The Warming Gap

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
April 1 2007 7:25 AM

The Warming Gap

Where will global warming leave the rest of the world?

The New York Times leads with the gap between rich and poor nations when it comes to being prepared for the effects of global warming. The Washington Post leads with an exposé on illegal logging practices in developing countries. The Los Angeles Times leads with the controversy over funding a California law that mandates treatment over jail time for nonviolent drug offenders.

The U.S. and Western Europe produce two-thirds of all carbon emissions, but they also spend the most to prepare themselves for the effects of global warming, investing in everything from levies and desalination plants to drought-resistant crops and floating homes. While African nations produced less than 3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions over the last century, they've also been hardest hit by global warming and the least equipped to deal with its consequences. The NYT says droughts and flooding are more extreme in tropical regions, and changes in rainfall and other water resources are felt most deeply in poor agrarian areas. The story also argues, however, that while developed nations' wealth and infrastructure will help them cope with global warming in the short run, the negative effects of a changing climate will even out over time.

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Western hunger for cheap patio furniture feeds a ravenous Chinese lumber industry that funds illegal logging operations in much of Asia, Africa, and South America, according the WP. Between 40 percent and 80 percent of all logging in many developing nations is done illegally, often on protected lands and without regard for environmental standards or replanting requirements. While the countries in question have logging regulations on the books, bribery is rampant. Oddly enough, China's foray into illegal foreign logging was born out of an effort to protect its own forests, forcing lumber mills to look elsewhere for trees. Early on, the story singles out furniture retailer Ikea as a purveyor of goods made with illegal lumber, but later the target broadens to include many big name furniture dealers. Logging isn't the sexiest subject, but the sheer breadth of reporting here is impressive. The interviews span much of Southeast Asia and subjects on both sides of the issue are surprisingly candid, from businessmen riding the boom to loggers filled with deep regrets regarding their profession.

California's Proposition 36 required rehab for nonviolent drug offenders in lieu of prison, but a quarter of users never get any treatment, at least partly because of a lack of rehab space. Advocates argue that the program saves the state money on prison costs, while critics point to less than stellar recovery and participation rates.

The NYT off-leads with President Bush's former chief campaign strategist Matthew Dowd airing his qualms with the president's handling of the Iraq war. The paper calls Dowd the "first member of Mr. Bush's inner circle to break so publicly with him." Whether or not Dowd is the first staffer to go public, the depth of Dowd's former ties makes his criticism even more stunning. Dowd goes so far as to say, in a still-unpublished editorial, that "Kerry was Right," referring to the Iraq policies of Sen. John Kerry, the man Dowd helped defeat in 2004.

President Bush called for the release of British troops being held in Iran, reports the WP, pointedly calling the troops "hostages" in his first public comment on the standoff. The paper pays very close attention to what the president does and doesn't say, since the U.S. has been quiet on this incident until now. Bush backed the British claim that the vessel was in Iraqi waters when the incident occurred but ruled out trading Iranians in U.S. custody for the British troops. He also would not say if a similar capture of American forces would constitute an act of war.

Israel is concerned about Hamas' construction of underground tunnels, bunkers, and armories along the Gaza border, according to the NYT. The preparations resemble actions taken by Hezbollah before its conflict with Israel last summer. Israeli intelligence indicates that Hamas is training troops abroad, smuggling weapons in from Egypt, and acquiring more powerful rockets capable of hitting Israeli towns. For now, Israel isn't taking military action, but troops are being readied, just in case. On another note, the NYT also argues that Bush's approach to Israel is beginning to resemble the "shuttle-diplomacy" he foreswore earlier in his administration.

According to the LAT, browsing luxury goods at military shopping centers is a popular pastime among troops stationed in Iraq, though some worry that young soldiers will make impulse purchases in-country that they'll later regret.

Almost by accident, war made the Falkland Islands prosperous, says the NYT. Twenty-five years later, residents worry that prosperity could bring renewed conflict.

The WP reports that during President Bush's second term, an unusually high percentage of U.S. attorney appointments went to former White House and Justice Department staffers, including 10 former aides to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The spots are traditionally given to candidates favored by senators or other local officials.

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