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About the Speech

The uncertainties are great, but so are the certainties.  Venus and Mars show what too much, or too little, greenhouse gas can do to the possibility of life.  Carbon dioxide’s ability to absorb infra-red radiation can be measured.  But the analysis of how much warming, what changes in climate, what impact on agriculture, health and comfort will occur, and how well different countries can adapt, is still in progress.  The most serious consequences are decades in the future; and what life on earth will be like then is as uncertain as today’s life on earth was in the 1930’s.  Too little is known to predict what concentration will be too much, so no global “rationing” scheme is likely.  The worst climate impacts will be on the rural poor; their economic development is their best defense.  An ambitious program of research, development, and exploration for new economical energy sources and locations for carbon sequestration is urgently needed.  The already-developed nations will have to provide financial and technological assistance to the less developed.  The possibility of “geoengineering” the earth’s reflection of incoming sunlight is going to receive attention. How to cope with global warming will be the greatest challenge to international cooperation of the twenty-first century, or second only to nuclear weapons control.

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