The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Kerry: Climate change is world's 'most fearsome' WMD; slams deniers as 'flat earthers'

  • Print

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Climate change may be the world's "most fearsome" weapon of mass destruction and urgent global action is needed to combat it, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday, comparing those who deny its existence or question its causes to people who insist the Earth is flat.

In a speech to Indonesian students, civic leaders and government officials in Jakarta, Kerry laid into climate change skeptics, accusing them of using shoddy science and scientists to delay measures needed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at the risk of imperiling the planet. He also went after those who dispute who is responsible for such emissions, arguing that everyone and every country must take responsibility and act immediately.

"We simply don't have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation," he said, referring to what he called "big companies" that "don't want to change and spend a lot of money" to act to reduce the risks. He later singled out big oil and coal concerns as the primary offenders.

"We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts," Kerry told the audience gathered at a U.S. Embassy-run American Center in a Jakarta shopping mall. "Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits."

"The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand," Kerry said. "We don't have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society,"

Kerry, saying that 97 per cent of scientists who have weighed in on the issue agree that the phenomenon is real, argued that the cost of inaction to environments and economies will far outweigh the significant expense of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that trap solar heat in the atmosphere and contribute to the Earth's rising temperatures.

He outlined a litany of recent weather disasters, particularly flooding and typhoons in Asia, and their impact on commerce, agriculture, fishing and daily living conditions for billions of people.

"This city, this country, this region, is really on the front lines of climate change," Kerry said. "It's not an exaggeration to say that your entire way of life here is at risk."

He added: "In a sense, climate change can now be considered the world's largest weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even, the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction."

The solution, Kerry said, is a new global energy policy that shifts reliance from fossil fuels to cleaner technologies. He noted the President Barack Obama is championing such a shift and encouraged others to appeal to their leaders to join.

The speech came a day after Kerry won an agreement with China to co-operate more closely with the U.S. on combatting climate change. American officials hope that will help encourage other nations, including developing countries like Indonesia and India, to follow suit.

Just after Kerry departed Beijing on Saturday, the U.S. and China issued a joint statement saying they had agreed on steps to carry out commitments to curb greenhouse gases, including reducing vehicle emissions, improving energy efficiency of buildings and other measures.

China and the United States are the biggest sources of emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that cause the atmosphere to trap solar heat and alter the climate. Scientists warn such changes are already leading to drought, wildfires, rising sea levels, melting polar ice, plant and animal extinctions and other extreme conditions.

Beijing and Washington launched the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group last year. They promised progress in five areas: reducing vehicle emissions; advanced electric power grids; capturing and storing carbon emissions; gathering greenhouse gas data; and building efficiency.

Kerry was in Indonesia on the last leg of a three-nation tour of Asia that started in South Korea and then China. After leaving Indonesia on Monday, he will travel on to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Before giving his climate change speech on Sunday, Kerry toured Jakarta's massive Istiqlal Mosque, one of the largest in the world, to pay his respects to Indonesia's Muslim majority population.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Family of Matias De Antonio speaks outside Law Courts

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Ruth Bonneville Winnipeg Free Press January 18, 2011 Local Standup -
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local- (Standup Photo). Watcher in the woods. A young deer peers from the forest while eating leaves by Cricket Drive in Assiniboine Park. A group of eight deer were seen in the park. 060508.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google