Journalist and investigative journalist Ross Gelbspan was guest speaker of Southern Vermonters for a Fair Economy at the Howe Library on May 21. He is author of The Heat is On: Global Warming, the Cover-up, and the Prescription. SVEC is directed by John Berkowitz, and their concerns are a fair economy global climate change, and ending use of fossil fuels. Local environmental groups represented included Paul Burns, VPIRG, Bob Walker, Sustainable Energy Resource Group, Ames Byrd, SERG Norwich.
Ross links global warming and global poverty and political instability. Warming effects are hurting many poor nations now. The seas may rise 32-34 inches by 2003, inundating much inhabited land. Some countries are losing land where people live and farm at a rapid rate. Changes in the hydrological cycle produce new levels of severe weather, such as the longest and most severe El Nino conditions, breaking off Antarctic ice shelf, glacier and Greenland ice sheet retreat. Disease is spread as warming increases range and success of mosquitos. The economy is threatened by severe weather in developed areas overwhelming disaster relief agencies and the property insurance industry. In politics, environmental refugees become fertile ground for totalitarian leaders. All these changes have resulted from 1 degree of warming, and 3 to 5 degrees of warming are expected by the end of the century.
Why is US news coverage so scant and biased against global warming, when it is widely accepted all over the world, where nations are working on policies for change? Only the US disputes it. The oil and coal industries, and particularly Exxon and Mobil, are conducting a campaign of deception and disinformation. They have spent big money to destroy political opponents, paying 3 scientists 1 Million apiece to dispute global warming reports. But they are under pressure from increasingly definitive scientific reports. After an initial period in which they tried to show it isn't happening, we now see a campaign that tells us it will be good for us, e.g. wheat growing in Canada. This ignores impact of loss of Asian rice and India's wheat on those huge populations. Some international corporations are working hard for alternatives, e.g. Shell and BP are working on hydrogen alternatives. Ford and Daimler/Chrysler are voluntarily seeking better standards for fuel emissions. The differences between the culture of scientists and journalists needs to be understood: science is cautious, measured, slow; journalism must activate.
His plan: - End subsidies for fossil fuels, put them behind renewables. - Create a fund of 300 billion USD to help developing countries use renewables instead of following in the developed world's footsteps. Earth could not sustain the world's population living as the developed world does. - Get the money for this fund by taxing interstate money transactions. - Create jobs abroad that promote renewables. - End international credits for trading emissions - it doesn't protect nature. - Change flood insurance from federal to state, and grassroots will become aware. - Changes in values will follow changes in technology. - Compare this to Kyoto Convention: It has low goals, and permits emission trading.
Projects underway: In Springfield VT, they promote renewable energy projects. --- project works with doctors and health professionals on public health aspects, using the Physicians for Social Responsibility "degrees of danger." Ad campaign: "Let's declare energy independence." Paul Epstein (Harvard) works on disease vectors of global warming. Banking community needs to be brought on board, as they could be players in transactions to poor countries. Press these solutions outside the US, for example with Shell and BP. Marshall Institute: Implications of global warming for world governance. European Union is taking leadership. UN Framework on Climate Change. Center for Public Integrity website reveals corruption by Exxon/Mobil. See www.campaignexxonmobil.com where shareholders can vote against disinformation. Keep it in front of the press. Public education.www.heatison.org