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Mileage Standards Fine For Chasing White Rabbits

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O frabjous day! Callooh Callay! Let us chortle in our glee, even if it means apologizing to Lewis Carroll, whose book about absurdity, "Through the Looking Glass," appears ever more reflective of our times.

At last Congress has passed auto mileage standards to reduce oil dependency and reduce the threat of Global Warming. Time to celebrate, right?

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At first glance, yes, you could look into the bill passed Thursday, June 21, and see reflected there one more in a series of good news stories in recent months. You could catch glimmerings of a country waking up from nightmares our leadership induced in recent years, when it comes to climate change and defense. But look through the surface glare, and you'll notice the new bill mandates only 35 m.p.h. fuel efficiency for cars, trucks and SUVs by 2020! Bush has threatened to veto even that as too tough on the auto and fuel industries.

Right now in China thousands drive to work everyday in cars that get 40, 50 or even 60 miles to the gallon. Still, there and elsewhere, new cars, factories and power plants are expected to mushroom across the globe in coming months and years, vastly accelerating the heating of the planet.

Given the peril we're in, passing this bill is akin to spotting a drowning child and shouting, "Great news, we're throwing you a lifeline next year!"

In the case of Mother Earth, make it 13 years. Someone should remind Congress and the president that…

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In 13 years, massive ice fields in Greenland, the North and South poles and elsewhere, will shrink dramatically. Loss of such reflective ice will speed up the absorption of sunlight and heat, further melting the ice and snow, further raising temperatures, and melting more ice.

In 13 years, the frozen tundra of northern climes will be melting, giving off a ghostly veil of once-frozen methane—an insidious greenhouse gas. As this warms the planet, more tundra will melt, speeding up the greenhouse process. Another feedback loop.

In 13 years, more forests will be slashed and burned, emptying a deep well of carbon into the atmosphere. And as those forests disappear, pure forest products will rise in value, increasing demand, hastening the slashing and burning, giving rise to more carbon gasses.

In 13 years, a similar shrinkage in availability of water, oil, gasses and coal, will sharpen appetites of developing nations, busy even now building canals, cars, factories and coal-fired plants, hastening the shrinkage of resources.

In 13 years, well… anything might happen. Not only because nature is fickle, but because American policies, like those of many, less-powerful nations, are incoherent, dishonest and reactionary.

We have no sane energy policy. We have no sane military policy. We have no sane environmental policy. What we have is a mess. And it's tied to an economic and political system that makes things worse by exploiting fear and maximizing profits for a few.

Michael Klare, who's taken a hard look at the prospect of coming resource wars, has a new book, Blood and Oil, The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum. In an excerpt I read at

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(, Klare points out how our policy in Iraq really is about oil. It's based, says Klare, on a doctrine promoted by every president since Truman.

According to Klare, "It was given formal expression by President Carter in January 1980, when, in response to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the Islamic revolution in Iran, he announced that the secure flow of Persian Gulf oil was in 'the vital interests of the United States of America,' and that in protecting this interest we would use 'any means necessary, including military force.'"

Leading up to the Gulf War, Bush 41 cited Carter's declaration, and it served as pre-established justification for Bush 43's ill-conceived and duplicitous invasion of Iraq.

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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, short story writer, freelancer, and the founding editor and publisher of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of literary stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the (more...)

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