Climate change stands alongside the use of nuclear weapons as one of the greatest threats posed to the future of the world, the Cambridge cosmologist Stephen Hawking has said.
Professor Hawking said that we stand on the precipice of a second nuclear age and a period of exceptional climate change, both of which could destroy the planet as we know it.
"As we stand at the brink of a second nuclear age and a period of unprecedented climate change, scientists have a special responsibility, once again, to inform the public and to advise leaders about the perils that humanity faces," Professor Hawking told the Royal Society in London tuesday. Hawking's address was in relation to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists setting ahead the 'Doomsday Clock,' which measures how close humanity is to nuclear war. Citing war in the Middle East, more nations seeking nuclear weapons, and predicting wars over resources made rarer by climate change, the Bulletin set the clock closer to midnight than it has been in at least 20 years.
So it's good news that President Bush is going to make energy and global warming a key point in his State of the Union address next week, right? Right?
Well, not so much...
The White House on Tuesday denied it was planning a U-turn on its climate change policy by embracing a system of formal caps on greenhouse emissions, despite rising pressure from European governments to change its stance.
Although energy security will be a key theme in President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address next week, the White House issued an unusually public rebuttal of rumours about its climate change policy. Tony Snow, White House spokesman, said: “I want to walk you back from the whole carbon cap story...The carbon cap stuff is not accurate. It’s wrong.”
You've got to wonder where Karl Rove is lately. The president's been making a lot of politically stupid moves lately. Taking stands on issues the majority of americans oppose isn't very helpful to his party. He forces a lot of congressional Republicans to either stand against him or pay the price in the next election (the fact that evangelicals are going green complicates things further). It seems like all of Bush's post-election ideas are political losers. He may be standing on principle, but standing on the wrong principle isn't going to help anyone any. My opinion is that the President's stands are now driven almost entirely by contrarianism -- no one's going to tell The Decider what to do. Those defending Bush's stands in congress aren't defending good ideas, so much as a president's bruised ego.
Expect Bush to call for voluntary caps -- a thoroughly discredited idea from his own history. After instituting voluntary caps in as governor, Texas now has the worst air quality in the nation. It's worse than doing nothing.
Not that the president is necessary to do this stuff. As I said, it's an incredibly popular issue. Democrats in congress are working overtime to get climate change legislation on the president's desk. Bush may be able to propose legislation, but he can't write it. Bush proposes, congress disposes. Congress is completely free to disregard the president's 'leadership' and go their own way -- which seems to be the case.
New York Times:
Legislation to control global warming that once had a passionate but quixotic ring to it is now serious business. Congressional Democrats are increasingly determined to wrest control of the issue from the White House and impose the mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions that most smokestack industries have long opposed.
Four major Democratic bills have been announced, with more expected. One of these measures, or a blend of them, stands an excellent chance of passage in this Congress or the next, industry and environmental lobbyists said in interviews.
Let's hope it's sooner, rather than later. Bush's record on the environment has been awful and the sooner we get to work reversing the damage, the better.
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