THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 1, 1997 2:10 P.M. EDT
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO WEATHER FORECASTERS
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President. Welcome to the White House on a cool, overcast day, about 60 degrees. (Laughter.) How am I doing? I'm auditioning. (Laughter.) You know, I have to leave this job after three years, and I don't know what I am going to do. And I am too young to retire, and I'm used to delivering bad news. (Laughter and applause.)
Let me say, we are delighted to have you here in the White House. I thank you for coming and for devoting this much of your time to the briefings and to giving us a chance to meet with you on what is a profoundly important issue -- and one, frankly, that you, just in the way you comment on the events that you cover, may have a real effect on the American people.
People look to you to figure out what they're going to wear in the morning and whether something really bad is going to happen. If so, they expect a timely warning and advice. So you not only get watched more than anyone else on the television news programs to find out about the weather, sometimes you are actually saving lives and always performing a public service. And we thank you for that.
I'd also like to thank your outstanding partners at NOAA and the National Weather Service. I'm very proud of them and what they have done. In the past decade alone, they have doubled the amount of warning time we have to prepare for tornadoes, quadrupled the time for flash floods. And those are just two of the ways that our people here, with NOAA and the National Weather Service, and their research and technology have improved our nation's safety and planning.
You know, I spent most of my time over the last four and a half years telling the American people that we had to prepare for the 21st century, with all of its new opportunities and all of its new challenges if we want to keep the American Dream alive for everyone who will work for it and maintain our leadership for peace and freedom, and keep our country coming together with all of its diversity and clash of interests, whether it's racial and ethnic or religious or whatever. And we have really focused on trying to just get the country to think about how we have to build these bridges to the future, how the future will be as we want it to be.
Clearly, to me, this climate change issue is one of the principal challenges that we face -- a challenge that, if we meet it, will ensure the continued vitality of our small planet and the continued success of the United States throughout another hundred years; a challenge that should we fail to meet it, could imperil the lives of our children and, if not our children, our grandchildren on this planet -- how they live, how they relate to others and whether they are able to continue to pursue their dreams in the way that our generation has.
In trying to come to grips with this climate change issue, and then talk to the American people about it, there are four principles that have guided me and I'd like to go over them very briefly.
First, I am convinced that the science is solid, saying the that climate is warming at a more rapid rate, that this is due in large measure to a dramatic increase in the volume of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere, and that nobody knows exactly what the consequences are going to be or when they're going to be manifest, but, on balance, it won't be all that long and they won't be good. That is sort of a summary of what the prevailing scientific opinion is.
I know there are those in a distinct minority who have a different view, but I am persuaded, having carefully looked at all this, that the vast majority opinion is, in fact, in all probability, accurate. And that, therefore, we would be irresponsible not to try to come to grips with the results of these findings.
Now, unlike a lot of weather forecasts, there is something we can do about this weather forecast because we've got enough lead time -- at least we believe we do. So I think that's very important.
Now, the second thing I want to say is that if we know that the majority of our scientists have this view, and they say, we don't know precisely what the bad effects of global climate change are or exactly how fast the climate will change; that means we don't know how severe the droughts and the floods of the future will be in a particular region, but we know that it won't be long and the consequences won't be good -- if we know that, then it seems to me it is incumbent on the United States, when the nations of the world meet in December in Kyoto, Japan, to discuss climate change, that we be prepared to commit ourselves to realistic and binding limits on our own emissions of greenhouse gases.
With 4 percent of the world's population, we enjoy over 20 percent of the world's wealth. That also explains why we produce over 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gases. Those two things are related. Now, I believe that we have a responsibility to cut back. First, because the world is looking to us for leadership, and, secondly, because we won't have any influence in getting anybody else to cut back if we don't.
To give you an example of how significant that is, we've got all these other countries that are growing that have far larger populations than we do. We estimate the that the developing countries of Asia and Latin America will grow at roughly three times the rate of the United States, Japan, Europe and Canada in the next 20 years. If that is true, we'll have to work very hard to maintain our 20 percent share of wealth. But even if we do maintain our standard of living and grow our economy, we won't be for long the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases. So if we expect others to show restraint, we must do the same and we must lead the way.
The third principle is that we must embrace solutions that allow us to continue to grow the economy while we honor our global responsibilities and our responsibilities to our own children. We have worked too hard here, from the first day, to revitalize the American economy to jeopardize our progress now. And, furthermore, we cannot make changes that will leave whole chunks of that economy out in the cold without having a response to them.
So the question is: Can we emphasize flexible, market-based approaches? Can we embrace technology to make energy production more efficient and put fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere? Is there, in short, a way out of astronomical taxes or heavy-handed governmental regulation that will permit us to gradually bring down our greenhouse gas production and still grow the economy and enjoy what we've been enjoying here for the last four and a half years? I believe the answer is, yes.
Now, let me just give you one example. Typically, about two-thirds of the energy produced by power plants is absolutely lost in the form of wasted heat, billowing out in clouds of steam or pumped out into rivers. A company called Trigen has doubled the efficiency of power plants in Philadelphia, Chicago and Tulsa, simply by capturing the waste heat and turning it into steam to warm office buildings a fuel factories, and in the process, by definition, dramatically cutting the volume of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere to do the same amount of work in all those places.
That is just one small example. The Vice President and I have been working with the Big Three automakers, our energy labs, and the UAW for years now on a new generation of vehicles that we hope will get triple the gas mileage of a typical car. Perhaps the design will even include a blend of gasoline and electricity in a way that avoids the worst problems of electric cars -- that is, they don't go very fast, and you have to charge them up too often -- but gets the benefit of the energy conservation elements of the cars.
All these things are out there, and we found over time -- how many times have you seen America rise to a challenge? We didn't know how we were going to get to the Moon when President Kennedy said we were going there, but we got there because we put our resource behind it, and we started with what we knew, and then, in the process of exploring the outer limits of what we knew, we found a lot of things we didn't know, and we were able to put them to work toward a common mission. This is a scientific mission even more important in its implications than our race to the Moon in the 1960s. And yet we know a very great deal about how to do it without crippling the American economy.
