I hate it when people say I-told-you-so, and hate it more when I do it myself. But here goes: I told you so.
The climate talks in Montreal ended with a whimper, a few tears, and, once again, very little progress on steps to control climate change. Once again (this happened during the administration of Mr. Bush’s father), the U.S. refused to sign any binding agreements, and there was a lot of talk about how those stubborn Americans are isolated from the rest of the world.
(This is hardly a personal rant. Take a look, if you missed it, at the REPORTS we’ve posted on the climate talks.)
In fairness, it’s clearly difficult for any American administration to commit to limits on industrial emissions that could hamper the nation’s "competitiveness." But it’s remarkable how a presumably-scientific issue–the earth’s atmosphere–has been run over by politics. The head of the American delegation walked out on the talks at one point, just as several predecessors did in the years of Bush the elder. Doubters of climate science are far less visible in Europe than here.
I did an interview not long ago with Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor who used to be an environmental activist. "Michael, we could have had the same conversation fifteen years ago," I said as the crew wrapped up.
He shrugged. "Gotta keep up the good fight."
Right Whale Update
Depending on what time you read this, the Coast Guard cutter Elm should be setting out from Ft. Macon, North Carolina, to make another attempt at rescue. It’s no simple matter. Right whales are described as feisty, powerful animals by nature, and the only way for rescuers to get it untangled from the fishing line in which it’s trapped is to approach in rubber dinghies.
In December the whales come south to calve off the Florida coast. This one is in such distress it turned around and swam hundreds of miles north.
The crew of the Elm may be able to do the job today, but is ready to stay out at sea for a couple of days if need be. How do you rescue a right whale? Carefully, that’s how, with careful planning and at some risk.