The Intersection

There was an absolutely incredible letter from the White House yesterday concerning Bush’s record on climate change. It is signed by Office of Science and Technology Policy director John Marburger and Council on Environmental Quality chair James Connaugton, both of whom, with this letter, are guilty of deceiving the public.

The letter says: “Beginning in June 2001, President Bush has consistently acknowledged climate change is occurring and humans are contributing to the problem.” False. I need only point out, yet again, that just last year, Bush claimed there was a debate over whether global warming was “manmade or naturally caused.”

The House and the Senate need to compel both Marburger and Connaugton to testify, and confront them with quotations like this.

MOREOVER: The White House letter provides a skewed and misleading quotation from Bush’s 2001 speech on global warming, so as to suggest it endorses the scientific consensus. The speech in fact ducked the central issue.

Here’s how the White House quotes Bush:

“First, we know the surface temperature of the earth is warming…There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming…And the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the increase is due in large part to human activity.” – June 11, 2001

In the context of the actual speech, the “increase” being referred to here is clearly the increase in greenhouse gase concentrations, not the increase in temperature. Read in full what Bush actually said, and you’ll quickly see how deceptive the White House is being, by literally misquoting the president himself:

First, we know the surface temperature of the earth is warming. It has risen by .6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years. There was a warming trend from the 1890s to the 1940s. Cooling from the 1940s to the 1970s. And then sharply rising temperatures from the 1970s to today.

There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming. Greenhouse gases trap heat, and thus warm the earth because they prevent a significant proportion of infrared radiation from escaping into space. Concentration of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And the National Academy of Sciences indicate that the increase is due in large part to human activity.

Yet, the Academy’s report tells us that we do not know how much effect natural fluctuations in climate may have had on warming. We do not know how much our climate could, or will change in the future. We do not know how fast change will occur, or even how some of our actions could impact it.

For example, our useful efforts to reduce sulfur emissions may have actually increased warming, because sulfate particles reflect sunlight, bouncing it back into space. And, finally, no one can say with any certainty what constitutes a dangerous level of warming, and therefore what level must be avoided.

The White House’s shameless attempt to rewrite history simply cannot, and will not, stand. This 2001 speech is not an endorsement of the scientific consensus. It’s an attempt to dance around it.

P.S.: Also last year, Bush claimed there was a “fundamental debate” over whether global warming is human caused or natural….This record cannot simply be made to disappear.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    February 8, 2007

    Eurasia has always been the enemy, right?

  2. #2 Warren
    February 8, 2007

    We are at war with Global Warming. We have always been at war with Global Warming. And belligerence is democracy, and war is peace.

  3. #3 xenophobic
    February 8, 2007

    All I can think of is Winston Smith…

  4. #4 mothra
    February 8, 2007

    For those of us with long memories, let’s go back to March, 2001. President Bush declared physics invalid when he stated that CO2 was not a greenhouse gas and would not be included in EPA guideline rating air quality standards in factories– I believe the press release was March 14, 2001. THE VERY NEXT DAY, that wonderful science magazine– Nature had a feature article showing how localized greenhouse effects could be measured from space by satellite, and that localized hot spots and their temperature gradients to ambient temperature matched CO2 gradients from factories. And, oh yes, Mr Bush’s campaign promise on the subject–delivered in 200 in either Mississippi or Louisiana was that he would be our ‘environmental president.’

  5. #5 Thom
    February 8, 2007

    There’s some more of the same in an article written in National Review.

    http://tinyurl.com/2p6r3h

    It’s an analysis of the recent congressional hearing along wit the history of Bush distortions on climate change. One of the people cited as proof that Bush is doing nothing wrong is our own Roger Pielke Jr.

    Why is this no longer suprising?

  6. #6 AJ Milne
    February 8, 2007

    I’m sure it was just a typo.

    Sure. “Beginning in June 2001, President Bush has consistently acknowledged climate change is occurring and humans are contributing to the problem” was actually supposed to read as “Beginning sometime last month, President Bush has sporadically recognized that including meanginglessly vague feelgood rhetoric in his speeches on the subject of global warming would allow him, briefly at least, to avoid talking about the endless, bloody, painful quagmire that is his Iraq policy.”

