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It's time for action



Published: Mon, June 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Philadelphia Inquirer: Challenged by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to help slow global warming, President Bush responded Tuesday that "my administration isn't waiting around to deal with the issue; we're acting."

He's not acting fast enough for scientists, states and industry. They want more than the weak voluntary measures and calls for more research that Bush has reluctantly offered up for four years.

The scientific academies of 11 countries, including the United States, released a joint letter Tuesday calling on all nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, which contribute to global warming.

"The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action," declares the letter, which also was signed by Brazil, India and China. Bush has long objected to the United States entering international global warming agreements because developing countries were exempted. Now, they, too, see the need to act.

The academies predicted that foot-dragging could cause larger and faster climate change, leading to more adverse effects, such as heat waves, flooding and drought, which would endanger the poorest, most vulnerable populations.

Technological ingenuity

In the absence of federal leadership, states are trying to step up. Seeing an opportunity for technological ingenuity, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has challenged the Silicon Valley to reduce California's greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent in the next 50 years. In the Northeast, business, environmental and government leaders are meeting this week to devise regional pollution reduction.

But these efforts don't substitute for a unified federal response.

That's, in fact, what many businesses want. Progressive companies view U.S. greenhouse-gas regulation as inevitable, just as it's happening in other countries. Uncertainty under the Bush administration makes long-term capital investment difficult, especially for utilities. Companies like Cinergy and Exelon say they cannot risk building billion-dollar plants that may have to be retooled in a few years.

The president says he wants all the answers before legislating. Science doesn't work like that. Enough is known to merit immediate changes in behavior.




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