Scientists Warn Congress About Disastrous Effects of Climate Change
Drought, wildfires, hurricanes and heatwaves are becoming normal in America because of climate change, Congress was told on Wednesday in the first hearing on climate science in more than two years.
In a predictably contentious hearing, the Senate’s environment and public works committee heard from a lead scientist for the United Nations’ climate body, the IPCC, on the growing evidence linking extreme weather and climate change.
“It is critical to understand that the link between climate change and the kinds of extremes that lead to disaster is clear,” Christopher Field, a lead author of the IPCC report and director of global ecology at the Carnegie Institute for Science, said in testimony.
“There is no doubt that climate has changed,” he went on. “There is also no doubt that a changing climate changes the risks of extremes, including extremes that can lead to disaster.”
He later told the committee that those climate-related disasters would have profound effects on industry and agriculture.
Field was the first IPCC scientist to appear before the committee since February 2009. It was a time when there was real optimism about prospects for action on climate change under the new Obama Administration.
By Wednesday, however, it was universally acknowledged there was no prospect of moving climate change legislation through Congress. There was also little chance the scientists’ presentations would persuade the most prominent Republican climate contrarian, Senator Jim Inhofe, who told the committee: “The global warming movement has completely collapsed.” [See more on Inhofe below]
Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the committee, also noted she had deliberately avoid calling any administration officials or government scientists.
The Republican’s campaign against Obama’s green agenda, with their attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency and his clean energy loans, would make their presence a political distraction, she indicated.
But Boxer told reporters before the hearing she had faced growing pressure from the public to air the issue of climate change. The Republican-controlled House has turned down 15 requests from Democrats for a similar hearing.
Field, in his testimony, warned that the devastating extremes of the last year could soon become routine.
“The U.S. experienced 14 billion-dollar disasters in 2011, a record that surpasses the previous maximum of nine,” he said. “The 2011 disasters included a blizzard, tornadoes, floods, severe weather, a hurricane, a tropical storm, drought and heatwaves, and wildfires. In 2012, we have already experienced horrifying wildfires, a powerful windstorm that hit Washington D.C., heat waves in much of the country, and a massive drought.”
He went on to make a point of warning Texans that the future of farming and ranching could be put in jeopardy because of climate change.
The committee also heard from James McCarthy, a Harvard oceanographer and IPCC author, who warned that sea-level rise was occurring about three times faster than scientists believed even a decade ago.
The hearing quickly veered off course from reviewing the latest climate science to the intractable politics surrounding climate change in America.
In one of the liveliest exchanges, Bernie Sanders of Vermont continued his effort to take down Inhofe for his statements that climate change is a hoax and a conspiracy.
Sanders asked the scientists on the panel for their opinions on some of Inhofe’s more notorious assertions – that climate change is a hoax, that the planet is actually in a state of cooling, and that such environmental concerns were a conspiracy by the United Nations, Al Gore, and Hollywood.
The scientists did not support Inhofe’s claims.
Inhofe: Climategate Shows There's No Global Warming Consensus
Sen. James Inhofe cites flawed data on global warming and the deceit of climategateMarch 23, 2010
James Inhofe is an Oklahoma Republican and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Call it the global warming crackup, an unfolding process of contradictory claims about glaciers, weather, and scientists asserting a consensus when none exists. Global warming alarmists can't make up their minds because the entire basis for their energy rationing project has collapsed into a mess of errors, exaggerations, and deceit. Let me explain.
The Obama administration said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the "gold standard" for climate science, yet now the Environmental Protection Agency administrator won't defend it. The IPCC and Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now the IPCC has retracted several false claims concerning, among other things, rain forests shrinking, crops dying, and sea levels rising. We've been told weather is not to be confused with climate, except when you have heat waves or blizzards. We've been told cap-and-trade would create thousands of green jobs, yet the Congressional Budget Office, Department of Energy, National Black Chamber of Commerce, and others say it would mean a net loss of jobs.
We are told that increasing levels of CO2 will increase temperature, yet the key scientist in the climategate scandal says there's been "no statistically significant warming" in the past 15 years—all while CO2 levels have increased. We've been told that there is an "indisputable consensus" that human-caused global warming is happening and pushing the planet to certain disaster. Yet that same scientist—Phil Jones, former director of Britain's Climatic Research Unit, the foremost such center—now says that the vast majority of climate scientists don't agree on what the data are telling us.
