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Face up to Global Warming The Bush administration's apparent intention to play out the clock on

climate change is hardly surprising. In a related recent development, a


A strong consensus has developed, in and out of the scientific realm former senior EPA official charged that Vice President Dick Cheney's
that the planet is in an extended and potentially dangerous warming office altered testimony from the Centers for Disease Control early this
trend. Another strong consensus has developed that human activity year to downplay climate change's ill effects on public health.
significantly contributes to that pattern. Unfortunately, the task of
developing a consensus on what humans can or should do about that President Bush did make a familiar — and fair — point last week in
— if anything — is fraught with political and economic peril. But that stressing that China and India, with their rapidly developing
doesn't mean the United States shouldn't move forward on reasonable economies, must be part of any international agreement to lower CO2
measures to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, which experts cite as a emissions if it is to produce significant results. And convoluted "cap-
trigger for climate change. and-trade" formulas favored by some climate-change hawks have
serious flaws.
While understandable, the persisting focus on President Bush's
handling of this topic is misplaced considering the circumstances of The choices on this issue won't be easy for the next U.S. president. But
his limited time left in the White House. He continues to be alternately at least Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama both say climate
praised for acknowledging climate change as a problem that must be change would be a high priority for them if they win in November.
addressed and condemned for failing to provide the leadership needed And Sen. McCain isn't the only prominent Republican who takes
to initiate effective action to slow it. climate change seriously. South Carolina's Gov. Mark Sanford and
Sen. Lindsey Graham do, too.
Last week at the G-8 summit in Toyako, Japan, Mr. Bush again
emphasized the need to craft international accords that would reduce Another conservative who's sounding the alarm on climate change is
CO2 emissions. Phillip E. Clapp of the Pew Environmental Group was Michael Gerson, former chief speechwriter for President Bush. On
impressed enough to tell The New York Times: "This is an enormous today's Commentary page, he reports on what he learned on a recent
movement for a man who questioned the science on global warming, trip to the Arctic Circle, and correctly points out: "The one factor
who was opposed to international treaties and who was opposed to dramatically different from the past is the human production of
international targets." greenhouse gases."

By week's end, though, environmentalists were assailing the Bush How to counter the exponential growth of that human production?
administration anew over its refusal to act on the findings of
Environmental Protection Agency scientists who concluded that Sen. Graham convincingly accentuated the positive Wednesday, telling
climate change presents "grave risks" to human health due to its us that rising gas prices and rising awareness of climate change are
impact on supplies of food, water and energy. That EPA analysis was creating "a magic merging" of previously disparate interests, including
conducted in response to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling requiring it to "the national security constituency, the innovation constituency and the
regulate greenhouse gases unless it could provide a "scientific" basis environmental constituency." He said that "creating alternatives to
for not doing so. fossil fuels is the new economy."

Yet EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson rejected his own agency's Thus, the path to reduced CO2 emissions, if plotted properly, could
report, instead declaring a four-month "public comment" period before also be a path to prosperity. Clearly, we have more than one good
deciding the next step. By the time that delay ends, a new president- reason to reduce our use of fossil fuels.
elect will have been chosen.