Fmr. Secretary of State George Shultz and Environmentalist Paul Ehrlich on Global Warming, Global Warring, China, Al Gore and the Environment
Thursday, September 6th, 2007http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/06/1412242
Democracy Now! broadcasts from Stanford University in California where the Society of Environmental Journalists is holding its 17th annual conference. On Wednesday night, the Aurora Forum held an event titled "Clean, Secure, and Efficient Energy: Can We Have It All?" Among the panelists was the still-highly influential George Shultz. He was President Reagan's secretary of state, as well as the head of Bechtel, and is now a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution. We play excerpts of Shultz speaking at the panel and we speak with Stanford University professor, environmentalist and author, Paul Ehrlich. [includes rush transcript - partial]
Democracy Now! is broadcasting from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. The Society of Environmental Journalists is holding its seventeenth annual conference here this week. Today, we discuss global warming, the solutions on the table, and how both are being covered in the media. Last night I moderated an event put on by the Aurora Forum with the SEJ titled "Clean, Secure, and Efficient Energy: Can We Have It All?"
Among those who were on the panel, was the still-highly influential George Shultz. He served as President Reagan's Secretary of State for nearly his full two terms in office. He was also the president and director of engineering multinational Bechtel and is now a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution.
This Sunday in a book review on Vice President Cheney, the New York Times writes, "As the Republican Party was settling on its presidential nominee seven summers ago, no less venerable a statesman than George Shultz was assuring skeptical conservatives that George W. Bush had the potential to be another Ronald Reagan. One reason for his confidence was the 'Stanford shuttle' between Palo Alto and Austin, which carried such Hoover Institution luminaries - and White House veterans - as Martin Anderson, Michael J. Boskin and Condoleezza Rice (Shultz's own protégé) on regular treks to Texas."
George Shultz is now speaking out about climate change. He penned an OpEd in Wednesday's Washington Post titled "How to Gain a Climate Consensus" and he drives a Prius. At last night's event put on by the Aurora Institute and the Society of Environmental Journalists, I asked George Shultz about the connection between global warming and global warring.
- George Shultz, former Secretary of State, speaking September 5th at the Aurora Forum.
- Paul Ehrlich, president of the Center for Conservation Biology and a professor of Population Studies at Stanford University. He is the co-founder of the field of coevolution. He is the author of several books, his most recent is "One With Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future."
AMY GOODMAN: We are broadcasting from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California today. The Society of Environmental Journalists is holding its seventeenth annual conference here this week. Today, we’ll discuss global warming, the solutions on the table, how both are being covered in the media. Last night, I moderated an event put on by the Aurora Institute with the Society of Environmental Journalists called "Clean, Secure and Efficient Energy: How Can We Have It All?"
Among those who were on the panel was author, environmentalist Paul Ehrlich, as well the still-highly influential George Shultz. He served as President Reagan's Secretary of State for nearly his full two terms in office. He was also the president and director of the engineering multinational Bechtel and is now a distinguished fellow here at the Hoover Institution at Stanford.
This Sunday, in a book review on Vice President Cheney, the New York Times writes, "As the Republican Party was settling on its presidential nominee seven summers ago, no less venerable a statesman than George Shultz was assuring skeptical conservatives that George W. Bush had the potential to be another Ronald Reagan. One reason for his confidence was the ‘Stanford shuttle’ between Palo Alto and Austin, which carried such Hoover Institution luminaries -- and White House veterans -- as Martin Anderson, Michael J. Boskin and Condoleezza Rice (Shultz's own protégé) on regular treks to Texas." This, again, the New York Times Book Review.
Well, George Shultz is now speaking out about climate change. He penned an op-ed in Wednesday's Washington Post called "How to Gain A Climate Consensus," and he drives a Prius. At last night's event put on by the Aurora Institute, I asked George Shultz about the connection between global warming and global warring.
GEORGE SHULTZ: During the Reagan administration, we confronted the problem of depletion of the ozone layer, and we developed a treaty called the Montreal Protocol that has not solved the problem but has done a great deal. It's really an environmental treaty that worked. And it resulted -- and it had the characteristic that it was universal.
The Kyoto Protocol is a total failure. It just doesn’t come close, because it doesn't cover everybody. You’ve got to get something that covers everybody. Then you’ve got to set some goals, to be sure, but you’ve got to have things that people actually do, actions to take, and pledge people to take those actions. Then something starts to happen. And then you start to focus.
And this wasn't in my article, but I’m a great believer that if you focus on something really hard, it's amazing what comes out of that. If you start -- really start to focus on how to save energy and do a better job of using energy in our homes, in our companies and wherever we are, there is so much low-hanging fruit, there’s fruit all over the ground to pick up that will make you much more energy-efficient.
So that was the pitch in this article: let's get going, and let's get going on a track where people actually will do something, not just talk about it, do something.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you see a connection, Secretary Shultz, between global warring and global warming?
GEORGE SHULTZ: Say that again.
