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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bush Administration Tries to Pull a Fast One with Stealth Release of US Climate Action Report

Anyone in the news biz (or anyone who's a rabid West Wing fan like me) knows that bad news is always released on Friday afternoons. Why? Because nobody's paying attention to the newspapers on Saturday morning.

Well it's a good thing that bloggers don't operate on normal news cycles because last Friday, the Bush Administration tried to pull a fast one on the American public with a Friday afternoon stealth release of the 19 month-overdue and not too cheery Fourth U.S. Climate Action Report.

Luckily, Kevin Grandia of the great site, DeSmogBlog, and Rich Piltz at ClimateScienceWatch were paying close attention and spotted the stealthy and quiet news release. On Monday Mr. Grandia wrote,

The [Climate Action Report] was released last Friday (July 27th) by the Department of State in the form of this media memo. The release was not mentioned in the department's daily press briefing, nor is it mentioned in the news section of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality website.
But if President Bush is so proud of his administration's efforts to tackle climate change, why was it trying to quietly release the US Climate Action Report without anyone noticing?

Well, Mr. Grandia takes us on a closer look at the report, which was submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the precursor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol) as per Framework requirements. Mr Grandia writes:
It's no wonder the Justice Department avoided any press attention over the latest US Climate Action Report released on Friday.

You can find the whole report here - I've taken the liberty of highlighting some of the more interesting quotes that I'm sure the White House would love to sweep under the rug...

From the section "Greenhouse Gas Inventory:" (pdf)

  • "In 2004, total greenhouse gas emissions rose to 7,074.4 teragrams of carbon dioxide equivalent, which was 15.8% above 1990 emissions."

  • "From 1990 through 2004, US greenhouse gas emissions increased by 15.8 percent. Specifically, C02 emissions increased by 20 percent, CH4 and N20 emissions decreased by 10 and 2 percent, respectively."

  • From the section "Projected Greenhouse Gas Emissions:" (pdf)

  • "Over the same period from 2002 to 2012, while GHG [greenhouse gas] intensity is declining, total gross GHG emissions are expected to rise by 11 percent."

  • Table 5-2 in the same section reports that even if the US fully implements its climate programs and measures, total greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise between 2012 and 2020.

  • "From 2000 to 2020 total C02 emissions [from energy consumption] - as calculated with Full Implementation of Climate Program Measures - are projected to rise by 17 percent..."

  • From the section "Impacts and Adaptation:" (pdf)

  • "...despite increases in winter precipitation, in many places a large percentage of the traditionally snow-covered areas of the northwestern United States has experienced a decline in spring snow-pack, especially since the middle of the 20th century."

  • "The warmer temperatures projected with rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are expected to exacerbate present risks of drought in the United States."

  • "In recognition of significant potential impacts from climate change, the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act states: 'Because global warming may result in substantial sea-level rise with serious adverse effects in the coastal zone, coastal states must anticipate and plan for such an occurrence."

  • Great news, eh? And a sure sign that the Bush Administration is really taking care of the global warming problem for us. No need to worry...

    Sarcasm aside, trying to bury this report is just another in a long line of deliberate (and despicable) lengths the Bush Administration has gone to delay action on climate change as long as possible.

    First it was all about how we couldn't really be certain humans were the cause - the IPCC sure blew that out of the water.

    Then it was about how devastating any action would be to the economy - former World Bank Cheif Economist Sir Nicholas Stern sure had a good response to that.

    Now an administration report finally has to admit that:

  • Administration policies have been a dramatic failure and global warming pollution is still on the rise in the United States;

  • Temperatures are indeed rising; and

  • That's not a good sign for the snow-melt reliant Pacific Northwest, drought-prone communities across the country, and at-risk coastal communities, etc. etc. etc.

  • In other words, the administration itself is admitting in this report that their policies - even the "Full Implementation of Climate Program Measures" proposed by the administration - are failing to stop the rise in global temperatures, failing to even reduce America's contribution to the problem, and in so doing, putting Americans in harms way.

    That's sure a report I'd want to bury. And if it wasn't for the watchful eye of bloggers like DeSmogBlog's Mr. Grandia and ClimateScienceWatch's Mr. Piltz - and the folks at the Student Operated Press, the only news 'outlet' to cover the report's release - they would have succeeded.

    Nice try Mr. President.

    [A hat tip to Kevin Grandia of DeSmogBlog for spreading the word on this story]

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