The environmental warning flags raised by the British government this week are further evidence of a growing split between London and Washington.

The 700-page report, "The Economics of Climate Change," warns the Earth faces a calamity the likes of the Great Depression unless urgent action is taken to reverse the tide of pollution and global warming.

The report, according to the Associated Press, argues that if the world acted now to cut greenhouse gases, it would reduce the gross domestic product by only about 1 percent each year.

Without taking action, the report concludes, unabated climate change could cost the world the equivalent of between 5 percent and 20 percent of the gross domestic product. "The benefits of strong, early action considerably outweigh the costs," said Sir Nicholas Stern, the government economist who produced the report.

The Associated Press reports the British government has hired no less than former Vice President Al Gore to advise it on climate change. Mr. Gore, now a powerful spokesman on environmental issues, has been a dull pain for the Bush administration ever since losing the presidential election in 2000.

The Bush administration wants to reduce greenhouse gases by 18 percent by the year 2012. The United States remains the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and other gases.

No matter what the United and States and Japan do to control greenhouse gases, the policies of China and India and their cooperation with other nations are of major importance. Those fast-industrializing giants play a significant role in the world's environmental balance.

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