…feelin’ hot, hot, hot…

…or, if only we had known that Venas Abiertas was not some medical book, and so on. And, yes, that obsession with image and perception rather than substance and performance…

For one class honesty is seldom the best policy, or even wise, where corporate commitment is at stake and predominates. Mother Jones (MoJo) does that thing of ‘looking backwards’, verboten in the eyes of the cynical ‘populists’. In this case, the tragedy of Haiyan provokes memory of a press briefing in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad way back in April 2009 at the Fifth Summit of the Americas (VSOA), where all of the Americas and the Caribbean were expecting some seriousness from the new President of the US, something most now rue. At the time that briefing was covered in an (updated) article of a local paper, Trinidad Express, Wading in disaster.

In that MoJo article by Tim Murphy, Want to Piss Off the White House? Talk About Climate Change, he quotes the Politico reporter, Glenn Thrush’s article, which discussed allowing Steven Chu, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, to speak on rising sea levels. Energy Secretary Chu is an expert on such matters, and as would be subsequently obvious, was selected more for appearance, perception of concern for and attention to and action on environmental issues. Glenn Thrush, the Politico reporter, is quoted this one of two articles worth reading,

‘ …Gibbs reluctantly assented. Then Chu took the podium to tell the tiny island nation that it might soon, sorry to say, be underwater—which not only insulted the good people of Trinidad and Tobago but also raised the climate issue at a time when the White House wanted the economy, and the economy only, on the front burner. “I think the Caribbean countries face rising oceans, and they face increase in the severity of hurricanes,” Chu said. “This is something that is very, very scary to all of us…The island states…some of them will disappear.”…’

From which Tim Murphy of MoJo would observe,

A couple things stand out here. Trinidad and Tobago is seriously threatened by climate change, and given the efforts of similarly situated island nations—the MaldivesTuvalu—to call attention to the crisis, it’s hardly an insult to use the occasion of a trip to the country to talk about it. (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago’s capital, is 10 feet above sea level.) But this underscores just how narrow the White House’s thinking was at that time. Does anyone actually remember Steven Chu speaking out about sea level rises in Trinidad and Tobago? Did it really distract from the president’s economic message?

[Bold added for emphasis]

And for the significance of that host country’s contribution to CO2 emissions per capita, we use the Google public data to generate the chart that provides the answer, Trend in CO2 emissions per capita, selected countries. CO2 emissions per capita for Trinidad up to 2008 have exceeded those of countries such as Venezuela, the US, Saudi Arabia, no sterling accomplishment. Something that made that intervention of Energy Secretary Chu all the more relevant.

And on that ‘economic message’ of the US President at the VSOA. Does anyone even remember, or care to remember, the economic message of the US President? But what most do remember is this was one of so many opportunities to be squandered by a very image-conscious personality, reflective of the basic expectations of many in a country conditioned to accepting perception as real rather than reality itself.

Pity no one has yet taken the time to explain that Open Veins (Venas Abiertas) is not a book on anatomy…

And the contribution of the US (and its Western allies) to the UN Climate Change Conference going on in Warsaw, as the disastrous consequences of Haiyan are still being felt in the Philippines? How yuh feelin’?

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