Bush's Poodle Breaks Free
November 02, 2006
Frank O'Donnell is president of Clean Air Watch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization aimed at educating the public about clean air and the need for an effective Clean Air Act.
With international climate talks resuming next week in Nairobi, a new British government report has sharply defined just how far apart the polluter-dominated U.S. government remains from the rest of the developed world.
The 700-page report, compiled by Sir Nicholas Stern, a top British government economist and former chief economist of the World Bank, warns of economic catastrophe unless we take decisive action now to curb emissions. The report warns:
In other words, ignoring the problem of global warming could devastate the world economy as much as the Great Depression or the world wars.
The report, which calls for an “urgent, worldwide shift towards a low-carbon economy," raises the stakes as the Bush administration stubbornly clings to its position of opposing any mandatory limits on heat-trapping emissions.
Amid the gloom, there was some positive news in the British report: it found that stabilizing carbon dioxide emissions not only would cost a lot less than doing nothing, but that it would also prompt growth in low-carbon technologies. Said Blair: "It proves tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy."
We ought to be careful not to start handing out too many knighthoods to Europe on this issue. A United Nations report out this week found that greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union actually rose more than those in the United States between 2000 and 2004. (Emissions did drop in Germany and the United Kingdom, which has signed on Al Gore as an eco-adviser to the government).
Even so, this report spells out a visionary approach to stabilizing the climate—and forecasts what will happen if we don’t. By contrast, the Bush administration remains in a shocking state of denial.
White House press secretary Tony Snow took time out from his busy schedule of partisan fundraising to put the usual tired spin on his boss’s approach. Responding to a question about Blair’s call for international collaboration to fight global warming, Snow said President Bush is “actively engaged in trying to fight climate change and will continue to do so.”
So far that “fight” has included walking away from the Kyoto accord, censoring scientific reports and doing whatever is necessary to protect big campaign contributing companies from having to do anything to actually limit emissions.
Later this month, the administration will take its industry-protection campaign to the Supreme Court, where it will argue that it has no legal obligation to limit global warming pollution.
If you think this isn’t all about protecting polluters, look at the rogues’ gallery of polluter-funded allies lined up to support the Bush position in court:
Free speech—even industry-funded propaganda—is, of course, an American tradition. But two senators think things have gotten out of hand. Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, have urged ExxonMobil to stop underwriting groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute that have worked to cast doubt about global warming.
The senators are echoing a call made last month by The Royal Society of London, England's premier scientific society, which also urged the world’s biggest oil company to stop funding organizations which have "misrepresented the science of climate change."
Now, if only President Bush would echo Tony Blair.