“Rolling Stone” magazine has published a 5,000-word investigative story accusing the Bush administration of carrying out a “secret campaign” to deny global warming aimed at misleading the public and to forestall any mandatory limits on polluters.
The article, based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, describes a White House environmental policy led by Vice President Dick Cheney with the energy industry calling the shots, using “junk” science to counter evidence for human-induced global warming, and crafting a “polluter-friendly” approach to global warming focused on “voluntary actions” rather than mandatory limits on greenhouse gases.
“They’ve got a political clientele that does not want to be regulated,” Rick Piltz, a former Bush climate official and whistle-blower told Rolling Stone writer Tim Dickinson. “Any honest discussion of the science would stimulate public pressure for a stronger policy. They’re not stupid.”
Dickinson said Bush’s “do-nothing policy on global warming began almost as soon as he took office.”
“By pursuing a carefully orchestrated policy of delay, the White House has blocked even the most modest reforms and replaced them with token investments in futuristic solutions like hydrogen cars,” he wrote.
“It’s a charade,” the article quoted Jeremy Symons, who represented the EPA on Cheney’s energy task force. “They have a single-minded determination to do nothing–while making it look like they are doing something.”
The administration’s spin control on global warming was taken seriously enough, according to the article, that at one point the president’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, took the reins to counter a New York Times story in 2002 reporting a “stark shift” by the White House toward recognition of the threat of human-induced global warming.
Rove, the article says, vetted a letter by Philip Cooney, a deputy in the Council on Environmental Quality housed in Cheney’s office, to the Times highlighting “uncertainties” about the science of global warming and diverting attention from the administration’s “do-nothing approach to global warming.”
The Rolling Stone article compares the administration’s reliance on industry-sponsored science like the Global Climate Coalition to confuse the issue to the false intelligence funneled through on Iraq’s weapons in the lead-up to war.
“Even when Bush proposes what looks like a plan, it’s designed to stall real progress on global warming,” the article says.
Rejecting a G8 proposal to cut planet-warming pollution in half by 2050 with mandatory caps on carbon emissions, for example, Bush instead pushed a “new initiative” for combating climate change “in a way that enhances energy security and promotes economic growth.”
The Bush plan, according to Rolling Stone, would replace mandatory caps with “aspirational goals” to be met through voluntary cuts and futuristic technology.
The implementation date for those voluntary targets, the article says, is not until as late as 2075, long after the point when many scientists believe global warming will have superheated the planet.
Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics said in a statement: “A growing number of American Christians, including evangelicals, are beginning to hear the biblical imperative to protect Planet Earth. They understand that the ‘Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,’ meaning the creation belongs to the Creator who has entrusted human beings to care for creation. The creation has value in and of itself apart from any value that we assign to it. Pro-environmental Christians understand that human beings are the crowning jewel of creation but not the only jewel in the crown.
“Such theology is at great odds with those who believe that only human beings have value. That theology reflects the sin of anthropocentrism, radical man-centeredness. It is this virulent pride that causes Bush and Cheney to disregard their moral responsibility to guard the planet from the threat of climate change and to favor their corporate pals over the common good, to prefer short-time greed over the long-term good.
“Surely, we are moving toward a tipping point when evangelical Christians with good theology will awaken to the harmful nature of the Bush administration’s anti-environmental policies.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.