WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 2,400 scientists urged President Clinton on Wednesday to take actions that would reduce manmade pollution that many scientists believe is warming the earth.
The statement calls on the administration to endorse "early domestic action to reduce U.S. emissions via the most cost-effective means" as part of a worldwide effort to address global warming.
President Clinton is scheduled to address global warming at a United Nations meeting later this month, and the United States will attempt with other nations to develop a system of binding reductions in greenhouse gases at a conference in Japan in December.
One of the scientists, William Schlesinger, a botanist at Duke University and expert on the carbon cycle, said that while there are some skeptics about global warming, "we see a truth emerging that is solid science."
George M. Woodwell, founder of Woods Hole Research Center, said he hoped the statement by 2,409 scientists from various disciplines would sway the president to lead the country toward "a fundamental transition" from its heavy dependency on fossil fuels to other energy sources.
Releases of manmade pollution, mainly carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and gas, is believed by many scientists to be trapping the earth's heat like a greenhouse, and could lead to a warming of the earth by as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.
Such warming would cause sea levels to rise and cause widespread coastal flooding and other economic, social and ecological changes, these scientists say.
Many environmentalists have called for the administration to adopt a plan that would lead to at least a 10 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010, compared with 1990 levels. European countries want a 15 percent reduction by industrial nations.
But business leaders have urged the president to proceed with caution.
Earlier this week, the Business Roundtable, comprised of executives of major U.S. corporations, urged Clinton "not to rush to policy commitments" at the Japan conference that would impose severe costs on U.S. industry.
Clinton, in remarks to the group the next day, promised "sensible steps" to deal with global warming, but said it would be "folly" to ignore the issue. The administration is working on a proposal to be presented in December and has promised it would include some binding commitments on part of the United States.
The administration has been criticized, however, for not publicly endorsing cuts in carbon emissions by a specific date.
In a statement, the scientists said that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists have concluded that "human-induced climatic change is under way" because of manmade pollution.
"Further accumulation of greenhouse gases commits the earth irreversibly to further global climate change and consequent ecological, economic and social disruption," the statement said.
Among the initial signers were Schlesinger; Woodwell; F. Sherwood Rowland, a Nobel Prize winning chemist at the University of California; Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State University and chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Harold Mooney, a biologist at Stanford University and secretary-general of the International Council of Scientific Unions; and John Holdren, a professor of environmental science at Harvard University and member of the president's committee of science advisers.