If the libertarians and conservatives had been right, BP should have gone the way of Enron. On March 11 chief executive John Browne of the oil giant BP announced that the company had met its self-imposed target for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions over seven years ahead of schedule and at no net cost to the company. BP’s emissions are now 10 percent below 1990 levels, an achievement that naysayers have insisted would ruin the American economy if it were tried. According to the account by Seth Dunn at tompaine.com, “the company cut pollution by improving efficiency, by plugging natural gas pipeline leaks, by cutting back on gas flaring at refineries, and by adopting cleaner products, such as low-sulfur transport fuels and natural gas. Through a company-wide emissions trading program, it ensured the goal could be attained at the lowest cost….Savings from improved energy efficiency outweighed expenditures.”

Why science is not just another religion, according to philosopher James Robert Brown, quoted by Martin Marty in his newsletter “Context” (March 15): “A physicist can abandon all the central beliefs of current physics and still remain a physicist. A priest cannot abandon certain central beliefs without giving up the vocation. Commitment is a virtue in religion–and a sin in science.”

The terrorists Bush and Ashcroft can’t see. Marilyn Wilson reviews Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism in the magazine Conscience (Autumn): “These religious extremists are antidemocracy, antifreedom and antihuman rights, especially the right to reproductive choice….Both [antiabortionists and other kinds of terrorists] come from movements that are well organized and financed. In both cases, there are manuals and training camps to teach activists how to target victims and execute crimes against them, and extremists who resort to violence are sheltered by fellow believers….Police, politicians and courts have been notoriously slow to react to cases of antiabortion violence, but swift in the case of an international attack.”

“Illicit drug use remains more common among welfare recipients than nonrecipients,” according to a recent report (Policy Brief, volume four, number two) from the Joint Center for Poverty Research at Northwestern University, but drug use among both groups is trending downward. “Between 1990 and 1998, illicit drug use during the previous year fell from 29.8% to 21.3% among welfare recipients and from 22.7% to 12.5% among unmarried women aged 18-54 who did not receive cash assistance.”

Dennis Hastert, meet Danny Davis. University of Chicago political scientist Lloyd Gruber, quoted in the Chronicle (February 7): “In cosmopolitan cities, people from different ethnic groups all live together and those cities are not typically cauldrons of political violence. The problems tend to come when the inequality has a spatial element, the rich in enclaves in the suburbs and the poor clustered in the inner cities. With situations like that, political representatives of these groups are much less interested in finding common ground. Instead, their focus is on speaking to their own, homogeneous constituencies.”

World poverty is declining, slowly, even according to the Worldwatch Institute, in its first “World Summit Policy Brief” (February 28): “The share of the world’s people living on a dollar or less per day fell from 29 percent in 1990 to 24 percent in 1998. Still, 1.2 billion remain under this threshold. Mortality of children under 5 fell from 86 deaths per 1,000 children in 1990 to 78 deaths in 1999.”

Where is George Ryan when political fund-raising kills innocent people on the highways? In an April 9 “e-alert,” the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform notes that “House Bill 1330 would shield state workers in the executive branch from being solicited for campaign contributions for their boss….More than a year ago, the Illinois House passed HB 1330 by a vote of 107 to 2. The Illinois Senate hasn’t even debated the bill.”