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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

We Cannot Continue with Post-Research, Post- Intelligence, Post-Truth Mindset on Climate Change

Apr 4, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) spoke on the House Floor about the imminent threat of climate change and how we cannot continue to ignore the reality of its devastating consequences, which affect every aspect of our way of life.

Below is a video and transcript of the speech. 

Mr. Speaker,

There has been a lot going on around here lately!

We’ve been conducting investigations, holding hearings, and some of us have even tried and failed to fundamentally change the way we provide health care in this country.

It’s been easy to get distracted by the dozens of headlines and breaking news stories we see each week.

But no matter what else is going on here in Washington, one thing continues unabated.

Each day, the United States, like every country on earth, continues to release tons and tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—

And now, we’re starting to see the effects.

Over the last couple of years, the US has joined 20 other countries from around the world in growing its economy while reducing its annual emissions into the atmosphere.

This not a small feat

and decoupling emissions from growth is the first step towards the substantive action needed to address the growing climate crisis.

But I find that this concept of ‘reducing emissions’ can sometimes be a little misleading.

In the last few years, the US has reduced the rate that it emits greenhouse gases, but even if we are doing it more slowly, we are still emitting harmful pollution into our air.

Imagine, Mr. Speaker, standing at the edge of an empty swimming pool with a garden hose.

For a while, water was spewing out of that hose at a torrent, and each year, the volume got greater and greater.

Now, the water is still running but we’ve begun to turn the speed down,

However, even if we manage to slow the rate of water going in, the pool still has more water than when we started and is still filling up. 

Our atmosphere is that pool. For nearly 100 years, it has been filling up with greenhouse gasses and they don’t just go away when the calendar flips.

Reducing annual emissions is vital, but we can’t lose track of all the gasses that have been accumulating year after year.

If we’re going to hit the international goal of limiting climate warming to 2 degrees Celsius, we need to start acting now.

And yet, this allgus body has been behind the curve on this issue for years.

Our colleagues seem content to ignore the climate crisis, to hold hearings with discredited, crank, pseudo-scientists

Bought and paid for by corporate interests,

or to deny the value of scientific thinking all together.

An approach that is all too familiar given the post-research, post-intelligence, post-truth mindset we have seen from this Administration.   

They have adopted a ‘hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’ approach to climate change,

Hoping they can ignore it until it goes away.

Sadly, that’s not how the world works. We can’t un-fill the pool by pretending there’s no such thing as water.

This form of denial has been evolving over time.

First, we heard that there was no way the climate is changing at all.

Now that the changes in the atmosphere are beyond doubt, we’re starting to hear that the climate is changing, but that there’s nothing we can do about it.

In addition to being flat out false, that type of thinking is unbecoming of a nation

that put the first man on the moon,

pioneered instantaneous communication,

and has led the world in the fight against countless deadly diseases.

Last month, we heard the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency question the very fundamentals of atmospheric science,

A particularly dismaying thing from the man charged with leading the fight against climate change.

This type of willful scientific ignorance has serious consequences. It will cost lives.

Children will be exposed to harmful, asthma-inducing pollution because we didn’t act fast enough to clean our air.

They will die because crops that could be counted on for generations will no longer grow.

They will be forced from their homes because melting polar ice is driving sea levels higher and higher.

We cannot deny these impacts.

We cannot continue to hear no evil and see no evil when these changes are happening all around us, resulting in devastating consequences that affect every aspect of our life.

Instead, the time has come to speak up and speak loudly like our lives—and the world—depend on it.

As it truly does.   

Thank you and I yield back.