December 1997, Volume 4, number 10
"Global warming is no longer a theory," declared Al Gore in September.
"It is reality. And it is time to act."
The vice president made that observation at Montana's Glacier National Park --
a real-life global warming laboratory where glaciers are fast disappearing. By 2020, park
scientists predict, there may not be a single glacier left in the park.
At his Oct. 6 global warming conference in Washington, President Clinton echoed the
theme of urgent action. "I think we all have to agree that the potential for serious
climate disruption is real," he said. "It would clearly be a grave mistake to
bury our heads in the sand and pretend the issue will go away."
Then he did just that, fumbling what he described as "a golden opportunity to
conquer one of the most important challenges of the 21st century." In spite of his
bold rhetoric, the president unveiled a global warming strategy that struck many
environmentalists -- as well as U.S. allies abroad -- as a weak
blend of hot air and cold feet.
Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope likened the Clinton plan to "fighting
a five-alarm blaze with a garden hose." Dan Becker, director of the Club's Global
Warming Campaign, said the proposal "does too little and starts too late."
"It's a feeble response to a staggering environmental crisis," Becker
said. "The world's sole remaining superpower is rapidly developing a reputation as
the world's greatest superpolluter."
Clinton seeks merely to return U.S. emissions of global warming pollutants to 1990
levels between 2008 and 2012 -- a goal his administration has already
committed to achieve by 2000. The new Clinton plan stands in stark contrast to the
proposal of European nations to cut greenhouse emissions to 15 percent below 1990 levels
by 2010. It also bodes ill for international treaty negotiations in Kyoto, Japan, Dec.
The Clinton plan hinges in large part on a risky pollution trading-and-borrowing
scheme. It would give U.S. polluters the right to increase emissions within U.S. borders
in exchange for creating pollution reduction projects in developing countries, an idea
Pope rejected as ineffective. "Putting companies like Exxon and General Motors on an
honor system to cut global warming pollution won't protect our kids," he said.
Polluting industries like Exxon and GM are flexing their muscles in a 13-million-dollar
ad campaign aimed at scaring the American people into believing that action to curb global
warming means economic doom. The Sierra Club, along with the Natural Resources Defense
Council and the Environmental Information Center, took on their ad with a pro-environment
TV spot that urged Americans to stand up to the polluters by calling the White House and
urging Clinton to take real action. This winter the Club will release a series of TV
public service announcements using irony and humor to educate the public about the dangers
of global warming.
Sierra Club activists are working hard on the Club's global warming campaign,
pressuring Clinton and informing their communities about this serious environmental
In Florida, the efforts of activist Anna Peterson have netted several new signers to
the Club's state and local letter to President Clinton on fuel economy standards. Utah
activist Terri Underwood has scored major successes by publishing letters to the editor in
the Salt Lake City Tribune and distributing global warming postcards. From rallies in
Colorado to a global warming debate in Alabama and campus "dorm storming" around
the country, activists committed to protecting our environment and future generations have
made enormous contributions to the effort.
Between now and the treaty talks in Kyoto and beyond, the Sierra Club will be working
to make sure future generations -- and our environment -- don't
pay the price for today's pollution.
To take action: Help inform people in your community about the need for action
to curb global warming by getting involved in the Sierra Club's television PSA campaign.
Contact your local TV station and ask if it's running the Sierra Club climate change
spots, or call (202) 547-1141 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
find out more.
Write a letter to the editor of your local paper on global warming and the need for
urgent action. Be sure to mention the biggest single step we can take to curb global
warming -- improving the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks.
For more information on the Club's position on global warming, see the
July/August Planet or visit our Web
site at www.sierraclub.org/globalwarming/
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