SI Vault
Edited by Steve Wulf
May 04, 1992
Earth to Bush
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May 04, 1992


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Earth to Bush

The President is needed at the environmental summit

On June 3, 20,000 people from 180 countries will arrive in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), an event that the National Audubon Society describes as "the most important meeting in the history of mankind." This Earth Summit was conceived to develop a worldwide consensus on how best to address the key environmental issues of our time: global warming, toxic-waste disposal, forest conservation and air and water pollution. And it is expected to attract the largest gathering of world leaders in history. The President of the United States, however, may not be there.

Why is George Bush reluctant to attend? He is wary of a proposed treaty to be signed in Rio, which will likely require all countries to hold carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels after the year 2000. (The U.S. produces 22% of the world's CO[2], one of the gases responsible for global warming.) Bush is also loath to antagonize the U.S. business community during an election year. White I louse press secretary Marlin Fitzwater notes that if the President skips the UNCED, "it would look like we are standing up for what we believe is important, which is [ U.S.] economic growth, jobs and the future of the world."

But environmental and economic concerns are not mutually exclusive. The world's demand for cleaner air, land and water has created new opportunities for industry. Japan, for example, has already initiated a 100-year plan to develop the so-called "green technologies."

As for the political ramifications, Bush would do well to remember that he once claimed he would be the "environmental president." To the contrary, he has shown himself to be largely indifferent to the environment by moderating his promise to protect the nation's wetlands and by stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the dangers of global warming and ozone depletion. By going to Rio de Janeiro, Bush would demonstrate that he and the world's most influential nation are truly concerned with the future of the planet.

Spare Change

A noted baseball scholar exposes an untruth

The advent of free agency in baseball has meant more player movement between teams, right?

Wrong. Numbers simply do not support the commonly held belief that players change teams more often nowadays than they did before 1977, the year in which a free-agent system took effect in major league baseball.

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