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Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Global warming 'a reality'
Sun
Greenhouse gases trap the Sun's energy
By BBC News Online environment correspondent Alex Kirby

President Clinton's chief adviser on climate change says the strength of the scientific argument that global warming is happening is "absolute".

The adviser, Roger Ballentine, said the US was committed to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate change treaty, but he said the treaty was an unfinished piece of work and the US had no intention of ratifying it until it was finished.

He also said he expected Al Gore to be the new US president.

Mr Ballentine, who is deputy assistant to Mr Clinton for environmental initiatives, was in London to explain the American position before November's meeting in the Netherlands of the states that have signed the Kyoto protocol.

'Scientific integrity'

The UK environment minister Michael Meacher has urged the US, Canada and Japan to reconsider their negotiating stances before the conference, especially on the need to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions.

twister
More extremes of weather are expected
Mr Ballentine told BBC News Online: "The US is committed to negotiating a treaty it can ratify - one with economic, environmental and scientific integrity.

"What we want to see coming out of The Hague is consensus that we made widespread progress towards ratification - that we are picking up steam not losing it."

On the science of climate change, Mr Ballentine said: "The science is absolutely convincing to policy makers. We are risk managers - we don't have to wait for 100% certainty.

'Sustained priority'

"But there is more than enough science to persuade us that we have to take action now. And mainstream scientists will tell you there is simply no doubt that climate change is happening."

Mr Ballentine said that if George W Bush were elected president he would not be able to walk into the White House and simply ignore the issue.

He said: "I fully expect Al Gore will be the next president and you will see a sustained priority given to this issue. The American people are starting to understand that Gore is the candidate with the vision and the ability."

Mr Ballentine said things were changing at many levels in the US and there was a dynamic movement towards accepting that climate change was a reality.

Climate processes

"We are making tremendous technological progress that will help us to solve this problem," he said. "Ultimately, you can have the economic growth you need and want while controlling climate change emissions."

Mr Ballentine's position is rejected by those groups, many of them in the US, who still doubt the reality of global warming.

They argue that the computer models on which future scenarios of climate change are based, and which are driving the greenhouse debate, are deeply flawed.

They say current computing technology does not have the power to simulate real climate processes properly even if they were fully understood.

Some scientists also dispute the widely held belief that the Earth is currently experiencing a rapid warming. They say that satellite data and balloon studies suggest no such warming is taking place.

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See also:

22 Jul 00 | Americas
US warning on pollution
20 Aug 00 | Americas
North Pole ice 'turns to water'
13 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
US warned on warming world
07 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
The dangers of climate change
27 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
New greenhouse gas threat
17 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Carbon at 20 million year high
19 Feb 00 | Washington 2000
'Death by global warming'
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