Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, John F. Kennedy said, ``When written in Chinese, the word `crisis' is comprised of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.'' Those words ring true with regard to perhaps the greatest crisis facing our world: climate change. We face imminent and continuing danger, but we also have an opportunity to change course and leave behind a better planet for future generations.
Global warming is happening. The ten hottest years on earth since 1880 have all occurred since 1997. According to the New York Times, 2012 was the hottest year ever in the continental United States, a full degree hotter (in terms of average temperature) than the previous record. More than 60 percent of the country, including much of the Midwest, experienced severe drought. Wildfires spread throughout areas of the western United States, and severe storms ravaged the east coast.
We face serious danger. Over the next few centuries, sea levels could rise an average of 12 feet, swallowing coastal areas in the U.S. and around the world. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, drought and famine could lead to decreased water availability, increased starvation, and new instability in many regions of the world--particularly Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.
This crisis presents an opportunity. This Congress has a unique ability to take leadership in addressing what is a planetary problem for us right now. We can act now, or we can let our opportunity pass by. The choice should be clear.
I support a comprehensive approach to climate change. I was a strong proponent for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House in 2009. That legislation would have introduced a renewable energy standard, subsidized important research and development of clean technologies and energy efficiency, and created a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It would have had a significant impact in curbing the warming of our planet, and I believe it should be the model for action taken in the current congress.
As a member of the Environment and the Economy subcommittee and of the Waxman-Whitehouse climate change task force, I will continue to push for comprehensive and immediate action. I promise to collaborate with anyone from either side of the aisle to work toward constructive and meaningful solutions. We must act together to forge a legislative solution to this crisis while we can still do something about it.
The time is now. This is our moment--all of us--Republicans and Democrats. We must act to preserve and protect the planet for our children and grandchildren, and for their children and grandchildren. We cannot afford to be on the wrong side of history.