Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bush Still Doesn't Get It on Global Warming

I think we have a problem on global warming. I think there is a debate about whether it’s caused by mankind or whether it’s caused naturally, but it’s a worthy debate. It’s a debate, actually, that I’m in the process of solving.
- President Bush to People Magazine, July 6, 2006

They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public.
- James E. Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in the January 29, 2006 edition of the New York Times, referring to the Bush administration in light of a policy instituted to review his work before publication after he gave a speech on the dangers of global warming

President George W. Bush will never, ever learn. While I could be talking about any number of issues, today I am referring to the news that the United States has rejected the European Union's targets for reducing carbon emissions. You might have missed it, since the announcement came buried amidst stories of bloodshed in Iraq, the battle in Congress over immigration reform and how Roger Clemens is doing against minor league batters.

According to a Yahoo!/AP article, James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, rejected the E.U. plan. The administration always comes up with lame, diversionary excuses that mask its basic distaste for doing anything about global warming. This time, Connaughton offered up a cock-and-bull story about wanting to concentrate on different causes of global warming than the E.U. targets. But make no mistake, rejecting environmental moves under the guise of taking a different approach is straight out of the administration's playbook of diversions.

When Bush was running for President in 2000, he would not even admit that global warming was real. He hid behind the "scientists have different opinions" argument for as long as it would carry him. It worked in 2000, but his problem now is that people have been made aware of the incontrovertible nature of the evidence that shows that global warming exists and is caused by man-made factors. While Bush now has to admit that global warming is real, as the quote above illustrates, he is still trying to fudge the causes, trying to leave just enough of an opening to continue to do absolutely nothing useful to address the problem. The New York Times article quoted above shows that as recently as 17 months ago, the administration was still trying to keep wraps on talk about the global warming issue.

The U.S. rejecting E.U. standards on carbon emissions, taken in light of Bush's history on global warming, shows that the administration still refuses to take the issue seriously, despite the cavalcade of evidence that action needs to be taken.

But make no mistake: When it comes to issues, Bush's number one priority is not finding the facts, protecting the environment, or ensuring the safety of Americans. Rather, the President wants to protect business, especially his oil buddies, above all.

Connaughton's announcement of the U.S. decision (made during a trip to Europe with members of Congress) has gotten little media attention. The article says that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "said she wants to work with the Bush administration rather than provoke it." Why? Why are the Democrats so terrified of a President with such a horrendous record on the environment (so bad it drove his first head of the EPA, Christine Todd Whitman, straight out of office)?

Whether it was Jimmy Carter backtracking on his comments critical of Bush, or Congressional leaders caving to Bush on the Iraq funding bill, the Democrats insist, time and time again, on showing the world that they are too weak to stand up to a President with an approval rating below the freezing mark. Americans now believe in global warming. The Democrats need to take a leadership role in promoting measures to lower greenhouse gases, not worry about "provoking" a President who is in full-on ostrich pose, his head firmly planted in the ground.

Bush may, as the quote above relates, think he's in the process of solving the causes of global warming. I'm not sure a lot of people are breathing a sigh of relief at that one. It's not like the President has a great record of solving most of the problems the country faces. The minute he puts up the "Mission Accomplished" banner on global warming, that's when we'll know for sure that we are in big trouble.