Former Vice President Gore urges quick U.S. action to avert global warming catastrophe

Al Gore, an early global warming prophet, told the U.S. Congress on Wednesday that climate change poses "a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth."

The former vice president told a House of Representatives hearing he believes that it is not too late to deal with climate change "and we have everything we need to get started."

Gore, who 20 years ago held the first hearings in Congress on global warming, appeared before a joint hearing by two House committees. Later in the day he was to testify before a Senate committee.

"I want to testify today about what I believe is a planetary emergency a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth," Gore said in prepared remarks. "The consequences are mainly negative and headed toward catastrophic unless we act."

Gore gained international recognition with his Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," as perhaps the leading spokesman on dealing with global warming.

A former congressman and senator from the state of Tennessee, Gore was expected to get a friendly reception in the newly Democratic Congress, but several lawmakers have said they planned to pose sharp questions to him. Gore said the climate issue should not be a partisan or political issue.

He rejected the contention by opponents of quick action on global warming that the United States should only impose mandatory controls on greenhouse gases if China, India and other rapidly developing nations agree to do the same.

"The best way and the only way to get China and India on board is for the U.S. to demonstrate real leadership," Gore said. "As the world's largest economy and the greatest superpower, we are uniquely situated to tackle a problem of this magnitude," he said, reports AP.

Congress has nearly a dozen bills before it that call for reductions in carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases," including some that aim to cut such emissions by as much as 80 percent by 2050.

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