By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Still, the Flight 93 tape offers a slender thread of firsthand evidence about what really happened. And it once more raises the question of how much the FAA actually knew about what was going on that day. What else the government knows remains a secret.
Despite the Canadian federal government's determination to adhere to the Kyoto principles, there is a growing move within the provinces, which control much of that country's energy policy, to turn their backs on the global-warming plan and follow the U.S. lead in opposing them. Canada, now our largest foreign source of energy, does pretty much what we want, especially when it comes to oil and gas.
North America's head-in-the-sand attitude will cost immense amounts of money. Just last week, experts at Munich Re, which reinsures many insurance companies, put the bill for natural disasters this year at $70 billion. Much of the cost is due to the August floods in Europe, the worst in 150 years.
There have been over 500 natural disasters this year, killing thousands, making others homeless, and affecting millions, said Thomas Loster, a member of the Munich Re team. "We have once more strong indications that global warming is increasing and will thus have serious effects on societies and economies alike."
Pollution Probe, a Canadian public interest group trying to talk sense into that nation's politicians, came out with a pointed report last month arguing that climate change is going to hurt many people if precautions aren't taken.
"Excessive heat could kill more than 800 Toronto residents a year by 2080, a 40-fold increase over the current death toll," the analysis says. "Birds, insects, rodents, and other organisms are carrying a number of serious diseases, common in warmer climates, northward into the Toronto-Niagara region." Malaria, dengue fever, and hantavirus may well spread northward "due, in part, to climate change."
The Pollution Probe study underscores what the governments of industrialized nations already know. According to a 1996 World Health Organization document, Climate Change and Human Health, changes in global climate could result in a substantial increase in the geographic ranges of insect-borne diseases. Reduced supplies of fresh water, brought on by changes in regional rain and snowfall, may cause a higher incidence of some water- and food-borne illnesses and parasites. In addition, the report warns that an increase in extreme weather events, such as heat waves, floods, and storms, could threaten human health through greater risk of death, injury, or resource shortages.
The U.S. response to these dire warnings? Not to worry. "A range of negative health impacts is possible from climate change, but adaptation is likely to help protect much of the U.S. population," says a report from the National Assessment Synthesis Team published in 2000 and updated this year. "At present, much of the U.S. population is protected against adverse health outcomes associated with weather and/or climate, although certain demographic and geographic populations are at increased risk." V
The military's shopping list is never cheap, as these figures illustrate.
Blackhawk chopper $15 million
Aircraft carrier, per year$298 million
One fighting soldier, per year $300,000 to $500,000
Laser-guided bomb$19,000 to $26,000
Daisy cutter $27,000
Tomahawk cruise missile $500,000