Bush expands climate research


WASHINGTON, AP

President George W. Bush is calling for expanded research into global warming along with a fresh proposal to seek technologies that can curb greenhouse gases.

Before starting a six-day, five-nation trip to Europe, where his environmental policies have come under attack, Bush was announcing new initiatives Monday to study the rise in the Earth’s temperature.

Scientists attribute the phenomenon to heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The gases result in part from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels.

The president was proposing an effort to study global warming and bolster coordination among research institutions throughout the world, aides said. He also was calling for a separate initiative that would fund research for the development of new technologies to cut greenhouse gases.

Bush hopes to ease tension with U.S. allies by agreeing that there is a problem — even if his solution lacks the regulatory teeth of the international pact negotiated in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, requiring industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gases by specified amounts.

Even before Bush unveiled his initiatives, there was new criticism of his approach toward the global warming.

The Environmental Defense Fund said any proposal without mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions would be inadequate.

“The threat from global warming will continue to grow until these gases are brought under control,” said the group’s chief scientist, Michael Oppenheimer.

In Spain, Bush’s first stop, thousands of demonstrators marched on Sunday to protest, among other things, his stance on global warming.

A banner stretched across a speaker’ platform in Madrid said: “No to interventionism. No to neoliberal globalization. No to the destruction of the climate.”

A report by the National Academy of Sciences presented to the White House last week concluded that the Earth’s temperature is rising, mainly because of human activities, and said dire climate changes could occur this century.

Bush had expressed skepticism about global warming and requested the report to determine the science behind the phenomenon.

The president and several Cabinet members were preparing a new position on global warming that, unlike Kyoto’s mandates, offers mostly voluntary initiatives and flexible emissions caps for polluters.