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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

The Many Effects of Climate Change

Jun 10, 2015

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) spoke on the House floor about the many effects of climate change and how it’s time we re-examine how we think about it, talk about it, and respond to this growing problem.

Below is a video and transcript of the speech. 

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, 

The science is in. And the facts don’t lie. 

Congress has stood here for too long debating the truth about climate change.

What is there to debate?! 

More than twelve thousand peer- reviewed scientific studies are in agreement: climate change is real and humans are significantly to blame. 

For those of you keeping track at home, there are zero peer- reviewed scientific studies that state the opposite.

As we continue to harm the environment, we are ultimately hurting ourselves and human health. 

In the movie Birdman, it was written: “A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.” 

I feel the need to remind my colleagues that climate change is a real thing, regardless of what is said of that climate change thing.

Just because you don’t want to believe it, doesn’t make climate change less real. 

It is rapidly becoming a threatening crisis in public health.  

As the planet warms, sea levels rise and lead to increased floods.

Droughts are more frequent and intense. 

Heat waves and hurricanes are more severe.  

Climate change makes existing diseases and conditions worse, but it also helps introduce news pests and pathogens into communities.

Respiratory allergies and diseases are becoming more prevalent because of increased pollen, molds, air pollution, and dust. 

Higher concentrations of these particles in the air cause severe breathing problems and lead to heart disease, asthma attacks, inflammation, and lung cancer. 

Every year 220,000 people learn they have lung cancer and 160,000 people die from lung cancer. 

That is twice the population size of my own neighborhood, Lakeview. 

Children who are especially vulnerable to these pollutants are harmed by the air they breathe. 

Their lungs shouldn’t be at risk when they go outside to play or walk to school. 

But, asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15. 

Nearly half of this nation – our nation – lives in areas with dangerous levels of pollution, 44 percent.

My own district is included. Chicago earned itself an “F” in air quality study from the American Lung Association. 

According to the same study, the Windy City is ranked in the bottom 5 percent for most polluted city in terms of short-term particle pollution in the nation. And it’s only getting worse.

Not only is our air quality dangerous, but our most essential resource, which we all depend on— our water—is at risk due to climate change. 

Water is vital to survival. But as temperatures rise, people and animals need more water to maintain their health and thrive. 

Increases in water temperature, precipitation frequency and severity, and changes in coastal ecosystem health could increase the incidence of water contamination.

Currently, more than 840,000 people die each year from water related diseases. That is more than the entire city of San Francisco! 
Climate change is expected to produce more frequent and severe extreme precipitation events worldwide. 

Over the past 50 years, the amount of rain falling during the most intense 1 percent of our storms increased by 20 percent. 

These turbulent changes breed outbreaks of waterborne diseases. 

In fact, in the United States from 1948 to 1994, heavy rainfall correlated with more than half of the outbreaks of waterborne disease. 

Water sustains our economy by producing energy at power plants, raising livestock, and growing food crops.

But many water supply sources are already over-allocated and people are suffering from degraded water quality. 

Given our current trajectory, within the Western U.S. in severe drought, the competition for water resources will only increase leading to great impacts on human health. 

Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve today’s problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” 

We need to adjust how we think about climate change. 

We need to understand that severe weather, pollution, and changes in our water are not only harmful to the planet, but harmful to the people who inhabit that planet. 

Climate change is a direct threat to humanity and it’s time we re-examine how we think about it, talk about it, and respond to this growing problem. 

The health of humans worldwide is at stake.

Thank you and I yield back.