Albion Monitor /Commentary

Scapegoating the Poor for Global Warming

by Alexander Cockburn

Gore's hysteria, scripted for him by enviro-Malthusians from the World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club and kindred outfits, is the more ludicrous since the rate of increase in the world's population is declining
Here's how the TV weather forecasts will sound if Al Gore has his way: "California is bracing itself for torrential rains these coming months due to the irresponsible reproductive habits of poor people in Latin America and Africa. (Lurid demographic chart fills the screen.) We can also trace the violent storms soon to cause widespread damage across our nation to the flatulent water buffaloes and kindred bovines associated with irresponsible Third World breeding practices. The methane emissions from rice paddies required to feed burgeoning Third World populations have prompted delayed monsoons, increasingly severe storms, changing currents and drought."

And you thought the weather forecast was a cue to run to the bathroom. Just wait. The White House sees the weather forecasters as crucial players in the big campaign to stop Third World breeders and hence, in their lunatic logic, global warming.

On Oct. 1, Vice President Al Gore addressed a roomful of TV weathermen, mustered for a White House-orchestrated campaign to support Bill Clinton's as-yet-nebulous proposals for December's Kyoto conference on greenhouse gas emission levels. According to press reports, Gore wowed the weather folk with his appeal that they become the shock troops of state-sponsored Malthusian agitprop. As White House spokesman Mike McCurry put it complacently, the weathermen "appreciated being treated as something other than air heads. ... Maybe they can make the subject of global warming a little more lively for their audiences."

Using an easel and no fewer than four colored markers, Gore treated his audience to some of the most preposterous flights of fancy in the history of meteorological analysis. He suggested that global warming is linked to more weather-related deaths (presumably as a result of increased intensity of storms), plane crashes (he must have been referring to the downed jet in Indonesia) and unusual outbreaks of malaria. And increased warming, on Gore's scientific interpretation, stems from overpopulation that causes the peasant pyromaniacs to slash and burn their way through virgin forest. Meanwhile, the fecund rice farmer has to double- and triple-crop his rice paddy to feed those ever-pullulating tiny mouths.

There are some problems here. Most air crashes are not caused by poor weather. Take for example, the Valujet crash in the Everglades on a perfectly clear day. The plane most likely went down because deregulation (sponsored by Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy in the late 1970s) permitted funky wiring in the cockpit. A simple protective device is available in the event of cockpit fires but was nixed by none other than Al Gore in his role as czar of air safety.

A rise in malaria is seen by Gore as a consequence of warmer weather, which overlooks the increased resistance of the mosquito to pesticides as a function of the global campaign of eradication. That campaign has involved drenching Third World countries, houses and fields with DDT and other toxins, to the enhancement of the profit of the agro-chemical industries of Europe and the United States. Perhaps with an eye to voters in the Bible Belt from which he hails, Gore thus overlooks evolution, which has selected for ever-more-resistant bugs.

As for the smoke that may have blinded that pilot who crashed in Indonesia, the fires across Borneo were triggered not by peasant breeders but by corporations, many of which had bribed the Indonesian dictator Suharto for the privilege of logging and destroying native forests, burning the slash and establishing pulp plantations for the manufacture of paper and wood emulsion products. Deforestation in Indonesia and in the Amazon is not a function of peasant pyromania but of corporate enterprise.

Gore knows how to make his foolish but deeply sinister recipes palatable to the neo-liberals. On the one hand, there's fuzzy talk about "culturally appropriate and acceptable techniques" of birth control, along with "the empowerment of women, socially, politically and in the context of family." On the other, there's his brusque statement to the weathermen that it is time to set aside controversy over family planning and simply halt out-of-control population growth. Velvet glove and iron fist.

The iron fist, in Third World countries, can take the form of clinics backed by the U.S. Agency of International Development and foundations underwritten by Rockefeller, where Third World women are not empowered but simply sterilized. No doubt, we'll soon see aid to developing countries tied to population control.

Gore's hysteria, scripted for him by enviro-Malthusians from the World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club and kindred outfits, is the more ludicrous since the rate of increase in the world's population is declining. The notion that the number of people on the planet will double in one generation is dubious.

As for "global warming:" Predictions pretending to any degree of certainty are without scientific foundation. Second, the cause of any recent rise in the world's temperature can reflect long-term change across a millennium or recently discovered phenomena such as a surge in solar energy over the last decade.

An explicit goal of the White House meeting was to marshal weathermen to the Malthusian cause. Having failed to control any other powerful institution, maybe the White House has now fastened its hopes to the National Weather Service. But true to their cautious nature, having seen so many predictions fail, the weathermen, though flattered by the attention, remained skeptical.

After hearing Gore's address, Doug Hill, weatherman for Washington, D.C.'s WUSA-TV told a journalist that as for believing that changing weather patterns are due to human-generated global warming instead of being the product of weather cycles, he was not ready to "make the giant leap."

© Creators Syndicate

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Albion Monitor November 26, 1997 (

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