Finally, because of what I said earlier, because we represent only 4 percent of the world's population, and because the developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa, increasingly, are going to grow at three times the rate of the developed countries, I believe we have to ask all nations, both industrialized and developing, to be a part of this process.
I'm happy that other countries are developing. It's actually good for our economy when countries move from the ranks of the very poor countries into middle income countries, because then they can do more business with us. So it helps us when other people lift their children out of poverty and have a brighter future. It also means that they, too, however, become bigger energy users, and it imposes on us even heavier responsibilities, all of us, to change our patterns of energy use so that all of us can grow our economies without contributing to this greenhouse gas problem.
But because of the growth rates in the future, both the population and economic growth and the associated energy use, we could have a great deal of effort by Europe, by the United States, by Canada, by Japan, and still be in very difficult straits on this issue within 40 years, unless we get real solid support from the developing countries. Should we make allowances for their growth? Of course, we should; but in some way, in a fair and appropriate way they should also participate in this agreement. Now, if that doesn't happen, then their emissions, the emissions of the developing world will exceed the emissions of the developed world by about 2035.
Now, those are the things I want to do. I want to try to get America to accept the fact that the majority scientific opinion, the overwhelming majority scientific opinion is accurate. I want us to make a commitment, therefore, to go to Kyoto with binding targets. I want us to implement our commitment in a way that continues to grow the economy in a different way, but still maintains our robust entrepreneurial economy. And I want to find a fair way for the developing countries to participate. Those are my four objectives.
On Monday, we're going to try to take another step toward putting these principles into effect. We invited noted economists and industrial leaders, state and local governmental leaders, and leaders from the environmental and scientific communities here to the White House Conference for a White House Conference on Climate Change. Our goals are simple. We want the American people to understand the importance of the challenge and to allow outside experts to help inform the policy process so we'll make the best decisions.
Now, I'd like to ask you to think about this in terms of the work you do. When we had the terrible floods in the Dakotas and Minnesota not very long ago, a young congressman from South Dakota was in my office -- happened to be a member of the other party -- I don't believe there's a partisan aspect to the weather, (laughter) -- although some days it seems stormier than others around here. (Laughter.) And this young man said -- I was talking about climate change, and he said, Mr. President, we've had 300 year floods in the last nine years. He said, does that mean I get to go 500 years without one? (Laughter.) And you'd be amazed how many people just sort of from their anecdotal, personal experiences have this sense that there is more instability in the climate than there used to be, and understand that it has something to do with the changes in the relationship of where we live and whatever little patch of land we occupy and this larger globe and the atmosphere which envelopes it.
So what I hope will happen at the Climate Change Conference I also hope has happened a little here today. What I want to do is to deal with the central political problem here -- and I don't mean political in terms of party politics; I mean political in terms of how the body politic, how our society responds to this -- if we have a problem that is a clear and present danger that we can see and feel, we get right on it. How did we get to the Moon? Because the Russians beat us into space, so we knew how to keep score, we would beat them to the Moon. And if we didn't, since there was a Cold War and nuclear weapons, goodness knows what the consequences would be.
Now, it is much harder when you have no manifestation of this problem unless you happen to live in a place which has experienced an unusual number of or intensity of weather aberrations. And, even so, they go away and then you can start thinking about something else. It is difficult when you are not quite sure how to keep score, and you don't know who the enemy is.
All of you live with the weather as a fact of life, and a pre-condition for life on our planet in a way that nearly no one else in the world does. The men and women of America who tune in and listen to you talk about the weather and rely upon you are either enlightened or entertained or disappointed by whatever it is you say and however you say it. Most of them are sort of like Sergeant Joe Friday -- they just want the facts.
This is a case where people need the facts and the context. Where if all you do is just try to get people to start thinking about this -- you might not even know how you feel about it, or exactly what you think should be done. That's okay. But I would ask you to think about whether you should ask people to think about this.
Because our country always gets it right. We always get it right once we focus on it. But right now, while the scientists
see the train coming through the tunnel, most Americans haven't heard the whistle blowing. They don't sense that it's out there as a big issue. And I really believe, as President, one of my most important jobs is to tell the America people what the big issues are that we have to deal with. If we understand what the issues are, if we start with a certain set of principles, we nearly always come to the right place.
That's what we did -- we passed the first balanced budget in a generation earlier this year, partly because we had already gotten the deficit down by over 85 percent, but partly because we got people in both parties to agree that there's a goal -- we're going to balance the budget -- and then the Republicans said, here are the things we want in the balanced budget plan, and the Democrats said, here are the things we want, and we found out a way to reconcile them, and still do the most important thing, which was to balance the budget, and we did it.
That's how we have to deal with this climate change issue. We have to say, there's a challenge out there, we have to respond to it, here's the principles we want in our response. And then we have to get after it. But we can't do it until we build the awareness of the American people.
So I hope you will think about how your work has been affected by what we believe is going on in the climate. And, again, I don't ask for you to advocate or do anything outside whatever your own convictions or parameters of permissible speech are, but I do think it's very important, since you have more influence than anybody does on how the American people think about this, that at least you know what you believe and how you think we should proceed.
Thank you for being here, and thank you for your leadership. (Applause.)
The first time I ever really thought about this issue in this way was when I was reading Al Gore's book -- (laughter) -- which preceded our partnership. Sometimes he thinks all the great things he did preceded our partnership. (Laughter.) I think most of the greatest things he's done occurred after our partnership started. (Laughter.) I remember so well -- one of the first times -- we have lunch once a week, and I remember one week we were having lunch very early in this term -- this is over four years ago. And he said, just in case you missed it in my book, here's the chart -- (laughter) -- of how much we are increasing the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and here's 10,000 years and here's the last 50, like that.
