NY Times Calls White House Ersatz Global Warming Plan

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman assails Bush Administration global warming plan in this Feb. 15,2002 editorial.

Published: 16-Feb-2002

Alert shoppers know that an extra word in a product's description can make a big difference, and rarely for the better. Apologies to connoisseurs of Velveeta, but most of us don't regard "cheese food" as a good substitute for plain ordinary cheese.

To the unwary, yesterday's pledge by the Bush administration to reduce "greenhouse gas intensity" by 18 percent may have sounded like a pledge to reduce greenhouse gases, the emissions (mainly carbon dioxide, released by burning fossil fuels) that cause global warming. In fact, that's the way it was reported in some news articles. But the extra word makes all the difference. In fact, the administration proposed to achieve almost nothing; consistent with that goal, it also announced specific policies that are trivial in scope and will have virtually no effect.

What is this thing called greenhouse gas intensity? It is the volume of greenhouse gas emissions divided by gross domestic product. The administration says that it will reduce this ratio by 18 percent over the next decade. But since most forecasts call for G.D.P. to expand 30 percent or more over the same period, this is actually a proposal to allow a substantial increase in emissions.



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