26 September 1997
(Speech at Kew Gardens in London September 15) (5600)

London -- "The security of our world hinges upon whether we can strike
a sustainable, equitable balance between human numbers and the
planet's capacity to support life," Under Secretary of State for
Global Affairs Timothy Wirth said in London September 15.

"Of special concern to us in the United States are 'the Big Three':
Population, Bio-Diversity and Climate Change. We believe that there is
an urgency in all three," Wirth said. In his remarks at Kew Gardens,
he focused on the U.S. position on climate change for the Kyoto Global
Climate Change Conference in December.

The U.S. proposals have three main components, Wirth said:

-- that all developed countries have realistic, achievable targets and
timetables for significantly reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

-- that developing nations advance their commitment undertaken as part
of the original Climate Change Treaty and agree to a process that will
ensure that they will have binding emissions limitation commitments,

-- that a system of emissions trading and other market mechanisms be
established in order to reduce the costs of limiting emissions.

"There are limits as to what we can or should agree to in Kyoto," he
said. "It's one thing to say that each of our countries will reduce
emissions by 15 percent or 20 percent below 1990 levels over the next
two decades. But we need to be honest about what is realistically
achievable; and we need to be able to deliver what we promise.

"Otherwise, the entire international negotiating process on climate
will degenerate into political posturing, and, with no agreement in
sight, emissions will continue to rise rapidly."

Wirth stressed that climate change "is a global issue, requiring a
world-wide response." He emphasized the importance of involving
developing countries in the process, and said the United States and
the European Union need to agree on a common position "so that we can
work together during the upcoming negotiations."

He added, "the question is no longer what to do, the question is how
to facilitate what so clearly needs to be done.... I believe that our
legacy depends in large measure on our ability to understand and react
to these new challenges. The future habitability and stability of the
world is in the balance."

Following is the text of Wirth's remarks:

(Note: In the following text, "billion" equals 1,000 million.)

(Begin text)

The Hon. Timothy E. Wirth
Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
Department of State
September 15, 1997

Thank you for that kind introduction, and for the opportunity to be
here today. It's an honor and a privilege to address this audience in
this forum; and I have to admit that I'm more than a bit awed by the
fact that my predecessors in this lecture series include a prince and
three presidents, as well as several leaders of major international
environmental organizations. Maurice Strong, who gave the Kew Lecture
four years ago, is a neighbor of mine in Colorado, and I can't think
of anyone in the world I admire more.

Let me take this opportunity to convey once again my country's and my
own deepest sympathies during Great Britain's period of national
mourning. Along with millions of other Americans, I woke up early in
the morning a week ago Saturday to watch the broadcast of Princess
Diana's funeral: seeing Prince William and Prince Harry walking
bravely into Westminister Abbey reminded me vividly of John F.
Kennedy's two children, who went through a similar ordeal thirty-four
years ago. You have our heartfelt condolences.

My central topic today is climate change; I want to explain in detail
the United States' negotiating position on this vital issue as we head
toward December's international conference in Kyoto. But let me start
by putting this issue in context, because in several respects it is
typical of the kinds of threats and opportunities that we will face
together in the twenty-first century.

All over the globe, nations are beginning to recognize their
opportunity and their responsibility to look beyond the crises of the
moment toward the underlying causes that are making the world ever
more complex and redefining the priorities for long-term national
security and global stability. You only need to contrast the
experience of me and my generation with that of my children and

In August of 1961, I was an army private watching the Berlin Wall
rise, and I remember thinking that we might be shipped off to war in
Central Europe. Thirty years later, my kids sat on that same Wall with
some 750,000 other young people to hear a Pink Floyd concert.

For my generation the East-West confrontation was certainly the
formative experience. It defined who we were as a country, what we
thought was valuable, what we thought was important. For my children
the Cold War is ever more a distant reflection in the rear view

The void left by the end of the East-West conflict has evoked various
suggestions about our national purposes. There are those who would
suggest that the U.S. mission is domestic only; that since our
interests and responsibilities around the world are greatly
diminished, we should simply maintain a strong defense to guard
against military threats and traditional security concerns. This view
ignores much more than the increasingly interdependent nature of our
planet; it ignores the tremendous suffering and lost opportunities
that exist in today's world; and it ignores our responsibility to
ensure progress and hope for the future.