So I can now pass Al Gore's climate test -- (laughter) -- and I'm very proud of that. I think we should be proud that we have a Vice President who not only cares about this issue, but knows enough about it to have an opinion worthy of the respect of any scientist in the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice President.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Applause.) Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the president and the first lady it's my honor to welcome you to the White House. And before I present the president to you I want to briefly acknowledge our Deputy Secretary of Commerce Robert Mallet (sp), our Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Rich Romenture (sp), the Director of NOAA Dr. Jim Baker. I think James Lee Witt left but was here. Dr. Jack Gibbons, the president's science adviser; Katie McGinty, the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; Todd Stern, who is assistant to the president's staff secretary heading up the president's climate team; Dan Tarullo, assistant to the president for international economic policy. And I want to especially acknowledge as a group all of the scientists who spoke at NOAA this morning. I understand that they did a very thorough job, and I want to thank them on behalf of the president. And we are so delighted to welcome all of you to the White House. And not only because of the opportunity it provides to have an exchange about this important issue, but also because in the words of one of you who came through the line, ``Finally'' -- this is his phrase --''Finally you guys get to meet a group that get more flak than you do.'' (Laughter.) And I imagine it's not very easy being a weathercaster --(laughter) -- and I'm sure you can all tell some great stories about incidents that you've run into. But in any event, we are just delighted that you are here. I'm going to have a chance to talk with you at a little bit more length in a few moments. It is my pleasure to present the president to you not only as the president of our country, but as a personal friend I've been privileged to work with close at hand for almost five years now. And I just want to say on a personal note that when an issue like this one comes up that's extremely complex, extremely difficult, excruciatingly difficult, it really is a great thing for a country to have as president somebody who really rolls up his sleeves and asks every time what is the right thing to do, what are the real best interests of the people of the United States of America. It's really a privilege and a pleasure to work with him, and it's an honor for me now to present to you the President of the United States, Bill Clinton. (Applause.)
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. President. I appreciate the kind words. And ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your warm welcome of me back to this podium here. And actually, the president's kind of put me on the spot because he's emphasized the fact that I am not a scientist. I am a lay person speaking to a group made up mostly of scientists. And so I want to convey my own keen awareness of that fact here at the outset and ask for your indulgence as I attempt to describe why I believe this issue is so important in a lay person's terminology. Many of you have heard the old story -- probably a bigger percentage of this group than most because it's fundamentally about a weather story. Anybody have Johnstown, Pennsylvania in his or her coverage area? Right. Well, the fellow who talked about -- the survivor of the Johnstown flood who talked about it on every occasion -- I'm sure you've heard this -- and people used to walk the other way when they saw him coming because all he would talk about is the Johnstown flood. When he died he went to heaven and Saint Peter said, ``Well you take it easy today, and tomorrow you'll have five minutes to just introduce yourself to the assembled gathering.'' And he said, ``Well, that's great. I'm going to tell them about the Johnstown flood.'' And Saint Peter said, ``Well now, you know, are you sure you want to do that?'' And he said, ``Yeah, it was the most exciting thing that happened to me on Earth.'' And Saint Peter said, ``Well, that's okay, but just remember that Noah is going to be in the audience and --'' (laughter, scattered applause.) So I'm keenly aware that Noah is in the audience here. (Laughter, applause.) My own way of thinking about this is as a symptom of a larger, underlying issue. You know, we've heard about the destruction of the rain forests and the hole in the ozone layer and the disappearance of living species. And I read an article the other day about the depletion of all the ocean fisheries and the fact that all these fish that people eat are dwindling in numbers. And there are all of these issues that kids talk about in schools and global warming. I think they're all related in the following sense. In our lifetimes, we have been seeing some profound changes in the relationship between humankind and the Earth's environment. And that's the first obstacle, in my opinion, to really coming to grips with this issue of global warming. Because right away, most of us think, ``Well, now wait a minute, the Earth is so big, you know, we can't possibly have an impact on the global environment.'' That used to be true. I think that that has changed in our lifetimes, and I think it's changed for three reasons that have all come together in the last century or so. The first big change is population. If you think about it, you know, we're now adding the equivalent of one China's worth of people ever 10 years now. If you put that in the perspective of the history of the human race, well, that's something that's very, very new. If you go back to the beginning of the human species -- and I don't want to try to put a date on that, because I'm from Tennessee and we had a trial there about that -- (laughter) -- and I'm a little sensitive. But if for purposes of argument you assumed that the scientists are correct and that the human species emerged probably about 140(,000), 160,000 years ago, and there were two people -- we know that much -- and then for the first, you know, tens of thousands of years, for the first 130,000 years, there wasn't very much change at all, until the first cities -- and I'm pretending to draw a graph here -- (laughter) -- and then when the last Ice Age ended and agriculture began and the first cities emerged 9(,000), 10,000 years ago, it started to go up a little bit. By the time of Julius Caesar there were 250 million people on Earth. And by the time Christopher Columbus sailed, there were 500 million people on Earth. And by the time of the American Revolution, there were 1 billion people on Earth. And by the end of World War II, there were 2 billion people on Earth. That's when I was born, and when some of you were born. And just to recap, you go 10,000 generations before you get to 2 billion people. But in my 49 years, we've gone from 2 billion to 5-1/2 billion. And in the next 50 years, we're going to 8 or 9 billion, right up to the ceiling. And so if it takes 10,000 human lifetimes to get to 2 billion and then in one human lifetime you go from 2 billion to 8 or 9 billion, that is a huge change in the relationship between people and the Earth. It's happening right now, in our lifetimes. Now the second factor is the scientific and technological revolution, which magnifies the amount of power that we have, for good or ill. And most of it's been for the good -- raising our standard of living. And a lot of the solution to this undoubtedly will be more new technology and better technology. But the fact is, some of the new power that we have, we haven't always used them wisely, we haven't always really been able to anticipate some of the consequences that would come from it. Take nuclear weapons, for example. Warfare has been with us for as long as histories have been written. But once nuclear weapons were invented, the power transformed the consequences of warfare, so we had to change our way of thinking about it. In the same way, the way we get food and shelter and exploit the earth for sustenance has been with us for a long time. But now some of these new abilities have consequences that we haven't always anticipated. One quick example on that: chlorofluorocarbons, the culprits in the ozone hole, which you all know about very, very well, they were first invented in this century, and they weren't produced in large quantities until after World War II. And yet just in that short period of time, in our lifetimes, most of us, they have transformed the concentration of chlorine in the atmosphere. The air we're breathing in this room has six times as many chlorine atoms in each lungful than it did when this room was built or when we were born. And that doesn't hurt human health. But indirectly it is the reason for that cause in the stratospheric ozone layer. But my point is if we are able just in a few decades to change by a factor of six the concentration of a basic chemical in the atmosphere of the earth, that's evidence that some of these new technologies can have a huge impact. And we don't anticipate them. That's really the third cause of this underlying change. Our grandparents would pay more attention to canning and recycling and reusing things, and we kind of sometimes act as if we don't have to take consequences for the -- take responsibility for the consequences of what we