Archive for the ‘Extinctions’ Category

Tiger Trade Slashes Big Cats’ Numbers

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

I’ve written about this sort of thing before here, here, here and  here.   And it gets sadder to write about it each time.

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Only 350 wild tigers remain in Asia’s Mekong River region, according to a new report from the conservation nonprofit WWF, which says the loss is being driven by trade in tiger parts.


A big picture snapshot

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

– A friend wrote me the other day about CO2 and said that most of the folks who are out there talking about CO2 and its dangers sound a bit like Chicken Little.  He said there must be places out there on the web where one can get a more balanced presentation of the issues.  And asked if I could direct him to such.

– I’m not sure I answered his questions as effectively as I might have.  I could have, for instance, done some research and tried to find web sites for him with more balanced presentations around CO2 and its issues.

– But, instead, I decided to tell him how and why the debate over CO2 has gotten to be so shrill and why many folks these days are sounding like Chicken Little.

– I think the explanation of why things have gotten so shrill is well worth repeating to a wider audience and so I’ve reproduced my friend’s questions and my responses below.

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Dennis,

I know your position on global warming.   Here are my thoughts:   First any thing that would get us untangled from the Middle East and every one else that we buy oil from would be a godsend.   Most people don’t realize that Canada and Mexico are our biggest suppliers.   Being tied to any other country the way we are is a bad thing.   I don’t think the oil/coal industries will are willing to have any change in the status quo until the last ounce of oil and coal is gone.   I think they control, to one extent or another, our government.   I believe that without their influence, we would have made massive changes by now.

Now, I would like to understand more about CO2.  I am not ignorant of the chemistry or of the geological history.   My problems is when I hear the side describing the downsides of CO2 they are so one sided that they sound like Chicken Little.

Even though the CO2 increase has great potential for mass disruption of the world’s ecological balance, there must be a little of this that is being balanced by natural processes.   Perhaps,  just not at a rate that we can accept.   Could you send me some web sites with a little balance?

Dave C.

=== and my response:

Dave,

You are right.  The oil/gas/coal industries are not going to recognize the global climate change effects their products produce.   If they did, it would cost them personally a pile of money.   And yes, they do have a huge effect on governments all over the world – especially the U.S. government.

Your question about CO2 is an excellent one and I wish I could do a better job of answering it.

When you say that the people describing the coming problems from rising CO2 levels sound like Chicken Little, I have to agree.   But, you need to also reflect on how the situation got to be like that.

First off, think about the fact that scientific discoveries don’t usually come up for public debate.

And consider that science comes up with some wild and almost unbelievable discoveries fairly often.   Take Dark Matter and Dark Energy for two things.   And Quantum Physics and all of its weird ideas like entanglement and action at a distance.   And the fact that really small things like electrons are not really in one place or another but rather exist in a small cloud of probability that hovers near where we think it actually is.  And how about relativity with its ideas that time slows down as your speed get closer and closer to the speed of light?

All that stuff was discovered by science and it beggared the imagination for most of us.  But people (most of them anyway), didn’t stand up and begin to argue passionately against these new findings.

And almost EVERYTHING you and I see around us in the world today is the product of science.   Telephones, electronics, plastics, microwaves, space shuttles, nylon and the list could go on and on for years.  It is hard to find much that we use that isn’t in some way or another the direct product of science and scientific research.   Not many people will stand up and claim that the chemistry that led to developing nylon is wrong.  Or that the laws describing voltage, current and resistance are wrong.

So what’s different about science’s findings about global climate change?

Well, you already said it.   It’s the money.  It’s the vested interests.  It’s what folks will stand to lose if the theories about CO2 and global climate change are true.  And it is big.  If this stuff is true, it means nothing less than that we have to simply reorganized how we do business on this Earth.  Almost everything about how most of us live is going to have to change some if we want to continue to live on this planet without turning it into a hell.

So, that’s a big big change that will result if we listen to what the scientists are saying.  It’s going to cost big oil/gas/coal billions of dollars.  It’s going to change the geopolitical balance between nations, it’s going to mean that ordinary folks like you and I and Joe Six-pack are all going to have to do things differently.

