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Tag Archives: United Nations

With These Odds, Cheney Should Step Up To Plate

Cosmic forces of the universe—chalk it up to God, the work of Tricksters, or simply random chance if you're an atheist—are again assuming the role of a major league baseball pitcher, hurling a brush back fastball that is expected to arrive in a close trajectory with Earth on April 13, 2036. If the asteroid, nicknamed Apophis, beans the planet, the 460-foot chunk of rock could take out an entire city, kick up enough dust to wreak global havoc, or worse. With little controversy, the idea of a cataclysm caused by a flying object—and the necessity of confronting it to avoid disaster— can be accepted as fact, with spare resistance from right-wing think tanks, their denialist toadies at Fox News, and some of the most powerful people on Earth, including one individual who happens to have a residence near the fairways of the Teton Pines golf course in Jackson Hole. Yet when it comes to dealing with something that has far more extensive scientific understanding and likelihood of occurrence associated with it, to say nothing of the eminent scientific minds at NASA being applied to the challenge, the Teton Pines resident, yes, the Vice President of the United States of America (the man who is helping to orchestrate a new plan for decisive military action in Iraq), reportedly blanches at the thought of doing something real and substantive about climate change. Even Mr. Cheney's financial advisor has encouraged the Bush Administration to accept action as a lucrative business opportunity.

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America Is Paying A Steep Price For Cheap Food

George Wuerthner has been called a brilliant provocateur who knows how to get under the skin of Western ranchers. With this essay, one that is certain to incite a strong reaction from readers, he examines the costs of America's cheap food policy on both the U.S. Treasury and the environment. Wuerthner writes: "Agriculture is the most destructive land use in America." As an activist, trained biologist, photographer and environmental writer, he has become a prominent figure in the campaign to eliminate livestock from public lands. The author of several dozen books, Wuerthner also has written prolifically about forest ecology, wildfire, the impacts of ATVs and, of course, the effects of non-native cattle and sheep on native species. His coffee-table picture book,Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West, set off a firestorm of debate over the impacts of livestock and the multiple ways that beef production is subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. His most recent book is Wild Fire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. With this first piece, NewWest.Net is debuting a regular column from Mr. Wuerthner that will run twice a month on all things nature-related and anything that suits his fancy.

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The Birth Dearth Folly And The 300 Millionth American

Dave Foreman is nothing, if not a real deal enigma. Today, there are many preconceived portrayals of the man floating around, often perpetuated by people who have never met him but who base their own authority of opinion on the ether of myths and legends, of which the American West is chock full. Some of these characterizations of Foreman—as a renegade, Leftist, anarchist, neo-Luddite, wimpy-minded, let's-revert-society-back-to-the-Stone Age madman—are inaccurate. But it's true that Foreman is radically progressive and pushy when it comes to challenging the status quo. On New Year's Day, 2007, Foreman published his second "Around the Campfire" column distributed through his organization, The Rewilding Institute. The piece which follows is titled "Birth Dearth Folly and the 300 Millionth American" and is inspired by writings from a current book in progress. The issue of human population, which Foreman writes about, is one that has caused a schizophrenic reaction within the environmental movement because it involves not only American-style resource consumption and depletion but the delicate matters of immigration, the real effects of globalization in populous nations like China and India, and the inability of greens sometimes to have meaningful conversations with people whose skin color is not white.

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A Free-Marketeer Asks: What Is The Solution To Our Energy Future?

