Ban Ki-moon's vow of United Nations support for Pacific Island States is welcome news. At this point, the juggernaut of climate change cannot be stopped; it may only be slowed - and island economies and cultures are among the very first to feel its consequences.

It is grimly ironic that the nations which contribute least to the atmospheric greenhouse effect are the ones most affected by it. Unfortunately, in many industrialized countries the political climate has made reality-based discussions of global warming difficult, and actual policies impossible.

For nations protected by geography from climate change's initial impacts, devaluing scientific expertise in favor of short-term political exigencies is a luxury that the Pacific Island States can ill afford. The committed engagement of the United Nations is essential; the world's industrialized nations must recognize the climate crisis as a universal threat and take immediate steps to transform their energy economies. But as long as the oil industry maintains its stranglehold on the world's governments, such action is unlikely. Ban Ki-moon has got his work cut out for him.

Warren Senders
629 Fellsway West
Medford, Massachusetts 02155