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Public Statements

Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



By Mr. OBAMA (for himself, Ms. Snowe, and Mr. Bingaman):

S. 1389. A bill to authorize the National Science Foundation to establish a Climate Change Education Program; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce legislation, cosponsored by Ms. Snowe and Mr. Bingaman, to better educate Americans about climate change. We are today introducing the Climate Change Education Act, to broaden Americans' understanding of global warming.

There may still be disputes about exactly how much humans contribute to the warming of our atmosphere. But there is near certainty that the air we breathe is being changed by ever increased levels of greenhouse gases, with effects on climate, resources, and habitats.

Last week, I attended a hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee, where the issue of climate change was shown to also affect our national security. A report issued by a panel of distinguished military leaders concluded that climate change will be globally destabilizing, leading to diminished access to fresh water, reduced food production as India and sub-Saharan Africa become hotter and drier, increased health crises as vector-borne diseases spread, and displacement of large populations as sea levels rise and coastal lands flood. As scarcities increase, conflicts over diminishing resources will also increase. Governments in resource-stressed countries may collapse. Environmental stresses may lead to human migration and refugees.

I mention this to emphasize that climate change has surprising ramifications, and that there is still much that we can all learn about this issue, with effects that go well beyond traditional environmental concerns. It is important that we all become better informed, that we analyze the information about climate change, so that we can learn how to more rationally respond.

We believe it is important to educate our Nation about the causes and effects of climate change and about how we might effectively respond. Reaching a solution to the challenge of climate change will require changes in both national policy and in our use of energy and resources. All of this will require a thoughtful understanding of the issue.

The Climate Change Education Act would create a program at the National Science Foundation, which would provide opportunities for students and citizens to learn more about global warming. The program would include a national information campaign to promote new approaches to addressing climate change and would also establish a competitive program to provide grants to develop education materials. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the campanion, H.R. 1728, to this bill.

I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.


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