Bush Administration: global warming is real and a threat to the U.S. economy
May 30, 2008
Based largely on recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Scientific Assessment says that climate change is "very likely" due to human activities — a conclusion seemingly at odds with the administration's long-standing position on the issue.
"[M]ost of the recent global warming is very likely due to human generated increases in greenhouse gas concentrations," the report states. "[E]missions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use and from the effects of land use change are the primary sources of this increase."
The report cites a number of trends to support the contention that Earth is warming including increases in temperature extremes, decreases in Arctic sea ice extent, and changes in patterns of sea level pressure and winds. The report suggests that rising concentrations of greenhouse gases has contributed to an increase in Atlantic hurricanes:
- [I]t is very likely that the human-induced increase in greenhouse gases has contributed to the increase in sea surface temperatures in the hurricane formation regions. There is a strong statistical connection between tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures and Atlantic hurricane activity as measured by an index that accounts for storm intensity, frequency, and duration on decadal timescales over the past 50 years. This evidence suggests a substantial human contribution to recent hurricane activity.
[C]limate change is expected to cause a significant increase in the demand for electricity in the United States, which would require the building of additional electricity production facilities (and probably transmission facilities) at an estimated cost of many billions of dollars
The new report comes after the Bush administration was ordered last August by Federal District Court Judge Saundra Armstrong to publish an updated research plan and national assessment on climate change. By law the White House is required to publish such a report every four years, yet until now the current administration had failed to do so since it took office. The previous National Assessment was issued in late 2000 under the Clinton administration.
Bush Administration efforts to stall the report were brought to national attention in April 2005 when, at the request of Senators John Kerry and John McCain, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigated the Bush administration's failure to produce a 2004 National Assessment. The GAO concluded 1) the administration "did not submit a scientific assessment in November 2004, 4 years after the previous assessment, as required by the [Global Change Research] act," 2) the administration expressly refuses to complete a single National Assessment, and 3) the White House's piecemeal approach lacks an "explicit plan for... assessing the effects of global change on the eight areas enumerated in the act: the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity."
Scientific Assessment of the Effects of Global Change on the United States