Focus; Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of Global Environment
Good morning welcome to focus 580 our morning talk program My name's David Inge. Glad to have you with us just a moment here. We're going to be talking about the environment with James Bath from Galle University before we do that we do need to make a moment here to remind you that our fiscal year here AWOL ends tomorrow. It is the last day and as you have been hearing over the last couple of weeks we're working on raising the money that we will spend on programming for next year. We are still a little short of our fundraising goal for the year. We hope that we can get just as close as possible here before midnight tomorrow. Jay peers are station managers here in the studio with me. I've lost eight pounds in the last two days worrying about this.
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Well welcome to focus 580. This is our morning talk program. Name's David Inge. Glad to have you with us. In this part of focus 580 will be talking about the environment and the environmental movement both here in the United States and globally. And our guest for the program is James gust of Speth. He's dean and professor in the practice of environmental policy and sustainable development at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University and has been involved in environmental issues both as a scientist and an activist for quite a long time. He was founder and president of the World Resources Institute. He co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council and he also served as advisor on environmental issues to both Presidents Carter and Clinton and Ed. He was the chief executive officer of the United Nations Development Program. He's authored a new book that summarizes the issues that confront us as far as the environment goes it's titled Red sky at Morning America and the crisis of the global environment that's the subtitle. It's published by the Yale University Press and came out in the spring. Questions are certainly welcome as we make our way through this hour and they are welcome we all and only ask people to be brief so that we can keep the program moving along and getting as many people as possible. The number here in Champaign Urbana 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. If you like to call in with a question comment the toll free line is good anywhere that you can hear us and that is eight hundred to 2 2 9 4 5 5. Professor Speth Hello.
Good morning. Thank you very much for talking with us today we certainly appreciate. Let's talk a little bit about the environmental movement and where it is today and where it has come from because I know that you're you have some concerns and write about the fact that at one point at least in this country there we did have a fairly robust environmental movement and yet over the last couple of decades it has not been as strong that we haven't been making as much progress I suppose one can say at best it's been a plateau and at worst that things have actually gotten worse. What what's the difference between today and say 20 25 years ago.
Well the really interesting data is to go back to 1970 for the first Earth Day and the country was really alive then with environmental concerns and I think it had you know everything to do with the fact that the.
We're really in your face here it was filthy The water was filthy and it was the roads were being built everywhere and people threw people neighborhoods and damned for being constructed every way our ditches were being made from rivers and people were alarmed.
And today the problems are so different because the problems are global scale. They're more subtle. They're harder to get your head around they're not in your face. And more technical people don't understand them. And so it's very hard for people to relate in the way that they did to the strictly local issues of 30 35 years ago. And that that's been a crippling blow really to the effort to mobilize our country to give the kind of leadership on the global scale issues that we should be given like climate change as well that if I asked you to make a quick list of the issues I'm sure that would be one and that would be one that would come to people's minds right away.
And there are others and I think that there are other there they're equally important but there are things that don't often come into people's minds.
One of them I know is population and some people will think about that but we can think about other sorts of things that are connected with the the burden that the population puts on the earth the kinds of resources we consume how much waste we generate water certainly is an important issue that depending on where you live maybe you think about it but here in this part of the country at least so far we haven't had to worry about that too much. What's one of the things that are on your list.
Well in my in my book I talk about what I you know the Big Ten issues of the global environment is there not to strip mining in the clear cutting in the local way on water pollution that we know.
Have tried to deal with in our country but there are things climate change would be at the top of my list I think it's it is the the mother of all environmental threats. But in addition we have you know burgeoning fresh water shortages around the world. I mean let's look at what's going on. We consume 90 percent of the you know destroyed or consume 90 percent of the big predator fish in the oceans. We're fishing 75 percent of the ocean fisheries to capacity overfishing and we've lost half the tropical forests we've lost half the well in the mangroves around the world. We're committing species to extinction at a hundred to a thousand times the natural rate that species do go extinct. We are eroding and degrading the productivity of in the dry and harried regions of the world at an alarming rate. The climate is. Changing of the ice that is melting it's the range of species in the arrival of spring as the temperature of the earth evolves and already begun to change another degree warming in the oceans we could easily commit the hours of you know the bulk of the corals to history because of repeated coral bleaching incidents. And then there's the spread of toxic chemicals and all over the world and into every one of us we really don't know what they're doing. We do know that that dozens are in probably every one of us and all the trees for example but we really don't know what the consequences of these persistent organic pollutants in mercury are in. What that meant but we do know that we were getting exposures and sometimes high winds. So this is the this is the list of issues that we face today. They are the most threatening issues that we have on the environmental front and yet because they are technically complicated like climate change and whose own depletion we know or remote like that the forestation in the tropics or long term they are very hard for the political system to muster the energy to respond to it and that's what we've just got to change. You simply have to take control of the situation and not rely on the politicians anymore.