We are accustomed to searching for international purpose and the
causes of international instability in such factors as ideology,
geo-politics, economic inequity, or intense hatreds spawned by
nationalism, race, and religious fanaticism. To these we must now add
the enormous global factors of rapidly growing population, climate
change and the loss of bio-diversity, and the threatening results:
soil erosion, air pollution, overgrazing, diminishing freshwater
supply, infectious disease, ozone depletion, and many others. Compared
even with the complex considerations that determined our national
security policies during the Cold War, the new global threats to
international stability are almost bewildering in their interplay of
man-made and natural phenomena. All of these factors are linked
through complex chains of cause and effect, resulting in issues that
can make even the arcane calculus of nuclear deterrence seem like a
simple proposition. Climate change calculations, as just one example,
challenge even the most sophisticated and powerful computers designed
for our Cold War weapons programs.

But, complexity need not be the enemy of a coherent concept for policy
related to global issues. For all of us, the incorporation of global
threats into the post Cold War definition of global and national
security requires breaking down barriers and -- in the words of
Abraham Lincoln -- "disenthralling ourselves" from old ideas and
yesterday's paradigms.

Appealing as it might be to some in our Congress, passive isolation
will not enable us to fulfill these responsibilities. Instead, we have
to recognize and adapt to new responsibilities and new challenges --
issues that will define the 21st century. And one of the most
important of these is sustainable development -- the central concept
agreed to at the Earth Summit in 1992.

As Maurice Strong so clearly discussed here four years ago,
sustainable development fundamentally means that the economies of the
world should attempt to meet the needs of today's generation without
compromising or stealing from future generations. It is a concept
rooted in a recognition of the mutually reinforcing nature of
economic, social, and environmental progress.

Unhappily, the biggest obstacle to the pursuit of sustainable
development is the misguided belief that protecting the environment is
antithetical to economic interests. Far too many will nod their head,
saying "Yes, I'm for the environment as long as it doesn't cost jobs."
And it is within this terribly mistaken analysis that we encounter the
fundamental intellectual challenge to sustainable development, and to
the imperative of concerted action. The truth is that the environment
is fundamental to the economy.

Ecological systems are the very foundation of our society -- in
science, in agriculture, in social and economic planning. Five
essential biological systems -- croplands, forests, grasslands,
oceans, and fresh waterways -- support the world economy. Except for
fossil fuels and minerals, they supply all the raw materials for
industry and provide all our food: Croplands supply food, feed, and an
endless array of raw materials for industry such as fiber and
vegetable oils; forests are the source of fuel, lumber, paper and
countless other products, and house valuable watersheds that provide
drinking water for growing urban areas; grasslands provide meat, milk,
leather and wool; and oceans and freshwater produce food for
individuals and resources for industry.

Stated in the jargon of the business world, you could say the economy
is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. But when we pollute,
degrade, and irretrievably compromise that ecological capital, we
begin to do serious damage to the economy.

Is this just a theoretical concept? It is not.

It happened in Central and Eastern Europe, whose profound
environmental destruction we are only now uncovering and
comprehending. It is, in fact, happening all over the world, even in
many of today's headlined trouble spots.

For example:

In Rwanda, the unspeakably brutal massacres of 1994 occurred against a
backdrop of soaring population growth, environmental degradation, and
unequal distribution of resources. Rwanda's fertility rate is among
the highest in the world -- over eight children per woman. The
nation's once rich agricultural land is so severely depleted and
degraded that between 1980 and 1990, during a time of unprecedented
population growth, food production fell dramatically.

In Chiapas State, Mexico, decades of resource conflicts underlie the
rebellion in Mexico's most troubled region. Unequal distribution of
land and rapid population growth has forced poor peasants -- mostly
indigenous people -- to eke out a meager living by farming
environmentally fragile uplands. But these lands are quickly degraded,
plunging the increasing population even more deeply into poverty. A
similar cycle has been observed in places as diverse as the
Philippines, the Himalayas, the Sahel, Indonesia, Brazil, and El

In Haiti, dwindling resources are even more central to the social
collapse that has overtaken an island nation that was once the crown
jewel of the French Empire. Almost totally deforested, its poor
croplands divided into smaller and less productive parcels with each
generation, these problems were compounded by a predatory government
that drained the nation's scant resources and failed to invest in its
people. Looming ominously over this environmental, economic and
political collapse is the fact that Haiti's population of seven
million -- already unsustainable by every measure -- is expected to
double in the next 18 years.

