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Re:: Interesting posts by David E. Wojick (Dec 2002, Jan 2004)

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  • P. Neuman self only
    ... Bush Climate Change Plan Short on Details By J.R. Pegg WASHINGTON, DC, December 6, 2002 (ENS) - Scientists and climate experts applauded the Bush
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2004
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      > --------- Forwarded message ----------
      > Re: Dec2-6 climate conference
      > From: David E. Wojick
      > Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 11:09:00
      >
      >
      > The following article sums it up pretty well.
      > 1300 people talking and nobody listening.
      > (snip)

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      Bush Climate Change Plan Short on Details

      By J.R. Pegg

      WASHINGTON, DC, December 6, 2002 (ENS) - Scientists and climate experts
      applauded the Bush administration's coordination of a three day workshop
      on global climate change, but found its draft plan for study of the issue
      short on priorities, details and funding.

      Without serious revisions, experts say, the plan is unlikely to provide a
      strategy for policymakers to adequately address the issue of climate
      change.

      "By focusing so much on the uncertainties and on the costs of action, the
      plan biases decision makers toward inaction," said Dr. Susanne Moser, a
      scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Global Environment
      Program. "This plan also shouldn't oversell the ability of the research
      community to overcome uncertainty, especially in the short term. We
      should be honest about how our work typically resolves some, and creates
      new, unknowns."

      "This is a wonderful document but it is not a strategic plan," said
      Berrien Moore, a professor at the University of New Hampshire's Institute
      for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space. "It lacks an overarching
      strategy, but the plan and the meeting are remarkable achievements in
      themselves."

      More than 1,300 climate scientists and experts attended the
      administration sponsored meeting to offer public comments on the draft
      version of a new strategic plan for climate change and global change
      studies.It was held in Washington,DC from December3 to5.

      Further public comments on the plan, which was prepared by the 13 federal
      agencies participating in the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP),
      will be accepted through January 13, 2003 with the final version set for
      publication in April 2003.

      Uncertainty and the cost of action remain key sticking points on how to
      address climate change. So far, the Bush administration has only called
      for voluntary measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

      Administration officials have repeatedly said further research on the
      effects of global warming and on humanity's influence on climate change
      is needed before sound policy can be formed. Its draft plan centers on
      reducing this uncertainty.

      "We hope that this workshop and the strategic plan under discussion will
      map out the strategy by which these uncertainties can be cleared up or
      better understood," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Sam Bodman.

      "There is a great deal we don't know or don't know well enough," added
      William O'Keefe, president of the George C. Marshall Institute. "We think
      there may be a problem but we are far from understanding the causes.
      Unfortunately, in the climate change arena, skepticism has become a vice,
      not a virtue."

      Many environmentalists and scientists contend that the administration's
      call for further research masks a strategy that seeks to delay any
      substantive action on the issue of climate change. There is ample
      evidence of global warming, they say, but this administration and its
      draft plan on climate change are ignoring it.

      "Do we have enough evidence to decide that aggressive action to reduce
      greenhouse gas emissions is appropriate? The rest of the world has
      answered yes and many states and cities in this country have answered
      yes," said Dr. Janine Bloomfield, a scientist with tne New York based
      nonprofit group Environmental Defense.

      "Narrowing down uncertainties is a legitimate goal," added Donald
      Goldberg, senior attorney with the Center for International Law's Climate
      Change Program. "What is not legitimate is to use the existence of
      uncertainties as an excuse not to act. We all know there are
      uncertainties, there always are in science. If we could never act to
      avert an environmental catastrophe until we resolved all the
      uncertainties, then we would never act at all."

      "This is not a delaying tactic," responded meteorologist Dr. James
      Mahoney, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and
      director of the CCSP. "Reasonable people can and do disagree with the
      interpretation of the research on climate change, but no one disagrees
      that we need continued research on this issue."

      Financial resources available to address potential climate change are not
      infinite, Mahoney added, and the administration wants to ensure its
      policies do not pose undue burdens on either the U.S. or global economy.
      This cautious approach, he said, should not be misconstrued as inaction.

      "We may well find that the solutions we need to address global warming
      are solutions that cost trillions of dollars," he added. "When we look at
      major shifts in energy use, one question for a government that has the
      largest economy in the world has to ask is 'what will the effects of
      these shifts be on our trading partners and within this country?'"

      "We are greatly concerned that anything we might do in the U.S. economy
      might impede the ability of developing countries to sell to America,"
      Mahoney said. "That is always a relevant question."

      "You can achieve almost anything today, it is just a question of how much
      you want to pay," added Robert Card, undersecretary for energy, science
      and environment at the U.S. Energy Department.

      Card and other administration officials noted that the U.S. federal
      government has spent some $20 billion on climate change research since
      1990, but must begin to focus these resources to provide better science
      on the issue. According to several experts more resources are needed.

      "Resources are limiting the rate of progress," said Dr. Richard Anthes,
      president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. "We
      could justify one million times the present computing power worldwide."

      Anthes and other conference participants repeatedly highlighted this need
      for more resources along with more clearly set budget priorities. They
      also found the draft strategic plan needs better integration among
      government and intergovernmental agencies and programs, and a global
      observation system, as well as improved modeling of regional climate
      patterns.

      The plan needs to include costs of inaction and costs of adaptive
      measures to climate change for comparison with projected costs of
      mitigation efforts, experts say.

      Many participants agreed that there is enough evidence for actions beyond
      voluntary measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, something the Bush
      administration appears reluctant to embrace. Critics point to the plan's
      failure to fully integrate findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on
      Climate Change or from the U.S. Global Change Research Program's National
      Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Change.

      "When you read the plan, you definitely get the feeling that it is not
      building on previous
      work," Bloomfield said.

      "The global models all point towards warming and not to any small
      degree," Moser said. "There is huge agreement on some of the global
      patterns that we are seeing and on the human contribution, even if there
      is a natural element. This report doesn't highlight that or build on that
      at all."

      Beyond the need to further incorporate the existing science, many experts
      found the plan in dire need of a more integrated international outlook.
      Goldberg, who served on a panel that reviewed the draft chapter on
      international collaboration, said there was "no sense of how the Bush
      administration is going to collaborate with other countries."

      "It is entirely unfocused," he said. "Almost all of the chapter was a
      recitation of things
      that the United States has already been doing. You get the sense that
      they didn't really sit down and try to come up with a real, overarching
      plan that addresses all of the objectives in a cohesive, coherent way."

      The administration now expects to digest the public comments with the aim
      to release a final version of the plan by April 2003. In addition, the
      simultaneous review of the plan by a new committee of the National
      Academy of Science's National Research Council could offer further
      insight into how seriously public comments are considered in the process.

      According to National Academy of Science president Bruce Alberts, the
      organization will review both the draft and final versions of the plan,
      with a report expected in September 2003.

      The open process, repeatedly touted by Bush administration officials,
      will let stakeholders understand how their comments and suggestions were
      addressed. This is could add further pressure on the administration to
      take these comments and suggestions to heart, said UCS' Moser.

      I"It will be really, really difficult for the Bush administration to
      completely dismiss and
      ignore this. Many of the critical comments are on public record," she
      said. "I still have my
      doubts to the extent they will take all this to heart. But so many
      comments on public record will make it difficult to ignore."

      "The openness of the workshop got everyone hopeful again that they could
      have an influence on this plan and that it is something that is not a
      done deal already," she added. "They'll frustrate some of the best
      scientists in the country if they do not respond to it in a constructive
      manner."

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