Well one thing that really struck me in the book you talked about the fact that back during the Carter administration the President Jimmy Carter asked you and other people who are involved in environment environmental advising. This was in the late 70s to take a look at some of the most pressing environmental issues globally and to and to make some projections as to where things would look at the end of the the century as Angela. And you did that and put it together it was a report it was called the Global 2000 report of the president and it was released in one thousand eighty. And while you didn't get everything in here right there are a number of things that you nailed. You nailed it real well. And what what strikes me is that you know as much as there seems to be evidence to suggest that these things are issues and just one of them is global climate change that here now in the year 2004 we still have people arguing that we don't have enough data to say what's going on. I mean how do how do how do you react to those people who say well you know we're really not quite sure what's going on the global climate and it could just be you know what goes up and down over time and we could just be in one of those cycles of swing and it could go back to the other way and you know there's there's really no need for the kind of urgency that you and other people are saying that we should have.
Well the truth is that we're drowning in information and very disturbing information. We're literally swamped with policy studies on what to do about these issues we know so much. We did. We did.
I don't know if I these issues is as early as 25 years ago as serious threats and we did call upon government to deal with them and we haven't done much in that 25 years. But the amount of information and science and understanding that we have today makes what we knew back then pale by comparison. Now yes they will they're all there are natural fluctuations in things and there will always be uncertainties about science around the edges of some of these issues particularly. But the truth is that from you know 1979. When Demi carda asked the National Academy of Sciences How serious is the climate threat up until you know the early Bush administration this Bush administration when President Bush made the same request to the National Academy of Sciences they have come back repeatedly over and over again and said This is a very serious problem. It's incumbent upon government to take the leadership and do something about it before it's too late. And in the meanwhile we have well asked wasted a quarter century in negotiations and discussions and bargaining and and come up with a group of toothless treaties for dealing with these issues. And now we've kind of run out of time we reached the point where change is already happening and we have got to move with a real sense of urgency to take some very far reaching steps to deal with these issues all or our children are going to be the victims of our neglect.
We have a couple of callers and would be happy to bring them into the conversation. And I should introduce Again our guest James Beth. He's dean and a professor at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. And if you're interested in reading his thoughts on this subject look for his recent book it's titled Red sky at morning and it's published by the Yale University Press. 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 here in Champaign Urbana toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4. Those are the numbers we have couple callers here started out with. We have a listener in Indiana on our toll free line line for.
I really can't think of a succinct question to ask so let me throw out just a couple things in the if you could work them into a you know a contemporary situation. Your thoughts. Number one I don't know all the ins and outs going on get the best paper and even listen to Debbie. We don't get all the information that's going on in the Bush group when they try to alter things or change things with things that are already been legislated like allowing more power to. It's into the air then what. What solutions as well.
And the next thing is the thing that was done earlier where a company could trade off or purchase good points from another company which wasn't doing too much to the environment. I also wonder what happens to the people for that stuff that is actually being done. You know it is this sort of this is a very strange way to try to tackle problems. To buy good points from another company and you just I guess they discontinue on doing things to the environment and it's wondering if other nations are going to pick up on these little tricks too since satisfy the business community. If you could say anything about that would be would be helpful to me.
