Friday, August 03, 2012

Senate Hearing On Climate Change Science & Local Adaptation

Aug 1: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works (EPW) Committee, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), with Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) held a hearing entitled, "Update on the Latest Climate Change Science and Local Adaptation Measures." Witnesses providing testimony included: Professors and researchers from Carnegie Institution for Science; University of Alabama in Huntsville; and Harvard University; as well as representatives from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources; American Council for Capital Formation; and National Association of County & City Health Officials. Senator Boxer is a strong believer in climate change science and greenhouse gas (GHG) regulatory controls, while Senator Inhofe is the most outspoken Congressional critic of the science behind climate change and regulation of GHG.
    In her opening statement, Senator Boxer said in part, "Climate change is real, human activities are the primary cause, and the warming planet poses a significant risk to people and the environment. To declare otherwise, in my view, is putting the American people in danger -- direct danger. The body of evidence is overwhelming, the world's leading scientists agree, and predictions of climate change impacts are coming true before our eyes. The purpose of this hearing is to share with the Committee the mountain of scientific evidence that has increased substantially over time: time that we should have used to reduce carbon pollution - the main cause of climate change. . .
    "Even some former climate deniers now see the light. Just this past weekend, Professor Richard Muller - a self-proclaimed climate skeptic - wrote the following in the New York Times: 'Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I'm now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.' . .
    "We cannot turn away from the mountain of evidence that climate change has already started to impact the planet and will only grow worse without action. Leading scientists who are testifying today on the latest science will reinforce that point. Taking action to address this serious problem will benefit us and future generations. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses."
    Senator Inhofe, in an opening statement said in part, "I must say it feels like we're back to the good old days. It may be hard to believe, but it was in February of 2009, during the height of the global warming alarmist movement, that this committee last held a hearing on global warming science. . . what drove the collapse of the global warming movement was that the science of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was finally exposed. For years I had warned that the United Nations was a political body, not a scientific body - and finally the mainstream media took notice. . . The Washington Post recently published a poll revealing that Americans no longer worry about global warming and one of the reasons is because they don't trust the scientists' motivations. . .
    "It must be very hard for my friends on the left to watch the President who promised he would slow the rise of the oceans posing in front of pipelines in my home state of Oklahoma pretending to support oil and gas. I imagine they are trying to keep quiet because they know President Obama is still moving forward with his global warming agenda - he just doesn't want the American people to know about it. . .
    "Today we should have a fascinating debate.  I want to thank climatologist Dr. John Christy for appearing before the Committee to provide his insights. I am also looking forward to the testimony of Dr. Margo Thorning, a noted economist who will discuss the economic pain of the Obama EPA's current regulations. . ."

    Dr. Christopher B. Field, Director, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science; Professor of Biology and Environmental Earth Science Stanford University testified saying, "As the U.S. copes with the aftermath of last year's record-breaking series of 14 billion-dollar climate-related disasters and this year's massive wildfires and storms, it is critical to understand that the link between climate change and the kinds of extremes that lead to disasters is clear. Overwhelming evidence supports the conclusion in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that, 'A changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration, and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events.' . . .
    "In summary, there is no doubt that climate has changed and that changes will continue in the future, with human emissions of heat-trapping gases playing a major role. There is also no doubt that a changing climate changes the risk of extremes, including extremes that can lead to disaster. It is only by understanding those risks in the most clear-headed, objective way possible that we, as a nation, can make good decisions about the challenges of protecting and enhancing our natural legacy, our economy, and our people."
    Dr. John R. Christy, Distinguished Professor, Director of Earth System Science Center, Department of Atmospheric Science
University of Alabama in Huntsville
delivered a lengthy 22-page testimony and said, "It is popular again to claim that extreme events, such as the current central U.S. drought, are evidence of human-caused climate change. Actually, the Earth is very large, the weather is very dynamic, and extreme events will continue to occur somewhere, every year, naturally. The recent "extremes" were exceeded in previous decades. . .
    "Coal use, which generates a major portion of CO2 emissions, will continue to rise as indicated by the Energy Information Administration's chart below. Developing countries in Asia already burn more than twice the coal that North America does, and that discrepancy will continue to expand. The fact our legislative actions will be inconsequential in the grand scheme of things can be seen by noting that these actions attempt to bend the blue curve for North American down a little, and that's all. So, downward adjustments to North American coal use will have virtually no effect on global CO2 emissions (or the climate), no matter how sensitive one thinks the climate system might be to the extra CO2 we are putting back into the atmosphere.
    "Thus, if the country deems it necessary to de-carbonize civilization's main energy sources, then compelling reasons beyond human-induced climate change need to be offered that must address, for example, ways to help poor countries develop affordable
energy. Climate change alone is a weak leg on which to stand to justify a centrally planned, massive change in energy production, infrastructure and cost."
    Access the hearing website for links to statements, testimony and a webcast (click here). [#Climate]
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