OPTIMISM

John Mauldin is optimistic. Things are worse than they appear, he makes clear in his current letter, but the world will not end . . . we will get through this . . . and longer-term we can expect astonishing technological progress to lift lots of boats. Indeed, an amazing global bootstrapping is already underway – he cites Goldman Sachs’ estimate that 70 million people will transition from poverty to the middle class every year, for decades. Each of those newly minted consumers will have the means to buy something we make or grow or create – or a share of stock we may need to sell, in our old age, to finance our retirement. I always learn lots from Mauldin’s letters, which are free.

HOPE

‘I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope that we don’t have to wait ’til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.’ – Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

☞ And that man invented the light bulb (that should have gone off over a lot more heads these last few decades).

GORE

Cuddy: ‘From Al Gore’s speech‘And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn’t it?’ No informed person would try to use only bits and pieces of this year’s weather to justify his conclusions of long term weather changes. That is just as ridiculous as making fun of the fact that last year one of Al Gore’s speeches on global warming was delivered on the day of record cold temperatures. Most of the hard science points towards the fact that the real weather anomaly has been the lack of climate change experienced in recent human history. Human activity may or may not be responsible for a part of these recent changes but our weather has been subject to fluctuations for as long as the planet has existed, which makes it likely that a natural phenomenon is the trigger. Common sense also dictates that we should do anything reasonable to solve our energy problems now rather than losing our resolve every time the price of oil drops, but I think buying carbon credits and spreading rumors of impending doom without any real science behind it is just a bunch of crap.’

☞ Always eager for common ground, I am happy wholeheartedly to agree with the portion of your email I have bold-faced. But to focus on one admittedly folksy sentence in Gore’s hugely important call to action strikes me as unproductive. (And by the way – our weather sure IS getting strange, isn’t it? And won’t it strike you as legitimately strange, or at least noteworthy, if the Arctic does disappear a few summers from now? And is it not cause for concern that Greenland’s largest glacier is losing 20 million tons of ice a day?)

There’s widespread scientific consensus (albeit not unanimity) that we 6.5 billion humans (inexorably headed to 9 billion, up from 2.5 billion when I was born) – each of them responsible for vastly more toxic pollutants than Earth’s fewer than one billion inhabitants when our young nation was born – are throwing things out of balance.

And why is this is even a strange notion? How many people, doing what kinds of things, would it take to foul our nest? Jared Diamond’s Collapse details human extinctions caused – e.g., on Easter Island – by human activity. The Earth is much bigger than Easter Island. But it is an island. Call it a nest or an island – or a spaceship. We are all on it, and only the ostriches, it seems to me, would imagine we are having no impact on the ecosphere.

Which is why, at this moment in time, we need sweeping, inspirational leadership for a new day. People like Al Gore and Barack Obama; not George Bush and John McCain.

FROM THE WASHINGTON TIMES, NO LESS

In Friday’s edition of this conservative newspaper:

McCain’s Straight Talk spins wheels
By Stephen Dinan
Washington Times
July 18, 2008

From signature issues such as immigration and climate change to tax cuts, the presumed Republican presidential nominee sometimes just seems lost as to his own record and his stance on hot-button social issues. After Mr. McCain said he opposed child adoptions to gay and lesbian couples, his campaign clarified that he wasn’t making policy and would leave the issue to the states.

In the past week, the candidate was unable to say whether he thought health care plans that cover drugs to treat impotency also should cover contraceptives. Mr. McCain voted against such a proposal in 2005. For a candidate who delights in telling audiences that it’s time for ‘a little straight talk,’ he has given his opponents chances to question that reputation. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund on Wednesday announced a TV ad campaign showing Mr. McCain’s eight-second pause and his fumble for an answer to the question on coverage for birth control.

‘The problem, said Michael McKenna, a Republican strategist who works on climate change issues, is that Mr. McCain’s campaign doesn’t prepare him well and that he stakes out positions for political reasons. Twice this year, Mr. McCain has said he doesn’t support ‘mandatory’ caps on greenhouse gas emissions, even though that is the crux of his proposal to address climate change. He often uses his proposal as a chief example to differentiate himself from President Bush. Mr. McKenna said it’s impossible to have a cap-and-trade program without mandatory caps. By embracing targets rather than mandatory caps, he said, ‘it sounds like something Bush could have said.’ ‘I would be willing to bet you every dollar I’m going to make this year he could not describe the important parts of his [own] cap-and-trade proposal,’ Mr. McKenna said.

☞ As to his vaunted foreign policy experience, how do we explain his repeatedly mischaracterizing Iran as predominantly Sunni when it is predominantly Shiia? Once is an easy slip – that’s how I’d explain his forgetting Czechoslovakia no longer exists – but over and over again? How do we explain Senator Lieberman’s having to correct him when he repeatedly said Iran was arming Al-Qaeda in Iraq?

 

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