February 16, 2005

While Bush Fiddles, Other Republicans Take Up Global Warming

Today the Kyoto Treaty became law in much of the world. At home, the Bush administration had Scott McClellan telling the world that the US is a leader in addressing global warming. Of course, the headlines in most of the world's press got the Bush story right: Bush Puts Jobs Ahead of Climate Treaty.

But let's let Scotty tell us Bush's perspective first.

Q Scott, what message would the President like the rest of the world to take from the U.S. non-participation in the provisions of the Kyoto treaty that kick in tomorrow?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think our views are very well known; they've been known for quite some time. In terms of the issue of climate change, let me step back and talk about that, because the United States has been a leader in advancing the science of climate change.

Under this administration we have made an unprecedented commitment to reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in a way that continues to grow our economy. And you have to factor those things into consideration when you're looking at these issues. There's a lot that we are still learning about the science of climate change, but this administration is working to advance that science and to learn more about climate change, itself, and its effect on the world. And we're working very closely with our international partners on these issues, as well. We've made some unprecedented commitments to furthering the research.

Q What, if anything, would it take for the President to revisit being part of this?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the United States Senate spoke very clearly several years ago when it came to the Kyoto protocol and voted 95-0 to reject that approach, for some very good reasons. But we are continuing to move forward in an aggressive way to address climate change. It is a serious matter; it's a matter that this administration takes very seriously.

And you should look at the initiatives we're pursuing. There are a number of hydrogen initiatives we're pursuing. We've invested $3.6 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy efficient technologies over the next five years. We're increasing fuel economy standards. In terms of hydrogen, the President is working to make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles commercially available by 2020. And then, of course, the zero emissions coal-fired power plan that the President announced, as well. So there are a number of initiatives we're pursuing.

Q And just one more on this, if I may. Former Vice President Gore today suggested that financial interests of the President's supporters play a big role in the President's stand on this. To what extent do they play a role?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is making decisions based on what is in the best interests of the American people, and that's what he will continue to do.

The president is very happy to "study" the problem some more. Perhaps when he is 80 years old, we will finally see the results of his "studies".

But while Bush fiddles, others who have not totally divorced themselves from reality have decided that there is more than enough reason to do something. Who are these apostates of the Bush doctrine that we only need to "study" the problem? It's those Senate traitors: Olympia Snow, John McCain, and Chuck Hagel. I guess Frank Luntz forgot to give them their talking points or the threats to break their kneecaps if they went against the President just didn't work.

Olympia Snow is a true moderate and she has been chairing an international task force on the subject of global warming. She definitely believes that we are rapidly approaching the point of no return on global warming and she believes we need to do something now.

And John McCain has been green since his 2000 election run. According to McCain:

I was concerned about it because I've heard and read so much about it. But probably what - my position evolved. When we started having these hearings and these incredibly respected scientists who spend their lives studying this issue become more and more unanimous, and more and more definitive in their views about climate change - look, the most cautious people in the world is the scientific community. And the National Academy of Scientists has come out in very definitive language that, quote, "human activity is responsible for the increase in greenhouse gases." I mean, that's "there's no equivocation there. So when the smartest people in the world." I stood fifth from the bottom of my class at the Naval Academy, I don�t claim to be real smart, but I do claim to respect the views and opinions and conclusions of the smartest people in America and the world.

Yet the one Senator that is most surprising on this list was Chuck Hager. He had led the fight against the Kyoto agreement and has always been on record as being against global warming issues.

...and yet Hagel is now declaring climate change a "top-tier issue," says his spokesperson Mike Buttry, and is preparing to introduce "one of the most comprehensive climate bills that have been proposed to date. It will have a domestic piece, an international piece, and a tax piece."

Hagel told his home-state paper, the Lincoln Journal Star, that his bill, which will be introduced in February, is compatible with the new climate strategy being cooked up by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. These remarks came soon after the senator met with Blair to discuss an idea for an international agreement dubbed by some insiders "Kyoto-lite," which the P.M. is reportedly crafting with the hope that President Bush will get on board.

And according to Grist, they are not alone. Sens. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), Susan Collins (Maine), Judd Gregg (N.H.), and Dick Lugar (Ind.) are also part of the "we need to do something about global warming" gang. Why, Bush might one day look over his shoulder and realize he is leading no one. What talking points will he use then?

Posted by Mary at February 16, 2005 12:02 AM | Environment | Technorati links |


...perhaps we're also looking at the first cut of the list of potential 2008 Republican Presidential candidates...

...it's hard being cynical, but it's a job needin' done...

Posted by: Jack K. at February 16, 2005 01:50 PM

Yes, drastic steps need to be taken to combate global warming - tax cuts for big business so they can afford to reduce emissions!

Posted by: felice at February 16, 2005 02:31 PM

Good posst, Mary. I hope the day "Bush is leading no one" is closer than we all think.

Posted by: Patrick at February 16, 2005 08:47 PM

If a Republican came out strong on global warming issues (ie, fixing it), I'd vote for them. As a one-issue voter (environment), I can barely say this; but it's true. Let them try to ban gayness and yammer on with family values. I'd like us to be Kyoto-willing.

Posted by: Susan Bourland at February 17, 2005 07:23 PM

I am most concerned with McClellan's statement, "In terms of hydrogen, the President is working to make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles commercially available by 2020".

We must question fuel cell vehicle feasibility. GM's prototypes - the AUTOnomy, Hywire and Sequel - are preposterous concept cars. Their 'drive-by-wire' computerized steering, braking and accelleration are inherently vulnerable to breakdown, no matter the hype. Electrical short, power failure, even radio interference renders this technology dangerous in such common mishaps.

The ultimate purpose of 'drive-by-wire' is to manage freeway congestion via computers that allow cars to tailgate within 20'. GM's hands-off driving is impossible. Were it possible, it would only increase traffic congestion by allowing the numbers of cars on all roads to increase.

The 'in-wheel' electric motor is also highly suspect. The lack of shock absorption and exposure to the elements predicts maintenance problems, short life span and more accident-prone disruptions of control.

Of the front-runner future car technologies, (Hybrid, Bio-diesel and Hydrogen), Hybrids have an overwhelming number of advantages, including the ability to run on Hydrogen and Bio-diesel.

The extra weight that Hybrids carry adds several safety factors and makes hybrids applicable to the heavier classes of vehicle. Hydrogen will only apply to the lightweight class. Schwartzenegger's Hummer goes only 50 miles on a tankful.

No one should be surprised that the Bush crowd dumped Al Gore's Hybrid R&D for yet another Orwellian namesake, the "Freedom Car" Initiative. Freedom Car, my foot!

Hybrid batteries can be rechared at home. To refill your hydrogen tank, you'll have to drive to the grimey old station on the corner. Hybrids offer an economic incentive to patronize local businesses, accessable via means other than always driving. Walmart saves on distribution costs by relying on a car-dependent consumer. Hybrids lead to reductions in car dependency. As George Sr must encourage Boy George to say, "Nah guh da-eh".

Posted by: Artie at February 20, 2005 01:30 AM