term paper on crime against nature by robert f kennedy jr

In Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Crime Against Nature, he points out all of the significant ways in which George W. Bush has corrupted environmental law policy.  He identifies Bush as the core cause for many major environmental downfalls which America has recently endured during his administration.  When the facts are presented, Kennedy sheds light on what appears to be failed environmental policy planning in the Republican party that can be traced all the way back to the Reagan administration.  Despite Reagan’s appearance in Kennedy’s piece, George W. Bush undoubtedly maintains the starring role as the key culprit who has head an administration that produced policies which undermine science and devastate the environment.  The main aspect of Kennedy’s piece that most empowers his argument comes from the authors’ ability to bring his own personal experiences with the defaulting environment and the failed policies of the Bush administration; his argument comes off less like a bashing of the President and more like the condemnation of foul efforts.

Kennedy’s most ironic moment is when he points out how all of these mishaps could have been foreseen through examining Bush’s environmental policy when he was the governor of Texas, as he notes,

The Bush attack was not entirely unexpected. George W. Bush had the grimmest environmental record of any governor during his tenure in Texas. Texas became number one in air and water pollution and in the release of toxic chemicals. In his six years in Austin, he championed a short-term pollution-based prosperity, which enriched his political contributors and corporate cronies by lowering the quality of life for everyone else. Now President Bush is set to do the same to America. (Kennedy Jr. 2003, p1)

Kennedy traces the initial descent of America’s environmental policy to Bush’s inauguration day when the chief of staff, former General Motors lobbyist Andrew Card took on the responsibility of pressing federal agencies to relax the laws governing foreign oil, coal, mining and chemical power plants.  All the while the officials heading these programs undermine the intelligence o the public a Kenendy notes when he says, “Today, with the presidency and both houses of Congress under the anti-environmentalists’ control, they are set to eviscerate the despised laws. White House strategy is to promote its unpopular policies by lying about its agenda, cheating on the science and stealing the language and rhetoric of the environmental movement (Kennedy, 2003).”  It is Kenendy’s view that the Republican party, through their environmental policies has positioned itself in direct opposition to science, which he argues is not a rational or safe place for America.  When referring to the parties failed use of proper language in addressing the environmental issues of the day, Kennedy points out how if the Republican party were to use terms like climate change as opposed to global warming, the task itself might not seem so catastrophic to attack, thus making it more appealing for congress and Republican constituents.  This is just a small step the Bush administration could take in confronting this problem, as it is clear the current neglect the president’s policies has shown towards the environment is having devastating effects on the American people.

The Boston Globe article Hurricane Katrina’s real name argues that Hurricane Katrina was the result of global warming.  Both global warming and acid rain are a direct affect of the pollutants which human beings contribute to the atmosphere.  In his August 31st, 2005 editorial for the Boston Globe, Ross Gelbspan addresses this argument directly.  The editorial opens with, “the hurricane that struck Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service.  Its real name is global warming (Gelbspan, 2005).”  He credits global warming as the cause to multiple international disasters.  A two foot snow accumulation in Los Angeles, disastrous winds in Scandinavia, and wildfire causing droughts are all presented as the product of this issue, and of course acid rain.  The editorial presents acid rain as one of the more prevailing problems caused by global warming and the emissions of sulfur into the atmosphere.  By the end of Gelspan’s editorial, the reader is given the impression that the potential effects of global warming and acid rain are so much more monumental than is given credit to by the current administration.  It would only seem to be second nature to take action in response to the crisis that Gelspan presents.  This is also the exact feeling Gelbspan means to incite right before he reveals the true reason behind global warming and its opposition.  The main argument Gelspan poses is that the only way to stop global warming is for the global market to cut its use of coal and oil by 70 percent.  This is very ironic considering that the EPA credits coal, oil, and nuclear plant emissions as the leading proponents of acid rain. Obviously this would have a detrimental effect on two of the most lucrative industries in the United States and throughout the world.  The conflict between wealth and global consciousness is very apparently signified when Gelbspan points out that,

in 1995, public utility hearings in Minnesota found that the coal industry had paid more than $1 million to four scientists who            were public dissenters on global warming. And ExxonMobil has spent more than $13 million since 1998 on an anti-global warming public relations and lobbying campaign. (Gelbspan, 2005)

This is a very daunting thought, and it becomes even more so, when Gelbspan points out that when George W. Bush was elected he relied on the oil and coal companies to create  his global warming policies.  Much worse than the detrimental affects these energy manufacturers have on the atmosphere is the corruption set in place by the Bush administration to allow these climate conflicts to dominate the globe. This is very ironic considering that in his essay, Christen and Gelbspan both out how the significant increase in dramatic climate change has only further enforced the necessity for this issue to be confronted.  He closes his argument by relating the problem back to the states and specifically to his home town of Boston.  He says,

Where I live, in Boston, I am afraid that the coming winter will – like last winter – be unusually short and devastatingly severe. In early 2005, a storm knocked out power to thousands and dropped a record-setting 42.2 inches of snow on Boston. The conventional name of the month was January. Its real name is global warming. (Gelbspan, 2005)

Though his editorial ends lightly with a sense of humor laughing in the face of a seemingly doom-filled situation, one can’t help but feel distraught and angered by the effects of this current administration on our climate.  Kennedy also takes Bush’s failure personally, as he voices his anger in his piece as well stating, “I am angry both as a citizen and a father. Three of my sons have asthma, and I watch them struggle to breathe on bad-air days. And they’re comparatively lucky: One in four African-American children in New York shares this affliction; their suffering is often unrelieved because they lack the insurance and high-quality health care that keep my sons alive (Kenedy 2003).”  The author’s ability to bring their own impassioned personal perspective into play makes the argument more significant

Modern society is reliant on multiple forms of energy.  Primary energy sources like fossil fuels, biomass, bio-fuels, hydroelectric energy, nuclear energy, fusion power, wind power, solar power, and geo thermal energy are just a few of the energy sources that the planet has offer.  These resources all have their respective pros and cons, but what’s specifically most important is implementing the most affordable and environmentally friendly method.  Dually, the preservation of these resources non-renewable resources such as gas and coal through the use of renewable ones like solar power will be key in the fight to maintain the environment.  In his 2007 report Power Up, Michael Fickes points out how Frederick County, MD, is making an initiative to reduce fossil fuel use in the production of electricity.  He argues that 90 percent of the county’s electricity is produced from coal fire power plants, whereas wind, solar, and geothermal power contributes to the other 10 percent.  Fickes also points out how county officials look to use garbage as an alternative source of power.

The county has asked the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority (NMWDA) to hid out a 40-megawatt waste-to-energy (WTE) plant that would be located in the city of Frederick, The plant would produce enough electricity to heat, cool, light and run appliances for about 20,000 homes, or around 25 percent of the 83,000 housing units in (he county. In all, the plant would supply about 5 percent of the electricity used in the county and drive the percentage derived from coal down to 85 percent. (Fickes, 2007)

This concept of using waste or sludge for the purpose of producing energy is growing popularity in energy development.  In A. Rozgus’ article From Sludge to Fuel, he points out how California is the first state to power state industries with wastewater-treatment as opposed to coal.  Los Angeles funded this 78$ million project through private equity funds.  While it is expected to be more expensive than traditional disposal methods, it has gained much popularity in California for being environmentally friendly. This new form of sludge disposal is orchestrated by the California state government specifically for the purpose of reducing fossil fuel emissions, and it has adopted patented label of being recognized as the Slurry Carb process. Rozgus goes on to point out that “the county estimates that the SlurryCarb method will cost $72 per ton compared to the $50 per ton it’s been spending to send biosolids to a landfill in Arizona (Rozgus, 2007).”  This is ideal of the certain trend to preserve the environment in spite of cost.