But nobody likes to lose money, nobody likes to lose political power and nobody likes to change their familiar and comfortable life-style.   Joe Six-pack doesn’t want to hear that his big two smoke-stack turbo diesel truck is bad for the planet and we can’t afford to have it running around any more.  The folks making money cutting down the Amazon rain forest don’t want to hear it.  The fishermen fishing the fish in the sea into extinction don’t want to hear it.   The folks buying cheap shit at Wal-Mart, don’t want to hear it.

And that brings these findings of the scientists right smack up against human nature.

And that human nature doesn’t want to change and it will begin to squirm and look for every reason and excuse it can to dodge the bullet and to avoid having to change, or lose money or whatever it is.

When the scientists decided that 70% of the entire universe was made of dark matter a few years ago, no one demonstrated in the streets or began to talk against it on the Rush Limbaugh show.   It didn’t get into anyone’s back pocket – so they didn’t care.

But CO2 and Global Climate Change is going to get into all our back pockets – big time.

Let me take you back and give you some history.   I learned what I’m going to tell you from a book entitled, Red Sky at Morning by Gustave Speth.

In the 1970’s, environmentalists in the U.S. were just beginning to push their efforts to get laws passed like the Clean Air Act and the Food and Drug Laws.  The public was mildly interested and industry was ignoring all of it.   Then Three Mile Island and a few other things all happened at about the same time and suddenly the public was very hot to support environmental protection laws.  The result was that a lot of laws about protecting the air and the water and such were all passed at once before the industry folks were really awake to what was happening.

Industry lost a lot of money because of all of these new laws and they vowed to never be asleep at the wheel again.

About 10 years later, in the 1980’s, the environmentalists began to realize that they could not protect the entire world by just passing good laws in the U.S.   They needed to expand their efforts and begin to fight for environmental protection laws that would be international in scope.  By the early 90’s the alarms were being sounded that we needed to do some things internationally or we, as a species, and as a planet, were going to have big problems.

But this time industry was not asleep.   They’d been burned once by not paying attention.   Now, every time an effort was mounted to increase environmental protection globally, industry looked at the proposed laws and if they could see that such a law was going to cost them big money, they mobilized to confuse people and to prevent the political will from developing to pass such a law.

This cat and mouse game has been going on for two decades now.   At first the scientists simply published the results of the scientific research in papers.  They trusted that people would be smart enough to see the writing on the wall.   But, industry confused people and confused the issues.  They published counter studies that seemed to show the opposite conclusions.

So scientists and environmental activists began to talk louder trying to get their messages and warnings out.  And industry fought back harder.  And the entire thing escalated up and up.

Most scientists now think that the entire “Global Climate Change is because of CO2” issue has been definitively proven over and over beyond the shadow of any doubt.   But the public doesn’t think that.   They are still deeply confused by the mis-information industry has been putting out for just that purpose – to confuse them and to therefore prevent political will from developing that could result in some real laws getting passed.

What’s going on in Copenhagen now is a great example.   Many people think that awareness of our environmental problems has finally gotten to the point where the world’s leaders might actually come together and try to do something real to prevent a major environmental and climate disaster.   And then, two weeks before the conference, the other side unleashes a major campaign to throw doubt on the scientific conclusions and to mess the entire conference up.

And, I fear, they are doing a pretty good job.   Frankly, I think we’re toast and I’ve thought so for a long time.   Human nature is just too predictable and to easily manipulated.   Those who want to convince the public that the climate science is wrong actually have a pretty easy time of it because Joe Six-pack and folks like him would prefer to believe that nothing’s going on because it is way easier than thinking about the fact that they might have to change their consumerist lifestyles.

So yeah, some folks are sounding like shrill Chicken Littles.  Why?  Because it is a damn desperate situation and the world is likely to go into the toilet in spite of the very best efforts of the environmentalists.  And they are worried about it.

After reading over what I’ve written here, I realize that I’ve only partially answered what you actually asked.  You asked for some balance on the question of how CO2 is processed by the environment.

There are a lot of answers to that because, as you can imagine, the world’s climate and biosphere is a wickedly complex system.   But, here are a few of the high points:

– The level of CO2 in the atmosphere hasn’t been this high in 6 million years.

– The current swift rise in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is faster than anything we can see in the climate records back for 6 million years.

– This rise corresponds with the rise of industrial civilization.   It begins in the climate record just about the time industrialization began when the English started building factories in the 1840’s or so and it increases in the climate record in pace with the increasing rise in industrial production.

