President Clinton Meets With
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
Special Session on the Environment, June 26,
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
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
- 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.