Your mention of the Bush administration and of course I've never seen the environmental community in our country so concerned and so totally mobilized to get into. Basically our our political process. But. And a lot of what is going on in the administration is basically what's happening is by opening up so many long settled issues or at least settle the issues. The administration is forcing everyone to in effect relive a gate or re fight all battles and and so it would not be getting to the newer issues of the global environment where we should be putting our attention now so that sort of one set of problems in terms of the trading systems that you that you mentioned. I think it depends on the problem. If you have a something like climate changing gas being emitted it really doesn't matter where it's coming from and therefore you can have these giant what they're called cap and trade systems where different polluters can buy and sell emission rights in effect to each other and among each other in order to find the cheapest solution. And that's fine with those kinds of problems. And it seems to work well with acid rain over large areas. But when you're dealing with a local issue and local pollution then you have to be very careful because then you know basically you you don't want to a certain community to be adversely hit by some company that's managed to buy pollution rights in effect from another company far away. So it does depend on the problem but generally speaking these economic tools which are being increasingly used in environmental regulations are pretty good. You know they help get to efficient low cost solutions but you do have to be very careful there only they have to be used with pay basically in circumstances that make sense to use them and not others.
Let's go to our next caller this is line one.
And the callers in Chicago Hope you can answer some of this these questions. When you're talking about global problems you didn't mention the effect of warfare and I've been looking for the past three years and haven't seen anything yet and I hope it's out there discussing the impact of the heavy bombing in Afghanistan and Iraq especially in Afghanistan where they've been bombing the honeycombed mountains and I know that the two as two of the astronauts on the Columbia mission were looking at the effect of dust. So I see it seems to me that somewhere in the scientific community there is some concern about that. The second question is also the effect of the depleted uranium from the weapon tree and I know that has become a very serious problem in Iraq but I don't think Iraq is the only place where that's a problem. So if you could tell me who's been doing the research on this and what do they know so far.
Well I think the I think you're right to call attention to these issues. I mean in their indirect effects also for example. We knew in Afghanistan as large areas with that have been mined with land mines. And this is inhibiting the redevelopment and it inhibits pushes people off of some areas and concentrates in activity in other areas. So there are environmental consequences and you know one of the big and biggest costs of war in local communities in all these complex emergencies that the U.N. is involved with around the world and and also on the bigger some of the bigger questions of the U.S. policy the biggest cost of war in my judgment is the diversion of attention and energy into those issues. You know that it just preempt the the space of the the money the time the energy that we should be putting into dealing with with these you know in the book many people believe are a bigger threat.
But thank you for your response that you didn't answer my question. Do you want me to put. We I.
I honestly don't know who to whom to refer you as the best person on the effects of warfare.
Not effective warfare I really want to know the facts of bombing on the mountain terrain and also the effects of the dust on the global environment. And there are no climatologists or geologists concerned about this at all.
Well it's not a prominent concern. I would say that certainly the particulates content of the atmosphere is a major concern and it has you know many different effects on things like climate change and other things and you know to the degree that weird the neutering the landscape by warfare or by. Bombing or other means and that's contributing to this. Then there is there is a link there and you know the depleted uranium issue I think can certainly cause a local local problems but.
But quite honestly I mean I think these these linkages are the most pronounced effect of war the most pronounced effect by far of the war on terrorism for example is the eclipsing of the energy that and the time and the money and the political focus that we need to deal with these with these other issues. Just think of the riches that are massing on the global environmental front.
Well thanks for the CO. We are already at our midpoint Here let me just again very quickly introduce our guest James Bath. He's dean professor in the practice of environmental policy and sustainable development at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale and has been both involved in the environment as a scientist and an activist for a long time as I mentioned beginning in the program. He was an advisor on environmental issues to both Presidents Carter and Clinton founder of the World Resources Institute co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Has new book is relatively new. Red sky at Morning America and the crisis of the global environment and the university press is the publisher.
The we're talking here in particular we're talking about what's going on globally about a a web of things things that are interconnected. That is connections there are important connections between loss of biodiversity and pollution and population and the global economy. And as as poverty as one of the concerns and as we have reason to believe that there you know there's and there's good reason to try to improve people's living standards and the people will want to have their living standards improved. Then we get into questions about what happens to what sort of burden that puts on the global environment. And it seems that in the minds of some people in the developed world you come down to questions about well what overall not only what does it mean to the global economy if we really get more serious about environmental issues. But what's it going to mean to our economy. And is is some somewhere somebody's going to have to give something up. Is it going to mean a lower standard of living particularly in the developed world. And is it going to have some kind of negative impact on our economy and the. Economy of the other developed nations and that seems to be one of the chief arguments that the Bush administration has advanced too for not supporting something like that the Kyoto Accord. What is this what does it all mean for the What's the tie with the global economy and is it possible is it. Is it going to be necessary for the people who are at the top economically speaking to actually give some things up.
