News: Bill Clinton: Economy, Disasters Imperil Millions

News: Bill Clinton: Economy, Disasters Imperil Millions

Sep 23

BILL CLINTON: ECONOMY, DISASTERS IMPERIL MILLIONS
By Beth Fouhy
September 21, 2010
Associated Press

Original Link

NEW YORK – Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday warned of the growing devastation of the global economic downturn and said the dangers posed by natural disasters around the world had been increased by the effects of climate change.

The former president spoke in New York on the first day of the annual Clinton Global Initiative. The conference brings together leaders from government, business and philanthropy, who make financial commitments aimed at tackling poverty and disease around the world.

Clinton announced new financial commitments to help Haiti recover from the effects of a massive earthquake last January, and to Pakistan, where monsoon rains led to deadly flooding last summer.

He also announced a new program to help Louisiana’s gulf coast, which is still recovering from the massive oil spill and the effects of Hurricane Katrina five years ago.

Clinton said the gulf region had been hit by “everything but a plague of locusts” and said climate change had made events like hurricanes and flooding more frequent and deadly.

“There is every reason to believe the incident of economically devastating natural disasters will accelerate around the world with he changing of the climate,” Clinton said, urging governments and world leaders to be better prepared for such events.

Clinton also pressed attendees on the need to educate and empower women and girls in developing countries, saying the global economy would improve with women’s full participation.

“There are still a lot of places in this world where women are part human and part property and where men define their meaning in life,” Clinton said.

The former president’s wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, spoke at the conference to announced a new program to place cleaner stoves in 100 million homes by 2020. The program primarily targets women and girls, who do most of the world’s cooking.

Clinton said as many as three billion people cooking meals every day are exposed to toxic chemicals and smoke using unsafe stoves. That exposure leads to a range of respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and lung cancer and puts greenhouse gases into the air, which contributes to climate change.

“I know this may sound hard to believe, but by upgrading these stoves, millions of lives could be saved and improved. They could be as transformative as bed nets or vaccines,” Clinton said, adding that the U.S. government would contribute $50 million to help launch the program.

Bill Clinton largely steered clear of politics during the conference, but said at one point he wished more world leaders made their decisions based on facts.

“Do you know how many political and economic decisions are made in this world by people who don’t know what in the living daylights they are talking about?” Clinton said.

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