George Bush has gone green! He now recognises that there are issues to be tackled and action to be taken to counter-act the effects of climate change.
The demand appears in a recent US memo to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It describes "modifying solar radiance" as "important insurance" against the threat of climate change. A more accurate description might be important insurance against the need to cut emissions.
The idea is to either put large solar reflectors out into space or clouds of reflective small particles into the upper atmosphere. The technology for the first idea is, at least, 50 years into the future, and the second idea would have the side effect of killing off the ozone layer for good.
Other ideas include spraying sea-water into the air (ensuring that any country downwind is likely to suffer crop failure and drought). Another idea would be to inject sulphate particles into the atmosphere with the likelihood of disrupted rainfall patterns. All these fixes appear more expensive than cutting the amount of energy we consume. None reduces the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which threatens to acidify the oceans, with grave consequences for the food chain.
The demand that money and research be diverted into these quixotic solutions is another indication that Bush's avowed conversion to the cause of cutting emissions is illusory. He is simply drumming up new business for his chums. In his State Of The Union, he called for raising the government's mandatory target for alternative transport fuels fivefold. This is wonderful news for the grain barons of the red states, who will grow the maize and rapeseed that will be turned into biofuel. It's a catastrophe for everyone else. With only 5% of Europe and the US's requirement for fuel comeing from biofuels, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that using land and crops to feed cars has, already, raised world food prices, with serious consequences for the poor. Biofuels fall into the same category as atmospheric smoke and mirrors - a means of avoiding difficult decisions.
However, credit (no matter how small) where it is due. At least president Bush has publicly acknowledged the problem unlike Wag TV in the UK who are completeing a 90 minute 'documentary' for Channel Four entitles "The Great Global Warming Swindle". Its basic thesis is summed up in a statement from the company that man-made climate change is "...a lie ... the biggest scam of modern times. The truth is that global warming is a multibillion-dollar worldwide industry: created by fanatically anti-industrial environmentalists; supported by scientists peddling scare stories to chase funding; and propped up by complicit politicians and the media ... The fact is that CO2 has no proven link to global temperatures ... solar activity is far more likely to be the culprit."
The director, Martin Durkin, had previously made a 'documentary' series for Channel Four in 1999, in which he peddled very similar arguments and therories. When the series was concluded, Channel Four was forced to make one of its more humiliating public apologies for the way scientists had been mis-represented in the series.
But with Bush's defection, the band of quacks making these claims is diminishing fast. Now the oil and coal companies that support such people have changed their target. Instead of trying to persuade us that man-made global warming is a myth, they are seeking to divert us into doing everything except the one thing that has to happen: reducing our consumption of fuel. It is another species of denial.
George Bush's purpose - to insulate these companies from the need to cut production - is unchanged. He has simply found a new way of framing the argument.