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Public Papers - 1989

Statement on the Observance of World Environment Day


Over the last several years, people all over the world have become more and more concerned about the global environment, the warming of the world's climate, the depletion of the ozone layer, the loss of plant and animal species, our mounting waste disposal problems, and the pollution of the oceans. These are enormous challenges which cannot and should not be minimized.

But at the same time, on this anniversary of World Environment Day, I am optimistic about the future. Here in the United States we have made remarkable progress in cleaning up our air and water. We have shown what we can do when the will is there and we work together. I believe that the world community of nations can, and indeed must, make that same kind of progress on a global scale. We may speak different languages and worship God in different ways, but we all share the same Earth. If we can probe the depths of space and engineer the genetic building blocks of life, we can surely protect the quality of our environment. We just need the will to do it.

I would like to take this occasion to announce that the United States intends to ban the importation of elephant ivory from all countries. We do this out of mounting concern for the rapid decline of the wild elephant, one of nature's most majestic creatures. If their populations continue to diminish at current rates, the wild elephant will soon be lost from this Earth. We urge the nations of the world to join us in this ban. We further urge the countries responsible for the elephant to practice sound stewardship of these precious creatures so they will not be lost to future generations.

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