WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today to highlight the findings of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a report by 13 federal agencies laying out the troubling impacts of climate change on environmental quality, public health, and economic growth. Senator Carper stressed that for those unfazed by the troubling environmental effects of climate change, they might be moved to action by the serious, long-term threats it poses to job creation and economic productivity.
“Despite the Trump Administration’s best efforts to bury this report on a Friday of a holiday weekend, those of us based in reality are going to make sure that the clear facts in it are broadcast far and wide,” said Senator Carper. “The numbers and the facts don’t lie. The reality of climate change is scary, especially for a coastal state like Delaware – the lowest lying state in our country. But the facts that this report so clearly lays out affect all of us. It doesn’t matter if you are from a coastal state or from a landlocked state; if you care about public health or the environment; or if you care about our economy or national security – this report says every sector of our economy and every person living in this country will be affected by climate change if we do nothing.
“We don't have to choose between all this doom and gloom and a strong economy,” Senator Carper continued. “We can address the gloom and doom and add a lot of jobs. We ought to do this. This can be a win-win. We ought to seize the day.”
A statement from Senator Carper after the release of the report can be read HERE.
Today’s speech can be viewed by clicking HERE. Below are Senator Carper’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. President, welcome back. I hope you were able to get home last week for Thanksgiving and spend some time enjoying what I like to call the holiday’s 6 Fs: Family, friends, food fun, faith and football! I hope all Americans were able to enjoy some combination of those things over the holiday weekend. Mr. President, you may be like me and many others across the country who took the long weekend to unplug a bit by turning off our phones, maybe turning off cable news too, so that we could reconnect with loved ones.
“But while many Americans were recharging – enjoying a good meal with family and friends, maybe watching a football game or doing some early Christmas shopping – some major news broke.
“Last Friday, on the day after Thanksgiving, 13 federal agencies released a nearly seventeen hundred-page report highlighting the devastating impacts that climate change will have over the next 80 years if we do not change course now. The report was a dire warning to our nation and our planet, but one that you might have easily missed while celebrating the holiday with family and friends.
“Now, I suspect that the fact that this major report was released on the Friday of a holiday weekend was not an accident. After all, the report, which was put together by experts from over a dozen agencies within the Trump Administration, spells out the very real and very serious consequences of climate change – a global crisis that President Trump has repeatedly called a ‘hoax.’
“In fact, just yesterday, the President said that he is not among the so-called ‘believers’ who see climate change as a pressing problem. Well, luckily, we don’t have to just blindly believe in climate change. We can look at the facts. And despite the Trump Administration’s best efforts to bury this report on a Friday of a holiday weekend, those of us based in reality are going to make sure that the clear facts in it are broadcast far and wide.
“Now, this particular report took three years to write. It was written by more than three hundred federal experts and non-federal experts who volunteered their time. It was only finalized after an extensive public outreach and interagency review process. This report wasn’t thrown together to push any agenda. It is a scientific report, and its conclusions should be important to every person living on this planet.
“I would like to take a few minutes and go over some of the highlights of the report. Let’s start with extreme weather. According to the latest report, which, again, was released by the Trump Administration, climate change will continue to increase and intensify extreme weather events in the years to come. Over the last three years alone, extreme weather events have cost the United States nearly $400 billion dollars in damages due to storm surges, flooding, wildfires, crop freezes and drought. More powerful and more frequent extreme weather events will increase that figure exponentially and also have far-reaching impacts on people in every corner of this country.
“Perhaps you live in the Southwest. In 2017, Phoenix, Arizona set a new record of nearly 200 days with temperatures of at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit. By 2090, Phoenix could be dealing with an additional 45 days every year with temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s another six weeks of extreme heat in addition to the city’s already record-breaking temperatures. Or maybe you live in the Southeast. Currently, Charleston, South Carolina experiences 38 days of tidal flooding every year. By 2045, the city could experience 180 days of tidal flooding every year – nearly five times the flooding that occurs today!
