It was Climate Action Day at the UN climate conference in Lima, Peru. A three-hour “high level” session featured a number of prominent elected leaders, UN officials, and climate activists. It gave me a chance to hear former star of stage and screen Al Gore twice more. Gore said that, “We are designing the future of humankind here in Lima and then Paris” next year. If that isn’t scary enough, U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew in a few hours later to give a speech in the main press conference room. It wasn’t an official speech to the COP, but was meant to show the delegates and the world that the Obama Administration is determined to make the negotiations succeed.
Chief State Department climate negotiator Todd Stern introduced his boss. He said that Secretary Kerry as a Senator had attended nearly every important international climate meeting beginning with the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. It was at that summit that nations agreed to save the world from global warming by signing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. After President George Bush signed it in June 1992, the Senate ratified it with little debate that fall, thereby making the U. S. the first country to ratify it. Stern went on to say that Kerry as Secretary of State pushes the climate issue with every foreign leader he meets with. That meshes with Kerry’s claim that climate change is “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”
Secretary Kerry then gave an articulate but intellectually sloppy speech. He began by noting that Al Gore, who was seated in the front row, had been warning about global warming since 1992 and yet he woke up this morning to the news that California and Washington state were experiencing torrential, record-setting rains after a record drought. Kerry said that the science is screaming at us, and it’s therefore astonishing that we have people in the Senate who continue to doubt it. You don’t need a Ph. D., he said, to see that the world is changing.