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The State of Climate Change Science 2007, Part 1

Thursday, February 8, 2007 - 12:00am
Washington, D.C.
The Findings of the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group I Report

Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon

Good morning and welcome to this hearing on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the current state of our knowledge on climate change.

This is the first opportunity Congress has to examine the findings of this important report.

The first warning about the potential for climate change came in 1979 when the first international conference on climate change expressed the concern that human activity might lead to significant regional and global changes in climate.

Now, almost 30 years later increasing evidence confirms this warning is real.

The importance of this report cannot be overstated. The Report provides overwhelming evidence that global warming is real and that human activity is driving this change.

The Report’s findings may be alarming, but it is not the work of alarmists. The Report is a rationale, measured consensus statement of the current scientific evidence of climate change. The Report’s findings were endorsed unanimously by the representatives of 113 countries. The Report is the product of the work of nearly 600 authors from 40 nations. Governments also participated in the review process by organizing their own coordinated reviews of this report.

The scientific experts have provided us with a diagnosis of the problem and a prognosis for our planet’s health. If we continue along our current path, the prognosis is ominous.

The scientists have done their job. Now, it is time for us – the policymakers – to do ours.

We face a big challenge. We must explore ways to reduce emissions, to adapt to coming changes, and to mitigate the negative effects of a changing climate. We cannot accomplish all this overnight, but we must begin in earnest now to address this serious issue.

The IPCC Report tells us that, if we fail to act, our children – my 5-year old daughter, Dana’s triplets, and Brian’s twins – will live in a much warmer world…a world with more severe droughts in some regions and greater flooding in others…and much different coastlines due to a higher sea level.

Two days ago, my daughter spent the day with me in my office. We were looking out at the Capitol and I am hoping that when she is older, she will remember that view.

I don’t want to look in my daughter’s eyes 10 or 20 years from now and try to explain why I didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to address global warming while I was in Congress.

We need to improve existing technologies and to develop new technologies to reduce emissions and make our economy and society more energy efficient. And we must understand the impacts of climate change on the ecosystems that support all life on Earth.

Continued scientific research is imperative. We need better, more refined regional assessments to understand the climatic vulnerabilities of communities, ecosystems, and our economy. We must continue to gather information on greenhouse gas emissions and the Earth’s response to them to further expand our understanding of climate and weather.

These four eminent scientists are a select few representing the efforts of thousands of scientists from around the world. As I said earlier – they have done their job. They have set the scientific information before us. We must now move forward and act upon this information.

We, on the Science and Technology Committee can and must play a role by ensuring that the science and research continue to provide us the information we need to understand climate change and to respond to it.

However, we must also begin with the information and tools in hand today to adapt to the changing climate and to buy ourselves time to adapt and innovate by reducing emissions and energy use.

We are world leaders in science and innovation. I intend to ensure this Committee works to ensure we maintain that leadership. I believe we can meet this challenge and we can, and should, lead the world to address it with us.

On behalf of the Committee, I want to thank all of our witnesses for agreeing to come before us this morning. I believe most of you have just returned from the meeting in Paris. We appreciate the work you have done and your willingness to appear today.

Opening Statement By Ranking Member Ralph Hall

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Panel 1

1 - Hon. Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House A Representative in Congress from the State of California A Representative in Congress from the State of California
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Panel 2

1 - Dr. Susan Solomon
Co-Chair, Working Group I: The Physical Basis of Climate Change Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
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2 - Dr. Kevin Trenberth
Coordinating Lead Author, Working Group I, Chapter 3: Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Intergovern
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3 - Dr. Richard Alley
Lead Author, Working Group I, Chapter 4: Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Intergovernmental Panel
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4 - Dr. Gerald Meehl
Coordinating Lead Author, Working Group I, Chapter 10: Global Climate Projections Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Intergovernmental Panel on Climate C
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Witness Panels
Panel 1
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi testifies before the Committee
Speaker Pelosi
Panel 2
Witnesses Solomon, Trenberth, Alley and Meehl testify
L-R: Drs. Solomon, Trenberth, Alley, and Meehl
For information on the witnesses, use the links at left
110th Congress