La Primera Op-Ed: Obama, global warming and the world war against drugs

Editorial column from Monday’s La Primera

By Roger Rumrill (Director of the Center for Indigenous Cultures of Peru)

Although the 10-point advantage over Republican John McCain’s has shortened in the past several days, polls in the United States and the rest of the world show Barack Obama as the winner of tomorrow’s presidential elections, unless one of those unforeseen events happen that sometimes change the course of history.

Politically and ideologically centrist, most of Obama’s proposals with regard to the economy, taxes, health services and education, do not differ much from the policies of previous governments. His plan for universal social care is almost identical to that of Harry S. Truman (1945-1953).

However, the great difference lies in his proposal on climate change, ecology and energy independence. This difference is fundamental in view of the fact that the belief in an inexhaustible planet with an eternal capacity to create wealth has come to an end. Because, as Oswaldo de Rivero says, we have to “replace the mythology of economic growth with the scientific data of planetary plunder.”

This is what makes President Alan Garcia’s address at the closing of the 46th Annual Executives Conference (CADE) sound pathetic, contradicting the world by pontificating that “next year we shall have spectacular growth figures” and that “Peru is in a privileged position to be the country of refuge for production and the world’s capital,” when the environmental cost of this growth, in a primary-export economy, is already taking its toll, according to the United Nations, in 8.2 billion soles per year, 3.9 per cent of the GDP, due to the lax environmental laws and the State’s inability to ensure that the laws are obeyed.

This is why the great issues of today’s economic crisis — which, according to Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize 2008, requires a counter-reform that examines the entire architecture of liberalism and a return to the State’s role as regulator and promoter —  are precisely those of climate change with regard to water supply, energy and food production.

It is possible that with Obama in the White House, the United States may finally sign the Kyoto Protocol, and that the lost “world war on drugs” undergo a change in strategy.

The signing of the Kyoto Protocol and an environmental policy directed by Al Gore, and the change of anti-drug policies that currently have an unequivocal military slant, could be two changes that would have a predictable impact worldwide, including in Peru.

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