“Or perhaps you live out West. By 2050, wildfire seasons could burn up to six times more forest area every year. We have all seen the historic and horrific devastation that fires in California have caused just this year alone. Now, California is a big state, and sometimes it is difficult to put into context just how big and destructive these wildfires are. For some context, here is the area that the recent Camp Fire in California burned in relation to a city my colleagues are familiar with – Washington, D.C. The Camp Fire burned an area over three times greater than Washington, D.C. That was just one fire. In one state. In one year. Imagine what we will be facing with up to six times more forest area burning every single year.
“Now, if the extreme weather conclusions don’t make some of our colleagues jump to action, maybe the information about the health impacts of climate change will cause them take notice. This report makes clear that increases in ozone and particle pollution will result in an additional $26 billion dollars every year in health care costs across the country. And here’s a particularly startling statistic: Extreme hot and cold temperatures in 49 U.S. cities are projected to result in more than 9,000 additional premature deaths per year! That’s not in a far off, developing nation. That’s 9,000 more people dying right here at home every year.
“But if our colleagues are not swayed by the serious impacts to Americans’ health, maybe they will moved by the impacts climate change will have on our country’s already aging infrastructure. If we do not act, we can expect up to $26 billion dollars in damages to our roadways and railways ever year due to climate change. Increases in rainfall in inland areas – not on the coasts, but in the middle of our country – will threaten up to 6,000 bridges by 2090.
“But here’s a statistic that we will not be able to avoid. Since 1993, sea levels have risen by three inches. If we do nothing, by 2100, we could see sea levels rise by up to six feet! Those of us who lived through Superstorm Sandy saw the absolute destruction that can be caused by three inches of sea level rise. It’s almost unimaginable to think about nearly 70 inches!
“But maybe that’s still not alarming enough. Perhaps the impacts on our farmers and ranchers might sway my colleagues. According to the report, more frequent and intense rains, combined with rising temperatures, are likely to reduce agricultural production in the Midwest to 1980 levels. When it comes to crops that agricultural communities depend on like corn and soybeans, farmers could see reduced yields of up to 25 percent.
“But maybe some of our colleagues don’t come from states with a large agricultural sector. Perhaps the economic impacts might move them to action. Climate change could mean up to $500 billion dollars in economic losses every year by 2090. Additionally, almost two billion labor hours are projected to be lost every year by 2090, due to the impacts of extreme temperatures. That alone would cost an estimated $160 billion dollars in lost wages.
“And here’s a stark statistic: Climate change could slash up to 10 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100. For context, that would be more than double the losses of the Great Recession. Many of our colleagues were here during the Great Recession. We saw what happened in our states. To families all across this country. To refuse to act would be to willingly usher in economic calamity twice as painful as the Great Recession.
“Mr. President, the numbers and the facts don’t lie. The reality of climate change is scary, especially for a coastal state like Delaware – the lowest lying state in our country.
“But the facts that this report so clearly lays out affect all of us. It doesn’t matter if you are from a coastal state or from a landlocked state; if you care about public health or the environment; or if you care about our economy or national security – this report says every sector of our economy and every person living in this country will be affected by climate change if we do nothing.
“As I see it, we have two options: we take up this fight and get serious about addressing and adapting to climate change; or we stick our heads in the sand, ignore the facts and do nothing – dooming our children and grandchildren to live in a world less healthy, less safe, and less stable. I say we fight, and my hope is that our colleagues will join us. The future of our one and only planet, and the security of all those who inhabit it now and in years to come, compel us to act.
“There is some good news, too. The good news is that there are ways to address this challenge. The economic challenge, the agricultural challenge, the flooding challenges, the temperature challenges. There are a way to do it. Among the smart ways to do it is to reduce the emission of carbon in this country. And the good news is: we can do that by adding and creating jobs.
“200 million people went to work in this country today. Three million went to work in jobs where they're involved in renewable energy, energy conservation -- jobs that help save our planet and preserve the quality of life. And there's a lot more we can add in jobs in that kind of work, including building vehicles that run on batteries, hydrogen and fuel cells. We can address all these threats in ways that are economically viable.
“We don't have to choose between all this doom and gloom and a strong economy. We can address the gloom and doom and add a lot of jobs. We ought to do this. This can be a win-win. We ought to seize the day.
“Thank you, Mr. President.”