US Officials Agree With Climate Change Report
February 05, 2007
"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," stated the IPCC Summary for Policymakers, released February 1. Most of the warming over the past 50 years "is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations," and human activity "very likely" is the source of these gases, it said.
The report concludes, with what it says is about 90 percent certainty, that the recent, rapid climate change is the result of increased global atmospheric concentrations of the "greenhouse gases" carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, likely generated by emissions from human use of fossil fuels.
In his January State of the Union address, President Bush advocated a drastic reduction in fossil fuel consumption and development of new technologies.
"America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependant on oil," he said, "and these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change."
INVESTMENTS WITH RESULTS
Bodman said the United States has invested nearly $29 billion since 2001 in climate-related science and technology programs. "We estimate that the U.S. has invested more in climate change science than the rest of the world combined," he said.
The U.S. Climate Change Technology Program, "by trying to keep into account the economy as well as becoming more efficient, has actually lowered our rate of growth [of greenhouse gases] to a point where it's below the average of Europe and the G7," according to the secretary.
The administrator of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, said the IPCC report is "strongly supported by the United States" and that NOAA scientists made significant contributions -- nine lead authors and "a hundred or more government scientists just within NOAA."
More sophisticated computer modeling techniques, data from glaciers and oceans, and statistical records from around the world have given scientists a more accurate picture than the previous report, issued in 2001. About 2,500 scientists contributed to the current report's findings.
In a White House statement, Sharon Hayes, the leader of the U.S. delegation to the Paris IPCC working group meeting, said the report "reflects the sizable body of knowledge regarding the physical science of climate change, including the finding that the Earth is warming and that human activities have very likely caused most of the warming."
EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
The IPCC projections, which do not take into account the unexpectedly rapid melting of polar icecaps in recent years, put the probable temperature rise in the 21st century at between 1.8 and 4 degrees Celsius -- possibly as high as 6.4 degrees Celsius; and predicted an accompanying rise in sea levels by 28 to 43 centimeters. Under this scenario, Arctic summer sea ice would disappear, and extreme weather conditions such as heat waves and severe tropical storms would increase.
At an American Meteorological Society (AMS) panel January 31, NOAA scientist David Easterling, Ohio State University climate change pioneer Lonnie G. Thompson, Penn State University's Michael E. Mann and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Ben Santer presented evidence from their research that concurred with the IPCC report conclusions.
"We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we've changed the chemical composition of the atmosphere. That's an immutable fact. That's not idle speculation," Santer said.
According to a February 2 AMS statement, "Climate has changed throughout geological history, for many natural reasons such as changes in the sun's energy" or "volcanic eruptions," but scientific observations undeniably confirm that "human activities are a major contributor."
The question now is what to do about decreasing water supply and increasing drought conditions in some parts of the globe. Two more sections of the IPCC report detailing the probable impact and possible preventive measures will be released in coming months.
Responding to the IPCC report, DuPont, a major U.S.-based chemical manufacturer, issued a statement calling for "timely action" by governments and the private sector. "The challenge is global and requires broad and coordinated action across all sectors of the economy," DuPont Vice President Linda Fisher said. "We think it is imperative for business to be involved in the policy debate."
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