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     Office of the Press Secretary
     (Christchurch, New Zealand)

For Immediate Release
September 15, 1999

     Antarctic Centre
     Christchurch, New Zealand

1:38 P.M. (L)

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Good afternoon.  Prime Minister
Shipley, to Burton and Anna and Ben; and Sir Edmund Hillary and Lady
Hillary; Ambassadors Beeman and Bolger, and their wives; to Mayor Moore:
Dr. Erb, Dr. Benton, Mr. Mace, Dr. Colwell; to all of those who have made
our visit here so memorable.
     Let me begin on behalf of my family and my party by thanking the
officials and the people of New Zealand for giving us five absolutely
glorious days in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  We are very
grateful.  (Applause.)


     The overwhelming consensus of world scientific opinion is that
greenhouse gases from human activity are raising the Earth's temperature in
a rapid and unsustainable way.  The five warmest years since the 15th
century have all been in the 1990s; 1998 was the warmest year ever
recorded, eclipsing the record set just the year before, in 1997.
     Unless we change course, most scientists believe the seas will rise so
high they will swallow whole islands and coastal areas.  Storms, like
hurricanes, and droughts both will intensify.  Diseases like malaria will
be borne by mosquitoes the higher and higher altitudes, and across borders,
threatening more lives -- a phenomenon we already see today in Africa.
     A few years ago, hikers discovered a 5,000-year old man in the Italian
Alps.  You might think someone would have noticed him before.  They didn't
because the ice hadn't melted where he was before -- in 5,000 years.  If
the same thing were to happen to the west Antarctic ice sheet, God forbid
-- it's a remote threat now, but it could occur one day -- and if it did,
sea levels worldwide would rise by as much as 20 feet.  If that happens,
not even Augie Auer will be able to save us from the weather.  (Laughter.)
Now, I want you to laugh about it because I figure when people laugh, they
listen.  But this is a very serious thing.
     In 1992, the nations of the world began to address this challenge at
the Earth Summit in Rio.  Five years later, 150 nations made more progress
toward that goal in Kyoto, Japan.  But we still have so much more to do.
America and New Zealand, in no small measure because of our understanding,
which the Prime Minister so eloquently articulated a few moments ago,
because of our understanding of the significance of Antarctica and the work
we have done here to make this a refuge of scientific inquiry, have special
responsibilities in this area.
     Of course, we have a big responsibility because America produces more
greenhouse gases than any other country in the world.  I have offered an
aggressive program to reduce that production in every area.  We are also
mindful that emissions are growing in the developing world even more
rapidly than in the developed world, and we have a responsibility there.
     But I wanted to say today -- and if you don't remember anything else I
say, I hope you will remember this -- the largest obstacle to meeting the
challenge of climate change is not the huge array of wealthy vested
interests and the tens of thousands of ordinary people around the world who
work in the oil and the coal industries, the burning of which produce these
greenhouse gases.  The largest obstacle is the continued clinging of people
in wealthy countries and developing countries to a big idea that is no
longer true -- the idea that the only way a country can become wealthy and
remain wealthy is to have the patterns of energy use that brought us the
Industrial Age.  In other words, if you're not burning more oil and coal
this year than you were last year, you're not getting richer; you're not
creating more jobs; you're not lifting more children out of poverty.  That
is no longer true.
     We now know that technologies that permit breathtaking advances in
energy conservation, and the use of alternative forms of energy, make it
possible to grow the economy faster while healing the environment, and
that, thank God, it is no longer necessary to burn up the atmosphere to
create economic opportunity.
     We have somehow got to convince a critical mass of decision-makers and
ordinary citizens in every nation of the world that that is true.  It will
help to concentrate their attention if the people who know about Antarctica
can illustrate, year in and year out, in graphic terms, the consequences of
ignoring climate change and global warming.
     We are committed to doing more at home and to do more to help
developing nations bring on these technologies, so they can improve living
standards and improve the environment.  We can do this.  We can do it in
the same way that progress is being made in dealing with the ozone layer.
  Consider that example -- something again which we know more about thanks
to the work of scientists here.
     Because of chemicals we produced and released into the atmosphere over
the past 50 years, every spring a hole appears in the ozone layer above
Antarctica.  You already heard, and you know more about it than any country
in the world, about the unhealthy levels of ultraviolet radiation which
pass through.  Now, ever Kiwi school child who has participated in Block
Day knows what it means, why you have to have sunscreen and a hat.
     But in 1987, the international community came together in Montreal and
agreed to stop the use of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer.  Experts
tell us that if we keep going the ozone hole will shrink, and by the middle
of the next century the ozone hole could actually close, so that, miracle
of miracles, we would have a problem created by people solved by people,
and their development.  This is the sort of thing we have to do with
climate change -- and the stakes are even higher.
     The Antarctic is a great cooling tower for our planet, a great
learning tower for our planet's scientists.  What happens to it will
determine weather all over the globe, and will determine the patterns of
life of the children here in this audience and certainly of their children
and grandchildren.  It is a bridge to our future and a window on our past.
     Right now, the ice is two miles thick and goes back more than 400,000
years.  By studying the patterns of the past, scientists will be able to
tell us what will likely happen in the future and how we are changing the
future from the past based on what we are doing.
     So much of what we know today from global climate patterns comes also
from satellite images.  But scientists have never had detailed images of
key parts of the Antarctic to work with until today.  So I wanted to come
here with one small contribution to the marvelous work that all of our
people are doing here.  Today America is releasing once classified
satellite images of the Antarctic's unique dry valleys.  The pictures
provide two sets of images taken 10 years apart and provides some of the
most detailed and important information we've ever had on these ecological
     Last month, Vice President Gore did the same thing for the Arctic.
Both these releases will help scientists understand changes taking place at
the poles, and help us take another step toward meeting the challenge of a
warming planet.
     This is a special challenge for our young people.  We have used the
Internet, through and initiative called the Globe program, to teach
students in more than 50 countries that a grasp of science and ecology is
the first step toward a cleaner world.  I am pleased that, working with
Prime Minister Shipley, we are also going to establish a new Globe program
for children right here in New Zealand.
     When Sir Edmund Hillary made his trek, the Antarctic was the last new
place humanity looked before turning its attention to the stars.  In less
than four months, all humanity will be looking forward to the promise of a
new century and a new millennium.  When the dawn breaks on January 1st, the
international timeline tells us that New Zealand literally will lead the
world into a new age.
     Let us vow, in this place of first light, to act in the spirit of the
Antarctic Treaty, to conquer the new challenges that face us in the new
millennium.  Let us work with the determination of Sir Edmund Hillary to
strengthen our partnership, to keep our air and water clean and our future
alive for our children.  We owe it to the children of New Zealand, the
children of the United States and the children of the world.  And we can do
     Thank you very much.  (Applause.)
     END  12:56 P.M. (L)

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