Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
You wouldn’t know from the energy section in the Republican Party’s 2012 platform that President Obama will be the first president since Lyndon Johnson to preside over four consecutive years of growing domestic oil production. That’s not the kind of news the GOP wants to promote, since it gets in the way of the party’s efforts to portray Obama as an implacable foe of fossil fuels and oil companies.
But that’s hardly the only thing you wouldn’t know about energy from the GOP platform. Some highlights:
And then there’s the big one: the fact that the platform does not include the slightest hint that something funky is going on with the earth’s climate that might be connected to energy consumption. Never mind shrinking Arctic ice caps or record high temperatures in North America — the only reference even tangentially connected to global warming is the flat declaration: “We oppose any and all cap and trade legislation.”
(Remember when Republican presidential candidates supported cap-and-trade legislation? Good times, good times. But, hey, 22 out of the 25 top carbon dioxide-emitting congressional districts in the U.S. are represented by Republicans, so really, this is just democracy in action.)
The GOP platform on energy is exactly what one would expect. Domestic energy independence! Drill in ANWR, build the Keystone pipeline, boost coal production, promote nuclear power and cripple the EPA. But barely mention the words “wind” or “solar power,” unless in the context of failed federal support for Solyndra. And don’t even whisper the words “fuel economy.”
Which is ironic, because on the same day that the platform was released, the Obama administration announced that it had finalized rules that would require huge increases in fuel economy resulting in an average of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year.
Talk about your comprehensive forward-looking energy policy! Fuel economy standards decrease dependence on foreign oil, insulate consumers from higher gas prices, take a stab at reducing carbon dioxide production and help prepare U.S. automakers to be competitive in a future global market where fuel efficiency is likely to be increasingly important. It’s exactly the kind of forward-looking policy where government action can make a real difference (if it isn’t sabotaged by future Republican administrations — Romney’s campaign immediately issued a press release opposing the “extreme standards”).
It’s tempting to wonder whether, when the time to concoct the next Republican Party platform rolls around, in 2016, the data on global warming will be so convincing that even Republicans will be forced to acknowledge that we face a major crisis. At that point, it might be fun to look back at what happened on Aug. 28, 2012, and decide which political party was doing a better job of preparing Americans for a challenging future.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.