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Denying uncertainty makes life so much easier, as many have discovered when it comes to climate change. Between skeptics' insistence that global warming is just hot air and radical environmentalists' advice to start selling the beachfront property, responses to climate change tend to be predicated on claims of absolute knowledge. Who wants to deal with the messy reality? There is plenty of evidence that temperatures are rising and will continue to do so but lots of uncertainty about the details and amount of future change.
The good news is that politicians are finally confronting the messiness. Following the environmental summit this past July in Bonn, Germany, every nation but one is pressing ahead with the Kyoto Protocol, which caps industrialized countries' output of greenhouse gases. The U.S. is pressing ahead with a close approximation to nothing, although on June 11 President George W. Bush stated, "I've asked my advisers to consider approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." A policy could materialize by the next summit this month in Marrakech, Morocco. Already some 31 resolutions, amendments and bills¿from endorsements of Kyoto to modifications of the Clean Air Act¿are kicking around Capitol Hill.
This article was originally published with the title Climate of Uncertainty.