Smirk of the Union: The Global Warming Debate Shifts Some More

Bill Scher

As we’ve said before, nothing that President Bush says in a State of the Union address can been taken at face value. But sometimes, there’s import beneath the insincerity.

And there is import in this line: “And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.”

This is unquestionably insincere. The Oilman-In-Chief has pledged support for clean energy in every one of his past State of the Union addresses, and has never followed through.

Further, his support for an “international agreement” — not a new position but new for a State of the Union address — provides easy excuses for anti-environmental conservatives, who use hesitancy from China and India as an excuse to prevent America from leading.

And let’s not forget not all global warming agreements are created equal. A “compromise” package can fall short of what’s necessary to avert a climate crisis, letting corporations continue to pollute the atmosphere without penalty, giving conservatives political cover, and dampening the urgency for sufficient action.

Yet, it is quite notable that Bush feels compelled to claim, however insincere, in front of a national audience that he supports an international agreement, as it was that wannabe elder statesman Newt Gingrich was compelled to back his own disingenuous global warming package.

We (with a bit of help from Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore) have not only resolved that global warming is happening, forced prominent conservatives to relegate deniers to the fringe, and moved the debate towards what needs to be done.

In saying that an “international agreement” is required, Bush has implicitly conceded that averting the climate crisis requires a major response by our government, and cannot be resolved through voluntary efforts by corporations.

The parameters of the debate have positively shifted again.

Sure, conservatives are trying to turn into the skid and regain their balance in a debate they are losing badly.

But it’s another reminder that the forces of obstruction are on their heels.

It is not the time to settle for something that doesn’t get the job done. It is time to establish the mandate for what needs to be done.

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