John Kerry: 'In a sense, climate change can now be
considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even
the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.'
US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Indonesians that
man-made climate change could threaten their entire way of
life, deriding those who doubted the existence of "perhaps the
world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction".
Kerry described those who do not accept that human activity
causes global warming as "shoddy scientists" and "extreme
ideologues", and said big companies and special interests
should not be allowed to "hijack" the climate debate.
Aides said Kerry had chosen Indonesia for the first of what
is to be a series of speeches on the topic this year partly
because, as an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, it is
particularly at risk from rising sea levels.
"Because of climate change, it's no secret that today
Indonesia is ... one of the most vulnerable countries on
Earth," Kerry told an audience of students at a high-tech
US-funded cultural center at a Jakarta mall.
"It's not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life
that you live and love is at risk."
In the middle of a trip to Asia and the Middle East, Kerry
argued that it made no sense for some nations to act to stem
climate change while others did nothing.
"Think about the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. It doesn't keep us safe if the United States
secures its nuclear arsenal while other countries fail to
prevent theirs from falling into the hands of terrorists," he
"The bottom line is this: it is the same thing with climate
change. In a sense, climate change can now be considered
another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world's
most fearsome weapon of mass destruction."
Kerry's public push takes place against a backdrop of a
negotiation among nearly 200 nations about a possible new
global treaty on climate change that is scheduled to be
agreed next year and to address greenhouse gas emissions from
In Beijing on Friday, Kerry announced that China and the
United States, the world's largest emitters of such gases,
had agreed to intensify information-sharing and policy
discussions on their plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions
US officials made clear they hope that the example of two
countries historically on different sides of the debate
working together might inspire other nations to do more.
The global scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change have said it is at least 95 percent probable
that human activities, led by the burning of fossil fuels,
are the dominant cause of global warming since the 1950s.
However, some sceptics argue that a rise in global
temperatures is due to natural variability or other non-human
The fact that temperatures have risen more slowly in the past
15 years despite a continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions
has also emboldened those who question the need for urgent
Kerry, who faces a politically tricky decision at home on
whether to allow Canada's TransCanada Corp to build the
Keystone XL pipeline over the opposition of environmental
groups, had little patience for such sceptics in his speech.
"We just don't have time to let a few loud interest groups
hijack the climate conversation," he said. "I'm talking about
big companies that like it the way it is, that don't want to
change, and spend a lot of money to keep you and me and
everybody from doing what we know we need to do.
"We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists ...
and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact," he
said. "The science is unequivocal and those who refuse to
believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand."