The only reason I say that President Bush’s head is in the sand on climate change is that politeness prevents from saying where I think his head really is.
How much more evidence does the Bush Administration need to take real steps to counter this global peril?
Just as it is busy sabotaging the international meeting on climate change in Bali, Indonesia, here comes another really depressing piece of evidence: The Arctic may be almost completely ice-free in the summers by 2012. Yes, you read that right. One of the two regions of the world most closely identified with frozen water could have almost none of that left for a good portion of the year by 2012.
“An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point,” AP reports. “One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years.”
Never one to let facts get in the way of its agenda, the Bush Administration is relentlessly battling the “reality-based” community in Bali. And it is busy organizing a parallel conference in Hawaii in January that’ll have as its target “aspirational, nonbinding” goals for emissions reductions.
The Bush Administration is so out of it that a number of states and cities have sent their own representatives to Bali to show that they’re more inclined toward taking concrete steps on the issue. Bush’s fellow Republican Ah-nuld is addressing the conference via satellite, and ex-Republican Michael Bloomberg has already spoken at the conclave.
“Logic requires that we listen to the science,” the European Union’s environmental commissioner has pleaded at the conference, not knowing that he is pursuing the wrong line of argumentation with the Bush folks.
The science he's referring to is the latest report of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in November. The study calls the evidence of climate change “unequivocal” and warns that the phenomenon could lead to “abrupt” changes to the planet that would set off more frequent floods, droughts, and heat waves, and cause animal and plant species to vanish.
Obviously, Bush is not inclined to listen to Al Gore, but is it hoping too much that he not treat Gore’s co-winner of the Nobel Prize with the same disdain?
In his Nobel acceptance speech on Dec. 10, Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC (and a fellow N.C. State alum of mine, if I may proudly add) warned of the multiple calamitous consequences of letting global warming go unchecked.
“The question is whether the participants in Bali will support what Willy Brandt referred to as ‘reasonable politics,’ ” Pachauri concluded his speech. “Will those responsible for decisions in the field of climate change at the global level listen to the voice of science and knowledge, which is now loud and clear? If they do so at Bali and beyond then all my colleagues in the IPCC and those thousands toiling for the cause of science would feel doubly honored at the privilege I am receiving today on their behalf.”
Pachauri was expecting too much from those in charge of U.S. policy.