It's time for a new wave of environmental alarm to sweep the U.S.History will not be kind to Ronald Reagan's willful silence on AIDS. While the disease moved from a nascent phenomenon to a disease of epidemic proportions, President Reagan and therefore the U.S. government, acted as though it did not exist. In the last years of his presidency, Reagan finally uttered the word AIDS, but only after he had been shamed and pummeled by Hollywood friends, led by Elizabeth Taylor.
The cost of Reagan's lack of courage can be counted in lost time for research and in lost lives. It is well documented in Randy Shilts' landmark work And The Band Played On, which covers the years 1980-1985.
President George W. Bush will leave a similar legacy on global warming. At a time when the overwhelming majority of credible scientists are clear about evidence of global warming, Bush continues to be the servant of the oil industry by denying the existence of this climate phenomenon.
State governments cannot do their own AIDS research, but they can take action on global warming. That's what California and a number of other states have done. California last week required automakers to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming by as much as 30 percent over the next decade.
The environment is never more than a second tier issue in elections. At the same time, however, popular awareness of climate change and pollution is widespread and growing. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that green organizations are blossoming across China.
It's time for a new wave of environmental consciousness to sweep across America. If you are tired of Washington's denial of global warming, don't be shy. Tell your congressman and senators that it's later than they think.