    It happens all the time. Typing is hard.

  7. #7 Imperare
    February 8, 2007

    But we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

  8. #8 Dark Tent
    February 8, 2007

    Mendacious?

    Perhaps.

    But “absolutely incredible”?

    I don’t think so. Unfortunately, we have come to expect as much from members of this administration. The bar is set low indeed — on the ground, it would seem.

  9. #9 Kristine
    February 8, 2007

    Hasn’t the Bush Administration commissioned something around 40 “studies” of various warming variables in a blatant attempt to delay the inevitable conclusion? How is Bush going to spin that?

    But for me, the most incredible factor in all this is John H. Marburger. He has destroyed himself by yoking himself to this president. How is the man, fomerly a legitimate intellect and accomplished person, going to ever hold his head high again once Bush leaves office?

    At the risk of violating Godwin’s Law, I am reminded of other intellects and scientists (not the cretins at the top of the hierarchy) who, despite apparently being able to know better, inexplicably bought into a corrupt and doomed worldview.

  10. #10 The Ridger
    February 8, 2007

    This record cannot simply be made to disappear.

    It can’t? But… the White House pretty much bases their whole worldview on making inconvenient facts disappear. They don’t learn that “we were never ‘stay the course'” can be countered by innumerable clips of them being “stay the course” – so why should they think any different now?

    What must be different now, of course, is that they not be allowed to even begin to get away with it. Bravo!

  11. #11 DSM
    February 8, 2007

    Um… Acknowledging that a debate exists is not denying that global warming is caused at least in part by humans, is it?

    Hey, btw, can you answer a question for me? What is the correct temperature for the earth?

  12. #12 J Daley
    February 8, 2007

    “But actually, Winston thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty’s figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie.”

  13. #13 Cris
    February 8, 2007

    DSM:
    There are lots of ways to acknowledge a debate. For instance, you could say “There is no question that human activity is causing climate change, even though there are other natural factors as well.” Debate acknowledged, responsibility taken.

    Or you could say “Humans probably have some effect on the environment, but some people think it’s mostly due to natural forces beyond our control.” Responsibility evaded. The President’s remarks have consistently fallen in the latter category.

    Of course, being a politician, his speeches on the matter have most often avoided taking a stand at all. He leaves himself plausible deniability through third-person constructions and vague commitments to study the issue further.

    As for your troll question, I’ll bite: “Correct temperature from what perspective?”
    How about this one: “What is the correct temperature for water?” Am I talking about for skating or for cooking pasta?

  14. #14 Aaron Kinney
    February 8, 2007

    And the jury is still out on evolution, too. :P

  15. #15 mark
    February 8, 2007

    Has the White House hired William Dembski or DaveScot as archivists?

  16. #16 Karl K
    February 8, 2007

    Chris, you said the following.

    The letter says: “Beginning in June 2001, President Bush has consistently acknowledged climate change is occurring and humans are contributing to the problem.” False. I need only point out, yet again, that just last year, Bush claimed there was a debate over whether global warming was “manmade or naturally caused.”

    …and then you link to the CNN video as conclusive evidence that Bush is somehow trumpeting the “debate” as way for him to be decepetive, mendacious, and somehow ignore the sources and implications of climate change…

    But the fact is, Chris old boy, it is YOU who are being mendacious and deceptive. What Bush ACTUALLY says, and what he ACTUALLY means is that we should get BEYOND the debate…and implement technologies so we can be good stewards of the environment. It’s quite plain that he meant that the “debate,” — and yes, even now there is a debate — is irrelevant…

    See, here’s the problem with folks like you, infected as they are with Bush Derangement Syndrome. You are so wrapped up in your loathing and contempt for him that you have a hard time engaging in the most simple of cognitive processing tasks.

    Bush is hardly perfect, and there are many things about the administration I find troubling (as I found troubling many things about the Clinton Administration). But he is hardly the demon that you and your ilk make him out to be.

    Then again, deep down in your psyche, you may in fact equate him, as some of the insanely idiotic Netrooters do, to some Hitlerian monster. I guess only you and your therapist know for sure.

