Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Getting What You Wish For

I expect quite a few of the visitors here have already read or know about Bill Moyers's essay in the March 24 NYRB entitled Welcome to Doomsday. Moyers discusses the influence of the so-called "Christian right" on Bush administration environmental policy. The recent, very novel alliance between evangelicals and the Catholic hierarchy is one important development. This movement bases its thinking about enironmental issues on the Genesis account in which God says to Adam and Eve, "Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." Some Catholics and evangelicals interpret this "dominion" as implying a responsibility of stewardship, but most tend to view it as conferring a right of exploitation. (See my post on The Peacemaker at the Dialogue blog for an alternative spiritual relationship to nature.)

This Old Testament stance toward nature might be open to interpretation and negotation among Christians and non-Christians, but Moyers is even more disturbed about the Apocalyptic movement in Christianity. "Google the "Rapture Index," Moyers writes, "and you will see just how the notion has seized the imagination of many a good and sincere believer." No one can say for sure how many U.S. Christians believe that the world is about to end, but there are tens of millions at least. Moyers notes a poll that found that 36% of all Americans believe the Book of Revelation is "true prophecy." You can read all about the bizarre, hate filled and ignorant beliefs of the End Times believers in Moyers's article which is available here. Obviously, as far as these folks are concerned, anybody who wants to rape and pillage the earth can just go right ahead, because it isn't going to be around much longer anyway.

I was moved to tout the Moyers piece today John Heilprin's reporting for the Associated Press. It turns out the EPA has suppressed internal reports about the benefits from limiting mercury emissions from power plants. The EPA claims the benefit nationwide would be only $50 million a year, while its own heretofore secret analysis showed the benefits would be $2 billion for the Southeast alone. The report also found a mercury "hot spot" in the Atlantic Ocean off the southeast coast.

The Bush administration has a consistent habit of basing its environmental policies on fake data, phony analyses, and outright lies; and of suppressing scientific information that conflicts with its preferred policies. While it is impossible to know whether Bush himself believes in the End Times, we do know that he believes deeply and sincerely in making his wealthy friends even richer, particularly the ones in the energy business. The alliance between corporate polluters and despoilers, and Christian true believers may be entirely cynical, but it has an iron grip on the country right now. By the way, those billions of dollars in benefits from limiting mercury pollution are mostly a way of summarizing the cost of deformities and brain damage in fetuses and children. But what the hell, it's God's will.

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