Via Carpetbagger, we now know the conclusions of a study commissioned by the administration to resolve lingering discrepancies between upper-atmosphere and lower-atmosphere temperature trends. This development should prove particularly important because longstanding disagreement betweent the two datasets has given climate skeptics a relatively rational basis for dismissing the question of change altogether. The data no longer disagree
A scientific study commissioned by the Bush administration concluded yesterday that the lower atmosphere was indeed growing warmer and that there was “clear evidence of human influences on the climate system.”
The finding eliminates a significant area of uncertainty in the debate over global warming, one that the administration has long cited as a rationale for proceeding cautiously on what it says would be costly limits on emissions of heat-trapping gases.
If you think that this result will finally end the administration’s blockade of sensible climate policy, all that I can say is that you must be new here. Actually, as Benen points out the new study is actually part of a very long con (same story):
…White House officials noted that this was just the first of 21 assessments planned by the federal Climate Change Science Program, which was created by the administration in 2002 to address what it called unresolved questions. The officials said that while the new finding was important, the administration’s policy remained focused on studying the remaining questions and using voluntary means to slow the growth in emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide.
Sure, this new study is conclusive and credible, but there are 20 more studies to go before the White House is prepared to do something about the problem.
By the time the Climate Change Science Program is finished publishing its reports, and proving to the president’s satisfaction that global warming is a genuine crisis, Bush will practically be on his way out of office.
He isn’t kidding. When it comes to climate the solitary administration initiative that I can think of is Bush’s demand that Congress give him the authority to raise CAFE standards. Some have described that as a flip-flop or policy U-turn, but I don’t think that is the case. First, as a Josh Marshall reader points out the administration is hardly breaking new ground by asking for another extraconstitutional authority. Second, if the president has the power to raise CAFE standards then he also has the power to lower them.
So the president and his pals in Congress basically plan to do nothing about climate and they will continue to do nothing as long as they have studies pending. If the president starts to feel a bit bad about Alaskan villages disappearing he can just invite back science fiction’s John Grisham (that would be Michael Crichton, who is as formulaic and intellectually vapid about science as Grisham is about law) to reassure him. I honestly wish that these people were half as good at governing as they are at scheming.