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Those that do not understand why Bush would relax these rules and harm the environment cite once again the tremendous amount of money that the utility industry has given to the Bush campaign as a potential reason for the rule changes. This does not mean that the writer is anti-Bush, however, as there is no guarantee that a different President in office would not have done exactly the same thing.
There is also a discussion by the Bush administration to weaken the rules that sewage treatment plants must abide by. This would allow more pollution to enter the water, as well as the pollution that would be in the air from the relaxed rules on air quality. The new standard would allow treatment plants to have an abundance of disease-causing microbes in the water that gets released, provided there was a reason, such as a heavy rainfall, that the treatment plant was overloaded. Previously, the plants had to remove these microbes, but this was costly. This would save the $90 billion to $190 billion that it would currently cost to meet the stricter requirements. There is, however, the issue of water quality. People swim, boat, and fish in the waters downstream from many of these plants, and drinking water also comes from many of the rivers and lakes (Return, 2003, 4).
While this change in rules is good for the utility industry, it is bad for the health and safety of Americans. It is also a problem for foreign policy for two reasons. First, other countries see that the United States has given itself a license to pollute the planet. It is only a matter of time before other countries will begin to adopt this opinion. This is especially true if the Kyoto Protocol is not signed by enough countries and is therefore no longer part of international law (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 87).
Second, countries that do business with the United States and choose not to allow themselves to pollute the environment will no longer want to be associated with America. The respect that many other nations have for the United States will drop, and there will likely be trade issues and tariffs placed against goods that come from a country that is ruining the air and water for everyone in the world with a lack of interest in human health that many people would find shocking and appalling. It is clear from the editorials and other sources presented that the American public does not want this kind of pollution in their air and water, and that President Bush is not doing this country or the world any favors by allowing it to happen (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 88).
Global warming itself will now be addressed in more depth as the discussion turns away from the current administration and its problems with global warming and environmental issues and looks more toward the issue of global warming itself, how it occurs, and what kinds of changes it is already causing to the environment (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 129). The scientific evidence is very strong that the activities that human beings are involved in produce many greenhouse gases. The most notable one of these is the carbon dioxide that comes from the burning of fossil fuels. This is seen to be the largest cause of global warming, not just in the United States but throughout the world as well.
Growing scientific evidence further states that global warming has already caused a rise in the average global level of the sea. This rise has been between four and eight inches and has occurred over the last 100 years (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 102). Now, the seas are currently rising at approximately one-tenth of an inch each and every year. While this might not seem like much and most people would discount that amount quite easily, there are many scientists that agree that global warming will be the cause of very serious human and environmental health impacts if there is a continuation of the burning of large quantities of fossil fuels (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 103; U.S., 2004, n.p.).
Many countries are upset with and concerned about the United States because it is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and most of this comes from the power plants that are still burning coal (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 87). In 1998, for example, 24% of the world's emissions of these gases came from the United States, which is a very large amount for one country to produce, even for a large country such as the United States, and was the largest amount produced from any country (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 98; U.S., 2004, n.p.). It was also estimated by the Energy Information Administration that in the years between 1990 and 2001 the GHG emissions in the United States grew over 12% with approximately 84% of the United States' total GHG emissions coming as carbon dioxide, which is one of the most dangerous gases (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 93).
Unfortunately for those that are worried about the dangers of GHGs, fossil fuels such as coal remain the cheapest source of energy, and so they will continue to be used and used often for all different types of applications. It was hoped in the past that there would be mandatory reductions made in the amount of GHGs that were produced by the United States, but any effort to do this, such as the Kyoto Protocol, has been soundly rejected. Instead, further research and efforts that are strictly voluntary at the promotion of more efficient energy has been the focus of the Bush administration.
The Kyoto Protocol, which the United States refused to sign, would have required all of the developed countries to reduce their emissions of GHGs approximately five to eight percent below what they were in 1990, and this would have had to be done by 2008-2012. Currently, however, there are no federal statutes that completely require reductions in the GHG level either by private industry or by federal agencies. There is, however, a significant level of encouragement for the further research and voluntary reductions within the private sector, and this trend is continuing. Even if it is assumed that the private sector industries will adopt voluntarily many of the strategies that are both cost-effective and will reduce GHGs, it is still projected by the EIA that emissions of carbon dioxide in the United States will reach 8,142 million metric tons by the year 2025 (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 94).
This not only seems like a huge number, but it is also 63% higher than the 4,988 million metric tons that were seen in 1990. In other words, even with the voluntary reductions that could be taken, the amount of GHGs will continue to grow quite steadily, where that amount would have gone down if the mandatory reductions were taken as discussed in the Kyoto Protocol (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 97). Many scientists feel that choosing not to sign that document will have very serious, lasting, and detrimental effects on the United States and the rest of the world. While scientists that work closely with the Bush Administration initially wanted to say that the carbon dioxide levels were not a problem, they are not being forced to concede that there is definitive evidence to the contrary. The carbon dioxide levels are strongly increasing, and this is a direct result of fossils fuel usage. All of this has been cited as and proven to be one of the most important causes if not the most important cause where global warming is concerned (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 88).
In 2002 the Bush Administration submitted its Climate Action Report to the United Nations, in which it was forced to admit, although grudgingly, that there are indeed risks from global warming. The administration's report also predicted that the GHG emissions in the United States would grow by 43% in the years between 2000 and 2020 if the current policies that the Bush administration has in place right now are not changed (Healy and Tapick, 2004, 92). More recently than that, the Bush Administration submitted a report to Congress in July of 2004 that dealt with the Climate Change Science Program. This report came with a letter from the Secretaries of Commerce and Energy as well as the science advisor for the Administration and is mandated by the 1990 Global Change Research Act (U.S., 2004, n.p.).
For the first time in that report, the Administration had to acknowledge the belief that the higher levels of carbon dioxide that are coming from human sources is honestly the most likely reason that global warming has been on the rise since 1950. However, the Bush Administration also stated that it was not going to change the approach that it was using through which it chose to delay any actions that…[continue]
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