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Four days in Italy and one thing was apparent to me from media coverage. In Europe, global warming is an enormous, worrisome issue. The threat of terrorism is faced by some European countries with much greater immediacy than the United States. Spain and the United Kingdom, for instance, both have a longer and arguably even more traumatic history of engagement with terrorism issues over the last thirty years than the United States. But across this region, global warming is being seen as a vast, potentially crippling problem. And there is widespread frustration over the Bush Administration’s attitude, which appears to waver between head-in-the-sand immobility and the embrace of a new Lysenkoism with ludicrous pseudo-scientific explanations like “dinosaur flatulence.” Mainstream media enable the Bushies in this venture to distract attention from one of our generation’s greatest challenges. A side-by-side comparison of major U.S. and European and East Asian newspapers over the last four days make this clear.
Take the recent confrontation over global warming measures at the G8. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed for clear limitations on hydrocarbon consumption; the new French president Sarkozy has jumped on the global warming bandwagon as well. With Blair on his way out and Abe under a cloud, these may be the closest leaders to Bush in the G8. Yes the U.S. has angrily rebuffed this initiative. This is, correctly, viewed as front-page above-the-fold news in Europe, and this Financial Times treatment is typical. But in the United States the struggle continues to identify the Paris-Hilton-story of the week.
If there’s an exception in the U.S. media these days, then it’s CNN’s Anderson Cooper. He’s been doing a series of reports from Greenland, whose topography is being dramatically transformed by the melting of the glacial ice that Viking explores sought to obscure by giving it a false name. Here’s a taste.
Today, it’s actually losing ice at about 100 billion tons a year. I mean, that’s incredible. One hundred billion tons of ice is disappearing. And, of course, it just doesn’t go up in smoke. The ice melts. Not only do you have to deal with water being lifted up, with the potential sea level going up virtually 20 feet, but also salinity. People aren’t thinking about this problem. What happens when a saltwater environment becomes more fresh lake?
Eight years ago, three U.S. cities were singled out as prospectively unsustainable in the view of rising waters: Houston, Miami and New Orleans. In a move of unprecedented brilliance, the Bush administration became the first in America’s history to actually lose a major city to the deluvian threat: New Orleans. And now how long until Houston and Miami suffer this fate? This seems an alarmist approach to a problem which should be studied and addressed with scientific detachment. But the key is engagement. America used to lead the world in addressing common problems. Now it is worse than a laggard. Under Bush, it has become a greedy, self-destructive force for foolishness.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”