Sunday, February 20, 2005

Bush Apologists At Their Best

Dr. Drezner is a political scientist and economist, who has a weblog.  It's pretty good, certainly more influential than mine.  I don't usually have any major objections to what he writes.  However, today I have tow things to say.  One, his trackback seems not to be working.  Two, his apologistic efforts for our President are lacking, at least in the instance of his 2/15/2005 post, In honor of the Kyoto Protocol...

Dr. Drezner cites another blog, Opinio Juris, which in turn cites an article in The New Republic, which, apparently, requires a paid subscription, which I don't have and am not about to get, but which is generously cited, and so I feel able to comment upon it, even though I have to confess that I have not read the entire thing, since I don't have a subscription, because I don't want to spend any money on this blogging thing, which, after all, is just an idle hobby, and an excuse to write badly formed sentences, with too many commas, and besides, I would never give any money to the publisher of The New Republic, anyway, because they are too damn serious all the time, not like the editors of The Economist, who actually have a sense of humor, and let it show, at least sometimes. 
Over at a new international law blog called Opinio Juris, Julian Ku notes that while the Bush administration is no fan of Kyoto, it is leading the way in reducing methane. He links to this Gregg Easterbrook essay in The New Republic which contains the following:
You'll hear a reprise of outrage that George W. Bush withdrew the United States from Kyoto negotiations. Here's something you probably won't hear about: the multilateral greenhouse-gas reduction agreement George W. Bush approved a year ago. The world's first international anti-global-warming agreement to take force is not the Kyoto treaty. It is a Bush Administration initiative, and you have not heard a peep regarding the initiative because the American press corps is pretending it does not exist....
First, the snarky part.  It is absolutely ridiculous, that is, it is worthy of ridicule, for anyone to say that something the President does is not widely known on account of the "American press corps pretending it does not exist".  Give me a break.  This President has fewer press conferences that any President in modern times.  His Party has mastered the Machiavellian art of manipulating the press.  Even without the Honorable Jeff Gannon, if the President wants people to know about something, he can get the word out one way or another.  So knock it off about the media.  They are not to blame.  This is not some liberal media cabal to squelch the estimable efforts of our dear leader. 

Did it occur to Easterbrook that maybe, just maybe, the press hasn't reported it because it isn't newsworthy

What is this methane deal anyway?  Methane is a hydrocarbon, consisting of one carbon atom bonded to four hydrogen atoms.  It is a greenhouse gas.  On July 28, 2004, the President issued a statement about the Methane to Markets Partnership.  The idea is for the US to spend $53 million over the next five years, in an effort to "expand the use of technologies to capture methane emissions that are now wasted in the course of industrial processes and use them as a new energy source."

There has been some progress. Intrepid Technologies announced on 2/1/2005 that they have succeeded in capturing commercial quantities of methane from animal waste.  This is encouraging, but to claim that it is an achievement of the Bush administration is nutty.  In fact, third-world countries have been doing this for years.
The Philippines is a tropical country with just a dry and a rainy season. Ambient temperature is in the 30°C to 40°C range year-round -- ideal for biogas. The temperature under direct sun can be much higher. (I have to put shades on some of my digesters!) For waste management and pollution control, the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been promoting biogas production in large pig farms specially those already equipped with waste lagoons. Unlike India and their huge Gobar supply, cattle farms are few in the Philippines. We have many pig and poultry farms.

We don't have a "Gobar Gas Research Station". We have very little information, promotion and programs for biogas specially for small-scale systems. Compared to India's 2.9 million family-type biogas digesters in 2000, there are probably less than 100 such units in the Philippines. (www.undp.org/seed/energy/policy/ch_8.htm)

India had 2.9 million biogas installations in the year 2000, four years before Bush's announcement.  And the EPA has been working on reduction of methane emissions since 1993:
Since 1993, EPA has been working collaboratively with industry through a series of voluntary programs to reduce US methane emissions. Building from these programs, EPA has also implemented activities to reduce emissions in key countries around the world. These efforts have resulted in the successful project development at landfills and underground coal mines and established a solid foundation for the Methane to Markets Partnership. For more information on these international activities, please visit the Coalbed Methane Outreach Program and Landfill Methane Outreach Program sites.
So we see that the effort to reduce methane emissions in the USA actually started during the Clinton years.  As for Bush, he promised a $53 million investment over five years, which is peanuts.  (The war in Iraq costs more than $175 million per day, and it is mucking up the environment.)  What really makes this apologistic load smell like the device pictured above is that Bush has a terrible record on these kinds of initiatives.  No Child Left Behind is not fully funded.  The HIV/AIDS relief for Africa is not fully funded.  The Millennium Challenge Corporation has yet to disburse a single penny.  FutureGen is way behind schedule, and is grossly underfunded.  So excuse me for being skeptical of the guy.  The fact is, his record on humanistic initiatives is just plain lousy.

Next time, before trying to put a positive spin on anything Bush does, spend a little time with Google (although Dogpile might be more appropriate, in this case) and put things in context. 

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To pretend that Bush took it upon himself to withdraw from Kyoto is silly and disingenuous. The Senate unanimously rejected it years ago.

I'm not sure that there is much else to say about that, is there?
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