Statement of Barbara Boxer
Full Committee Hearing: "Climate Change: It's Happening Now"
July 18, 2013
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
Today's hearing will focus on climate change and the serious threat it poses to our nation. The body of evidence is overwhelming, the world's leading scientists agree, and predictions of the impact of climate change are coming true before our eyes.
This issue has been a priority for me since I became Chairman of this Committee, because climate change puts our environment and public health at great risk.
Scientists and other experts have testified before this Committee in the past, and they spoke many times about the severe impact of climate change.
Let me share just a few of these experts' predictions with you:
"It is very likely that hot extremes [and] heat waves . . . will continue to become more frequent." (Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth in 2008)
"It is likely that tropical storms and hurricanes will become more intense and with much heavier rainfalls, and thus risk of flooding." (Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth in 2008)
"With climate change, an increase in the severity, duration, and frequency of extreme heat waves is expected in the United States." (Dr. Howard Frumkin in 2009)
"On the most basic level, climate change has the potential to create sustained natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale and at a frequency far beyond those we see today." (Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn in 2009)
In just a few short years since these predictions were made, we can look out the window and see the evidence of climate change mounting around us.
In 2012, Superstorm Sandy resulted in the loss of life, wiped out entire communities, and caused approximately $65 billion of damage.
And the impacts of climate change are being felt throughout our nation. The Arctic has lost more than a third of total sea ice volume over the last decade -- making Alaskan native villages increasingly vulnerable to erosion and storms.
We have seen large wildfires break out earlier in the season in California, and recently 19 brave firefighters in Arizona tragically lost their lives. In 2012, New Mexico experienced the largest wildfire in state history, Colorado suffered the second largest wildfire in state history, and Oregon had its largest wildfire since the 1860s.
According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), over the past two years there have been 25 weather and climate disasters - each one costing more than $1 billion.
Climate change is real, human activities are the primary cause, and the warming planet poses a significant risk to people and the environment.
Today we will hear from scientists and other experts who will tell us about the growing impacts associated with climate change. On our first panel today we welcome:
• Dr. Heidi Cullen, Chief Climatologist at Climate Central, who is an expert in the links between climate change and extreme weather.
• Mr. Frank Nutter, President of the Reinsurance Association of America, who can describe some of the mounting costs related to some of the extreme events we have experienced.
• Ms. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and Dr. Robert P. Murphy, Senior Economist at the Institute for Energy Research.
• And we will end the first panel with Mr. KC Golden, who is the Policy Director at Climate Solutions and winner of 2012 Heinz Award in Public Policy. He will describe the urgent need to tackle this dangerous threat.
Scientists tell us that the damage caused by climate change continues to worsen, and we cannot afford to ignore these warnings. We must heed these alarms and take action.