Friday, January 27, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Sue Edwards at the EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly

Climate Change Necessitates The Curbing of Greenhouse Gases 
My name is Sue Edwards, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak in favor of higher auto fuel efficiency standards.  I speak as a citizen who has been reading all I can in the past few years on scientists' findings about climate change.  It is clear to me that the vast majority of authoritative, peer-reviewed scientific studies conclude that there is already serious damage being done to fragile balances of nature as humans continue to spew carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  I am concerned enough about this that I was one of over 1,200 people who committed civil disobedience and were arrested at the White House at the end of this past summer to call for rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would end up massively increasing the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere.  I applaud President Obama's rejection of that pipeline this week.

I am very encouraged by the improved fuel efficiency standards that have been proposed,  and I urge you to adopt them without loopholes.  We need to curb our use of fossil fuels if we are to have a livable planet for our children and grandchildren.  I have two sons and hope there may be grandchildren in my future, so I have a big stake in doing my part so they'll have an environment that's livable--not just for cockroaches, but also for humans!

Climate Change Is Here
I'm sure you must be aware of the many predictions that were made in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about the effects of climate change in a wide variety of places on our planet.  Devastatingly, a whole litany of these predictions have come about precisely as the IPCC warned. 

Examples from 2010 include the hottest summer on record in Russia, with a drought that sparked hundreds of wildfires, reducing the wheat harvest by over one-third; Pakistan's heaviest monsoon rains on record; northwest China's floods and landslides, which killed at least 1,100 people; Iowa's wettest 36-month period in 127 years of record-keeping, with flood-waters which forced hundreds from their homes; and the breaking off of a 100-square-mile chunk of ice from the great Petermann Glacier in Greenland, the biggest ice island to calve in the Arctic in a half-century of observation. Worldwide temperature readings show that  the first half of  2010 was the hottest six months since record-keeping began in the mid-19th century.  17 nations recorded all-time-high temperatures in 2010, more than in any other year.

2011 was no better, with a summer that was the third hottest on record for the globe as a whole.  There were an unprecedented number of weather-related disasters, including droughts in Texas and East Africa.  Thailand, Australia, Colombia, and Brazil all experienced floods that were either the deadliest or the most costly natural disasters in their histories.  The U.S. had major floods, too, but most of our weather-related natural disasters involved tornadoes and other storms. Iowa and Missouri had heightened tornado activity, including the one in Joplin, MO, that killed 161 people.

As a Quaker, my faith holds that “We recognize that the well-being of the Earth is a fundamental spiritual concern....Our planet as a whole, not just the small parts of it in our immediate custody, requires our responsible attention.”   I firmly believe that humankind has the intelligence to understand our situation and act swiftly to protect the environment upon which we are dependent.  What we need is the courage and political will to act.  I urge you to adopt the strongest possible fuel efficiency standards for the sake of the future of humankind.

Blog by Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune -  January 5, 2012.

A summer of extremes:  Scientists point to weather cataclysms as a sign of climate change.
By Charles J. Hanley – August 13, 2010.  Press.

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