U.S. Must Address Global Warming, Bush Ally Says
HOUSTON Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, a close ally of the Bush family, broke ranks with the Bush administration Thursday and called for the United States to get serious about global warming.
Baker, in a speech to an audience that included a number of oil company executives, said "orderly" change to alternative energy was needed.
"It may surprise you a little bit, but maybe it's because I'm a hunter and a fisherman, but I think we need to a pay a little more attention to what we need to do to protect our environment," he told the Houston Forum Club.
"When you have energy companies like Shell and British Petroleum, both of which are perhaps represented in this room, saying there is a problem with excess carbon dioxide emission, I think we ought to listen," Baker said.
Baker ran presidential campaigns for George Bush and served in his Cabinet and led George W. Bush's controversial legal fight to win the Florida vote in the 2000 election.
The current Bush administration has been skeptical about global warming and refused to sign on to the international Kyoto Treaty to combat climate change, saying it would hurt the U.S. economy.
Baker said he agreed with the decision not to join Kyoto, calling it "a lousy treaty" because it did not include China and India.
But he said he supported "a gradual and orderly transition" to new fuels.
"I think we need to go forward with some sort of gradual, resourceful search for alternative sources," Baker said.
Many scientists blame the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil for creating a "greenhouse" effect that is warming the world climate.
The United States is the leading oil consumer and top producer of greenhouse gases. Most U.S. energy companies reject the idea that global warming is occurring.