"I find it interesting that green activists and their political allies uniformly favor dramatic and draconian action to avert climate change," writes Pete Geddes. "Serious policy analysts are different; they generally favor less dramatic action applied over the long term." Mr. Geddes, executive vice president of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), a Libertarian think tank headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, returns once again to the theme of climate change and possible alternatives to carbon-based energy. Implying that the body of scientific evidence affirming human-caused global warming appears to be partisan and unconvincing, he writes: "Despite assurances to the contrary from Al Gore, there are large uncertainties regarding the physical processes driving climate change." In the essay which follows that is sure to elicit a response from readers—including a reply, hopefully, from scientists out there—Geddes makes a number of pointed assertions. We, at New West, are adding our discussion questions in parenthesis and we hope you will join in. "Over the next fifty years," Geddes writes, "the world’s developing nations will seek to emulate the West’s material success. Their leaders know that improving the quality of life for their citizens requires more, not less, energy consumption." (Our response is: What about China? There, 550 brand new old-technology coal-fired power plants are scheduled to come on line at the rate of almost one per week over the next decade, exacerbating what is already the worst air quality affecting hundreds of millions of people. Those plants also serve as a major source of greenhouse gases affecting climate worldwide. Indeed, Chinese leaders are right now employing Geddes' argument about quality of life being improved by racing industrialization, based upon the burning of oil and coal, but the net effect of this case study is also huge public health problems, water shortages, and an unprecedented environmental disaster growing in magnitude. How is the free-market going to remedy this and who will pay for it)? While once again advocating for a market-based carbon trading program, Geddes points to another possibility: "A different approach involves the interesting question of geoengineering, i.e., our ability to manipulate the global climate through, say, space-based mirrors or carbon from jet exhaust. This is a serious area of research and raises important questions and possibilities. Among them, what temperature do we want and who decides? Do we let the Maldive Islanders decide, since future sea level rise could submerge their homes? The Russians might prefer some moderate warming, to increase agriculture in Siberia and provide ice-free ports. I’ll explore this topic further in a future column." New West looks forward to Geddes' next column on that subject. Meantime, we pose another question for discussion: (Mr. Geddes appears to put a lot of faith and promise in the very same scientific community that many of his skeptical peers have either dismissed or claimed as not being credible. Many skeptics have also asserted that humankind is not capable of being a significant force in altering climate. If that is the case, then perhaps he could explain the apparent paradox in his argument in which he points to the "uncertainty" of humans influencing climate, on the one hand, and yet being poised, through scientific technology, to provide a manipulated fix)?

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Yes, It’s Christmas 2006: What Would Jesus Do?

Greetings once again all celebrators of the holiday season. Let each of us seek answers to modern cultural dilemmas by pondering "What Would Jesus Do?" Now, let's get started. New West invites you to add questions of your own.

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What Are The Tipping Points For US-China Climate And Coal Policy?

If, as writer Malcolm Gladwell suggests in his book The Tipping Point, that it's often the intervention of certain people at critical moments in history that make a difference in changing public consciousnesses, small deeds can add up to a cascade of unexpected consequences. With the United Nations recently concluding its global summit on climate change in Nairobi, most governments on Earth--bolstered in their conclusions by the mountain of scientific evidence documenting human-caused changes in the atmosphere, oceans, and land from the Arctic North to the Amazon Basin--are moving toward action: Action that is more sophisticated, cooperative, and pragmatic than that layed out in the Kyoto Protocol more than a decade ago. Will the United States, China, and Australia join the rest of the world, engaging in a meaningful policy strategy not because Al Gore says so, but because it can no longer be ignored with even major industry conceding that changes must be made? Word on the street these days in Washington is that the Bush Administration is about to dramatically reverse course from its obstinate position on climate change and soon will unveil a strategy to address U.S. carbon dioxide emissions into Earth's atmosphere. Suddenly, the talk of clean coal technology in Wyoming and Montana has, thanks in part to a group of local diplomats, become recognized on the international stage.

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Bill Saves, Hillary Braves New World

You’ve got to love the Clintons even if you hate them. No other couple in the Free World could move without flinching from a meal at Boogie’s Diner in downtown Aspen to shaking down the money tree at a $1,000-a-plate liberal séance the same day for a coven of dozens. But so it goes with former President Bill Clinton, now the royal consort to his loyal spouse, Hillary Clinton, the southpaw Democratic Senator from New York State who would be President come 2008 if only we would have her. Both of the Clintonistas held forth here over the weekend at the Aspen Ideas Festival, with William Jefferson leading off Friday night with his modified plan to save the world and everyone in it, and Hillary batting cleanup Sunday morning in the unofficial kickoff of her inexorable and inevitable Presidential campaign.

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