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Old 01-18-2006, 08:28 PM   #1
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Ex-EPA Chiefs Blame Bush Regarding Global Warming

You know, I don't know how it gets much worse than this.

I mean, when SIX former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency get together - five of them from your own political party - and finger you for neglecting environmental problems, what do you do?

That's the dilemma that Pres. Bush is in right now.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060118/...global_warming



Ex-EPA Chiefs Blame Bush in Global Warming


By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer


WASHINGTON - Six former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency — five Republicans and one Democrat — accused the Bush administration Wednesday of neglecting global warming and other environmental problems.


"I don't think there's a commitment in this administration," said Bill Ruckelshaus, who was EPA's first administrator when the agency opened its doors in 1970 under President Nixon and headed it again under President Reagan in the 1980s.

Russell Train, who succeeded Ruckelshaus in the Nixon and Ford administrations, said slowing the growth of "greenhouse" gases isn't enough.

"We need leadership, and I don't think we're getting it," he said at an EPA-sponsored symposium centered around the agency's 35th anniversary. "To sit back and just push it away and say we'll deal with it sometime down the road is dishonest to the people and self-destructive."

All of the former administrators raised their hands when EPA's current chief, Stephen Johnson, asked whether they believe global warming is a real problem, and again when he asked if humans bear significant blame.

Agency heads during five Republican administrations, including the current one, criticized the Bush White House for what they described as a failure of leadership.

Defending his boss, Johnson said the current administration has spent $20 billion on research and technology to combat climate change after President Bush rejected mandatory controls on carbon dioxide, the chief gas blamed for trapping heat in the atmosphere like a greenhouse.

Bush also kept the United States out of the Kyoto international treaty to reduce greenhouse gases globally, saying it would harm the U.S. economy, after many of the accord's terms were negotiated by the Clinton administration.

"I know from the president on down, he is committed," Johnson said. "And certainly his charge to me was, and certainly our team has heard it: 'I want you to accelerate the pace of environmental protection. I want you to maintain our economic competitiveness.' And I think that's really what it's all about."

His predecessors disagreed. Lee Thomas, Ruckelshaus's successor in the Reagan administration, said that "if the United States doesn't deal with those kinds of issues in a leadership role, they're not going to get dealt with. So I'm very concerned about this country and this agency."

Bill Reilly, the EPA administrator under the first President Bush, echoed that assessment.

"The time will come when we will address seriously the problem of climate change, and this is the agency that's best equipped to anticipate it," he said.

Christie Whitman, the first of three EPA administrators in the current Bush administration, said people obviously are having "an enormous impact" on the earth's warming.

"You'd need to be in a hole somewhere to think that the amount of change that we have imposed on land, and the way we've handled deforestation, farming practices, development, and what we're putting into the air, isn't exacerbating what is probably a natural trend," she said. "But this is worse, and it's getting worse."

Carol Browner, who was President Clinton's EPA administrator, said the White House and the Congress should push legislation to establish a carbon trading program based on a 1990 pollution trading program that helped reduce acid rain.

"If we wait for every single scientist who has a thought on the issue of climate change to agree, we will never do anything," she said. "If this agency had waited to completely understand the impacts of DDT, the impacts of lead in our gasoline, there would probably still be DDT sprayed and lead in our gasoline."

Three former administrators did not attend Wednesday's ceremony: Mike Leavitt, now secretary of health and human services; Doug Costle, who was in the Carter administration, and Anne Burford, a Reagan appointee who died last year.

___

On the Net:

EPA: http://www.epa.gov

----------------------------------------------

Thank you for these very brave and very honest people -
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Old 01-18-2006, 08:44 PM   #2
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"If this agency had waited to completely understand the impacts of DDT, the impacts of lead in our gasoline, there would probably still be DDT sprayed and lead in our gasoline."
Inadvertantly highlights the cost of junk science. The demonisation of DDT in the absence of more effective means of mosquito control, environmental groups have done a "great" job in ensuring that it's use gets curtailed rather than having it used in reasonable ammounts in conjunction with other means.
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Old 01-18-2006, 09:01 PM   #3
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Old 01-18-2006, 09:23 PM   #4
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Malaria kills, in the absence of viable alternatives bans of the pestide are more damaging than using them and having it persist in the food chain for a decade or two.