Well basically I mean the two things that when you think about poverty and the need to do something about it the first is that you know the people deserve something a lot better than what they've got. We have a but we have the world of almost 3 billion people living on less than $2 a day and that's intolerable.
So there's going to be a tremendous amount of economic growth needed and it will come. It's already coming to China and now India where great populations are up. So you basically you have to not only encourage that you have to support it.
You have to give generously and development assistance in my judgment which we're not doing. And then you also in doing this you take one of the you do address one of the most serious environmental problems which is the mat the pressure of huge numbers of very poor people on a depleting landscape. And that's a serious issue and you address it indirectly because by helping developing countries deal with their development problems that is to say deal with their own priorities then they become more able and more willing to help deal with some of these global scale environmental issues. So you have kind of a compact between the north and the South if you will.
And that's where we need to go but we're not doing that we're we're we're a poor provider of development cooperation. We are not supporting the U.N. in its work in this area we're not supporting the population programs of the U.N. for example in terms of our own economy. I think in the long run dealing with these issues can be a source of tremendous new. Economic growth and performance in our country major new industries that are geared to new technologies and new investments will be needed. We're going to have to turn over the stocks in the economy the capital stocks although you know there's so much of the technology that we routinely deploy was designed in an era where environment didn't matter. And it really does need to be replaced. I mean we need to we need to get the current generation of gas guzzlers off the road and get a new generation of vehicles out there and hopefully they'll be made by American companies but basically there's going to be a huge amount of economic growth. And look at it this way. When I was a little boy in 1050 it had taken the whole all of history to grow a 7 trillion dollar world economy by that time by 1050. We now had seven trillion dollars to the world economy every five to ten years. The world economy is slated to double and double again to quadruple in the lifetimes of today's students. And if this growth occurs with anything like the technologies and the techniques and the practices and the rules and requirements of the past it's simply going to overwhelm our capacity to to to save the planet and push us into totally different totally destroyed world in effect. So basically we need to make a huge transformation in the period in very short term period I mean you're going to have the size of the world economy doubling in 20 to 25 years. If you can imagine that. And it's almost certainly going to happen. And so you have to ask what kind of growth what technologies what controls the distribution of it. And if we're not dealing with these issues today but we've got to do this so the solutions are really a handle and this is the great tragedy that I talk about in the book. We know so much about how to deal with these problems. That we're not using And we understand them in a way that we're not utilizing it really that the potential to deal with these issues is there. And. And infrastructure so to speak to deal with them is there. And so what we need is some spark to set all the citizens of our country to to change things before it's too late.
We have other callers let's go next to Urbana line too.
Hello how since you were one of the co-founders of Iran's Natural Resources Defense Council. I get their newsletter and I read not too long ago that under the British. The ministration have killed something like 200 Buffalo and young stone and they're continuing to kill even more. And I also understand that the Plec report I heard was that they want to get rid of the wild rice in Yellowstone because they want to. The Bush administration wants to drill for oil. And you have another saying at another return I hear it as that. Russia has very quietly in the background destroyed 30 years and iron mantle protection work. And I had to strike you know what your remarks are about then.
Well I think you I think you put your finger on a on a key dimension of this which is the the fact that the administration often with the help of the Congress has is really raising a lot of old issues pushing the trying in a way to turn the clock back on environmental protections that we thought we had in place here in the U.S..
And so basically the energies of groups like the NRDC and others are being forced to to deal with these issues that that in many ways we were well on the way to solving and getting behind us and that's preventing us from dealing with the newer issues and indeed the more threatening global scale issues. You also mentioned energy.
