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Culture Change Media 


Culture Change Media, International Editor

New York, NY.  October 15, 2004

Wednesday September 15, 2004, the Washington DC based Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), arranged in the US Senate, Russell Building for a briefing on "the Threat of Abrupt Climate Change: Evidence for a New Paradigm".  This came about after the release by the National Research Council, which is part of the US National Academies, of further comments to a volume titled: ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE that was first printed in 2002.
The panel included Dr. Richard Alley, Academy of Science's Committee on
Abrupt Climate Change, Dr. Wallace Broecker, from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, and independent journalist Daniel
Grossman. Scientific work was done by gathering ice cores from the Arctic,
tree rings, sediments and other historical indicators. Much of the work was
done by teams from the Earth Observatory. Their work has indicated that
sudden shifts in climatic conditions have occurred many times during
previous millennia, in some cases as much as a ten degrees Celsius change
was registered in 10 years.  Evidence was found that persistent draughts
caused disruption of the Mayan culture and the collapse of the Mesopotamian
civilization.  The question that remains to be studied is how much of this
was caused by natural causes and what was the impact of human activity.
Considering that today, human induced changes are much more serious then
they were in the past, how will these changes lead to abrupt catastrophic
Saturday, October 9, 2004, there was an open house at the Lamont-Doherty
Earth Observatory that allowed me to visit the laboratory, talk to some of
the scientists involved, and view some of the collections of samples.  One
great place to visit is the Tree Ring Lab.  There we were told that since
1998 the American South West is very dry, and the biggest worries are
focused on Lake Powell that may go bellow the minimum level of water needed for power production.  The Oceanography Department has developed a GOGA model and compared it with Global Sea Surface Temperature measurements.  They can explain the drought that has caused the social turmoil in Darfur, linking it with the water surface temperature in the Indian Ocean.
The Washington Senate briefing came about in order to support Senator Susan Collins attempt to appropriate, via an amendment, the sum of $60 million to support a research program and coordinate activities to help understand human induced and natural processes of abrupt climate change.
At the Earth Observatory open house, Bruno Tremblay stated that even though the movie, "The Day after Tomorrow" has in it many exaggerations, and pointed out at some scientific incongruities, nevertheless, the central theme, as the various events including the El Ninio, La Ninia, Dafur drought and many other changes in the environment, the theme that we are in effect in the middle of major climate change is correct.  He used maps from Dr. W. Broecker papers, regarding the Global Thermohaline circulation -- the stream of water in the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt. Some changes are already occurring. Remembering the National Research Council's volume and the illustration how a little bit of added change can trigger a massive change to a new and very different state of equilibrium. Sure, this will not bring a tidal wave up Fifth Avenue in New York City, as in the movie, but it clearly can start with a drought in Dafur.  And just taking that last example -- how big are the payments in human suffering?
Who is to be made accountable?  Can one talk here about internalization of costs by the corporations that made this possible?  Now where are we going indeed?  Some of the above was tackled at the Earth Observatory open day, in the opening presentation by it's Director, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, but this
goes beyond the issue in front of us -- the Abrupt Climate Change.

The bottom line is nevertheless: - Expect Inevitable Surprises.


by Pincas Jawetz 
Culture Change Media 
New York, May 21, 2004 

This is a sequel to my reporting of May 3, 2004 and May 10, 2004.  I started this series with "Necessity Causes Argentina To Do Good," hoping that by using the present budding energy crisis Argentina will take steps in order to diversify energy inputs ó this keeping in mind that in December Buenos Aires, coincidentally, will be the home of the 2004 meeting of the Conference of the Parties that signed the U.N. Convention on Climate Change.  But, as per the energy policy released as promised by President Kirchner on May 12, 2004, it does not look like Argentina has indeed lived up to the substance of the promise. 

The Financial Times of May 17, 2004 states in its editorial: "Argentina's difficulties stem from the way the peso was devalued in December 2001.  By freezing electricity and gas prices at the old rates the authorities created serious distortions, reducing the willingness of companies to invest in order to maintain infrastructure and develop capacity.  Artificially low prices have been encouraging consumption at a time when economic recovery is in any case pushing up demand.  Producers, who have increased output about 14 per cent in the last 12 months, say they can no longer keep up with demand.  That has resulted in rationing for many industrial customers."  What this does not mention is the added truth ó the oil and gas industry, having been completely privatized, found that more money can be made by exporting these products rather then selling them to the internal domestic market. 

The Argentine energy crisis is basically a natural gas crisis now, enhanced by the secondary electricity crisis.  It could have been hoped that part of the new policy, in a country that could have rather large local money reserves (but is nevertheless dependent on difficult international money markets because of years of mismanagement, and a reluctance on the part of its own citizens to make long term investments), will have the ideal conditions to consider new forms of energy production.  This would include decentralized and appropriate wind, solar, biomass, and perhaps even ocean-related technologies, in particular in the remote rural sectors which are a major part of Argentina.  Further, Argentine interests were in the forefront of ethanol-for-fuel production in the 1970s but were discouraged by the government at that time.  This was also true for using natural gas for transportation in those days; but the compressed natural gas was introduced at the end of the 1980s, leading now to waste by inefficient vehicles. 

The newly released energy policy reintroduces the government into the energy sector by creating Energia Argentina S.A. (ENARSA) that will allow only 35% private ownership via the stock market.  This company is charged with expanding the country's natural gas transport system and undertaking joint ventures in oil and gas exploration.  Also, oil export duties will be raised to 25% from 20%, while taxes on liquefied petroleum gas will be raised to 20% from 5% with the hope that this will help redirect some of the products to the national market.  Real rate rises have been decided for industrial power users and probable increases will follow for many residential consumers.  President Kirchner, having undertaken the trip to New York and Washington, can now address his countrymen by saying that he must do some things that are not popular ó increases in cost to the everyday citizen. 

The above may be a needed first step:  But reorganizing the oil and gas policy first, and starting to force the issue of money savings by conservation and energy efficiency; does not yet make for an energy policy.  The only added item was the decision to finish the Yacyreta hydroelectric plant funded by the Argentine and Paraguayan governments with the help of the World Bank.  Part of an energy policy should also be a review of less energy-dependent life-styles, and clearly less energy-dependent production methods, that were instituted by a populist political system that allowed energy to be dirt cheap.  In order to open up the policy to non-conventional energy concepts ó prior to the December Buenos Aires meeting ó it should be possible to get the attention of the government with technologies discussed by the Renewables 2004 meeting in Bonn May 30 - June 4 2004.  The same goes for the climate change issues which are indeed of importance to the citizens of Argentina.  These are related also to the more immediate issue of the "ozone hole."  Renewable technologies could help reduce greatly the need for the oil and gas supplies that are at the root of the crisis.

by Pincas Jawetz 
Culture Change Media 
New York, May 10, 2004 
sequel to article of May 3

As mentioned in the May 3, 2004 article (see below), President Kirchner was bound to travel to the United States and then unveil a new energy policy for Argentina upon his return. 

Indeed, Mr. Kirchner came to New York on his way to Washington, and he was involved on May 5th in two events in New York City. 

(A)  The first event was an Argentina Forum organized by the Council of The Americas in association with the Argentina-American Chamber of Commerce.  The Forum consisted of three panels: I. Economic Conditions and Outlook, II. International and Domestic Political Agenda, and III. Reintegration and International Capital Markets. 