In the absence of a proper understanding of global climate, the factors governing the current warming trend and the effectiveness of counter-measures it could be harmful putting vast sums of money towards climate change when it could be better spent buying out fishing licences, improving agricultural practices and minimising deforestation around the globe (although given the recent discovery that methane is being emitted by living trees that could be counter-productive - the point is we do not know). Get more facts on the table and less GIGO computer models.
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Old 01-18-2006, 10:15 PM   #5
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I like how people are so quite to outright "blame Bush" for the environment when really it's OUR damn fault. Sure, blame Bush all you want....but do you drive a car? Do you run your air conditioner? Do you use plastic or Styrofoam? ("you" being in general, not any specific person here) Being conscious of the environment is more than just loving the fuzzy animals. Last time I checked, we have some of the strictest environmental regulations in the world, but NORMAL PEOPLE on a day-to-day basis are neglecting the little things that promote conserving the environment. This makes my blood boil b/c most of the people I know who label themselves as being liberal and environmentalists are the most wasteful people I know, and it's usually just pure laziness.
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Old 01-18-2006, 10:22 PM   #6
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Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
I like how people are so quite to outright "blame Bush" for the environment when really it's OUR damn fault. Sure, blame Bush all you want....but do you drive a car? Do you run your air conditioner? Do you use plastic or Styrofoam? ("you" being in general, not any specific person here) Being conscious of the environment is more than just loving the fuzzy animals. Last time I checked, we have some of the strictest environmental regulations in the world, but NORMAL PEOPLE on a day-to-day basis are neglecting the little things that promote conserving the environment. This makes my blood boil b/c most of the people I know who label themselves as being liberal and environmentalists are the most wasteful people I know, and it's usually just pure laziness.
The point missing here is that fuel efficiency, emissions standards, A/C efficiency, and even the production of plastic and styrofoam are subject to federal regulations. If left to business alone, we'd still be driving 7 mpg clunkers like in the 1970s.

To completely abandon progress is unrealistic, and individual consumers (particularly when the vast majority are ambivalent) cannot affect industry change. Business will always bitch. It's in their nature to bitch over everything, but sometimes it's the role of government to give them a push in terms of environmental responsibility. Otherwise, business will always do the barest minimum it's required to do.

Melon
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Old 01-18-2006, 10:34 PM   #7
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Originally posted by melon


The point missing here is that fuel efficiency, emissions standards, A/C efficiency, and even the production of plastic and styrofoam are subject to federal regulations. If left to business alone, we'd still be driving 7 mpg clunkers like in the 1970s.

To completely abandon progress is unrealistic, and individual consumers (particularly when the vast majority are ambivalent) cannot affect industry change. Business will always bitch. It's in their nature to bitch over everything, but sometimes it's the role of government to give them a push in terms of environmental responsibility. Otherwise, business will always do the barest minimum it's required to do.
This is precisely my point. People are always yacking about the shitty environment and loose regulations, but it's almost the same story as the AIDs pandemic in Africa - no one really forces the issue enough to MAKE it effect government. The government isn't going to decide on it's own to tighten regulations just out of the goodness of their own hearts. It's up to the citizens to push the issue. But no....we'd rather continue destroying land in favor of cookie-cutter suburbal sprawl and drive three SUVs per family and wave our fingers at Bush.
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Old 01-18-2006, 11:39 PM   #8
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The decline of civic responsibility is a big part of the problem re: the disinterest/hypocrisy of people at the local level, as is the tendency for environmental politics to get framed as ineffectual hippie idealists vs. self-interested businessmen and their city council cronies. The mere idea of that scenario instantly dampens most people's enthusiasm.

