(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
We are holding this hearing because we must be guided by the best available science as we address the challenge of global warming. This morning we will hear from several of the world's leading scientists about the latest global warming science.
In 2007, the Nobel Prize wining Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) painted a stark and sobering picture of the future that awaits us if we fail to act quickly to curb global warming pollution.
The IPCC's projections for North America include:
· An increase in the frequency and duration of heatwaves and heat related illness;
· An increase in water-borne disease from degraded water quality;
· More respiratory disease, including asthma and other lung diseases, from increased ozone or smog concentrations - particularly dangerous to children and the elderly;
· More winter flooding, reduced summer flows and intensified water shortages in the west, due to reduced snowpack;
· Droughts and insect invasions that will kill crops and forests and will leave forests more susceptible to fire; and
· Intensified storms that will batter coastal communities and habitats, with the damage compounded by erosion.
Since 2007, new studies have confirmed the warnings sounded by the IPCC, and many of the latest findings suggest that the situation is more urgent than previously stated.
Recent scientific reports have found that:
· Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing faster than predicted;
· "Black carbon" soot is trapping more of the sun's energy in the atmosphere than previously understood;
· Sea levels may be rising faster than previous estimates predicted;
· The likelihood of destabilizing releases of carbon from melting permafrost is greater than once thought.
We are reminded of the mounting evidence of the threat posed by global warming in recent headlines:
"Faster Climate Change Feared" [Washington Post, Dec. 2008]
"West's Trees Dying Faster As Temperatures Rise" [LA Times, Jan. 23, 2009]
"Long Droughts, Rising Seas Predicted Despite Future CO2 Curbs" [Washington Post, Jan. 27, 2009]
"Global Warming Danger Threat Increased" [San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 23, 2009]
The testimony we hear today will underscore the urgent need to respond to these findings with decisive action.
I am so pleased to welcome our witnesses today. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri is the Chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In 2008, Dr. Pachauri accepted the Nobel Prize on behalf of the Panel's 2,000 participating scientists.
We also have Dr. Christopher Field with us from Stanford University. Dr. Field was the Co Chair of Working Group 2 of the IPCC, which focused on the impacts of global warming. He is an expert on how global warming is already affecting North America, and the additional impacts that are likely to come with increased warming in the future.
I am also pleased that we have Dr. Howard Frumkin here today. Dr. Frumkin is Director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The last time the CDC testified here on the public health impacts of global warming, we discovered that the written testimony had been heavily redacted by the Bush White House. I am looking forward to the opportunity for a full accounting of the dangers global warming poses to human health.
Dr. William Happer, a Professor of Physics at Princeton University, is a witness for the Minority today, and I also want to thank him for participating in this hearing.
In one of his first major statements after the election last November, President Obama said, "Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious."
In his speech last night, President Obama called on Congress to enact legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution, and we must answer that call.
I am convinced that when we address the challenge of climate change, the steps we take will create jobs, reinvigorate the economy, and make us more energy independent. The science makes it clear that we must not wait any longer to get started.