After “hard times”, “great expectations” for environmental issues in America?
by Samir BENKHALFOUNE
Pressure from nature to approve the Kyoto protocol.
Many scientists, researchers and politicians agree that the latest natural disasters in America might have a positive impact on US policies. Environmentalists all over the world live in hope.
Earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes: America has indeed been experiencing hard times in the last few months. The fact that oceanic temperatures are rising faster than atmospheric ones accounts for several of these phenomena. Most people agree that greenhouse gas emissions from exhaust pipes, power stations and factories rank pretty high on the culprit list... However talks about finding solutions to reduce these fume problems inevitably bring major disagreements to the surface. The refusal of the Bush administration to sign the Kyoto treaty in March 2001 was one such instance.
Not all Americans approved this move, far from it.
Last May, some US mayors started an initiative to get American cities to meet the Kyoto targets and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Individuals are also participating, sometimes unconsciously, to this effort. The recent surge in oil, gas, and petrol prices has induced many American consumers to change their attitude and adopt more environmentally friendly behaviors. More and more are doing their shopping over the internet instead of driving to the mall and thousands have rushed to buy wood-stoves in order to reduce their heating bills.
It is somewhat heart-warming to know that natural disasters can also have a few positive effects. But no one knows whether Katrina, Wilma and Rita will be convincing enough to influence American policies in a lasting way.
"US Cities Snub Bush and Sign Up to Kyoto," The Guardian 17 May 2005.
« The High Price of Gasoline Sends Shoppers to the Web, » The New York Times 10 October 2005.
« Fearing Heat Costs, Many Take Preventive Action, » The New York Times 11 October 2005.