U.S. Scientists Reject Bush Skeptism on Global Warming
lass=story>An American government report on climate change has undermined a key claim of Bush administration hard-liners and sceptics who have long disputed a link between carbon emissions and global warming.
The study by the federal Climate Change Science Programme concluded that the atmosphere was growing warmer and that there was "clear evidence of human influences".
Its critical finding was that there was no significant difference between rates of warming on the Earth's surface and in the atmosphere.
Previously, sceptics had seized on satellite measurements suggesting that the atmosphere was not heating up to bolster their argument that there was no link between climate change and man-made emissions.
But the report found that "there is no longer a discrepancy in the rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared with higher levels in the atmosphere". It also concluded that man-made emissions, mainly caused by burning coal and oil, were driving the change in the global climate.
"The observed patterns of change over the past 50 years cannot be explained by natural processes alone," it said.
The White House said the report showed that President George W Bush's decision to spend nearly $2 billion a year on climate monitoring and research was working.
However, officials cautioned that it was only the first of 21 assessments by the Climate Change Science Programme, which was set up in 2002 to tackle "unresolved questions". They said the administration remained committed to studying the other questions and to using voluntary rather than compulsory means to slow the growth in carbon emissions.
Lee Lane, the executive director of the Climate Policy Centre, which calls for curbs on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, said the debate was not yet resolved but that this was an important moment.
"Obviously there are still really big uncertainties in climate science, about how soon to expect warming, about what its consequences may be," he said. "But it narrows the range of the uncertainty.
"The report was unequivocal in saying that it is very difficult to aver that man-made climate change is not an important component of what is going on and what is showing up in the temperature record."
Mr Lane said the fact that the report was by an American body and not an international one might lead policy-makers in the Bush administration to take it more seriously.
He said it also undercut the perception that the administration was repressing climate science and "bowdlerising" scientific results.
"It shrinks the credibility of claims that the administration is trying to fiddle the science."
The White House was acutely embarrassed last year when it emerged that one of its aides on environmental issues had been rewriting official documents to play down links between climate change and man-made emissions.
America and Australia are the only two developed countries to have rejected the Kyoto protocol, which demands curbs on emissions.
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