  17. #17 Todd
    February 8, 2007

    based only on what you’ve quoted or linked to, there is no misrepresentation–perhaps you could find better examples? It is certainly the case there is debate over whether or not global warming is man-made or natural or exactly what percentage of each. To say this is not inconsistent with acknowledging climate change has some man-made causes.

    On the other hand GW Bush has not made movies about global warming, insisted we must trample on our own economy for the sake of global warming, etc. It’s not quite honest to turn that into “lying to the public”. My recommendation is to think like a lawyer proving a perjury case when proving someone is lying in writing–this would immunize the blogger against most criticism.

  18. #18 Stefan Jones
    February 8, 2007

    The chocolate ration has been increased to 20 grammes.

    Really, this sort of revisionism is great news. It shows that they’re terrified of liability lawsuits and the judgement of history.

    Plus, you can trot out that letter when Young Republican trolls try to parrot CEI talking points. “Hey, look, the White House was on board in 2001! Are you saying that the President is wrong?”

  19. #19 Jojo
    February 8, 2007

    Karl K is funny…

  20. #20 SqueakyRat
    February 8, 2007

    Todd —
    “Saying somethng not inconsistent with acknowleding climate change has some man-made causes” is not “acknowledging that climate change has man-made causes.” See?

  21. #21 Ted Shelton
    February 8, 2007

    Is it more scary that we have example after example that the Bush administration seeks to mislead the American public or more scary that people (like the ones above) are willing to defend the deception?

    Lets stick to the facts here — the President of the United States of America has until recently avoided having Americans, the per capita highest energy consuming denizens of our planet, bear any responsibility for our consumption’s impact on the planet.

    Why? Very simple. A tactical decision that America’s economic interests are not well served by taking the drastic measures that are necessary to reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons annually, which some scientists think might be sufficient to avoiding the tipping point toward cataclysmic environmental changes.

    Until the waves are washing up Pennsylvania Avenue, we will continue to get obstruction. And at that point obstruction will be unnecessary as it won’t matter any more.

  22. #22 Dark Tent
    February 8, 2007

    “A tactical decision that America’s economic interests are not well served by taking the drastic measures that are necessary to reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons annually,”

    I’d change that slightly: “A tactical decision that the energy companies’ (and Bush’s own family’s) economic interests are not well served by taking the measures that are necessary to reduce carbon emissions.”

    What is good for Exxon-Mobil’s profits is good for Bush and vice versa . Energy policy is driven by the giant energy companies.

  23. #23 DS
    February 8, 2007

    I wish that lying about GW was the worse that BushCo. has done.

  24. #24 Jeff
    February 9, 2007

    Ok I’m looking at tbis, but I’m sorry but the speech in 2001 does seem to suggest that the administration is saying human activity contributes to global warming.

    First, the speech says the earth is getting warmer, then it says that the greenhouse contributes to global warming, and then it says that the increase of greenhouse gases are largely man-made.

    So if A is caused by B, and B is being caused by C, then logically doesn’t C therefore cause A? And if C is human activity, and A is the earth getting warmer, then isn’t the speech essentially saying that the earth is getting warmer because of human activity?

    This of course also fits with Bush’s quote from 2004 during a BBC interview

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/g8/story/0,13365,1521149,00.html

    TONIGHT: Do you accept that climate change is man-made, sir?

    PRESIDENT BUSH: To a certain extent it is, obviously. I mean, if fossil fuels create greenhouse gases, we’re burning fossil fuel, as is a lot of other countries. You know, look, there was a debate over Kyoto, and I made the decision – as did a lot of other people in this country, by the way – that the Kyoto treaty didn’t suit our needs. In other words, the Kyoto treaty would have wrecked our economy, if I can be blunt.

    Now maybe I’m missing something really obvious, and if so and it’s pointed out then I’ll just hang my head in shame. But I hope someone points it out, because right now I’m not seeing it.

    In fact later in the speech he says things must be done to curb man-made greenhouse gases. Why would he do that in the contrext of a global warming speech unless he was arguing the greenhouse gases are contributing to it?

    From the speech:

    The policy challenge is to act in a serious and sensible way, given the limits of our knowledge. While scientific uncertainties remain, we can begin now to address the factors that contribute to climate change.

