Blues for Bush
It's a question I was going to ask in a week or so as the man prepares to leave office.
But following the announcement of a major US move on protecting coral reefs and special areas of seafloor in the Pacific, it seems right to ask it now: what is the second President Bush's environmental legacy?
Reaction to this week's announcement ranged from the Pew Environment Group's applause for Mr Bush's "historical action" to the Center for Biological Diversity's contention that in the end it meant nothing without cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
In recent weeks, the president's administration has been under fire for denying endangered species protection to the ribbon seal (an echo of its earlier stance on the polar bear), over plans that would apparently allow developers to build in forests and permit surface mining close to mountain streams - and for the "one-minute-to-midnight" nature of this rule making.
For some observers such as the Huffington Post's Lincoln Mitchell, the administration's record on greenhouse gas emissions means that President Bush will be remembered for "a studied, and malignant, neglect of major issues such as climate change".
But for some others, including the Guardian newspaper, the Pacific marine measures are enough to "recast his environmental record".
A few other issues that bear on the legacy question might, depending on your point of view, include:
- the impact of US overseas aid policies regarding condom use on population growth
- apparent contradictions between the US accepting scientific accounts of man-made climate change while withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol; yet, for all that, seeing little growth in greenhouse gas emissions [pdf link] during Mr Bush's time in office
- US leadership of an initiative that could bridge the divide between pro- and anti-whaling nations, possibly involving a partial lifting of the global hunting moratorium, but possibly also reducing the number of whales killed each year
- fisheries policies that are among the world's most progressive
- strengthening of domestic clean air legislation
- support for genetically modified foods
- support for nuclear power
So what do you think?