– The denialists say that the rise in CO2 is a natural thing and has nothing to do with the CO2 humans are putting into the air.   I find that an amazing idea.   It’s like saying, “I just tromped down on the gas pedal and now the car is going really fast.”   And then having someone tell you that it’s just a coincidence and that the gas pedal has nothing to do with the acceleration.  Yeah, right.

– Nature does have some ability to absorb excess CO2.  The ocean absorbs a lot of it.  But, it cannot keep up with the rate we’re adding it to the air.   And, as the ocean absorbs it, the water becomes more acidic.  As it becomes more acidic, it makes it harder for ocean animals that have shells to make their shells because the acidification interferes with their chemistry.  At some point, this rise in dissolved CO2 is really going to mess with some huge food chains in the ocean.

– Plants and trees like CO2 and use and absorb it.  To a point.  Add a little more CO2 and a little more heat and they thrive.    But, add a bit more and they begin to weaken and wilt and their ability to absorb CO2 lessens.   This is true for the majority of plants and trees.   There are some exceptions but they are a minority and what really matters is what the majority of the world’s plants and trees are likely to do.  And what they are likely to do it not good.

– Big coal has been yammering on for years about CO2 sequestration.  But, in spite of many big public relations splashes, no one yet has made a full scale carbon sequestration plant that works.   In the mean time, China is building one or more coal fired dirty power production plants a week!   Much of the public thinks “clean coal” is either a done deal or very close.   It truth, it is miles and mile off and maybe we’ll never have it.

– The problem is bigger that just how much CO2 we’re putting into the air.  That’s bad and we can see it ramping up.  But, it is causing other problems much as one fire creates others as the embers fly.

– The arctic ice is melting and as it does, the white snow and ice disappear and the darker sea and land underneath become visible.  The white reflected heat back into space.   The darker stuff being exposed absorbs it.  So there’s more heating going on because of this and it, in turn, causes more ice and snow to melt.  It is a positive feed back cycle and it is beginning to get up onto legs of its own.

– Glaciers all over the world, with very few exceptions, are melting.  The winter snow falls that used to stay in the mountains and then melt in the summer are going away and that’s going to have a huge impact on human beings.  The summer water that millions need to grow crops and survive is going away, soon.  We’re talking most of the west coast of South America, the Southwestern U.S., Northern India and a huge swath across Central China from east to west.  We’ve never seen anything like the disruption and starvation that will result.

Dave, I’ve been reading this stuff for years and this is just a part of what I’ve read.  Scientists have no reason to make this stuff up.  But, folks who make big big bucks by keeping the world running as it is now have a huge motivation to not see and react to the coming global climate changes.  These folks have a lot of money and they think that even if there are big problems, they will have to money to hang out in nice villas up in the Alps and where ever while the rest of use starve and fight it out in the streets.

All they have to do is keep us confused so we won’t shut their party down.

Dennis

Got Gas?

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

– A good friend of mine sent me this article saying, “Interesting article on natural gas“.

– It is, indeed, an interesting article but I saw it in a different light than many perhaps do.

– My response to my friend:

D,

An interesting and potentially game-changing story, indeed.

But, it is a classic case of humanity’s inborn tendency to jump at the short term relief without fairly balancing it against the long-term consequences.

To see the consequences, I’d like to see someone make the assumption that ALL the fossil fuel we burn from here forward is this cleaner gas.   And, to be really fair, we can drop all considerations of the collateral damages associated with obtaining the gas that were mentioned in the article.

Just assume that the world will continue growing and producing and have more babies and all the rest of it for the next 20 to 50 years – all largely fueled by this gas.

The analysis should show what will happen to the CO2 levels in the atmosphere from consuming just this gas.  And then it should consider the consequences of this change in CO2 levels on global weather, ecosystems, environmental refugees, depleted glaciers and winter snow packs, increasing desertification, species die-offs and an entire host of follow-on consequences that will attend continued rising of global CO2 levels.

Short-term thinkers are enthusiastic about these new gas producing technologies because they allow us, for the moment, to avoid having to deal with the really tough long term questions regarding what we have to do to get into a sustainable long-term homeostatic balance with the planet’s ecosphere.

Long term, it’s really the only question that matters much.

