U.S. Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works
STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN BARBARA BOXER
RELIGIOUS GROUPS’ VIEWS AND GLOBAL WARMING
June 7, 2007
Remarks as prepared for delivery
Today we will hear testimony from witnesses representing over 100 million Americans of faith, who are joining together to protect God’s Creation from global warming.
Americans are coming together, calling for action. Our common values are bringing us together. This is coming from the people, from the ground up.
Evangelical Christians, Catholics, African Methodist Episcopals, Jews, mainline Protestant Christians, and many other people of faith see the need for action on global warming as a moral, ethical, and scriptural mandate.
We welcome their support, insight, and leadership as we work toward a solution to this great challenge. These people of faith strive for justice. They recognize that our best scientists say that global warming’s impacts will fall most heavily on poor people around the world—both in developing nations, and in rich nations like the United States. Many developing nations are extremely vulnerable to drought and flooding, and Katrina has shown us that even in a wealthy nation like ours, major flooding or storms hit the poor hardest.
These people of faith tell us we must prevent these harms, and protect the poor from bearing an undue burden of carrying out the solutions. I wholeheartedly agree with them.
It is by joining together, with common purpose and with common values, we will solve this problem.
The warming of our earth is one of the great challenges of our generation. It is a challenge we should meet with hope not fear, and a challenge that will make us stronger as a nation and as a people.
Our generation faces a choice. Will we, in the stirring words of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, give our children “a world of beauty and wonder?”
And I ask: Will we leave them lush forests teeming with wildlife, and fresh air and clear streams? Will our grandchildren know the thrill of holding their child’s hand watching with excitement a towering snow-capped mountain or awesome, calving glaciers? Will they have plentiful food and ample water, and be able to wiggle their toes in the same beach sand their grandparents played in? Will our generation leave them a climate that supports the awe inspiring diversity of Creation?
I have a vision for my eleven year old grandson and for my new grandson who is expected any day now.
My vision is that these children and yours will grow up and be able to know the gifts of nature that we saved for them. That they will understand we made the right choice for them…we protected the planet that is their home.
Our cars will run on clean renewable fuels that do not pollute the air we breathe. The United States will lead in exporting clean technologies and products that are the engine of a new green economy. We will lead the world in showing the way to live well, in a way that respects the earth.
To make this vision a reality, we must face our challenge in a way that overcomes our differences, and that defies our party affiliations. This issue is bigger than any person, any party.
We all must join together to solve it.
We see clearly, as we have in many other hearings before this Committee, that we have many partners in this fight to stop global warming.
Religious leaders are rolling up their sleeves to seek solutions in interfaith groups. They are fighting for what many call “Creation Care,” the protection of the gifts we have inherited from our Creator.
We share common concerns about what scientists are telling us about the future. We have held Members’ briefings with the leading world experts, from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. Recently, these scientific experts told us that as many as 40 percent of the species on earth may be at risk of extinction from global warming, a deeply distressing prospect.
As some of our witnesses today note, this is God’s Creation, and the possible extinction of many species would be a moral and ethical failure of mankind. I believe that together we can and will choose another course.
Today I want to enter into the record a document being released today by over 15 major national religious denominations and organizations, representing tens of millions of Americans—ranging from the predominantly African American African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, to Jewish, Evangelical Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and many other religious groups. They are calling for an 80 percent reduction in global warming emissions by the year 2050.
Many in the religious community add a strong voice to the discussion, calling for the strong actions needed to protect the future of our planet.
Action is needed by all sectors of our economy. We can become far more energy efficient. California has shown that this is already possible. If the rest of the nation had the energy efficiency of California, we would save the equivalent of all the oil we import from the Middle East. Energy conservation saves money, makes us more competitive, and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
We must look to renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, or capture and sequester their global warming emissions.
Cars, trucks, and other modes of transportation can move towards green, renewable fuels such as environmentally clean biofuels, or electricity.
We can move towards energy independence, with increased reliance on home-grown, clean fuels and clean renewable energy sources.
As the British have shown in addressing their global warming emissions, taking action can create hundreds of thousands of “green collar” jobs. Stepping up to this challenge will transform and invigorate our country.
I have a vision of a nation driven by innovation, energy efficiency, and green technology exported around the world. I see a strong American economic base, with entrepreneurs and businesses thriving….a people united by a challenge in their daily lives and as a society. And in the process, I believe we will find a common purpose.
What we will hear from many religious leaders today is that the Senate must rise to the challenge of addressing global warming. We need to be responsible, accountable and plan for the future of our planet. We can and will meet this challenge.
As the ancient religious writings say:
See to it that you do not destroy my world, for there is no one to repair it after you.
[Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13]
Working together we can reverse global warming. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.
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