White House Report Says Climate Change Here and Severe

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, maintained that the report is “short on details about the policy responses that the president and his advisors are seeking to unilaterally impose on the American people.”

Upton said any regulations promulgated by the Obama administration in an effort to reduce global warming will likely “have a significant impact on jobs, the economy and energy reliability. Moreover, the Obama administration and its federal agencies are already spending billions of dollars annually on global warming activities, and it is still largely unclear what these programs have accomplished and how they will change the weather.”

The extensive 830-page report determined that the past decade was the warmest on record in the U.S. The number of extreme weather events, especially torrential rains, is on the upswing and changing climate conditions will contribute to a hike in disease transmission and a decrease in air quality. Scientists who contributed said they were surprised to find that the rise in sea levels and the deterioration of Arctic sea ice have outpaced earlier projections, which further bolstered the claim that “climate change is happening now.”

And most of the change over the past 50 years can be laid at the door of human activity, the report says. Data shows that natural factors like the sun and volcanoes cannot have caused the warming that has been observed. Instead the burning of coal, oil and gas, and the clearing of forests have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution, thus trapping heat. Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture and other human activities also add to the production of heat-trapping gases.

“In fact, if not for human activities, global climate would actually have cooled slightly over the past 50 years,” the report concluded. “The pattern of temperature change through the layers of the atmosphere, with warming near the surface and cooling higher up in the stratosphere, further confirms that it is the buildup of heat-trapping gases -- also known as ‘greenhouse gases’ -- that has caused most of the Earth’s warming over the past half century.”

While the globe’s climate is projected to continue to change, the report stressed that steps can be taken to limit the damaging impacts. Alexander, with the American Lung Association, noted that “as a nation, we have a very important choice to make.”

“Placing first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants is a vital step to prevent the worst effects of climate change,” she said. “We cannot allow politics and pressure from polluters to slow clean-up of carbon pollution. Unless we adopt strong carbon standards, the National Climate Assessment shows that reducing air pollution and protecting our families and our neighbors will become even more challenging.”

But Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) countered by claiming “we can all agree that natural variations in the climate are taking place, but man-made global warming still remains a theory.”

“The president’s climate change policies will only cause a greater disparity in our nation’s income gap and prevent our nation from achieving its full economic potential,” he said, by “jumping at opportunities to sideline critical domestic energy opportunities for the United States and instead discuss global warming alarmism.”

“Fear tactics and money are powerful tools in politics,” he said.

James Taylor, senior fellow for Environmental Policy at The Heartland Institute, asserted that it would "take a whole squadron of environmental activists years to come up with the whoppers told in this report.''

"The report falsely asserts that global warming is causing more extreme weather events, more droughts, more record high temperatures, more wildfires, warmer winters, etc., when each and every one of these false assertions is contradicted by objective, verifiable evidence,'' he said. "It reads like a press release from The Nature Conservancy and the Union of Concerned Scientists – probably because it essentially is a press release from The Nature Conservancy and the Union of Concerned Scientists.”

Taylor called the report "laughably misleading'' and predicted that "few objective climate experts will take this report seriously.''

"Even those scientists who are not overtly affiliated with environmental activist groups were almost uniformly on the record as global warming alarmists before being chosen to write this report,'' he said.