WASHINGTON - It's too bad that Theodore Roosevelt is not alive today to witness the grotesque policies of the Republican Party toward the environment and the sloganeering of GOP pin-up girl Sarah Palin in howling "Drill, baby, drill!" The conservationist and environmentalist Roosevelt would be comforted that he eventually ditched the greedy and corporatist Republican Party to run for president as the candidate of the progressive Bull Moose Party.
Once again, Republicans in Congress are attempting to open up pristine Arctic wilderness areas in Alaska, as well as Florida coastal marine areas of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to the environmental destroyers of Big Oil and Gas.
And if Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has his way, he will compromise with Republicans like Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona on offshore drilling in order to see a carbon cap-and-trade bill passed. It appears that Kerry waffles on the environment as much as he does on U.S. military engagements overseas.
Rather than adopt a policy of steering the world's energy demands away from carbon fuels like oil and coal, the Republicans, aided and abetted by wafflers like Kerry and conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats, will erect offshore drilling platforms off our nation's most environmentally-sensitive coasts to produce perhaps enough oil to supply the United States for a half year at most.
Even if the United States drills all the remaining oil and natural gas from within its economic zone, that represents a mere 3 percent of the world's known reserves. The United States, which hoggishly drinks up a fourth of the world's oil output, would continue to rely on oil imports from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Russia, and its new virtual colony, Iraq.
After the oil and gas supplies are depleted, America's coastlines will look like the aftermath of an invasion by Star Trek's Borg: ravaged coastlines and marine ecosystems with seascapes marred by huge corroding metallic skeletons sitting atop dry wells.
When people are addicted they must be weaned away from the addictive substance. The American people, rather than be sated with a finite amount of oil and natural gas for a few months in exchange for environmental damage of our nation's coastlines, must be weaned away from their gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks. The Environmental Protection Agency, which recently staked an impressive claim to regulate global warming gasses in the continued absence of congressional action, must get even tougher on the unholy alliance of Big Auto and Big Oil.
While small-minded propagandists harp over leaked e-mails from Britain's University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit and suggest that the e-mails - some from 10 years ago - prove a global climate change conspiracy of scientists, records from NASA and the U.S. National Climate Data Center prove that rising temperatures are contributing to global glacier retreat, the disappearance of permanent Arctic sea ice, and the rise of the world's oceans.
Prince Albert II of Monaco, who heads up a foundation designed to save our beleaguered planet, recently told a National Press Club newsmaker luncheon about personally witnessing the effects of global climate change during visits to the Arctic and Antarctic.
The prince also noted that his great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert I, who was an early proponent of ocean conservation, took a photo of a glacier in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in 1906. On a recent trip to Svalbard, Albert II said the same glacier has retreated more than 4 miles since 1906.
The supporters of unrestricted offshore oil and gas drilling want to avoid the uncomfortable, massive evidence of global environmental collapse by clinging to cheap bumper sticker slogans like "Drill, baby, drill!" It's time for the Obama administration and Congress to put politics aside and stand steadfast on environmental principle like Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose.
Wayne Madsen is a contributing writer to the progressive Online Journal (www.onlinejournal.com). Readers may write to him c/o National Press Club, Front Desk, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20045.