Global warming

Paul Krugman has just returned from China and writes his column today on the consequences for global warming arising from China’s industrial boom, a problem all of us have seen coming.

A significant part of this story relates to the last eight years and the Bush administration’s pro-industry policies. I’ve just now belatedly gotten around to reading Suskind’s “The Price of Loyalty”, an account of Paul O’Neill’s short tenure as Bush’s first Treasury Secretary. It’s an extremely good book and provides a unique view into the beginnings of the administration, it’s policies and the machinations of Cheney, Rove and others as they wrested power from the few moderates in the cabinet, particularly O’Neill, Powell and Whitman (in fact, it is O’Neill’s conclusion that those three were taken on merely as window-dressing to present a promise of moderate policy). The story details how O’Neill and Whitman understood that the science on GW had become irrefutable and that action, nationally and internationally, was critical. But they were out-maneuvered by the industry-friendly Cheney and the “keep the base onside” priorities of Rove.

Had Cheney and Rove (particularly) not been part of this administration, it’s near certain that the international moves towards dealing with greenhouse gases would not have suffered this long period of delay and obfuscation.

What more can one say about these people?

Update: As this Guardian UK piece details, energy industry money is ramping up to defeat Obama’s environmental policies. No surprise in this. This is just the most recent part of a long-running campaign.

America’s oil, gas and coal industry has increased its lobbying budget by 50%, with key players spending $44.5m in the first three months of this year in an intense effort to cut off support for Barack Obama’s plan to build a clean energy economy.

The spoiler campaign runs to hundreds of millions of dollars and involves industry front groups, lobbying firms, television, print and radio advertising, and donations to pivotal members of Congress. Its intention is to water down or kill off plans by the Democratic leadership to pass “cap and trade” legislation this year, which would place limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

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