President Bush deserves the heat he's taking for his lack of gumption in dealing with the threat of global warming - the so-called greenhouse effect.

After campaigning successfully as an environmentalist, the president still is ducking a fight against the Earth-threatening phenomenon that could cause massive drought and other disasters.Britain, in taking the lead in planning an international strategy to deal with the threat, warns of wars over fresh water and arable land.

The British hint darkly of "environmental refugees" fleeing areas that no longer can sustain them.

Meantime, the White House is forced into an embarrassing confession that it censored the congressional testimony of a government scientist worried about global warm-ing.

Press secretary Marlin Fitzwater admitted at a White House briefing that an official at the Office of Management and Budget changed the testimony of NASA scientist James Hansen.

Fitzwater said the changes were made by an OMB official "five levels down from the top" to reflect that "there are many points of view on the global warming issue and many of them conflict with those stated by Dr. Hansen."

For his part, Hansen said, "It distresses me that they put words in my mouth. They even put it in the first person."

Those shoddy shenanigans also distressed Sen. Albert Gore, a once and future presidential aspirant.

The Tennessee Democrat, who also fancies himself an environmentalist, accused the White House of "scientific fraud" and being "scared of the truth."

Gore charged that Hansen's testimony was altered because the administration doesn't want to take action against the expected global warming trend caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal.

"President Bush only months ago told us he was an environmentalist," Gore said. Yet, in the past few days alone we've seen his administration back away from a critical diplomatic initiative on global warming."

U.S. officials meeting in Geneva are telling other national delegations that more study is needed before drafting an international treaty to deal with the problem.

The United States doen't have a position to offer at Geneva because its various bureaucracies in Washington have not agreed on one.

Meantime, the Earth's atmosphere evidently continues to be warmed by pollutant gases such as carbon dioxide, and perhaps by some of the empty rhetoric emanating from the White House.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, not known to lack gumption, ordered climatologists to give her Cabinet an all-day briefing on the greenhouse effect.

Britain called Monday for international agreement on a convention that would set broad "guidelines for good climatic behavior."

Bush, when on the campaign trail last August, said, "Those who think we are powerless to do anything about the greenhouse effect forget about the `White House effect.' As president, I intend to do something about it."

The clock is ticking, but maybe it's not too late for those scientifically gifted number crunchers in the OMB to save us all from frying.