Activists demanding urgent action on global warming plan to take to the streets Saturday across the United States and beyond, with hybrid car parades, parties and marches.
The demonstrations are planned to coincide with a 10-day United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Montreal. The largest protests are expected to take place in Montreal on Saturday, but smaller actions are planned in more than 30 countries and in about 40 cities around the United States.
Protest organizers want the United States to sign on to the Kyoto Agreement, adopted in 1997 and ratified by 140 countries. The treaty calls on the top 35 industrialized nations to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to 5.2 percent below their 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.
The United States has refused to ratify the agreement, saying it would harm the U.S. economy and lacks restrictions on emissions by emerging economies such as China and India.
President George W. Bush's administration has faced strong criticism at the conference in Montreal for refusing to sign on to Kyoto Agreement. Bush has instead called for voluntary action to reduce by 18 percent U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012 and has committed $5 billion (Ђ4.3 billion) a year to science and technology funding to address global warming.
In Washington, drivers of hybrid cars plan to rally around the White House. In New Orleans, residents plan to hold a "Save New Orleans, Stop Global Warming" party in the French Quarter. Other events will be held from Boston to Los Angeles.
Scientists believe global warming will intensify storms, floods, heat waves and drought. They are studying whether climate change has already strengthened hurricanes, whose energy is drawn from warm ocean waters, or whether the Atlantic Basin and Gulf of Mexico are witnessing only a cyclical upsurge in intense storms.
A September survey of 800 registered voters by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University found that 79 percent favored stronger environmental standards, but only 22 percent said environmental concerns have played a major role in determining for whom they voted.
In focus groups, voters told pollsters they see the environment as a long-term problem that cannot compare in urgency to immediate concerns such as jobs, health care or taxes, the AP reports.
Environmental protests have had an effect in the past, he said. The Earth Day events of 1970, which involved an estimated 20 million demonstrators and thousands of schools and communities, helped lead to the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.