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Environment Protection in US
美国的环保问题

While the G8 summit was underway, and once the news of Wednesday's London bombings became known, the American president George Bush was widely quoted on the subject of international terrorism. He spoke of his resolve to bring the perpetrators to justice, and to "spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm" what he called "their ideology of hate". 

But as the G8 meeting drew to a close, the US President had rather less to say about the Plan of Action, announced by the world leaders, to tackle what they deemed the "serious and long-term challenge" of climate change.

Stephen Evans, who's on a driving tour of the western United States, says many Americans remain unconvinced that this is an issue they need to take seriously:

I've just driven down from Salt Lake City, through the desert of Utah and Nevada. It is a magnificent sublime wilderness where horizons are wide when they're not broken by the craggy splendour of an ancient volcanic landscape.  As the sun sinks here, the rocks glow red and it's hard to imagine a threat to the environment where space seems limitless. 

And yet, many of these escarpments hide sites where humans dispose of all sorts of waste. Just beyond the beauty is a land being violated. This is where America throws its trash over the back wall.

I've just been to Yucca Mountain in Nevada where tunnels are being dug deep inside to bury spent nuclear fuel -- engineers told me for ten thousand years.  Around here there are dumps for every toxic waste. Dumps that feature on maps but not in the public consciousness. The city of Salt Lake has a big rubbish dump in Skull Valley.

But none of this is evident. Where people on other continents feel the pressure of the crowd, Americans still breathe in what seems deceptively like limitless, virgin territory.

It's also a country, a continent, of extreme climates. This land freezes in winter and is scorching now -- even with snow on the peaks around -- and that too affects the American perception of climate change.

In Europe, insurance premiums rise as homes get built on flood plains in a search for every inch of exploitable space. In America, there is not this connection between wallets and weather. Extremes of climate seem natural.

Only on the crowded coasts is the environment an issue. California and New York have tough regulations. In between, they often can't see what the fuss is about. It's a big country they feel. The taxi-driver in Texas who told me that global warming was hokum is not a lone voice, some of the big oil companies that lobby Mr. Bush are also loathe to concede a link between their product and climate change.

Even where there is concern, it can seem unfocussed. I went to a shop in Santa Fe in New Mexico -- a trendy shop for concerned people, where there was a lot of hessian, and earthenware products and posters with slogans about the earth.

They also sold wooden pens there -- ballpoint pens in casing wood rather than plastic. I asked the woman behind the counter why on earth they sold wooden pens. She replied as though I was a bit stupid -- that wood was more natural -- "natural", as though that somehow meant it was kinder on the world's resources.

And at some of the fancier supermarkets now in trendy areas, the checkout person asks what kind of bag you want: "Paper or plastic?" I usually ask which one is better for the environment, to which the reply is invariably: "I don't know". 

The environment sometimes seems like the fashionable issue of the moment, the right badge to wear, the current political designer label.

Things are changing though. Some Christians argue that gas-guzzling cars are a waste of the bountiful creation of their and the President's god.

Neo-conservatives are worried that importing oil means relying on hostile regimes, which, moreover, might funnel some of the dollars to anti-American causes -- what the neo-cons call a "terrorism tax on the American people".

The former head of the CIA, James Woolsey, for example, drives a Honda Prius, powered partly by a battery rather than the notorious internal combustion engine which burns gasoline and emits the smoke that many scientists believe causes global warming.

Mr. Woolsey, no tree-hugging liberal he, drives this cleaner car for what he calls "national security reasons".

And further from the chattering elites in Washington, concern about the environment usually translates as concern about the price of fuel. The last time I was in the Six Pack Diner in Detroit, the car-workers guzzling their cholesterol were not opining about the melting polar ice-caps. 

They are worried, though, that their employers -- Ford and General Motors -- have failed to catch a new appetite for cars that consume less.  More clean Japanese cars means fewer jobs in Detroit.

So there is pressure on Mr. Bush over the environment but not as a grand cause. It's a concern rather about importing an expensive fuel from hostile places. And Mr Bush may respond with tax incentives for cleaner technology that the US market seems increasingly to want.

Not so spectacular of course as grand declarations of global good intent, but maybe effective nonetheless.


