Did God Bless Americans to Have More than Others and Steal From Future Generations?
President Bush prays every day for God's guidance according to media reports. Ari Fleischer, the White House Press secretary, recently declared that "Mr. Bush believes that energy use is a reflection of the strength of our economy" and "the American way of life is a blessed one." At Tufts University in Massachusetts, U. N. Secretary General Kofi Annan voiced a growing global concern that Bush's decision to abandon the Kyoto Protocol on global warming could severely damage international efforts to curtail potentially dangerous climate changes that are caused by human activities. Did God bless the American way of life so we could use 24 % of the world's energy, create 22% of the world's industrial carbon dioxide, while we make up only 5% of the world's population?
After pulling the U.S. out of the global warming accord negotiations involving 180 nations, Bush has declared an "energy crisis" and is pushing an energy policy that will significantly increase the amount of carbon dioxide that causes global warming. His policy calls for burning more fossil fuels that create carbon dioxide and fails to take immediate steps to tighten fuel efficiency standards for automobiles although the average fuel economy for passenger vehicles is the worst it has been in 20 years. The plan downplays conservation, which could reduce growth in energy demand an estimated 20 to 47% according to experts, and renewable energy like solar and the wind, which will get a token one-tenth of 1% of our energy dollars. Bush is pushing a short-sighted and false prosperity based on the assumption that United States' citizens are somehow ordained by God to have more than our brothers and sisters throughout the world and that it is okay to steal from our children and grandchildren and future generations.
Representing our fellow human beings throughout the world, Secretary General Annan said that a consensus of leading scientists from all nations have "carefully sifted the evidence and concluded that climate change is occurring, that human activities are among the main contributing factors and that we cannot wait any longer to take action." In the twentieth century the earth's surface warmed nearly one and a quarter degrees Fahrenheit and the ten warmest years ever have occurred in the last fifteen. In the past 100 years the Alpine glaciers have lost almost 50 % of their ice.
Most climate scientists agree that the rate of warming will continue in this century and increase at the present rate of global carbon dioxide emissions, resulting in far reaching ecological stress, rising sea levels , extreme weather events, and damage to human health. Many scientists believe these impacts are already being felt with extreme heat causing massive wildfires in Florida and drought and crop damage throughout the South. Guyana has experienced severe drought, Indonesia devastating fires, and China record floods. It is an issue of justice when a Pacific islander discovers that the rising sea level resulting from profligate energy use in the United States and the developed world will obliterate her low-lying nation within decades.
Perhaps the greatest environmental justice issue is inter-generational theft. The Eighth Commandment says "Thou shall not steal", but every day that we live an ecologically unsustainable way of life we steal from our children and grandchildren. The energy policy Bush extolls as the blessed American way of life is unsustainable. The Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy provided that "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Today's money-oriented politicians seem oblivious to any future beyond the next election. The oil and gas industry gave a record $32.6 million in contributions to politics in the last election cycle with 78% of it going to President Bush's party.
Did "God Bless America" to make a more wasteful and extravagant lifestyle a national civic religion and destroy other species at an unprecedented rate, or do we owe our descendants a duty of care? We must muster the compassion of the good Samaritan, not only to bandage the wounds of the stranger not of our tribe, but also to move us to care for our future generations. When I look into the eyes of my grandchildren I realize that our greatest responsibility is to conserve and preserve our exquisite eco-system for them and generations to come.
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