Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Salmon: victims of inaction

The Bush-Cheney administration and Congress have an unprecedented opportunity now to create a crash energy program to develop clean alternate sources.

Americans are in an energy crisis of high prices and fuels that pollute. But government officials that could put the nation on a wartime footing to forge new energy methods--with the deliberate speed of World War II's A-bomb Manhattan Project—act as if this predicament can be solved by weekend do-it-your-selfers.

The Republican presidential hopeful John McCain is of no help. On Tuesday, he gave his remedy in a speech to oil executives—remove the ban on off-shore oil drilling and pump more fuel at reduced prices that inevitably will increase the incentive to drive more, foul the air more and remove pressure on Detroit to produce hybrid vehicles less dependent on petroleum. McCain, incidentally, is flip-flopping: He supported the offshore drilling ban when running for president in 2000.

Drastically reducing oil consumption is only part of the goal. Sharp cuts in automotive and industrial emissions will slow the crippling growth of greenhouse gases the Bush-Cheney presidency has shrugged off in deference to corporate cronies unwilling to invest in clear air and water.

As a harbinger of things to come, thousands of Alaska wild salmon are being destroyed because of salt-like white parasites known as "ich" (Ichthyophonus hoferi. Ich, pronounced "ick"). Scientists and fishermen blame the loss of as much as 30 percent of their catches in the Yukon River on warmer water temperatures.

How much more of the planet is Washington willing to let die before it acts?

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