For Immediate Release Contact: Peter Rafle, Senate EPW
March 21, 2007 (202) 228-3102 dir./(202) 302-7086 cell
SENATOR BARBARA BOXER
Chairman, Committee on Environment and Public Works
Hearing on Vice President Al Gore’s Perspective on Global Warming
March 21, 2007
(As prepared for delivery)
I am pleased to welcome former Vice President Al Gore to the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Mr. Vice President, we are honored and privileged to have you here with us today, to discuss one of the most important challenges facing humankind – global warming.
There are some moments in human history when individuals have the ability to make a difference.
Sometimes it’s a series of actions by one person, or a group of people, sometimes it’s a single act of defiance, and sometimes it’s the simple telling of a great truth, however inconvenient.
And that act can spark enormous change, with long lasting effects.
Professor Roger Ravelle, who began making the first measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere, was your spark. And from that, you became a spark that has ignited the global warming debate in America.
Personally, I believe your work has made all the difference for the future of our planet and for our children and grandchildren.
When the history of this issue is written, your name will be at the forefront, I only hope the story has a good ending. And that, colleagues, is up to us.
The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), written by hundreds of scientists from around the world and reviewed by many more, including NOAA scientist Susan Solomon, confirms conclusively that the earth is warming due to human activity.
Some will say this report was not written by scientists. But it was written by scientists, with their names listed on the front of the report. These scientists briefed the Environment and Public Works Committee in person.
The IPCC report tells us that “warming is unequivocal,” that CO2 levels are higher than anytime in the past 650,000 years and that there is a 90% certainty that most of the warming is due to human activity.
It also tells us that since 1961 the average temperature of the ocean has increased, that the ocean is absorbing about 80% of the heat added to the climate system and that the ocean is becoming increasingly acidic from absorbing carbon dioxide.
But some persist in disbelief and disregard of the facts.
They say, for instance that the Sun is causing global warming.
But the President of the National Academy of Sciences, testified before Congress that “changes in the Sun cannot explain the warming observed over the past 25 years.”
They say that there is no linkage between hurricanes and global warming.
But the IPCC report makes clear that if global warming is left unchecked we will have further increases in the intensity of hurricanes.
They say that Greenland and Antarctica are not melting.
But the IPCC says that “losses from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have very likely contributed to sea level rise over 1993-2003.”
They say that limits on greenhouse gases are unworkable and that the U.S has reduced emissions more than the European Union.
But the truth is that since 1990, U.S. emissions have risen by 15.8% and EU emissions have declined by 0.8%.
These are inconvenient truths that many would like to avoid.
Vice President Gore, you have not waited, you have acted on your own behalf and you, more than anyone else, have shown us the true danger that global warming poses for the future of our planet.
But you have done much more than that. Because you have also looked at solutions and given us hope and reason to be optimistic.
The time for action is now and the next decade will likely tell the tale of whether we, as a species, have been able to act decisively to protect our planet.
We have a choice. We can continue down our present path, or we can look at effective ways to address global warming.
These new ways can help us reach a future that is brighter in every way.
We can become more energy efficient.
We can reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
And we can develop new technologies that we can export to countries like China and India.
Mr. Vice President, with the leadership you have shown, with hope not fear, we can tackle this problem and I believe our Committee will. Our predecessors did just that with Democrats and Republicans working together. I believe in our ability to act and I am counting on our Committee, which has a distinguished history, to move us forward:
· After the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Ohio in 1969, and many of our lakes and rivers were open sewers, our Committee responded with a comprehensive remedy, enacting the Clean Water Act in 1972.
· When the air was so dirty you could see it and there were few tools to address it, our Committee responded with the Clean Air Act in 1970.
· When contaminated tap water was causing widespread waterborne disease and exposing people to cancer-causing chemicals, our Committee enacted the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974.
I believe that we are up to the challenge.
Mr. Vice President, I look forward to your testimony.