October 25, 2007

STATEMENT BY U.S. SENATOR BENJAMIN L. CARDIN ABOUT THE EDITED TESTIMONY OF DR. JULIE L. GERBERDING ON THE EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING ON HEALTH

Mr. President, two days ago the Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the Health Impacts of Global Warming.    Our lead witness was Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Administrator for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry within the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Dr. Gerberding was invited to testify by Chairman Boxer because the Director is a highly respected leader in the public health arena.   The Committee wanted to have the benefit of her expertise as we grapple with one of the most important issues of our time, global climate change.  

 

As everyone now knows, Dr. Gerberding's written testimony for the hearing was severely edited, with whole pages deleted.   The White House says that some of her written comments did not represent the consensus view of the scientific community.  

 

Mr. President, the very first line that the White House censored in Dr. Gerberding's testimony was this: "Scientific evidence supports the view that the earth's climate is changing."  

 

If that statement doesn't represent the overwhelming sentiment of the world's scientific community, I don't know what does.   I find it astounding that this simple, sober statement of scientific fact would be censored.  

 

These continuing efforts to silence the scientific community would be laughable if the stakes weren't so high.   In the censored portions of her testimony, Dr. Gerberding lists them for us:

 

  • Direct effects of heat,
  • Health effects related to extreme weather events,
  • Air pollution-related health effects,
  • Allergic diseases,
  • Water- and food-borne infectious diseases,
  • Vector-borne and zoonotic diseases,
  • Food and water scarcity, at least for some populations,
  • Mental health problems, and
  • Long-term impacts of chronic diseases and other health effects.  

 

Mr. President, I found Dr. Gerberding's oral testimony to be excellent.   She answered my questions directly and without qualifications.   Her responses to the other Senators on the panel appeared to be equally candid.  

 

Oral testimony is always limited by time, and Committees rely heavily on the written comments of witnesses to provide a more complete perspective.   Because of votes on the Senate floor on Tuesday morning, we were especially constrained for time.  

 

I regret that we did not have the benefit of Dr. Gerberding's full statement prior to the hearing.   Certainly, they would have added a more complete picture of the human health impacts associated with global warming than she was able to convey in the highly censored version that was transmitted to the Committee.

 

The American people and the United States Senate have a right to know what our top health officials have to say on this critical issue.   Today I will be submitting to the hearing record a full copy of the testimony that Dr. Gerberding had intended to offer.  Her views are critical to this debate.  

 

Mr. President, science shouldn't be silenced.   And today we will make sure Dr. Gerberding's words are heard.  

 

I ask unanimous consent that the full text of her draft testimony be inserted into today's Congressional Record immediately after my remarks.   The American people can read for themselves what the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to say before the White House censors tried to silence her.

 

Mr. President, I yield the floor.