Statements and Speeches

Hearing Statement: "Update on Climate Change Science"

Environment and Public Works Committee

Aug 01 2012

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, released the following statement on the Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, "Update on Climate Change Science:"

"Thank you to Chairman Boxer for holding this hearing today on this important subject, and thank you to the witnesses for participating in today's hearing.

"Unlike some of my colleagues, I believe climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our world today and it may very well be one of the most pressing issues we ever see come before Congress. I believe climate change is a very real threat and we, as a country and as members of our global community, must address this threat sooner rather than later because overwhelming scientific consensus proves that climate change is real and only getting worse, and humans are contributing to the problem.

"Whenever the debate on climate science comes up, I think of two climatologist scientists I met years ago from my alma mater of Ohio State University, Dr. Lonnie Thompson and his wife Dr. Ellen Mosley-Thompson. For decades, this husband-wife duo has been climbing some of the tallest mountains in the world to collect ice core samples. These ice samples date back hundreds of thousands of years and contain valuable data about what was in the atmosphere and what the climate was like at the time. Their research on these ice core samples has found that there is a direct correlation between the levels of carbon dioxide in our air and warmer temperatures.

"Over the last century, humans have dramatically increased the levels of carbon dioxide in the air through the burning of fossil fuels. As a result – we have seen some of the hottest years to date. Having said that, we don't have to go the highest mountains in the world to see the impacts of climate change, we can find impacts in my own state of Delaware.

"When I am in Sussex County, Delaware, I like to drive out to the Delaware Bay. I usually head east, and I like to go through Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Years ago, I would come across a parking lot where people could walk, fish, swim or go crabbing. Today, that parking lot is entirely underwater. If you look slightly out in the water- to the left of the flooded parking lot- there lays a World War II bunker, once 300 meters from the shoreline and now almost completely submerged by the rising tides.

"When I talk with people who don't believe that the warming has led to melting glaciers and rising seas, I urge them to drive out and see that parking lot, see that submerged bunker. These examples are canaries in the coal mine – warning us of things to come if we do not act and act soon.

"Today's hearing highlights yet again the magnitude of the challenges we face with climate change. Again we will hear top scientists are no longer focusing on the question "if" our global climate is getting hotter, but focusing on "how fast" and "how hot." And the answers they are finding are not good.

"If the science community is correct, droughts like the ones we are experiencing this summer, droughts that are having a dramatic impact on our crops, such as corn, as well as our livestock, will become the norm.

"Coastal communities and states – like my state of Delaware – will be especially hit hard with rising sea levels and rising ocean temperature that could dramatically impact fish and wildlife many coastal communities depend on for survival. If we do nothing – the impacts will devastate our economy and our way of life – not just in Delaware, but for our country.

"As someone who has sponsored and supported climate change legislation over the years, I am frustrated that Congress has yet to act on this pressing issue. Fortunately, this Administration has not waited on Congress to act – and the courts have given a clear green light to continue to proceed. With that being said, Congress still must take action. To address one of the greatest challenges we may ever see, we will need bold action and we will need to act quickly. How we decide to move forward in the near future will impact generations to come."