THE VINE JANUARY 28, 2009
Right now, C-SPAN is showing Al Gore testify on climate change before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Significantly, committee chair John Kerry just declared that "climate change will be increasingly central to our foreign policy," citing warnings from top U.S. military leaders that a warming planet will put pressure on the earth's resources and lead to more conflicts and more security risks around the world. (To take just one example, the Himalayan glaciers, which provide freshwater for roughly one billion people, could disappear completely by 2035 if warming trends continue—any guesses on how much instability that might cause?)
On the other side of the aisle, ranking Republican Richard Lugar devoted his opening statement to... genetically modified crops. His position wasn't totally illogical: Lugar rightly noted that, by some estimates, a 2-3C rise in global temperatures could cut coastal yields in Africa by 35 percent, which would be absolutely devastating. Given that we run the risk of brushing up against those temperatures even if we curb emissions drastically, we should probably start thinking about adaptation, as well. And that might involve GMOs. Fair point as it goes. Still, to hear Lugar spend all his time railing against Europe's stance biotech, you get the sense that he mostly just sees this crisis as a chance to squeeze out trade concessions for Archer Daniels Midland and other Big Ag firms.
Gore's preparing his slideshow now... And he's urging the Senate to pass the (quite significant) energy provisions in the stimulus package, put a price on carbon, and get an international treaty signed "this year."