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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, June 10, 2001

Top scientific report puts Bush in a corner

If President Bush continues with his plan to withdraw from the Kyoto environmental accord, he will have to do so on different grounds.

The new Bush administration had said it felt the conditions imposed on industrialized nations under that accord were too stringent and not necessarily based on the best science available.

If he proceeds now, Bush will have to say, in effect, that he has read the science, that it demonstrates that global warming is real, dangerous and man-made, but he intends to proceed his own way anyway.

There appears to be no other choice now that a report from the prestigious and respected National Academy of Science's National Research Council is out.

While the National Academy report is less apocalyptic than other studies and reports on global warming, the general thrust is quite clear. It found that climate change is occurring due to human activity, causing air and water temperatures to rise.

This will result in potentially devastating effects, including flooding, changes in weather patterns, increased drought in arid areas and rising sea levels.

This last is of particular concern to coastal areas and low-lying islands in the Pacific, which are already experiencing the effects of higher sea levels.

The position taken by the Bush administration on climate change is directly related to its energy policies. It is obligated to down-play the importance of global warming if it wishes to step up the exploitation and use of fossil fuels.

Unless Bush intends to reject this conclusive scientific report out of hand, he will have to untangle these two issues.

The administration can continue to pursue its own version of an energy policy, but it will have to acknowledge the lasting and potentially harmful impact that policy will have on the global climate.