Blowing Hot Air

When I logged on to the interweb Thursday morning and skimmed the news, I admit to being a bit stunned by the headline: "BUSH CALLS FOR GLOBAL EMISSIONS GOALS." Had the Universe shifted in my sleep? 

Despite campaign promises to reduce carbon emissions, in 2001 the Bush administration reversed U.S. policy under Clinton/Gore and pulled us out of the Kyoto accords, claiming that the requirements to reduce greenhouse emissions would be too costly. The Kyoto Protocol was a substantive amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was the first international agreement to fight global warming/climate change.  It has been signed by 162 nations to date, but without participation from the biggest contributor to greenhouse emissions.  Our absence has been glaring. For over six years, the Bush administration has resisted all calls to respond to the growing global warming/climate change crisis, even disputing the overwhelming science by saying that more studies needed to be done before we could conclude that human activity is responsible for the climate change we see.

Yet yesterday the headlines of all the major news organizations blared that Bush says the U.S. will take the lead in the fight against global warming. For a brief moment I thought that perhaps our president had had a sincere change of heart. Then I read what he was actually proposing. Ignoring the existence of the Kyoto Agreement, President Bush is calling on the world's 15 greatest polluters to meet in order to discuss agreeing to their own standards.   Ignoring the existence of an agreement signed by 162 nations, Bush wants us to start the discussion from scratch, in order to come up with our own standards, while still insisting that mandatory emissions reductions are too costly.

Given that the G8 summit is next week in Germany where global warming/climate change will once again be the top priority, one can't help but think that Thursday's announcement was designed to deflate the expected show-down between the U.S. and the rest of the world, while not providing anything of substance.  The good news is that the Bush administration is now on record admitting that green house emissions are a serious problem and the U.S. must take a lead in addressing this problem.  The bad news is that we aren't doing so and time is running out.

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Acknowledgments is made possible in part by generous support from the Fahs Collaborative