A picture of Representative Peter A. DeFazio
Peter D.
Democrat OR 4

About Rep. Peter
  • Let’s Get Serious About Climate Change

    by Representative Peter A. DeFazio

    Posted on 2013-03-12

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    DeFAZIO. Madam Speaker, today, I rise as a member of the Safe Climate Caucus to talk about an important new report on climate change. Of late, the discussion over global warming has focused on temperatures in the last 118 years, when standardized record-keeping began. Primarily, the best and most comprehensive research on temperatures has gone back only as far as 2,000 years.

    Climate change deniers are complaining these studies have been shortsighted, that they haven't taken into account that warming going on today could have happened naturally thousands of years ago. Climate change impacts today are a result of natural fluctuations, they say.

    There is some scientific basis to that claim. Variations in how the Earth is tilted in its orbit around the Sun make for a pattern of planetary warming and cooling phases over thousands of years. During some phases the Earth heats up; in others it cools down.

    Last week, scientists from Oregon State University, including two constituents of mine, Shaun Marcott and Alan Mix, joined with our colleagues from Harvard University and published a study in the journal Science, peer reviewed, that provides new context on today's climate and rising temperatures.

    Instead of looking at temperatures from the last 118 years or even 2,000 years, Marcott, Mix, and their colleagues examined temperatures going back a little further, 11,300 years--the entire Holocene period. The findings are sobering and a wake-up call, and should be a wake-up call to the Members of this institution.

    We already knew the Earth is warmer than it was over much of the last 2,000 years. That has been confirmed by a mountain of scientific evidence. But thanks to the work of Marcott, Mix, and their colleagues, we know it is warmer on Earth presently than over much of the past 11,300 years. In fact, we have experienced almost the same range of temperature change over the last 100 years, coinciding with the invention and widespread use of engines and turbines powered by fossil fuels, as over the previous 11,000 years of Earth history. I want to repeat that for emphasis. Rising temperatures over the last century have been greater than the temperature increases over the previous hundred centuries combined.

    It shows that human activity reversed a cooling pattern of 5,000 years of 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit in 100 years. It is extraordinary. And their projections for the future are also very sobering.

    Climate deniers are running out of excuses. They said, 118 years not enough, 2,000 years not enough. Well, how about 11,300 years of certified research? They say it is biased by region. This was done in 73 sites around the entire planet.

    We have heard about solar insolation. Well, according to this claim, we should be now at the bottom of a long-term cooling trend. Whoops, that is not happening. That shows that this solar insolation theory doesn't hold up either.

    In short, this confirms what those of us who believe in science already know: manmade climate change is real, it is progressing quickly, and we must take action. But that is not happening in the House of Representatives. During the last Congress, House Republicans voted 53 times to block action on climate change. Time and time again, they voted to know nothing and do nothing. They argued that science isn't settled, but they vote to cut funding for climate science.

    Here are a few of my favorite quotes from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle: Human-induced global climate change is one of the great hoaxes perpetuated out of the scientific community.

    Another colleague: Media conspiracy to promote climate change.

    Yet another one: Shady scientists.

    And then my favorite: Better known, however, is global warming movement's commitment to severely restrict the use of private automobiles. The rich will still have their limos, and, of course, their private jets. Carbon offsets will cede to that. The rest of us will not be able to travel by plane and will be stuck sitting at home or sitting next to a gang member on public transportation.

    [[Page H1334]] Yes, that was actually said on the floor of the House of Representatives.

    Madam Speaker, it's time to stop the nonsense and the blather and get serious about climate change. The evidence is in. The only question is whether the United States House of Representatives will listen and act.


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