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Public Statements

Climate Change

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McNERNEY. Mr. Speaker, the impacts of climate change can no longer be denied--superstorm hurricanes, massive tornados, record-breaking droughts and heat spells, accelerating melting of glaciers, and increasing ocean salinity. Due to the effects of climate change, many highly populated communities at low elevation face increasing pressure from storms and rising waters, potentially driving massive migrations to higher ground. If we continue on this path, extensive and severe droughts will hurt food production and fresh water supplies in the United States. Similar occurrences around the world will certainly be destabilizing and potentially draw the United States into dangerous conflicts.

Most climate change models predict increasing severity of these and other effects. However, the reality is that most computer models are being outpaced as the carbon buildup and energy trapped in the atmosphere accelerates.

Despite these developments, there is an increasing partisan divide on the issue of climate change. Many of my Republican colleagues are either in complete denial that global warming is happening, don't believe human activity is causing the problem, or think that it would be too expensive to take the necessary steps to mitigate and adapt to global warming. This gross partisan behavior in denial of science is becoming a clear and present threat to our national security and well-being.

Would we sit by if a foreign power built up a threatening military force on one of our borders? Of course not. And yet, climate change presents a threat that's just as dangerous.

So what will it take for this Nation to greatly reduce carbon we are adding to the atmosphere and begin the process of preparing for the changes that are coming? Will it take a global weather catastrophe? Will it take several more Hurricane Sandy's? How many years of drought will the Midwest be forced to endure?

With global warming, the signs of change are overwhelming. We cannot wait for a global catastrophe that will impose massive suffering enough to overcome our civil institutions. Our national security depends on us taking action now.

The good news is that if we do take action now, the cost is affordable and the benefits are significant. Even if climate change were not a threat, reducing our consumption of fossil fuels will make the environment cleaner and energy costs less volatile. Increasing energy efficiency will greatly reduce family utility bills while making our homes more comfortable. Using renewable energy creates stable jobs. On the other hand, if we wait until a global or regional climate catastrophe forces desperate action, the consequences will be expensive and possibly deadly.

Those who reject science and deny human-caused climate change are fostering a dangerous threat to our Nation's future and to future generations of all Americans. I hope that those who deny the effects of climate change see the danger that they are subjecting our Nation to, or that the voters elect representatives who will take the responsible actions necessary to address the imminent threat of climate change.

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