George Bush and the Neanderthals

A German politician says mean things about the president's climate change policies. But why did he have to drag innocent Paleolithic hominids into the mix?

By Andrew Leonard

Published April 17, 2008 3:29PM (EDT)

The Germans are not pleased with President Bush's call to stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel reached back at least 50,000 years for the appropriate insult: he called the president's address on Wednesday a "Neanderthal speech."

But why pick on the poor Neanderthals? How the World Works thinks this kind of rhetoric is very hurtful to all Paleolithic hominids. We don't know exactly why Neanderthals went extinct -- perhaps they lost out to a Cro-Magnon influx, or were absorbed through inter-breeding into the modern Homo sapiens main line. One body of theory even suggests that Neanderthals may have been unable to adapt to environmental changes in Europe brought about by an approaching ice age.

So climate change could have been a factor. But before we get all homo superior to the Neanderthals, let's reflect on the fact that these much-ridiculed hominids, despite some ability with stone tool technology, did not cause their own climate change. That extraordinary accomplishment belongs to modern humans. Give the Neanderthals a break, Sigmar!

How the World Works has no criticism, however, of another of Gabriel's remarks. He also criticized Bush's climate change policies as "losership instead of leadership."

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Environment George W. Bush Germany Global Warming Globalization How The World Works