On Friday 150 nations agreed to meet to further discuss what we can do to alter the rate of global climate change. The U.S. will not participate in these discussions and negotiations. Rather, the Bush administration has apparently accepted to meet in watered-down "exploratory dialogue" sessions about what to do about global warming, greenhouse emissions (of which we contribute 25% of the world's total, with only 5% of the population), and climate change. I actually agree that the Kyoto Protocol is not the best plan that should be implemented, but without the U.S. taking part in negotiations how will anything worthwhile ever happen?
This is, of course, no surprise, since the administration rejects the science behind climate change studies and simply says it needs another study (it is not happy with the other studies it commissioned, which conclude there really is something to human contributions to climate change). Bush is committed to big business and big oil, so naturally his administration will do nothing that may affect the bottom-line of various industries, even though some of those same industries are seeing record profits and continued tax breaks. The administration has in the past actually admitted that humans do have some affect on global warming (forgive me, at the moment I cannot find the reference), although it refuses to take any real action. As more data has been collected and computer simulations become more detailed and reliable, predictions of what the consequences of continued global warming are continue to suggest some action must be taken, now. Putting in new pollution standards, making investments into existing technologies such as new filtering systems for various pollutants (for factories and power plants, for example), investing in renewable energy sources and more fuel efficient vehicles, and so on, will, in the long-term, be much more cost effective than waiting for higher ocean levels that will begin (actually, has begun) to cover high-priced coastlines, the spread of diseases into regions that have not been exposed to them before, drought, changes in water supplies, air quality, stronger storms (is this past hurricane season going to become the norm?), and altered agricultural production, to name a few.
Climate change, of course, happens naturally, and the warming trend we are seeing now is almost certainly due to natural causes. I don't think many people would likely disagree with this statement. However, the science absolutely suggests the changes are not entirely natural, but to some extent due to humans. No one can put a percentage on our contribution at this point, but if there are steps we know we can take to help limit the extent of climate change, then we need to step up and do it. The scenarios that could take place just in the next few decades are not what we should wish for for our children to have to deal with. The military has supposedly already begun to develop contingencies and strategies for international conflicts that may develop due to consequences involving climate change, particularly in those regions of the world where water supplies may be greatly disturbed. Is this what we want? Should we not do something, anything, that may help reduce the effects if it is within our power to do so? Perhaps in two years when someone else is in the White House, but I'm not holding my breath until then.