President Clinton Meets With
"The science is clear and compelling: We humans are changing the global climate...No nation can escape this danger. None can evade its responsibility to confront it."
-- President Clinton, Address to UN General Assembly
Special Session on the Environment, June 26, 1997
Presidential Remarks | Press BriefingFollowing up on their remarks to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the Environment, today President Clinton and Vice President Gore will hold a round table discussion with eminent scientists, including three Nobel laureates, to discuss the science of climate change and the need to take action to mitigate this problem. Today's discussion begins a series of Administration efforts and events to increase public awareness of the seriousness of this problem and the consequences that are likely to result if we fail to act.
As a party to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United States is engaged in long-term negotiations on climate change. This round of negotiations is scheduled to culminate in Kyoto this December with a treaty setting a legally binding target and timetable for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Today's meeting reflects the President's strong commitment to take action on climate change and to lay the scientific facts before the American people prior to the Kyoto Conference.
Why Climate Change is a Problem:
- Human activities are adding to the Earth's natural greenhouse effect by steadily increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the largest part of this problem, accounting for about 85% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Since about 1860, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has increased by about 30%. Other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, amplify this problem. Without intervention, emissions and concentrations of CO2 will continue to increase, reaching the highest level in the last 50 million years by 2100 (over 700 parts per million by volume). Such concentrations are expected to push up average global temperatures by 2-6§ F.
Scientists agree that global warming and disruptions in the world,s climate could cause a substantial increase in infectious diseases such as malaria, increase the incidence and intensity of floods and droughts, raise sea level enough to inundate thousands of square miles along the U.S. coastline, decrease food production in some of the world's poorest nations, and threaten the survival of many plant and animal species.
Joining the President and Vice President today in the audience will be cabinet members and Administration representatives including Secretary Pena, Department of Energy; Secretary Shalala, Health and Human Services; Secretary Herman, Department of Labor; Secretary Daley, Department of Commerce; Carol Browner, Environmental Protection Agency; James Lee Witt, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and others whose agencies could play a role in dealing with the impacts of climate change.
The following scientists will participate in today's round table discussion with the President and Vice President:
- Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland, University of California at Irvine. Dr. Rowland won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his pioneering research in atmospheric chemistry of the destruction of the ozone layer. He currently serves as the Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences and is a former President and Chairman of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Rowland received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1952 and is currently the Donald Bren Research Professor of Chemistry and Earth System Science at UC Irvine.
- Dr. Mario Molina, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Molina was awarded the Nobel Prize along with Dr. Rowland for their research on the thinning of the ozone layer. Molina and his colleagues demonstrated experimentally how ozone-destroying chlorine functioned in the atmosphere. He is currently the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Science at MIT. Dr. Molina serves on the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology and has also served as an advisor to NASA, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
- Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Oregon State University. Dr. Lubchenco is currently the Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and a Distinguished Professor of Zoology at Oregon State University. She has received numerous teaching awards and is also an American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow and a Fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1975.
- Dr. Stephen Schneider, Stanford University. As a postdoctoral researcher at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and later at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Dr. Schneider's work focused on the influence of greenhouse gases and suspended particles on the earth's climate. In 1992, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for his ability to integrate and interpret the results of global climate research to the public. Dr. Schneider is currently a professor in the Department of Biological Science and a Science Fellow at the Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.
- Dr. Bob Shope, University of Texas. Dr. Shope has devoted his career to the study of viruses carried by mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects. Since receiving his medical degree from Cornell University in 1954, Dr. Shope has spent time in Malaysia, Brazil and other tropical sites studying insect-borne diseases. He was a Professor of Epidemiology at Yale University's School of Medicine from 1975-1995 and served as the Director of the Yale Arbovirus Research Unit for 24 years. Dr. Shope is presently a Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
- Dr. Henry Kendall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Kendall won a Nobel Prize in 1990 for his work in particle physics. Throughout his career, Dr. Kendall's work has focused on U.S. energy and defense issues including the nuclear arms race, nuclear power and renewable energy sources. Dr. Kendall is a founding member of the Union of Concerned Scientists and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He is currently the J.A. Stratton Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.
- Dr. John Holdren, Harvard University. Dr. Holdren is an expert on energy and environmental science. He is currently chairing the Presidential Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology Study of the entire U.S. energy research and development portfolio in relation to the economic, environmental and security challenges of the next century. He is presently the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology and Public Policy in the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard.