S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

European Union Ahead of the U.S. on Climate Change Issue

Title link - Scientific American - "Final Report: Humans Caused Global Warming"
Consensus on Global Warming - It is no accident that the highly anticipated report on climate change came out in Europe. The United States has not been in the lead on this very important issue because the Bush administration has always been in denial about it. That is changing a bit, but not nearly enough. Europa carried a story from Brussels (2 February 2007) on "Climate change: New report from the world's leading scientists underlines the need for urgent global action." A summary begins the story:
European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas called for an urgent start to international negotiations on a comprehensive new global climate change agreement following today's publication of alarming scientific evidence by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The consensus report from IPCC Working Group I (WG1) projects that, without more action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the global average temperature is likely to rise by a further 1.8-4.0°C this century, . . . there could be irreversible and possibly catastrophic consequences. The pace of global warming and sea-level rise has increased. The recent observations and measurements reflected in the report dispel any doubts that the global climate is changing and that human activities have caused most of the changes observed in the past 50 years.

EU's proposal for measures to help - Unlike the U.S. approach of letting the marketplace handle it, the EU will try to regulate emissions via fuel standards. Europa reports the mstory, "Stricter fuel standards to combat climate change and reduce air pollution." To quote from the (1/31/07) story,
The European Commission today proposed new standards for transport fuels that will reduce their contribution to climate change and air pollution, including through greater use of biofuels. The changes underscore the Commission's commitment to ensuring that the EU combats climate change and air pollution effectively. . . suppliers will have to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production, transport and use of their fuels by 10% between 2011 and 2020. This will cut emissions by 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020 - equivalent to the total combined emissions of Spain and Sweden today.
Spin, reluctance, taking credit where it was not due - The New York Times story, " . . . Global Warming Unequivocal," includes the current administrations "take" on the panel report. The differences between the administration officials' claims and the actual facts and history were astonishing. Quoting what the current administration's position is on the issue,
The Bush administration, which until recently avoided directly accepting that humans were warming the planet in potentially harmful ways, embraced the findings, which had been approved by representatives from the United States and 112 other countries on Thursday night.
Administration officials asserted Friday that the United States had played a leading role in studying and combating climate change, in part by an investment of an average of almost $5 billion a year for the past six years in research and tax incentives for new technologies. At the same time, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman rejected the idea of unilateral limits on emissions. “We are a small contributor to the overall, when you look at the rest of the world, so it’s really got to be a global solution,” he said.
The United States, with about 5 percent of the world’s population, contributes about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other country.
Bush/Cheney allies have long sought to debunk the idea of global warming. Remember Veep Cheney's secret energy plan developed almost as soon as he took office. And remember, also, that it has been the Energy Secretary that has been in the lead for the current administration on climate change policies. This is the real view of these people. A Reuters article is headlined, "AEI think tank sought critique of climate report."
AEI has had close ties to the Bush administration. Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, has an office there, and President George W. Bush in 2003 praised the think tank for having "some of the finest minds in our nation," adding, "You do such good work that my administration has borrowed 20 such minds."
It has received $1.6 million from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2005, according to the watchdog group Union of Concerned Scientists, as part of a campaign by the energy giant to raise doubt about climate change. ExxonMobil said it supported various public policy groups but that did not mean it had control over the groups' positions.

Congress found evidence of systematic administration attempts to muzzle our government's best scientists regarding the warming issue - This episode is another case of active denial by the Bush administration of respected scientific thinking. A panel of brave scientists and advocates spoke out at a recent House hearing to investigate this shameful story. A Reuters story discusses the news headlined, "Scientists charge White House pressure on warming"*

U.S. scientists were pressured to tailor their writings on global warming to fit the Bush administration's skepticism, in some cases at the behest of a former oil-industry lobbyist, a congressional committee heard on Tuesday.
A survey by the group found that 150 climate scientists personally experienced political interference in the past five years, for a total of at least 435 incidents.

U.S. business is also ahead of the U.S. government - In an amazing turn of events, our own business leaders are beginning to think green. An earlier story by Reuters on (1/22/07) published this "good news" headline: "Business smells whiff of money in climate change." Quoting from the story,
A spate of corporations flaunting their environmental credentials, and especially their concern about climate change, says as much or more about a shifting commercial landscape as the planet's future.
The so-called U.S. Climate Action Partnership called on Monday for a federal plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions, a day before President George W. Bush is expected to avoid proposing just that in his State of the Union speech.
Late to the table - The thing upon which you can count is that it has been necessary to drag our current president - kicking and screaming - into the right position on many very important issues. Let me count the ways: firing Rumsfeld, balancing the budget, turning to diplomacy, bipartisanship, etc. Global warming is no exception. And, as with all the other positions, many of us do not feel his heart is in it. I wait to be convinced.
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