I believe history will provide a more clear-eyed verdict on this president’s leadership than the anger of current critics would suggest. President Bush will be viewed as a far-sighted leader who confronted the key test of the 21st century.
On the path set by Bush’s do-nothing climate policies, future generations — including historians — will be living in a ruined climate for centuries, with brutal summer-long heat waves, endless droughts, unstoppable sea level rise, mass extinction, and on and on. If we do stop catastrophic global warming, it will only be because succeeding presidents completely reject Bush’s approach. Either way, President Bush will be viewed as a short-sighted leader who ignored the key test of the 21st century.
Rove actually has the chutzpah to claim:
On energy, the environment, and climate change, he is developing a new paradigm. Emphasizing technology, increased energy-efficiency partnerships, and resource diversification, his policies are improving energy security and slowing the growth of greenhouse gases without economy-breaking mandates and regulation. The president who won criticism by rejecting the failed approach of Kyoto has implemented policies that enabled the United States to grow its economy by 3.1 percent and reduce the absolute amount of CO2 emissions (by 1.3 percent).
With $80 a barrel oil, a record trade deficit in oil, and years of opposition to higher fuel economy standards, claiming Bush has improved energy security–or even tried to address it–is Orwellian. And cherry-picking one year out of the entire Bush record — where weather and energy prices combined to temporarily reduce emissions – to claim that his nonexistent climate policies have had any postive impact would be laughable if the consequences of Bush non-policies weren’t so tragic.
The world knows Bush has been feverishly working behind the scenes for years to block any new international emissions accord. And, of course, Bush famously reneged on his 2000 campaign pledge to regulate utility greenhouse gas. His climate summit later this month to develop aspirational targets is nothing more than a PR stunt. Only action, not rhetoric, will matter now to historians.