Bush: let's study global warming some more
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 3 07:50:17 MST 2002
NY Times, Dec. 3, 2002
Can Global Warming Be Studied Too Much?
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 — On Tuesday, the Bush administration convenes a
three-day meeting here to set its new agenda for research on climate
change. But many climate experts who will attend say talking about more
research will simply delay decisions that need to be made now to avert
serious harm from global warming.
President Bush has called for a decade of research before anything
beyond voluntary measures is used to stem tailpipe and smokestack
emissions of heat-trapping gases that scientists say are contributing to
"When you're speeding down the road in your car, if you've got to turn
around and go the other direction, the first thing is to slow down, then
stop, then turn," said David K. Garman, the assistant secretary of
energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
But many climate experts say the perennial need for more study can no
longer justify further delays in emission cuts.
"Waiting 10 years to decide is itself a decision which may remove from
the table certain options for stabilizing concentrations later," said
Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences at Princeton.
For example, under today's rate of emissions growth, he and other
experts say that certain losses are already probable, including
dwindling of snow-dependent water supplies and global die-offs of
vulnerable ecosystems like coral reefs, alpine meadows and certain
Nevertheless, administration officials say further research is still
necessary because scientists cannot say exactly what effects human
activity will have on global climate and how dangerous they will be. It
is worth taking the time to conduct more analysis at least to clarify
the balance of environmental and economic risks, they say.
"Science rarely gives enough information to narrow policy choices to a
single option, but it can clear away some of the underbrush," said Dr.
John H. Marburger III, assistant to the president for science and
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