Global charming

  • John Mecklin

 

In England to meet with erstwhile British Prime Minister Tony Blair last month, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke optimistically about solutions to global warming. Business opportunities, he said, could make clean technology the “new gold rush,” according to the Sunday Telegraph of London.

“Technology in the end is going to save the day. Technology is going to save the environment,” Schwarzenegger pronounced. “The faster we can improve technology with cleaner cars, cleaner jet engines and so on, the better it is.”

It was a typical Schwarzenegger performance, by which I mean to say it was charming and, as is too often the case with the telegenic former Terminator, unrealistic. Discounting asteroid and comet strikes, there are two primary threats to humanity’s existence: nuclear war (which Schwarzenegger will have no chance of addressing outside the four corners of a movie screen) and global warming, which he could address, but is instead using as the set for his latest politico-cinematic feature, Arnold Against the Hotness.

In promoting Hotness, Schwarzenegger has done a good job of attaching his administration to the general idea of greenness (and a dizzying array of environmental/anti-warming proposals that may or may not ever become reality). The tack has been great for the governor’s image; over the last two years, he has gone from 31 percent voter approval to 61 percent support and another term in office.

I know Schwarzenegger is dedicated to image. I am less certain that he intends to do much about the reality of global warming, and this issue’s cover story, “Hydrogen Highway Revisited” by Matt Palmquist, offers a glimpse at some of the reasons for my skepticism.

In 2003, Schwarzenegger proclaimed a bold new age: Hydrogen filling stations would sprout every 20 miles on major California highways, and half a million hydrogen-powered cars would bustle cleanly and greenly hither and yon across the state. It hasn’t happened, of course, and anyone with a speck of interest in the field would have known that hydrogen — as alluring an energy panacea as ever could be imagined — is at best a shaky long-term bet as a transportation fuel.

So why does Schwarzenegger continue the fiction that hydrogen can be a large and current part of the global warming solution?

First, hydrogen is sexy, and both Schwarzenegger and George Bush hope its aura of environmental innovation will rub off on them. Second, a focus on hydrogen pleases oil and auto companies that are heavily invested in fossil fuels (and in the current governor of California and president of the United States). The oil and car companies know that hydrogen bromides delay a real response to global warming for decades — decades that could allow them to recoup their fossil fuel-related investments as they set themselves up to dominate a new, hydrogen-powered world.

But the planet can’t wait decades. Global warming is a real and present danger, and we shouldn’t be girly-men, waiting for the big strong scientists to save us from the Hotness. We can be heroes to our children and grandchildren by simple expedients: driving smaller, more efficient cars, and demanding that our governments strictly regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Now.

High Country News Classifieds
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE: NEAR CHRICAHUA NATIONAL PARK
    2 (20 acre sites): 110 miles from Tucson:AZ Native trees: Birder's heaven: dark skies: Creek: borders State lease & National forest: /13-16 inches of rain...
  • DIRECTOR - SONORAN DESERT INN & CONFERENCE CENTER
    The Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center is a non-profit lodging and event venue in Ajo, Arizona, located on the historic Curley School Campus. We...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field Seminars for adults: cultural and natural history of the Colorado Plateau. With guest experts, local insights, small groups, and lodge or base camp formats....
  • PLANNED GIVING OFFICER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks a Planned Giving Officer. Do you find energy in...
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    The Methow Valley Citizens Council has a distinguished history of advocating for progressive land use and environmental values in the Methow Valley and Okanogan County...
  • ACTING INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS DESK EDITOR
    High Country News is seeking an Acting Indigenous Affairs Editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk while our editor is on...
  • GRANTS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented and knowledgeable Grants Program Director to work from their home in Montana. Established in 1983, the Cinnabar Foundation...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Artemis Program Manager will work with National Wildlife Federation sporting and public lands staff to change this dynamic, continue to build upon our successful...
  • ALASKA SEA KAYAK BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Well-known and successful sea kayak, raft, hike, camp guiding & water taxi service. Sale includes everything needed to run the business, including office & gear...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND EVENTS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a detail-oriented and enthusiastic Membership and Events Coordinator to join our small, but mighty-fun team to oversee our membership...
  • PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT FACILITATOR
    ABOUT THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM Since opening in 1982, HIGH DESERT MUSEUM has brought together wildlife, culture, art and natural resources to promote an understanding...
  • LAND STEWARD, ARAVAIPA
    Steward will live on-site in housing provided by TNC and maintains preserve areas frequented by the visiting public and performs land management activities. The Land...
  • DEVELOPMENT WRITER
    Who We Are: The Nature Conservancy's mission is to protect the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we create...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Driggs, ID based non-profit. Full time. Full job description available at tvtap.org. Submit cover letter and resume to [email protected]
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • SPRING MOUNTAINS SOLAR OFF GRID MOUNTAIN HOME
    Located 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada in the pine forest of Lee Canyon at 8000 feet elevation. One of a kind property surrounded...
  • MAJOR GIFTS MANAGER - MOUNTAIN WEST, THE CONSERVATION FUND
    Cultivate, solicit and steward a portfolio of 75-125 donors.
  • NATURE'S BEST IN ARAVAIPA CANYON
    10 acre private oasis in one of Arizona's beautiful canyons. Fully furnished, 2123 sq ft architectural custom-built contemporary home with spectacular views and many extras....
  • HEALTH FOOD STORE IN NW MONTANA
    Turn-key business includes 2500 sq ft commercial building in main business district of Libby, Montana. 406.293.6771 /or [email protected]
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.