Forum: Bush endangers climate

George W. Bush rode into office on the backs of five Supreme Court justices with the nickname “Governor Death” draped about him like a Miss America pageant sash. Now, with his recent decision to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol, he has proven that he is an even more deadly threat to the American people and the world.

The treaty, signed in 1997 by President Clinton, would have forced the United States to cut its carbon dioxide emissions seven percent by 2012. In last year’s campaign, Bush echoed concerns that harsher regulations on emissions needed to be considered. After his election, Bush named former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman head of the Environmental Protection Agency and sent her off to face the press with the message that the new president supported regulations to fight global warming.

Apparently, Bush did not let her in on the big secret: he never intended to fulfill his promise. Last month, in a letter to Republican senators, Bush declared that he supported no regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions. In a press conference, he claimed his administration did not have enough faith in the extensive research done on global warming for the last 20 years and preferred to put a freeze on setting regulations until they could be based upon “sound science.”

Regardless of what education in “sound science” President Bush may have gained while sleeping through business lectures at Harvard University, he cannot ignore the facts.

The U.S., with four percent of the world’s population, emits 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the greenhouse effect, allowed to continue unchecked, will raise the average global temperature 11 degrees by 2100. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the air have increased by 25 percent since the late 1800s.

What, then, is President Bush’s motive for reneging on his promise to fight these alarming developments? In his press conference, he expressed the desire to avoid doing “anything that harms our economy.”

As his recently approved budget undoubtedly revealed, when President Bush says “our economy,” he really means, “my corporate backers.” Compliance with the new regulations would mean major adjustments within the oil, gas and mining industries – industries whose billions of dollars in contributions helped put Bush in office.

Experts set the federal cost of complying with the Kyoto treaty between $1 billion and $5 billion. Surely the federal government can afford this expense, especially when the rewards of cutting $2.3 billion in environmental programs – including $200 million in cuts of research for renewable energy sources – reveal themselves at the end of the next fiscal year.

By continuing to ignore the cries of scientists, environmentalists and governments worldwide, Bush runs the risk of becoming the industrial world’s most dangerous leader.

-The writer is Hatchet production manager.

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