Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Senators' Perspectives On Global Warming

Jan 30: The full Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Chaired by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a hearing entitled, Senators' Perspectives on Global Warming. The purpose of the hearing was to hear from each Senator about his or her views on global warming, and what the Senator believes the nation's response should be to the issue. The statements from the Chair and Ranking Member illustrate how far apart opinions are on this issue.

Senator Boxer opened the hearing with a presentation saying, "My colleagues, I believe we must act now to address global warming. I believe it is our responsibility. I believe it is our duty. And I believe it is our challenge. I believe that just as consensus has been built among scientists, it is rapidly building among the American people. A recent Time Magazine/ABC News Poll found that 88 percent say that global warming threatens future generations. We are at a historic moment – the tide is turning. A real consensus is coming together around this issue in a way that has never happened before. Scientists, the public, and even the Bush Administration agree: global warming is real, and humans are making a serious contribution...

"We know what is happening-- the science is clear: The planet is getting warmer because humans are releasing too much carbon pollution into the atmosphere. If we fail to take action on global warming now, we can expect future catastrophic impacts like rising sea levels, more extreme weather events of all kinds, damage to coral reefs and fisheries, and negative impacts on food production and water supplies. We need to act soon, before we reach a tipping point when irreversible changes to the world we know may occur..."

Ranking Member, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), outspoken critic of conventional climate change theory, released his opening remarks saying that he disagree with the format of today’s hearing. He said, "Just to hold a hearing for members to provide testimony is duplicative of the Senate floor... This event today breaks every hearing protocol of this Committee, from no agreed to witness list to testimony not being submitted under our rules... I will object in the future to any similar hearings.

"On the issue of climate change in the last four years, I have spoken on the Senate floor more than a dozen times, held four hearings, two stakeholder meetings and many briefings within the Committee. I have looked at the science, the economics, and expected benefits of differing initiatives and proposals. And I have examined how well the world’s only large-scale carbon rationing program that has been implemented so far – the Kyoto Protocol – has fared in achieving its objectives... The Kyoto Protocol would cost the average household $2,700 per year. And it would accomplish virtually nothing. Even if the alarmists were right, the Kyoto Protocol would only reduce temperatures by 0.07 Celsius by the year 2050. Bills introduced in the Senate are no different. The Bingaman proposal would only reduce temperatures by 0.008 Celsius...

"Of course, while the U.S. was on an energy diet, the rest of the world would be free to continually increase their emissions. [for example] China does not plan to accept carbon caps, and will become the world’s largest CO2 emitter by 2009 – two years from now. It is building more than one new coal plant every three days. India and Brazil are not far behind. If they are not part of any effort, then efforts to curb emissions are doomed to failure...

"In regards to the 10 companies which announced their Climate Action Partnership last week, I would like to introduce into the record a commentary from the Wall Street Journal. This outlines the fact that each of the companies from Duke to GE, will individually profit from their plan. It is not an example of companies thinking of the quote “common good” as some of my colleagues have suggested, but more a case of climate profiteers..."

Access a webcast of the hearing (click here, hopefully available soon). Access Senator Boxer's opening presentation and links to charts and graphics used (click here). Access Senator Inhofe's statement and links to supporting information (click here). Access the hearing website for links to some additional statements (click here). Access a listing of Democrats and Republicans on the Committee (click here). [*Climate]