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State of Climate Change

In 2006, fundamental debates over energy and the environment were largely put to rest, as President Bush finally acknowledged that America is addicted to oil, while Al Gore exposed the human-induced global climate crisis that threatens our national security, our economy, and our environment.

In 2006, fundamental debates over energy and the environment were largely put to rest, as President Bush finally acknowledged that America is addicted to oil, while Al Gore exposed the human-induced global climate crisis that threatens our national security, our economy, and our environment. A senior administration official has said that President Bush, during tomorrow’s State of the Union, will announce policies that “will knock your socks off in terms of our commitment to energy independence.” But Bush has pledged to reduce our energy dependence every year since he took office while consistently making the problem worse.

  • Greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere have reached a record high and continue to increase unchecked. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere “reached a record high in 2005,” the United Nations reported in November, warning that “global average concentrations of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide” will be even higher in 2006. In 2000, carbon dioxide emissions were rising less than 1 percent annually. Today they are rising more than 2.5 percent annually, with 7.9 billion metric tons of carbon added globally in 2005 alone (up from 6.8 billion in 2000).
  • Despite repeated promises, the Bush Administration has failed to take meaningful action on climate change. President Bush’s 2007 budget actually proposed to spend less on energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy resources in inflation-adjusted dollars than was appropriated in fiscal year 2001 — $1.176 billion in nominal dollars in both 2001 and 2007. Even as he stalled meaningful action on climate change, President Bush lifted the drilling ban for Alaska’s Bristol Bay, “clearing the way for the Interior Department to open the fish-rich waters to oil and natural gas development.” The United State climate policies ranked 53rd among the 56 countries that contribute at least 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, the environmental group Germanwatch found. Some 59 percent of Americans say climate change warrants “some action” or “immediate” steps, up from 51 percent in 1999, according to a WSJ/NBC poll.
  • States and other countries are stepping up to take the lead on reducing global warming. Perhaps the most significant agreement on global warming last year came when British Prime Minister Tony Blair “sidestepped the Bush administration’s refusal to act on climate change by signing what was hailed as a ground-breaking agreement with California, the world’s 12th largest carbon emitter, to fight global warming.” The European Union declared this year that its member states should commit themselves to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent compared with 1990 levels, as well as meet 20 percent of all energy demands from renewable sources, by 2020.

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