The participants included academics from departments of economics, Wall Street firm managers, banking executives and the Governor of the Province of San Juan.  It was on the one hand a presentation of facts pointing out that Argentina should deserve better treatment from the world economic community, now that it has a government that is bound to do things better.  On the other hand there were arguments that after three debt crises there is no capital market in Argentina there is plenty of local currency available, but because of fear of inflation there is no long term lending available except in dollars.  Foreign private investment will make no move unless there is security that comes from a stable hand of Government.  One academic pointed out that Mexico's "tequila crisis" ó the introduction of the "no pago" policy, when it comes to country bankruptcy ó has not led yet, after ten years, to a complete debt restructuring, so one cannot expect already a clear situation for Argentina.  Furthermore, the US, when it did away with the gold standard, did effectively implement also a "no pago" situation by its own dollarization method.  Also, saying that "one cannot import government to Argentina," and that the government must remove the distortions, points out that it takes time.  On the other hand, the Argentina situation may indeed show that the major crisis may be over, and that crisis measurements can be removed. 

The Luncheon speaker was President Nestor Kirchner.  Questions to him were allowed only from the corporate and Wall Street tables.  The only question from the press was by the correspondent from Bloomberg News.  The rest of the press was supposed to be "observing press" as it was put to me by one of the organizers.  In this configuration, the energy crisis of Argentina was being mentioned as a factor pointing for need of investment.  This configuration did not allow presentation of any thoughts "outside the box".  Nowhere was any mention of alternate fuels, though the need of energy efficiency was mentioned; but, the seemingly gratifying way of looking at the situation was that by now Argentina is in its second year of very good growth figures, after the years of retrenchment before the collapse.  The need of capital investments in further oil and gas development was rather the Wall Street preferred method. 

President Kirchner spoke of "Sustainable Growth," and making the economy more equitable, it will deal with the debt taking into consideration "social needs." 

(B) The other event was May 5, 2004, in the evening.  A second event was organized by the "Argentina Observatory," a Graduate Program of the New School University in New York City.  The President of the "Observatorio" is the First Lady of Argentina: Senator Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, the wife of the President.  The "Observatorio" Program Director is Prof. Michael Cohen who worked in the World Bank's office in Buenos Aires in 1998-99 and is President of the Board of the International Institute for Environment and Development ó America Latina (IIED-AL).  He organized the evening and I was hoping that finally we may hear of something that points a new way for a new Argentina.  After all ó that was why I followed the President that day.  I was somewhat disappointed as the structure of the event turned out to be mainly a two- person conversation between the President and Princeton University Professor Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist. 

The very interesting discussion between the person in charge of a country and the economics theoretician turned around a wide range of topics, but I did not find there the points I was looking for.  Professor Krugman pointed out that there were certain factions in the US that wanted "to impose on Argentina what they wished the US to be."  The President pointed out that Argentina got US$90 billion in further loans when it was clear the economy was going nowhere and one month before the collapse, Argentina was still presented as the poster child of the World Bank.  The President complimented Professor Krugman who was the first to predict the impending collapse.  But  when the issue of energy was finally mentioned, Prof. Krugman said that natural gas prices frozen at pre-crisis level are not giving incentive to the private companies, so finding a growth strategy will be very hard.  Here the President pointed out how Argentina, via wrong-headed privatization, was left without a national oil or gas company.  Spanish Repsoil owns now the Argentinian IPF, whicht made 2.6 billion pesos and reinvested nothing in additional gas, saying they were tormented by the value of the peso.  They exported the gas to Chile and took the money, so then a law was needed to give preference to the local market.  Chile has no oil and gas but does have a national company.  Argentina under President Kirchner will expand the San Juan gas pipeline and will bring in a pipeline for the gas from Bolivia. 

Professor Krugman mentioned the California energy problems and included large cars running on CNG but stopped short of discussing alternatives.  No ideas of "culture change" in these exchanges.  The future according to the President seems to be within a local common market that includes Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia ó seemingly fueled by Bolivian gas exports. 

I did not get to ask a question as very little time was left by the discussion between the two protagonists.  Nevertheless, this time President Kirchner and the First Lady remained in the hall to interact with the audience.  I had the chance to ask the President about the possibility of using alternate sources of energy ó specially now as the U.N. Climate Change meeting and the idea of the use of Renewable Energy will be coming to Buenos Aires this December?  The President asked me if I am talking about the hydrogen idea.  When I said "no, rather other forms of energy," he said he was interested and one of his associates gave me his card upon the President's request.  I intend thus to follow up after the impending release of the energy policy on May 11.  It is clear to me that except for the US-proposed long-term hydrogen program, no other information has yet reached the President and I think that the organizers of Renewable 2004 meeting had better take notice of this.  Going in December to Buenos Aires is indeed a one-time chance to work on location with a country that is in need, and I believe available to new ideas, provided these can be funded by developing local production lines dependent only on minimal outside investments.

by Pincas Jawetz 
for Culture Change Media 
New York, May 3, 2004 

The Financial Times of May 3, 2004 included the article: "Argentina plans incentives in attempt to reduce soaring energy consumption," this because of an energy sources crisis.  I did not find this disturbing at all.  Actually, I think this is the best news of the day.  

In March, gas and electricity generation grew 14 per cent compared with the same month last year, yet consumption is growing even faster and demand for public services increased by 20 per cent during that same period resulting in serious energy supply shortages.  At first the government turned to reneging long term contracts for supplying natural gas to neighboring Chile, stepping towards an international conflict.  All this because Argentina is finally stepping out from the economic freeze that was induced by years of mismanagement by the previous governments, and the unbridled foreign domination of the economy.  

Then, the light of imagination struck! "BY SAVING ENERGY YOU BENEFIT AND THE COUNTRY BENEFITS" and President Nestor Kirchner decreed that those that consume 95 per cent or less gas and electricity than during the same period last year will get a reward, and those that will consume more than the suggested 95 per cent will pay a penalty of up to 50 per cent more for each Kwh of electricity and up to 40 per cent more for every cubic meter of gas.  Surely, this led to response from business and private individuals calling it unfair - they even threatened that this will knock off one per cent of Argentina's expected growth.  But we know that "necessity is the mother of innovation" and it can be trusted that Argentina will rather do both - save energy and make gains in the process.  

The President promised to unveil a full energy policy by May 11, 2004.  The one thing that should rather worry us is that President Kirchner is expected to come for an unofficial visit to the US this week and hopefully his hosts here will not dissuade him from his bold steps.  We would rather like to see Argentina lead the world to the introduction of Renewable Sources of Energy and programs of Energy Efficiency.  All this keeping also in mind the Buenos Aires meeting this December of the Conference of the Parties that signed the U.N. Convention on Climate Change.  Argentina could provide us the needed Governmental leadership example and lead the way to an environmentally safer future. 

The efforts made now by Argentina could also be a policy input for the June European Union led meeting  in Bonn on Renewables.


skip down to see Milan meeting reportage


New York, N.Y.  April 7, 2004 
by Pincas Jawetz 
Culture Change Correspondent at the United Nations 
and International Editor 

On 19 March 2004, during the sixth meeting of the Bureau of the twelfth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-12), Chair Borge Brende, Norway's Minister of Environment, briefed the Bureau Vice-Chairs on his meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.  He said the Secretary-General reaffirmed the importance of following up on the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and confirmed that he, the Secretary-General, would address the High-level Segment of CSD-12. 

The Secretary-General expressed thus, in effect, the very interest of the oil exporting countries, who are the effective leadership of the G77, to continue their successful elimination of the main content of the concept of sustainable development as introduced into the UN deliberations during the 1992 Rio UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), and then practically killed ten years later in Johannesburg at the WSSD. 

