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ISSUE 120 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/23/2007

Bush flips climate stance

By April Wright
Variety Editor

Friday, February 23, 2007

The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Summary for Policymakers report has been released, concluding with 90 percent certainty that human activities are impacting the temperatures on Earth. Congress has been hearing results from a survey of about a thousand climate scientists revealing political pressure to alter the conclusions of their research. It seems like global warming deniers are switching sides every day.

You’d think that the changing tide would make President George Bush reconsider his stance on climate change. And the administration would like us to believe that he has.

On Feb. 7, James L. Connaughton, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and John H. Marburger III, Director of Office of Science Technology Policy, released an open letter to the public stating that President Bush has acknowledged climate change and the role that humans play in it since 2001.

There’s only one problem: That isn’t true. The press release is cobbled together from a speech that actually cast a considerable amount of doubt on anthropogenic climate change.

I know politicians don’t have much regard for the intellect of the average person, but this is pretty low. The quotations taken from his 2001 speech imply that President Bush has always accepted global climate change and been in favor of action against it. They make it look like he’s sided, in particular, with the National Academy of Sciences.

One quotation from the press release reads as follows: “There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming … And the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) indicates that the increase is due in large part to human activity.”

Well that sounds good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, President Bush’s comments on the NAS research didn’t end there. He went on to cast doubt on the NAS conclusions, blaming most of the variation in temperature on nature.

In speeches and in press releases since then, Bush has repeatedly stated that human effects on climate change are being debated. And, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists survey, 46 percent of federally employed scientists have felt political pressure to change their reports to cast doubt on global warming, even if their research suggested otherwise.

I guess we weren't supposed to remember all of that. The press release is completely transparent, anyone following the climate change debate can pick out the deceit a mile away. And the fact of the matter is that this will convince some people that President Bush is and has always been on the global warming boat and has always encouraged actions that ensure a sustainable future.

For most people, this will slip by under the radar. The few who do get angry about being lied to are those angry about the administration’s lax climate change policies, anyway. He’ll get away with this.

It’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes. We all know that. We all, at some point, open our mouths and cram our foot in it. And it appears that that’s what the President did in regards to climate change.

But there’s no shame in admitting mistakes and trying to fix them. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’ve changed your mind in light of newer and better information. He could have done the honorable thing and admitted a mistake. But he didn’t.

Maybe the President was scared. After all, Senator John Kerry got labeled a flip-flopper when he changed his mind with respect to the Iraq war. But what’s worse: being a flip-flopper, or a liar?

Variety Editor April Wright is a sophomore from Eagan, Minn. She majors in English and in biology.

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