Related topics

U.S., Other Nations Agree Humans Causing Global Warming

August 31, 1990

SUNDSVALL, Sweden (AP) _ The United States joined 73 other nations Thursday in agreeing that man’s activities are causing the Earth’s atmosphere to heat up.

After four days of meetings to consider the most extensive scientific investigation of the Earth’s climate, the delegations unanimously adopted a report which will be a basis for negotiations for future climate treaties.

Scientists and environmentalists earlier described the consensus on the U.N.-sponsored report as a breakthrough because the United States acknowledged human activity is producing gases which are changing the climate and warming the globe.

The United States, the largest producer of carbon dioxide, has blocked any international agreement to place mandatory restrictions on emission of gases that may lead to a ″greenhouse effect.″

Carbon dioxide, produced from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal, helps trap warm air around the Earth, scientists say.

″This report marks the largest consensus ever reached among scientists that global warming poses problems for the future,″ said Bert Bolin, head of the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change. The panel spent two years preparing the document, under the auspices of the U.N. Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization.

″As far as effective action and impacts, the report is weak,″ said Jeremy Legget, science director for Greenpeace International. ″But the significant achievement is that finally the United States has acknowledged the global warming is actually happening.″

Fred Bernthal, head of the National Science Foundation and the 25-member American delegation at the climate conference, said, ″We are certain of the following: ... Emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases.″

He added, ″All things being equal, it (the greenhouse effect) might lead to global warming.″

Bernthal said there is still uncertainty about the magnitude of the problem, and questions about when and where the effects would be felt.

But Thursday night, Bernthal said U.S. acceptance of global warming theories in this agreement marked a formal commitment.

Bolin agreed that the uncertainties about global warming are the rate of heating, the magnitude and regional distribution.

The scientific assessment lays the foundation for future negotiations on how to halt global warming. Agreement on future impact and recommendations on possible actions were not achieved at the conference.

The meeting was marked by extensive argument behind closed doors between the Americans, who insisted more research is needed, and European nations committed to an international agreement on restricting carbon dioxide emissions.

The scientific conclusions will form the basis for discussions at the November climate convention in Geneva, Switzerland. The scientists said they hoped an agreement on action will be ready for signing at the June 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil.

Update hourly