WASHINGTON — In his State of the Union address last month, President Bush went out of his way to stress that the challenge of global warming would be met by new technologies.
He was undoubtedly aware that soon afterward would come a report by a distinguished international panel of scientists saying that global warming is here and now, and primarily caused by human activities.
And then the words that carbon-burning industries hate to hear – that the world can be saved only by a "really massive reduction in emissions," in the words of Richard Somerville, a lead author of the study.
To the hundreds of scientists on the international panel, the menace of global warming is unequivocal. But to the industries that produce the emissions from the smokestacks and tailpipes, nothing is unequivocal.
Some advocacy groups have disclosed that the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which receives funding from Exxon Mobil, offered scientists $10,000 each to contribute essays critiquing the international study.
An AEI visiting scholar, Kenneth Green, explained that his group was examining the policy debate on global warming, not the science.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken the lead in proposing tougher emissions standards, and several states have followed. It may be that the states will move in where the Bush administration fears to tread.
Currently, the international group is left with its dire warning that global warming is here and now, with all of its consequences.
• Daniel Schorr is a senior news analyst at National Public Radio.