do. But in any event, when I was in the sixth grade we had a geography class with a map of the world in front of the room that the teacher would pull down when it was time for class. And one of my classmates -- this is a true story -- was fascinated with the fact that South America and Africa had kind of the same outline, South America and the west coast of Africa. And he raised his -- he got up his courage one day and finally asked the teacher ``Did they ever fit together?'' And the teacher said ``That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. That's'' -- and he went on to become a drug addict and a ne'er-do-well. (Laughter.) But the -- his creativity was stifled, but -- (laughter). You know, in the middle and late 1950s most people thought that ``continental drift'' was just a lunatic kind of idea because they had an assumption that continents are so big they obviously can't move. Yogi Berra once said ``What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so.'' (Laughter.) And one of the things that we know for sure that ain't so now is that we can't have a big effect on the earth's climate system. That used to be true. But now because of the growing numbers and the more powerful technology and our attitude toward it we can have a big effect. And the most vulnerable part of the earth's environment is the atmosphere, because it's the smallest part. It's so thin. My friend Carl Sagan used to say that if you had a big globe of the earth that had a coat of varnish on it, the thickness of the atmosphere would be less than that coat of varnish, relatively speaking. Of course, y'all -- this is one of the many things y'all know much better than I do. But the fact is if you go from Pennsylvania Avenue straight up to the top of the sky, it's not as far as it from here out to National Airport, where most of you flew in, up to the top of the troposphere. It's very, very thin. And that's the reason why we're able to change the composition of chlorine in the atmosphere, and it is the reason why we are now able to change the composition of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And, of course, CO2 is the main one. Now, here is where I got involved in this and the whole reason I became interested in this. I had a teacher. And back in the 1950s --1957 and 1958 -- there was an event worldwide called the international geophysical year. Many of you probably remember that a lot better than I do. Some of y'all took -- played prominent roles in it. Well, this man's name was Roger Revel (sp). And he played a unique role in it. He was the first and only person to say ``Let's measure CO2 in the atmosphere.'' And up until that time there had never been such measurements. And some years after that in the middle 1960s when I went to college he was a teacher, and he presented the results of what they were finding. And that's the whole reason why I got interested in this. Now, if you'll forgive me -- I can't draw as well as y'all can, either, by a long shot, either. But this is what he showed. (Pause.) And that's -- most of you know this very, very well. That's what's happening to CO2 in the atmosphere. And the reason why it goes up and down once a year is, of course, that most of the land mass on the earth is north of the equator. And, you know, you got all of the Eurasian land mass and all of North America and Mexico, just a little bit of South America and a little bit of Africa and Australia below it. So three-quarters of the land mass of the earth is north of the equator, so three-quarters of the vegetation is north of the equator. So when it's spring time in our part of the world and the leaves come out and the deciduous vegetation in the northern hemisphere, then the whole earth, so to speak, takes a big breath in of carbon dioxide. And so the concentrations go down worldwide. And then in the fall obviously the reverse happens and the leaves fall, and all that carbon dioxide that's been locked up in the vegetation is exhaled back into the atmosphere, and the concentrations go back up again. But obviously from -- as it's easy to see from this, the peaks each year keep going up. He presented six or seven -- the first six or seven years, and I followed that after that time because it really was striking to me, and later on in the House and then in the Senate tried to see what had happened to it. And, of course, as you know, it has kept on going up rather dramatically. And obviously the basic dynamic is very, very well known that when you have that thicker blanket of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, the infrared radiation from the sun is trapped in larger quantities and the temperature of the earth begins to go up. But the chart that the president was talking about -- and I hope you'll forgive me for showing this, but this is the one he was talking about here. This is -- can y'all see that? This is from Antarctica. And there there's two miles of ice. And each year a little bit more falls. It's technically classified as a desert because the precipitation is so low. I couldn't get over that when I went down there because it sure doesn't look like a desert, but because each annual layer is so thin, thousands of layers can stack up without the weight of the column crushing them completely. And so they can dig down through those layers of ice and measure the bubbles of air trapped when the snow fell each year. In exactly the same way that foresters can bore a hole into a tree trunk or cut the tree down and read the tree rings, they can measure each year's atmosphere when the snow fell in Antarctica. And it's kind of a time machine enabling them to read what the CO2 content was and also to read what the temperature was. And that's a little more complicated and out of my depth. But the way it's explained to me is that there are different isotopes of oxygen -- oxygen 16 and oxygen 18, I believe -- and the ratio in which they appear turns out to be a highly accurate thermometer that enables them to measure exactly the temperature in the air when the snow fell. Well, anyway, that's what this chart is all about. And it looks more complicated than it is. It only has two lines. This is the temperature level here in yellow, and this is the CO2 level in blue. This is the present day here on the right-hand side of the graph, and it goes backwards in time 160,000 years, to the time when the scientists say people first appeared on earth in our modern form. And this is the last Ice Age here. This is present day temperature, this is the last Ice Age. This is the next-to-last Ice Age. And this is the period of great warming in between the last two ice ages. Now, in New York City, for purposes of comparison, this is the difference between a nice day like today and having one mile of ice over your head. That much difference on the cold side is the difference between glaciers covering that much or North America and not. So it's a huge difference. Now, on the CO2 end of this, it has fluctuated between -- well, here's the last Ice Age, here's the next to last Ice Age, and here's the period of warming in between the two Ice Ages. And it has fluctuated between 190 to 200 parts per million to around almost 300 parts per million. Now, there are two points that this graph makes to me. The first one is these two lines appear to me to go together. If my sixth grade classmate who asked whether South America and Africa fit together could see this graph, he would say ``Looks to me like they fit together.'' And, in fact, they do. The exact relationship is complex. There's mutual causality. But the fundamental reality is that higher levels of carbon dioxide warm the atmosphere and temperatures go up. Now, the second point of this graph is the one that I think is the most significant point. This is the current level of CO2. We are now in the process with our growing numbers and new technologies, putting so much CO2 in the atmosphere now it's unbelievable. And we are pushing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere up so that in the lifetimes of some of our children we will see CO2 levels up at -- it goes up one more. There you go. Can you get that? Okay -- up to that level. Now, if for as far back as we can measure CO2 and temperature have gone up and down in lockstep and if we are now in the process with this new relationship we have to the earth's climate pushing the level of CO2 up there, then shouldn't we take responsibility for changing that? Shouldn't we accept responsibility for the consequences of what we're doing? I think this is an ethical issue, because folks that say ``This is no problem, we shouldn't worry about it, it's not anything to occupy our time,'' what they're really saying is that it's probably perfectly all right to push the CO2 concentrations in the earth's atmosphere up to that level. I think it's probably crazy. And I think that if our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, living through the expected and predicted consequences of this, could reach back in time and say to us, ``Did you know you were doing this? Did you know it was going to have this effect on us?'' And we said, ``Well, we knew basically the facts, but we thought it was perfectly all right. We didn't think we had to worry about it.'' I don't think that's an ethical answer. I think we have a responsibility to them to do what we can to do something about this and change this. Thank you. You can -- here; we can just put this down like this. What about that?
