Think About Iraq, Kyoto When You Vote, Nobel Laureate Urges Americans

By Stephen Mbogo | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

Nairobi, Kenya ( - Kenyan ecologist and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Prof. Wangari Maathai is urging American voters to make a choice that will reflect a reassessment of the war on terrorism and ensure that the U.S. supports the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Her comments are effectively an endorsement for Sen. John Kerry, since President Bush withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol shortly after taking office in 2001.

Kerry is widely portrayed as Kyoto-friendly, although he too has concerns about the treaty that have drawn little media attention.

Maathai said she was knew that many Americans wanted their nation to ratify Kyoto, a global agreement that requires 39 industrialized signatories to reduce by specified amounts their emissions of CO2 and other pollutants known as "greenhouse gases."

The Kenyan, who serves as her country's assistant environmental minister, said many Americans had changed their lifestyles in a bid to consume fewer fossil fuels in order not to pollute the environment.

"I have no doubt that very soon, the U.S. will ratify the protocol."

Maathai went further in her comments to reporters here, saying the November elections would also give Americans "an opportunity to reassess their war in Iraq and reassess their approach in dealing with terrorism in the world and make options which will ensure the war comes to an end."

She linked the situation in the Middle East to environmental concerns.

"So many wars -- actually, almost all the wars in the world -- have been fought because of competition for resources. One way to prevent these wars is to promote good management of our natural resources, provide democratic space, promote justice and equity."

Maathai has also raised eyebrows with her controversial views on HIV/AIDS, which she claims was deliberately manufactured as a biological weapon to kill black people.

"It's true that there are some people who create agents to wipe out other people. If there were no such people, we could have not have invaded Iraq. We invaded Iraq because we believed that Saddam Hussein had made, or was in the process of creating, agents of biological warfare," she said.

Maathai, 64, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize last week for her efforts to conserve the environment through the planting of trees across Africa.

See Earlier Story:
Kerry's Strategic Ambiguity on Kyoto
(Oct. 04, 2004)

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