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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

The Urgent Realities of Climate Change

Sep 13, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) spoke on the House floor about the imperative need to limit our impact on the climate, and also prepare for the climate impacts, like increased flooding, that are now inevitable.

Below is a video and transcript of the speech.


Mr. Speaker,

Last month, the nation watched as our friends in Louisiana were inundated by record rainfall and unprecedented flooding.

More than seven trillion gallons of water fell in Louisiana and Mississippi over eight days.

Thirteen lives have been lost. More than 7,000 people were forced into 37 shelters across Louisiana.

There has been an estimated $110 million in agricultural losses and 40,000 homes have been damaged. 

Just a few weeks before the devastating floods in the South, in Ellicott City, Maryland, not too far away from here,

Nearly six inches of rain fell in less than two hours, resulting in a torrential flood the likes of which, NOAA has told us, happens just once every one thousand years.

Officials say that 90 businesses and 107 homes were damaged, and that infrastructure repairs are estimated to cost at least $22 million. 

These statistics are devastating, and if we fail to better prepare ourselves for the severe impacts of manmade climate change, we will only see more disasters like this. 

First responders and emergency professionals deserve our utmost praise and admiration, 

As do the kind citizens on the streets who help their neighbors escape the rushing waters, 

And the people all over the country who contribute what they can to help put broken cities back together. 

But we must stop putting our heroes in harm’s way. 

The science is clear, it is conclusive, and it is settled: these natural disasters aren’t all natural.

It is imperative that we work to limit our impact on the climate, 

But we must also prepare for the climate impacts that are now inevitable. 

Prioritizing disaster preparedness by being thoughtful about where and how we construct homes, businesses, and other vital infrastructure will save lives, will save homes, and will save money. 

Devastating weather events are occurring with greater frequency than ever before. 

Today, the Northeast, Midwest, and upper Great Plains regions see 30 percent more heavy rainfall than they did in the first half of the 20th century.

And man-made climate change is already impacting the lives of every single American. 

Even if you are not one of the millions who have suffered from extreme heat, widespread drought, or catastrophic flooding, 

Your tax dollars have gone to help those who have. 

Acting before disasters strike is the only way to reduce the strain on local, state, and federal emergency response systems, 

Especially as they gear up to handle the predicable and unpredictable changes that climate change will bring.

I’m proud to say that my hometown of Chicago is among the 20 percent of global cities that have an adaptation plan to deal with the increased heat, urban flooding, and severe storms that climate change will bring.

But it is vital that cities and towns across America also prepare. 

Responding to climate change demands urgent and decisive action. 

This is not a coastal issue and it is not a partisan issue.

Rising seas and severe storms don’t care if you’re a democrat or a republican; 

All Americans are in this together and all Americans – including Members of Congress – must be prepared to deal with climate impacts such as severe flooding.

Together we must act to hasten the transition to a low carbon future that protects our communities from the impacts of climate change.

The costs of not doing so, in lives, in trillions of dollars, and in changes to our way of life, are too great.

Thank you and I yield back