NewsHour coverage of President Bush's environmental plan
A recent study on possible global warming effects
Extra's coverage of global warming
The State Department: Global Warming Changes
Intergovernmental panel on climate change
Blair Brown, Age
President Bush recently broke a campaign promise that could harm the environment for many years to come. When he was running for president last year, Mr. Bush promised that he would work to control the release of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air.
However, last month President Bush rejected the Kyoto Treaty, an international agreement created in 1997 to put a gradual halt to global warming. The treaty requires countries to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide, and gives a timeline for industrialized countries to meet specific targets for emissions reductions.
The last century was the warmest in 1,000 years, and the seven warmest years of the century occurred after 1990. Continuing at this rate, the world could be as much as 10 degrees warmer by 2100, with greater increase of warming to come. Such warming could cause worldwide heat waves, droughts, flooding tropical diseases, and the destruction of agricultural resources.
The United States represents a mere six percent of the world population, yet we discharge more than a quarter of all toxic gases. The U.S. releases more toxic gases into the air than any other nation on the planet. One would think that it is part our responsibility to clean up the mess we've left in the air, but President Bush is more concerned right now about our weakening economy and the number of people employed by coal and gas companies.
Ten world leaders recently voiced their concerns about President Bush's decision in a letter to Time magazine. Signers included former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former Presidents Ford and Carter, former U.S. Senator and astronaut John Glenn, primate researcher Jane Goodall, former CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite, and physicist Stephen Hawking.
"There are many strategies for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions without slowing economic growth," the letter said. "In fact, the spread of advanced, cleaner technology is more of an economic opportunity than a peril. The future of our children -- and their children -- depends on the resolve that you and other world leaders show."
Bush's decision to abandon the Kyoto agreement astounded environmental leaders at the United Nations and across the world. "The U.S. cannot sit in glorious isolation," said Deputy Prime Minister of Environment for England, John Prescott. "The challenge for the rest of the world is to persuade the American people that the threat of global warming is real and that the Kyoto targets are realistic because there are flexible ways to achieve them."
We need to clean up our dirty American act, and start working with other countries to preserve our sanctuary of nature. If we don't, we may be in danger of destroying much more than the money in our pockets.
Copyright © MacNeil-Lehrer Productions All Rights Reserved