Last night the president held a press conference about the rising costs of, well, everything. He has once again demonstrated how shallow his knowledge of the issues runs, and the fact that he's completely disconnected.
I'm not sure I even want to get started on ANWR. I can't say that I'm surprised that the president would use the growing fuel crisis as an impetus to (once again) push for the opening of ANWR to exploration and drilling. Either way, peak oil or an increase in drilling/refining, it's a win win situation for the oil companies, and offers no real long term solutions for the rest of the country, or the world. Instead of seeing growing demand as the problem (which it is) he sees lagging production as the problem. That's short term and narrow sighted.
As an Alaskan, I know I'm in the minority of people up here who don't want to see ANWR opened, but I don't. And it certainly is the answer that Bush (+ Ted Stevens and Don Young, amongst others, I'm sure) are trying to imply that it is. It is no less limited by its short term possibilities and lack of sustainability now than it ever was. The solution is not drilling for more oil just because it's there, the solution is finding a way to live comfortably on a lot less of it.
What I really loved from yesterday's speech what the president's implication during Q&A that eating locally was somehow an idea he has recently developed as a novel concept, and something we need congress to legislate in order to make happen! This president, our beloved W, with a horrible record on environmental issues, is now trying to make it sound as though he doesn't stand behind big-ag and commodity crops by impugning congress for the current state of the farm bill (which is abysmal, I will give him that) but in the same breath emphasizing that a solution is more ethanol production! Does he not get the connection between the farm bill, commodity crops, ethanol production and the current world food-fuel crisis? Clearly he must not.
More than that he's trying to pull the wool over our eyes and make us think that buying local was his idea and needs the government's influence to really get off the ground.
" One thing I think that would be -- I know would be very creative policy is if we -- is if we would buy food from local farmers as a way to help deal with scarcity, but also as a way to put in place an infrastructure so that nations can be self-sustaining and self-supporting. It's a proposal I put forth that Congress hasn't responded to yet, and I sincerely hope they do."
I don't deny that a change in the farm bill, and a shift away from huge swaths of land being occupied by commodity crops would do a lot to help farmers cater to locavores. It would help the locavore movement a lot if more crop land in the U.S. was growing more of the sorts of produce that are currently imported en mass because they aren't a one of the commodity crops. Yes, the farm bill needs changing (though I'm not sure I believe that Bush believes this) but legislating local eating is not part of the answer.
Does he really think this is a new and creative idea he has had a part in? Come on W! Eating locally has been a rapidly, nearly exponentially, growing grassroots movement for the better part of the last decade! It's not your idea, and it's not something you need to legislate people into. It's something that people are doing anyway, and are going to continue to do.
I (*gasp*) applaud him for actually suggesting this, more people in the country need to think about such issues, and hearing it on the national nightly news might actually make more people think about it. But he didn't really offer any solutions. He really only offered an increase in the problem by suggesting that more land be diverted to corn (a commodity crop) for ethanol production. Where on earth are farmers going to get the land to produce abundant and variable local crops if they're all producing corn for ethanol (and HFCS and all those other ubiquitous corn derivatives that are everywhere?)