This process replaced sustainable development with the concept of poverty alleviation in the poor countries, and reintroduced the concept of economic development, and stressed foreign aid obligation by the industrialized countries of the North; the G77 leadership pushed thus for forgoing the other two legs of sustainable development -- the importance of environmental factors and social development that include good governance in the south and human rights.  Halving poverty by year 2012 is clearly a laudable goal, but this indeed came into the picture in Johannesburg because of the well organized effort to avoid any discussion on environmental damage from increased use of oil. 

Rio and UNCED was where the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change started its life.  UNFCCC is bound to the need to decrease globally the dependence on fossil fuels and by reducing Agenda 21 to the MDGs amounts to an attempt at freezing out the whole discussion on climate change.

In Johannesburg oil interests in countries of the North bonded with the oil exporters of the south in an effort to negate the 1997 success of Rio+5 that mandated the introduction of the subject of "energy" into the list of topics to be discussed as part of Agenda 21.  Until 1997 discussing energy was possible only under the topic of "atmosphere", i.e. air pollution and indirectly greenhouse gasses -- but not directly as "energy".  Even the corrected situation did not allow discussion of climate change directly but only of its effects. Now we have practically totally nothing. 

Strangely, the touted MDGs have no actual standing under the decisions of CSD-11 where it was decided to dedicate the discussions at CSD-12, in 2004, and CSD-13, in 2005, to the thematic issues "Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements".  While CSD-12 is intended as a talk-fest to review the issues, with the participation of High-level government representatives and NGOs intent in discussing the problems, CSD-13 will be a policy session to discuss how to implement actions. 

The program of CSD-12 and the thematic issues can be found at  Further, an added interesting and delightful complication comes from the 43 member Small Independent Developing States (SIDS), most of which are small independent island states, via their lobbying organization -- the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) - which wants to have the preparation of its ten year review of the Barbados Plan of Action as part of CSD-12. 

Thus, the program for the SIDS was set for 14-16 April 2004 in parallel with the preparations for the CSD-12, the CSD-12 proper for 19-30 April 2004, and the SIDS demanded that their issues will also be part of the discussion at the High-level meetings.  I said "delightful" because it is obvious that AOSIS are facing problems relating to the themes of water, sanitation, and human settlements that are somewhat different from those of the G77 oil exporters.

In effect, the troubles of the SIDS in these areas are clearly a direct result of climate change rather then of urbanization.  These states may actually be wiped out by the impending environmental disasters, and they have no time to fiddle around - their leadership may want to say just that -- so there is some hope that the CSD meeting this year may yet not be a total wash.  

In effect, one can bank on this -- that the SIDS will raise the issues involving climate change, sea level rise, and how the greenhouse gases cause their problems when it comes to water, sanitation and income from tourism.  Costa Rica's Ambassador, Bruno Ugarte, Vice Chair of CSD-12, had three meetings with the country representatives to the UN: January 23, February 25 and March 22.  

At the February meeting, the representative from Qatar, with the representative for Iran at his side, speaking for the G77, requested that statements from the member States be given priority over Major Groups of the NGOs.  He wanted also to be informed how the Secretariat chooses the Major Groups and that the summary of the discussions differentiates between the statements of the member States and the Major Groups.  He also wants the Bureau to distribute as soon as possible the work program of the SIDS part of the event. 

Belize, speaking for the SIDS, wanted the work program to reflect the concerns of the SIDS in their meetings to be an integral part of the CSD report, while Ireland, speaking for the EU, made it clear that as this year's CSD is intended to provide a basis for the CSD-13, it must hear all stakeholders - One assumes this meant the Major Groups and the SIDS/AOSIS as well.  March 2004, at the Asia's First Global Ministerial Environment Forum.  While talking of Water and Sanitation, further topics brought to the fore-front were: dead zones in oceans caused by pollution, and dust storms caused by climate change.  

Further, the UNEP chief, Professor Toepfer, stated: "The historical pattern of development in the economies of Europe, North America, and Japan, was to industrialize first and clean up later.  Such outdated thinking is not possible in a world of 6 billion people and counting.  We need to marry strong economic growth with conservation of the air, land and water supplies upon which we all depend.  In other words we need environment for development.  For without a healthy and stable environment, long term economic growth will falter and our goals of eradicating poverty will fail." 

These words are indeed a singular voice calling in today's UN desert -- totally out of line when considering what is being said at the UN in New York. 

Reflecting today's realities, enlightening is the "World Chronicle" -- a radio/TV interview given by Mr. Borge Brende, CSD-12 chair.  It was shown on the UN internal TV circuit, Tuesday, March 23. Mr. Brende was describing the program of this year's CSD to a panel that included Jack Freeman from Earth Times and a Norwegian journalist.  He stated that he does not see any increase in contributions of aid to poor countries following the Johannesburg meeting -- in effect it is all downhill since 1992.  

Then came from the Norwegian journalist the question about terrorism. Q: "Do you see any connection between poverty, development, and terrorism?." His answer: "One billion people live in slums [he first used previously the nicer term 'informal settlements'].  If you do not come up with water, sanitation, schools, there will be problems in the future and criminality." Q: "Cities become more vulnerable to terrorism -- more people will be living in the cities." A: "When people move into cities they go to the hardest sections -- no water, sanitation.  It is much more expensive to do things after they moved in then when preparing housing." Q: "If the governments do not want to spend money for this how can we do this as an international community?." A: We must convince donors, but governments must do their part." 

Here Mr. Brende added that as a member of the Conservative Party he sees a role for private sector to come and establish infrastructure.  These exchanges, I believe, show that the debate at CSD-12 may "update" the empty discussion but lead, nevertheless, nowhere -- even on the thematic subjects.  I wonder if anyone believes in his heart that terrorism is built on poverty -- seemingly all known, recent, terrorists were well educated and did not come from poor homes in the context of their communities -- in effect many came from universities from the North.  The bottom line of these arguments leads from the de-facto destruction of the concept of sustainability to a new mumbo-jumbo that will allow for the wheels to continue turning without result; this so there is no interference with the interests of the oil industry. 

Those recognizing the immense problems ahead of us, that originate from the excessive transfer to the atmosphere of fossil carbon, should look elsewhere -- no help is on the horizon from meetings of the CSD, and probably neither from any other official UN forum held at the UN headquarters in New York.  This seems to be so at least till mid-2005.  Discussions that may touch upon global warming, or climate change, have been frozen out, intentionally, from any discussions at UN headquarters until further notice.



New York, N.Y., January 12, 2004
by Pincas Jawetz

Culture Change Correspondent at the United Nations
and International Editor

This article is a sequel to the Christmas 2003 article, ìThe American Cowís Revenge,î and my series of articles relating to the United Nations Climate Change Conference that was held in Milan December 1-12, 2003.  That series of three articles included the December 12 article titled ìThe Light Brought to Milan From Americaî.  All these articles deal with entrenched positions that led to non-ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The case of the American Mad Cow disease is used here to highlight the American position on Climate Change.

The cow, now famous, was slaughtered and butchered December 9, 2003 and on December 23 it became known the cow was stricken by the disease.  This article will bring up to date what happened since the December 25, 2003 article and finish this series.

Dr. Scott C. Raizan (M.D.?), Vice President of governmental affairs in Europe for the American corporation Johnson&Johnson, said in the op-ed page in the New York Times, December 30, 2003, based on his being a former public health researcher not involved in mad cow disease:  ìSo far we are following the script from 1996, when Britain issued a warning about a rise in a Variant of Creutzfeldt Disease in humans resembling the mad cow disease Ö.only 20 Britons a year have died of VCJ since that scare.  There were other victims though ñ British beef farmers lost perhaps $10 billion in sales, and the British publicís trust in government and the press took a severe blowî.

