Margaret Thatcher’s Speech to United Nations General Assembly (Global Environment) November 8th 1989 listen to the clip
….. as the British scientist Fred Hoyle wrote long before space travel was a reality, he said “once a photograph of the earth, taken from the outside is available … a new idea
as powerful as any other in history will be let loose” .
That powerful idea is the recognition of our shared inheritance on this planet. We know more clearly than ever … that we carry common burdens, face common problems, and must respond with common action.
And second, as we travel through space, as we pass one dead planet after another, we look back on our earth, a speck of life in an infinite void. It is life itself, incomparably precious, that distinguishes us from the other planets.
It is life itself—human life, the innumerable species of our planet—that we wantonly destroy. It is life itself that we must battle to preserve.
But the problem of global climate change is one that affects us all and action will only be effective if it is taken at the international level.
It is no good squabbling over who is responsible or who should pay. Whole areas of our planet could be subject to drought and starvation if the pattern of rains and monsoons were to change as a result of the destruction of forests and the accumulation of greenhouse gases.
We have to look forward not backward and we shall only succeed in dealing with the problems through a vast international, co-operative effort.
We should always remember that free markets are a means to an end. They would defeat their object if by their output they did more damage to the quality of life through pollution than the well-being they achieve by the production of goods and services.
On the basis then of sound science and sound economics, we need to build a strong framework for international action.
Mr President, the environmental challenge which confronts the whole world demands an equivalent response from the whole world. Every country will be affected and no one can opt out.
We should work through this great organisation and its agencies to secure worldwide agreements on ways to cope with the effects of climate change, the thinning of the Ozone Layer, and the loss of precious species.
We need a realistic programme of action and an equally realistic timetable.