And the oil question if this is the fundamental issue in my judgment the biggest environmental problem is climate change and the biggest thing that we're doing to cause climate change is our energy policy in our country which is simply to find as much energy wherever you can find it as possible and to burn it is quickly and as cheaply as you possibly can to back the animals have to killing in Yellowstone. I honestly don't know too much about that. My work is focused more on the global scale issues I'm afraid I know more about the forestation in the Amazon than I do about the animals in Yellowstone but the energy connection which is pushing us to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to to you know do inappropriate things in our parks in and around our forests to get to our own energy resources that that's the root of a lot of the damage I think to the not just to the global climate but also to our national security posture in the Middle East and you know basically we take us twice as much energy in the U.S. to produce a dollar's GDP as it does in the other industrial countries. And you flip that around and what you can really say is that we can grow the U.S. economy by milking the energy that we currently use for more. Productivity becoming more energy efficient catching up with Europe and Japan in terms of energy efficiency. And if we do that we won't have to threaten our wildlife or intrude on protected areas. We can just basically use the energy that we are already getting and if we get even better and start shifting into renewable resources particularly when you know the combination and unhinged us from our dependence on on international entangling international oil supplies.
And I just think that that crime and your activities certainly aren't interested in and reducing mpg and their tires.
You know I have a Toyota Prius. And it I get about 45 miles to the gallon in my little Prius and it's a great car.
We could all be in hybrids is absolutely no reason that every vehicle on the road in the US including SUV within short order couldn't be a hybrid vehicle or some other device that gets you 40 plus miles to the gallon. In so doing we would be doubling the fuel efficiency of our automobile fleet within a short order. And and that would have the Normas effect not only on our local environment but our global climate and on and on our sort of dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
What a huge benefit and the glorious thing for the world in our country if we could do something like that and there's absolutely no reason we can't.
Right you're saying tap dance. At the rate we're going we're going to have not only an ecological collapse at the rate we're destroying our ferry but we're going to have a financial collapse. And the next 10 to 20 years if we don't change right away.
Well you you're absolutely right about the need to change right away and and it's this threat is very serious and it's not just not just to our environment it's also to the economy. If I were a business leader today in a major corporation I would be seeking government action on climate because I think the climate change issue could cause such a disruption internationally that you know that it would cause a lot of economic disturbances and turmoil and indeed you know you see people beginning to have to face up to this.
John Brown Lord Brown the head of the peace had a major article in the Foreign Affairs magazine this past issue in which he called for a very far reaching goal for Climate Protection. And that's you know an old an oil company. So things are beginning to change but we need to we need to make it change a lot lot fast if we're going to catch up.
It seems to me though that perhaps the the big challenge. Is that here at least in the United States we believe in choice and free choice. And if you want to if one wants to have a Cadillac escalator instead of a Prius and you can afford it you can have it.
If when you're getting dressed to go to work in the morning and you're brushing your teeth and washing your face you don't want to turn on the tap and just let it run. You can do it no one's going to come into your bathroom and say look you're wasting water. You know if you want to have a great big house that's not particularly energy efficient in the wintertime you want it to be 75 degrees. You can do it. It seems that the issue is not is how do you get people to change their values to the point where they make individual choices than the government or industry has to respond to because it seems that it's not.
It worked the other way around.
The French are introducing a wonderful tax where they are taking the taxing gas guzzlers and taking the money and rebating it to people who buy very highly efficient vehicles. And so you do get a double whammy if people want to be irresponsible Well they ought to pay an extraordinarily high price of being irresponsible but in the end I think we also need to outlaw a lot of things we have laws in our country now that outlaw things which are socially irresponsible and socially damaging and there's no reason why we should we you know we shouldn't apply more of that in the in the environmental area. We also do need desperately value change. We need to move from being Mars to Venus in effect to a caring and sustaining society to seeing ourselves as part of a natural system and not something that's outside of that that natural system and and see our commitment to sustaining it and do sustaining communities of less fortunate people. Also in the world and we've got to make that transition but we also know from other experiences that we can hasten people's awareness and value change by investing. In public education campaign as been the designated driver and drunk driving and cigarettes and and we've put considerable resources in our country to to alerting people to the habits and really making people face up to the threat that they're causing to themselves and to others with these practices. And we need that in the environment badly.
Let's talk with someone else lawyer ban a line three is next.
Hello. I agree with all the positions Mr. Speight has espoused. But I wonder if the message is getting out. So here's some some questions in that regard. Has your new book been reviewed by a major newspaper such in Illinois as the Chicago Tribune or an East Coast in the in the Boston Globe or the New York Times or on the West Coast.
Thank you for asking that question actually.