LivLuv is right, these are issues too important to abandon to dead-end one-upmanship at the federal level, but being involved in a few local environmental groups, I find the poison of cynicism and apathy has trickled down to this level as well. Getting whole communities of people (and communities is what it takes) to be proactive about not only pushing for, but participating in the planning of recycling programs, ecofriendly urban planning, conservation of local resources, support of businesses willing to take on the risks of pursuing environmentally sounder practices--these things don't happen with cynics at the helm. You need enthusiastic, committed people who have the will, the ambition, and above all the sense of personal obligation to a better collective future to make it work and carry it through from the big picture to the small one.

Unfortunately, many people feel embarrassed or turned off by the kind of idealistic big-picture talk that it really does have to start from, like it or not. They decide from the beginning that it won't go anywhere, and so it doesn't. Or they take it into account, sort of, once a year in the voting booth, but leave it up to Whoever the rest of the time because I'm just too busy, or I just don't have the patience for sitting through those hearings, or I'm too poor to support environmentally responsible businesses and still have all the stuff I need/want. The reality is that there are ways around all these kinds of problems, compromise positions that may inconvenience you a little but will also have a genuine impact in the long run. But it does require a willingness to try, and a sense of obligation to something bigger than yourself, something that is good in and of itself but may not bear immediate fruits.

It's the old problem of sustaining an ethic of personal and collective responsibility in the culture of the me-first-quick-fix.
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Old 01-19-2006, 12:18 AM   #9
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Thank you, yolland, for explaining that much better than I ever could. That's precisely what I'm getting at.
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Old 01-19-2006, 01:51 AM   #10
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Is there a difference between civic responsibility and just performing an excercise that makes us feel like we are making a difference when we are actually not (for instance recycling materials that are cheaper to landfill and make more of?).
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Old 01-19-2006, 03:01 AM   #11
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IMO that's primarily a rhetorical question, but yes, civic responsibility is readily distinguishable from naive do-goodism (which is actually in some ways another manifestation of the me-first-quick-fix mentality). Naturally, it goes without saying that *some* measures undertaken with the best civic intentions will later turn out to have been ill-advised, or based on flawed analyses, or simply ineffectual, and should thus be dropped. So what? That's par for the course. We're talking about the little steps here, not massive, all-in-one-shot overhauls of entire systems of production.
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Old 01-19-2006, 05:50 AM   #12
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I take the bus or cycle to work.

But that takes the focus off the fact that with Bush and Cheney in office, steps that could be taken by the federal government to improve oil efficiency (better mileage regulations for private vehicles) and to decrease greenhouse gases are SYSTEMATICALLY UNDERCUT AND NOT TAKEN.

This makes environmental degradation worse and increasingly IRREVERSIBLE!

BTW, I either bus it or cycle it everywhere I go.
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:23 AM   #13
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Originally posted by Jamila
I take the bus or cycle to work.

But that takes the focus off the fact that with Bush and Cheney in office, steps that could be taken by the federal government to improve oil efficiency (better mileage regulations for private vehicles) and to decrease greenhouse gases are SYSTEMATICALLY UNDERCUT AND NOT TAKEN.

This makes environmental degradation worse and increasingly IRREVERSIBLE!

BTW, I either bus it or cycle it everywhere I go.
But steps could be taken on ANY issue. Bush and Cheny could raise taxes 300% and give all the proceeds to Africa, or they give money to every poor person in the USA. But they don't, b/c those aren't issues the public has in mind when we go to the polls. I don't care about the science of the matter. Just because there's a science behind it and serious lasting consequences doesn't mean the government is responsible for implementing drastic changes when the majority of citizens simply don't care. "Steps could be taken" in ANY direction regarding ANY pet issue. It has nothing to do with Bush and Cheney and everything to do with what we as Americans use when we elect our politicians. The AIDS/aid issue for Africa is a perfect example. Bush has tried his darndest to get more money in the right places and what it all boils down to is besides the small fraction of people in this country who realize the impact of this issue, there's not enough pressure in the right places to actually make it happen.
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Old 01-19-2006, 10:51 AM   #14
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The science of global warming leave a lot to be desired. The terms "global warming" and "greenhouse gases" are tossed around any time there is a variance in any given weather metric.

