Gore Urges Quick U.S. Action To Avert Global Warming Catastrophe

Wednesday, March 21st 2007, 9:53 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Al Gore, a Democratic favorite for the presidency despite pronouncements that he's not running, spoke out on his signature issue Wednesday, telling Congress that climate change poses a crisis that threatens civilization.

In a return he described as emotional, Gore testified before House panels that it is not too late to deal with climate change ``and we have everything we need to get started.''

Gore's return to Congress marked the first time he had been in the Capitol since 2001 when he was the defeated Democratic nominee still presiding over the Senate in his role as vice president.

The former vice president, who 20 years ago held the first hearings in Congress on global warming, appeared before a joint hearing by two House committees. Later in the day, he was to testify before a Senate committee that included the current Democratic front-runner for the nomination _ Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Several public opinion polls show Gore among the top three in the presidential race, although he has said he has no plans to seek the presidency again. In 2000, he won the popular vote but lost to George W. Bush when the Supreme Court ruled for the Republican in the disputed election.

Polls consistently place Gore, the non-candidate, third behind Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama _ ahead of John Edwards and other declared candidates _ and indicate that much of his support comes from Democrats who would otherwise back the New York senator.

``I want to testify today about what I believe is a planetary emergency _ a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth,'' Gore told the House committees. ``The consequences are mainly negative and headed toward catastrophic unless we act.''

Gore gained international recognition with his Oscar-winning documentary, ``An Inconvenient Truth,'' as perhaps the leading spokesman on dealing with global warming.

A former congressman and senator from Tennessee, Gore received a friendly reception from Democrats in Congress.

``Welcome back, welcome home,'' said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

But several Republicans have said they planned to pose sharp questions. Gore said the climate issue should not be a partisan or political issue.

He rejected the contention by opponents of quick action on global warming that the United States should only impose mandatory controls on greenhouse gases if China, India and other rapidly developing nations agree to do the same.

``The best way and the only way to get China and India on board is for the U.S. to demonstrate real leadership,'' Gore said. ``As the world's largest economy and the greatest superpower, we are uniquely situated to tackle a problem of this magnitude,'' he said.

Congress has nearly a dozen bills before it that call for reductions in carbon dioxide and other ``greenhouse gases,'' including some that aim to cut such emissions by as much as 80% by mid-century.