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Senators Weigh Whether Action on Climate Change Is Needed

Even if Obama moves forward with his plans, the world's leading polluters show no signs of following. Also read: Climate Change and the Problem of 'Press Release Science'

by
Bill Straub

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August 1, 2013 - 2:47 pm
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WASHINGTON – The increase in global temperatures has slowed over the past 15 years, a noted climatologist told a Senate panel last month, but the impact of climate change caused by man-made and natural forces is nonetheless having a dire impact on the planet.

Heidi Cullen, chief climatologist at Climate Central, an independent research organization, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that climate change is manifesting itself in the U.S. through extreme conditions like heat waves, wildfires, heavy downpours, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

These conditions, Cullen said, apparently are brought on by a change in the temperature balance between the arctic, an area warming twice as fast as the rest of the northern hemisphere, and the middle latitudes, thus changing the course of the jet stream, which is responsible for moving weather from west to east.

“Weather systems are moving more slowly, increasing the chances for long duration extreme events, like droughts, floods, and heat waves,” Cullen said. “The tendency for weather to get stuck in one pattern is going to favor extreme weather conditions.”

Cullen warned that “global warming has not stopped” and that “human impact on our climate system is significant.” Studies, she said, are showing that the effects are “largely irreversible,” creating a need for action before conditions worsen.

Cullen was one of several scientists and economists called before the committee to discuss the impact of climate change. President Obama has discussed reducing greenhouse gases and the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of developing new regulations regarding emissions from coal-fired power plants, the country’s primary producer of carbon dioxide.

While most there agreed that problems are looming, there was testimony that concerns over global climate change are overblown and that the greenhouse gas reduction proposals championed by the Obama administration carry a hefty price tag.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, told committee members that since 2003 global temperatures appear to have plateaued despite rising greenhouse gas emissions from Asia and other emerging economies.

Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, are supposed to have an adverse effect on the climate, Furchtgott-Roth noted. The fact that they have not led to a continued skyrocketing of global temperatures “is a puzzle.”

What’s more, she said, a study of the data over the past 100 years finds that there has been no steady increase in the number of hurricanes or floods despite the substantial rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Polls show that many believe protecting the environment is less important to Americans than economic growth,” Furchtgott-Roth said. “With the slowdown in many measures of global warming over the past decade, climate change is playing second fiddle to jobs.”

Even if rising greenhouse gas emissions are affecting the climate, she added, any actions taken by the U.S. would prove futile in the absence of changes by nations like China and India who are increasingly leaning on coal, the world’s most significant producer of carbon dioxide, as an energy source. The U.S. global share of greenhouse gases is 17 percent.

“Americans know that no reduction in global warming will occur if America reduces greenhouse gases without similar action by China and India, and these countries have not agreed to comparable steps,” Furchtgott-Roth said.

Republicans on the committee, all of whom have either expressed doubts about either global warming or the human impact on the phenomenon, were quick to embrace the Furchtgott-Roth testimony. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the ranking member, noted that Lisa Jackson, the former EPA administrator, similarly told the panel in a prior appearance that unilateral action by the U.S. on reducing greenhouse gases would have little impact.

“Have things changed so drastically in the last four years or so that now U.S. action alone can control the climate?” he asked.

