A video of Mitch's testimony. You can view the text of the submitted testimony below.
On March 27, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first national carbon pollution standards for power plants. This is an historic step in the right direction to overcome global warming and protecting public health.
"The simple fact is that if man is not able to solve his ecological problems, then man's resources are going to die."(1) Noted evangelical, Francis Schaeffer correctly stated those words in 1970 and they remain true today. The earth has a fever, (2) and the fever's impacts have reached epidemic proportions, threatening all of us. Simply put climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time.
Climate Change resulting from carbon pollution makes bad things worse. It intensifies natural processes, making natural events unnatural or extreme, and hits the most vulnerable the hardest.
The Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2012 (3) displayed on the left graphically indicates the great difficulty in scrapping out life for the world's poorest people. The darker the color on the map indicates those already impacted. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Bangladesh are already some of the most difficult places to survive in the world, and with climate change, they are at the most at risk. These threats are not some future event. They are happening now, and God's children across this planet cry for our help. The Cape Town Commitment(4) issued by the Lausanne Movement (founded by Billy Graham and John Stott, another internationally respected evangelical leader) recognizes the need for climate change action, as does as does the global evangelical network Micah Challenge. (5)
The changing climate kills hundreds of thousands a year, multiplies diseases, and forces millions to flee their homelands as food and water security simply do not exist. Without basic needs met, conflict ensues. In October 2009, Burke et. al. published Warming Increases the Risk of Civil War in Africa. The authors' model the impacts just described and their influence by temperature rise. They conclude for each 1 degree Celsius warming will result in a 49% increase in African civil wars, a 54% increase in conflict, and an additional 393,000 battle deaths within the next 20 years. (6) They are not alone in predicting increased instability. The 2010 United States Department of Defense Quadrennial Review states:
Climate change will affect DoD in two broad ways. First, climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that we undertake. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, composed of 13 federal agencies, reported in 2009 that climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters. Among these physical changes are increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the oceans and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.
While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world. In addition, extreme weather events may lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response both within the United States and overseas. (7)
These facts represent people. Victor Mughogho, the Executive Director of Eagles Relief and Development "Malawi, recently visited the United States for my organization's Global Day of Prayer For Creation Care and the Poor. During his presentation, Victor shared exactly what climate scientists' have predicted for years.
Victor told us how for their parents the rainy season was so predictable they knew to plant on October 15 every year. They planted and the rains fell --predictable --stable --reliable. They grew so much food they had an overabundance. In their parents' lives, they experienced one major drought.
Since 1970, droughts, floods, and unpredictable rains have become the new normal, exactly what the scientists said climate change would do,(8) wreaking havoc for poor farmers.
2011 was the fourth consecutive year drought has plagued Malawi. Moreover, when the rains come they are unpredictable. Victor told us that last year the farmers planted and the crops failed; planted again, failed again; planted a third time and they failed a third time. Hunger, malnutrition, the stunting of children are the results. Victor reminded us that such stunting harms a person's brain development, further jeopardizing their future and that of Malawi. Further, women who were stunted as children are at greater risk of having complications giving birth, delivering lower birth weight infants, and higher birth morality for both mother and child.
Another example stems from the work of Dr. Val Shean, a veterinarian and missionary in Uganda. For nearly 20 years, Val has shared Christ's love in both word and deed among the seven sub-tribes of the Karamojong, who live in most arid region of Uganda (watch a clip of Val Shean sharing about here experiences here). During a recent visit to the United States Dr. Shean shared the following story with us, about a baby named Muya Val who was orphaned because of climate change.
For the last three years Val's friend Aleachae's ability to grow crops to help feed her family had been thwarted by the changing climate. For two of these years the rains came at the wrong time for planting and when they did come, it was not enough to stem the drought. Then in the third year, the community experienced "a horrible flood," all the more remarkable since they have never had flooding. For three straight years, Aleachae's family did not have enough food. Her husband became so enraged that he threw her out of the home for being a bad wife and mother, as she could not grow a garden. Of course, it was not Aleachae's fault. It was because of global warming. Yet she was blamed.
Once her husband threw her out, Aleachae went to another village, lived with another man, and became pregnant. Aleachae was tossed away --again, and attempted a return to her original village. However, she died after childbirth, and named her child, Muya. Muya was then brought to the local church, who asked Val to be her guardian, and gave Muya Val's last name because the father was unknown.
Unfortunately, in the years to come there will be many more climate change orphans like Muya Val. Indeed, in our lifetime billions of the world's poor will be impacted by climate change resulting from carbon pollution.
The United States does not escape either. 2011 was the wildest year on record for extreme weather in the US with 99 major events. Insurance losses in 2011 were the second costliest on record, only 2005 with hurricane Katrina were higher. The trend continues in 2012 being the year without winter, extreme weather appears to be drawing attention to a changing climate. Science now affirms that North America's summer heat waves and changing precipitation are very likely resulting from anthropogenic climate change. In other words, the extreme weather events of the past several years are typical of climate change and very likely will continue.
Others present today will testify to coal-produced electricity (the largest source of carbon pollution) adding $0.0972 - 0.2689 per kWh in hidden health and other costs not currently realized by the utility.(9) Others may testify to jobs created by clean energy, or the American public's desire for clean air. All true. However, my testimony is a moral cause for the poor. Someone must stand and speak for those without a voice and those who are most impacted by carbon pollution, yet the least responsible for its toxic emissions. And there are many Christians in the U.S. who are concerned about what happens to poor people in poor countries.
The New Source Standard for Carbon Pollution remains a first step, but only a first step. We need a clean energy revolution whose rate of change must be incredibly fast. A gradual transition will not provide an adequate means to protect public health from the well-documented fossil fuel consequences of carbon, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals, particulate pollution.
Our nation must empower a second "Greatest Generation" who similar to the mobilization required for overcoming fascism, provide the leadership for a clean energy revolution. Clean energy and reducing carbon pollution, according to the respected business-consulting firm McKinsey & Co., will require a 10-fold increase in carbon productivity.(10) This will require a united effort of government, business, and all society working together, including comprehensive energy/climate legislation.
A national clean energy policy, including comprehensive climate change legislation that includes a price on carbon, must be a national priority. Our nation must lead in driving innovation throughout the economy, and success for market-based solutions will occur only as a carbon fuel's true cost becomes realized.
A clean energy future provides a healthy new economy for America and our success at home can then be exported to other parts of the world. American innovation and businesses stand to gain if we can come up with the next efficient clean energy production.
The New Source Performance Standard for Carbon Pollution is an historic first step in the right direction and we strongly recommend its finalization and promulgation in its current form. However, it's only a beginning, a springboard. We urge the Administration, Congress, industry, and the American people to work toward a market based solution to reduce current carbon pollution and insure a safer and healthier world for all God's children.
1 Francis A, Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man, Tyndale House, Wheaton, IL, 1970, reprinted 2011, pg. 9.
2 Jim Ball, Global Warming and the Risen Lord, The Evangelical Environmental Network, Washington, DC, 2010, pg. 39.
6 Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa (October 2009); Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
7 United States Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review Report (February 2010).
9 Paul R. Epstein, et.al., Full Cost Accounting For The Life Cycle of Coal, Annals of the NY Academy of Sciences, 1219, (2011), 73-98.