THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT GORE ANNOUNCES RECORD GLOBAL TEMPERATURES IN THE FIRST FIVE MONTHS OF 1998 New Data Suggests That Global Warming May Be Making Effects of El Nino Even Worse
Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore today announced new data showing record global temperatures in the first five months of 1998, and a new analysis by federal scientists suggesting that global warming may be making the effects of El Nino even worse.
The Vice President released a report by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showing that average global temperatures for January through May far exceed previous records for those months. The report also shows that over the past century, El Ninos have become more frequent and progressively warmer.
This century is the warmest in 600 years, 1997 was the warmest year on record, and we've set new temperature records every month since January, Vice President Gore said in remarks at the White House. This report is a reminder once again that global warming is real, and that unless we act, we can expect more extreme weather in the years ahead.
The Vice President called on Congress to approve the Administration's Climate Change Technology Initiative, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing $6.3 billion over five years for tax and research incentives to spur the development and use of energy-efficient products and clean energy technologies. The package includes tax credits for consumers who buy super-efficient cars, homes and appliances.
Regrettably, there are those in Congress who'd rather pretend that climate change is not real, the Vice President said. It's time for Congress to wake up to the mounting evidence and help us meet this challenge head on. The time to act is now.
The NOAA analysis examined the 10 strongest El Nino events of this century and found that they have become more frequent and warmer. During El Nino, a naturally occurring phenomenon, rising ocean temperatures in the Southern Pacific Ocean set off climatic shifts that can produce extreme heat and extreme precipitation in different regions of the world. Although it is not clear that the increasing frequency and warmth of El Ninos is a direct result of global warming, the analysis suggests that the effects of El Nino are compounded by rising global temperatures.
For the first five months of 1998, new temperature records were set in five states, and new precipitation records in 13. Temperature or precipitation, and in some cases both, were far above normal in 32 states. Tornadoes have killed 122 people this year, matching the annual record set in 1984. Elsewhere around the world, unusually warm ocean temperatures have severely damaged fragile coral reefs from the Florida Keys to Australia, and prolonged drought have contributed to thousands of wildfires in Malaysia, Brazil and Mexico.
This El Nino gives us a taste of the extreme, erratic weather our children and grandchildren can expect more of unless we reverse the trend of global warming, the Vice President said.
The Vice President directed NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work with other agencies in preparing a detailed review of the 1987-88 El Nino, its impacts and its costs. He also announced a new National Aeronautics and Space Administration web site (http://modarch.gsfc.nasa.gov/fire_atlas/fires.html) tracking major forest fires around the world with state-of-the-art satellite imagery.