In setting aside a gazillion nautical miles in the Pacific as a "marine national monument," outgoing George W. Bush isn't just trying to secure an environmentally friendly legacy in the last days of his failed presidency.
The one-time anti-evolution chief executive is giving Charles Darwin a big, sloppy wet kiss.
From Bush's statement "on the Occasion of the Designation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument":
Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands were first formed as fringing reefs around islands formed by Cretaceous-era volcanoes (approximately 120-75 million years ago)....
Palmyra Atoll is a classic Darwinian atoll that formed atop a sinking Cretaceous-era volcano.
I realize that Bush didn't write this statement (or probably even read it), but I would have loved to have heard him pronounce the following sentence:
"The waters surrounding Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands have fish biomass double that of the Papahânaumokuâkea Marine National Monument, and 16 times that of the main Hawaiian Islands, due to the Equatorial Undercurrent that moves from west to east along the equator, creating localized nutrient-rich upwellings in shallows next to the islands."
What a difference a few years make!
Back in 2002, Bush said, "On the issue of evolution, the verdict is still out." In December 2008, he was more accomodating, telling ABC's Nightline, "I think that God created the earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution."
In December, Reason's Ron Bailey gave reasons to worry about the new president's science squad when it came not to evolution but to the environment. Read about that here.