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GREAT article in Boston Globe on Bush's environmental policy (or lack thereof)

Posted to Poetry and Politics

Bush Fries Climate Change
by Derrick Z. Jackson

UNDAUNTED BY accusations of cooking the books for war, President Bush deep-fried the data on global warming.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the White House took a draft report on the state of the environment by the Environmental Protection Agency and deleted critical portions on climate change. The White House knocked out references to studies that directly mentioned industrial pollution and vehicle exhaust as contributors to global warming.

The administration took out a phrase that said, ''Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment.'' It replaced it with gobbledygook. The White House wrote, ''The complexity of the Earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change, diagnose its causes, and develop useful projections of how natural variability and human actions may affect the global environment in the future. Because of these complexities and the potentially profound consequences of climate change and variability, climate change has become a capstone scientific and societal issue for this generation and the next, and perhaps even beyond.''

Bush is trying to fry climate change until the issue is seemingly so tough to comprehend that Americans dismiss it. Two and a half years into his presidency, this recipe has worked magnificently. In the first few months of his presidency, Bush let EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman tell the world that the United States took seriously the carbon dioxide emissions that are such a major source of global warming. But when Bush himself spoke, it was either to back out of the Kyoto global agreement on climate change or reverse a pledge to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Bush said he needed to wait until he had ''sound science'' on the subject.

Over the months, evidence continued to mount in scientific journals that global warming could have dramatic and potentially catastrophic results for coastlines and cause a spread of disease. The evidence was so overwhelming that the 2001 report by the National Research Council that Bush himself commissioned said, ''Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities.'' The report later said, ''Global warming could well have serious adverse societal and ecological impacts by the end of this century.'' The report warned that temperatures and sea levels will continue to rise even under conservative scenarios. It also supported a full assessment of global warming lest anything less ''may well underestimate the magnitude of the eventual impacts.''

Since then Bush, with his campaign coffers lined with fossil fuel energy interests and his administration bursting with oil connections, has done his best to suppress the magnitude of the possible impacts. Late in 2001 the council added a report that said global warming may increase the chance of abrupt climate change, changes that could place poor countries at particular risk.

Then, a year ago, Whitman sent a report to the United Nations that reconfirmed that ''human activity'' is a real cause of the greenhouse effect. While the first victims of global warming are assumed to be poor people in low-lying countries, this report predicted a crazy quilt of long-term disruptions and destruction of ecosystems throughout the United States, from the drying up of ponds in the Midwest to the disappearance of forests in the South to the death of fish in the Pacific Northwest.

Bush crumpled all those reports and threw them into his political incinerator. He embarrassed Whitman even more definitively, saying: ''I read the report put out by the bureaucracy.'' This was obviously too much for Whitman to take. She recently announced her resignation and is leaving her post next week. So giddy over having gotten rid of the one person who showed at least minimal concern for the environment, the White House now appears to be depending much more upon so-called facts from organizations who have obvious reasons to dismiss global warming, such as the American Petroleum Institute.

With the neutering of the EPA report, it should make one wonder. This deletion of data on climate change should raise even more questions as to whether Bush cooked the books for war. Bush is in the control of oil interests in Washington. With the presence of our troops, President Bush for practical purposes now controls the oil of Iraq.

America's lust for oil hangs so ominously around the invasion of Iraq and in the denial of the impact of global warming that facts from intelligence agencies and scientific journals have become meaningless. One day, the dismissal of the facts will come back in a disastrous way. Bush and the United States may have the oil now. Meanwhile, the planet is cooking and frying.