July 19, 2005
Clinton Warns of Global Warming Dangers
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) -- Former President Clinton sounded a warning Tuesday against the dangers of climate change as he met with young South Africans, and had lunch with anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
Clinton was mobbed at a youth event hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. Young volunteers and their suited sponsors crowded around Clinton to take photographs and asked for autographs.
"Not very far from you in the South Pole in the last 10 years, 12 chunks of ice the size of Rhode Island have broken off," Clinton told the volunteers with City Year South Africa, a youth service organization he helped inspire.
"If this continues for another couple of decades, part of South Africa will be under water, and we will lose 50 feet of Manhattan Island in New York."
Clinton's comments contrast with the position of his successor, President Bush, who has questioned the existence of global warming. Bush rejects U.S. participation in the Kyoto protocol negotiated by Clinton's administration, arguing its caps on greenhouse gas emissions would damage the U.S. economy.
Clinton is on a six-nation Africa tour to check on projects funded by his foundation in the battle against AIDS. He arrived in South Africa late Monday after stops in Lesotho and Mozambique, two nations hard-hit by the pandemic ravaging the continent.
Clinton urged the young to set aside differences and remember their "common humanity."
"Most of the headlines today are full of sad stories - September 11, 2001, the horrible day in London a couple of days ago, when people die of suicide attacks in the Middle East," Clinton said. "In every case where there is a human-caused tragedy, it is because the people involved thought their differences were more important than their common humanity."
Clinton had lunch with Mandela and was later scheduled to attend an annual lecture in honor of the aging icon's 87th birthday.
The lecture will be delivered by Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. Also attending this year's event will be former Anglican Archbishop Tutu, who like Clinton delivered a previous lecture.