Bottom line - the terms are the best advertising environmentalist groups use for fundraising today.
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:05 PM   #15
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...011700895.html


Is It Warm in Here?
We Could Be Ignoring the Biggest Story in Our History

By David Ignatius

Wednesday, January 18, 2006; Page A17

One of the puzzles if you're in the news business is figuring out what's "news." The fate of your local football team certainly fits the definition. So does a plane crash or a brutal murder. But how about changes in the migratory patterns of butterflies?

Scientists believe that new habitats for butterflies are early effects of global climate change -- but that isn't news, by most people's measure. Neither is declining rainfall in the Amazon, or thinner ice in the Arctic. We can't see these changes in our personal lives, and in that sense, they are abstractions. So they don't grab us the way a plane crash would -- even though they may be harbingers of a catastrophe that could, quite literally, alter the fundamentals of life on the planet. And because they're not "news," the environmental changes don't prompt action, at least not in the United States.


What got me thinking about the recondite life rhythms of the planet, and not the 24-hour news cycle, was a recent conversation with a scientist named Thomas E. Lovejoy, who heads the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment. When I first met Lovejoy nearly 20 years ago, he was trying to get journalists like me to pay attention to the changes in the climate and biological diversity of the Amazon. He is still trying, but he's beginning to wonder if it's too late.

Lovejoy fears that changes in the Amazon's ecosystem may be irreversible. Scientists reported last month that there is an Amazonian drought apparently caused by new patterns in Atlantic currents that, in turn, are similar to projected climate change. With less rainfall, the tropical forests are beginning to dry out. They burn more easily, and, in the continuous feedback loops of their ecosystem, these drier forests return less moisture to the atmosphere, which means even less rain. When the forest trees are deprived of rain, their mortality can increase by a factor of six, and similar devastation affects other species, too.

"When do you wreck it as a system?" Lovejoy wonders. "It's like going up to the edge of a cliff, not really knowing where it is. Common sense says you shouldn't discover where the edge is by passing over it, but that's what we're doing with deforestation and climate change."

Lovejoy first went to the Amazon 40 years ago as a young scientist of 23. It was a boundless wilderness, the size of the continental United States, but at that time it had just 2 million people and one main road. He has returned more than a hundred times, assembling over the years a mental time-lapse photograph of how this forest primeval has been affected by man. The population has increased tenfold, and the wilderness is now laced with roads, new settlements and economic progress. The forest itself, impossibly rich and lush when Lovejoy first saw it, is changing.

For Lovejoy, who co-edited a pioneering 1992 book, "Global Warming and Biological Diversity," there is a deep sense of frustration. A crisis he and other scientists first sensed more than two decades ago is drifting toward us in what seems like slow motion, but fast enough that it may be impossible to mitigate the damage.

The best reporting of the non-news of climate change has come from Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker. Her three-part series last spring lucidly explained the harbingers of potential disaster: a shrinking of Arctic sea ice by 250 million acres since 1979; a thawing of the permafrost for what appears to be the first time in 120,000 years; a steady warming of Earth's surface temperature; changes in rainfall patterns that could presage severe droughts of the sort that destroyed ancient civilizations. This month she published a new piece, "Butterfly Lessons," that looked at how these delicate creatures are moving into new habitats as the planet warms. Her real point was that all life, from microorganisms to human beings, will have to adapt, and in ways that could be dangerous and destabilizing.

So many of the things that pass for news don't matter in any ultimate sense. But if people such as Lovejoy and Kolbert are right, we are all but ignoring the biggest story in the history of humankind. Kolbert concluded her series last year with this shattering thought: "It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing." She's right. The failure of the United States to get serious about climate change is unforgivable, a human folly beyond imagining.

davidignatius@washpost.com


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