Q (Off mike.)
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Okay. Now let me finish up real fast here. There are people who say the evidence isn't in. (Sighs.) We had a meeting earlier this -- earlier today about tobacco, and we had the joint leadership of the Congress down and other -- the committee chairs and so forth, to talk about the tobacco issue. You know, the surgeon general's report came out in 1964, 33 years ago. And we have been -- we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated a little bit by a group of people that have said, on behalf of tobacco companies, for all this time, with a straight face, ``There is no link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer.'' And I come from a tobacco state. And you know, I've heard this all my life. But long after the scientists and the doctors said, ``The evidence is in,'' there were some people casting doubt upon it, long after the mainstream group said, ``Look, you know, the argument's over. This is a very serious threat. More people die of this each year than Americans died in World War II. When can we start doing something about it?'' If you asked the scientists today, ``Exactly how does smoking cigarettes cause lung cancer,'' they will say, ``We really don't know how to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is. We really don't know. But if you look at the number of people who smoke cigarettes and get lung cancer, and the number of people who don't and the much smaller percentage that get lung cancer, you can tell that there is a close relationship.'' And of course, they dig much more deeply into the science, and they home in on it to the point where virtually all reasonable people say, ``Yes, smoking causes lung cancer. Let's do something about it.'' This is comparable, but there are in this case also people who will say, ``We do not have the evidence.'' Now of course, there are ways to see the effects of this -- the hot years we've been having, the increases in temperature. I went to Glacier National Park last month -- or earlier this month. And if you've been there, you know what a beautiful place it is. In 30 years there will be no glaciers in Glacier National Park. It'll be the Park Formerly Known as Glacier, with all apologies to the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. (Laughter.) But I went to a place called the Grinell Glacier, and they had marked off where it was previously and where it is now, and it's really clear. It's really obvious on the ground. You may remember a few years ago, when they discovered that 5,000-year-old man in the Alps, in Italy, I believe it is. You remember that guy? And you know, how come they never discovered that guy before? You know, these hikers walking along -- ``Hey, there's a 5,000-year-old man.'' (Laughter.) Looks like they would have noticed him before. (Laughter.) Well, of course, the answer is, the ice hadn't melted there before, and -- in 5,000 years. So the -- and every mountain glacier in the world, with the exception of a very unusual couple of glaciers in Norway -- every glacier in the world in mountains is receding rapidly; sea levels going up, and so forth. And you know, look at the -- in Chicago -- I know several of y'all are here from Chicago -- was it two summers ago where the 400 people died in the heat wave? There are some people here from Detroit. A few years ago somebody got malaria in Detroit -- a tropical, subtropical disease. In the month he got malaria, the average temperature was six full degrees warmer than the 30-year average for that month. Again, you know, you can't say that's cause and effect. But the odds are shifting toward the kinds of consequences that are associated with rising temperatures. Now before I close, I just want to make one other point. And this, again, is something that you all can describe a lot better than I can. But what the scientists tell me is that weather is partly an engine for redistributing heat. And again, please forgive me for talking about something that y'all know much better than I do. But again, the way it's been explained to me is that the temperature at the Equator, being so much warmer than the temperature at the poles, that the redistribution of heat from the Equator to the poles, through wind currents and ocean currents and cloud systems, defines the overall long-term pattern. And if that ratio between this temperature and that temperature changes, then the pattern can change. And one of the things I'm sure they talked about this morning is that warming takes place not just gradually worldwide, but much more rapidly at the poles, because when the -- when you have ice on a surface, 95 percent of the sun is bounced -- bounces right off it. But when the ice melts and it's open ocean, 95 percent is absorbed --same thing in the tundra -- so that at the edge of the ice, when it's melting, it picks up more heat, and it's a feedback loop. And it eats away at the edge of it, so that at the poles, both the North and the South Pole, the ice melting -- and other factors -- cause it to warm much more rapidly. If it's a five-degree warming, that's maybe one degree at the Equator, and maybe eight or nine degrees at the pole. So if the pattern of weather worldwide is established in a pretty stable pattern since the end of the Ice Age for redistributing heat, and you've had a stable relationship between this temperature and this temperature for all that time, and then all of a sudden this goes up only one degree and this goes up eight or nine degrees, all of a sudden those patterns of ocean currents and wind currents and cloud systems are vulnerable to change. One scientist tried to explain it to me by -- this doesn't really work well, but he said that if you take your watch band and form a pattern, you can go up and down, and it still has the same pattern. But if you change a basic characteristic, like the angle of one of the edges, and you change it enough, at one point -- at some point it adopts a different pattern. Look at El Nino. Look at what's happening to El Nino right now. It used to be -- and y'all correct me if I get these numbers wrong --but it used to be one out of seven years, on average. Now it's three years out of five, or this -- the one before this was almost continuous for several years. One of the news magazines this week has a graph showing what's been happening since the late '80s -- you know, before and after. It used to be once every seven years; now it's just very, very common. And of course, the consequences are easy for everybody to see. But there are a lot of other sub-global systems that are affected by changes in water temperature and changes in these larger overall patterns. Look at what's happening in Indonesia and Malaysia right now: planes crashing, boats colliding together, schools being closed, all because the pattern that they're used to has been disrupted. And the forest fires are out of control because they don't have the monsoon rains that they usually have at this time. And the consequences are very, very profound. If we sit back and do nothing and allow this to happen without change, then what the mainstream scientists from every country in the world are telling us is that it's going to have profound changes in the pattern of climate and in the effects on people. Well, let me just close by adding my thanks to those the president has already expressed, each and every one of you, for what you do every single day, for saving lives, for helping people plan their lives, for serving your communities in such a profoundly important way. And also, thank you very, very much for responding to the call of the president to come and spend a little time immersing yourself in aspects of this that NOAA and the other agencies involved here have spent so much time on. And on a personal basis, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak to you. I appreciate it very much. (Applause.) (To staff) Could I do questions? Thank you very much. I'd be happy to try to respond to a few questions, if you would like to throw any at me. Or comments. Yes, sir.
