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April 17, 2007
Ranking Member Henry E. Brown, Jr.'s Statement From Today's Hearing On Impacts Of A Climate Change On Wildlife & Oceans;
"It is my firm belief that before we, as a nation, commit to spend $100 to $400 billion dollars a year in taxpayer money to reduce emissions to Kyoto Treaty levels, we must understand the consequences of global warming and the urgency of our actions."
Washington, D.C. - The following is U.S. Rep. Henry E. Brown, Jr.'s (R-SC) statement from today's hearing on the potential impacts of climate change on wildlife and oceans. Brown is the Ranking Member on the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans, which conducted today's hearing.
"Madam Chairwoman, I want to compliment you for holding this oversight hearing on the impact of a changing climate on our wildlife and oceans.
"This is an issue that is generating tremendous debate and controversy. There are those people who believe that our changing climate is the greatest crisis facing mankind today. Conversely, there are others who believe this is a great hoax on the American people and a less than subtle way of radically changing our way of life.
"I come to this hearing with an open mind and I intend to carefully listen to the testimony of each of our witnesses. I am looking for facts and solutions and not unproven theories. I also reject the politics of fear and believe it is shameful that any citizen would have their life threatened because they dare to articulate a different point of view.
"While there is significant evidence that the earth is now getting warmer, there is no consensus how long this period may last, whether increased temperatures are permanent and what long term impact carbon emissions may have on fish and wildlife species.
"What we do know is that radical shifts in temperature patterns are not a new phenomena. Climatologists have been studying weather trends for the past 15,000 years. During this time, this planet has experienced many warming and cooling periods including the Medieval Warm Period and the 'Little Ice Age'. In fact, as recently as 30 years ago, the scientific consensus was that we were entering a new ice age and that a drop of only one degree Celsius would result in world famine. The January 31, 1977, cover of Time magazine was entitled "The Big Freeze". The scientists were wrong in 1977, they were wrong about last year's summer hurricane season and they may well be wrong about the so-called catastrophic effects of the current warming trend.
"Having just experienced the coldest Easter Sunday in Charleston in over 50 years, a few of my constituents would have enjoyed a little global warming. It is also a fact that this month it snowed in Dallas, Texas for the first time in 70 years, there were record low temperatures in: Charlotte, North Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Jacksonville, Florida and the recently completed Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia was the coldest ever. Could this be the beginning of a new 'ice age'?
"We will hear today from our witnesses that carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced by 80 percent by the year 2050. We will also hear that in order to stop the ill-effects of global climate change we will need to return to pre-industrial emission levels of carbon dioxide. How realistic are these requests?
"I read in the written testimony that man-made levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are three percent of the overall total. Am I to understand that we need to reduce this amount by 80 percent in order to stop or reverse global climate change?
"It is my firm belief that before we, as a nation, commit to spend $100 to $400 billion dollars a year in taxpayer money to reduce emissions to Kyoto Treaty levels, we must understand the consequences of global warming and the urgency of our actions.
"As the former Chairman of the South Carolina Ways and Means Committee, I can tell you that a carbon tax could have a devastating impact on our economy. It would literally be a federal tax on breathing. As an alternative, we should consider tax credits and incentives to reduce carbon emissions.
"Finally, in the next five years, China and India will build 800 new coal-fired power plants. These plants are expected to emit 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year into the atmosphere. This is more than five times the amount of reductions mandated by the Kyoto Accords. How is the international community going to address this amount of emissions which is nearly twice what we now produce in the United States?
"Nevertheless, it is important to hear how potential climate conditions may affect our wildlife within the National Wildlife Refuge System and our ocean fishery resources. Since the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently concluded that over the next century sea levels will rise between seven to 23 inches, it is important to examine the potential consequences of this development.
"Thank you, Madam Chairwoman."
For more information, access the Committee on Natural Resources' Minority website at:
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