Ten Leaders Implore Bush to Cut Greenhouse Gases

Former President Jimmy Carter and USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, among others, publish letter urging US action on CO2.

Published: 04-Apr-2001

WASHINGTON, DC, April 3, 2001 (ENS) - Ten of the world's most prominent citizens are urging President George W. Bush to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas produced by the United States. They may not be elected officials, but they can claim much of the world's attention and the political pressure it may generate for their hope of reversing global warming.

In a letter published in the April 9, 2001 issue of "Time" magazine, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the USSR and general secretary of the Communist Party, are among those warning Bush that "the situation is becoming urgent."

"No challenge we face is more momentous than the threat of global climate change," the leaders declare."

The letter was initiated by Charles Alexander, environment editor of "Time," while he was collaborating on the magazine's project to explore the scientific evidence for the existence and extent of global warming and the political furor over Bush's withdrawal of U.S. support for the Kyoto climate protocol after nine years of international negotiations.

With just four percent of the planet's population, the United States emits about 25 percent of the six greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

On March 28, the Bush administration announced it will not seek ratification of the Kyoto Protocol because the United States is facing an energy crisis and needs to continue to burn fossil fuels which emit greenhouse gases. Under the protocol, the U.S. would be committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

While acknowledging that the current provisions of the Kyoto Protocol "are a matter of legitimate debate," the leaders say in their letter that there are "many strategies for curbing greenhouse gas emissions without slowing economic growth."

They point out the economic opportunities to be had from the development of "advanced, cleaner technology."

Astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn added his signature and so did respected former television newsman Walter Cronkite.

Financier and philanthropist George Soros and primate scientist Jane Goodall signed their names to the letter, and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who is stricken with ALS, added his thumbprint.

Actor Harrison Ford, who is a board member of Conservation International, signed as did J. Craig Venter who decoded the human genome.

Venerable zoologist, ecologist and Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward O. Wilson added the weight of his signature.

For most of them the letter is an extension of their personal commitment to environmental conservation. Now president of Green Cross International, Gorbachev states, "We need a new system of values, a system of the organic unity between mankind and nature and the ethic of global responsibility."

When he was President, Carter passed environmental protection legislation, including the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. After leaving office he founded the non-profit Carter Center which works to fight disease, increase crop production, and promote peace, human rights and preventive health care in the United States and around the world.

The letter to President Bush reflects these personal actions. "We urge you to develop a plan to reduce U.S. production of greenhouse gases," the leaders write. "The future of our children - and their children - depends on the resolve that you and other world leaders show."

Read the three most recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change detailing the scientific evidence of global warming, online at: http://www.ipcc.ch/

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol are available at: http://www.unfccc.de/

The World Meteorological Organization is at: http://www.wmo.ch

"Time" magazine is online at: http://www.time.com

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