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Industrial Ecology Is Controlled From Mississippi

Trent Lott's interests stop at his border

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, December 10, 1997.

It is ever so reassuring to hear our Senate Leader, Trent Lott of the intellectual linchpin state, Mississippi, announce that a treaty recently negotiated in Kyoto about industrial emissions is unlikely to pass his legislative body. There is a code here, of course. Lott, a Republican, is really saying that no Democratic president will have a diplomatic achievement if he can help it, no matter how valid the deed.

It is also ever so comforting that our Republican Senate has essentially announced that it will hamstring any ecological regulations that it can, thus establishing itself as a body unmatched in attitude since Jim Fiske and other Robber Barons carried Republican Senators in the same pocket with their watches. This is so depressing, because the treaty in Kyoto, based on what we now know, is a valid step towards the planet self-regulation.

It is not so much in the amount of emissions nations plan to reduce, but in tying the attitudes of developing nations, which are trying to industrialize as quickly as possible, with those of the first world. This is a major achievement in theory, and requires little hardship on anyone’s part, for the present. But hairy chested American individualists, so called, are indignant that American might could be regulated at all by any concern but the market place, and are gunning up to decry the Treaty they have not read. Even a state like egghead Mississippi, with its mouth firmly around the Federal teat with its military bases and pork barrel projects, is aghast that its private citizens might have their profits reduced, somehow, by compliance with a treaty that a nation like China will not obey anyway. At least, that is the perfectly predictable argument of giants like Trent Lott, a man who subtracts from any room he enters, any subject he considers, any natural law when he addresses his hair in the morning. And it disgusts me.

Even if a 6% reduction in emissions based on a 1990 baseline were put into effect, whatever pain that causes would be out of the immense profits of corporate America. But even this is misleading, for the technology to achieve and acquire this rapid development and conservation around the world will be primarily developed, constructed, and distributed from the United States. It is possible that this Treaty could dramatically help our economy. Of course, like Trent Lott, I have not read the Treaty. But I retain an open mind, and realize that there are benefits to this nation not calculable in GNP. Or, actually, GMP - gross Mississippian Profit.

For in reality, a state like Mississippi is as third world as, say, Borneo, with a huge poor, uneducated population and a tiny, but very rich, elite on the top. The irony of Lott’s predicted position is that his very state will be trying to avoid compliance with a treaty restrictive on boom growth as much as China or, eventually, North Korea. Lott’s election position will be the same as the party bosses in Shanghai: fool the world, pretend compliance while local governments allow waste dumping and fail to enforce emission restrictions. And just as Lott will fan xenophobic hysteria in his state and nation, his counterparts will be terrifying their countrymen with thoughts of the mighty United States restricting their growth out of fear of competition, not ecological concern.

This depressing scenario sounds more and more plausible and likely as I type this, and such faith do I have in my own brilliant analysis that I will make a prediction of my own. Assuming their are no hidden horrors in the treaty and it primarily is as reported, Lott will defeat the treaty bill with the help of organized labor, the most conservative lobby group in the nation. Just as NAFTA inflames the non-computerized yokels, so will emission restrictions.

It is rarely remarked upon, this bonding of the undereducated Left and the overfed Right as they shiver each other with scare tactics that dead-end jobs and quick profits are in danger, even though the way ahead is clearly lit and the answers unclouded. This is one of the most depressing things about our nations political debate at present, and one that needs to be attacked and mentally restructured immediately. The alternative - continued xenophobic, knee jerk rejections of any ecological concerns - is more than merely depressing.