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President Clinton Meets With Top Scientists to Discuss Climate Change

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Global Climate

President Clinton Meets With
Top Scientists to Discuss Climate Change
July 24, 1997

"The science is clear and compelling: We humans are changing the globalclimate...No nation can escape this danger. None can evade its responsibilityto confront it."

-- President Clinton, Address to UN General Assembly
Special Session on the Environment, June 26, 1997

Following up on their remarks to the United Nations General Assembly SpecialSession on the Environment, today President Clinton and Vice President Gorewill hold a round table discussion with eminent scientists, including threeNobel laureates, to discuss the science of climate change and the need to takeaction to mitigate this problem. Today's discussion begins a series ofAdministration efforts and events to increase public awareness of theseriousness of this problem and the consequences that are likely to result ifwe fail to act.

As a party to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UnitedStates is engaged in long-term negotiations on climate change. This round ofnegotiations is scheduled to culminate in Kyoto this December with a treatysetting a legally binding target and timetable for the reduction of greenhousegas emissions. Today's meeting reflects the President's strong commitment totake action on climate change and to lay the scientific facts before theAmerican people prior to the Kyoto Conference.

Why Climate Change is a Problem:

  • Human activities are adding to the Earth's natural greenhouse effect bysteadily increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Carbondioxide (CO2) is the largest part of this problem, accounting for about 85% ofU.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Since about 1860, the atmospheric concentrationof CO2 has increased by about 30%. Other greenhouse gases, such as methaneand nitrous oxide, amplify this problem. Without intervention, emissions andconcentrations of CO2 will continue to increase, reaching the highest level inthe last 50 million years by 2100 (over 700 parts per million by volume). Suchconcentrations are expected to push up average global temperatures by 2-6§ F.

Scientists agree that global warming and disruptions in the world,s climatecould cause a substantial increase in infectious diseases such as malaria,increase the incidence and intensity of floods and droughts, raise sea levelenough to inundate thousands of square miles along the U.S. coastline, decreasefood production in some of the world's poorest nations, and threaten thesurvival of many plant and animal species.

Joining the President and Vice President today in the audience will be cabinetmembers and Administration representatives including Secretary Pena, Departmentof 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 FederalEmergency Management Agency and others whose agencies could play a role indealing with the impacts of climate change.

The following scientists will participate in today's round table discussionwith the President and Vice President:

  • Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland, University of California at Irvine. Dr. Rowland wonthe Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his pioneering research in atmosphericchemistry of the destruction of the ozone layer. He currently serves as theForeign Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences and is a former Presidentand Chairman of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement ofScience. Rowland received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1952 andis currently the Donald Bren Research Professor of Chemistry and Earth SystemScience at UC Irvine.

  • Dr. Mario Molina, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Molina wasawarded the Nobel Prize along with Dr. Rowland for their research on thethinning of the ozone layer. Molina and his colleagues demonstratedexperimentally how ozone-destroying chlorine functioned in the atmosphere. Heis currently the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Science atMIT. Dr. Molina serves on the President's Committee of Advisors on Science andTechnology and has also served as an advisor to NASA, the National ScienceFoundation and the National Institutes of Health.

  • Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Oregon State University. Dr. Lubchenco is currently theWayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and a DistinguishedProfessor of Zoology at Oregon State University. She has received numerousteaching awards and is also an American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow anda Fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Shereceived her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1975.

  • Dr. Stephen Schneider, Stanford University. As a postdoctoral researcher atNASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and later at the National Center forAtmospheric Research, Dr. Schneider's work focused on the influence ofgreenhouse gases and suspended particles on the earth's climate. In 1992, hewas awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for his ability to integrate and interpretthe results of global climate research to the public. Dr. Schneider iscurrently a professor in the Department of Biological Science and a ScienceFellow at the Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.

  • Dr. Bob Shope, University of Texas. Dr. Shope has devoted his career to thestudy of viruses carried by mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects. Sincereceiving his medical degree from Cornell University in 1954, Dr. Shope hasspent time in Malaysia, Brazil and other tropical sites studying insect-bornediseases. He was a Professor of Epidemiology at Yale University's School ofMedicine from 1975-1995 and served as the Director of the Yale ArbovirusResearch Unit for 24 years. Dr. Shope is presently a Professor in theDepartments of Pathology and Microbiology and Immunology at the University ofTexas Medical Branch.

  • Dr. Henry Kendall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Kendall won aNobel 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 thenuclear arms race, nuclear power and renewable energy sources. Dr. Kendall is afounding member of the Union of Concerned Scientists and has been elected tothe National Academy of Sciences. He is currently the J.A. Stratton Professorof Physics at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

  • Dr. John Holdren, Harvard University. Dr. Holdren is an expert on energy andenvironmental science. He is currently chairing the Presidential Committee ofAdvisors on Science and Technology Study of the entire U.S. energy research anddevelopment portfolio in relation to the economic, environmental and securitychallenges of the next century. He is presently the Teresa and John HeinzProfessor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science,Technology and Public Policy in the John F. Kennedy School of Government andProfessor of Environmental Science and Public Policy in the Department of Earthand Planetary Sciences at Harvard.

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