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Clinton Warns Of Possible Global Warming

Tells United Nations, "We here have much more to do"

NEW YORK (AllPolitics, June 26) -- In a speech to the United Nations assembly, President Bill Clinton called on nations to invest more in environmental research, asserting that "today's progress must not come at tomorrow's expense."

"The science is clear and compelling," he told the international assemblage, with United States ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson looking on. "We humans are changing the global climate."

The president noted that since the international environmental conference held in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, "there has been real progress in some areas." He cited less dumping of radioactive waste in oceans and reduced marine pollution. The U.S., he said, had cleaned up record numbers of toxic waste sites and improved water quality. And, he highlighted his adminstration's recent spate of regulations to reduce air pollution which he said could prevent up to 15,000 premature deaths annually.

"Still, we here have much more to do, especially in reducing our contribution to global climate change," the president declared.

He described the possible impacts of higher levels of greenhouse gasses if left unchecked: 9000 square miles of Florida and other U.S. coastal areas under water; 17 percent of Bangladesh under water. "Island chains such as the Malidives will disappear from the map." Additionally, climate change could cause droughts, floods, and spread infectious diseases, he said.

"No nation can escape this danger," Clinton warned. "None can evade its responsibility to confront it."

Doing so will require new technologies and strategies, such as emission trading. He proposed an alliance of governments, industry, labor unions and universities to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, to reduce emissions and to discover more efficient ways of using energy. The U.S., he announced, would contribute $1 billion in aid to assist developing nations with that effort.

Clinton praised the European Union and the World Bank, bodies he said had put "a strong focus" on environmental issues. And he promised to work for heightened awareness and support for the environment in the United States in advance of next December's conference in Kyoto, Japan.

Quoting scripture, Clinton noted "'One generation passes away and another comes, but the earth abides forever.'"

"We must strengthen our stewardship of the environment to make that true," Clinton said in conclusion.

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