Has this medical doctor forgot his Hippocratic oath?  He has just said that 160 human lives lost meant less to him than $10 billion in sales.  The actual known figure is 153 lives, and such a corporate mentality is the reason for these deaths.

He also says that the immediate focus must be to save livesÖ îI feel we should also look at each new outbreak as an opportunity to enhance public health. For example, the deadly flu epidemic may in the end improve public hygiene if we can stress the need for hand washing, explain to the public the infectious nature of disease, and reinforce the value of epidemiologic measures.  Perhaps the mad cow discovery will lead to good policy decisions based on sound science.  But for now, that science does not exist ñ we simply do not know exactly what we are dealing with.î  These same words were used at the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development to shoot down meaningful change.  A folder was handed out there, incidentally also sponsored by Johnson&Johnson, explaining the value of washing hands, this in addition to a small piece of soap.  This In a country that had its main problem because of AIDS, at a meeting that was prohibited to tackle questions of global warming or of decreasing the dependence on fossil fuels.

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal of December 31, 2003 carried an Opinion piece by its own editorial page writer, Holman W. Jenkins Jr., titled, ìDonít Let Mad Cow Make You Crazy.î  He writes:î What we did learn from the British experience?  That if you really work at it, you can create a system of mass feeding to ensure that prion disease, once it appears, will spread widelyÖ  that millions of Britons consumed thousands of pounds of beef from infected cattleÖ the number of people dying from presumed mad cow infection peaked at 28 in 2000 and has declined every year since.  This year the number of death is 16îÖ ìThere is a real possibility mad cow isnít catching.î

Dr. Ratzanís piece ìOne Mad Cow Sets Off a Stampede,î has an ideologic brother in our old acquaintance, Virginia Professor Emeritus Fred Singer, who on December 31, 2003, similarly, on the comparable page in the Financial Times, published ìWe are Gripped by CO2 Madness.î  He stated that ìSatellite observations still exhibit no significant warming of the atmosphereÖ the great fear of warming translates to Siberia and northern Canada seeing temperature of ñ38 instead of ñ40Ö. We should recognize that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but essential plant food, and that more CO2 means more growth of crops and forests.î  The corporate world can indeed produce great moments of distorted truth, as George Orwell showed.

Looking at the influence of the energy industries and the auto-manufacturers, we need not belabor the fact that the oil industry sits now inside the White House.  Global warming and climate change may be subjects remote from the publicís understanding. Not so when it comes to the daily hamburger ñ when it comes to their stomach, folks listen and think.  So, let us see how the National Cattle Business Association (NCBA) is influencing US policy.  The Head of the organization and chief lobbyist is Mr. Chandler Keys.  His sister was a top assistant to Mr. Dan Glickman,, former Democratic Congressman from Kansas and Secretary of Agriculture to President Clinton.

US Department of Agriculture has a dual, often contradictory mandate: to promote the sale of meat on behalf of American producers and to guarantee that American meat is safe on behalf of consumers.  Ms. Alisa Harrison, who was director of public relations for the NCBA, is spokesperson for the Bush Administration Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Venneman.  Ms. Harrison has helped guide news coverage of the mad cow crisis, issuing the statements reassuring the world that American beef is safe ñ simply continuing what she used to do as a corporate lobbyist.  Then she also put into circulation press releases that said ìMad Cow Disease Not a Problem in the US.î

Dale Moore, the chief of staff to Ms. Veneman used to be the NCBA chief lobbyist, and Julie Quick, another USDA spokesperson  comes from NCBA.  So does Chuck Lambert, currently USDAís Deputy Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

The Wall Street Journal of January 8, 2004, gives further USDA personnel former industry positions.  One Deputy Undersecretary For Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services was a partner in a Texas ranch, another was Vice-President of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the Chief Information Officer was President of a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods, the Deputy Secretary was manager of a hog farm, two Assistant Secretaries for Congressional Relations come also from ConAgra and IDFA.  One could argue that this is how you get experienced people, but then this is surely going to produce inbreeding results and cover-ups.  Carol Tucker Foreman, a USDA official during the Carter Administration, a Washington bureaucrat, now the director of Food Policy Institute of the Consumers Federation of America said she has been working for 20 years to create a mandatory identification system for cattle, so that when illness is discovered its source can be found quickly ñ the industry did not want any part of this.

Canada has instituted such a system, and when horror did strike, and in May they found a case of mad cow disease, they could track down the herdís mates.  The US, on the other hand, could not even identify her bull calf, born just several days before to the tainted cow that was slaughtered.  On January 7, 2004 they destroyed all 449 bull calves old less then 30 days, that were held in that particular pen. The calves were never tagged.

Newsweek writes that 76 million Americans get sick from food each year. Most cases are mild, but  ìabout 5,000 people die.î  Does it really have to be this way?

As we mentioned previously, it was Mr. Karl Rove ñ ranked third in importance in the Presidential re-election campaign immediately after the President and the Vice President ñ with his loyalty directly to the President, who was the first to understand that the Nobel Price winner for the finding of the prion was looking at tremendously important material that could impact the reelection campaign.  People are asking, ìdo I feel safe eating beef?î  What will happen to the domestic market?  Forty-three importing countries have already refused to buy US beef.  With $3 billion earnings from these exports (10% of the production) have lost their market already.  Having met Dr. Stanley Prusiner, and perhaps being admonished by Mr. Rove, Ms. Veneman issued on December 30, 2003, new rules that the beef industry had largely resisted for years.  These include a ban on processing ìdownerî cows as food for humans and on using certain beef parts like brains, spinal cords etc. in foods like hamburger.  These new rules also include speedier testing of animals suspected of being ill.  Mr. Keys of NCBA is quoted as saying: ì We want to make sure that anything we do has a practical and real effectÖ we donít want to do things that are window dressing and political posturing.î   Nevertheless, there is no commitment to check every cow that is butchered and placed on our dinner table.

Mr. Keyís statement was word by word like statements made by the Republican Congressional delegation at the climate change meeting in Milan.

Having made these new beef rules, US trade delegations were dispatched hastily to Tokyo to try to reopen that market, but does it not defy logic to imagine why the Japanese should let in meat that has not lived up to Japan's own testing standards?  The mad cow crisis led to wholesale reinvention of the British and Japanese meat inspection system and a radically revised idea about acceptable feed sources ñ that is why the number of human casualties was relatively low.  The hastily declared new US rules simply do not live up yet to these standards.

One most energetic effort in the US was to determine the Canadian birth of the cow ñ one of many millions of cows that were exchanged between the US and Canada. This is plain evasion of responsibility because the problem with that cowís marketing was not her Canadian birth, but her being butchered under a set of non-existing US rules ñ her death made her into an American cow irrelevant of her place of birth.  This fact also escaped the Democratic leader of the US Senate, South Dakota Senator Thomas Daschle.  He comes from a state with strong cattleman interests and where Mr. Bush  won by a 60 to 40 margin.  Mr. Daschle is up for reelection in 2004 and his opponent  is a former Congressman with ties to the President.  Therefore Mr. Daschle introduced on January 7 a law to Congress in which he demands that the White House immediately require country-of-origin labeling for supermarket beef.  The Democratic Senate Caucus, sensing his politically precarious position in this election year is backing Mr. Daschle, but what does that to the safety of meat on our dining table?  It may endear him to the cattlemen nevertheless, even though their political funding went mainly to the Republicans.  It was a coalition of congressional Republicans and farm-state Democrats that blocked Congress last summer from including a ban on the use of ìdowner cowsî in a $373 billion spending bill that passed the House and awaits now a vote in the Senate.

