sábado, octubre 06, 2007

CLIMATE CHANGE: Gore discusses global warming in Mexico

Global warming isn't a popular topic in Mexican political circles, but Al Gore traveled to Mexico on Thursday night for the second time in two months because he has found a receptive audience in President Felipe Calderón.

Calderón wants Mexico to be a leader in confronting climate change, not just in Latin America but across the planet.

“Your president is saying and doing some important things,” Gore told nearly 5,000 people at a lecture hosted by Puebla's Benemerita University. “I have met with him. I have also met with opposition leaders, and I sense a growing political will here in Mexico.”

The former U.S. vice president, who will be in Tijuana this morning to present his global-warming program at the Autonomous University of Baja California, arrived at the Puebla auditorium in a caravan of environmentally friendly Honda hybrids.

Once onstage, Gore paced back and forth for 90 minutes, outlining his argument in a dry, professorial manner. He seemed at ease as he crusaded for the cause that some say has made him a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced Friday.

“We have a lot at stake, your country and mine,” he said.

Mexico made its mark on the study of climate change when Mexican scientist Mario Molina was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovering how compounds used in refrigerants and aerosol sprays affect the depletion of the ozone layer.

Molina, a University of California San Diego professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has been a Gore adviser for more than 20 years. Now, Molina is also advising Calderón, who has set environmental protection as a priority of his administration.

Calderón met with Gore in July after seeing his Academy Award-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” During that meeting at Mexico's White House, Gore told Calderón that Mexico “plays a pivotal role” in the world effort to control global warming.

“Mexico is a developing country that is handling this issue like a developed nation,” Environment Minister Juan Elvira said yesterday. “The lack of action on the part of other countries has not been an excuse for Mexico to stop working on the climate-change issue.”

Mexico faces massive environmental challenges. Its forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Pemex, the national oil monopoly, is destroying agricultural land and fishing sites with spillage from pipelines.

But in Mexico City, once the world's most polluted metropolis, tougher environmental measures have helped clean up the air.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who also met with Gore in July, has launched his own green agenda.

His government is creating 10 bus lines aimed at reducing the number of cars and smoke-belching microbuses on city streets. Companies with more than 51 employees must now heat at least 30 percent of their water with solar power. The city government is buying paper, folders and pencils made from recycled products.

“We have learned our lesson,” said Oscar Vázquez, the city's director of climate change. “Mexico City still has pollution, but it does not compare with the levels we once had.”

This heightened concern about Mexico's environment is a major shift from 1974, when Molina published his startling discovery about the Earth's atmosphere.

“In the beginning, it was a very esoteric problem because we were talking about invisible gases and an invisible layer protecting us from invisible rays,” Molina said. “Fortunately, that has changed now. In general, people are much more environmentally conscious.”

But as Gore stood before his rapt audience in Puebla, he said people must do more.

“This is really not a political issue,” Gore said. “It is a moral issue. It is an ethical issue and a spiritual issue.

“Do we have an obligation to all those generations who come after us and who depend on us not to destroy their future? That is the question.”

Via: SignOnSanDiego |by
By S. Lynne Walker

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