Climate Crisis Action Day Speech

By ROB SISSON, REP’s membership and development director

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: Rob spoke as the mayor of Sturgis, Michigan to the Climate Crisis Action Day in Washington, DC on March 20, 2007.

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Greetings from the Great Lake State!

My name is Rob Sisson. I am Mayor of the City of Sturgis, Michigan, and I am on the national staff of Republicans for Environmental Protection as REP’s membership and development director.

I don’t have to go to the Arctic to see the impacts of climate change. I can see them back home in Michigan and if oil and gas development in the Arctic is expanded, we will feel those impacts, too.

In the Great Lakes basin, we consider clean, cold freshwater our birthright. Our region holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh, surface water. My home county has more navigable streams than any other county in Michigan and more irrigated farmland than anywhere east of the Mississippi.

Global warming is impacting Michigan today. Our three major industries are automobile production, agriculture, and tourism. One is in trouble because it ignored for too long the American consumer’s desire for cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The other two have suffered directly due to climate change.

Our unique Great Lakes are in the crosshairs of global warming. In recent years, temperatures have been too warm to allow an ice cover to form over the Lakes. This has allowed more water to evaporate and leave the ecosystem. The Lakes are near record low levels and this has hurt our recreation and tourism businesses— most often family owned enterprises.

Shallower waters also mean warmer waters and a potential end to Michigan’s coldwater fish populations of trout, salmon, and whitefish and the fishing industry that depends upon them.

The temperature changes allow Lake Michigan to warm too quickly in the spring, exposing our fruit and wine industry to late killer frosts. In decades past, a cold Lake Michigan would moderate the temperatures inland, keeping these cash crops from budding too early. Every crop has been impacted, including last year’s near complete loss for grape growers. This causes financial stress on farm families and puts open land at risk.

As the mayor of a community with limited resources, I am concerned about the impacts that climate change will soon bring to us.
More extreme weather will overload our currently fragile capacity to handle and treat storm and wastewater.

Disease and infestations that are no longer held at bay by cold, “Up North” winters will change our fields and forests. Greater use of fertilizer and pesticides will exact a toll on air quality and water supplies.

Community owned hospitals, already challenged to stay solvent, will be charged with the care of the human health impacts of global warming and will be overwhelmed financially.

Residents and businesses in small towns across America– the taxpayers– will be burdened with the expense of mitigating these problems—costs that could be avoided or minimized by action today.

New technologies offer us hope if we have the will to adopt them. If our automakers focus on new technology and conservation, Detroit can look forward to an extended reign as the motor capital of the world and create thousands of new jobs. If we turn toward cleaner forms of energy, we can insure our residents and businesses a long period of stable and steady energy to fuel growth and to create a tax base to finance local government infrastructure without stifling new taxes. If we can protect our water resources from the effects of climate change, we can insure a place where future generations will choose to live, work, play, and prosper.

This issue must be confronted on a truly bi-partisan basis and it must become a priority of all lawmakers. Michigan and the Great Lakes region deserve and require action on global warming today!

Thank you.

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