To his favor, it must be said that Mr. Daschle fought to grow ethanol fuel  (renewable energy) on South Dakota farms, but the proposed bill had such giveaways to the farm industry that even favorable Senators had a hard time backing it.

The center column in the Wall Street Journal, January 9, writes that ìMad-Cow Scare Thins Herd at Cattle Auctionî at Port Pierre in South Dakota ñ Senator Daschleís state.

Instead of 6,500 cattle originally advertised, only 1,450 were sold at a lower price per pound of 20%.  On December 12, 2003, before the mad cow discovery, this barn sold 7,600 cattle.  For cattlemen, the auction day is usually the most important day ñ that is when their labor is rewarded. Senators Daschle and Johnson called for an immediate ban on all beef- and live-cattle imports.  This sounds interesting when thinking about the American efforts at opening global trade.  Is the World Trade Organization supposed to listen to arguments based only on domestic US politics?  Is it hard to see that the industry interest has undercut its own future by trying shortcuts to greater financial gains?

We can extend this analysis to the climate change negotiations.  What retaliation procedures will be right for the case that there is no correlation between US and World policy on cattle raising or on CO2 emissions ratings?

This brings us back to the Kyoto Protocol.  It was a Democrat President who did not move for ratification during the 1998-2001 - three years of inaction before the Bush Administration.  Granted that Messrs. Clinton and Gore knew that the mood in Congress was unfavorable to ratification but one could have tried at least in order to raise the publicís awareness of the problems. Nothing, not negative like the present Administration, but simply nothing.  This observations translates to a warning that even if there were a change in the occupancy of the White House, and such a change does not seem to occur in 2004, there still is no guarantee that the US position would change.  The system is such that the corporate interests rule for the sake of corporate interest.  The best to hope for would be a second Bush term where he is freed from reelection worries so he could heed to someone like Mr. Rove who could lead him to establish his name for posterity.  He started out by trying to leave a better legacy then his father did, and he may continue in this vain.  I may be thinking wishfully rather than plainly reporting trends.

While watching out for reactions to the Mad Cow disease, my eyes fell upon a front page picture of a cow in the Jewish Sentinel of January 9, 2004. ìThe Kosher Effect; Mad Cow, Calm Butchers.î  The Kosher butchers import some of their meat from Latin America, probably grass fed, but also buy cattle from the same auctions as the regular slaughter-houses.  The difference is in the way the meat is brought to the market.

(1)   An animal that is a ìdownerî would not be used as it is not Kosher  (not allowed by religious law).

(2)   Kosher houses use typically younger cattle ñ between 18-24 months and thus that particular cow of 30 months would not have been bought.

(3)   Kosher slaughter prohibits shooting or stunning cows in the head, which may cause brain matter splashed over the body.

(4)   Kosher slaughter mandates that the animalís throat be slit, and potentially contaminated blood is drained away from the carcass.

The bottom line is that today Kosher meat has increased sales as also people that have nothing to do with the religion are inclined to trust the kosher butcher rather then the regular meat markets.  The article, though pointing out that the cattle may come from regular sources, nevertheless, it is not the mad cow that they worry about ñ ìITíS THE MAD BUTCHERS YOU HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT.ì



December 25, 2003

by Pincas Jawetz
Culture Change Correspondent at the United Nations 
and International Editor

On December 9, a single cow at the Sunny Dene Ranch in Mabton, Washington State was unwilling to stand on her legs.  The cow was declared a "downer", slaughtered, butchered, her meat commercialized, and as if an afterthought, some brain tissues sent to a lab for checking the reason for her strange behavior.

The samples reached the U.S. Department of Agriculture lab at Ames, Iowa, on December 11, were prepared for analysis only December 16 or 17, and the initial results became available Monday December 21, showing positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) ó the commonly named Mad Cow disease which was shown to cause in humans a related form called the fatal Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.
The finding of a single Mad Cow in America became public knowledge on Tuesday, December 23 and by Wednesday, December 24, eleven countries that import about $4 billion/year worth of beef from the U.S. announced that they are immediately forbidding imports from the U.S.  The shares of Tyson Foods (beef) fell by 7.7% and of McDonald's Restaurants fell by 5.6%, while the shares of Pilgrim's Pride (chicken) went up by 11.9%.  In May of 2003, a similar single cow occurrence devastated the Canadian beef industry which has lost $1.2 billion.  The U.S. cattle industry is thus out for very rough times.  The subject nearly filled three pages in the New York Times today, December 25th.  I for one went to our pantry and found a can from Finland marked "Suoraan poromlehelta" (Straight from the reindeer herder) and we thought it fair game for Christmas to substitute Rudolph for the planned beef.

Ann M. Veneman, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, came out declaring that "the risk to human health from this situation is extremely low, and
people should continue to feel very confident in our meat supply."  But then the NewYork Times carried a large article with information from the Nobel Prize winning scientist that discovered the "prions" which were shown to explain the disease.  What he said, when compared with what the Secretary said, reminded me of what the official US delegation, including the supporting team of Senators and Congressmen, said at the Milan Conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Sure, we are looking here at two completely different topics but the treatment these subjects get from official Washington and from the respective industry lobbies is exactly the same, and that is were the dog lies buried.  Let me explain:

The poor Washington cow, that by nature is a herbivore animal, for
reasons of industry greed, was fed with animal remains.  Albeit, since the European disaster with BSE, she was not fed possibly with remains of cows, this is now officially forbidden, but with remains of chicken, pigs, and other meats and bones whose originators were fed with cows ó and that is the source of this scourge.  It is even possible that her feed included also litter, swept from poultry factory farms, consisting largely of food the birds have not eaten, and included directly cow nerve tissue back into the cow food chain.

According to Secretary Veneman, out of a herd of 100 million cattle of which  35 million were slaughtered during the year, 20,526 cattle have been inspected for BSE and none was found diseased until this single case.
  Dr. Stanley Prusiner, a neurologist at the University of California in San Francisco, the man who discovered the "prions," points his finger at this paucity of information and says that the Japanese who slaughter 1.2 million cattle/year and inspect all of them, have found cases were no symptoms existed at all ó even in cattle younger then the 30 months which is the testing norm in Europe.  On the other hand, from USDA information we learn that in 1999 there were 195,000 "downers" on ranches, feedlots, and slaughterhouses and only a few hundred were tested.  The procedure is to sell the muscle meat for human consumption, the spinal cord for food for pigs, poultry, and pets, without waiting for any test results; sometimes brain tissue, like in this case, is sent for testing ó this begs the question: why then test at all?  In effect, it seems that in the last nine years, from a total of 300 million cattle slaughtered, only fewer then 30.000 animals had any post-slaughter tests.

In Europe, when a diseased animal is found, the carcass is boiled down, dried into powder, and then incinerated.  Further, a funny coincidence, the Washington state cow was actually harmed at the time she gave birth to a large calf.  Possibly this was just a case of a "downer" believed to have been caused by a different reason, and safe to test if you really do not intend to find any Mad Cow disease as the reason for a cow's troubles

Prions are proteins that can "misfold" or fold themselves into shape that become lethal when causing runaway chain reactions in nervous tissues.
  Boiling does not destroy them and when ingested by the animal they proceed to destroy tissues.  He says that it is not known if the meat beyond the nervous system can also pass the disease to humans, but "it is a risk that greatly worries me... the problem is we just don't know the size of the problem... we don't know the prevalence or incidence of the disease."  He thinks we should aim at emulating the Japanese example at "a cost increase of three cents per pound of meat."

