Gorbachev Urges More Action on Environmental Problems
MOSCOW Nobel Peace laureate Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday urged governments and individuals to do more to tackle major environmental problems like global warming, which he blamed for this summer's deadly floods in Europe.
Speaking before a conference of the environmental advocacy group he founded, the former Soviet leader also lamented the growing shortage of natural resources in some countries, such as access to fresh water.
"Something bad is happening with the climate," Gorbachev said.
"We need to increase pressure on government and civil society institutions," he said. "Some (change) is taking place, but not on a big enough scale and not with enough energy."
Gorbachev, 74, was president of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991. His push for nuclear disarmament treaties, along with the policies of perestroika and glasnost helped end Communist rule in Eastern Europe and helped him win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.
In 1993, he founded Green Cross International, an environmental group that promotes global interdependence.
Gorbachev said that global warming was having a devastating effect on the planet's environment, pointing to constant floods in Europe.
"All our friends in Western Europe are swimming endlessly," he said.
This summer was the third straight of extreme weather in Europe, with drought-caused fires and flooding engulfing the continent and killing dozens.
Alexander Kosarikov, deputy chairman of an environment committee in the Russian parliament, said that with the current rate of water consumption, two-thirds of the world's population could lack access to fresh water in 15 years.
Even in Russia, which provides 20 percent of the world's supply of fresh water, some regions -- such as the Far East -- regularly lack access to reliable supplies of fresh water, he said.
Igor Yurgens, vice president of the Russia's biggest business lobby, said businesses must be more environmentally conscious providing their employees good working conditions and preserving the environment where their companies operate.
Source: Associated Press