Monday, December 05, 2005


Comment by Linwood Barclay in the Toronto Star

How could it be that President George W. Bush, whose country has been plagued by murderously hot summers, melting glaciers up in Alaska, and catastrophic hurricanes in the gulf states, is not the slightest bit interested in tackling the problem of climate change?

This past week, in Montreal, there were delegates from all over the world, meeting and discussing ways to stop global warming, or at the very least, slowing the pace at which it is getting worse. And which country wasn't interested in putting in its two cents' worth of unleaded to find solutions? The United States.

For some time now, I've been puzzling over this one, this lack of interest on Bush's part, and for awhile there I had it narrowed down to four things:

a) He's not all that bright.

b) Whenever climate change comes up during the President's Daily Brief, it's at the same time Dick Cheney does his Colin Powell impression ("Oh, gee, we better be careful!"), at which point everyone clutches their sides and falls over laughing.

c) When people talk to him about this problem, all Bush hears is: "They hate freedom, they hate freedom, they hate freedom."

d) All of the above.

And then I thought maybe Halliburton's got all these massive climate change machines coming down the pipe, at $100 billion a crack, and when we really need them, Cheney can broker a deal.

But that's just being cynical, and I'd hate to give the impression that I'm cynical where the Bush administration is concerned.

Another theory is that George W. Bush is in fact himself a casualty of climate change. We know that global warming can raise the average temperature of the ocean by a degree or two, and that this creates a breeding ground for absolutely insane Katrina-style hurricanes.

Well, what if a warmer climate has raised the average temperature of Bush's brain by only one degree? Now, we already know that an extremely high fever, even if it's only over a short period of time, can do damage to the brain. What if a slight increase in temperature, over an extended period, has the very same effect?

What if the inside of Bush's brain is spinning around like Dorothy's house just before it crashes in Oz?

If Bush's brain has been altered by climate change, he may be unable to fathom the fact that a change in the climate is responsible. And if this is the case, he deserves our sympathy, not scorn. In fact, he deserves more than our sympathy. He deserves our help.

What we have to do now, before we can get the U.S. involved in tackling the climate change problem, is we have to get Bush's brain temperature down.

Canada can play a major role here.

My plan, and it's not without risk, is to have the president up for another visit to Canada. Martin, Harper, whoever wins can extend the invitation.

But this time, instead of hosting him in the nation's capital, we invite him to our far, far North, and tease him with the idea that — right under where he's standing — there are vast reserves of oil. Just a few feet down, under the ice and tundra and whatever else is up there. Show him around, take him on a walkabout. Get him to take off his hat for a photo op. (That part is critical.)

Right about then, the president's high brain temperature should be coming down. And, with any luck, its damaging effects. Bush will start seeing reality. And that's when we shove the Kyoto agreement, or a reasonable facsimile, in front of him to sign.

This might also be an opportune moment to bring him up to speed on what's been going on in Iraq for the last couple of years, but one thing at a time.

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