Bush dithers, Arctic withers

Published October 30, 2004 4:57PM (EDT)

European scientists leaked to the New York Times excerpts of a major new report about the impacts of global warming on the Arctic. Among its conclusions: The retreat of the Arctic ice sheet could be devastating to polar bears, ice-dwelling seals and the native people who eat them. The report was due to be published on Nov. 9, but apparently the scientists felt that voters should know about it before Nov. 2.

The study finds that "while some historical changes in climate have resulted from natural causes and variations, the strength of the trends and the patterns of change that have emerged in recent decades indicate that human influences, resulting primarily from increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, have now become the dominant factor," according to Andrew C. Revkin's Page A-1 story in Saturday's New York Times.

The conclusions of the four-year study -- commissioned by eight nations with Arctic territory, and based on research by almost 300 scientists -- are yet another rebuke of the Bush administration's do-nothing policy on global warming. By embracing fringe science, Bush has maintained that the verdict is still out on whether human activities are a major factor in the world's heating up.

The European scientists, offering their own October surprise, apparently concluded that the polar bear couldn't take four more years.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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