When the case of Mad Cow disease appeared in May in Canada, Dr. Prusiner asked to speak to the Secretary but was "rebuffed."  He felt that it was just a matter of time that the disease will appear also in the US.  The fact that we did not find it yet, he said, was simply because we did not seriously look for it.  Dr. Prusiner did not give up and eventually told what he thought to Mr. Karl Rove, senior adviser to the President, who then made sure Ms. Veneman would see him.  So "six weeks ago," tells the Nobel Prize winner for finding the prions, he entered the office of Ms. Veneman with the message "what happened in Canada was going to happen in the United States."

"The department had been willfully blind to the threat.  The only
reason mad cow had not been found here is that the department's animal inspection agency was testing too few animals.  Once more cows are tested, we'll be able to understand the magnitude of our problem."

I am writing this in order to exonerate the poor cow that caused all
of this.  If one feeds the cow remains of other cows, and one refuses to hear of what science has to say about this, then one simply destroys the industry one is supposed to care for.  This at least  in terms of business management that Ms. Veneman is supposed to understand.  Why I write about this is because it is exactly the same shortsightedness we experienced in Milan with Senator Inhofe, the other members of his delegation from both Houses of Congress, and members of the Administration:  They are ready to hear what real scientists have to say.  The low point in Milan was when the Senator expressed his lack of understanding of the simple fact that science is based on uncertainty.  Waiting to be 100% sure of anything is impossible, counterproductive, and non-scientific.  All what we heard was that climate change scientists are not yet sure of the human effect on climate.  Could the human effect on cattle feeding have anything to do with the deadly Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease?

Which government office is in charge of making it safe that when we purchase meat in the market, or eat a hamburger at McDonald's, we can be reasonably sure that the meat is not infected?

The dangers from not immediately taking care of the runaway global warming phenomenon are too great to ignore.  To really do something means to take action now, with whatever technology we have, while continuing to investigate for better understanding and ways to deal with the problem in the future.  In the meat case, we have to test the maximum number of cattle for those prions, while we continue at the same time to investigate the effects of the misfolding and of the way these molecules get transferred from animal to animal.  

This is in order to guard us from the effects of the industry greed that led to cattle ó being ruminants ó being trained to become carnivores.  To put it simply, nature has not built cows to consume the food we give them.  Beyond that, it would be important to rethink the process that created carnivorous cattle, perhaps also the effects of genetic modification that is beyond our understanding of their potential effects.  Then we could rethink our eating habits, perhaps we finally realize that we are killing ourselves by eating too much meat.  This speaks to our need for adjusting to a less energy intensive existence to enjoy a healthier and happier life.

The meat packers, the oil refiners, the car manufacturers ... are  not the folks that will try to help us achieve a better life ó all what they seek is how to make a few more bucks.  Even spending three cents more per pound of meat, with the obvious possibility of reducing the cost to less then one cent after a relatively short time, is considered too much.  These industries, in their shortsightedness, will cause multi billion dollar losses to the economy, and the taxpayers will be called to pay for these losses.  The insurance companies will be well positioned in the middle and we all will suffer.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference: Milan, Italy 
December 1-12, 2003

A series of Reports For Culture Change from Prof. Pincas Jawetz, Culture Change Correspondent at the United Nations and International Editor
First Report, December 10, 2003
Second Report, December 12, 2003 
Third Report, December 17, 2003




December 10, 2003

by Prof. Pincas Jawetz, Culture Change Correspondent at the United Nations and International Editor

The Ninth Conference of the Parties that signed the UN convention on Climate Change brought close to 5,500 people to Milan from 180 nations.  This figure includes 2,300 non-governmental organizations and 550 people from the media.  The participants are from countries that did and did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.  In the latter category, the prominent countries are the US, Russia and Australia.  All European Union member states and the candidate states of the EU, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan, have ratified.

According to the way the Kyoto Protocol (KP) was written, it will  go into effect only if 55% of the signatories ratify.  These include 55% of the CO2 emissions at the then specified date ó 1990.  There is no problem with the first condition, as 121 countries have ratified the KP.  But thanks to the position of the US (the country at the forefront of greenhouse gas emissions), there is not going to be the required minimum of 55% of emissions without a Russian ratification of the KP.  The decision of Australia in this respect is irrelevant, and they can follow the US example if they choose to do so.  Russia is a different matter.  Basically, all eyes are directed to what Russia intends to do.  The signals from Russia are varied and, to say the least, intended to stall.  The problem is not the Russians but rather the European Union: its bureaucracy, the bureaucracy of the major environmental movements, and the bureaucracy of the Climate Change Convention staff.

It is quite clear that after six years of effort (Kyoto was in 1997 at the third meeting of the COP), the EU does not want to walk away from the KP to try something new.  The other groups mentioned above just cannot get off on the high of treading water and going to meetings.

The Russian contingent here is very large and varied.  There are delegates connected to businesses that stand to profit from foreign investments if Russia does ratify.  Also, the large NGOs in the West have brought over Russians to vouch that President Putin will ratify someday.  First he had to wait for the elections to the Duma, then for his own re-election to the Presidency, then for the US elections in 2004 ó so nothing will happen before November 2004.  The facts are rather different:  Seemingly, Mr. Putin is putting international politics ahead of anything else, and the situation in Chechnya may be the major factor.  

Also, the fact that in Kyoto, Russia was able to get a good income from selling the famous "hot air"
ó that was the reduction of emissions when they closed the inefficient industries from Soviet times ó but without the US as buyers, there is no market for this "hot air" or make-believe reductions in emissions.  Without this incentive, why should they actually ratify?  True, there are businesses in Russia that stand to benefit from the other mechanisms that were established in Kyoto, but Mr. Putin may have other political aims, as shown in his latest dealings with some of the oligarchs.

Mr. Illiaronow, a very close assistant to Mr. Putin from days prior to the Presidency, stated that Russia will not ratify.  There is no reason to doubt him except for the lack of will to listen to him on the part of some people gathered here.  Without the Russian ratification, one can safely say that Kyoto is DEAD.  On the other hand, it does not make much sense in to be so trite.  It would make much more sense simply to say: "Look, with or without Kyoto, Europe and its coalition of the willing will proceed to implement some of the mechanisms established in the Kyoto Protocol pending a new regime that will be established eventually."

The best part of the events that occurred here in Milan was a feeling that this alternative is looked at seriously now, after a sense of weakening infatuation with the Russian presenters here.  The side events of their appearing full packed last week are quite empty this week; they simply do not seem to have the truth at their fingertips.  In a press conference with the German Green Minister of the Environment on December 10th, it became clear that he is calling for action now, even though he recognizes that this means acting without the KP in place.  He said that the Russians will eventually come along some day, but says we can't wait for them.  In the meantime, he says, we must act and such actions are already in process.  

At the first round-table of the ministerial level of the meeting, it became obvious that many participants in the discussion were dealing with such actions without spending time talking of the Kyoto Protocol.



December 12, 2003

by Prof. Pincas Jawetz, Culture Change Correspondent at the United Nations and International Editor

This report deals with the US participation at the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The official US delegation contains 95 names ó by far the largest contingent here, and I was told it was also the largest US contingent ever, at a COP of the UNFCCC.  It includes four US Senators, five members of the House of Representatives, 25 Senate staff and 9 staff members of the House of Representatives.

