10 de septiembre del 2000
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Notable Writings

B y   V i c e   P r e s i d e n t   A l  G o r e *

The Decade of the Environment

WASHINGTON, AUG (IPS) - We have to make the next ten years the Environment Decade, in America and around the world. We can and must turn the tide against pollution and global warming. It is increasingly clear that global pollution risks not only our quality of life, but the very fabric of life itself.
There are still powerful apologists for pollution who will always argue that pollution is the inevitable price we pay for our prosperity. That is false; worse, it invites and excuses a politics of environmental irresponsibility.
If we make the right investments, if we make the responsible choices, we don't have to choose between the economy and the environment. America's environment is cleaner than it has been in a generation.
At the same time, we have entered the longest period of economic growth in our entire history.
It is not extreme but mainstream to champion cleaner fuels, and energy efficiency. It's the right thing to do, and it's the responsible thing to do.
When it comes to our air, our water, and the Earth itself, we all have a responsibility to look not just to ourselves, not just to the politics of the moment, but to future generations -- to forge a future where none of our children have to worry whether the water they drink or the air they breathe is safe and pure.
It has been seven years since we first joined with the leading auto makers to create the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. Our goal was to work with the best manufacturers to come up with vehicles up to three times more efficient than what we had then -- with no sacrifice in performance, safety, or cost.
We can now look forward to a date in the next three or four years when cars with far greater fuel efficiency will be mass-produced. We can also look forward to the day when families will be able to buy cars with remarkable new fuel cell technology - engines that run on water, and are likely to increase fuel efficiency by 400 percent. These vehicles will create no greenhouse gas emissions at all.
This new partnership pursues a strategy against pollution that must reach across our economy, and all around the world in the coming years. A strategy that sees people as allies, not adversaries, in meeting environmental challenges. An approach that builds upon our responsibilities to one another -- to the air, the water, and the land that we hold in common, across borders and across the generations.
. In the Environment Decade, we must form partnerships with every industry that will produce fuel-efficient trucks that the critics said could never be made.
We have to make the free market the friend of the environment, not its enemy, and invest more in conservation, in renewable energy, and in fast-growing technologies that combat pollution.
We need to enforce tough, realistic, achievable standards to reduce smog and soot, and protect our children's health, and expand the right to know to every area where pollution of any kind threatens public health. We have to protect our forests and our rivers and our precious public lands.
We must meet persistent global environmental challenges. We must continue to ban the chemicals that eat away at our ozone layer and expose us to dangerous, cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. If we face this challenge head-on, we have the prospect of completely closing the ozone hole over Antarctica over the next two generations.
We must take decisive steps -- not just in this country, but everywhere -- against global warming. Though we don't yet have a consensus on this issue, I believe that the United States has to ratify the Kyoto agreement, which would commit us to significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We must ensure that all developed and developing nations are committed to doing their part. We can combat global warming in a way that creates jobs by aggressively pursuing a global market for new energy technology that is expected to reach 10 trillion dollars in the next two decades.
These challenges are not easy. And for me, they have never been without controversy. More than a decade ago, when I set out to write ''Earth in the Balance'', I was warned that it was politically foolish to make so clear a commitment to environmental protection, written down in black and white, for all to see.
. But for me, a commitment to the environment has always run deeper than politics. We have to do what's right for our environment, because it involves all of our lives -- from the simple security of knowing that our drinking water is safe, to the more ominous thinning of the ice caps at the top of the Earth.
The earth is in the balance. Save it we can, and save it we must, for this is the great responsibility of our generation. Now let us resolve to finish the job.


(Copyright IPS)

* Al Gore is the Vice President of the United States and the presidential candidate of the democratic party.

 



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