Despite growing scientific evidence that humans are to blame for warming the planet — rising sea level, melting glaciers, more intense droughts — polls show the number of Americans who believe global warming is happening is at its lowest point in 12 years.It should be noted that the Washington Post/ABC News poll Sandell cited was conducted between November 12 and 15, before the revelations of e-mails from Britain’s Climatic Research Unit which suggest conniving among left-wing scientists to manipulate data and silence critics.
Since the story broke November 20, ABC has failed to mention ClimateGate on either its morning or evening news programs, although it was mentioned during the roundtable on ABC’s This Week back on November 29. MRC President Brent Bozell on Friday sent a New York Times clipping about the scandal to ABC News headquarters (via an eco-friendly bicycle courier), in case the reason for their silence was simple ignorance.
The scientists ABC quoted both criticized the Obama administration from the left. Columbia’s Jeffrey Sachs argued that the rest of the world is rightly demanding U.S. leadership since we are “responsible for so much of the rise of greenhouse gases that have taken place.” And Richard Somerville of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography suggested Obama’s proposal to cut U.S. emissions by 83% by 2050 was “not enough.”
Somerville argued: “There's a limit on how much gases you can put in before Mother Nature shows you what the climate system will do. And Mother Nature bats last.”
Here’s a transcript of the December 6 Good Morning America segment that aired at about 8:08am ET:
NEWS ANCHOR JOHN BERMAN: What's being called the most important climate summit in a decade opens tomorrow in Denmark, where 192 countries will try to make a deal to fight climate change. ABC's Clayton Sandell is in Copenhagen. Good morning, Clayton.
CORRESPONDENT CLAYTON SANDELL: Good morning, John. This is the largest climate summit ever, 15,000 participants. But the world leaders and delegates coming together here in Copenhagen are still very much apart when it comes to how to tackle global warming.
They're coming from across the globe, including more than 100 world leaders. But it's the U.S. that is at the center of the storm.
PROFESSOR JEFFREY SACHS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: We may get indignant in the U.S., "Oh, why aren't China, India, and so forth, doing their things?" But the rest of the world is saying, "What are you talking about? [pictures of smokestacks] You're responsible for so much of the rise of greenhouse gases that have taken place 'til now. When are you going to show some leadership?"
SANDELL: On Friday, President Obama pushed back his arrival, saying he'd be more effective at the end of the conference, when most world leaders will be here. He's coming armed with a proposal to cut U.S. emissions 17% by 2020, 83% by 2050. But the U.S. can't do it alone.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There can be no solution to this challenge without the efforts of both China and the United States.
SANDELL: China and India now say they will slow their rate of emissions, though total emissions will still increase. Scientists say the proposed cuts are not enough to keep Earth's climate from uncharted territory.
RICHARD SOMERVILLE, SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY: There's a limit on how much gases you can put in before Mother Nature shows you what the climate system will do. And Mother Nature bats last.
SANDELL: Another sticking point is over how much wealthy nations that pollute the most should pay to help poor nations adapt to a warming world.
Mr. Obama's toughest challenge may be at home. The Senate would have to ratify any climate treaty, and there's strong opposition, with many believing it would be a job-killer.
KAREN HARBERT, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Let's go do it in a way that is sensible, that allows us to be successful and that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, And there's a way to do it, and there's a way to actually harm the economy.
SANDELL: Then, there is the public. Despite growing scientific evidence that humans are to blame for warming the planet — rising sea level, melting glaciers, more intense droughts — polls show the number of Americans who believe global warming is happening is at its lowest point in 12 years.
Now, the President will be here on December 18 with other world leaders. But most experts say the talks here will only result in a political agreement, more of a blueprint to fight global warming and not a legally binding treaty. That may have to wait until the next major climate summit in Mexico at the end of 2010. John?
BERMAN: Thanks, Clayton. Clayton Sandell in Copenhagen.