The U.S. Must Lead on Climate Threat

By Barbra Streisand.

During a Congressional hearing this year, Texas Rep. Joe Barton (R) invoked Noah's Ark saying, "I would point out that if you're a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn't because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon."

Really? Because 97% of the world's climate scientists beg to differ today.

Pope Francis, who also reads the Bible, understands the current threat better than Rep. Barton. He said recently that we must be "custodians of creation," respecting the "beauty of nature and the grandeur of the cosmos." He noted the failure to address the warming planet could bring apocalyptic consequences stating, "Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!"

Three authoritative and frightening reports on climate change were released this year. They come from completely different sources: the U.S. Global Change Research Program; the United Nations; and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The first report, the National Climate Assessment, is a U.S. Government interagency report required every four years and established under first President Bush. The Congressionally-mandated report released this year was authored by 300 leading climate scientists and experts, and reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences.

A decade ago, these scientists predicted the weather changes we are seeing now. Here are just three major points the National Climate Assessment noted this year:

· The warming trend is clear and primarily the result of human activities. The last decade was the warmest on record.

· Heavy precipitation and extreme heat events are increasing and the risks of such extreme events will rise in the future.

· The sharp decline in summer Arctic sea ice has continued, is unprecedented and is consistent with human-induced climate change. A new record for minimum area of Arctic sea ice was set in 2012.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also issued its annual report for 2014, the fifth of its kind. Its findings cement the fact that not only is climate change here, it has been affecting us for decades. Of the previous 30 years, each decade has been successively warmer than the last, and each warmer than any time in history since 1850. Greenland and the Antarctic glaciers and icepack are melting, and the sea levels and ocean temperature are rising. CO2 is 40% higher now than since pre-industrial times and one of the main causes is the burning of fossil fuels.

Finally, a recent report by the Department of Defense (DOD) outlines the threat of climate change in national security terms. It notes climate change would exacerbate "poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions -- conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence."

The DOD "expects climate change to challenge its ability to fulfill its mission in the future." And it has been saying this since 2010.

Now, let us consider the responses of elected Republicans to the recent findings.

House Speaker John Boehner says he is "not qualified" to debate the science of climate change." Yet he seems unwilling to listen to the climate experts who testify before Congress. Representative Marco Rubio from Florida - where seawater occasionally now floods the sewer system - said, "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it." His fellow statesman, Florida Governor Rick Scott, also hides behind recent statements like, "I am not a scientist," but has also said, "I've not been convinced that there's any man-made climate change."

These politicians have these three reports at their fingertips, in case they'd like to learn something from those who are qualified.

The extreme right in Congress effectively gagged our military. Just two months ago, on May 22, Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill that, despite the DOD request, no funding could be used to address climate change as a national security issue. All but three Republicans voted for the McKinley Amendment. Save four members, Democrats all voted against it.

As Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) said in response, "The McKinley amendment would require the Defense Department to assume that the cost of carbon pollution is zero. That's science denial at its worst and it fails our moral obligation to our children and grandchildren."

Once there were more sensible Republicans. President George W. Bush's homeland security secretary, Tom Ridge, said that climate change is "a real serious problem," and if ignored it "would bring destruction and economic damage." Climate change is not a partisan issue. Like terrorism, climate change sees no party lines and threatens us all.

Charles Pierce summed up the debate, "Can this country learn anymore? That is a question that underlies so many others. We have allowed ourselves in our politics to become contemptuous of knowledge, wary of science, and suspicious of expertise."

If established climate science, unfolding in real time before our eyes, does not prevail in this debate, then the fate of the world may look a lot like the dystopia popular in much of current cinema. If the United States does not lead in this issue, there will be little progress.

President Obama did take steps to gradually reduce carbon emissions from power plants, further implementing the EPA's Clean Air Act regulations. As a bonus, the U.S. will have cleaner air and less mercury pollution as a result of burning less coal. This is a major step in the right direction for America and the world.

Paul Krugman pointed out these regulations can be implemented at little cost to our economy. Despite the attack on the regulations by the Chamber of Commerce, it admitted the cost is small. Krugman writes, "So what the Chamber of Commerce is actually saying is that we can take dramatic steps on climate -- steps that would transform international negotiations, setting the stage for global action -- while reducing our incomes by only one-fifth of 1 percent."

Regional cap-and-trade programs will allow states and companies to slowly reduce - through retrofitting designs - their carbon emissions. Some states have already reduced emissions by 40% below 2005 levels. Over-all, carbon emissions have already been reduced by 13%. Progress is already happening. Republicans, meanwhile, are missing the boat. President Obama is doing what he can. The United States of America is a world leader and the world must respond to climate change.

We have a choice before us, and a chance to gain the upper hand on this rapidly expanding threat. The changes are already here, but we could stop its most damaging effects. As astrophysicist and Cosmos host, Neil deGrasse Tyson said, "Vested interests still hire their own scientists to confuse the issue. But in the end, nature will not be fooled."

Comments for this Statement

I lead children from very young (kindergarten) to high school students in embracing environmental activism as a way of life. THEY GET IT. If directed with service learning & innovative green science experiments, their curiosity shifts to disbelief that the destructive cycle continues.
Yes, Ms. Streisand, you are correct: scientific research is undeniably credible and the U.S. should be intelligent and directive enough to advance action on this issue. Immediate action is imperative or, sadly, the knowledge my children are aquiring will be a mute point.

