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Ignore Our President: Global Warming Is Real, and Caused By Man
When the world's foremost climatologists reported last week that global warming was real, caused by human activity, proceeding faster than thought, already causing serious environmental damage, and, if left unchecked, could threaten the future of life forms on this planet, the Bush Administration responded just as we have grown to expect: It didn't say much, or anything new.
To the many sportsmen who wonder why politics is such a big part of reporting on conservation issues, there can be no better--or sadder--example. Whether you hunt and fish on private leases or public lands, the future of your sports are linked directly to the health of the greater ecosystem in which you roam, boat, or wade. Just as selenium leaching from waste rock at a phosphate mine 100 miles away can kill the trout on your stretch of private water, a rising global temperature will not stop at your posted signs. And that's why it isn't enough for a politician--especially a president--to proclaim his love just for hunting and fishing. If he doesn't show as much love for the environment that makes fish and game possible, he's a bigger threat to sportsmen than any animal rights group.
This president and the congress that blindly followed him for six years have a lot to answer for to all sportsmen. In the words of former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, this may have been the first administration in history that was “anti-conservation.”
And they didn't try to hide it. Vice-President Dick Cheney set the tone with his famously sneering comment in 2001 that "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy."
They backed it up by inviting lobbyists from their largest campaign contributors--oil, gas, coal and other energy industries--to write an energy policy that ignored conservation and needlessly swept aside long-held environmental protections to allow more production and more consumption of fossil fuels.
And when the world's top climate scientists issued one report after another that burning fossil fuels was the primary cause of global warming, the Bush Administration's reaction was scorn, ridicule, and a gag order. In recent testimony to Congress the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the most respected scientific groups in the world, reported repeated attempts by the administration to change scientific findings on the subject, including deleting references to the potential fallout from rising temperatures in scientific reports, omitted the terms ‘global warming' and ‘climate change' in correspondence, and barring scientists from speaking with reporters without the presence of a political operative. Their entire report is available here.
Any time science conflicted with ideology in this administration, science always lost. When Bush wanted insight into global warming, he invited science fiction writer Michael Crichton to the White House for a chat – because Crichton's novel “State of Fear” was a thriller about scheming scientists using faulty global warming disaster scenarios to manipulate the government. Meanwhile, instead of asking for a chat with the nation's leading climate scientist - James E. Hansen, longtime director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies - Bush's administration had him gagged because his research showed global warming was real and a serious threat.
In discussions over how history will judge the presidency of George W. Bush, most debate focuses on his foreign policy, fiscal policy, and his style of politics. But the far more lasting impact his tenure will have on sportsmen will be his policy on the environment. It will not be a happy legacy for the nation – and especially for sportsmen.
There's little doubt the damage done to fish and game through the policies set in place by Bush over the last six years will take many more years to repair. We should start now.