Bush’s Lack of Faith in Americans

I started this post over a year ago, got distracted, and it sat in my “drafts” file until now. I seem to be in a “cleaning out” mode which is giving everyone the impression that I’m getting ready to leave. That’s not my intent, although if I had a really terrific offer elsewhere I’d surely consider it, especially if I could relocate to the U.K.!

My topic back then, and I feel it is still relevant which is why I didn’t delete the draft, is that although Bush claims to not want to sign any agreements or regulate industry emissions because it might hurt American industry and thereby our economy, that premise is simply not true. If he truly believed in American ingenuity, technological and industrial abilities he would say that of course it will require change, and innovative thinking, but we can do it! He apparently has no trust or faith in the ability of Americans to come up with economically feasible ways to curb greenhouse gases, protect environmental health and build the economy. What about all the jobs that would be created to design new technology to meet regulated requirements in industry? What about the new products that would be designed and produced? Remember way back in the 1800’s the Patent Office was closed for awhile because “we had invented everything already?” Wow! That’s what Bush sounds like! He thinks we’re through thinking — oh, well, looking at it from his perspective…. better not go there.

The world is going to move on without us because they believe in their people. Europeans believe that it is possible to have economic and material prosperity while setting strict environmental standards. Their innovation and community spirit have surpassed ours and that will be the subject of a post another time. Asia, China for example, will move forward industrially, whether we like it or not. They want what we have. If we had a leader with vision and understanding he/she would be willing to sit down and work with all leaders (Kyoto — opportunity lost) and have serious cooperative discussions/negotiations. Any suggestions where we can find that type of leader?

USA Today had an article (below) back in 2006 about this very thing — industry was ready and willing to make the move, just waiting for someone to tell them do it now. That didn’t happen so we’re still stumbling along two years later, with very little progress. If we had started then just think about where we might be now. Oh well, better late than never — unless we just keep waiting, as is the Bush Plan.

A very good thing

The Bush administration stirred global controversy by refusing in 2001 to sign the 1997 Kyoto treaty, which would have required the U.S. to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2010.

President Bush has repeatedly insisted that mandatory emissions curbs like those contained in the treaty would cost the U.S. economy too much. “I walked away from Kyoto because it would have damaged the American economy, it would have destroyed the American economy, it was a lousy deal for the American economy,” he said in a July interview with British TV network ITV.

Government and private estimates of the annual cost to the $13 trillion U.S. economy of implementing the Kyoto restrictions range from $125 billion to $400 billion.

Yet, the leaders of major U.S. corporations such as General Electric and DuPont say addressing climate change offers the technology-rich USA a chance to make — not lose — big money.

One year ago, Jeff Immelt, GE’s chief executive, unveiled a plan to cut his company’s greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 40% by 2012. At the same time, Immelt said GE would double its annual revenue from a broad portfolio of environmentally sound products to $20 billion by 2010.

GE identified an opportunity to boost profit by concentrating on environmental technologies after customers in many industries and many countries began demanding help meeting tougher regulations, says Lorraine Bolsinger, the executive in charge of GE’s Ecomagination initiative. “I don’t see the downside. I know folks say there will be some kind of economic tax. … I’m not sure anyone who worries about that has done the full analysis,” adds Bolsinger.

At DuPont, a previous brush with environmental controversy shaped an early embrace of the climate-change issue. In the late 1980s, the company came under pressure to stop producing chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, which were blamed for depleting the ozone layer. In 1988, DuPont agreed to do so. That experience helped shape DuPont’s response to calls for action to combat climate change, says Linda Fisher, the company’s vice president of environment, health and safety. DuPont set its first goal for reducing greenhouse gases in 1991. By 2003, it had trimmed its emissions by 72%.

Along the way, it racked up savings of $3 billion through energy conservation. Example: In plants in Alabama, Tennessee and Missouri, DuPont is replacing natural gas with methane from landfills in its industrial boilers. Elsewhere, the company redesigned scores of industrial processes to squeeze efficiencies from every step of chemicals manufacturing.

“What started as an effort to address our carbon footprint has turned out to be financially a very good thing,” says Fisher.

This fall, DuPont expects to start using corn to produce a chemical called PDO, which is used to make clothing. The Loudon, Tenn., plant will use 40% less energy than traditional oil-based processes, the company says. The resulting reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions is equivalent to removing 22,000 cars from the roads.

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