Everything else is an avoidance or a denial that only take us further down the road wherein we do not solve this problem and cause a major crater in the Earth’s evolutionary history; killing many species, altering the weather for tens of thousands of years and killing the majority of the human beings alive and reducing the ones that survive to miserable circumstances.

Not an insignificant outcome – and all the more terrible because, difficult as it may be, we could avoid most of it if we had the grit and the will to do so.

Dennis

Beetles, wildfire: Double threat in warming world

Friday, August 28th, 2009

HAINES JUNCTION, Yukon Territory (AP) — A veil of smoke settled over the forest in the shadow of the St. Elias Mountains, in a wilderness whose spruce trees stood tall and gray, a deathly gray even in the greenest heart of a Yukon summer.

“As far as the eye can see, it’s all infested,” forester Rob Legare said, looking out over the thick woods of the Alsek River valley.

Beetles and fire, twin plagues, are consuming northern forests in what scientists say is a preview of the future, in a century growing warmer, as the land grows drier, trees grow weaker and pests, abetted by milder winters, grow stronger.

Dying, burning forests would then only add to the warming.

It’s here in the sub-Arctic and Arctic — in Alaska, across Siberia, in northernmost Europe, and in the Yukon and elsewhere in northern Canada — that Earth’s climate is changing most rapidly. While average temperatures globally rose 0.74 degrees Celsius (1.3 degrees Fahrenheit) in the past century, the far north experienced warming at twice that rate or greater.

In Russia’s frigid east, some average temperatures have risen more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), with midwinter mercury spiking even higher. And “eight of the last 10 summers have been extreme wildfire seasons in Siberia,” American researcher Amber J. Soja pointed out by telephone from central Siberia.

Along with shrinking the polar ice cap and thawing permafrost, scientists say, the warming of the Arctic threatens to turn boreal forest — the vast cover of spruce, pine and other conifers blanketing these high latitudes — into less of a crucial “sink” absorbing carbon dioxide and more of a source, as megatons of that greenhouse gas rise from dead, burning and decaying wood.

American forest ecologist Scott Green worries about a “domino effect.”

“These things may occur simultaneously,” said the researcher from the University of Northern British Columbia. “If the bark beetles kill the trees, you’ll have lots of dead, dry wood that will create a really, really hot fire, and then sometimes you don’t get trees regenerating on the site.”

More…

An introduction to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

– This is a great place to start if you want to get the big overview of Global Climate Change and its consequences.   And recall that this, as big as it is, is only a part of the bigger picture that I’ve been calling The Perfect Storm.

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In this post, I will examine the key impacts we face by 2100 if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path. I will focus primarily on:

  • Staggeringly high temperature rise, especially over land — some 15°F over much of the United States
  • Sea level rise of 5 feet, rising some 6 to 12 inches (or more) each decade thereafter
  • Dust Bowls over the U.S. SW and many other heavily populated regions around the globe
  • Massive species loss on land and sea — 50% or more of all life
  • Unexpected impacts — the fearsome “unknown unknowns”
  • More severe hurricanes — especially in the Gulf

Equally tragic, as a 2009 NOAA-led study found, these impacts be “largely irreversible for 1000 years.”

More… <== Please continue, this is well worth a good read!

Ocean Dead Zones Likely To Expand: Increasing Carbon Dioxide And Decreasing Oxygen Make It Harder For Deep-sea Animals To Breath

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

New calculations made by marine chemists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) suggest that low-oxygen “dead zones” in the ocean could expand significantly over the next century. These predictions are based on the fact that, as more and more carbon dioxide dissolves from the atmosphere into the ocean, marine animals will need more oxygen to survive.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide are increasing rapidly in the Earth’s atmosphere, primarily because of human activities. About one third of the carbon dioxide that humans produce by burning fossil fuels is being absorbed by the world’s oceans, gradually causing seawater to become more acidic.

However, such “ocean acidification” is not the only way that carbon dioxide can harm marine animals. In a “Perspective” published in the journal Science, Peter Brewer and Edward Peltzer combine published data on rising levels of carbon dioxide and declining levels of oxygen in the ocean in a set of new and thermodynamically rigorous calculations. They show that increases in carbon dioxide can make marine animals more susceptible to low concentrations of oxygen, and thus exacerbate the effects of low-oxygen “dead zones” in the ocean.

