Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hearing: "Climate Change: It's Happening Now"

Jul 18: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works (EPW) Committee, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), with Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA), held a hearing entitled, "Climate Change: It's Happening Now."
    The hearing included testimony from number of climate experts including: Dr. Heidi Cullen, Chief Climatologist Climate Central; Mr. Frank Nutter, President, Reinsurance Association of America; Mr. KC Golden, Policy Director, Climate Solutions; Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research; Dr. Robert P. Murphy, Senior Economist, Institute for Energy Research; Dr. Jennifer Francis, Research Professor, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University; Dr. Scott Doney, Director, Ocean and Climate Change Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Dr. Margaret Leinin, Executive Director, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University; Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., Professor, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist IV, University of Alabama, Huntsville. Senator Boxer opened the hearing stating:
"Today's hearing will focus on climate change and the serious threat it poses to our nation. The body of evidence is overwhelming, the world's leading scientists agree, and predictions of the impact of climate change are coming true before our eyes. This issue has been a priority for me since I became Chairman of this Committee, because climate change puts our environment and public health at great risk. Scientists and other experts have testified before this Committee in the past, and they spoke many times about the severe impact of climate change. Let me share just a few of these experts' predictions with you:
      • "It is very likely that hot extremes [and] heat waves . . . will continue to become more frequent." (Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth in 2008)
      • "It is likely that tropical storms and hurricanes will become more intense and with much heavier rainfalls, and thus risk of flooding." (Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth in 2008)
      • "With climate change, an increase in the severity, duration, and frequency of extreme heat waves is expected in the United States." (Dr. Howard Frumkin in 2009)
      • "On the most basic level, climate change has the potential to create sustained natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale and at a frequency far beyond those we see today." (Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn in 2009)

"In 2012, Superstorm Sandy resulted in the loss of life, wiped out entire communities, and caused approximately $65 billion of damage. And the impacts of climate change are being felt throughout our nation. The Arctic has lost more than a third of total sea ice volume over the last decade -- making Alaskan native villages increasingly vulnerable to erosion and storms. We have seen large wildfires break out earlier in the season in California, and recently 19 brave firefighters in Arizona tragically lost their lives. In 2012, New Mexico experienced the largest wildfire in state history, Colorado suffered the second largest wildfire in state history, and Oregon had its largest wildfire since the 1860s. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), over the past two years there have been 25 weather and climate disasters - each one costing more than $1 billion. Climate change is real, human activities are the primary cause, and the warming planet poses a significant risk to people and the environment. . ."

    Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the outspoken critic of climate change science, said in a statement that he was disappointed that because he was looking forward to hearing from Administration officials about the President's global warming proposal. He said, "Around the same time the President gave his speech on global warming last month [See WIMS 6/25/13 & See WIMS 6/26/13], his campaign team developed a secret talking points memo that was crafted to provide alarmists around the country with specific instructions about how they should talk about global warming."

    Senator Inhofe said, "Most meteorologists agree.  A recent study by George Mason University reported that 63% of weathercasters believe that any global warming that occurs is the result of 'natural variation' and not 'human activities.'  That is a significant two-to-one majority. . . And just this past week, Harvard and the Forest Service came out with a study that shows trees are growing faster and using less water with higher atmospheric concentrations of CO2.  This is the opposite of what scientists expected before, but the alarmists can't talk about it because they've received their instructions from the President.

    Senator Inhofe cited Richard Lindzen, "the world renowned atmospheric physicist at MIT" who said that regulating carbon is a "bureaucrat's dream," because "if you control carbon, you control life."  Sen. Inhofe said, "When you zoom out and consider this from a distance, it is the core tenant of liberalism and the President political philosophy.  He believes that government can make better decisions than the people, and regulating carbon dioxide will give him all he needs to make nearly every decision for the American people."
    Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University said, "As the oceans continue to absorb additional heat trapped by ever-accumulating greenhouse gases, as sea ice continues to disappear, and as the Arctic continues to warm faster than the rest of the globe, we can only expect to see more weather-related adverse impacts. The details of those impacts are still emerging from ongoing research, but the overall picture of the future is clear."
    Dr. Scott Doney of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said, "Over the past two centuries, human activities have resulted in dramatic and well documented increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and acidification of the upper ocean. Today the surface ocean is almost 30% more acidic than it was in pre-industrial times, and over the next few decades, the level of acidity of the surface ocean will continue to rise without deliberate action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Increasingly this will cause major problems for many marine organisms like shellfish and corals."
    Dr. Heidi Cullen of the University of Pennsylvania said, "Climate change was for a long time thought to be an issue for the distant future. But I am here today to testify that it has, in many respects, moved into the present. The impacts of human -- caused climate change are being observed right here and right now in our own backyards and neighborhoods."
    Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado provided a counter point of view and said, "It is misleading, and just plain incorrect, to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally. It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases." He said, "Globally, weather-related losses ($) have not increased since 1990 as a proportion of GDP. . . Hurricanes have not increased in the US in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900. . . Floods have not increased in the US in frequency or intensity since at least 1950. . . Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950. . .some activists, politicians, journalists, corporate and government agency representatives and even scientists who should know better have made claims that are unsupportable based on evidence and research. . ."
--- Dr. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama also offered a counter point of view saying, "My overall view of the influence of humans on climate is that we probably are having some influence, but it is impossible to know with any level of certainty how much influence. The difficulty in determining the human influence on climate arises from several sources: (1) weather and climate vary naturally, and by amounts that are not currently being exceeded; (2) global warming theory is just that -- based upon theory; and (3) there is no unique fingerprint of human caused global warming. . ."
    Access the hearing website for links to all testimony and a video (click here). Access the opening statement from Sen. Boxer (click here). Access the complete statement from Sen. Inhofe (click here). [#Climate]