Monday, September 18, 2006

More on Bush climate u-turn

I received an e-mail from a distinguished scientist (member of the Academy) saying:
A few months ago I heard from a friend that Karl Rove had met privately with a small group of global warming luminaries that included Bob Corell, and that Rove was listening intently and sympathetically to what they were saying. The article at this link predicts that something big is about to happen, perhaps at Rove's direction. Bizarre as it sounds, I'm inclined to believe it.
I blogged on this recently here. I don't normally put too much faith in hearsay, but I also believe there's a grain of truth here. My current theory is that this is a "trial balloon" put out by the administration to see how much screaming and howling there is.

Overall, however, this is not necessarily inconsistent with an evolution in Bush's rhetoric over the past few years. In 2001, he emphasized the uncertainties in our science. As that position moved from shaky to downright untenable, however, his rhetoric shifted to fairness (China hasn't signed on, etc.) and economic (we'll put people out of work). He really doesn't argue the science anymore.

Stay tuned for more!


Bill F said...

I don't have any particular insight into what Bush has planned, but I suspect that the question you had about the 2106 date in your previous post has a very simple answer. When JFK proposed going to the moon, he picked "the end of this decade", not because he had a schedule for a 1969 moon landing in his back pocket, but because it was a nice round number that gave the scientists and engineers enough room to accomplish it while still sounding ambitious. With regards to GHGs and 2106, "by the end of the next century" is a common point at which people like to talk about the effects of AGW. So why not pick a relatively ambitious target and set a 100 year timeframe for it. As was discussed previously, giving a long timeframe like that doesn't require immediate action, and congress will certainly take their time working on how to make it happen. But as an election issue, it is dynamite. I, like others hope it isn't an empty election trick, but think about the dynamics of it...

If the republicans maintain control of congress, they can shape how the initial policy is implemented so as to be friendly to their business allies in the short term. If the democrats win control of congress and fail to act on "Bush's plan" then the republicans can accuse them of not following through on all their rhetoric about AGW as a 2008 election issue. The presidential veto still gives the republicans a chance to have influence over even a democratically controlled congress. I think even Rove recognizes that continuing to stonewall on any kind of air pollution initiative is a long-term bad policy for the republicans, so setting it up at a time when they still have the potential to control how it is created makes good political sense for the republicans.

The good news to me is that there are enough moderates on both sides of the aisle in congress (and still will be no matter who wins control in November), that any new program will have to be well-thought out and include key compromises in order to make it through congress and earn the president's signature. Even if it starts out as a raw political manuever, the act of putting something like this in play will eventually result in major changes to the debate over GW and a real change in focus about why and how we will try to do anything about it.

Dano said...

Trial balloon. Yes.



Andy said...

Well, I don't share the optimism associated with the posts on a Bush Climate U-Turn. My guess is that 100 years is a long time for us to do as we now do. The target is relatively low and looks good on paper, but I suspect that Bush's proposal will allow the world (U.S.) to greatly overshoot the target and then sometime in the future come back down to it by using some as yet undeveloped technology to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Fertilizing the ocean, pulling it out of the air via a chemical process and pumping it underground.

Anonymous said...

I think this might be the answer to what Bush is up to. In otherwords, not much.