11/27/2005

Bush and the Global Greenhouse

"The Bush administration has spent $20 billion on climate change programs since taking office, Dobriansky added, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 0.8 percent between 2000 and 2003."

Really? I guess we're supposed to be convinced by those numbers that our president is really concerned about global climate change. Here is one analysis of the president's alternative to the Kyoto Protocol:

"The Administration's strategy instead sets a target for greenhouse gas intensity: the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to economic output expressed in gross domestic product (GDP). This approach minimizes economic impact by allowing emissions to rise or fall with economic output; however, it provides no assurance that a given level of environmental protection will be achieved since the degree of environmental protection is measured in relation to GDP. Theoretically a GHG intensity target can lead to a net reduction in emissions, but only if it is sufficiently stringent. The Administration's target - an 18 percent improvement in GHG intensity over the next decade - allows a substantial increase in net emissions." [Emphasis mine.]
Decreasing the intensity of emissions has in fact been done before. As the Pew Center notes,

"[a]lthough total emissions continued to rise, greenhouse gas intensity in fact fell over the last two decades ... In the 1980s greenhouse gas intensity fell by 21 percent. During the 1990s greenhouse gas intensity fell by 16 percent. The Administration's strategy aims to cut greenhouse gas intensity to a level of 151 metric tons carbon equivalent per million dollars of GDP by 2012, 18 percent below its present level. While this would represent a very modest improvement over the "business as usual" emissions projections for 2012 used by the Administration, it appears to continue the same trend of GHG-intensity reductions and GHG emissions increases experienced over the last two decades."
In other words, the Bush program to decrease the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions won't necessarily decrease the actual amount of gas being emitted into the atmosphere. Given sustained economic growth, unless the allowable percentages become very low, the absolute tonnage of gases emitted will still increase. It's simply a means of postponing the day of reckoning, and it's the typical sleight of hand that is regularly employed by Bush & Co. to hide what they're really up to.

We should also note that the Bush plan is voluntary, and, as the Pew Center report notes: "Previous voluntary GHG targets, including the UNFCCC's target of returning to 1990 levels of GHG emissions by 2000, have not been met by the United States."

D-oh!

But maybe Ms. Dobriansky is correct in that the Bush administration has been spending lots of money on non-CO2-emitting energy sources. Could it have anything to do with this?

The problem with reports such as those from Ms. Dobriansky is that the Bush administration has no credibility. Recall the Medicare scam; they will say anything or present any numbers they need to present in order to make people think they're really working in the public interest, rather than

1. Draining the treasury,
2. Wasting natural resources,
3. Killing people.

Nothing the Bush administration has said or done to this point gives cause to believe that what Ms. Dobriansky is saying has any but the most tenuous connection with what's really happening at the Energy Department, the Interior Department, or the White House itself. These people are liars and nothing they say should be believed without the most rigorous reality testing.

Here's more reading:

http://www.net.org/proactive/newsroom/release.vtml?id=29017
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0608-05.htm
http://www.ciel.org/Climate/WhiteHouse_HotAir_14Feb02.html

Now, I'm all for fairness, and in all fairness, here's the eyewash the White House has published about its program. Take it with a grain of salt.

We report, you decide--or barf and throw a shoe through the TV, as necessary.

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