We’ve covered (and covered, and covered) the teeming mass of nature-killing vileness that has been Bush’s environmental policy. But we’re more than happy to join the props-giving bandwagon when the outgoing president does something right. And this week, he really nailed it, announcing the establishment of three national monuments in the Pacific Ocean and thereby protecting a massive chunk of marine life from mining, oil exploration, and commercial fishing. Environmental activist George Grattan summed up the enormity of this move as follows:
At a time when the world’s oceans face the very real prospect of an apocalyptic collapse, this development is an unalloyed good for worldwide efforts to bring us back from the brink. The scientific research which will be able to take place in these protected ecosystems may produce the data and solutions we need to keep burgeoning world populations in a more sustainable balance with the oceans’ roles in climate, food supply, and biodiversity. And, as Roosevelt knew and Bush seems to have remembered, there’s an intrinsic value to protecting vast areas of wilderness even if most people never encounter them.
So, kudos, President Bush, truly.
Of course, there’s more to say:
As good as creating these protected areas is, it’s also a dodge, and an “easy” way to burnish that which is tarnished. It’s great that Presidents can do these sorts of things, and it’s a great and welcome surprise that this one has.
But just as one doesn’t win a traditional war by pulling down a statute, landing on an aircraft carrier, and proclaiming “Mission Accomplished,” one doesn’t win the war for healthy oceans via a single gesture-however grand.
Lisa Jackson, if you’re listening, good words to live by.
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