how are things on the west coast?
Yeah, I hear you're moving real fine tonight!
Cognitive, meet dissonance:
Sharply criticised for his slow response to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster, President George Bush moved on Wednesday to assert a leading role in efforts to combat wildfires in California.
Bush, who will visit fire-ravaged southern California on Thursday, begins his workday Wednesday by participating in a secure video teleconference at the White House with administration officials on the California wildfires.
Bush declared that California - where more than half a million people were ordered to evacuate Tuesday as wildfires raged for a third day - was eligible for federal aid overnight Monday to Tuesday.
The president wants to "witness firsthand" the struggle against the blazes and make sure that state and local authorities are getting what they need from Washington, White House spokesperson Dana Perino said on Tuesday.
Bill McKibben is a leading environmentalist and one of the leading forces behind Step It Up. In 1989, he wrote the book The End of Nature, one of the first books to describe global warming as an emerging environmental crisis. His latest book is called Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. Bill McKibben, joining us from Boston, welcome to Democracy Now!
BILL McKIBBEN: Amy, it’s good to be with you, as always.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. The fires in Southern California and global warming, is there a connection?
BILL McKIBBEN: I’m afraid that there is. This is the kind of disaster that we see more and more of as we begin to change the basic physics and chemistry of the planet we live on. One of the people leading the really brave rescue effort out there yesterday said, one of the San Diego authorities said, this is the driest it’s been in at least ninety years. It’s dry because they’ve had terrific heat and not much rain. And those are just the conditions for that part of the world that all the modeling suggests come about when you begin to raise the temperature.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about Tom Swetnam of the University of Arizona, one of the ecologists there. He has written about the connection to global warming. He published a study in the journal Science, saying global warming has increased temperatures in the West about one degree, and that’s caused four times more fires.
BILL McKIBBEN: This is the problem. Things don’t work in a linear smooth relationship, you know? You raise the temperature a little bit, and you begin to get very large cascading effects. So, for instance, across much of the West in Alaska, warmer temperatures have brought with them infestations of new kinds of insects. Those insects have killed off hundreds of thousands of square miles of forest. That forest catches fire once those trees die. All that burning forest sends yet more carbon into the atmosphere. On and on and on. We see the same kind of dynamics playing out now with this drought in the Southeast, with the ongoing drought in the Southwest. And, of course, the US has been hit less hard by these changes than much of the rest of the world so far.
AMY GOODMAN: The action that you’re planning as one of the lead forces behind Step It Up on November 3rd, can you talk about what your demands are? You say the federal government has to take action.
BILL McKIBBEN: Absolutely. We're talking about three things at stepitup2007.org. One of them is the same call for an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 that we called for last spring, when we organized 1,400 demonstrations in all fifty states. Those demonstrations were very successful in getting that demand deep into the agenda. It went from being a kind of radical and fringe idea to being very much part of the legislative mix that’s reflected in what Congress is thinking about now.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California will sue the Environmental Protection Agency next week in the state's bid to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, a spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Saturday.
California will file a lawsuit against the EPA demanding the right to set its own limits on vehicle emissions that are stricter than national standards, spokesman Aaron McLear said.
California, which has become a leader on environmental issues in the United States, passed a state law in 2005 that would require new vehicles to meet progressively tighter standards for greenhouse gas emissions starting with 2009 models.
But the state needs a waiver from the federal government to implement the law and says it has run out of patience awaiting it. Schwarzenegger set an October 22 deadline six months ago for a decision and threatened to sue if the EPA failed to act by then.
"It is almost two years since we asked for this waiver. The governor feels we have been patient enough. He has met with the EPA administrator and with the president on this and has sent letters to them both. We have done everything we can and now it is time for action," McLear said.
The EPA said earlier this month it expected to make a decision on California's request by the end of 2007.