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World: Clinton Opens Global Climate Conference

Washington, 7 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. President Bill Clinton says man-made pollution could seriously disrupt the Earth's climate, and he says the U.S. must take a leading role in a worldwide effort to curb the phenomenon known as "global warming."

Clinton spoke yesterday at the opening of a conference in Washington on this environmental issue. It is a prepartory meeting for an international conference to be convened in Japan in December. The meeting in Japan aims to set limits for the nations of the world on the amount of pollutants and gases emitted into the atmosphere.

Many scientists contend emissions from factories, automobiles and other sources are causing the Earth to warm up, and they warn this trend could have disastrous consequences. However, not all scientists agree with this view and this group says not enough is known about climate change to mandate sweeping and costly changes.

Clinton said the issue is complex and challenging, but he also said that it would be a terrible mistake to look away from the problem and "pretend it will go away."

The White House invited many of the nation's leading scientists and environmental experts to the Washington conference. However, there were complaints that prominent scientists who do not agree with the global warming thesis were not invited.