Q (Off mike) -- John Fisher from -- (off mike) -- South Bend, Indiana. There is a -- it seems to me there's still a debate about the effect that humans have on the contribution to global warming and global climate change, yet both in remarks you made and in remarks by the president you seem to dismiss them as a big minority. You just referred to the ones on your side, if you will, of ``mainstream scientists''. Is the debate on that issue (within ?) the administration over?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: On the fact that there is a human factor in causing this? Yes. And not only in the administration, in the international panel on climate change, which has, what, 2,500 scientists from every country in the world, they have studied this for several years now. And just a couple of years ago they found what they call ``the smoking gun'' and came out with this consensus statement that there is now a discernible impact from human causes. Now, one of the other obstacles to broadening the consensus on that is that as you all know better than everybody, the noise level in the system is so profound that there are going to be very, very big changes just in the natural course of events. You take hurricanes. Back in the 1930s, as y'all can say better than me, there was a string of powerful hurricanes, more frequent, more powerful than what we're experiencing now. And there are other extremes that are natural. But out of that noise level, this consensus international scientific process has now said that they believe that debate is over, that yes, the human cause is now discernible. And as these concentrations grow it will become more profound and a much more significant part of the cause.
Q And the administration accepts that fact that that debate is over.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. On that one point, yes, sir. Here, and then there.
Q Kevin O'Connell (sp) from Channel 2 in Buffalo. Two things have happened in this country. Our concentration of industrial strength has moved from the traditional rust belt areas of the Great Lakes down into a more suitable climate for employment. And something that you touched on and so the president did as well is this whole idea of worldwide development. In an article in the newspaper the other day I was reading where some of the underdeveloped countries are saying ``It's all well and good for the United States to say `Help us with the environment' because they're already developed. How dare they develop and then put the clamp on us to develop?'' --which seems like a legitimate argument. What type of program, format, game plan do you have to explain to them that their participation is needed even though it may, in fact, slow their industrial progress?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, that's one of the main issues that this big conference coming up in Japan in December. You put your finger right on one of the big political questions: how do you get them to be a part of it? We believe they've got to be a part of it, because their emissions are growing even more rapidly than ours, some of them --China, for example, India, for example. But as you said, it's easy to understand their basic point. You stated it very well. We've got our development; are we going to pull up the ladder before they have a chance? Well, the response back to them from the developed countries is ``Look, there are new technologies today. If we had it to do over again, we wouldn't do it exactly the same way, we'd use some new technologies that don't pollute as much, they're much more efficient, they're cheaper, they're more effective.'' You have a big problem in these developing countries with pollution anyway, not only in Indonesia and Malaysia. Go to Beijing, you know, the -- Sao Paolo, any of the giant cities in the developing countries. They're eager to buy new technologies that will allow them to improve their standards of living without causing their children to choke to death with the pollution that's already so bad there. At the same time they address those problems, they're going to be solving this conflict also: allowing development without the kind of predicted increases in greenhouse gases. We're also talking with them about an idea of trading emissions. That's worked with sulphur dioxide extremely well. Not everybody's happy with it, but the cost of getting dramatic reductions in sulphur dioxide has been less than one-tenth of what was projected because when you trade the emission rights, then the market helps you find the most efficient way to do it. Now the United States is the world leader right now in developing these new technologies. We have a program called the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles -- just to name one example -- that's under way in Detroit and Washington, where the auto companies and our national laboratories and the university communities are trying to dramatically improve the efficiency of automobiles with the same price and the same affordability and the same comfort levels. We believe we can do that. I mean, look at what's happened with microprocessors in the computer industry. They're being used now for new materials, new design techniques. I think we're -- I think we have a tremendous opportunity to create more jobs, more new businesses, in developing and selling the new technologies that are going to be necessary. Somebody -- yes, sir?
