“If the climate change within the range of current predictions actually occurs, the consequences for every nation and every aspect of human activity will be profound,” acting assistant secretary Richard J. Smith wrote in the memo.
Smith then cited Baker’s own words to a working-group meeting a few months earlier: “As you yourself stated,” he wrote, “we cannot wait until all the uncertainties have been resolved before we act to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for whatever climate change we are already committed to.”
Amazing that back then the Republicans knew how dangerous climate change was to the world and they even added the following:
Some shed light on the debate over the 1989 Montreal Protocol, which phased out production of industrial chemicals linked to the destruction of the Earth’s ozone layer.
“Many regard this issue as the most important priority on the global environmental agenda,” John D. Negroponte, then a State Department assistant secretary for the environment, oceans and fisheries, wrote to then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz.
The memo warned against efforts to weaken the treaty, saying such a move “would damage our international credibility, unleash major domestic criticism, and probably result in unilateral U.S.” controls on ozone-depleting chemicals. Negroponte argued instead for a position that is “prudently addressing the environmental risks, while providing a market stimulus and a reasonable time-frame for industry to develop alternate products.”
Two years later, advisers to the George H.W. Bush administration advocated a serious U.S. response to climate change, an issue that was just beginning to draw international attention in the late 1980s. A 1989 memo to then-Secretary of State James A. Baker III asserted that the United States should take a leadership role in the fight against a threat it called “the most far reaching environmental issue of our time.”
That sentiment changed years later, unfortunately.