The book has been reviewed I would say favorably in the in the New York Times and The Washington Post in The New York Review of Books and the New Yorker and some other places but we would love to have a nice review in The Chicago Tribune and get some attention they have to you know basically what we think to be an arrow of the Big Book. And with one blockbuster daft another most recently Bill Clinton is hitting the bookstores and I'm nowhere near that league.
Just getting a review apparently is very very important for any book with an important message such as yours and have you personally been interviewed for instance on C-Span or by Larry King on CNN or on the OR with Bill Moyers on nothing.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Well I'm delighted to be having this interview and but I would say in terms of the really big leaks of interviews like you know like Oprah and Larry King now I haven't been there. I would love to get on The Daily Show. I want to be interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. I never mention it. That would be you. That would be a hoot. But anyhow no I mean I've had some great interviews and I must say I have to say that the people that have shown the most interest and have done the most to call these issues to attention are the.
The I was a local and regional public radio station.
I've had a lot of interviews like this one. And and in fact they they do succeed and I do. That has been the principal way that the message of the book is gotten out in addition to some of the interviews it was that we have had.
Oh and one more thing this is on Yellowstone Park. My newsletter from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has stated that in the view scape around Old Faithful Geyser the park administration has allowed some cell phone company to put up a 100 foot tall cellular phone antenna without going through the required procedures.
Going to be up. Goodness. You know things are everywhere. Yeah.
Thank you. Thanks for the call. Let's go to loving to. This is line number four. Hello.
Yeah hi I've read a few articles about a group called the Copenhagen Consensus I believe it's called which was I believe put together by your longboards who wrote The Skeptical Environmentalist which is a big book that I would recommend very highly. And if I remember correctly they discussed 10 problems facing the world not all environmental but one of them was global warming and they put that rather far down on their list of priorities you have any comments on that and I'll just hang up and listen to cure.
I've followed that process. I would say casually but basically they looked at a range of issues some more developmental and economical and economic and other environmental and ecological and.
But you know here's my take on it both to choose between some of these issues like providing the poor with decent drinking water supplies and dealing with global climate.
You know it is really Sophie's Choice. I mean this is these are not choices we should have to make. There's plenty of resources to do. You know all of these things it's a high priority. Issues.
Now you ask well why didn't these people rank climate change as a high priority issue. Well honestly I don't know because I think we're really out of step with the scientific community might somewhat flip and put to that is if you get a group of elderly economists together and ask them whether they're going to opt for environmental issues or development and economic issues they're going to be economic issues is the most important and urgent that you know I think I think that's exactly what happened in fact.
But it's too simple because I'm sure they gave it a lot more thought than that.
Well I think in the end I don't know how far you want to go with the criticism of BJORN LOMBERG but I know in your book you talk about the fact that in as much as he. He is critical of people being selective in use of scientific evidence or perhaps mis using scientific evidence to make their case. You seem to think that he's done the same thing.
Well I think the book is you know it's quite misleading. You know in a way you know he said things in there that you know I think is the estimate are equal to the estimate that I use in my book of the rate of species loss which I which I find you know appalling.
But he seems to think it's OK. The world is getting better. The world is getting better in a lot of respects I mean look at we have cut in half the incidence of world poverty in recent decades mostly and mostly that's because of China's development. But but it is amazing really and we're on the track to you know we could we could eliminate mass poverty in the lifetimes of today's young people. So I think I think it's partly. And a lot of what Lumbergh does is to look at. At the half of the glass the school and to look at issues. That are not the ones I'm talking about. He looks at the you know a lot of the progress which has been made in Europe and the U.S. on the local environmental issues. And we have made progress there. But I think it's you know it's the overall conclusion that he comes to which is to try to reassure things that reassure people that somehow we're not in trouble fundamentally and badly misleading because I mean truthfully I don't know hardly any scientists to who believe this.
Who familiar with these trends and who are following what's actually happening with regard to the loss of ecosystems and ecosystem services with regard to the build up of climate changing gases the loss of agricultural capacity the you know the spread of toxic chemicals the world knows these are serious problems at the negotiating these treaties the problem is that they're both the toothless treaty and we're not getting any real traction in reversing the trends except on the depletion of the ozone layer where we really have made great strides. So yeah I think I think Limburg in the largest sense is misleading and dangerous in the sense of lulling people into thinking that we really don't need a major major commitment to deal with these issues and and that we should be focusing on other things.
All right let's talk with someone else here on a cell phone line one morning David.
