October 12, 2006

The Other Terror

Death on denial:
One of the ironies of the politics surrounding climate change is that two of the leading bogeymen, George W. Bush and John Howard, apply entirely different rhetorical methods to the other great challenge of the era, terrorism. Given the threat of a mass casualty attack with nuclear weapons - or "nucular" weapons in Dubya's case - both men have argued that pre-emptive action is necessary and justifiable. Both have stated, reasonably enough, that when thousands of lives may be at risk, political leaders don't have the luxury of waiting around to see what happens. They must act. Not "are" at risk, mind you. Just "may be".

What, then, is the difference with climate change? It could kill off billions, not just thousands. In their wildest dreams of infidel megadeath, bin Laden and al-Zawahiri cannot hope to match it. So why is pre-emptive action to put the zap on a bunch of bearded whackjobs planning to blow up an office tower OK, but pre-emptive action to stop the Siberian permafrost from melting is not? The latter event would kill many more people. I guess it's just that you can't buy shares in al Qaeda, but you can in Exxon or BP.


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