    There are only two ways to stabilize concentration of greenhouse gases. One is to avoid emitting them in the first place; the other is to try to capture them after they’re created. And there are problems with both approaches. We’re making great progress through technology, but have not yet developed cost-effective ways to capture carbon emissions at their source; although there is some promising work that is being done.

    And a growing population requires more energy to heat and cool our homes, more gas to drive our cars. Even though we’re making progress on conservation and energy efficiency and have significantly reduced the amount of carbon emissions per unit of GDP.

    Our country, the United States is the world’s largest emitter of manmade greenhouse gases. We account for almost 20 percent of the world’s man-made greenhouse emissions. We also account for about one-quarter of the world’s economic output. We recognize the responsibility to reduce our emissions. We also recognize the other part of the story — that the rest of the world emits 80 percent of all greenhouse gases. And many of those emissions come from developing countries.

    What am I missing guys?

  25. #25 Dark Tent
    February 9, 2007

    The key issue — which is conveniently avoided by the above statements — is one of degree: “how much of the warming has been casued by humans?”

    The thing that they are leaving out is the admission that the greenhouse gas emissions caused most of the warming over the past few decades — something that multiple scientific groups (IPCC, National Academy) have been saying for some time now.

    The degree of human induced warming that one accepts largely determines the actions that one considers warranted. The Bushies have taken the stance that “more research is needed to rule out natural causes (ge, increased solar output) for the recent warming before drastic measures (emissions caps) are warranted.”

    This is a perfect example of the game that the Bush administration plays with science. They admit enough about the science to give themselves cover and make it appear that they are agreeing with the scientific consensus while setting policy that implies just the opposite — and as everyone knows, actions speak louder than words.

  26. #26 Michael
    February 9, 2007

    Well, let’s look at what’s been claimed:

    “Beginning in June 2001, President Bush has consistently acknowledged climate change is occurring and humans are contributing to the problem.”

    Now let’s look at the official line:

    President Bush said “First of all, the globe is warming. The fundamental debate — is it manmade or natural?”

    Somehow, that doesn’t strike me as a consistent acknowledgement that global warming is the fault of human activity.

    Then we have the response to the definitive conclusion that global warming is man-made:

    Despite the report’s strong wording, the Bush administration opposes a mandatory “cap” on the heat-trapping “greenhouse” gases primarily responsible for Earth’s warm-up. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said “unintended consequences” could result, including job losses to countries without limits on carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. “We need a global solution,” Bodman said. The administration’s strategy emphasizes “market forces. .. (and) solutions that are technically and economically sound.”

    In other words, the problem is real and it could very well kill us, but we’re not willing to shoulder the burden to solve the problem. Instead, we’ll do what we’ve always done: wait for the market to correct itself. Anyone else remember who was governor of Texas when deregulation of industries was quickly followed by Houston becoming the top city for bad air quality? If you guessed George W. Bush, you win.

    This appears to me to be a clear case of reconstructing history in light of contradictory findings. Does anyone else remember NASA’s leading scientist for climate studies complaining that he was being instructed by a White House appointee that he was not to release information indicating an increase in global temperature averages?

    Some links for your consideration: Bush denies global warming.
    Bush denies CO2 is a pollutant.
    Bush rejects carbon caps.
    Bush suppresses global warming report.
    Bush says no evidence to prove global warming.
    Bush and Blair both block global warming initiatives.
    Bush suppresses global warming data in scientific community since 2001.
    Bush’s letter to various Senators about Kyoto and the importance of economics over the environment.

    Really, there’s no defense for this administration. Equating “there’s a debate on global warming” to “we’ve always acknowledged the human influence on global warming” is pure fraud. It does not equate.

  27. #27 Memory Harker
    February 9, 2007

    Mothra: Bush *is* our Environmental President. It’s just that he’s our DESTROY-the-Environment Environmental President. Why, there’s not much that he does that DOESN’T ill-affect the environment in some way. Come on: even the way he talks is a sort of Language Pollution, isn’t it? How much more focused on the (destruction of the) environment could a president be?

