Mr. President, the second reason I am here is to talk about the urgency of addressing climate change.
This does fit into the farm bill because I
am glad the farm bill is a source of so many of our conservation
programs for our country. Also, the farm bill is part of economic
development across our country.
Climate change is going to be a challenge for everyone. Certainly,
from the last report we just received on the Friday of the holiday
weekend--and I have a feeling some people thought that was a good day
to bury it. Well, it didn't exactly work. Given that it was a slow news
day, and it ended up on the front page of every major newspaper and
leading every major newscast, people noticed. They noticed because this
report wasn't just about numbers and percentages and all those kinds of
things that our scientists have long agreed on when it comes to global
warming; this was about the impact.
The reason it is good to talk about the farm bill and then this is,
one of the major impacts contained in that report was the impact on
farmers in the Midwest where--as predicted in this report, issued by
this administration with Agencies across the board--you would see acres
and acres and acres of land, with billions of dollars in losses, that
wouldn't be able to be farmed for corn and for other important crops in
America unless we act.
This was yet another dire warning about the cost of inaction on
climate change, and it was in the form, of course, of the fourth
National Climate Assessment. This report is simply the latest in a line
of recent studies, including the U.N. report--what was released last
October. The administration released this new report, as I noted, the
day after Thanksgiving, just hoping Americans were too busy with their
families out shopping, but no one could not notice this report--1,700
pages produced by 13 Federal Agencies. It was the product of 1,000
people, including 300 leading scientists, including officials from
Federal, State, and local government, Tribes, national laboratories,
universities, and the private sector.
These 300 scientists concluded that, consistent with previous
reports--and by the way, I remember hearing NASA telling us what would
happen. I remember our military leaders telling us what would happen--
predicting to us that we would see rampant wildfires in the West. That
is what we are seeing. Predicting to us 10 years ago that we would see
a warming of the ocean that would result in tougher and bigger and more
damaging hurricanes--exactly what we are seeing.
These scientists concluded that, consistent with all of these
predictions over the last decades, that we must drastically reduce our
greenhouse gas emissions to ensure the health of the American public,
the livelihood of our farmers and ranchers, and the strength of our
The report states that climate change will have serious health
consequences for the American people.
Remember, this report is not something that came out of some think
tank. It is not a report that came out of some congressional committee.
It is not a report that came out of some university. No, no. This is a
report that came out of the Trump administration. All 11 Agencies were
involved in this report.
The Midwest alone in this report by the Trump administration is
predicted to have the largest increase in extreme temperature, will see
an additional 2,000 premature deaths per year by the year 2090,
mosquito and tickborne diseases--which was already seen in my State--
will spread, and food and water safety will be affected.
As I noted, we should also be expecting worsening disasters. Anyone
who watched that horrific tape of those parents trying to get their
kids out of that wildfire in Northern California, when it suddenly came
up faster than could be expected, trying to calm--a dad trying to calm
his child down as he drove through a raging fire--watch that tape. Go
home and watch that tape because that tape will remind you of what we
are dealing with: wildfires, flooding, hurricanes.
Wildfire seasons, already longer and more destructive than before,
could burn up to six times more forest area annually by 2050 in parts
of the United States. These wildfires will have a drastic effect on air
quality and health, particularly on the elderly, pregnant women,
children, and those already suffering from heart and lung diseases.
The report also makes it clear that our farmers will face extremely
tough times. Crops will decline across the country due to higher
temperatures, drought, and flooding. Agricultural yields could fall to
1980 levels within a few decades. That is despite all the science and
work we have done to increase those yields.
In parts of the Midwest, farms will be able to produce less than 75
percent of the corn they produce today, and the southern part of the
Midwestern region could lose more than 25 percent of its soybean yield.
This is not a report that came out of my looking at some books. No,
no, no. This is a report that came out of 1,000 people who work for the
Trump administration. This is an administration report.
The report also emphasizes that our economy could lose hundreds of
billions of dollars--or more than 10 percent of our GDP--by the turn of
the next century. That is more than double the loss of the great
recession a decade ago.
Everyone knows someone who lost their job during that recession.
Everyone knows someone who lost their house or went into debt, right?
Well, think about that doubled--more than 10 percent of our GDP. Again,
not a report by a liberal think tank, not a report by a congressional
subcommittee; this is the report and prediction of the Trump
We cannot ignore the dire warnings of the report, and I appreciate
that the administration put out this report. I wish they had not done
it on a Friday afternoon, but it kind of backfired on them.
We cannot ignore the climate changes already happening around us or
that devastating consequences for our country exist, and we are going
to see more of them in the years ahead. We must seize this opportunity
to ensure the health of the American public, to support our businesses
and farmers, and to make our economy more resilient.
We must act. The American people know that. I hear about climate
wherever I go in my State, from hunters who are concerned about
tickborne illnesses, who are concerned with what we are seeing with
things we have never seen go into our deer population, to business
leaders at the Port of Duluth, to students at the University of
Increasingly warmer temperatures are having effects in Minnesota.
Lyme disease has spread farther north. I bet everyone in my State knows
someone who got Lyme disease. Sometimes they catch it right away, and
it goes away; sometimes it causes a lifetime of troubles. Lyme disease
has been spreading farther north. Aspen forests are shrinking. Moose
range in my State is declining. Thirty-seven percent more rain falls as
a result of mega-rainstorms than we had ever seen just 50 years ago.
The ragweed pollen season has extended 3 weeks in the Twin Cities in
just the past 20 years, making people who suffer from allergies notice
This is in stark contrast to comments made by some who still have
suggested that climate change should be debated.