And in China -- home to one in five of the earth's people -- severe
water shortages and soil erosion threaten that nation's ability to
feed its population. Between 1987 and 1990, China's arable land
decreased by some 50 million acres -- an area the size of all the
farms in France, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands combined. This
depletion is prompting an exodus from the impoverished interior to the
booming coastal cities. China, and the demands which accompany its
rapid industrialization, is moving headlong towards an environmental
wall which its economy will soon hit full speed. Some of these
dangerous trends are the product of poverty. 1.8 billion people around
the world live in wretched poverty. More than 2 billion live without
access to adequate sanitation facilities.

Poor people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America are in desperate need
of fuel and land to work. Their needs and their number make them
unwitting, but powerful, agents of destruction whether in tropical
rain forests or on fragile hillsides, a tragedy for the environment,
and their own futures.

But poverty is not the only, or even the worst, toxic force at work on
the global environment.

The appetite of the affluent for timber products is just as much of a
menace to forests in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil, and
the United States.

The bulk of the underground water being drained away from our future
flows into the shining cities of the "haves," not the parched lands of
the "have-nots."

Those same cities, and we who live in them and the way we live in
them, are, of course, the furnaces of global warming.

We are also learning that environmental capital cannot be measured
simply by counting trees, stocks of fish, or ears of corn. It also
encompasses complex ecological systems that filter wastes, regenerate
soils, determine weather patterns and climatic conditions, and
replenish fresh water supplies. Those systems, now called ecosystem
services in a new, exciting and compelling field of ecological
economics, allow us to live on this earth. Ozone depletion, species
loss, and the increasing carbon content of our atmosphere are all
reflections of the fact that the planet's ecological systems are under
enormous strain. We are destroying our own systems of survival.

The rapid degradation of our life support systems illustrate our
interdependence with nature and our changing relationship with the

Our security is inextricably linked to these trends. The security of
our world hinges upon whether we can strike a sustainable, equitable
balance between human numbers and the planet's capacity to support

Why have these new aspects of security only recently been recognized?
Two trends tell the tale. First, is the exponential growth of the
human population. World population has doubled since 1950, and now
stands at nearly six billion. Every year, the world gains another 91
million inhabitants -- the equivalent of another New York City every
month, another Mexico every year, another China every decade.
Ninety-five percent of that growth is taking place in the impoverished
countries of the developing world, which are already struggling to
provide jobs and sustenance for their people.

At the same time, the industrialized world has developed the
capability and consumptive capacity to utilize resources and produce
wastes at a rate that is unprecedented in human history. Although we
comprise only one-fifth of the world's population, the industrialized
countries use two-thirds of all resources consumed and generate
four-fifths of all pollutants and wastes.

So we're getting ourselves into a terrible fix -- the globe's
population is growing at a rate that is matched or exceeded only by
our growing capacity to consume resources and produce wastes. The
course we are presently on is unsustainable.

Of special concern to us in the United States are "the Big Three":
Population, Bio-Diversity and Climate Change. We believe that there is
an urgency in all three.

While it is true that the rate of population growth is declining, the
base against which that rate applies is bigger than ever in world
history. Nearly half of today's population is 15 or younger -- they
are just entering their child-bearing years. Much of the future of the
globe will be determined by whether these new young parents have two,
three, four or more children. I hope we can talk more about this issue
in the question period -- from the Cairo Program of Action we know
what to do. Now we must do it.

The second of the "Big Three" is Bio-Diversity, the central focus of
Kew Gardens and your wonderful work around the world. We need to
realize the opportunity of the need to move beyond the abstract words
of preserving and utilizing our biological inheritance. I am
increasingly convinced that the biodiversity issue may dwarf all
others in the not too distant future.

The 21st century will certainly be the century of biology; already
more than 50 percent of today's top selling pharmaceuticals come
directly from plant biochemicals and compounds of undiscovered promise
await us: A periwinkle plant from Madagascar provides a treatment for
forms of leukemia, breast cancer and cancers that afflict children;
fox glove, a plant in the snapdragon family, also known as digitalis,
is the source of a key medicine used in the treatment of chronic heart
failure; quinine, extracted from the bark of a plant in the coffee
family, was for a century the main treatment for malaria; and
penicillin, the first and most famous antibiotic, was developed from
common mold.

The list goes on and on, providing immeasurable assistance and comfort
to mankind, and creating multi-billion dollar markets.