Q Mr. Vice President, Frank (Perrywell ?), Fox News in Philadelphia. Could you be a little more specific on your numerical goals for greenhouse gas reduction? When you go to Kyoto, do you have a plan that you want to say, ``I want X percent reduction over so many years''?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: No country in the world has specified yet what their opening position is going to be at that conference in Kyoto -- (chuckling) -- and we're no exception. We are in the midst of a debate. We're consulting with business groups, labor groups, congressional members who are actively involved in this. And we have not finalized a numerical position for that opening round in Kyoto. Kyoto, incidentally, will be the beginning of this process, not the end. If you think back to exactly 10 years ago, there was a meeting in Montreal, Canada, where the first treaty was signed to deal with these chlorofluorocarbons -- the chemicals that destroy the stratospheric ozone layer. At that time -- actually many years before -- the scientists had said, ``This is a huge problem, and here's the cause, and you need to do something about it,'' but it took 13 years for governments in the world to get around to doing something. And then when they had that meeting in 1987, they established the framework, set some broad, general goals, and then, as more evidence came in, the public consensus built up, and then you had people in Congress saying, ``Hey, we've got to do a lot more'' -- same in parliaments in the rest of the world. And once the framework was established and we began to find the best ways to solve the problem, it ended up being a whole lot easier to solve than anybody predicted at the time. They predicted that it would be impossible to solve that problem; absolute catastrophe, they said. Not that it's been easy, but it's been much easier than anybody predicted it would be. Now, this meeting will be similar to that 1987 Montreal protocol meeting in that what'll happen is a framework will be established, some broad goals will begin moving down the road in the right direction. And then later in the process, as we find the best ways to solve it and public attitudes demanding more change grow stronger, then you'll see the process pick up steam. Over here.
Q Mr. Vice President, Steve Shell (sp), Fox News Chicago. You mentioned Chicago a few moments ago. Were you suggesting that global warming was the cause of the loss of those 400 to 500 (guests ?), those 400 to 500 people?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: No. Let me be precise in what I'm saying. Right after I said that I talked about the malaria incident in Detroit, and I followed that up by saying you cannot say that any of these specific events is caused by global warming. But you can say and you should say the odds of these things happening are dramatically changing and going way up because the odds of having that kind of summer in Chicago are now much higher than they were 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. And what they're predicting here in Washington DC, a study that came out recently, what do you call it? The heat index, which is a combination of temperature and humidity? In a doubled CO2 world, which is down here, the heat index in -- where's Rosina? Give me the numbers.
STAFF: The heat index in Washington DC in a doubled CO2 world would go from 75 to 90, and in a quadrupled CO2 world could rise well over 110.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: So just in a doubled CO2 world, an average heat index of 75 in Washington DC would go to 90 in Washington DC. And after that happened, you know, on any given day if somebody said is this because of global warming, we'd say well, there are a lot of factors. You know, there's normal fluctuation, it's July instead of May, et cetera, et cetera. But the odds of it being that much higher are shifted. And Rosina mentioned a quadrupled world. You know, incidentally, some of the scientists several years ago in order to study this problem picked a doubled CO2 concentration as a convenient measuring stick to run the computer models and see what's going to happen. And so everybody talks about a doubled CO2 world. Actually, in the scientific community now, a lot of them have kind of despaired of ever being able to stop it at a doubled world. And they say we're now headed toward a quadrupled CO2 level, which would be -- you know, as much as this goes up, it would go much higher than that. I don't believe that. I believe that we have enough sense to stop that. I read an article one time, several years ago, about New York City before the automobile and how the population was growing and the number of horses and carriages were growing. And they projected out into the future what was going to happen. And they added up the amount of horse manure that would be associated with doing things the same way they did them then, with that increased population and more carriages and so forth. You know, it's sort of comparable. I can't imagine that we would allow this to happen. But as a free people in a self-government in the nation that is privileged to be looked to by other nations around the world for leadership, especially on problems that affect the whole world, we can't just sit back and assume that this is going to happen, because we're headed very rapidly toward a situation that can be extremely dangerous. And this is another important point that the scientists make: It doesn't necessarily happen gradually. You can cross a threshold beyond which things change for the worse. Look at pfiesteria. And I don't pretend to understand that, but it just -- it appeared all of a sudden in some of those areas feeding the Chesapeake Bay. Now, whatever the causes are -- and of course, there are scientists who believe they know what the causes are --whatever they are, it got to a point where a threshold was crossed, and then all of a sudden, it was a big problem. Look at the ozone hole. You know, those chlorofluorocarbons gradually increased in concentration, and then all of a sudden it crossed a point where this big hole in the ozone layer opened up. There are similar kinds of things that the scientists say could happen in global climate that are difficult to predict. But it's not safe to say, ``Well, we can just gradually increase this.'' And of course, it's rapidly, in terms of what we've seen in the past, but in terms of a human lifetime, we're just increasing this steadily. We don't know when we'll reach the danger point. In back there. Yes, sir?
Q Chuck Aither (sp) from Detroit. Just wondering, within days of my accepting this invitation, I received an overnight package from the coalition -- I don't know how many others did -- indicating that we should come here to ask tough questions if there's any other evidence about solar activity. There are spots running on regular TV, indicating that we should be concerned about the fairness of whatever is proposed in Kyoto. It seems to me that, this morning and this afternoon, we haven't heard specific recommendations, outside of hybrid cars and engine changes, which impact Detroit greatly, about what you would expect from us as Americans or from members of a world society; what we should do, as we would during an Ozone Action Day, to change our activities to help out. What specifics could you share with us that you might present?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, we need to put a greater emphasis on this partnership with Detroit in developing the new generation of vehicles. We need to pursue similar partnerships, as we're doing in the building industry and in other industries. We need to institute cooperative measures that will allow the trading of emissions in the way that I described earlier. And we need to set some broad goals for emissions levels that are realistic and achievable and then try to get a worldwide agreement to meet those levels and that's what we're going to try to negotiate in this meeting in Kyoto. Yes?
