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Public Statements

The Threat of Climate Change

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring attention to one of the single most important environmental crises facing our Nation and the global family: the threat of global warming. This past Tuesday, President Obama spoke in this chamber about the necessity of addressing global warming in order to avoid imminent, disastrous consequences.

The science of global warming is clear and empirical: the earth's atmosphere is getting warmer, due to an increase in carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.
As a result, we are experiencing more violent and turbulent storms, longer drought seasons, and dangerous and costly wild fires in our nation's wooded areas and forests. Now is not the time to debate whether global warming is real or not, but to begin bringing together elected officials, the scientific, business, environmental, and NGO communities to come up with a comprehensive and sustainable clean energy road map for America.

I strongly agree with President Obama that Congress must take immediate action to address climate change. America is one of the most technologically advanced, innovative, and wealthiest nations in the history of the world. We already have the scientific expertise and resources needed to reduce our carbon emissions and quickly transition to clean sources of energy that can power our homes, factories, and automobiles.

The good news is that by quickly transitioning away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources of energy, we can create scores of new good paying jobs, while at the same time, reducing the threat of climate change--before it is too late.

There were those who once said that we couldn't increase the fuel efficiency of our vehicles--but we did. They said we couldn't reduce our dependence on coal--but we did. When I was just a child, there were those who said that our nation could not build the Hoover Dam and provide power to millions in the Southwest--but we did. The cries of impossibility are nothing new; I have heard them my whole life. They are just as misguided now, as they were then.

The Earth is getting warmer. Our best scientists having been telling us for decades that we need to address the problem, but we have not paid sufficient attention to them. We are literally at a do or die moment in our history. We've taken important steps to address climate change, but they aren't nearly enough, given the catastrophic implications of continued foot dragging.

America cannot afford storms like Hurricane Katrina or a Hurricane Sandy every year. Our farmers and our family tables cannot afford droughts year after year. Our children and grandchildren cannot afford a New York City flooded by higher sea levels, or a breadbasket that is too scorched to feed the country, or more frequent heat waves that place thousands of low-income and elderly persons in peril.

We must act now to speed up the transition to renewable resources, reduce carbon pollution, and usher in a new era of technological development. Remember--our automotive industry was on the brink of collapse. Yet, thanks to timely government investment and the efforts of our greatest asset--the American worker--we are now manufacturing the best cars in history.

We need to address our transportation concerns in an environmentally friendly way. There should be more electrically augmented automobiles filling America's garages and our roads. We need more Chevy Volts and Ford Energi's coming off the assembly lines in Michigan and other states. Auto emissions need to be even lower. We must invest in clean public transportation systems, such as light rail and electric bus transportation. America can, and should, be the envy of clean energy enthusiasts around the world.

We need to modernize our power grid to leverage wind and solar. Our rivers and tides are resources that we need to utilize. By creating clean energy through these technologies, we can ensure a stable future for our nation. We will ensure that our rivers are full, not dry. We will preserve thousands of miles of coastlines for our next generation. We will keep our farms green, our supermarkets well-stocked, and our families well-fed.

I encourage my fellow members to heed the President's call to action and pass bipartisan reforms that will lead to a future safe from the climate calamities.


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