Bush administration has acknowledged that
the U.S. will experience far-reaching and,
in some cases, devastating environmental consequences
as a result of global warming. But it does
not plan to do much about it.
administration has been so poor when it comes
to climate change that this odd bit of news
was initially seen as some sort of progress.
It was thought, momentarily, that the president
might be starting to pull his head out of
the increasingly hot sand on this issue.
administration's interagency report, which
was compiled by the Environmental Protection
Agency, notes that the warming of the U.S.
is expected to be greater in the 21st century
than in the 20th, and will affect nearly every
region of the country. Seas are expected to
rise, causing an additional loss of coastal
wetlands. Storm surges will pose a greater
threat to coastal communities. We'll have
to endure more stifling heat waves, and the
disruption of snow-fed water supplies. Some
treasured ecosystems, such as the Rocky Mountain
meadows and certain coral reefs and barrier
islands, are likely to disappear entirely.
addition to acknowledging that the earth is
already sizzling, the report made it clear
that human activity - the burning of fossil
fuels that release heat-trapping gases into
the atmosphere - was the primary culprit.
was no more than a statement of the obvious
for most reputable scientists. But the acknowledgment
was a first for the environmentally challenged
yet even this most minimal acceptance of reality
was too much for the troglodyte wing of the
president's party. Shrieks of outrage arose
among conservatives, who immediately and loudly
demanded that the president turn his back
on the report and bury his head even more
deeply in the sand.
on Tuesday there was George W. Bush dutifully
distancing himself from his own administration's
handiwork. He assured one and all that he
had no plans to lead any assault on global
warming. He was coldly dismissive of the interagency
effort. "I read the report put out by the
bureaucracy," he said.
must have been pretty demoralizing for the
people who worked hard to put the report together.
Mr. Bush did read it, he saw in Chapter 6
an interesting encapsulation of the projected
global warming experience in the U.S. over
the next few decades. Citing "plausible" model
scenarios, the report said many areas of the
country would undergo a change comparable
to "an overall northward shift" in weather
systems and climate conditions. "The central
tier of states would experience climate conditions
roughly equivalent to those now experienced
by the southern tier, and the northern tier
would experience conditions much like the
change is already under way. Some areas are
experiencing "a shorter duration of lake ice,"
and there's already been "a northward shift
in the distributions of some species of butterflies."
are changes that force you to wonder what
kind of environment lies in wait just two
or three generations hence. And yet we continue,
with very little restraint, to spew out the
so-called greenhouse gases.
United States is by far the biggest offender
on the planet, producing about 25 percent
of all the greenhouse gas emissions in the
world. But the U.S. has refused to participate
in the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty
that calls for the mandatory reduction of
greenhouse gases by industrial nations. And
the U.S. has refused to impose tough mandatory
reductions on its own.
ratified the Kyoto Protocol on Tuesday. And
the 15 members of the European Union jointly
presented their ratification to the U.N. last
week. But with the mightiest power on the
planet unwilling to participate, and unwilling
to formulate a real alternative, the gases
will just keep building and building, causing
the planet to get warmer and warmer.
we have here is a very serious problem that
we understand and could do something about.
But so far, because of a lack of presidential
leadership, we've taken a pass.
E.P.A. report was called "U.S. Climate Action
Report - 2002." It should have been called
the "Inaction Report."
Use Notice: This site contains copyrighted material
the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright
owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding
of environmental, political, economic, democratic, domestic and international
issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted
material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without
profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included
information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own
that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.