What's going on here? When thousands of E-mails were released from the Climatic Research Unit in November, we finally were able to pull back the veil of the so-called climate consensus. As ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, I have released a minority staff report that uses these E-mails to show that the world's leading climate scientists apparently discussed manipulating data to fit preconceived conclusions and pressuring journal editors not to publish scientific work contrary to their own. This would violate fundamental ethical principles guiding scientific (and taxpayer-funded) research and, our report points out, may violate federal laws.
The E-mail controversy has been airily dismissed by the Obama administration as nothing more than scientists "lacking interpersonal skills." One Democratic senator called it a "little E-mail squabble." The evidence proves otherwise. At the center of the controversy were the same scientists who wrote and edited the IPCC's reports—the reports alarmists claim form the climate science "consensus." Moreover, those reports provide the critical basis for cap-and-trade legislation and the EPA's endangerment finding regarding greenhouse gases. Yet climategate shows what I've asserted all along: The basis for those disastrous policies is flawed and should be thrown out.
Unfortunately, that's not what EPA is doing. It wants $43.5 million in new funding to regulate greenhouse gases. This is seed money for the most economically destructive regulatory initiative in this nation's history.
Back in 2005, I gave a speech urging reforms at the IPCC, trying to get the United Nations body to produce reliable, objective science. But the IPCC ignored my recommendations. And now, after several embarrassing gaffes—for example, stating falsely that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035—the calls for reform are deafening.
My minority report shows the world's leading climate scientists acting like political scientists, with an agenda disconnected from the principles of good science. And it shows that there is no consensus—except agreement there are significant gaps in what scientists know about the climate system. It's time for the administration to recognize this. Its endangerment finding rests on bad science. It should throw out that finding and abandon greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act—a policy that will mean fewer jobs, higher taxes, and economic decline.
James Inhofe Isn't Buying Climate Change Science, but is he selling something? Here are his Doners:
FIRST ELECTED: 1994
NEXT ELECTION: 2014SENATOR (R - OK)
James M. Inhofe
Bio | Email | WebSite | Facebook
Select cycle and data to include:
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Leadership PAC Profile Only
Campaign Cmte & Leadership PAC Combined
Armed ServicesEnvironment and Public Works, Ranking MemberForeign Relations
Leadership PAC (1):
Fund for a Conservative Future
Cycle Fundraising, 2007 - 2012, Campaign Cmte
Cash on Hand: $570,304
Last Report: Saturday, June 30, 2012
Top 5 Contributors, 2007-2012, Campaign Cmte
ContributorTotalIndivsPACsKoch Industries $44,600 $37,100 $7,500
Murray Energy $31,100 $26,100 $5,000
Devon Energy $28,000 $14,000 $14,000
Contran Corp $21,500 $13,200 $8,300
Robison International $21,300 $21,300 $0
...view more data
Top 5 Industries, 2007-2012, Campaign Cmte
IndustryTotalIndivsPACsOil & Gas $509,250 $296,000 $213,250
Retired $339,106 $339,106 $0
Leadership PACs $329,732 $500 $329,232
Lobbyists $190,138 $183,030 $7,108
Electric Utilities $189,504 $29,704 $159,800
...view more data
Total Raised vs. Average Raised
Cycle Source of Funds, 2007-2012, Campaign Cmte only
- Small Individual Contributions
- Large Individual Contributions $4,290,459
$3,394,222 (52%) (66%)
PAC Contributions $2,014,837 (31%)
Candidate self-financing $45,850 (1%)
Other $165,141 (3%)
NOTE: All the numbers on this page are for the 2007-2012 election cycle and based on Federal Election Commission data available electronically on August 01, 2012 (for Fundraising totals, Source of Funds and Total Raised vs Average) and on July 09, 2012 for Top Contributors and Industries. In the "Source of Funds" chart, "Large Individual Contributions" refer to all contributions from unique individuals aggregating to more than $200 within a cycle, and "Small Individual Contributions" refer to all contributions from unique individuals totaling $200 or less within a cycle. ("Help! The numbers don't add up...")
The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations' PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
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