Sure, it’s hotter but lets not get drastic.

What’s the scientific community saying these days? Well, for one thing, last year’s temperature increases were caused by greenhouse gases, not natural conditions.

Greenhouse gas emissions — not El Nino or other natural phenomena — pushed U.S. temperatures for 2006 close to a record high, government climate scientists reported on Tuesday.

The annual average U.S. temperature in 2006 was 2.1 degrees F (1.16C) above the 20th century average and the ninth consecutive year of above-normal U.S. temperatures, researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote…

“What we found was a very strong footprint of the observed warming, consistent with the greenhouse gas effect,” Hoerling said in a telephone interview.

Preliminary data suggested that 2006 was a record warm year for the contiguous 48 U.S. states but updated numbers showed last year was 0.08 degrees F (.04C) cooler than 1998.

For most states, 2006 ranked among the 10 hottest years since 1895. Globally, 2005 was the warmest, edging out 1998, with 2006 ranked about sixth for the world, Hoerling said.

So, that’s bad news, right? Not so fast, according to the Bush Administration.

Curbs needed to fight global warming could be less drastic than a 50-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 favored by the European Union, the United States’ chief climate negotiator said on Monday…

Watson said Washington was not yet able to give figures for the extent of curbs needed, either worldwide or in the United States. “We’re working through what that might be on a national level, doing analysis,” he said.

Washington, which is outside Kyoto, says it has devoted $37 billion to climate change related activities since 2001, and says new technologies such as hydrogen and clean coal may help. Bush said Kyoto would cost too much and wrongly excluded targets for poor countries.

Watson said that a U.S.-hosted meeting of major emitters in Washington on Sept 27-28 to define long-term cuts in emissions would contribute to a U.N. drive for a new global climate change treaty by the end of 2009 to succeed Kyoto.

“It’s meant to contribute to an agreement by 2009,” he said. The August 27-31 talks in Vienna are also looking at ways to widen Kyoto to include all major emitters beyond 2012. Some delegates say Bush’s talks may be a rival to the U.N. track.

“(Bush) obviously will not be in office then (at the end of 2009) but what he’s trying to do is to set the stage,” Watson said. Bush’s second term ends in January 2009.

Set the stage, indeed.

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