    <— laughing because it hurts

  28. #28 JeffL
    February 9, 2007

    The key issue — which is conveniently avoided by the above statements — is one of degree: “how much of the warming has been casued by humans?”

    Ah, that makes sense. So the issue wasn’t so much that the administration didn’t acknowledge that humanity contributes to global warming at all. Bur rather that they implied that we didn’t know whether it contributed enough to involve taking more drastic measures. After all, because as you say the NAS did say that greenhouse gases contribute mostly to the effect of global warming, than more drastic measures are needed. And that’s what they avoided.

    So the narrative that’s been presented in the media has been a little too simplistic. It wasn’t that the administration was ignoring the global warming issue altoghether. But rather they were downplaying humanity’s role. While they acknowledged it, they were unwilling to admit that it played as large a role as it actually does.

    Ok, I feel better now.

  29. #29 defenestrated
    February 10, 2007

    Mooney, you’re either with us or with the greenhouse gasses.
    ;)

  30. #30 tom street
    February 10, 2007

    The proof is in the pudding, and we have very little of it. The Bush administration has put all its faith in technology and voluntary efforts to cut global warming.

    A few companies addressing their emissions clearly will have essentially zero impactd on the problem. Technology, while nice, will not kick in, if at all, for decades. In the mean time, we will have reached tipping point.

    Research into technology does not cut emissions now, which needs to be done. The only short term way to cut emissions is to cut energy use which requires higher mpg autos and/or less driving. We already have high mpg vehicles; if we don’t take action to get people to drive those vehicles or not drive at all, then nothing happens. And that’s just the transportation sector.

    The Bush administration has actively fought attempts to conserve energy now and has not attention to getting Americans to conserve, which they consider a personal virtue but not a basis. The official policy is to decrease energy per dollar of GDP. This is not adequate; overall use needs to be cut now with a plan to decrease energy use by at least 80%, probably by 2050.

    Being a leader in research on global warming is not the same thing with being a leader about doing something about it. Clearly, the European countries are way ahead of us on this score.

    And, as was pointed out above, breaking a promise and then declaring that co2 is not a pollutant, is hardly taking a leadership role on global warming.

    Yes, the references to 1984 are apt. This administration is a master of the memory hole. And, given the short term memory of the American people, it just might work.

    The only people who think that the Bush administration has consistently supported the science on global warming are those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

    I recall during the 2000 election, all the people who said that Bush had a great environmental record in Texas. Texas has the worst environmental record of any state in the country. The same people are trying to spin Bush’s record on global warming.

    Well, thank God Bush is term limited. Notwithstanding, Bush and Cheney should be impeached to send a message. If the worst American president in at least a century cannot be impeached, who can? Well, Clinton, of course, who is currently the most popular American President amongst those now living.

  31. #31 Hank Roberts
    February 10, 2007

    What was it he said right after the election, when challenged on something? Words to the effect of ‘oh, of course I said that _then_, that was before the election.’

    It was the moment of refreshing honesty in his administration, to date.

  32. #32 Dark Tent
    February 11, 2007

    “If the worst American president in at least a century cannot be impeached, who can?”

    Well, Bill Clinton, that’s who.

    For lying about a consensual blowjob — which, as we all know, is far worse than cherry picking intelligence and fabricating a relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden that did not exist — actions that led our country into a war that has killed over 3000 American troops (and counting) and killed God only knows how many innocent Iraqis (tens if not hundreds of thousands).

    I’d have to say that the “worst American President” (ever) cannot be impeached because the “worst American speaker of the House” has taken impeachment of the “worst American President” off the table — and in so doing shown herself to be uniquely qualified for the title (and place in history) that she has earned for herself.

    I have a question of my own: If Speaker Pelosi will not carry out her oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution from a President who has clearly violated his own oath of office, under what circumstance will she carry out said oath?

  33. #33 Dark Tent
    February 12, 2007

    I believe that “Worst American President” R and “Worst American Speaker of the House” R are both registered trademarks — to George W. Bush and Nancy Pelosi, resp.

    They will undoubtedly go down in history together as the “Worst of the Worst”R — which I believe is also registered (jointly by Bush and Pelosi).

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