Saturday, June 9, 2001

Report gives Bush
little wiggle room on
global warming

The issue: Results of a global warming
study that President Bush ordered himself
puts pressure on him to face the
problem squarely.

NOW THAT President Bush has his own report on the threat of global warming, he has few alternatives but to initiate solutions and, in fact, should place the United States in the lead in seeking worldwide agreements to reduce the causes of greenhouse gases.

Moreover, the president should shift his energy policy, which increases reliance on coal and other fossil fuels, the chief sources of emissions that produce the warming effect.

The National Academy of Sciences report, requested by the administration, corroborated what previous studies had concluded -- that the Earth's temperature is rising principally because of human activity and that dramatic climate changes could be the result.

The report should not have been a surprise to the White House; it was based primarily on previous academy studies because the panel was given less than a month to prepare it.

Why Bush sought a separate document is unclear, except perhaps to deflect the criticism that surrounded his decisions to reverse a campaign pledge to limit carbon dioxide emissions and his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty on global warming.

In demanding a report, the president has painted himself into a corner. Indeed, as he faces European leaders in talks on global warming next week, Bush will "tell the Europeans that he takes this issue very seriously," said his spokesman Ari Fleischer. That is a reversal of the president's earlier skepticism about global warming being "a real phenomenon."

Still, what proposals Bush will make on limiting the pollutants that cause global warming remain uncertain, even with some of his closest advisers urging him to move aggressively on the issue. Several businesses, including Enron Corp., a Houston energy conglomerate with close ties to the administration that, like others, has resisted controls previously, are taking voluntary steps to curb emissions. Their signal of a willingness to compromise is one Bush should not ignore.

The United States produces 25 percent of the pollutants that cause global warming, the most of any nation, so it follows it should be the world leader in seeking solutions.

Further, for the president to truly earn the environmental mantle in which he has been cloaking himself in recent weeks, it is essential he retool his energy policy, which, in the light of his new report, appears irresponsible.

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

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