Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bush's Tough Dilemmas on Global Environment

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bush's Tough Dilemmas on Global Environment

Article excerpt

As scientific evidence mounts that global warming is real, an international conference to address it has collapsed in The Hague amid finger-pointing, much of it aimed at the United States.

A new US president with a self-proclaimed pro-business bias is set to take office. Some of his toughest choices will be on environmental policy and will require balancing short- and long- term interests. Few will be clear-cut.

Businesses would sacrifice the environment for profits; environmentalists would sacrifice profits for the environment. Business managers live in the short term: The price of their stocks today or next week is the basis on which their performance is judged. They did not choose that measure; their investors did. If you want altruistic companies, find altruistic investors.

Environmentalists have the luxury of being able to take a longer view that factors in the interrelatedness of nature. To help keep future healthcare costs down, don't pollute the air people breathe. It saves money in the long run.

Business tends to look at corporate cost and corporate investment; environmentalists tend to look at social costs and social investment. At least in this respect, workers tend to think like their bosses. Auto workers, like the auto industry, are dead set against requiring better gas mileage in automobiles.

The conflict is more intense in developing nations, where it has become a foreign-policy problem for the US. The US is the biggest single source of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (the major cause of global warming), but developing nations, as a whole, emit more. To the people of these countries, it looks like US and Europe have ridden pollution to economic prosperity and are now trying to prevent the third world from doing the same thing.

New Delhi, one of the world's most polluted cities, was recently the scene of riots by workers protesting court orders to clean up factories. The factories in question employ an average of 11 workers each, but there are 90,000 such factories and they provide a living to 1 million Indians plus their families.

China is projected to have as many as 170 million cars by 2020. …

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