参考译文:

当八国峰会期间伦敦大爆炸的消息传出来以后,很多人都在讨论美国总统布什关于国际恐怖主义的态度问题。布什谈到了如何将恐怖分子绳之以法,他要在广大人民中“形成一种压倒性的希望和激情”,也就是他所谈到的“仇恨意识”。

但是随着八国首脑会议的临近,各国首脑们纷纷表示,美国总统布什很少谈论到行动计划,来解决其他各国都很重视的气候变暖问题。

斯蒂芬·埃文斯目前正开着汽车在美国西部旅行。他说,大部分的美国人并不认为气候变暖是一个值得他们重视的问题。

我刚刚开车从盐湖城穿过尤他沙漠来到了内华达。那是一幅广阔的野外的景象,那里有宽阔的地平线。还有一派火山一样的崎岖的壮观的景象,这并没有影响到地平线的壮观。当太阳在这里落山的时候,岩石发出火红的光芒。很难想象出,这样的景象会给某些地区的环境造成威胁。

然而,很多这样的悬崖峭壁实际上是人类倾倒各种各样的垃圾的地方。在这样一派美丽景色的背后,是人类对环境的破坏。这里就是美国倾倒垃圾的地方。

我刚刚去过内华达的丝兰山。在那里,人们正在挖掘一个巨大的地洞来掩埋核废料。工程师告诉我,将要埋藏10000年。这附近还有很多倾倒各种有毒物质的垃圾堆。这些垃圾堆大到可以在地图上显现出来,但是人们却没有意识到问题的严重性。盐湖城在司库尔河谷地区就有一个巨大的垃圾堆。

但是这些现象对于美国人来说还不够重视。当其他大洲的国家正在感受着人口稠密给他们带来的不便时,美国还在这片广阔的处女地上自由地呼吸。

这是一个有着极端的气候的国家和大洲。冬天土地都冻结了,而夏天却出奇的炎热——同时山顶附近却有积雪——这一切都无不影响着美国人对于气候变暖的看法。

在欧洲,如果你在大的平原上面建造房屋,以期开阔更多的空间的话,那你要上缴更多的税款。但是在美国,气候变暖和金钱还没有联系起来。极端的气候对于美国人来说是很正常的。

只有在那些拥挤的沿海城市里,气候变化才是一个问题。加利福尼亚和纽约都有严格的规定。但是在其他地方,人们根本不知道为什么要谈论什么气候变暖。美国是一个地域广阔的国家。德克萨斯州的一个出租车司机对我说,气候变化这类话都是废话。而这位司机的观点是具有代表性的,代表了很多人的心声。有些游说总统的大石油公司也讨厌将他们的产品与气候变化扯上关系。

即使在有些地方,人们表现出对气候变化的顾虑,那么这样的顾虑也不很严重。我来到新墨西哥州的圣达菲的一个专门为担心气候变暖的人们开设的商店里。那里有一些粗麻布,还有一些陶器和海报,上面印有关于保护地球的标语。

在那里,店主售卖木制笔——就是外面是木制包装的圆珠笔。我问了售货员为什么要卖木制的笔。她的回答让我感觉自己好像有点傻——“这样更自然嘛!”似乎某种程度上这意味着对大自然会更有好处一样。

在有些时尚地区的超市里面,买完东西结帐时,售货员会问,您要塑料袋还是纸袋。通常我会问他们,哪种袋子更环保一些?而我得到的回答总是:“不知道。”

环境有时好像是一个时尚的话题,是我们要戴的正确的徽章,是当前政客们的标签而已。

情况已经发生了很大的变化。有些基督教徒认为那些耗油量极大的汽车是对上帝的慷慨仁慈的一种浪费。

有些新保守主义者担心,进口石油就意味着依靠了那些敌对国家。同时,进口石油也使很多美元流失到了美国的敌对国。新保守主义者把这种情况叫做“恐怖主义者从美国人民身上征收的税款” 。

例如,中央情报局的前局长詹姆士·乌尔什就开着一辆本田普锐斯。这部车的驱动力是电池,而不是臭名昭著的内燃机——烧汽油排废气,科学家们认为会造成气候变暖的内燃机。

乌尔什先生不是一个自由主义者。他开着这部更加环保的车,目的是为了维护他所谓的“国家安全”。

从美国的一些评论员的评论当中,我们不难发现,目前人们的担心已经从环保转向了油价问题。上次我去底特律的时候,正在紧张生产汽车的工人们并没有意识到全球变暖导致的冰川融化问题。

但是他们担心的是他们的雇主——福特和通用汽车公司——还没有意识到人们已经开始越来越喜欢耗油量低的汽车了。

于是布什总统就有了压力,他必须重视环保这个并不算大事业的事业。这是一个事关从敌对国家进口石油的大问题。而布什总统则要对传统汽车征税,以此来推进美国市场需求量越来越大的环保科技。

环境保护当然不是一个很伟大的事业,但是的确是一个很有效的事业。

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