A think-tank on Monday warned that global climate changes will increase winter temperatures by up to 16 degrees in Canada and the United States in the coming century.
"Changes of this magnitude will have dramatic consequences for snowfall and snowmelt conditions . . . and water system operation and management," said the study released by the Pew Center on Global Climate Changes.
The Pew study, however, took a pass on whether these changes were the result of the so-called greenhouse effect, which is said to result from the release of byproducts from internal combustion engines and burning other petroleum products and coal.
It merely cited other studies that claim the greenhouse effect will produce more weather calamities such as torrential rainfall, sudden snowmelts and drought.
The Pew center said there is not enough historical weather data available yet for anyone to make flat predictions of how each region of North America will be affected by global warming.
It suggested that mountainous areas can expect more runoff, and that dry or semi-dry parts of the continent can be dramatically affected by small changes in climate.
In a related matter, President Clinton accused Congress of jeopardizing U.S. efforts to fight global warming by trying to cut spending and by adding anti-environmental language to several appropriations bills.
Clinton said Congress should withdraw provisions that would "strangle" administration efforts to save energy, cut fuel costs for businesses and consumers, and reduce global warming pollution.
But Republican leaders, industrial state Democrats and some trade groups worry that U.S. economic growth could be hurt if the United States adopted emissions cuts included in a global treaty signed in Kyoto, Japan.
Meanwhile, Carol Browner, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced a proposal to ban discharge into the Great Lakes of such substances as mercury, mirex, and polychlorinated biphenyls, called PCBs
"We believe that when we protect the environment of the Great Lakes, we are protecting the health of our families and our economies," Browner said to the International Joint Commission, formed to help the United States and Canada in decisions regarding shared waterways.
"It's amazing it's taken them this long to do something when they've known about it for so long -- and they're still willing to give industry ten years," said Eric Uram, of the Sierra Club in Madison, Wis. "What happens in the meantime is more chemicals entering the Great Lakes and potentially affecting our health."
Ridding the lakes of these substances was proposed more than a decade ago by Great Lakes United, the IJC, the Northeast Midwest Institute, and a number of members of Congress, including former Rep. Henry J. Nowak, D-Buffalo.