STATEMENT BY SENATOR BARBARA BOXER
July 10, 1997
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE HEARING

Mr. Chairman, today will be the first of two hearings dealing with global climate change, a topic of critical importance to the citizens of our country, and indeed critical importance to all living things on our planet. Global climate change does not recognize state or national boundaries. We are ALL affected by global climate change.

Scientists tell us that human activities since the Industrial Revolution have contributed billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These activities include the burning of fossil fuels to power our automobiles and industries, as well as certain industrial activities and deforestation. As a result of these emissions, the heat-trapping capability of the Earth's atmosphere has increased significantly, and a majority of scientists agree that there are clear signs of global warming.

The potential changes we will hear about today are alarming. I am very concerned about the potential effects of global climate change because the economy and quality of life of Californians is so closely linked to climate.

Effects on Agriculture

California is the number one agricultural state in the Union, contributing more than $22 billion per year to our nation's economy while employing more than 1.4 million people. Farmers in my State are concerned that global climate changes will cause highly unpredictable weather and changes in water availability resulting in reduced crop yields.

Effects on Water Supplies

Californians depend upon reliable sources of water for their livelihood and quality of life. Warmer temperatures due to increased greenhouse gases could cause more precipitation to fall in the form of rain instead of snow. A reduced snowpack, especially in the Sierra Nevada, could lead to a change in the timing of runoff and potentially greater flooding during the winter and dryer conditions in the summer.

Effects on Health

Warmer temperatures will likely lead to increased incidents of heat-related mortality and illness, and will have its most disastrous effect on infants and the elderly. Air quality improvements we have realized over the years in California could be severely affected.

Other ramifications include adverse impacts upon forestry, tourism, animal and plant diversity, and ocean shorelines. These impacts are of equal concern for other States.

Finding a solution to this truly global problem will not be easy, nor will it occur overnight. But we must start.

The United States can have a significant impact on reversing global warming.

First, we must listen to the scientific community. The vast majority of scientists agree that global climate change is a reality, and that it is attributable to emissions of greenhouse gases associated with human activities.

Second, we must move swiftly to stabilize and if possible reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The United States has only 4% of the world's population, yet we produce more than 20% of the greenhouse gases. Measures we take within our country will have dramatic effects on reducing the amount of greenhouse gases worldwide. For example, if we were to raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards from 27.5 miles per gallon to 45 miles per gallon we would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 560 million tons per year. Other measures we can take could have similar effects.

Finally, we must develop policies and technologies that will help us meet our global responsibilities and protect our living standards.

I am convinced that there is widespread agreement within the scientific community that global climate change is a reality and a major cause of that change is the emission of greenhouse gases. We need to bring this portion of the debate to a close and for the sake of future generations, focus on solutions. We owe those future generations nothing less than our full attention to this critical issue.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.