AMY GOODMAN: Between global warring and global warming. And what I mean, specifically, when we talk about global warming, fossil fuels, this whole push for using more and depending on oil, what do you think about the connection between the Iraq war and this issue of global warming at home?
GEORGE SHULTZ: I don't think the Iraq war had anything whatever to do with it. The Iraq war and -- whether you agree or not with the invasion of Iraq, the problem is there is a radical movement that uses the weapon of terror, and we have to confront it. And we have done that successfully in some respects here. And that was the object of the Iraq war. It had nothing to do with oil at all.
PAUL EHRLICH: I disagree totally. If you go back in history, our entire presence in the Middle East has been entirely focused on seeing to it that we can keep some kind of control over the fossil fuel supplies. You go back to Churchill and the destroyers, you go back to Roosevelt, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Red Line Agreement, the Gulbankian agreement, we created -- Churchill created Iraq because of the oil wells at Kirkuk and at -- I can't remember what the other one was at the moment, but it doesn't make any difference.
I think Stanford Professor Gretchen Daily said it very well: if you think we’re invading Iraq -- or would we be planning to invade Iraq if their major export were broccoli? We would just have left it. I’m not saying that this was in George Bush's head. God knows what was in his head. But certainly everybody who knew the history knew what would happen. We’re now in a situation where the knowledgeable people haven't got a clue what to do, even though every person I know personally, Republican and Democrat, were opposed to the idea to begin with. Now we’re in a mess where we’re waiting for General Petraeus to come back and see if he’s going to betray us [inaudible].
GEORGE SHULTZ: It’s perfectly correct to say that we are understandably preoccupied with an area that contains a huge proportion of the oil reserves of the world. That’s a different statement from saying that the reason we went into Iraq was the oil. Those are not connected.
AMY GOODMAN: Former Secretary of State George Shultz speaking at the Aurora Forum last night. Yes, we’re broadcasting from Stanford University where the Society of Environmental Journalists is having its annual meeting. Also, you were listening to and watching Paul Ehrlich, the environmentalist and author, a professor here at Stanford University, president of the Center for Conservation Biology, professor of Population Studies here at Stanford, co-founder of the field of coevolution, author of several books, his most recent one, One With Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future.
I had hoped to have both Secretary of State George Shultz and Paul Ehrlich here in the studio. I think it was a little early -- we’re broadcasting at 5:00 in the morning here in California -- for the former secretary of state, but Paul Ehrlich has agreed to be with us. Thanks so much for joining us on so little sleep.
PAUL EHRLICH: It’s my great pleasure.
AMY GOODMAN: We just played the clip of last night's forum, where you and the former secretary of state were going back and forth on the issue of global warring and global warming. Can you expand further on the issue of oil, Iraq and how it fits into this very dire picture on the environment?
PAUL EHRLICH: Well, first of all, you’ve got to remember that our entire military structure is built around trying to keep the flow of oil coming in. The estimate that various people have made -- I think it’s right -- is that about half of our military budget is aimed at making sure that we keep the empire's oil flowing towards us. This is the biggest resource war that we've had since the war between the Arabs and the Israelis over water in 1967, and there’s going to be lots more. There’s a great book by Michael Klare on resource wars. This is a typical resource war. What you’ve got to remember is that we’ve had a long history of dividing up the Middle East in ways to try and get control of the oil. We, the West, but the United States in particular, has been involved in that. We now have an entire military command aimed at that.
And, of course, we’re very, very nervous about the Chinese. When you see, for example, the amount of money we’re dumping into the military budget, besides the huge waste in Iraq, where we’re putting the money into recruit more people into al-Qaeda, basically -- an incredibly stupid move -- when you look at the amount of money that’s coming in, why do you think that we’re building these wonderful jet fighters and so on? It’s not to fight al-Qaeda. It’s to fight the Chinese, because the Chinese are looking towards the Caspian, which is one of the places where there’s a huge amount of oil available compared to what there is in the United States or even, you know, in most other places.
But we're really stuck in a terrible position, because we’ve now made this horrendous mess in Iraq trying to get a fuel we shouldn't be burning. In other words, we should be getting away from burning all fossil fuels. And they made such a mess, we don't know what to do about it, because in the short term, for example, if we pull out or if bomb Iran and start it and the Middle East oil gets cut off, yeah, we'll suffer in the United States some, but poor people, for instance, in Africa who have to have kerosene to cook their food or they starve, because their food can’t be eaten raw -- they don't have any firewood left in many areas -- they won’t be able to afford the kerosene. In other words, if we pull out suddenly and leave a mess, we're in trouble. If we stay, we're in trouble. Everybody who had any sense knew we never should have done it, but we did.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Professor Paul Ehrlich here at Stanford University. When we come back, we'll play more clips of the Aurora Forum, including the former Secretary of State George Shultz on the effectiveness of Al Gore taking on the issue that Shultz is concerned with, global warming, and we'll talk about China. Stay with us.