Interviewing Energy secretary, Blitzer failed to explain that Bush policy could allow emissions increase


On the February 22 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer allowed Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to tout President Bush's environmental record by stating that "this president has put us on a path of reducing the greenhouse gas intensity of our economy by 18 percent" without explaining that reducing "greenhouse gas intensity" is not the same as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and that a reduction in intensity could occur even as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

Bush announced a plan to "Reduce the Greenhouse Gas Intensity of the U.S. Economy by 18 Percent in the Next Ten Years" in February 2002. According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, greenhouse gas intensity is "the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to economic output expressed in gross domestic product (GDP)." The Pew Center notes that, while using this ratio "minimizes economic impact by allowing emissions to rise or fall with economic output," it also "provides no assurance that a given level of environmental protection will be achieved since the degree of environmental protection is measured in relation to GDP." By the Pew Center's calculations, an 18-percent reduction in emissions intensity by 2012 will "allow actual emissions to increase 12 percent" in that time.

Additionally, Blitzer failed to challenge Bodman's claim that global warming has been proven "in large measure because of investments this president has made." In testimony before the Government Oversight and Government Reform Committee on January 30, Drew T. Shindell, a researcher at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, asserted that a press release he had written on global warming had been "delayed, altered and watered down" and that he had been told "releases were being delayed because two political appointees and the White House are now reviewing all climate related press releases." Shindell further complained of "a series of actions that attempted to suppress communication of climate science to the public" and added:

Suppression of results demonstrating ever-increasing scientific knowledge of the principles underlying global warming, of the data demonstrating its rapidity and its consequences, and exaggeration of the remaining scientific uncertainties, certainly gave the appearance that scientific evidence that could undermine a rationale for inaction on climate change was being targeted.

Blitzer did not ask Bodman about Shindell's testimony.

From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the February 22 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: What do you say to Senator [John] McCain [AZ], a Republican presidential candidate?

BODMAN: I would say this to Senator McCain -- that, with all due respect, I disagree with him. I think that this president has put us on a path of reducing the greenhouse gas intensity of our economy by 18 percent between -- I think when we started in 2002, for 10 years, up to 2012. We're on that path. We are, I think, making excellent progress on that.

This has been something this president has taken very seriously, since back in the year 2001. I think he was correct to reject the Kyoto agreement because it didn't include developing nations, particularly China and India. Those have to be a part of anything that we do.

BLITZER: Is there any doubt, any lingering doubt in the administration, in the Department of Energy, about global warming right now, because, as you know, some critics have suggested the science still has not been 100 percent proven?

BODMAN: Well, I think it's been proven to my satisfaction, for sure. And it's been proven in large measure because of investments that this president made. That's what's something that doesn't seem to get in the story.

BLITZER: So Al Gore's concern -- he's about, potentially, to win an Academy Award Sunday night for his Inconvenient Truth -- his documentary.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
Wolf Blitzer
The Situation Room
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