Brewer and Peltzer’s calculations also show that the partial pressure of dissolved carbon dioxide gas (pCO2) in low-oxygen zones will rise much higher than previously thought. This could have significant consequences for marine life in these zones.

More…

What will global warming look like? Scientists point to Australia

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

“Farmers who once grew 60% of the nation’s produce are walking off their land or selling their water rights to the state and federal government. With rainfall in the region at lower than 50% of average for more than a decade, Australia is witnessing the collapse of its agricultural sector and the nation’s ability to feed itself.”

Reporting from The Murray-Darling Basin, Australia — Frank Eddy pulled off his dusty boots and slid into a chair, taking his place at the dining room table where most of the critical family issues are hashed out. Spreading hands as dry and cracked as the orchards he tends, the stout man his mates call Tank explained what damage a decade of drought has done .

“Suicide is high. Depression is huge. Families are breaking up. It’s devastation,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ve got a neighbor in terrible trouble. Found him in the paddock, sitting in his [truck], crying his eyes out. Grown men — big, strong grown men. We’re holding on by the skin of our teeth. It’s desperate times.”

A result of climate change?

“You’d have to have your head in the bloody sand to think otherwise,” Eddy said.

They call Australia the Lucky Country, with good reason. Generations of hardy castoffs tamed the world’s driest inhabited continent, created a robust economy and cultivated an image of irresistibly resilient people who can’t be held down. Australia exports itself as a place of captivating landscapes, brilliant sunshine, glittering beaches and an enviable lifestyle.

Look again. Climate scientists say Australia — beset by prolonged drought and deadly bush fires in the south, monsoon flooding and mosquito-borne fevers in the north, widespread wildlife decline, economic collapse in agriculture and killer heat waves — epitomizes the “accelerated climate crisis” that global warming models have forecast.

With few skeptics among them, Australians appear to be coming to an awakening: Adapt to a rapidly shifting climate, and soon. Scientists here warn that the experience of this island continent is an early cautionary tale for the rest of the world.

“Australia is the harbinger of change,” said paleontologist Tim Flannery, Australia’s most vocal climate change prophet. “The problems for us are going to be greater. The cost to Australia from climate change is going to be greater than for any developed country. We are already starting to see it. It’s tearing apart the life-support system that gives us this world.”

More…

Climate Tipping Point Near Warn UN, World Bank

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC, February 23, 2009 (ENS) – The planet is quickly approaching the tipping point for abrupt climate changes, perhaps within a few years, according to the UN Environmental Programme’s newly released 2009 Year Book and a separate World Bank report now being presented throughout Latin America.The UN agency warns that urgent action is needed to avoid catastrophic climate events such as major food and water shortages, shifts in weather patterns, and destabilization of “major ice sheets that could introduce unanticipated rates of sea level rise within the 21st century.”

The report warns that climate changes are occurring much faster than anticipated by the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, issued in 2007.

While earlier estimates forecast up to half a meter (19.5 inches) rise in sea level in the coming century, updated calculations suggest that the rise may be as high as two meters (78 inches).

Melting ice sheets and glaciers in the northern and southern hemispheres will not only contribute to sea level rise, but will also leave many regions around the world without basic water resources for human consumption and industrial production.

In its new report, the World Bank focuses on four climate impacts of special concern: “the warming and eventual disabling of mountain ecosystems in the Andes; the bleaching of coral reefs leading to an anticipated total collapse of the coral biome in the Caribbean basin; the damage to vast stretches of wetlands and associated coastal systems in the Gulf of Mexico; and the risk of forest dieback in the Amazon basin.”

More…

More Australian Weather Records Tumble

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

The Big Dry Down Under just got a whole lot drier. The first three months of 2009 in the already parched Murray Darling basin had the least amount of rainfall since Australian weather records began 117 years ago.

This massive drainage supports $9 billion in agriculture but has been hammered by what some are calling the worst drought in 1000 years. Authorities in Australia make no bones about the cause of this freaky weather.

“We’ve had big droughts before and big floods before, but what we didn’t have was climate change,” said Rob Freeman, the chief executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The Murray Darling is home to 2 million people who may not even have enough water to survive in the future. “I’d be loath to say that critical human needs will always be secure”, warned Freeman.

The recent rainfall record was not the only smashed. Water inputs for three-year period ending March 2009 were less than half of the previous record from the great drought of 1943-1946.