Q Kerri Coleman (sp), CBS Nightly News in Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Vice President, you were talking about global population, you know, growing essentially out of control. Has the administration thought in any way, shape or form about policy affecting those developing countries relative to overpopulation. I know it's a sticky subject, but have you guys sat down and thought about the recommendations to the rest of the world.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yes sir, we have. And one of the first things actually in the first few days that President Clinton was in office, he signed an executive order changing a policy that had been called the Mexico City Policy because the last worldwide conference on population was in Mexico City and a previous administration had said the United States would not participate in any of these international programs and the president changed that. Then we went to the next worldwide conference which was in Cairo on population and development. The president asked me to lead the delegation there. We created a new consensus and got a new worldwide approach that most everybody in the world has joined into. Now we probably don't want to spend much time on this, but the --this doesn't have to be as controversial as some people make it out to be. There are certain conditions which, when established in a country, lead to a dramatic change in their population growth rates. The scientists talk about what they call a demographic transition that goes from high birth rates and high death rates to low birth rates and low death rates. And most all of the developed countries, the advanced countries, have made that transition. And you know, we think back -- we don't need to think back more than one or two generations in the United States to when our parents -- and certainly our grandparents -- were in families with six, eight, 10 kids and more. It hasn't been that long ago. But now, you know, it's -- the two-child family is the average and so forth. Well, the developing countries still have very, very large families. What makes for that difference? It turns out that there are about three things: Number one, child survival rates, which, when you think about it, is really important, because most of these countries don't have a Social Security system. They count on the fact that at least some of their children will survive into adulthood and take care of them when they're old. If you have a very high child mortality rate, and a high percentage of the children die in infancy or in childbirth, then you've got to have a lot of children in order to guarantee stability and -- I mean, you know, in your old age. And that's just a factor. So when you increase the survivability of children and decrease child mortality, it tends toward a lower family size. Secondly, availability of birth control information and culturally appropriate and acceptable techniques. And that's the controversial part. But they decide that for themselves. And when that's available, that's the second factor. The third factor is the empowerment of women, socially, politically, and in the context of the family, to participate in the decisions about childbearing. And I guess with some people that's controversial, too. I don't think it should be. But when those three conditions are established, those countries make that change, and their population begins to stabilize. We're actually beginning to experience some good news around the world with the beginnings of a stabilization in world population. But the momentum in the demographic system is such that we're inevitably going to go to eight or nine billion. The question is whether these changes will keep us from going to 10, 12, 14 billion. But there's emerging good news there. Now, that same kind of momentum, of course, is in the greenhouse gas emission part of this, too. Yes, right here.
Q Curt Chappy (sp), WBLT Knoxville. Our viewers want to know ``How's it going to effect me personally?'' I guess my question is is what are your goals in the next 10 or 15 years? It looks like it's kind of heading up real quick. Can we turn it around, or is it going to be like a little kind of spike down and back up?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: No, I think we can definitely turn it around. It's going to be difficult. It will take time. But we can solve it. Think back to the problem I mentioned about the chlorofluorocarbons. In Tennessee, over in middle Tennessee there's a company called Northern Telcom. They're actually a Canadian company, but their largest number of employers are in the United States. After that Montreal conference on how to solve that problem the CEO of that company said ``We're going to be the first to get rid of chlorofluorocarbons.'' And his engineers said ``We have no idea how to do that.'' And he said ``I don't care. We've got to do it.'' That stimulated creativity. And they began to ask ``What do we use these chlorofluorocarbons for that we can't do without them for?'' They used them to clean circuit boards. ``What can we use as substitutes?'' And they couldn't find acceptable substitutes. And then somebody asked ``Why do these circuit boards get dirty in the first place?'' And they started to think in a fresh way. And they developed a new approach called the no-clean process that completely eliminates chlorofluorocarbons. Most all their competitors are paying them license fees now. They have the most productive, best, cheapest approach in the world. It's now the industry standard. And they ended up making a lot of money from that decision by that CEO. There are a lot of similar examples when we make up our minds that we've got to do something, we find a better way to do it. There are going to be all kinds of new technologies that come out of this effort to reduce the emissions of CO2. And, now, on a worldwide basis, that problem with an ozone hole is really being solved. Now, there's a black market problem and we're clamping down on that and there's still all kinds of things that need to be done, but it's a success story. Let me -- I can only take a couple more because they tell me my schedule is getting rough. Yes sir.
Q (Inaudible) -- from Miami. I was struck by the analogy where you -- with the smoking stuff -- (inaudible) --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Right.
Q Where do you see this event today in that process? Are we at the 1964 surgeon general's report are we somewhere further down the line. Is this where we begin the discussion on the future or how do you see it?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: No, I think we're significantly further down the line. The cause-and-effect relationship is firmer than established in 1964. There was subsequent surgeon general's reports after that. I don't know what the exact analogy would be, but I think that -- I think that we're at the point now where a lot of people who had been fighting against this are now reevaluating their positions. I'll give you a couple of quick examples. One is a guy -- a scientist at NOAA. Is Tom Karl (sp) here? Yes sir. Years ago -- and forgive me if I'm misstating your history on this issue -- (laughter) -- but I remember reading some articles where he was raising reals serious questions about this, that and the other. He's recently produced this ground-breaking analysis showing the increase in moisture in the atmosphere that comes as a result of this. More precipitation in one-time storm events because there's more coming off the oceans, the capacity of the atmosphere to hold it is increased, when the meteorological conditions present for a storm, the likelihood of a larger amount falling all at the same time is increased. I'll give you a second example. The CEO of British Petroleum, the largest producer of oil in the United States of America -- fields in the Gulf of Mexico and also on the North Slope. Brown -- his first name is John Brown, the CEO of British Petroleum, there's this article in the Los Angeles Times today. British Petroleum unilaterally imposes greenhouse gas emissions on itself. He made a speech at Stanford and he said, ``I'm part of the oil industry. We, as an industry, have been pushing back against this concern. We've been classified as skeptical. I've just reviewed all the evidence. I believe the time to act is now. And so I'm changing this company's whole approach and we're going to shift over toward a much higher mix of renewable sources, much more emphasis on efficiency'' -- et cetera, et cetera. He's going to be in the position of the that guy at Northern Telcom that I told the story about with chlorofluorocarbons. And we're at a point now where more and more people who have been on the other side are really looking at their hold cards and saying, ``You know, this is -- this is coming, and we've got to do something about it. Are we going to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution?'' In any event, I want to -- I want to thank all of you for coming here, because just by spending the time to engage in this dialogue, and especially to talk with the folks that talked with you in detail this morning, just by gaining so much more in depth knowledge about this from the people who spend full-time studying it, you are becoming part of the solution and we appreciate it very much. Thank you very much for coming to the White House. Appreciate it. (Applause.)