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[greenyes] Climate Disruption - Bush Refusal to Act - Economic Impact or Impact on Campaign Contributions

REUTERS - 8/11/05

Global warming may take economic toll
By Sarah Edmonds

WASHINGTON, Aug 11 (Reuters) - The White House's refusal to consider
government caps on greenhouse gas emissions may save the U.S. economy
short-term pain, but experts warn unchecked global heat could exact a heavy
long-run toll.

"While there are costs associated with reducing emissions, there are
certainly costs associated with not doing anything," said Kevin Forbes, head
of Catholic University's economics department. "It would be, in my opinion,
folly not to try to do something."

According to Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences,
earth surface temperatures could be up to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit above 1990
levels by 2100, potentially worsening storms, raising sea levels and eating
away ice caps.

After shunning the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases, which President
George W. Bush said would have "wrecked" the economy, the United States last
month joined Japan, Australia, China, India and South Korea in a pact
focused on technology-sharing, without set targets.

The world's richest economy is also its biggest carbon dioxide emitter,
pushing out 5.8 billion metric tons in 2003. China, in second place, emitted
3.5 billion, with all of Western Europe at 3.9 billion.

U.S. emissions are projected to keep rising, despite plans to lower carbon
intensity, or use per unit of economic growth.

The White House wants cuts to be voluntary and resists measures that would
impose restrictions on output of such gases as carbon dioxide and nitrous
oxide, seen as culprits behind global warming, saying this would hurt
economic growth.

"We oppose policies like mandatory caps on emissions, that would achieve
reductions by raising energy costs, slowing the economy, and putting
Americans out of work," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

While experts agree new technologies are vital, many see the economic
argument as spurious. Higher costs may also be a necessary evil since they
spur innovation and companies will act more aggressively if inaction hits
where it counts.


While the United States can't fix the problem alone, Reilly said it should
lead the way with meaningful steps.

"I think it's one of the great tragedies of our era that the administration
hasn't risen to the occasion on this. It's committing future generations to
extraordinary costs and problems," said James Gustave Speth, dean of the
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "In the same breath, I have
to say I wish the prior administration had done more itself."

The great unknown is the price of inaction.

"There are real economic costs associated with not taking action, including
changes to water supply infrastructure, industrial capital, like pipelines,
and with human health," said Janet Peace, senior research fellow, economics
at Pew.

"With droughts, there's a cost. With increased flooding, there's a cost
(and) with increased hurricanes and tornadoes."


Peter Anderson, President
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