Hgeocities.com/jadeddave1/environment.htmlgeocities.com/jadeddave1/environment.htmldelayedxlJcDOKtext/html̠"Db.HFri, 18 Jul 2003 15:22:21 GMTYMozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, *lJD Environment - The Issues - Radical Politics Online
THE ISSUES: ENVIRONMENT

ENVIRONMENT

AT ISSUE:

Pollution: Air / Soil / Oceans / Waterways
Deforestation and Logging
Toxic Waste
Global Enforcement/responsibility
Economic effects of Environmental Protections
Endangered Species Protection
Genetic Engineering
Nuclear Energy
Conservation of non-renewable resources
Development of Alternative Energy Sources
Indigious Cultures
Population Control

In The Far Corners:

RIGHT

Economic factors, including jobs, must come before conservation because it is imperitive that the U.S. stay competitive in the open market. Radical concerns about pollution, logging and waste disposal are based on misinterpretation of data. The U.S. is not responsible for the environmental status of other nations and should stay out of enforcement policies.

LEFT

Industry, overpopulation and exploitation have seriously endangered the ecological health of this planet. Only radical changes in how we use and approach resources will be effective to prevent global disaster. It is the government's responsibility to enforce limits and to set restrictions on environmental issues. As a major world power, it is the U.S.'s responsibility to set an example and to cooperate with international enforcement.

OVERVIEW

Except for fringe groups that believe in a coming Armageddon, virtually all parties and candidates agree that it is necessary to develop alternative energy sources to replace non-renewable resources such as oil and coal. How much emphasis ought to be placed on R&D and whether that development should come from the public or private sectors is, however, a more partisan issue.

In general, conservatives tend towards privatization of responsibility with minimal government involvement in both fiscal management of resources and regulation of most areas of environmental concern. Any perceived need for conservation and waste reduction is carefully balanced against requirements for a healthy national economy.

The liberal spectrum emphasizes a long-range view with today's economic considerations weighed against tomorrow's environmental prognosis. There are entire parties whose platforms and agendas are environmentally based and these generally tend to be considered politically liberal. They emphasize globalization of conservation efforts and believe that the U.S. should be a party to setting international standards for environmental planning. A focal point over the past decade has been the issue of old-growth logging and planetary deforestation with conservatives backing loggers and lumber companies in their efforts to promote jobs and industry and the liberal factions seeking greater protections for old-growth forests as both resources in themselves and as habitats for endangered fauna.

STATISTICS

• Since 1751 over 265 billion tons of carbon have been released to the atmosphere from the consumption of fossil fuels and cement production. Half of these emissions have occurred since the mid 1970s.

• The 1996 estimate for global CO2 emissions, 6518 million metric tons of carbon, is the highest fossil-fuel emission estimate ever. The 1996 estimate represents a 1.7% increase over 1995, continuing a trend of modest growth since a 1990-1993 decline in global CO2 emissions.

• Globally, liquid and solid fuels accounted for 77.5% of the emissions from fossil-fuel burning in 1996.

• Combustion of gas fuels (e.g., natural gas) accounted for 18.3% (1196 million metric tons) of the total emissions from fossil fuels in 1996 and reflects a gradually increasing global utilization of natural gas.

• Emissions from cement production rose to 202 million metric tons of carbon, a twenty-fold increase since the 1920s.

• Emissions from gas flaring for 1996 were estimated to be 67 million metric tons of carbon, well below the levels of the 1970s.

• Collectively, emissions from cement production and gas flaring contributed less than 5% to the total emissions for 1996.

• Trends show relatively stable temperatures from the beginning of records kept through about 1910, with relatively rapid and steady warming through the early 1940s, followed by another period of relatively stable temperatures through the mid-1970s. From this point onward, another rapid rise similar to that in the earlier part of the century is observed. The six warmest years of the global record have all occurred since 1990, and are, in descending order, 1998, 1997, 1995, 1990, 1991, and 1994. The average surface air temperature of the globe has warmed ~0.5C since the middle of the nineteenth century. According to government studis, the warming has varied in extent and magnitude across the globe and a few areas have even cooled since the nineteenth century. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. Warming of 1F over the past century and a further 2-6F warming over the 21st century has been projected by IPCC. Global temperatures during the last ice age (about 20,000 years ago) were "only" 9F cooler than today.

Greenhouse gases: Atmospheric gases that keep heat in, like greenhouse glass does. The most common greenhouse gas (GHG) is carbon dioxide (CO2), which comes from burning gasoline, wood, oil, etc. The evidence of rising CO2 levels is undisputed; the political dispute centers on how much of the rise is attributable to human activities versus how much is natural climatic fluctuation. Carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere when solid waste, fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), and wood and wood products are burned. Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from the decomposition of organic wastes in municipal solid waste landfills, and the raising of livestock. Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of solid waste and fossil fuels. Greenhouse gases that are not naturally occurring include byproducts of foam production, refrigeration, and air conditioning called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), as well as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs) generated by industrial processes. Each greenhouse gas differs in its ability to absorb heat in the atmosphere. HFCs and PFCs are the most heat-absorbent. Methane traps over 21 times more heat than carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide absorbs 270 times more heat than carbon dioxide.

FREQUENTLY CITED ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION

Climate Change Treaty: The basic international treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions was signed by the US and 182 other countries in 1992. It set up a 'framework' for later 'protocols.' Also known as the Rio Treaty or Greenhouse Gas Treaty.

Kyoto Protocol: The follow-up to the Climate Change Treaty which sets GHG reduction targets for the US and other developed countries. Completed in 1998, the US has not yet signed (Argentina is the largest economy to have signed). This is politically controversial because it would require the US to cut CO2 emissions, which is potentially costly.

Endangered Species Act (ESA): 1973 law prohibiting activities that harm endangered plants or animals or their habitats. Which species are threatened & endangered are listed or 'delisted' by the Secretaries of Interior & Commerce. The controversy comes from limitations on private property to protect one species.

ANALYSIS

Only a small minority of politicians went beyond basic sciences when they were in school. Environmental concerns are so extensive and so deeply rooted in scientific data that most politicians lack more than a surface understanding of issues. And if they can't spell the common name of a root vegetable, they aren't likely to pursue in-depth studies of chlorofluorocarbons.

With the exception of ecologically-oriented parties such as the Greens, most parties and candidates will continue to tackle environmental issues by exploiting photo ops and passing judgement on demonstrations at logging sites and nuclear power plants and avoid commiting themselves to proposals that they don't understand. Nobody wants to be seen as a "tree-hugger" nor do they want to look stupid and pretend that that diesel bus isn't belching black smoke into the air. Smart conservatives will continue to focus on the established platform that "good business is good for the nation" and take credit for compromises that create jobs. Smart liberals will have lots of pictures taken with windmills and solar panels and enthusiastically test drive electric cars.With the U.S. economy ostensibly on the upswing for the 2000 election, nobody is going to want to address the hard issues which involve trading dollars for cleanup and prevention. For the forseeable future, the environment will continue to be somebody else's problem.

Take Me Back To The Issues!