THE LIGHT PARTY
The conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change will be held in Berlin from March 28th to April 7th this year. decisions will be made there that will influence the future of our country and the world.
The warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), made up of more than 300 of the world's leading climate scientists, make it clear that climate change is a serious threat to our security. Among the dangers they describe are flooding of costal areas, drought, more severe storms, threats to food supplies, the spread of disease and the extinction of species. Clearly, the changes we have seen in the weather all over the US for the last several years - rains, floods, tornados, hurricanes, severe storms, and drought - are not just happenstance.
Already, the eight hottest years on record have occurred since the start of the 1980's. The authoritative science agency, the Enquete Commission to the German Bundestag, states that: "Our planet is already warming at an increasing rate. The first signs of climate change are already measurable and noticeable. Hence there is no reason any more to delay urgently required actions." Yet today global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are rising rapidly.
The biggest contributor to climate change is the gas carbon dioxide (CO2) which we pump into the atmosphere mainly through our burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas. The destruction of the world's forests also releases large amounts of CO2.
The Alliance of Small Island States, nations whose very existence is threatened by rising sea levels, have proposed a legally binding protocol to the Climate Convention which requires industrialized countries to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by the year 2005. The IPCC estimates that emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide will need to be reduced by more than 60% to stabilize these gases in the atmosphere. A 20% reduction would be a minimum first step.
Timothy Wirth, the US Under Secretary of Global Affairs will be attending the Climate Summit in Berlin. Everyone who cares about this issue should write to him (2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20520) and urge that he do everything in his power to see that in Berlin, the US supports the Protocol proposed by the Alliance of Small Island States.
As the world's largest economic power - and the largest producer of greenhouse gases - the US has a critical role to play at the Climate Summit in Berlin. But, regardless of what is decided in Berlin, the US administration should enact policies that will replace fossil fuels with clean energy sources - solar, wind, small-scale hydro, and biomass; replace cars with public transport; and help stop the burning of destruction of forests.
Da Vid, M.D.
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