Similarly, our food base comes from the reservoir of nature. For
example, just three species of grass -- rice, wheat, and corn --
represent humanity's principal foods, yet the abundance of the natural
world is much larger.

We can measure the distance to the moon to an accuracy of centimeters,
but haven't explored the wonder of our own world's species. Are there
10 million, 50 million or 100 million, and what genetic wonders do
they hold? Certainly this is the overwhelmingly important frontier of
the future, in which we can prospect for food, fuel, pharmaceuticals
or fiber, as we once prospected for gold in South Africa or silver in
the American West. Unfortunately this is not at all well understood in
the United States; there are forces afoot in our country bent upon
crippling our nation's biological survey, repealing the Endangered
Species Act, and ignoring the International Biodiversity Treaty. One
of the major challenges we face is to change the terms of the
biological debate, so it is understood as a phenomenal future, where
we can prove that economic prosperity and environmental preservation
can be linked with enormous promise for posterity.

And now to the third of the Big Three: Climate Change. Global warming,
caused by our dumping billions of tons of carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year, is likely to have a
tremendous impact on every aspect of the natural order. We need to
think about climate both as a sustainable development issue and as a
global issue.

We believe that the science is compelling:

The chemical composition of the atmosphere is being altered by
anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. The continued buildup of
these gases will enhance the natural greenhouse effect and cause the
global climate to change.

Based on these facts and additional underlying science, the second
global assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change
reported that "the balance of evidence suggests that there is a
discernible human influence on global climate."

This last finding represents the first time that a consensus has
emerged among leading climate scientists that the world's changing
climatic conditions are more than the natural variability of weather.
In short, the IPCC's results have further underscored the compelling
nature of scientific understanding of this issue.

Nonetheless, uncertainty remains. The scientific community cannot yet
tell us precisely how much, when or at what rate the Earth's climate
will respond to greenhouse gas buildup. However, making the best
possible estimate based on what is known about the complex climate
system, the scientific community believes that current emissions
trends (resulting over the next several decades in the effective
doubling from pre-industrial concentrations of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere) will lead to global temperatures which, on average, are 2
to 6.5 degrees warmer than today, increasing at a rate greater than
any known for the past 10,000 years.

Based on these estimates, the best scientific evidence indicates that
human-induced climate change, if allowed to continue unabated, could
have profound consequences for the economy and the quality of life of
future generations:

Human health is at risk from projected increases in heat-related
mortalities and the spread of diseases like malaria, yellow fever, and
cholera. In fact, the World Health Organizations sees the effect of
climate change as one of the biggest public health challenges for the
21st century.

Food security may be threatened under a number of global warming
outcomes as croplands move northwards leaving some regions of the
world at serious risk of food scarcity. This makes Kew Gardens' work
on its Seed Bank extremely relevant and important to this problem.

Water resources are expected to be increasingly stressed, with
substantial economic, social, and environmental costs in regions that
are already water-limited, and perhaps even political costs where
there is already conflict over limited resources.

Coastal areas -- where a large percentage of the global population
lives -- are at risk from sea level rise. In the U.S. alone, our
planners estimate costs in the range of $100-$300 billion to protect
coastal property from a 1 meter rise.

In our opinion, the IPCC has clearly demonstrated to policy makers
that further action must be taken to address this challenge.

US policy on climate change flows from this science -- the risk is too
great to ignore, and we must act now.

Our proposals have three central components:

We propose that all developed countries have realistic and achievable
targets and timetables for significantly reducing their greenhouse gas

We propose that developing nations advance their commitment undertaken
as part of the original Climate Change Treaty and further, agree to a
process that will ensure that they will have binding emissions
limitation commitments of their own.

And, finally, we propose to establish a system of emissions trading
and other market mechanisms that will reduce the costs of limiting
emissions, in both developed and developing countries.

Let me address each of these three aspects of our proposal in turn.

I want to start with our ideas for emissions trading and market
mechanisms, because we see them as essential to our whole proposal,
both environmentally and economically. We believe that these market
mechanisms can reduce the costs of implementation significantly --
thus enabling us to achieve much greater reductions in emissions -- in
both developed and developing nations.

In the United States, the concept of emissions trading has been
successfully used to reduce costs as much as tenfold in meeting the
standards set for power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide. In the
climate context, we envision that participating nations, and their
private-sector companies, would be allowed to trade greenhouse gas
emission permits, thus creating the opportunity to reduce emissions
where it is cheapest to do so. Such a program could cut the cost of
reducing emissions by as much as 50 percent.

