The Self Made Pundit
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
THE RECYCLING PRESIDENT: The Bush administration has announced a new environmental agenda that shows that President Bush is dedicated to recycling.
Unfortunately, what Bush is recycling are old strategies for studying global warming from the administration of Bush the Elder. To be fair to Bush the Younger, however, his environmental plan is substantively different from his father’s since this time around the plan ignores much of what scientists have learned in the past decade about the human causes of global warming.
As today's New York Times reports:
The Bush administration, saying there are still many uncertainties about threats posed by human-caused climate change, has outlined a broad, years-long research agenda on global warming.
Among many other goals, the draft plan calls for new work to be completed in the next four years to clarify how much of the warming since 1950 has been caused by human actions like emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide or soot; to explain differing temperature trends in the upper and lower atmosphere; and to improve computer models that simulate climate and monitoring systems for tracking the real thing.
The proposal was lauded yesterday by industry officials and some scientists who have long questioned the mainstream view that global warming is mainly caused by people and poses big risks.
But many climate experts said the proposal mainly rehashed issues most scientists consider settled. For example, they pointed out, big international and national panels of climate experts concluded in the past two years that at least half of the warming measured since 1950 was indeed caused by human actions, namely smokestack and tailpipe emissions.
Some experts on global change said the research plan was deeply flawed because it ignored findings of a decade-long federal assessment of potential impacts of climate change around the United States that was published in 2000 by the Environmental Protection Agency.
That assessment has been attacked by industry lobbyists and some scientists as overly apocalyptic and shaped by Vice President Al Gore, and they have strongly pressed the Bush administration to expunge it from any new documents.
Dr. Mahoney said the previous climate-impacts assessment contained much high quality work that was left out to avoid new conflicts. "The important thing is to say how can we move ahead without fighting the old battles," he said.
Other experts said they doubted the new approach would speed action. It does not differ much from strategies set more than a decade ago by the first Bush administration, which also called for reducing uncertainties and improving the accuracy of projections, some experts said.
Perhaps we will also hear President Bush echo his father’s eloquent critique of Al Gore as “Ozone Man.” On second thought, it is unlikely that this President Bush would express his views so candidly. Instead, look for more studies on the environment that Bush can point to as showing his concern while doing nothing to disturb his corporate backers.
On the issue of global warming, Bush is merely fiddling while the world burns.