From the AP, Nov. 15:
Environmentalists sued the Bush administration Tuesday for failing to produce a report on global warming’s impact on the country’s environment, economy and public health.
The lawsuit seeks to compel the U.S. Climate Change Science Program to issue the national assessment, which should contain the most recent scientific data on global warming and projections for its future impacts. The plaintiffs claim the government must complete such a report every four years under the Global Change Research Act of 1990.
“Global warming is one of the most serious threats facing humanity today,” according to the complaint. Without the report, decision makers and the public “are without one of the most important tools to grapple with this complex, potentially overwhelming and yet all important issue.”
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which was named in the lawsuit, had not received the complaint Tuesday and could not comment on it, said spokesman Ben Fallon.
But Fallon defended the administration’s record on combating global warming, pointing to increased funding for alternative energy research and partnerships with other countries.
“We feel very positive about our record on climate change,” Fallon said. “The president has been focused on results-driven research and looking for practical ways to address climate change in ways that aren’t damaging to the economy.”
Officials at the Climate Change Science Program, also named in the complaint, did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco by the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
The assessment, which plaintiffs allege was due in November 2004, is the “first step in crafting solutions to the devastating consequences of climate change if we don’t act now,” said Julie Teel, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who has also been calling on the administration to issue the assessment, expressed support for the lawsuit.
“It’s the right time to push Washington to grapple with this issue,” Kerry said in a statement. “For too many years, action on global climate change has been stopped dead in its tracks by government foot-dragging, hiding information and smothering science.”
Environmentalists have accused the administration of trying to suppress dissemination of the previous assessment, issued in 2000, which predicted a dramatic rise in catastrophic storms, floods, droughts and heat-related deaths.
The lawsuit comes as experts from around the world meet in Nairobi for the two-week U.N. climate conference, where they have been trying to set a course for future controls on global greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists attribute at least some of the past century’s 1-degree rise in global temperatures to the accumulation in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, byproducts of power plants, automobiles and other fossil fuel-burning sources.
See our last post on global climate destabilization.