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All Comments   (16)
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Summers here in Redondo Beach, CA have sucked. It's cold and cloudy. Ocean temp in August is 65 F. It's simply not hot. And the ocean's water level has not risen, either, having sat on the same beaches since 1957. By rights the water should be lapping over the bike path at the base of Knob Hill. Hermosa Beach, with its lower elevation, should be Under sea water. It isn't.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
like Fred replied I'm surprised that anyone can make $9041 in a few weeks on the computer. did you see this web sitehttp://www.wep6.com
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
every so often the kenyan's backers need another $$ fix from their boy. green $$$ again? no pipeline is a reward to the owners of his trucking industry buds? $156 m to south africa to fund circumcisions? for face cream? free birth control for big pharma? free o-bama phones profits ...? these guys have gotten rich off of forcing crummy stuff (like obamacare) on the people they swore to protect. spending $$ to influence global warming? yeah, right. stimulus funds to husbands (pelosi) and friends again? they bought the fast & furious guns w/ stimulus funds too. want to bet where the $$ for bloody benghazi arms came from? pure legalized fraud, murder, robbery, you name it. people keep sending scumbag crooked lawyers to washington and expect different results every time. that has a name. most of this scum are part of it. congress gets a waiver for obamacare? I heard the muslims are exempt as well. we desperately need some engineers, scientists and regular people as congresspersons in this day and age, not known criminals.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
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37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
there sisters roommate haz done this less than six months and at present paid the dept on their cottage and got a top of the range Jaguar E-type. we looked here.....http://www.wep6.com
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I remember Heidi Cullen from her stint on the Weather Channel. The No. 1 reason I quit watching. She represented the shift of TWC from reporting the weather to producing weather porn and advocating Global Warming (as it was called then, before it failed to follow prediction). I find it ironic the the AGW alarmists point out that weather is not climate when one brings up the failure of forecasting weather even with the world's most powerful data crunching computers, but in the next breath they use weather phenomena to "prove" that global warming is "real". As Cullin does here.
Then Ms. Cullen really jumped the shark when she went full-out Nazi and suggested that meteorologists who did not believe in AGW should be de-certified.
She's a piece of work, and the minute I see her name, I realize that nothing resembling actual science with be presented, just lots of Al Gorish psuedo-science propaganda. TWC did get rid of her, but for me the damage was done. I haven't tuned into their cable network for years now.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
To hell with climate change, what is Congress going to do about the recent solar flare that just barely missed the Earth? And what about the asteroids that keep scraping by?
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
When they figure out how to tax the sun and set up a celestial toll booth for asteroids, Congress will be all over these threats to mankind. But until we can use these potential apocalypses to redistribute wealth and consolidate power, it's all kind of "meh".
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Watch out for completely mistaken conclusions: For instance, one of the witnesses implied that the melting of floating ice and the rise of ocean level are related to each other. This mistaken conclusion can be based on the impression that the floating ice will produce water when it melts, which is true, and will therefore cause the water level to rise, which is *not* true, because ice has more volume than the same amount of water. when the ice melts, the volume of water is less than the volume of the corresponding ice, and the level does not rise at all! (Archimedes already explained that a while back) The total mass of water, whether liquid or solid, is the same. When the floating ice melts, the water level stays the same.

Similarly, the claim is made that the additional carbon dioxide emitted since the industrial revolution (a couple of centuries), which is plausible, but nobody mentioned that the carbon dioxide stored in the ocean (much greater than its atmospheric counterpart) also increases because of a natural exchange between the two. However, it takes more than 4 centuries for this effect to become significant, so a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide over just a few centuries does not necessarily continue unabated, because the oceans are spontaneously sequestering the extra carbon dioxide, which by the way also favors the growth of all life forms under water.

There is a big difference between quick arguments and deep science, just as expedited thinking is often something in between very inferior thinking and no thinking at all. And what about the capriciousness of the solar emissions? Should we attempt to regulate them? If we create more jobs, that will also increase the carbon emissions, but would that be such a great trade-off?

Yes, I know, a lot of political mileage can be obtained by arguing that all is good is bad. It would take an awful lot of science to balance this out.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The increase in global temperatures has slowed over the past 15 years"

No, it has stopped. It is in decline. And he knows it. But there's no money in that.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why the hell do the Senators opposed to this crap not just flat out accuse these people of dishonesty instead of playing the game of treating them as if they're acting in good faith ?
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
The entire failure of the "Right" boils down to treating obviously mendacious liars as if they have a point to be taken seriously, rather than calling them out on it.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
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