Kerry: 'We Call It Earth, but It Could Well Have Been Called Ocean'

Susan Jones | March 20, 2013 | 11:21am EDT
Font Size

Secretary of State John Kerry (AP File Photo)

( - Describing himself as "a child of the ocean," Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the "fragile ecosystem" is threatened by climate change.

"We call this beautiful planet that we are privileged to inhabit for a short period of time -- we call it Earth, but it could well have been called Ocean because three-quarters of it is ocean," Kerry told a gathering at the National Geographic Society in Washington on Monday.

Kerry mentioned the "enormous challenge ahead of us," given an "energy policy that results in acidification, the bleaching of coral, the destruction of species, the change in the Arctic because of the ice melt, and the change in the krill, the population of whales. The entire system is interdependent, and we toy with that at our peril."

Kerry said climate change is becoming a "serious international issue" as more people experience it firsthand: "The science is screaming at us, literally, demanding that people in positions of public responsibility at least exercise the so-called 'precautionary principle' to balance the equities, and not knowing completely the outcomes -- at least understand what is happening and take steps to prevent potential disaster."

Kerry described "the worst that could happen to you" if the United States follows a "good energy policy." "Well, the worst that can happen to you is you would employ a lot of people in alternative and renewable and clean energy; you would have less hospitalizations, cleaner air, more children with less asthma; and you would create an enormous number of jobs by moving to those new energy possibilities and policies and infrastructure. That’s the worst that can happen to you."

On the other hand, Kerry said, a continued reliance on fossil fuels would result in the "destruction of the ecosystem as we live with it today."

"So that’s really what’s on the line, and I’m here to tell you that, proudly, President Obama has put this agenda back on the front burner where it belongs..."

Kerry's remarks came at a reception dedicated to Antarctica's Ross Sea.

The United States has proposed establishing a 700,000-square-mile marine protected area in the Ross Sea region, to balance ecosystem protection, scientific research, and commercial fishing interests.

"It’s extraordinary. It will be quite simply the largest protected area in the world," Kerry said.
mrc merch