Hearings - Statement
 
Statement of Christopher S. Bond
Hearing: Full Committee
Hearing on Climate Change and the Media
Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing on climate change and the media. Certainly, we have heard, and will hear more today, examples of the media’s focus on climate change advocates.

 

• What I want to focus on is what the media is not covering, what the media needs to cover and what this Committee needs to focus upon if it is serious about considering climate change strategies. That is the human toll current climate change fighting strategies will impose on people, on families, and on workers.

• We cannot, I cannot, and I will fight, fighting climate change on the backs of the poor. The weak, the infirm, the vulnerable, are all in the crosshairs of proposals put forward by climate change advocates.

• Proposals that cap, ration or tax carbon energy and its waste will raise the cost of our most basic needs - heating, cooling, lighting - that no family, rich or poor, can do without. However, it will be the poor that will suffer most when heating bills go up in the Winter. Fixed income seniors will suffer most when air conditioning bills go up in the Summer. Families, especially blue-collar, middle class families will suffer most when their bread-winner loses their job.

• These are the untold stories, the unreported stories that I challenge the media, and now the Committee, to tell. • Maybe we should not be surprised that the press is not talking about how current climate change proposals will hurt everyday people, because advocates surely are not talking about it.

An Inconvenient Truth runs about 95 minutes. In it you will find about an hour and 20 minutes on global warming and its environmental impacts, 10 minutes of what to do about global warming and about five minutes on how much those proposals might cost. Nothing on forcing low-income families to choose between heat and eat.

• Read the book Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change and you’ll get chapters on the Golden Toad and the Mountain Ringlet Butterfly. It bills itself as “the most important book about life on Earth in over forty years.” But it provides no advice to fixed-income seniors forced to chose between prescription drug medicine and air conditioning their homes in the Summer.

• The book The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth does devote 30 of its 300 pages to solutions. But advice on walking, biking and hybrids will hardly meet the needs of blue-collar Midwestern manufacturing workers put out of work by higher energy costs.

• It is no surprise that advocates do not want to talk about the severe human toll of their current proposals.

The Economist estimates the costs of adequate emissions controls at 1 to 5 percent of global GDP. That works out to between $440 billion and $2.2 trillion. Assuming America’s fair at 25% would cost us $100 to 500 billion per year.

• And who will pay that $100 to $500 billion? You and me and everyone less fortunate than us because every electric utility, every car maker, every maker of a product we can’t do without will pass that cost right on to us. We might as well be raising the cost of milk, diapers and prescription drugs.

• Do not tell me the costs are bearable because the average cost per family is low. Some groups will say that current proposals are affordable at only $100 per family per year. Of course, they do not say that no one will pay $100 - that some will pay less and some will pay a whole lot more.

• They cannot tell us whether these nationwide cost figures will impose unbearable disproportionate regional harm - how they may spare the natural gas burning Northeast and West Coast but hit hard the coal burning Midwest.

• They cannot tell us whether their plans will impose disproportionate harm on certain blue-collar workers - how they may spare California high-tech and New York finance but will hit hard middle-class workers dependent on power from coal and natural gas, manufacturing, chemical, fertilizer and automotive jobs.

• If this Committee wants to get past the rhetoric and seriously consider climate change fighting proposals, it must come up with these answers - we must debate these issues.

• We need to know what regions of the country, what States, what cities will be affected by proposals. What sectors of the economy, what types of jobs, their locations, who holds them and who will lose them? What types of workers, blue collar, union, are most at risk? What types of people, families, young, old, struggling, will face burdens too high?

• General legislation that leaves the details and dirty work to others, like those recently passed at the State level, that abdicate these questions, abdicate our responsibility to pass judgment on these issues, are unacceptable. We have a responsibility to those we may hurt to know more, consider more, and do more.

• Some have said that they want to make this committee an environment committee, not an anti-environment committee. We must be an environment committee, but we cannot be an anti-poor committee, an anti-blue collar committee, an anti-family committee. Then we will be able to see if we can work together.

Thank you.

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