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March 24, 2008

Acceptable Truth

In 2006, a documentary film featuring Al Gore holding forth on the danger of climate change  won an Academy Award. The question of whether human activity is producing relatively rapid changes in the planet’s weather patterns and the possibility that related phenomena will adversely affect all life on Earth had only surfaced in the second half of the Twentieth Century. Although there has been increasing general agreement among scientists that the issue is real, the initial response of political leaders, particularly of industrial nations, was muted, to say the least. There was, at first, a general disagreement about the reality of the threat, the rapidity with which it has been developing, the best way to combat it, and the urgency with which such measures should be implemented. However; to the extent the issue had been studied in detail from about the late Eighties onward, the degree of scientific agreement has been increasing steadily.

 Finally, after six years of planning, a UN sponsored meeting in Japan produced the Kyoto Protocol by the Summer of 1998. It was signed by the US during the Clinton Administration, but despite the increasing degree of scientific endorsement, the Bush Administration formally rejected its implementation in 2005, a decision that places it (and the US)  in striking opposition to the rest of the world. Thus from the standpoint of history, the most important and far reaching decision of the "new" Millennium may have been made in the last month of the old one when the US Supreme Court awarded a disputed Presidential Election to the candidate with the fewest popular votes.

The link to drug policy is “truth,” that most elusive of all concepts, and the one responsible for virtually all human disagreements. Another policy, one with which, ironically, other UN nations do agree and generally  enforce, is the Single Convention on “Narcotic” Drugs. In essence, of two UN treaties based on “scientific” claims, the United States is an enthusiastic supporter of one and currently opposes the other.

Even more ironically, neither global warming nor a generally unworkable and divisive drug policy may produce the most grief in the time remaining between now and November. That dubious honor could easily go to the US Economy, clearly the world’s biggest, still its most important, and perhaps also its most unhealthy.

Most astounding of all, at least to this observer, is that we’re still trying to carry on “business as usual.”

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 24, 2008 05:29 PM