Dear Barbra,

Your Jewish grandparents were from Galicia and so were mine. You were born in Brooklyn and so was I. My parents were from Brownsville, Boro Park, etc.

Here we are, two Jews living the good life in the US. I don't know about you, but my grandparents entire extended family was killed by the Nazis.

You have spoken out on climate change, gay marriage, and many other issues. Now we (the Jews of America and the world) need your help.

Barbra, please click on the link above and look at what just took place in your own back yard (Los Angeles). Protesters walked the streets with signs equating Israel to the Nazis. Another sign says "From the River to the Sea," meaning the protesters want all of Israel, and all the Jews living in Israel dead. It's not about Gaza Barbra, it's about killing Jews.

Have you seen the Kristellnacht that just took place in Paris Barbra? They are burning Jewish stores and synagogues while the police stand by and do nothing. They march in the streets of Paris chanting "Death to the Jews, Hitler was right." Jews are fleeing France by the thousands. And the same thing is happening in London, and all over Europe. And now Barbra, it's happening in LA.

Barbra, I call on you to use your huge influence and speak out on this immediately. I call on you to rally all your friends, including all your political connections, to speak out against this new wave of Jew hatred. Please don't tell me these people are only against Israel and not the Jews. That's the convenient excuse the Jew haters always use.

Barbra, remember where your grandparents came from. Were they poor like mine? Remember how they rounded the Jews in Galicia up and sent them to camps to be gassed to death. Do you think a mob of 10,000 LA jew haters could break down the security fence around your house and burn it to the ground? Who would stop them?

Remember Barbra how in Germany, the rich Jews thought the Nazis would only come for the poor Jews. That's what the Jewish doctors and lawyers thought as the cattle car door slammed shut behind them and departed for Belzec.

Barbra, if you let this type of Jew hatred grow in the United States, if you fail to speak out right now, then like Moses, I call heaven and earth to witness that one day, they will come for me, and yes Barbra, with all your wealth and power, they will come for you.

Please speak out now, and rally all your Hollywood and Washington DC friends to speak out against the rising tide of Jew hatred we are seeing world-wide and in the US.

Barbra, I have used my real name to register for your site and my real email. I am afraid to do that, but I am more afraid of what will happen if you don't speak out. I've done my part. Will you do yours?


Dear Barbra,
I so agree with all you are saying. It is imperative this fall that we get everyone to register to vote, and that every Democrat and intelligent independents vote for Democrats this fall. For now, it is the only way this country is going to move forward on climate change or any other important issue facing this country. We must continue to elect more Democrats, and of course get Secretary of State Clinton elected to the presidency in 2016.

Thank you for all your progressive reason and understanding and all issues. I am 58, and I listen to your old and new music all the time. I am so grateful for the many memories your music always brings for me.

Thanks again.
Doug Brown
Rancho Mirage, CA (future home city of President Obama)

Excellent commentary... Thank you!

I might be wrong, but I believe one reason most Republicans deny man's impact on climate change is pride stemming from their dislike of former Vice President Al Gore. Add to that the fear that addressing this serious issue might hurt the fossil fuels industries, eliminating jobs. Yes, there will be a transition. And that won't be easy in a state like West Virginia. Change can be hard. But it's critical to move quickly to reduce our dependency on coal and oil.

It took 10 years to land a man on the moon. With that kind of determination and leadership, this crisis can be solved. Clean, renewable energy (wind and solar) is the answer. Even natural gas (which we have in abundance) would be preferable for the short term. It emits 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal when burned.

This morning, I read a startling article in USA Today. New studies in the journal Science reveal that although human population has doubled in the past 35 years, the number of invertebrate animals such as beetles, butterflies, spiders and worms has increased 45 percent during that same period. Most Republicans (and some Democrats) have their heads under oil barrels. They'd better come out of the fumes into reality before it's too late... for all our sakes.

As a huge fan of yours, I always respect your outspokenness on many subjects: equality, suffering, climate change, heart disease. There is one common thread between them and that is veganism. Animal agriculture is the number one cause of climate change and heart disease. The untold suffering and slaughter of innocent beings is atrocious! Consider just a few of the facts. Raising animals for food takes up half of all water used in the U.S., the number one cause of water pollution and methane gas emissions from factory farms, deforestation and soil erosion. We could end world hunger if the crops used to feed the cattle were used to feed the starving people. Meat consumption is the number one contributor to heart disease. The factory farming practices create untold suffering and slaughter likened to nothing less than a holocaust. This just gives a brief insight. I urge you to educate yourself and use your influence to get people to take action, but mostly for yourself, to practice what you preach.

Dear Barbra,

I was so pleased to see this piece on the Huffington Post. I don't know if you are familiar with the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the immense amount of scientific research we are doing around climate change. We would definitely appreciate your joining forces with us in helping to lead the way in educating the public about what can and needs to be done to mitigate climate change. Please take a look at our website at .

Thank you,
Gregory Fienhold

Dear Barbra,
I'm curious to hear what you have to say about what's going on in Gaza. So many people are speaking out and I'm certain you have an opinion. Would you be so kind as to share it with us please.
As a Jew, I'm horrified at the Israeli governments tactics. What about you.
Sincerely, Joel Jason