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Opening Statement: Examining the Human Health Impacts of Global Warming
October 23, 2007

Contact: Marc Morano 202-224-5762 marc_morano@epw.senate.gov 
Matt Dempsey 202-224-9797 matthew_dempsey@epw.senate.gov
 

SENATOR INHOFE OPENING STATMENT
HEARING ON EXAMINING THE HUMAN HEALTH IMPACTS OF GLOBAL WARMING

Madame Chairman, I am concerned that this Committee is not focusing on what it should - to deliberate legislation. We have had hearing after hearing after hearing on what people think about global warming or what might happen if we have global warming. But little on what will happen if we legislate global warming. As of October 23rd, we have not had a single legislative hearing on any of the major bills.

Tomorrow at the Subcommittee level, under the leadership of Chairman Lieberman, we will hold the first legislative hearing on a global warming bill. I commend Senators Warner and Lieberman for their hard work in crafting a bill and for holding tomorrow's legislative hearing. But tomorrow's hearing represents what should be the first step in the process, not the only step.

A single hearing that receives testimony from a single witness expressing concerns about the bill - held a mere six days after introduction - falls far short of a considered and deliberative process. There has been no time to analyze the text of this bill, or for members of the Committee to obtain input from stakeholders concerned about how the bill will impact them, or for economists to model its impacts on the competitiveness of the American economy.

Yet I understand there will be a markup next week of the bill.  There is concern, Madame Chairman, that the full Committee examination will be even less substantive, even less deliberative. It is my hope that you will commit to conducting a thoughtful process similar to that which has been conducted in the past on major bills, providing us with specifics.

In addressing today's hearing, I will say that it appears the issue of health and global warming, like so many areas, has fallen prey to politics. Reducing issues such as malaria to a simple and naïve view that higher temperatures equal higher malaria rates is not only simple, but simply wrong. Temperatures are a factor, but it is also true that malaria can spread when and where it is relatively colder. According to Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute in testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee last year:

"The most catastrophic epidemic on record anywhere in the world occurred in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, with a peak incidence of 13 million cases per year, and 600,000 deaths."

More important than temperatures are preventative measures and economic standards of living, which - make no mistake - will be worsened by rash action to pass costly symbolic measures. As we will hear today, when you look beyond the rhetoric at the facts, malaria is very much a disease that we can greatly diminish or help flourish, depending on how we live and what policies we put into place.

The facts are this: malaria was nearly wiped out a few decades ago by the use of DDT. This is not disputed. The disease now claims one million lives or more every year - again, not disputed. Regardless of the science of DDT - and it appears it did not support a ban - selective spraying can greatly diminish cases of malaria. But it was only recently, after millions of deaths, that policies began to shift away from alarmism and toward a genuine concern for the people who were paying for that alarmism with their lives. Let us not repeat history here.

Thank you.




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