Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Quandry

One of the most difficult challenges the current U.S. administration will pose for historians is deciding which of its innumerable crimes against humanity constitutes the greatest outrage. Of course even posing the question may constitute a sin of reductionism - the various outrages are all avatars of the same God of greed and powerlust. It is, after all, loyalty to the billionaires of the oil industry, and contempt for humanity in general, that brought us the campaign of lies that produced the Iraq war, and the even more sustained and elaborate campaign of lies denying global climate change that prevented any serious effort to do anything about it.

Right now the lies are unravelling so fast, and in so many places, that we can't even take it all in. Henry Waxman got done with Valerie Plame on Friday and moved on to carbon dioxide yesterday, but the climate change hearing was scarcely noticed. Here's the money shot:

One example showed how a report originally said the U.S. National Research Council had concluded that "greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures to rise and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise."

Philip Cooney, the oil lobbyist who became chief of staff at the Council on Environmental Quality, changed that to read: "Some activities emit greenhouse gases that directly or indirectly may affect the balance of incoming and outgoing radiation, thereby potentially affecting climate on regional and global scales."

An oil industry lobbyist as chief of staff at the Council on Environmental Quality? Now that's a crime against humanity. I simply cannot understand the depravity of people who not just blithely, but in an agressive and bullying manner set out to severely damage the world their own grandchildren will live in just to add to their already obscene wealth.

Is that worse than an illegal war of agression that's killed a few hundred thousand people and left millions homeless? I would say yes. So how do these people compare to, say, Adolf Eichmann?

Update: It turns out I'm not the only person thinking about Nazis in this connection.

A government scientist, under sharp questioning by a federal panel for his outspoken views on global warming, stood by his view today that the Bush administration's information policies smacked of Nazi Germany. James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, took particular issue with the administration's rule that a government information officer listen in on his interviews with reporters and its refusal to allow him to be interviewed by National Public Radio.

"This is the United States," Hansen told the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee. "We do have freedom of speech here."

Now, dig Republic Party hack Darrell Issa:

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) said it was reasonable for Hansen's employer to ask him not to state views publicly that contradicted administration policy.

"I am concerned that many scientists are increasingly engaging in political advocacy and that some issues of science have become increasingly partisan as some politicians sense that there is a political gain to be found on issues like stem cells, teaching evolution and climate change," Issa said.

Uhh, Darrell, see, that's not how it is. Scientists aren't engaging in political advocacy or being partisan when they teach evolution or study climate change. There's this concept called truth. Yes, yes, it has a liberal bias. You're just going to have to get used to that.