Well, even in this Chamber, 98 to 1 or 97 to 1, we voted a few years
ago that, in fact, climate change is occurring. We even acknowledged it
finally, but guess what. We are a little behind the people who already
notice it happening.
Over the past week, unfortunately, the President has repeatedly cast
doubt on his own administration's report on climate change. These are
people who work for him. These are Agencies headed up by his own
Commissioners who issued this report.
I am a former prosecutor, and I believe in evidence. As this report
shows us, the facts and the science can't be more clear. This report,
put out by the President's Agencies, notes that the United States is
already 1.8 degrees warmer than it was 100 years ago and that the
seas--the oceans that surround the country--are an average 9 inches
higher and climbing. The recent U.N. report warned that the atmosphere
will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees by 2040 and describes a world we
already see of worsening wildfires and natural disasters.
As the NASA website has said, most of the warming occurred in the
past 35 years, with the 5 warmest years on record taking place since 2010.
Every week brings fresh evidence of the damage. My State of Minnesota
may be miles away from rising oceans, but the impacts in my State and
in the Midwest are not less of a real threat. Climate change isn't just
about melting glaciers and rising ocean levels, and we have certainly
seen that with the hurricanes, but we have also seen flooding like we
have never seen before in Duluth and places across Minnesota.
So we know it is happening. The question is, What do we do about it?
Now that the President's own Agencies have said it is happening, what
do we do about it?
Well, what I would like to hear, acknowledging this new report about
the impacts of climate change, not just the nerdy numbers of climate
change--now that we know the impacts, let's do something about it.
No. 1, the clean power rules. When those were first put out a few
years ago, I think the business community at first thought they were
going to be worse than they were. They were a reasonable path forward,
giving some exceptions and more time to small power companies. I know
in my State, Minnesota Power, Xcel Energy--in our State, our major
power companies were ready to work with those rules. While our small
power companies were concerned, we were working with them to make sure
there were exceptions and that they had a path forward to make sure
they could meet the goals by working with the big power companies.
We already had businesses in my State, like Cargill, that were out
front on this, that saw the risk to their consumers and their business
if we do nothing about climate change internationally. So we were ready
to roll with those clean power rules, but they got reversed by this
administration. I call on them to go back at it and put those rules out
again. Let's get them done.
Secondly, gas mileage standards. That is something else we should be
going back to. We had an agreement with the auto companies just a few
years ago to get that done, but instead, once again, they went
Third, the international climate change agreement. Every other
country in the world has pledged to be in that agreement. We had
pledged to be in the agreement, and then the administration said we
were going out of that agreement. At the time they did that, the only
two countries that weren't in the agreement were Nicaragua and Syria,
and now they have joined the agreement.
I remember a time when the United States was a leader in innovation
and a leader in responding to the challenges, not just in our country
but our world. We should be leading because otherwise other countries
are going to get ahead of us when it gets to innovative technology to
meet these climate change and energy challenges of our time.
That is what this is about, and that is what we need to do to move
My State has been a leader on this. With a Republican Governor, a few
years back, and a Democratic legislature, we were able to pass a
renewable electricity standard that was ahead of its time. Already
today, 7 years ahead of schedule, 25 percent of Minnesota's electricity
generation comes from renewable sources. That is clearly part of our
way forward but not the only way forward.
Guess what. We did it in conjunction with our farming communities
with an agreement, as well, on biofuel, and we did it across the aisle
on a bipartisan basis. We can do that in this Chamber right now if we
have the will to get it done.
As last week's report makes clear, inaction is not an option--not for
our economy, not for our farmers, not for our environment and our
country, and certainly not for the American people. Military and
security experts have reminded us that climate change is a threat to
our national security, increasing the risk of conflict, humanitarian
crisis, and damage to critical infrastructure.
As you look at some of the refugees that have been moving in places
such as Europe and the people coming up from Africa, a lot of that is
because they used to engage in subsistence farming and they can't do it
Yes, we need to adapt with science, and we need to adapt with
cutting-edge speeds in farming, but we also need to adapt by putting
into place policies that bring down our greenhouse gas numbers so we
have a fighting chance of leaving this Earth to our kids and our
grandkids in a way that they can live a life like we have enjoyed.
Despite more severe weather, heat waves that can reduce our water
supply, and extreme rainfall that can damage critical infrastructure,
this country has always gotten ahead of challenges. I ask my friends on
the other side of the aisle to remember the Republican Party of Teddy
Roosevelt, the Republican Party of conservation, the Republican Party
that sought to conserve our resources and not use them all ourselves so
that they can leave something to other people. That is what we have to
find to get this done.
I will end by quoting Pope Francis. His visit to this Congress and to
Washington was something that I will never forget. One of the things he
said is this: ``What kind of world do we want to leave to those who
come after us, to children who are now growing up?''
That is a pretty good standard. Think in your life of those kids whom
you love or your neighbor's kids or your grandkids, and ask yourself
what kind of world you want to leave them. This is no longer just some
hypothetical thing. It is right there in the report by the Trump
administration. It is right before our eyes in the videos we see online
of that dad driving his kid through a wildfire in Northern California.
It is right there as we see the damage the hurricanes are doing to the
east coast. It is right there in the Midwest, when we see rampant
flooding, ticks, Lyme disease, and things that we never used to see in
Minnesota. The evidence is right before our eyes. Let's believe it and
do something about it.
Thank you, Mr. President.