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  • Dick writes about Earth and planetary science for Science magazine.
 

Bush Boosts Climate Studies

11 June 2001 7:00 pm
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Uncertain future. President Bush stressed that many questions remain in global warming research.

The U.S. government will put more money and efforts into studying the issue of global warming, President Bush said today. But Bush repeated his Administration's opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, which he called "fatally flawed."

Last week, a panel from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences told the president in a report that Earth is indeed heating up, as previous studies had concluded, and that humans are at least partially responsible (ScienceNOW, 7 June). But the panel also stressed that climate science is rife with uncertainties.

Bush highlighted this expert-certified uncertainty when he addressed global climate change in the Rose Garden today, shortly before he left for a 6-day trip to Europe, where his stance on global warming is expected to be sharply criticized. Bush emphasized that the contribution of natural climate variability to the past century's warming is uncertain, as are the cooling effects of pollutant hazes. The magnitude of future warming is unknown, and so is the rate of any warming, he said. And "finally, no one can say with any certainty what constitutes a dangerous level of warming, and therefore what level must be avoided."

Given such uncertainties, Bush, much like his father a decade earlier, pledged additional funding for climate studies. Although vague on details, he announced a U.S. Climate Change Research Initiative, through which climate change research will be funded for the next 5 years.

At the same time, Bush reiterated his rejection of the as yet unratified Kyoto Protocol. It would damage the U.S. economy, he said, and unfairly relieve developing countries of any commitments to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Although "we recognize the responsibility to reduce our emissions," the United States won't be doing so through the mandatory emission reductions of the Kyoto Protocol, Bush said.

Instead, the Administration's plans for energy conservation and using energy sources with less CO2 emission will help in the short-term, he said; down the road, a new National Climate Change Technology Initiative will help develop cutting-edge technologies such as fuel cells and carbon dioxide sequestration, Bush said.

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Text of Bush's remarks in the Rose Garden

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