The Glib Factor - Segment 4: Natural Gas
By A. D. Freudenheim

18 March 2001

It is clear that President Bush is an environmentalist at heart. Where Bill Clinton liked the machine-processed aspects of Twentieth Century life - a Big Mac and SuperSize Fries being the most appealing - President Bush, it is reckoned, has more Texas-style tastes, preferring a hunk of American steak and a baked potato. So it should come as no surprise that President Bush has changed his mind about a key environmental issue: he announced this week that he has decided that carbon dioxide, CO2, is a "natural" gas, and he has therefore decided to reject and reverse his earlier position on a law that would have set CO2 emission limits for power plants.

Now, the environmentalists - and even some folks within the Bush administration - are crying foul, and rightfully so, because carbon dioxide is considered to be one of the primary causes of global warming. Scientists have gathered copious evidence showing that CO2 gets trapped in the earth's atmosphere in a cycle that ultimately adds to the warmth of the earth, which can lead to glaciers melting, higher water lines on coasts, and eventually perhaps the creation of a new Atlantis out of several continents.

Nonetheless, Mr. Bush has decided that because CO2 is "natural," there is no good reason to regulate it - and frankly, there is some smart thinking is his position. In fact, the President does not go far enough. If the United States continues restricting major American providers of natural elements, such as the utility companies, it would be a significantly poorer country, and very likely unable to compete in the growing global economy (before it is all submerged under the oceans). Therefore, Mr. Bush should expand his thinking in this area, and strongly considering repealing laws that affect the use of other naturally occurring elements. Some suggestions:

  • Lead, a natural metal. Remember when paint was cheap enough that even though it would chip, you could always afford to put on another coat? Remember when pewter had lead, and so did glazes for ceramics? The ancient Romans used lead-based glazes for centuries, and look at them: they ruled the world once! Lead has been much maligned, and quite unfairly; after all, when you go to the doctor for an X-ray, the radiologist lays an apron across your crotch to protect you from unnecessary radiation. What's the apron filled with? Lead! Clearly a very valuable, natural metal. President Bush should repeal the environmental protection laws restricting the use of lead as an additive immediately.

  • Methane, another natural gas. Well, ok, methane isn't really outlawed, but … society does frown upon it! Every time we fart, we emit methane, hence the reason for the term "passing gas." This is a shame, too, because methane is also a very potent gas and, with a little bit of ingenuity, we could harness it as an additional fuel source, particularly if we gathered herd animals together in enclosed spaces. For example, we could put equipment in covered stadiums, such as the Astrodome in Houston; after nine innings of hot dogs-and-beer, there's surely lots of methane that could be collected. President Bush should direct the Energy Department to begin securing this natural resource immediately to assist us with our pending "energy crisis."

  • Marijuana, a natural plant. Hemp, as it was known to George Washington and the other Founding Fathers, is a naturally-occurring plant that provides a great source of usable fiber, not to mention that, when dried and subsequently burnt, it is a significant aid in the production of CO2, President Bush's natural gas-of-choice. And unlike CO2, which is emitted without any financial benefit to the government, marijuana is the largest cash crop in the United States. If taxed, marijuana could provide a significant revenue source that would help the President pay for his tax cut. If Mr. Bush wants to make a significant policy decision that is sure to be welcomed in all corners of the United States, this should be the one.

Mr. Bush's decision not to push for restrictions on CO2 makes sense - but he is not going far enough. While the President is on the right track with his thinking about what's good for Americans in both the short and the long term, and it's the sort of act that could only come from an environmentally-savvy president, he needs to do more. President Bush should stand firm and not stop short of pushing to achieve all of his environmental goals - however ridiculous those goals may appear to the earth-first crowd standing behind Al Gore.

Copyright 2001, by A. D. Freudenheim. May not be used in whole or part without written permission. However, you may link to this page as desired! This page is part of: The Truth As I See It.