Yeah I was instructed in your introduction of the guests by the fact that he worked in the Clinton and Carter White Houses but not in Republican White Houses and they've never had it. I wonder if that was a result of personal politics or is that really more jealous something you're representing a group of the terrorist. Chances of those two parties regarding these issues.
Well I'm a Democrat I mean but that's really not the big issue here. The bigger issue is that what we've seen since 1970 in our country is the steady growing apart of the two parties on the environment.
If you look at the League of Conservation Voters rating of the the you know the votes of the people in the two parties in the Congress you know you'll see they started out in the 70s we were pretty close and basically that was a bipartisan era.
We got all of our major environmental legislation passed then and the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and and what we've had is this growing divide between Republicans and Democrats on the environment. And I think it's you know it's a tragedy. It's we have this huge unmet need in terms of environmental action the big gap then and we have a big gap between the parties.
And they clearly related because we've got to so I hope all the people who basically Republicans who would like to be Republicans will take back their party. Well amen to that. Thanks Will.
Thanks for the call.
We'll continue then our next caller is in the champagne County and the line number two we're going to be quick though because we're almost out of time and I'll try well on that last point I think I remember hearing a statistic that the top Republican leadership is all like unanimously zero in their rating on by environmental scales but going back to this economic metric point of view if you're saying that you know third world is is better off but that's looking at you know the indicators that economists want to look at and what we what we've needed for a long time he will understand and everybody is is a. That is a different kind of economy. Not another way of looking at it that includes all these ecological factors. So I don't I don't know that's either I had a longer thing but I got distracted so I couldn't I couldn't.
I'll let you finish up on my point or whatever Thank you.
Yeah I think it's a good point. We you know we I was I was the head of the U.N. development program six years and we maintained a different index other than just GDP GDP per capita we developed the Human Development Index which looked at a variety of factors affecting you know basically the quality of life of people the darn thing is that you know you it's hard to find a single environmental variable that you could put into an index like that. We we have measures of longevity of health of a dictation as well as purchasing power. And you can put that together in a pretty powerful index that really gives you a good sense of how well-off people are. But in terms of whether they're getting better off by destroying the overfill space and depriving future generations of the prospects that they should have that's a harder issue to put into such and such an index and there been a number of people lately who tried to do basically environmental sustainability indicators including people at our school at Yale but it's done hard.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
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- WILL (Radio/television station : Urbana, Ill.)
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- WILL Illinois Public Media (Urbana, Illinois)
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- An interview and call-in with Dr. James Gustave (Gus) Speth, who was at the time the Dean and Professor at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. Over the course of his career, Dr. Speth served as environmental advisor to Presidents Carter and Clinton. He is the founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute. Now, Dr. Speth is a professor at Vermont Law School In this episode of Focus, Dr. Speth discusses his book "Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of Global Environment," which is about the environmental movement today and how the movement has evolved since the first Earth Day in 1970. Dr. Speth attributes the wave of environmental action in the 1970s to the fact that environmental issues were in localized and visible, such as air and water pollution and dam and road infrastructure development. Today, he says, the problems are global and more subtle; they are more technical and harder to get one's head around. Dr. Speth believes that this has had a crippling effect on the environmental movement. He states that climate change is a very serious problem that requires urgent action; otherwise, our children will have to deal with the devastating effects. In August 2011, Dr. Speth, along with Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, and around 1,200 more activists, were arrested in front of the White House while participating in a nonviolent protest against the Keystone XL pipeline. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Dr. Speth stated that "we've tried everything...the data has been clearly reported, and the science is about as scary as anyone can imagine. I think we all..ought to be in the streets, ought to be engaging in civil disobedience." Read the full interview here: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/interview_gus_speth_charting_new_course_for_us_and_environment/2612/
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Guest: Speth, Gus
Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producing Organization: WILL (Radio/television station : Urbana, Ill.)
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Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: focus040629a.mp3 (Illinois Public Media)
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: focus040629a.wav (Illinois Public Media)
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- Chicago: “Focus; Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of Global Environment,” 2004-06-29, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 21, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-4j09w0978j.
- MLA: “Focus; Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of Global Environment.” 2004-06-29. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 21, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-4j09w0978j>.
- APA: Focus; Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of Global Environment. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-4j09w0978j