of the week
"US/EU clash over
A report from ENN, the
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Two recent reports of interest:
(1) "US-EU clash looms over environment"
Wednesday, January 3, 2001
By United Press International
"Sweden opened its new presidency of the 15-nation European
Union with a clarion call to save the environment, including a
threat to extend the controversial "precautionary principle" to
the chemical industry, threatening an early clash with the new
U.S. administration of George W Bush.
"The climate issue is a key item on the EU's agenda," Swedish
Prime Minister Goran Persson told his national parliament.
Persson stressed that Europe would swiftly re-open the talks
on controlling global warming that stalled late last year amid
bitter recriminations between Americans and Europeans.
President-elect Bush was skeptical of alarmist concerns about
global warming during his election campaign, saying that rather
than immediate action "more research is needed".
But a new and potentially more serious clash with Europe is now
looming over the "precautionary principle," which argues that no
new technology should be permitted unless it can be proved to
do no harm to humans and the environment."
(2) "NATO controversy over uranium tipped munitions"
"NATO came under pressure on Tuesday to set aside political
differences and face up to growing European concerns of a
possible link between uranium tipped bombs and cases of
cancer among Western peacekeepers."
"Controversy has erupted over the alliance's use in the Balkans
of armor-piercing shells tipped with depleted uranium although
health experts have cast doubt on links to blood cancer among
soldiers. Depleted uranium (DU) is used in missiles, shells and
bullets to increase heavy armor penetration. Defense experts
say it can be pulverized on impact into a radioactive dust. [...]
NATO appears split between those, like Britain and the United
States, who argue there is no health risk from DU weaponry and
others including Germany, Italy, Portugal and Belgium who
want a full NATO inquiry."
It is interesting to read these two brief reports together from the point
of view of the controversial "precautionary principle." If recognized, this
environmental "first do no harm" approach would mean that citizens would
not, as is presently the case, be required to prove that, for example, the above
munitions are dangerous, but rather the military would be required to prove
that they are not. One is naturally moved to ask the question, that if this highly
logical precautionary principle had been in practice, say, just 50 or 100
years ago, what would the world look like today?
NB: As a more topical footnote to these reports, see also from ENN/Reuters:
"Veteran demonstrators from violent protests in Seattle and Philadelphia
are expected to converge on the nation's capital for President-elect Bush's
inauguration along with thousands of others upset about the contested election.
[...] The presence of these and other groups is leading police to brace for
the largest inaugural protests since the marches against the Vietnam War at
Richard Nixon's 1973 swearing-in ceremony.
[...] With anti-Bush signs and banners reading "Hail to the Thief," the
Justice Action Movement, a coalition of organizations including those who
protested here in April, plans to have small groups scattered throughout the
crowd at the swearing-in ceremony outside the Capitol."