U.S. Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works
SENATOR BARBARA BOXER
HEARING ON GLOBAL WARMING’S IMPACT ON RECREATION
May 24, 2007
Remarks as prepared for delivery
I am pleased to welcome the witnesses here today to discuss the impacts that global warming may have on outdoor recreation.
Outdoor recreation is one of life’s great blessings. It also is an important economic engine for the United States .
We all cherish the ability to spend time outside visiting our parks and forests, our oceans and beaches and our mountain landscapes.
Some of us like to play golf, some of us like to swim and fish, and some of us like to ski and use snowmobiles.
Many of us enjoy touring our national parks and relaxing beside our beautiful coastlines.
These activities sustain us and our culture and they contribute immensely to our overall well being and culture. They also contribute a great deal to our national economy.
Global warming can have a profound and negative impact on our outdoor recreation opportunities and businesses.
We are already seeing decreases in the amount of snowpack in certain western areas of the United States .
According to a 2004 study by the University of Washington , from 1950 to 1997, in some areas of Oregon, western Washington and northern California , snowpack shrank by 50 to 75 percent, with the dominant factor being global warming.
Decreases in snowpack in the northern Rockies during that period ranged between 15 and 30 percent, and it is clear that many glaciers are melting in our national parks, including in Glacier National Park .
According to the U.S. National Assessment, a major scientific review drafted by a team of leading experts from government, universities, industry, and other institutions, the length of the snow season decreased by 16 days from 1951 to 1996 in California and Nevada.
These decreases in snowpack and in the length of the snow season can directly impact activities like skiing and snowmobiling, which are key aspects of outdoor winter recreation.
And outdoor recreation is serious business as well. In 2006, national tourism-related sales amounted to $1.2 trillion dollars and were responsible for over 8 million jobs.
International travel, which ranks ahead of agriculture and automobile production as a net export, accounted for $107.4 billion in sales.
For California , direct travel spending in 2006 provided $94 billion dollars and supported more than 900,000 jobs.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently said that it is “virtually certain” that warmer temperatures will have “effects on winter tourism.”
The IPCC’s second report this year said that “Warming in western mountains is projected to cause decreased snowpack” and that “Snow and length of snow depth are very likely to decrease in most of North America .”
The IPCC also found that “Coastal communities and habitats will be increasingly stressed by climate change impacts.”
Global warming is the greatest challenge of our time, and if left unchecked, it will have negative effects in many areas of our lives and businesses.
Outdoor recreation is perhaps one of the first and most obvious aspects of our lives that global warming will touch, but many others will follow.
It is up to us to face this challenge squarely and to act immediately to avert the worst effects of global warming.
Our ability to continue to enjoy the great outdoors, in the many ways that we have learned to love and cherish, and in the many ways that enrich our lives beyond compare, is placed at risk by global warming. In addition, many businesses and millions of jobs in the recreation industry are threatened by global warming.
I know that we as a nation, and as a world, will rise to meet this challenge, and that we will be better off for it in every way.
Once again I want to welcome all the witnesses and I look forward to hearing their testimony.
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