The delegation to this meeting that deals with global warming further includes  two staff members of the Executive Office of the President, 22 members of the State Department, 9 members of the Department of Energy, 7 members of the Department of Commerce, 2 members of the Department of Agriculture, one member of the Department of Transportation, three members of the Agency for International Development, 6 members of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and one person identified as Director, Office of Communication for Mining Week understood to be an industry lobbyist listed as part of the US delegation.  

It was indeed a formidable representation from a country that basically professes that the Kyoto Protocol of the UNFCCC is dead.  Was this delegation, according to its composition, intended to convince the rest of the world of US worries about the environment and that it has better ideas of how to go about ecological policy?

Further, US citizens came here as part of delegations not on the government list ó such as state governments, municipal authorities, business representatives and many non-governmental organizations with various interests.  Also a few US journalists ó just a few ó mainly from business newsletters.

This high interest on the part of the US Legislature and the US Administration was mainly to "bring the light to Milan."  I will specify:
  On Thursday, there was a press conference given by members of the US Congress.  The speakers were Senators Jeff Sessions (AL), Craig Thomas (WY), Larry Craig (ID), Jim Inhofe (OK) and House of Representatives Fred Upton (MI) and Chris Cannon (UT).  This true-blue group had only one thing in mind ó to disprove that there is any human-induced global warming.

Senator Jim Inhofe, a veteran of such delegations and chair of the group that ó if I am not mistaken he was in Kyotoó unfolded the famous chart showing that there was a small ice age in the Middle Ages and restated that some scientists were found to question that we have a global warming effect resulting from burning coal and oil.  When faced with the possibility that it is in the nature of science to express an uncertainty, the reaction was that we heard this before.  When faced with a question that even if the jury were still out on the science of global warming, the fact remains that it is funds transferred to the oil producers that eventually gave us the September 11, 2001 event. Moreover, the figures they quoted for expenditures on research on potential decreased use of fossil fuels by the US Administration are "peanuts" when compared with the costs of funding terrorism; Senator Inhofe volunteered that 9/11 had nothing to do with oil but with Israel policy.

It should be noted that three members of the House of Representatives did not participate at the above press conference.  One of them, Republican congressman Christopher Shays, participated actively at a meeting that evening organized by Resources for the Future, a Washington-based organization, and the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei of Milan (at the latter's headquarters) where the topic was "After COP 9 - What Are the Next Steps?"  Though also Republican, he actually was trying to figure out how to deal with the problems.  Also, staff members from Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman offices were here to work with those interested in tackling the global warming issue.

Back to the comment that US officials came here to bring the light, this was done figuratively by the head of the US delegation, Paula Dobriansky, the Undersecretary for Global Affairs, Department of State, when she participated at a meeting titled "US-Italian Technology Cooperation."  At the end, Ms. Dobriansky presented the Italian Minister for the Environment and Territory, the host, with a large Berkeley lamp that saves energy but cannot be used without the right connectors here.  In exchange, she got a tour of Italian technology that included a hydrogen-fueled working Fiat.  These are the kind of small vehicles that Detroit is contemplating under the US Administration funding for development projects.  The Italians have it now.  

I overheard an Italian saying that the US Delegation was getting the "Bilateral Rwanda tour."  It seemed like this, when I witnessed Ms. Dobriansky being told that the liquid hydrogen fuel is "very cold."  (Please allow me to excuse myself to the Nation of Rwanda; I guess that statement was also a play of words with the Italian word for "rounds.")

Now what is actually the US position?  It is that the US is worried about global warming and suggests spending money for developing high technologies to be available in 20-50 years,  thus justifying doing nothing in the present time.  Such technologies include coal-fueled electricity that does not emit CO2, hydrogen fuels from renewable energy, and a new generation of nuclear technology.  To these concepts, the German Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Mr. Juergen Tritin, answered that there is not going to be renewable energy sources for the production of hydrogen, unless we start implementing renewable energy programs with today's technologies, that may then eventually be improved by private enterprise, and there will be economic ways of producing hydrogen from renewable sources at the appropriate time ó otherwise we are dealing with "pipe dreams." Looking at the figures the US quoted for its budgeting for energy development, Mr. David Garman, Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, said that he got only a relatively small reduction of the funding he had asked for.  But the funds were switched from the areas he originally suggested to areas such as hydrogen technology.  In effect, this was an emasculation of the potential of the presently available technologies in favor of the "pipe dreams."  When asked about these switches, Senator Imhofe's answer was that further funds will become available.  

And how was US participation at the Milan meeting viewed?  This can be answered by looking at the "Fossil of the Day" awards from environmental NGOs.  USA was the champion garnering 19 points. 
On December 11, the US got first place with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman "for trying to divert attention from urgently needed emission cuts now, by focusing squarely on future technology of capturing and storing CO2 from fossil fuels."  The Saudis, supported by Oman and Kuwait, asserted that CO2 capture would make fossil fuels "climate friendly;" the US joined that position. ó thus making it clear that she believes that the Administration believes that there is no human-induced climate change.
This stands makes it clear that the US Administration doesn't intend to participate in a problem-solving mode.  Nevertheless, its large presence here
ó mainly with folks not related to the actual problem ó shows that it is (like the Russians, according to the first report of this series) worried about business implications of being left on the outside.  This at a time when Europe and even many developing countries are devising ways of cooperation to reduce greenhouse gases.  The presence in Milan of US groups ó such as state government and local authorities ó shows that the Administration's approach does not cover the whole spectrum of US interests.  Eventually, it will be business groups which are left outside the initiatives being created through the mechanisms that were put in place in Kyoto.  The world will start hammering at the Administration's doors with a call for change.  Mexico and Canada ( US's NAFTA partners) are more comfortable now with the EU's stand on fighting global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.



December 17, 2003

by Prof. Pincas Jawetz, Culture Change Correspondent at the United Nations and International Editor

