pretty grateful we can see the mountains from our back yards and can even play a set of tennis without collapsing. Something changed. But how? Well, here’s an interesting quote:

Despite a childhood in Southern California, Richard Nixon was so hopelessly disconnected from nature that he wore dress shoes to the beach. Yet, no other chief executive approved as much important environmental legislation.

The author of the monograph being described here goes on to opine that Nixon did all this only for poltical reasons and later reversed his views. Could be, but the legislation lived on and changed America. So things happen in strange ways. I used to be for Kyoto, but now find it too politically-motivated and essentially anti-environmental in its complete inability to deal with the world’s fastest growing economies. But what do I know? Well, I think I do know this – morality (and ecology) is not as simple as Ms. May of the Sierra Club wants to make it. I used to be a member of the Sierra Club too. But these days I favor the older High Sierra. You remember the Raoul Walsh film in which Bogie plays ‘Mad Dog’ Roy Earle, the escaped con. The whole world hates him but there’s something good about him too. Now there’s nothing even remotely ex-connish or Mad Doggish about Bush, but he suffers from that same kind of misjudgment. Bono, of course, recognized this when he noted Bush’s generosity in Africa. I guess the Ms. Mays of the world can’t wrap their minds around that. They’re kind of stuck in their world views and fund-raising needs. Ultimately, I don’t think that’s very good for the environment.