Thursday, February 8, 2007

Reality is Catching Up to US...

The Desperation of George W. Bush
2007-02-08 by Chris Nelder

"... after a career spent casting doubt on global warming science and favoring Big Oil at all times and at all costs, President Bush changed his tune in his recent State of the Union speech, claiming that new energy technologies "will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.""

"The reality is that Bush & Co. are in a state of quiet desperation, slowly and deliberately making partially misleading, partially true statements to show that they know the truth about oil and global warming without it actually costing them too much politically, and without having to actually do anything differently....

"They're just trying to get out ahead of the issues so they don't get crushed by them..."

The first reason is simply that the world's number-one oil field, Saudi Arabia's Ghawar, is in decline....

"And we now know that our second largest oilfield, Mexico's Cantarell, is in a catastrophic 28% annual decline. The U.S.'s number-two source of imports could be finished in less than four years.

"Last month the Bush administration sent a team from the Department of Energy to meet with Canada's natural resources agency, to ask them to bypass environmental rules in order to ramp up production from oil sands by a factor of five . . . even though, as has been well recognized already, they have neither the natural gas nor the fresh water to do it.

"...The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its much-anticipated report. Three years in the making, the report is the most comprehensive, global and peer-reviewed study on climate change ever written, bringing together the work of more than 800 scientists, more than 450 lead authors from more than 130 countries and more than 2,500 expert reviewers.

In short, it's humanity's best try at getting the story right.

And the report said greenhouse gas emissions will continue to change the climate over the next 100 years, causing sea levels to rise by a half-meter. Millions will be displaced from their coastal and low-lying communities, causing waves of environmental refugees. Snow in the mountains will disappear, desertification will intensify, oceans will die-and so will people, due to deadly heat waves, as world temps rise by some 3 to 5.8 degrees Celsius....

In the GMO Quarterly Letter 2007, Jeremy Grantham had a sharply worded essay titled "While America Slept, 1982-2006-A Rant on Oil Dependency, Global Warming, and a Love of Feel-Good Data." He wrote:

Successive U.S. administrations have taken little interest in either oil substitution or climate change, and the current one has even seemed to have a vested interest in the idea that the science of climate change is uncertain. In fact, we have spent the last large chunk of time in this country with a strong bias to feel-good data at the expense of accurate, hard data in this field. This attitude seems to be reflected in the spin on U.S. economic success, which we've commented on several times, exaggerating, sometimes substantially, the absolute and relative performance of the U.S. economy. It has certainly been reflected in the general desire for environmental issues to be benign and optimistic or to simply go away. [ . . . ]

The U.S. policy approach to climate change (and other environmental issues) has been similarly casual in its unwillingness to plan for the long term. There is now nearly universal scientific agreement that fossil fuel use is causing a rise in global temperatures [ . . . ] Yet the U.S. is the only country in which environmental data is steadily attacked in a well funded campaign of disinformation (funded mainly by one large oil company). This campaign has used and reused the solitary plausible academic they can dig up, out of hundreds working in the field, plus one famous novelist-without qualifications in the field, but, still, for heaven's sake, widely quoted by the administration-and one Danish economist who really doesn't get Pascal's Paradox, but does seem to have shares in The Wall Street Journal.

Clearly, Team Bush is desperate to get on the right side of the climate change issue.

This is only the first half of our case. We'll explore the second half next week.

Until then . . .

-Chris Nelder

Scary, is it not. Now is the time to begin to use every means to use solar energy.

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