Global warming is the greatest environmental threat faced by mankind.
We have now arrived at a time in our history when human activities related to greenhouse gas emissions could bring dangerous consequences.
In July, I traveled to Greenland to view the rapid melting of the enormous Greenland Ice Sheet.
If the Greenland Ice sheet were to melt, the sea level would rise by 23 feet. This would have disastrous consequences, particularly for California and the California Bay Delta.
I have a map here showing what a 23 foot sea level rise would mean in this area of California .
It would inundate highway 880 which runs from here to Oakland .
It would flood the Bay Delta nearly all the way to Sacramento .
Places like the San Francisco Airport and entire neighborhoods would go underwater.
The costs of these kinds of impacts are enormous and greatly exceed the costs of controlling emissions.
As Sir Nicholas Stern, the internationally-renowned former chief World Bank economist has said, spending a dollar to fight global warming now will save you five dollars later.
In fact, most cost projections show that while fighting global warming will cost money, Gross Domestic Product will continue to increase, just a little bit more slowly.
For instance, EPA has determined that if the legislation authored by Senators Lieberman and McCain were enacted, US GDP would increase by 112% by 2030, instead of by 113%, a net decrease of only 1% in estimated growth.
But in fact, I believe even these projections may be too pessimistic.
I believe that if we cap carbon emissions and fight global warming, we will be better off for it in every way, including economically.
I believe that by fighting global warming we can increase energy efficiency, increase our energy independence and increase our global competitiveness by creating clean energy technologies, which we can export to the rest of the world.
The International Energy Agency estimates that the world will spend over 20 trillion dollars on new energy technologies by 2030.
These technologies can either be clean technologies or dirty technologies, and they can either be developed or made in the United States or elsewhere.
By capping carbon emissions, as we have done here in California , we can stimulate investment in these clean technologies and position ourselves to be world leaders in this enormous global market.
This is happening in California already. California has led the way in so called AClean Tech@ investment with more than a billion dollars spent on such investment in 2006.
According to University of California Berkeley Professor Michael Hanemann , who is here with us today, carbon reduction policies, can be a net boon to the economy.
According to Professor Hanemann, if California were to take 8 specific steps to fight global warming, the result would be a net increase of gross state product of 60 billion dollars and would create 20,000 new jobs.
Companies that are here today, like Tesla Motors, Applied Materials and Akeena Solar, can help create good new green jobs for Americans.
That is why I approach the global warming issue with hope and not fear.
That is why I believe we need to get started soon in fighting global warming.
That is why I am so proud of the actions taken by California to lead the way for the nation to reduce carbon emissions.
If we act soon, we still have a chance to avoid the worst effects of global warming and in doing so, we will also strengthen our economy and create good jobs for millions of Americans.
As 60 California Economists have said: AThe most expensive thing we can do is nothing.@
I think that is true for both the environment and our economy.
I look forward to hearing the testimony of all our witnesses.