Kerry talks cli­mate change but not Trump in Antarc­tica

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

McMURDO STA­TION, Antarc­tica: US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry didn’t com­ment on Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion vic­tory while vis­it­ing Antarc­tica, but did say that cit­i­zens who care about lim­it­ing emis­sions might have to march in the streets to push for more ag­gres­sive ac­tion.

Kerry be­came the high­est-rank­ing Amer­i­can of­fi­cial to visit Antarc­tica when he landed for a two-day trip on Fri­day. He’s been hear­ing from sci­en­tists about the impact of cli­mate change on the frozen con­ti­nent. Trump has called cli­mate change a hoax and said he would “can­cel” US in­volve­ment in the land­mark Paris Agree­ment on global warm­ing.

“We need to get more of a move­ment go­ing,” Kerry said when ad­dress­ing sev­eral hun­dred sci­en­tists and staff at an even­ing event at McMurdo Sta­tion, the large base which is the hub for US op­er­a­tions. “We need to get more peo­ple to en­gage.” Kerry said there was a risk that much of Antarc­tica’s ice will even­tu­ally flow into the ocean, rais­ing sea lev­els world­wide.

De­spite the Paris agree­ment to cut the fos­sil-fuel emis­sions caus­ing the planet to warm, “we haven’t won the battle yet,” Kerry said to the au­di­ence that in­cluded many young peo­ple in­volved in cli­mate re­search.

Ear­lier, a planned visit to the South Pole was scrapped be­cause of bad weather. In­stead, Kerry and mem­bers of his en­tourage were taken on a he­li­copter tour of the McMurdo Dry Val­leys, one of the few parts of Antarc­tica that are largely free of ice year-round.

Kerry left from New Zealand early Fri­day aboard a C-17 Globe­mas­ter mil­i­tary cargo plane af­ter be­ing held up for about a day by bad weather. An ex­pe­ri­enced pi­lot, Kerry spent much of the flight

in the cock­pit of the huge jet, chat­ting with the pi­lots.

Af­ter a smooth trip of about five hours, the group landed on the Pe­ga­sus Ice Run­way, the strip of ice that serves McMurdo. Kerry’s aides de­scribed the trip as a learn­ing op­por­tu­nity for the sec­re­tary of state. He has been re­ceiv­ing brief­ings from sci­en­tists work­ing to un­der­stand the ef­fects of cli­mate change on Antarc­tica.

Kerry has made cli­mate change an in­ten­sive fo­cus of Amer­i­can diplomacy dur­ing his term, and had pre­vi­ously spent decades work­ing on the is­sue as a US se­na­tor. He planned to re­turn to New Zealand on Satur­day for a meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter John Key. Kerry plans to fly next week to the Mid­dle East for talks, and then on­ward to a global cli­mate con­fer­ence in Morocco, where he will give a ma­jor speech. — AP

US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry (right) lis­tens to sci­en­tist John Snow about the in­creased move­ment of ice­bergs across Antarc­tica at the Crary Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing Cen­ter, McMurdo Sta­tion in Antarc­tica yes­ter­day. —AP

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