George Monbiot: 'The Great Moral Issue Of The 21st Century'

<p>British journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot talks about global warming, car fuel economy, electric vehicles, manipulation of science, biofuels, the "Axis of Evil" on climate change, and "the great moral issue" of our time.</p>
May 23, 2007, 8am PDT | Abhijeet Chavan
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"At the moment in the United States, the average fuel economy of cars is just over twenty-one miles per gallon. The Model T Ford in 1908 did twenty-five miles to the gallon. This country has gone backwards in terms of fuel economy. And yet the technological potential is absolutely vast."

"We all know the electric car works. There's plenty of models out there. The problem is that you can't go very far with it without having to plug it in again and wait eight hours for the battery to recharge. But what if you don't have to do that? What if, instead, you pull into a filling station, you lift up the hood, crane comes over, lifts out the battery, drops in another one, and off you go again?"

"...much of the new planting of biofuel is taking place on rainforest land or land which had other high carbon crops on it. And what we're seeing there is a massive impact, not just on biodiversity and on local habitat and environment, but also on climate change."

"This is a great paradox and cruelty of climate change, that those countries which are most responsible for it, the rich nations, most of which are in temperate parts of the world, are those which are going to be hit last by it and hit least by it...Ours is primarily a moral responsibility. I'm not just appealing to people's self-interest here. This is the great moral issue of the twenty-first century, and if we don't deal with climate change, we condemn hundreds of millions of people to death."

"...the moment you start getting industry lobbyists with no scientific background...to start editing scientific reports, you have stepped into the territory normally occupied by dictatorships."

"...I'm afraid to say that the Clinton-Gore administration in some ways did more harm than the Bush administration, because while Bush has gutted the US response to climate change, Gore and Clinton gutted the international response to climate change."

"...before we point the finger at China, just bear in mind that the average emissions of carbon dioxide per person in China are 2.7 tons per year; in the United States, they are twenty tons per year. So it would be the height of hypocrisy to say it's those damn Chinese who are responsible for this problem."

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