From: Associated Press
Published July 24, 2006 12:00 AM

Gorbachev: 'Time for Countries to Address Global Environmental Crisis'

BRISBANE, Australia — Time is running out and countries must immediately address the world's environmental crisis, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said Monday at an international forum in the eastern Australian city of Brisbane.

Gorbachev, in a closing speech at the three-day Earth Dialogues forum, condemned world leaders for lack of political will, saying high-level forums had not delivered on promises to address climate change, pollution and other critical issues. He urged immediate action.

"If we don't (act), then I think that the coming generations will look at us and will say that we failed," Gorbachev, chairman of environmental lobby group Green Cross International, said through an interpreter.

"The atmosphere has been polluted, and it has had an impact on the global climate. We see the shrinking of arable land, deforestation ... the pollution of the ocean. We have very little time (to act)."

Gorbachev warned hundreds of schoolchildren in the audience that their lives will not be easy. He predicted that shortages of water and energy supplies could spark wars, and said signs of a new arms race are again emerging.

"If you look at the past 270 years ... this has been the industrial era in the history of mankind," he said. "Now we are in a post-industrial era, and this cycle, according to scientists, will last 135 years, and that means that civilization changes will be more than twice as erratic as in the previous era."

The forum featured 66 speakers, including four Nobel laureates, on issues including climate change, economic growth and poverty.

Source: Associated Press

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