Monday, June 04, 2007

George W. Bush: "I'm the denier"

As the IPCC reports were released, I expected there to be a lot of the typical "false balance" reporting from the mainstream media. But that didn't happen. The stories about the IPCC reports were straightforward, maybe even a little gloomy, and contained no equivalent amounts of text from the climate change denier crowd. It seems the main media outlets of the U.S. instantly decided Singer and Lindzen et al. were no longer worth quoting. With a few notable exceptions.

But there's one climate change personality the press still treats with unwarranted credibility: George W. Bush.

Now Bush isn't really a denier. He's careful not to say climate change isn't happening or that mankind isn't responsible. He just says we there can't be any forced emission reductions. To me, that makes him a "denier in spirit" because the result is the same as if the denier crowd was controlling the debate: nothing should be done to stop global warming.

In advance of the G8 summit, it looked like some serious pressure was getting put on Bush to do something. First there were all kinds of unflattering leaks about how the U.S. was resisting the text in a statement on climate change. Then direct political pressure was applied from people such as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who, while in Berlin, said Bush should make a major deal, as quoted in this Reuters story by Erik Kirschbaum:
"The science is clear, the challenge is undeniable," Pelosi said. "We have to work together, though, to reach a solution."

Pelosi met with German Prime Minster Merkel, a meeting which signaled Germany was willing to put up a fight, according to this International Herald Tribune story.

In typical Bush administration fashion, a big speech was rolled out that sounded good but had no substance at all. And, as illustrated by the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin, the mainstream media bought it and sold it back to the public.
The White House yesterday showed that it still knows how to play the American press like a harp.
President Bush yesterday put forth a new proposal on climate change that is most newsworthy for its attempt to muddy the debate about the issue and derail European and U.N. plans for strict caps on emissions.....But a change in rhetoric was enough to generate some headlines about the administration's attention to the issue: Bush Proposes Goals on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, reads the New York Times headline. Bush Proposes Talks on Warming, says The Washington Post's front page. Bush offers to take climate lead, proclaims the Los Angeles Times.

Please read the whole piece by Froomkin to see just how cynical this Bush speech was.

David Roberts over at grist.org comes to a similar conclusion.
As you can see -- and as you would expect -- this announcement from Bush is not a genuine change of heart on climate change. The U.S. still will not agree to any emission reduction targets. It will not agree that the developed countries bear primary responsibility for climate change. It will not sign on to the growing consensus among developed nations about how to tackle the problem

Joe Brewer of the Rockridge Institute dissects the framing of Bush's speech.