• U.S.

Get Wise To Global Warming

3 minute read
Leonardo Dicaprio

It’s a great honor for me to chair Earth Day 2000, especially because the primary focus of this year’s campaign is global warming. Global warming has to be the greatest misnomer of the new millennium, as it is such a benign, almost soothing name for the single most important environmental threat to the future of our planet and all living things on it.

This new millennium balances us on the edge of history. If we continue to ignore the issue of global warming, we will almost certainly suffer the drastic effects of climatic changes worldwide.

I recently came upon a magazine article describing the problem facing the islands of Kiribati. If you don’t remember the name, Kiribati is an obscure group of Pacific islands that became instantly famous as the location of the first televised sunrise of the new millennium. Not only are the islands experiencing more cyclones and droughts, but the fact is that rising ocean levels are eroding and contaminating the land. The dancing islanders we watched on television may now become environmental refugees. This scenario seems destined to be re-enacted on a much larger scale. The predicted effects of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere include climate changes that will cause more severe typhoons, hurricanes and floods, plus the bleaching of coral reefs, the melting of polar ice caps, an increase in insect-borne tropical diseases and much, much more.

Thirty years ago in the U.S., Earth Day 1970 and the subsequent Clean Air Act of 1970 helped spur worldwide changes that started to have a positive effect on the environment. Some governments began to eliminate lead in gasoline and to clean up power plants. Now it’s time to take the next step–to do for energy conservation and clean energy what was done for clean air back in 1970. Fortunately, there are things we can do, and that’s what Earth Day 2000 will try to emphasize.

One of the most important and immediate things we can do is drive fuel-efficient, high-gas-mileage cars–cars that have fewer toxic emissions and produce less carbon dioxide, the main culprit behind global warming. Hybrid cars, which have both electric motors and gasoline engines, are coming to the market. Using public transportation and carpooling are ways that people can reduce fuel consumption as well.

And of course, we can be part of the biggest Earth Day ever on April 22, 2000. Events will be taking place in every time zone on the planet in cities such as New York, London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Tel Aviv and Manila, creating a continuous, 24-hour Earth Day celebration. And it will be an honor for me to chair the Earth Day 2000 event in Washington. It’s time to send a message that politicians and corporations can’t ignore.

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