An international emissions trading regime must be designed and
implemented. We will need to establish a reliable system of monitoring
and verification to ensure that everyone plays by the rules; but
that's the case with almost all international agreements, from arms
control to intellectual property rights.

Another key piece of our climate strategy is joint implementation. We
propose that private-sector companies in developed countries be
allowed to undertake emissions reductions projects in developing
countries, and count these reductions against their own emissions. We
believe that joint implementation can harness the expertise and
capital of the private sector, to reduce global greenhouse gas
emissions in a cost effective manner.

The United States already has launched many successful demonstration
projects of activities jointly implemented from forestry to energy
conservation, from Costa Rica to the Czech Republic, from Belize to
Bolivia to Russia.

As these projects have demonstrated, joint implementation can do much
more than just reduce costs. Developing countries reap substantial,
long-term benefits from such a system, through the transfer of
cutting-edge technologies and business practices. Moreover, as we have
seen in Central America, joint implementation projects can provide an
invaluable mechanism to protect forests and other critical habitat
around the world.

We see the combination of emissions trading and joint implementation
as a more comprehensive, "greener" alternative to the idea of a
European "bubble," and to other purely regional schemes. Climate
change is a global issue, not a regional one, and the mechanisms that
we put in place to reduce costs should be as inclusive as possible. To
be sure, we should encourage European governments and companies to
work together to reduce emissions; but Great Britain and its neighbors
should also be encouraged to cooperate with the United States and
Australia, Russia and Japan, China and India. The guiding principle
should be to maximize the environmental benefit at the least cost. We
should reduce emissions wherever and whenever we can, even when that
means crossing national or regional boundaries. Lower costs will, in
turn, enable us to aim for and then to achieve much more significant
reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, we think all developed nations should have to take
significant emissions reductions measures. This is a problem which
affects every nation, and every nation must be part of the solution.
But unlike emissions trading, the EU bubble would create a system in
which countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Greece had little or no
incentive to limit their emissions -- indeed, the current EU proposal
would encourage these countries to increase their emissions by as much
as 40 percent over 1990 levels. That's not the best way to reduce
overall emissions, and it's not the right signal we want to send to
newly-developed countries such as Mexico and Korea.

That brings me to the subject of targets and timetables for reducing
emissions in developed countries.

President Clinton recognizes that the United States, as the world's
leading emitter of greenhouse gases, must set a strong example for
other nations around the world. That is why the President and his
cabinet members are now engaged in an intensive education campaign to
convince the American people and the Congress that the climate change
problem is real and imminent. And that is why President Clinton has
promised that "we will bring to the Kyoto conference a strong American
commitment to realistic and binding limits that will significantly
reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases." We believe that market
mechanisms such as the ones I have discussed will make it possible to
achieve meaningful emissions reductions in a cost-effective manner.

But even with such mechanisms, there are limits as to what we can or
should agree to in Kyoto. It's one thing to say that each of our
countries will reduce emissions by 15 percent or 20 percent below 1990
levels over the next two decades. But we need to be honest about what
is realistically achievable; and we need to be able to deliver what we
promise. Otherwise, the entire international negotiating process on
climate will degenerate into political posturing, and, with no
agreement in sight, emissions will continue to rise rapidly.

Over the past decade, the United Kingdom has made difficult and
admirable decisions to reduce energy subsidies. In doing so, you set a
fine example for other nations around the world, that will need to
make similar choices in the years to come. We commend Prime Minister
Blair for his enthusiastic and public commitment to further emissions

By the year 2000, it is likely that the only developed countries to
hold their emissions to 1990 levels will be the U.K., Germany, and the
nations of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Germany will
reach its emissions target by shutting down the factories of the
former German Democratic Republic; while Russia and its Eastern
European neighbors will reach their targets only because of massive,
and extremely painful, economic restructuring.

Looking at the larger picture, we also need to recognize that action
by the United States, Great Britain and the other industrialized
nations will not, by itself, put the world on the road to stable
greenhouse gas concentrations. As I've said, climate change is a
global issue, requiring a world-wide response. It's all one
atmosphere, whether it's polluted by American power plants, Brazilian
steel mills, or Korean traffic jams.

