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True Friend Would Abide by Kyoto Treaty
Published on Friday, March 30, 2001 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune
True Friend Would Abide by Kyoto Treaty
by Janet Norman-Philips
 
I'm middle-aged, middle-class, work with computers in local government, and have a comfortable life living in the British countryside with my husband. All in all, I'm an average Brit.

Growing up I remember listening to Alistair Cooke each week with his "Letter from America." Amusing, ironic, a vast place of amazing people both like and unlike us. It seemed to be a good place, despite its vastness. A place where ordinary people cared about what happened in their neighborhoods, had a sense of community, a belief in individual responsibility.

Over the years I have counted many Americans among my friends. Good-hearted people, direct people. A little loud maybe, but decent, honest folk who were always there when it mattered.

We are all shaped by our childhood, carrying our early prejudices and beliefs into adult life. Even now when I hear a North American accent I pay more attention. I gladly cross the street in London to help a tourist with a problem, whether he's lost or she can't work out how to read a bus timetable. It's almost second nature.

Now I don't know what to think or how to behave with you. We speak the same language, but that's it.

What has happened to you? Where have you gone? Did I just imagine you?

This week I heard that George W. Bush has decided to walk away from the Kyoto agreement on pollution because it isn't in America's "economic interest."

I want to scream. Rage. Shock. Horror. Despair. I want to take you by the shoulders and shake you. To wake you from your inward-looking slumber.

Unless we do something to stop it, global warming will destroy every advance we have achieved in the last 2,000 years. Our planet's weather is going to hell in a basket -- floods, droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes.

In the UK we've had nearly five feet of rain in the last 12 months -- more than we've had since records began in the mid-1700s. Farmers' crops are dying in the fields across from my house -- waterlogged. We could start growing rice. But the problem with that is two years ago this area had less rainfall than the Sahara desert and we're told it will happen again.

The rest of the planet's in no better shape -- including the U.

The USA produces 24 percent of the greenhouse gasses in the world today.

Do you care?

Or are really just waving two fingers at the rest of us? I hope not -- I thought you were better than that. I thought we were friends.

Janet Norman-Philips lives in Suffolk, England.

© Copyright 2001 Star Tribune

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