Yesterday, the Bush administration issued “the strongest endorsement yet of a global scientific consensus on the causes of climate change.” The administration buckled to a court order and released “a fresh summary of federal and independent research” which echoes the findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and predicts:
An increased frequency and severity of heat waves is expected, leading to more illness and death, particularly among the young, elderly, frail and poor.” It added that deaths from cold would decline, but said uncertainties on both projections made it impossible to characterize the overall risk.
While President Bush’s chief scientific adviser has previously expressed strong agreement for the IPCC conclusion that there is a 90 percent chance that human activity contributes to “global temperature increase[s],” the administration has been reluctant to officially acknowledge the consequences and causes of climate change.
Significantly, this report contradicts the allegations of climate change deniers and pressures the Bush administration to stop dragging its feet on climate change. Kassie Siegel, climate program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued the Bush administration and forced them to complete the new study, suggests that the administration grudgingly conceded to the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community:
For almost eight years they denied and downplayed the science. It sounds like they’ve been forced to acknowledge the consensus science.
Unfortunately, the administration’s acknowledgment may be too little, too late. As Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) points out, “the three-year delay of this report is sadly fitting for an administration that has wasted seven years denying the real threat of global climate change. In these lost years, we could have slowed global warming and advanced clean energy solutions, but instead America’s climate change strategy has been at best rhetorical, not real.”