At present, developed country emissions account for approximately 60
percent of the global total. But developing country emissions are
growing rapidly, and by 2020, will account for more than half of the
world's emissions. China, which is already the world's second largest
emitter, will surpass the U.S. within 15 years. So it is imperative
that any next step we take include action from both developed and
developing countries.

I should add that the United States Congress shares our sense of the
importance of developing country participation. Indeed, the Senate, by
a vote of 95-0, recently indicated that it will approve a climate
change agreement only if it contains specific provisions to address
this issue. Many of my former colleagues in the Senate see this as a
competitiveness problem. A large and growing percentage of U.S.
exports go to developing countries; we compete world-wide with China,
the world's largest exporter of consumer goods. So many Americans are
worried that a Kyoto agreement could result in their jobs being
shipped overseas.

We regard the participation of developing countries as an essential
part of a comprehensive Kyoto agreement, along with the
legally-binding commitments for developed countries and the creation
of cost-effective implementation mechanisms. There are over one
hundred developing nations, and they vary greatly in size and level of
economic development; but each of those nations can and should take
actions commensurate with its capabilities and responsibilities.

The U.S. proposal for developing country participation has three

first, we call on all nations, developed and developing, to advance
the implementation of their existing commitments to undertake
climate-friendly policies and measures;

second, we ask that advanced developing countries, particularly those
which have graduated to OECD status, voluntarily undertake quantified
emission limitations;

and third, we call for a new series of negotiations to develop
quantified obligations for all countries, and to establish a "trigger"
for the automatic application of these obligations, based upon agreed

Let me say a few more words about our developing country strategy:

To begin with, there is the issue of advancing the implementation of
existing commitments under the Climate Convention. We believe that all
nations should increase their energy efficiency, eliminate subsidies,
and emphasize market-oriented pricing; increase the use of renewable
energies; facilitate investment in climate-friendly technologies; and
promote the development and sustainable management of forests and
other carbon "sinks" and "reservoirs." These are all measures that are
justified economically in their own right and can also help in solving
other environmental problems.

Next, how should we categorize developing countries? They are not all
the same. Some, because of their large economies are responsible for a
significant share of global emissions. Others have higher capita
incomes, thus making them more capable of taking on greater
responsibilities. Distinctions among developing countries are
justified, and we believe this merits the creation of a special class
of nations that would be asked to take on voluntarily emissions
targets. These nations would then be permitted to trade their
emissions rights.

Third, we need to address the urgent need for a regime in which all
nations particularly the bigger and richer ones, become full partners
in responding to the threat of climate change. This means Kyoto
becomes a first step in a process that must be sustained over many
more years. Our work will not finish in Kyoto, but it is important
that it begin with a serious and committed first step.

I've gone into quite a bit of detail about the rationale for our
proposal for Kyoto because the United States and the European Union
will need to agree on a common position -- preferably sooner rather
than later -- so that we can work together during the upcoming
negotiations. The Alliance, which has served our common interests so
well during World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, will be
essential here as well. That's why I'm here today, to talk with you
and to engage in consultations with your government.

This is an ambitious, exciting, consuming agenda, not cost-less, not
barrier-free, but doable. In fact, the question is no longer what to
do, the question is how to facilitate what so clearly needs to be
done. Success will send benefits rippling across both our nations,
both our economies and most important the lives of present and future
generations. I believe that our legacy depends in large measure on our
ability to understand and react to these new challenges. The future
habitability and stability of the world is in the balance.

In 1948, when the notion of space exploration was still science
fiction, the Astronomer Fred Hoyle said: "Once a photograph of the
Earth, taken from the outside, is available...new idea as powerful as
any in history will be let loose.

Twenty years later, when space travel became a reality, the travelers
themselves provided powerful testimony to Hoyle's sense of the unity
of the world. Let me read to you from our own astronaut, James Irwin:

"That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate
that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart."

And now from a Russian cosmonaut: "After an orange cloud -- formed as
a result of a dust storm over the Sahara -- reached the Philippines
and settled there with rain, I understood that we are all sailing in
the same boat."

In this last decade of the millennium, we have the power and enormous
responsibility to captain that boat carefully. We also have the
ability to shape change for the benefit of the entire world. The
interests and intellectual capacity reflected in this room today bears
a special burden in this regard. Working together, your talents, your
energy and your power is more than the match for the challenges and
the institutions involved. I know that each of you will engage in this
effort and that we can harness that energy and wisdom in service of
these objectives. Our future certainly depends on it.

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