Below is the text of an Oval Office address delivered on Aug. 4, 2007, by
President John S. McCain. The speech comes five years after the administration
of George W. Bush advised Americans to adapt to global warming rather than change
their consumption patterns. In 2004, Bush lost the Republican presidential
nomination after popular anger about lost retirement funds and Bush's past business
dealings left him vulnerable to challenge from McCain.
My fellow Americans, this is the third time this summer I've spoken to you
from the Oval Office. Our national emergency continues, and it's urgent that you
know how we are responding and how you can help.
As you know, much of our beloved homeland has been literally on fire this summer.
Many of you have watched on television these past days as firefighters have bravely
fought the blazes engulfing Yellowstone National Park. Unfortunately, I received
word this afternoon that most of the park will have burned to the ground within
the next 48 hours.
This tragedy will bring to 12 million the number of acres lost to fire nationwide
this summer, and August has barely begun. Therefore, tonight I am issuing an executive
order closing all national parks until further notice. I apologize for disrupting
any vacation plans, but we simply must do all we can to deter additional loss.
The fires stem from the brutal heat and drought that have made all of us so
miserable this summer. Here in Washington temperatures have topped 90 degrees
on 50 of the last 60 days. On 25 days, it has been over 100. I am profoundly grieved
to report that heat-related deaths across the nation have reached 3,147. Most
victims have been elderly city dwellers who lacked air conditioning. Mrs. McCain
and I extend our deep sympathies to the families, and I ask you to hold them in
The heat has brought a new affliction as well. The Centers for Disease Control
has confirmed an outbreak of dengue fever in southern Florida and is investigating
two more potential cases in New Orleans. Quarantines have been established, and
vaccinations will soon be available. Please, cooperate with authorities to limit
the spread of this deadly disease.
Our farmers have suffered as cruelly as anyone. Much of the Midwest is a parched
dust bowl, the year's harvest is projected to be down 40 percent.
To save farmers from bankruptcy, I urge Congress to expand the emergency farm
supports proposed in my last speech. To deter a doubling of global food prices,
and the political unrest that can bring, I authorize tonight the release of 80
percent of our remaining grain reserves. I also appeal to other large producing
nations to help stabilize the markets.
As you know, the drought has forced us to ration water in 38 of the 50 states.
I know this has been difficult. I know that not being able to bathe or shower
every day is unpleasant in this heat. Unfortunately, the drought persists, so
we have no choice but to tighten the rationing still further. No one gets exempted
except hospitals and other emergency facilities. Starting next week, industrial,
agricultural, and residential users alike will experience an additional one-third
reduction in water supply. So, if you now bathe or shower every second day, next
week it will be every third.
Ironically, at the same time we're rationing water, we are expecting drenching
rains on parts of the East and Gulf coasts as hurricane season gets underway.
Our meteorologists warn me that this year's storms may be even more ferocious
than last year's. So please understand: Many coastal areas may be declared off
limits in the coming weeks. Please respect any traffic blockades. They are not
meant to ruin your vacation but to keep you and your family safe.
As an old military man, I believe the first rule of combat is, ''Know your
enemy.'' After extensive consultations with my staff and with top specialists
from around the world, I am now convinced that our real enemy is not the heat,
the drought, or the fires. They are mere symptoms. Our real enemy is global warming.
Humanity has pumped enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases
into the atmosphere, and we are beginning to pay the price.
I know some of my Republican friends may find this analysis hard to hear. For
years, some in our party have insisted global warming is nothing more than liberal
claptrap intended to reduce America's standard of living. I wish it were that
simple. But there is nothing liberal or conservative about global warming. It
is basic science, and the events of this summer illustrate how it is already making
a mockery of our standard of living.
No one would wish for the kind of summer we are now enduring, but perhaps it
will wake us up to the truth about global warming.
This year has been the hardest, but the fact is that killer droughts, heat
waves, forest fires, and super-storms have afflicted us in six of the last seven
summers. That is exactly what scientists have said global warming would look like.
It just seems to have arrived more quickly than expected. Five years ago, the
snows on Mount Kilimanjaro were projected to melt by 2017. Now, the target date
has been advanced to 2010. If global sea levels rise as fast as Kilimanjaro's
snow melts, some of our most precious coastal areas - Cape Cod, New Orleans, the
Florida Keys, and parts of the National Mall here in Washington - could be under
water within our lifetimes. And of course the brutal droughts, storms, and heat
waves will only get worse.
So what do we do?
Tonight I appeal to the Congress and the nation to launch what I call a Green
Deal for America. Joining me in this appeal, I'm happy to say, is my old friend,
Senate Majority Leader John Kerry. Senator Kerry and I have fought many environmental
battles together but none so critical as this.
The Green Deal for America is a government-led but market based program to
shift our nation away from carbon-based fuels like oil and coal and replace them
with solar, wind, and hydrogen. To begin, the government will entirely stop subsidizing
the carbon-based fuels that only make global warming worse.
Instead, those billions will be converted into subsidies for green energy,
such as consumer tax credits to help solarize your house.
To further help tip the markets in a green direction, the government will redirect
its own purchasing power. For example, Washington will tell Detroit that from
now on the 60,000 vehicles we buy every year for official use must be hydrogen-fueled.
We will ask state and local governments to do the same. The economies of scale
that flow from those orders should enable the car manufacturers to bring down
the price of hydrogen vehicles to where average consumers can afford them.
The second part of the Green Deal for America attacks the trickiest part of
the global warming problem: its long lag time. The trouble is, carbon dioxide
remains in the atmosphere for approximately 100 years. That means that even if
we switched to a non-carbon energy system overnight, the planet would keep warming
for decades. So, it's not enough to stop adding carbon to the atmosphere. We must
also extract as much of what's already there as possible. The fastest, easiest
way to do that is to plant trees. By the miracle of photosynthesis, trees inhale
carbon dioxide like we inhale oxygen.
So, the Green Deal will aim to plant 300 million trees, one for each American,
within the next five years. The government will pay for the trees and equipment.
Volunteers, organized in Green Brigades, will do the actual planting. I hope young
people in particular will consider signing up.
With a Green Deal for America, our nation can kick the carbon habit within
10 years and perhaps escape the worst effects of global warming. Investing in
green energy sources produces more jobs and higher profits, not less. This program
is good for workers, it's good for business, and it's essential to our future.
My fellow Americans, we face one of the greatest tests in the history of our
nation. But I have no doubt we can meet this challenge. I hope you will join me
and Senator Kerry in working to pass a Green Deal for America. It's no silver
bullet, but it will be a great help as we fight to restore our homeland and secure
the future our children and grandchildren deserve.
Good night, God bless you, and God bless America.
Mark Hertsgaard is the author of ''On Bended Knee,'' ''Earth Odyssey,''
and of ''The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World,''
being published this fall.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company