Feel the Warmth 

On its face, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson’s upcoming July 10 “Sundance Summit: A Mayor’s Gathering on Climate Protection,” is the perfect opportunity for a bit of conservative ribbing.

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Remember the roaming camera of Rush Limbaugh’s television program, which savagely skewered the ridiculous nature of “liberal” agendas'at least to conservatives, anyway'but instead revealed the petty nature of most conservative attempts at “humor”? Someone phone Limbaugh’s camera crew now, and get them an inside ticket to this event. Not only does Mayor Anderson’s “Sundance Summit” feature the inevitable celebrity tie-in at Robert Redford’s resort, a presentation by former Vice President Al Gore, a bevy of officials from the much-reviled “People’s Republic of Canuckistan,” it also sports a film-festival screening of Motorcycle Diaries, about the early life of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara. Conservatives could hardly ask for a juicier target.

nn

But even as they yuck it up, America’s right wing will have a much harder time dismissing the very real problem of global warming. Most of their attempts to discredit the evidence of this phenomenon have been nothing but humorous'unintentionally so. Take Ann Coulter’s dismissal two years ago on the WorldNetDaily website. Sidestepping the issue of carbon dioxide emissions altogether, along with a few embarrassing stabs at climatology, Coulter began by deriding environmentalism as a “Druid religion” and ended with the pronouncement that because environmentalists shun the pesticide DDT they, “don’t care about the environment. The core of environmentalism is hatred for mankind. They want mass infanticide, zero population growth, reduced standards of living and vegetarianism.”

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That’s right, people, the apocalypse is upon us if environmentalists take control. None of this rhetoric addresses the core problem of American life. Americans are different from most other cultures in that we love suburbs'absolutely love them. It’s those “surrender monkeys” in Europe who like city living, where shopping and entertainment are a walk away, and the best in public transportation means less lung-mucking CO2. Americans embrace both car and commute. Conservatives argue that this gives us three supreme advantages over those decadent Europeans. It makes us dependent on foreign oil. It pollutes our air. It makes us fat due to lack of exercise. Why walk when you can eat in the car? While liberals such as myself munch vegetarian food between bouts of infanticide, Coulter and her ilk drive our nation’s lovely suburbs eating greasy drive-thru meals. Choose your camp wisely.

nn

Hopefully, a lot more besides liberal self-affirmation will be accomplished this week at Sundance. Not that there’s anything wrong with liberal self-affirmation'especially these days. Let’s not lose sight of the real benefits of reducing CO2 emissions. Let President Bush talk to himself. More than 150 U.S. cities signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, Salt Lake City included. Perhaps because it was first in line in 1993, or because it was able to join in the effort with its surrounding Multnomah County, Portland, Ore., has shown the most success. Visit Portland and even your own lungs might tell you that the city’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 13 percent since 1993, below 1990 levels.

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Who’s to say if Portland’s success in reducing emissions has or hasn’t resulted in an increased number of vegetarian restaurants? We can say for certain, however, that there have been no reports of mass infanticide. Just cleaner air, and a marked increase in property values.

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