This year the dates were December 1-12, 2003, which included the weekend
Saturday December 7 and Sunday December 8.  As the meetings were held in Milan, by coincidence, this was a very special weekend.  Milan celebrates its patron saint, December 5-8, with a street fair surrounding Piazza Saint'Ambrogio.  The fair is called Oh Bej! Oh Bej! and is said to have come from the delighted squeals of children who, upon beholding such a marvelous fair, once cried in Milanese dialect "Oh, how pretty! Oh, how pretty!".
During the 3rd century A.D., Milan was the second largest city of the Western Empire, after Rome.  In 313 the Emperors Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan which formally gave freedom of worship to Christianity.  In 374, an Imperial official, Ambrose, was elected Bishop of Milan - he left such a mark on the Church of Milan that it was called the Ambrosian Church.  The Basilica of Saint'Ambroglio was begun in 379, consecrated in 387, and St. Ambrose was buried there in 397.  It is viewed as the centerpiece of Christianity history in Milan, thus for years synonymous with Milan history.  It is also therefore no wonder that the opera season at the La Scala Opera House - the cultural centerpiece of Milan, would start on December 7, the high point of the Saint'Ambroglio celebration.  The 2003-2004 season started on Saturday December 7 with "Moise et Pharaon, ou le passage de la Mer Rouge", the French opera by the Italian Gioachino Rossini based on "Mose in Egitto" written for Naples in 1818.  This is the musical and visual presentation of Moses leading his people out of Egypt.  This was the environment into which happened COP 9 and my own imagination was pulling at me with the question ó who will be the Moses that will release humanity from the enslavement in Egypt, or  the oil industry, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq ó use your own imagination, please. 
The official meetings are halted for the weekend.  Only working groups still toil all day on Saturday and even the night, but Sunday the building is closed and people rest or become tourists.  Traditionally, the host country organizes also field trips.  The historic La Scala building is closed for renovations for two years, will reopen on December 7, 2004.  In the mean-time performances are held in a new specially built theatre, the Archimboldi in the vicinity of the new university.  The performances were Sunday the 7th, opening of the season, Wednesday the 10th, and Saturday the 13th.  It was impossible to get any tickets for the first two performances of the four and a half hour long virtuoso opera, but I was lucky to get a ticket for the Saturday, which turned out ideal also for my digesting and understanding of the needs for leadership on the issue of Climate Change.
The Sunday of December 7th saw me on a field trip of the Joint Research Center (JRC) Kyoto Experiment of the European Commission Directorate-General to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve "Parco Ticino" near Zerbolo, in the Province of Pavia in Tuscany.   The station is billed as a Kyoto Observatory in the sense it measures CO2 emissions from forests ó be those natural forests or plantations.  The place is in the vicinity of the only leftover natural forest in that part of Italy, and it was declared a UNESCO nature reserve.  Also in the area one finds fast-growing-rotation poplar plantations.  Most Italian furniture wood used to come from here, now it is pulp material and construction material.  It is important to see if regenerating natural forest can be proven superior to the plantations when it comes to capturing CO2.  The collection of such data,for Europe is done at this Observatory.  We saw the equipment, listened to the scientists' data, and got away with lots of questions about the potential of sequestering CO2 via wood plantations. Seemingly the long process of restoring the natural forest gives much better long term results.

When I got back to town, I spent a few hours at the Saint'Ambroglio fair and contemplated the idea of a Moses leading us away from the commercial
December 10th and 11th were the so-called three High Level Round-Table Discussions, and it is fair to assume that the six co-chairs were considered as the central figures at the meeting.
Round-Table 0ne: On Climate Change, adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development, co-chaired by Ms. Yuriko Koike from Japan and the Minister from the Marshall Islands representing the Small Islands Independent Developing States (the SIDS).  This panel had a lot to discuss on mitigation that is needed now in order to avoid drastic adaptation in the future.  This means the need to start using less energy in the developed world ó NOW ó in order to allow orderly  increased use of energy in the developing world.  In this shuffle, the concept of Sustainable Development is all but forgotten in favor of old style squandering development still favored by the south.

Round-Table two: On Technology and Transfer of Technology co-chaired by US
head of delegation, Ms. Paula Dobriansky and Mr Muhammed Valli Moosa, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, South Africa and former Chair of last year's Johannesburg Summit.  At this panel, the US stressed the importance of technology, South Africa stressed the existing technologies to be implemented by the private sector and Ireland (next office holder of the European Presidency) stressed renewables.  Saudi Arabia seemed to reject the whole process by saying that the UNFCCC's aim is not to reduce oil dependency.
Round-Table three:  On Assessment of Progress made, co-chaired by the Minister from Mexico speaking for the south and Mr. Juergen Tritin from Germany.  At this panel, the European Commission said that the issues require political will and that emissions can be reduced at low cost using existing technologies.  Turkey and Yemen announced their accession to UNFCCC with Yemen also ratifying the Kyoto Protocol (KP).  The Netherlands declared that they will proceed without Kyoto as if the Kyoto Protocol was actually in place and working.
Friday, December 12, was the last day and working groups continued to press for results to the last moment.  The end results are actually better than expected considering that there were no realistic prospects that Russia will ratify the KP.  Among the agreed-upon documents there is now in place an agreement on Aforestation and Reforestation Modalities, important for Clean Development Mechanism projects (CDM) that are the mechanism that the Europeans and some further countries, including even States within the USA, will be using under direct arrangements, even without Kyoto.  The Europeans will have their full legislation in place to do so starting 2005.  The only blemish in the agreed upon text is that it allows for GMOs or genetically modified plants.  Minister Tritin, in a press conference pointed out at this and said they had to accept this in order to make it possible to proceed with the CDM.  He hopes that this will change eventually because of opposition to specific credit buying.

Further agreements were on National Communications from parties included in
Annex I (the developed countries), but no agreement was reached on the non-Annex I countries or the developing countries.  These nations are afraid that obligatory reporting will lead to their having to take upon themselves responsibilities that they were allowed to escape in the Kyoto Protocol.  This is clearly untenable and not even all members of the G77&China group believe that this situation can continue.

On the Question of Creating the Special Climate Change Fund and the Least
Developed Countries Fund, a last minute agreement was reached for a $410 million annual assistance to Developing countries to adapt to the impact of global warming, ranging from floods to draughts and storms.
Also, it was agreed that COP 10 of the UNFCCC will be held November 29 - December 7, 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Now back to Moses.  He is needed more then ever to the Climate Change Convention folks.  Moses, in our context, had his people worship the King of the Universe, the provider of the ageless ecology, and not some self-interest or regional ruler.  For the sake of the environment, and life on earth, the unforgiving king is the king of the universe.  The regional king is some special interest, destructive and untrue.  Now who will be the Moses that takes us out of Saudi Arabia ?  It will not be President Bush.   Could it be Ms. Yuriko Koike from Japan because of the Japan interest in Kyoto?  Perhaps it could rather be Mr. Juergen Tritin, the Green Minister from Germany.  He was active in Milan and despite his refusal to disavow expressed hope for waiting for Putin, he actually said that he is ready to proceed without Kyoto as if Kyoto were in place already.  Perhaps, when considering the reality, he would be ready to see that despite the tremendous investment in time and effort in the Kyoto process, actually Kyoto was never needed.
The Global Commons is outside any National sovereignty.  The Global Commons, among its four components, includes the atmosphere and the oceans.  What is needed is an Administration of the Global Commons that has the power to sell pollution permits and apply penalties for illegal pollution, pollution including also the Green-House Gasses emissions.  This proposed Administration could then reinvest the funds thus created in the developing countries and achieve all what was envisioned in Kyoto without being tied into this 55% constraint that we took upon ourselves in Kyoto.  Details of this Global Commons approach can be found in the web-site of the Centre for UN Reform Education at under "A Promptbook on Sustainable Development for the World Summit in Johannesburg, August 2002".  The important context in this approach is the fact that pollution migrates and the air and water pollution originating in the territory under National sovereignty migrates to the Global Commons and is thus under the jurisdiction of the Administrator.  The concept is not strange to the UN as it has already dealt with nodules of minerals and migratory fish found in oceans outside national waters.  In those cases bodies were established for rule making.  Having ruled in those cases, the world body can see how to deal also on issues of climate change.

Would Moses throw his stick at this issue?  In the opera I saw, the text was
complicated, many side issues, but Moses had no Stick ó he used the power of persuasion instead.  He was sure to say and do the right thing.


We thank Pincas Jawetz for the hard work and devotion to the cause of minimizing fossil-fuels dependence.  Perhaps he is the Moses for climate protection that he ponders.  
Our common future may rest on certain assumptions being clarified, such as his statements, "
What is needed is
an Administration of the Global Commons that has the power to sell pollution permits" and "(cutting emissions) NOW in order to allow orderly increased use of energy in the developing world." - Ed.


- Read UN press release and recent UN climate headlines
- See Culture Change's Global Warming Crisis Council pages and take the Pledge for Climate Protection.
- Donate to Sustainable Energy Institute/Culture Change to support these reports and initiatives! 

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