Hearing Of The House Committee On Foreign Affairs - Climate Change And The Arctic: New Frontiers Of National Security
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. First I
would like to point out that I have some constituents from my district,
some students from Temple Samuel Orr in Kendall, and I
have had the pleasure of visiting that temple several times, so
thank you so much from the PANAM Organization for being here.
I am pleased that we have such a distinguished panel of witnesses
before us today. All of us look forward to your testimony.
I would like to make special mention of the truly extraordinary effort
made by one of our witnesses, Mr. Treadwell, because Thursday
when he accepted our invitation to testify he was in New York.
He was obligated to fly to Anchorage for an engagement yesterday
that couldn't be changed.
Immediately after he finished his duties there he headed for the
airport, caught a plane and once again flew over the continent
through the night, and he came straight from the airport to be with
us today, so thank you, Mr. Treadwell. We appreciate your effort,
but I hear from you that your real sacrifice was to miss one of the
best powder days for skiing today, so we thank you for that true
sacrifice as well.
Mr. Chairman, my congressional district in South Florida is vulnerable
to hurricanes and tornadoes. As a result, I have paid careful
attention to reports that the increasing intensity and frequency
of natural disasters, including tornadoes, hurricanes, tropical
storms, are linked to a change in our global climate, and there is
further documentation noting that a change in our earth's atmosphere
is currently affecting some of South Florida's most precious
natural habitats such as our coral reefs.
Several marine scientists have indicated that coral bleaching
could be caused by changing atmospheric temperatures. This poses
both a serious environmental and financial concern as our precious
marine ecosystem and pristine beaches are major sources of economic
revenue for our South Florida economy.
For that reason, I have taken several proactive steps to increase
awareness of this issue in Congress, including forming, along with
my colleague, Congresswoman Lois Capps of California, the Bipartisan
National Marine Sanctuary Caucus, but there is much work
that needs to be done to better understand what has been termed
as global climate change.
Other countries are taking action to extend their control in the
Arctic. Plans are being made to greatly increase the exploration
and exploitation of natural resources, but our overall knowledge of
the problem and its many components are still very limited. Extrapolating
trends based on limited data is always a risky business.
It is risky to act without adequate information and mistaking possibilities
As it has recently received a lot of publicity and continues to be
cited as proof of the need for urgent action is the National Intelligence
Assessment on Global Climate Change released last year by
the CIA. Too little mention has been made of its vague and tentative
conclusions and its admitted lack of evidence.
The NIA's authors openly admit that the factual basis and the
models that they used were inadequate to the task that they face.
Let me read some of the caveats by Dr. Thomas Fingar, the deputy
director of the National Intelligence for Analysis and the chairman
of the National Intelligence Council, included in his testimony last
June at the hearing by the House Permanent Senate Committee on
Intelligence and the Senate Committee on Energy Independence
and Global Warming: Assessing the future of society's evolution
will, by necessity, be a scenario-driven exercise and an imprecise
science.'' From an intelligence perspective, the present lack of scientific
understanding of future climate change lacks the resolution
and specificity that we would like for a detailed analysis at the
state level.'' And the last quote: Our analysis could be greatly improved
if we had a much better understanding and explanation of
past and current human behavior.''
Mr. Chairman, we should take a sober approach resting on a
solid body of evidence. The Directive on the Arctic issued on January
9 of this year offered such an approach. It laid down a comprehensive
set of guidelines for U.S. policy in the region, covering
international scientific cooperation, maritime, economic and energy
issues, environmental protection and boundary disputes, among
With this directive, U.S. national security interests in the region
were defined, our determination to defend them made clear to the
world and our future course mapped, but this is just a starting
point. We have a responsibility to continue to identify current and
long-range potential challenges and opportunities in the Arctic and
take on the hard work of developing real world options to address
To that end, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to the testimony of
our witnesses today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.