According to Chevron’s initiative for alternative energy use, to date, the world has produced 1 trillion barrels of oil; and over the next century, two trillion barrels are expected to be produced from conventional and unconventional resources.  Much of this oil is expected to be retrieved out of Alberta, Venezuela and shale oil out of the United States.  Global energy consumption of oil and gas is expected to increase by 50% by 2030 (Sutton & Roberts, 2007). Suprsingly, more prevalent than the use of oil throughout the globe is the use of coal as an energy source, and it is also very hazardous to the environment.  Recently, China surpassed the U.S. in being the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, mostly due to China’s intense reliance on coal.  China is currently looking for alternative energy sources but the demand for cheap coal is so powerful a shift from coal use will be hard fought.  This is especially true considering that Today coal is being considered one of the primary sources of energy.  Advanced methods use methanol in a processing step that converts coal into multiple petrochemicals.  An example of this coal-to-chemical technology can be seen in how Carbide is processed for acetylene production.  China is studying and using coal for the production of: methanol, dimethylether (DME), olefins, gasoline, liquids through Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis, and liquid through direct liquefaction (Sutton & Roberts, 2007).

The limits on energy development have to do with non-renewable resources specifically petroleum, coal, natural gas and uranium.  Renewable energy like solar power and wind power surprisingly are growing in use.  Another uncommon, but viable renewable source of energy is hydroelectricity, which is basically electricity produced by hydropower (ROdenbeck, 2005).  It currently supplies 19% of the world’s power and actually accounts for 63% of the total electricity used from renewable sources.  Hydropower is basic the force or energy produced from moving water.  Prior to being used for electric power, Hydropower was simply used for irrigation.  Solar power is another renewable energy source.  It’s known to convert 15% of the energy from the sun’s rays into actual electrical energy (Rodenbeck, 2005).  While solar power is one of the more popular sources of renewable energy, wind power is actually one of the more competitive sources.  It is believed that in the long term, wind power as a resource will be able to supply five times the current global energy consumption (Rodenbeck, 2005).  But first, an administration must be implemented that can promote and enforce the use of windmill power and production.  Oddly enough, Kennedy devotes a section of his piece to predicting what will happen if America doesn’t clean up its ways.  He says,

Pollution from power plants and traffic smog will continue to skyrocket. Carbon-dioxide emissions will aggravate global warming. Acid rain from Midwestern coal plants has already sterilized half the lakes in the Adirondacks and destroyed the forest cover in the high peaks of the Appalachian range up into Canada. The administration’s attacks on science and the law have put something even greater at risk.

While alternate sources of energy are not a cure all answer to the devastation which the Bush administration has left in its aftermath, it’s a start, and maintaining the current state of environmental politics would the America in dire straits.

In sum, Kennedy’s piece is able to reveal the Republican party’s true nature concerning the corrupt policy planning for environmental laws. The potential threat that the President’s greedy policies have posed to the environment and the American people is urgent and critical, and Kennedy gets this point across very well.  When he argues that George W. Bush has treated the country like a ‘grab bag for the robber barons’ it garners some of the same anger in the reader that he feels.  By the end of Kennedy’s piece, it is indisputable that Bush has devastated the environment and exploited the American people.

Work Cited

Carlson, Chris,RISE Up [Recycling Investment Saves Energy (RISE) Act]. Waste Age v. 38 no. 7 (July 2007) p. 6, 8

Fickes, Michael. Power Up. Waste Age v. 38 no. 8 (August 2007) p. 28, 30-3

Gelbspan, Rose. “Hurricane Katrina’s Real Name.” The Boston Globe 31 Aug. 2005.

Kennedy Jr., Robert. Crime Against Nature Rolling Stone 2003

 MacGregor, R. J. New power approach reduces air emissions. Hydrocarbon Processing (International edition) v. 86 no. 7 (July 2007) p. 93-7

Rodenbeck, Christopher T. and Chang, Kai, “A Limitation on the Small-Scale Demonstration of Retrodirective Microwave Power Transmission from the Solar Power Satellite”, IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine, August 2005, pp. 67–72.

Rozgus, A. From sludge to fuel. Public Works v. 138 no. 9 (August 2007) p. 15

Sutton, M., et. al., “Consider coal for olefins production.” Hydrocarbon Processing (International edition) v. 86 no. 7 (July 2007) p. 89-91


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