July 21, 2003

Bush Ready to Wreck Ozone Layer Treaty

What will the Green Party do in 2004? We can only
expect the worst. Ralph Nada has not donned a sack
cloth and gone through the streets of Fraudida begging
forgiveness. He has not even retracted his naked and
craven lie that there would be no difference between
Bush and Gore. And what can we expect from a party that had someone running against Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) in a closely contested race, prior to his tragic and suspicious death...Meanwhile, as the global warming crisis
intensifies, it is wholly ignored by the _resident who
simply mouths lies about environment science just as
he mouths lies about Iraq, 9/11, soaring joblessness
and massive federal debt. Now, the small-minded,
mean-spirited little man who tore up the Kyoto accords
is going to tear apart the ozone treaty as well...And,
in another pitiful display of his impotence,
the-shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony-Blair ca't
stop him...Of course, as we move closer to the 2004
election, and the _resident continues to plummet in
the polls (even the cooked ones), the American public
could dissuade the _resident (at least for now), but
alas the "US mainstream news media" just can't seem to
squeeze it in between Scott Peterson and Kobe
Bryant...The "conventional wisdom" says that the
Environment is not a big ticket political issue, as in
much of what passes as "conventional wisdom," this
notion is very wrong. It should be one of the four
aspects of the one over-riding issue -- SECURITY, i.e.
national security, economic security, social security
and environmental security.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0720-02.htm

Published on Sunday, July 20, 2003 by the Independent
/UK
Bush Ready to Wreck Ozone Layer Treaty - US Slips in
Demand to Drop Ban on Harmful Pesticide
by Geoffrey Lean

President George Bush is targeting the international
treaty to save the ozone layer which protects all life
on earth from deadly radiation, The Independent on
Sunday can reveal.

New US demands - tabled at a little-noticed meeting in
Montreal earlier this month - threaten to unravel one
of the greatest environmental success stories of the
past few decades, causing millions of deaths from
cancer.

The news comes at a particularly embarrassing time for
the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who pressed the
President in their talks in Washington last week to
stop his attempts to sabotage the Kyoto Protocol which
sets out to control global warming: one of the few
international issues on which they differ.

Now, instead of heeding Mr Blair, Mr Bush is
undermining the ozone treaty as well, by seeking to
perpetuate the use of the most ozone-destructive
chemical still employed in developed countries,
otherwise soon to be phased out. Ironically, it was
sustained pressure from the Reagan administration, in
which Mr Bush's father served as vice-president, that
ensured the treaty was adopted in the first place. It
has proved such a success that environmentalists have
long regarded it as inviolable.

The ozone layer - made of a type of oxygen so thinly
scattered through the upper atmosphere that, if
gathered all together, it would form a ring around the
earth no thicker than the sole of a shoe - screens out
the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays which would,
otherwise, wipe out terrestrial life. As it weakens,
more of the rays get through, causing skin cancer and
blindness from cataracts.

The world was shocked to discover in the 1980s that
pollution from man-made chemicals had opened a hole
the size of the United States in the layer above
Antarctica, and had thinned it worldwide. Led by the
US, nations moved with unprecedented speed to agree
the treaty, called the Montreal Protocol, in 1987 -
which started the process of phasing out use of the
chemicals.

The measures have been progressively tightened ever
since. Scientists reckon that they will eventually
prevent 2 million cases of cancer a year in the US and
Europe alone. But President Bush's new demands
threaten to throw the process into reverse.

They centre on a pesticide, methyl bromide, now the
greatest attacker of ozone left in industrialised
countries. The US is responsible for a quarter of the
world's consumption of the chemical, which has also
been linked with increased prostate cancers in
farmers.

Under an extension to the Montreal Protocol, agreed in
1997, the pesticide is being gradually phased out and
replaced with substitutes; its use in the West is due
to end completely in 2005. Nations are legally allowed
to extend the use of small amounts in "critical"
applications, but the US is demanding exemptions far
beyond those permitted, for uses ranging from growing
strawberries to tending golf courses.

It is also pressing to exploit a loophole in the
treaty - allowing the use of the chemical to treat
wood packaging - so that, instead of being phased out,
its use would increase threefold.

The demands now go to an international conference in
Nairobi this autumn. Experts fear that, if agreed, the
treaty will begin to fall apart, not least because
developing countries - which are following rich
nations in phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals -
could cease their efforts.

"The US is reneging on the agreement, and working
very, very hard to get other countries to agree," said
David Doniger, a former senior US government official
dealing with ozone issues, who now works for the
Natural Resources Defense Council. "If it succeeds, it
threatens to unravel the whole fabric of the treaty."
Dr Joe Farman, the Cambridge scientist who discovered
the Antarctic ozone hole, added: "This is madness. We
do not need this chemical. We do need the ozone layer.
How stupid can people be?"

2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

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Posted by richard at July 21, 2003 01:36 PM