Towards a Humanist Environmentalism; Bush Policies Focused More on Benefits Than Inhibited Harm

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 11, 2003 | Go to article overview

Towards a Humanist Environmentalism; Bush Policies Focused More on Benefits Than Inhibited Harm


Byline: Tod Lindberg, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Eventually, the Iraq business will be over. Then it will be time for those most vexed with the Bush administration over Saddam Hussein - namely, left-wing Democratic partisans at home and an uncertain segment of opinion abroad - to find something else about which to be driven to distraction. May I suggest a closer look at a creeping Bush neo-environmentalist agenda touched upon in the State of the Union speech?

But first, a few more words about the vexation, which has a specific character to it. It is not only that Mr. Bush is doing something one can't stand - or in some cases, that the reason one can't stand something is that Mr. Bush is doing it. It is that Mr. Bush is maddeningly successful in doing what he is doing.

Take the near-frenzy into which Democratic partisans had whipped themselves in late January: His job-approval ratings had turned south on Mr. Bush, support for a war on Iraq was slipping - in general, he was at last getting his true comeuppance. Except that by early February, once the administration had re-engaged with the public on Iraq starting with the State of the Union speech, Mr. Bush's job approval ratings were moving up again, and support for using military force against Iraq reached 70 percent in the latest Newsweek poll. Once you've got yourself invested in the proposition that you're making headway, as the anti-Bush partisans did, news that you aren't is most unwelcome indeed.

Mr. Bush unveiled several new initiatives in the state of the union message. One called for an increase in funding, to a total of $1.2 billion, for research into hydrogen-powered cars. Another was a program of $15 billion over five years to provide medicine for AIDS sufferers in Africa. Together, the two are suggestive of some very innovative thinking with, I think, an identifiable source: Call it "humanist environmentalism" and trace it to Bjorn Lomborg, the controversial Danish statistician who is both left-wing and the author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," a withering critique of the orthodoxies of doom currently propounded by the community of environmental activists.

First of all, the smaller program, the hydrogen-powered cars: The administration has at last answered the question of what it proposes to do about the Kyoto accords, the fantastically expensive pact to reduce worldwide emissions over the next century - from which the administration unceremoniously withdrew shortly after taking office, to much international consternation. …

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