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Global Warming Plan
During one of the warmest winters in recent memory, global warming has again become a hot topic in Washington. President Bush released a plan on Thursday that he says will help the Earth's atmosphere but environmentalists are not convinced it will do much good.
Most scientists agree that certain types of gas fumes, or emissions, travel into the air and trap heat in the earth's atmosphere, causing climate changes that could lead to major weather changes including disastrous floods and droughts.
In an effort to reduce global warming, President Bush outlined a plan on Thursday to reduce harmful emissions by offering financial incentives to companies and individuals.
The President's voluntary plan seeks to cut emissions of gasses that cause acid rain, urban smog and mercury emissions. The plan also calls for future financial incentives for using alternative forms of energy and increasing conservation.
Also included is money for increased research and development for technology to reduce pollution. There are even financial incentives to encourage consumers to buy hybrid and fuel-cell cars and solar heaters.
President Bush irritated many foreign leaders last March when he rejected an international agreement called the Kyoto treaty. That treaty was signed by many of the world's largest countries. By signing it, each country agreed to reduce their population's total amount of harmful emissions.
The U.S. refused to sign it because President Bush thought it would hurt the U.S. economy. The administration also stuck by its position that scientists had not completely proven that specific greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming.
Environmentalists lashed out at the alternative plan, saying it would do nothing to curb global warming.
"This is a series of voluntary steps that are linked to the health of the economy in a way that makes America a fair-weathered friend of the global climate," a spokesman for the Sierra Club. "When the economy is booming, we'll do something modest; when it isn't, we'll dump global warming over the side."
The U.S. has four percent of the world's population, but produces about 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. By contrast, India has almost five times as many people, and emits only three percent.
Many think the fight against global warming will not be successful without U.S. support.
Most of the elements of Bush's plan still need to be approved by Congress.
-Contributed by Sarah Clune
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