Sunday, February 10, 2008

The big guy on one side, a 1000 little guys on the other

"Our way of life is not up for negotiations..". If there is any one sentence that that drew my attention in Hot Politics, it is this one. Sadly, we can only start negotiations with the rest of humanity by demonstrating that as a country and as a people we are willing and able to change our way of life.

The documentary describes George H.W. Bush's reluctance to participate in the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and the administration's waffling on the issue of climate change. In it's initial review of the Clinton administration's involvement with climate change issues, Hot Politics also describes how the Democratic Party "killed" their own BTU tax. Eventually, the undermining of Christine Todd Whitman's efforts as EPA director (2001 and 2003) and George W. Bush's changing rhetoric on climate change is presented. It is also not surprising that Dick Cheney and Frederick Seitz (former Academy of Sciences) president are suspected of personal hidden agendas because of their ties with the corporate sector. Hot Politic's overview of the evolution of events in the last 20 odd years screams two words to the world: missed opportunities.

When the rest of the world had already begun efforts to broaden and deepen it's understanding of anthropogenic climate change, the US was still struggling to overcome internal politics. Emerging scientific and political consensus was destroyed by "authoritative" statements from eminent members of academia and industry, special interest groups and lobbyists. Yet, in many ways the global scientific community triumphed. The answers to climate change may not be found in the near future, but the quest for knowledge still continues ardently.

It still holds true that the global economy and leadership machinery will not make much headway without the US's active participation. So, by exercising our right to vote and by disseminating our collective knowledge as scientists and engineers, we must prove to the world that come January 2009 we are prepared to negotiate. And that we are willing to change our way of life. And that the big guy and the thousand little ones are all in this climate change issue together.

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