More…

What we need vs. what we’ll get

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

– The current G-20 meeting has stirred a lot of commentary and hope.   The world has a lot of problems and there’s always the possibility and the hope, when a significant number of world leaders come together to talk about those problems, that they’ll make decisions that will improve things.The Browns and the Obamas

– Below, is an analysis by George Friedman of STRATFOR of the G-20 meeting and what’s likly to come out of it along with a look at a follow-on NATO meeting and an Obama-EU summit.  There’s even discussion of President Obama’s upcoming visit to Turkey, which will be his last stop on his current international trip.

– Other commentators might go through these same subjects; G-20, NATO, EU and Turkey and come to somewhat different conclusions about their meanings and prospects but I seriously doubt that anyone could seriously avoid my final conclusion – that what the world needs is not what the world is going to get out of all these meetings and pontifications.

– In the near-term, we need unified global strategies to pull the world out of the current economic melt-down.

– And, following immediately on the heels of such economic repairs, we need a deep recognition that mankind’s current dominate economic system, Capitalism, even when working well,  cannot continue as it is currently configured.   Its fundamental requirements of continuing growth and consumption to fuel itself, are axiomatically inconsistent with the fact that we live on a planet with finite resources.

– And, once we’ve rethought our basic economic systems and globally began to reorient them into something that focuses on sustainability rather than growth, then we need to move onto how we, globally, are going to defuse all the ecological and climatic destruction we’ve set in motion which is threatening to reset our climate and to initiate another major ecological die-off like the one that took out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

– That’s all.  It’s not much to ask, right?   Surely,the best and the brightest of our national leaders can see that these are the paths forward?

– Well, I wish I thought so, but I don’t.  Friedman’s analysis makes clear that in spite of the fact that we need radical new thinking, these meetings will end up driven by narrow national interests as nation jockeys against nation to see who’s going to do the work and pay the bills.

There’s your future, folks.– It’s as if we’re all sitting in a lifeboat at sea and we’re having meeting after meeting about how to best arrange the seating in the boat to determine who has to row and who gets to just sit and benefit. And all the time, the boat is slowing but inexorably sinking but no one can be bothered to talk about that because… because?     Damned if I know.

– Here’s George Freidman’s analysis.   See what you think:

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Three major meetings will take place in Europe over the next nine days: a meeting of the G-20, a NATO summit and a meeting of the European Union with U.S. President Barack Obama. The week will define the relationship between the United States and Europe and reveal some intra-European relationships. If not a defining moment, the week will certainly be a critical moment in dealing with economic, political and military questions. To be more precise, the meeting will be about U.S.-German relations. Not only is Germany the engine of continental Europe, its policies diverge the most sharply from those of the United States. In some ways, U.S.-German relations have been the core of the U.S.-European relationship, so this marathon of summits will focus on the United States and Germany.

Although the meetings deal with a range of issues — the economy and Afghanistan chief among them — the core question on the table will be the relationship between Europe and the United States following the departure of George W. Bush and the arrival of Barack Obama. This is not a trivial question. The European Union and the United States together account for more than half of global gross domestic product. How the two interact and cooperate is thus a matter of global significance. Of particular importance will be the U.S. relationship with Germany, since the German economy drives the Continental dynamic. This will be the first significant opportunity to measure the state of that relationship along the entire range of issues requiring cooperation.

Relations under Bush between the United States and the two major European countries, Germany and France, were unpleasant to say the least. There was tremendous enthusiasm throughout most of Europe surrounding Obama’s election. Obama ran a campaign partly based on the assertion that one of Bush’s greatest mistakes was his failure to align the United States more closely with its European allies, and he said he would change the dynamic of that relationship.

There is no question that Obama and the major European powers want to have a closer relationship. But there is a serious question about expectations. From the European point of view, the problem with Bush was that he did not consult them enough and demanded too much from them. They are looking forward to a relationship with Obama that contains more consultation and fewer demands. But while Obama wants more consultation with the Europeans, this does not mean he will demand less. In fact, one of his campaign themes was that with greater consultation with Europe, the Europeans would be prepared to provide more assistance to the United States. Europe and Obama loved each other, but for very different reasons. The Europeans thought that the United States under Obama would ask less, while Obama thought the Europeans would give more.

More…

– research thanks to Michael M.