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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Anthropocentric Auto Sprawl

The Newsday article, and WHO report that it is summarizing, both claim that in America (and other advanced developed nations) those killed in traffic accidents are mostly the vehicle drivers and occupants themselves -- often the result of driver-impaired conditions. Ahem -- I BEG TO DIFFER...those mostly killed by cars are animals caught struck in the roadway, which one researcher estimates happens upwards of 400 million times per annum: see Driving Animals to Their Graves. I underline "estimates" because while organizations like the WHO document the number of human lives lost to vehicular accidents, the same is often not the case for the animals (from squirrel to cougar) who are put in total jeopardy by a car-based culture and economy. But the point remains that if the WHO thinks that autos constitute a vital health threat because they kill approximately one million people a year globally, put that in the context of one million a day domestically alone.

Via: NY Newsday

Imagine if three or four times a week, every week, we had an airline crash somewhere in America the magnitude of TWA Flight 800. Imagine if twice a month an ocean liner left port somewhere in America and sank like the Titanic.

Imagine if once a month, every month, like clockwork in cities across America, terrorists leveled a building like they leveled the World Trade Center -- killing more than 2,700.

Imagine the outrage.

Every year such disaster happens on American roads. To the tune of about 42,000 dead in traffic accidents.

Each year, every year.

But, it doesn't just happen here. It happens worldwide, one accident at a time.

Those accidents killed 1.26 million men, women and children worldwide in 2000. Twenty-five percent of all fatal injuries worldwide, in fact, occured in auto accidents. War accounted for 6 percent.

Take a moment. A good, long moment. Think about that.

This morning, for the first time in its 56-year history, the World Health Organization will brand motor vehicle accidents as a global health risk. It will do this to mark the theme of World Health Day 2004 "Road Safety," calling traffic injuries "a deadly scourge." [...]

Posted by Richard
4/07/2004 07:56:43 PM | PermaLink

 
Monday, April 05, 2004

Bush Attacks Environment 'Scare Stories' --Secret Email Gives Advice on Denying Climate Change

Sadly, this email is not a revelation. As I've posted before and the bottom of this UK Observer story notes, the architect behind this plan is right-wing consultant Frank Luntz -- author of the infamous Luntz memo that called for Republicans to soft sell their environmental policies and stop using "frightening" language like "global warming" in favor of "climate change" or avoiding the topic altogether...which Bush's record shows he has done. So this is just further proof that the strategy is still ongoing and people need to take them to task on these issues -- it truly is a devastating weakness of their party's political program and policies at the moment. BTW -- see the Luntzspeak.com site for more info on how individual players are enacting this rhetoric.

Via: Infoshop.org

George W. Bush's campaign workers have hit on an age-old political tactic to deal with the tricky subject of global warming - deny, and deny aggressively.

The Observer has obtained a remarkable email sent to the press secretaries of all Republican congressmen advising them what to say when questioned on the environment in the run-up to November's election. The advice: tell them everything's rosy.

It tells them how global warming has not been proved, air quality is 'getting better', the world's forests are 'spreading, not deadening', oil reserves are 'increasing, not decreasing', and the 'world's water is cleaner and reaching more people'.

The email - sent on 4 February - warns that Democrats will 'hit us hard' on the environment. 'In an effort to help your members fight back, as well as be aggressive on the issue, we have prepared the following set of talking points on where the environment really stands today,' it states.

The memo - headed 'From medi-scare to air-scare' - goes on: 'From the heated debate on global warming to the hot air on forests; from the muddled talk on our nation's waters to the convolution on air pollution, we are fighting a battle of fact against fiction on the environment - Republicans can't stress enough that extremists are screaming "Doomsday!" when the environment is actually seeing a new and better day.'

Among the memo's assertions are 'global warming is not a fact', 'links between air quality and asthma in children remain cloudy', and the US Environment Protection Agency is exaggerating when it says that at least 40 per cent of streams, rivers and lakes are too polluted for drinking, fishing or swimming.

It gives a list of alleged facts taken from contentious sources. For instance, to back its claim that air quality is improving it cites a report from Pacific Research Institute - an organization that has received $130,000 from Exxon Mobil since 1998.

The memo also lifts details from the controversial book The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg. On the Republicans' claims that deforestation is not a problem, it states: 'About a third of the world is still covered with forests, a level not changed much since World War II. The world's demand for paper can be permanently satisfied by the growth of trees in just five per cent of the world's forests.'

The memo's main source for the denial of global warming is Richard Lindzen, a climate-skeptic scientist who has consistently taken money from the fossil fuel industry. His opinion differs substantially from most climate scientists, who say that climate change is happening.

But probably the most influential voice behind the memo is Frank Luntz, a Republican Party strategist. In a leaked 2002 memo, Luntz said: 'The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science.'

Luntz has been roundly criticized in Europe. Last month Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, attacked him for being too close to Exxon.

Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace condemned the messages given in the Republican email. He said: 'Bush's spin doctors have been taking their brief from dodgy scientists with an Alice in Wonderland view of the world' environment. They want us to think the air is getting cleaner and that global warming is a myth. This memo shows it is Exxon Mobil driving US policy, when it should be sound science.'

The memo has met some resistance from Republican moderates.

Republican Mike Castle, who heads a group of 69 moderate House members, senators and governors, says the strategy doesn't address the fact that pollution continues to be a health threat. 'If I tried to follow these talking points at a town hall meeting with my constituents, I'd be booed.'

Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords, who left the Republican Party in 2001 to become an independent partly over its anti-green agenda, called the memo 'outlandish' and an attempt to deceive voters.

'They have a head-in-the-sand approach to it. They're just sloughing off the human health impacts - the premature deaths and asthma attacks caused by power plant pollution,' Jeffords said.

Republican House Conference director Greg Cist, who sent the email, said: 'It's up to our members if they want to use it or not. We're not stuffing it down their throats.'

He said the memo was spurred by concerns that environmental groups were using myths to try to make the Republicans look bad.

'We wanted to show how the environment has been improving,' Cist said. 'We wanted to provide the other side of the story.'

Posted by Richard
4/05/2004 01:39:40 PM | PermaLink