Stanford expert brings climate change science to heated Capitol Hill

Aug 02, 2012

Now's the time to prepare for the heat waves, heavy rains and droughts that climate change will bring, says Stanford's Chris Field, a noted climate researcher.

Speaking Wednesday at a contentious U.S. Senate hearing on , Stanford's Chris Field, an expert on climate change, offered a stark yet hopeful analogy.

Just as speeding increases the chance of having a car accident, climate change intensifies the risk of heat waves, droughts and heavy , said Field, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. He testified before the on Environment and Public Works.Speaking Wednesday at a contentious U.S. Senate hearing on climate change, Stanford's Chris Field, an expert on climate change, offered a stark yet hopeful analogy.

"We can point clearly to the causal mechanism, but it's still difficult to predict exactly when or where the crisis – either the accident from speeding in a car or the disaster that's related to climate change – will occur, he said. "But still, we can have high confidence in the driving mechanism."

Or, as Field put it later in his testimony, "It is critical to understand that the link between climate change and the kinds of extremes that lead to disasters is clear."

Although we can't be certain that staying within the speed limit will prevent a crash, we know it will decrease the risk. Similarly, Field said, we can reduce the risk of a weather-related disaster with measures such as disaster preparations, early warning systems and well-built infrastructure.

While climate change's role in tornadoes and hurricanes remains unknown, Field said, "the pattern is increasingly clear" when it comes to heat waves, and .

The hearing came on the heels of months of intense and massive wildfires. A disastrous drought still affects more of the U.S. than any drought in almost 25 years. Last year alone, the U.S. endured 14 climate-related disasters that each wreaked at least a billion dollars in damage, according to written testimony Field prepared for the hearing.

Field is a Stanford professor of biology and environmental Earth system science and director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science. He was part of a group of researchers who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their climate change work with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Field is co-chair of an IPCC working group that recently released a special report entitled "Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation."

Citing studies from the IPCC, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), among other scientific organizations, Field told the committee that climate change will lead to more frequent and intense extreme weather that affects larger areas and lasts longer. This, Field said, is a recipe for "unprecedented extreme weather and climate events."

At the hearing's close, Field explained his objective. "What we're trying to do is provide sufficient information for policymakers to make good decisions to try to figure out ways to avoid the damages that come from climate change without providing unacceptable costs to the rest of society. And we're really trying to find smart ways to move forward, recognizing what's happening, recognizing what the risks are and that there are consequences of using the atmosphere as a dump for greenhouse gasses just the same way there are consequences of making changes in the economy that are intended to alleviate those damages."

Explore further: Grouse moor burning causes widespread environmental changes

More information: Hearing video: epw.senate.gov/public/index.cf… ad-4706-02abdbf7f7c3

Chris Field's prepared testimony: woods.stanford.edu/docs/focal/… -Change-20120729.pdf

IPCC report: www.ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/

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User comments : 9

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NotParker
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 03, 2012
"Field conveniently neglected in his testimony to mention that one place where droughts have gotten less frequent, less intense or shorter is ...

the United States. "

http://rogerpielk...ess.html
Howhot
4 / 5 (4) Aug 03, 2012
He was part of a group of researchers who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize....


Yes, the very same group that included our famous Vice President; Al-Gore! Please hold the applauds until later.

So NP, did Field in his testimony mention the USA where droughts have gotten more frequent, more intense and longer? I think he did. That doesn't sound like a credible blog to me. You need to be careful when reading these blogs NP. Some authors only write because they have an agenda.
NotParker
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 03, 2012
He was part of a group of researchers who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize....


Yes, the very same group that included our famous Vice President; Al-Gore! Please hold the applauds until later.

So NP, did Field in his testimony mention the USA where droughts have gotten more frequent, more intense and longer? I


1) They haven't.

2) The IPCC said "... in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, central North America ..."
Howhot
4 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2012
Well NP, the IPCC's purpose is to point out that humans have created a mess with the climate. Its such an obvious problem that even the very conservative governments represent the IPCC. It's your oil company friends that hate the greenies like me. My moto is "More Power Solar!!!" Right on Right on.

1) They haven't.

1) They have.

2) The IPCC said

2) http://www.ipcc.ch/

Vendicar_Decarian
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 04, 2012
ParkerTard quotes from Pielke's blog. No one in the scientific climate community considers that blog of significance in large pert because Pielke's degree is not in science but in politics.

The specific BLOG entry ParkerTard references is a criticism of professor Christopher Field in his testimony to congress.

Pielke repeatedly contrasts Fields strong comments associating climate related disaster and climate change to the less dramatic conclusions drawn by the IPCC in it's last report.

Pielke assumes that Fields was charged with testifying only to what the IPCC had concluded in it's last report. However Fields was not required to be so constrained.

Further the last IPCC report is growing quite dated, as it is now half a decade old. New data, new science and new conclusions have been drawn, and scientists are ever more assured of the effects of the ongoing anthropogenic change in the earth's climate.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 04, 2012
ParkerTard dishonestly leaves out a fraction of the sentence that (shock and awe) changes it's meaning.

The full sentence is as follows....

"There is medium confidence that some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts, in
particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense,
or shorter, for example, in central North America and northwestern Australia. [3.5.1]"

2) The IPCC said "... in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, central North America ..."

So what ParkerTard portrays as the IPCC making a definitive statement is really the IPCC making an undefinitive observation.

Poor Mentally Diseased ParkerTard. Lying is all he has left.
NotParker
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 04, 2012
ParkerTard dishonestly leaves out a fraction of the sentence that (shock and awe) changes it's meaning.

The full sentence is as follows....

"There is medium confidence that some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts, in
particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense,
or shorter, for example, in central North America and northwestern Australia. [3.5.1]"

2) The IPCC said "... in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, central North America ..."

So what ParkerTard portrays as the IPCC making a definitive statement is really the IPCC making an undefinitive observation.


The statement is accurate about what the IPCC said. Fields was dishonest to imply the IPCC thinks droughts are getting worse in the USA.

By all objective evidence droughts were worse in the 30s, 50s and 1988.
NotParker
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 04, 2012
Greenies: quick, save the Ozone layer. Replace CFC's with HFC's.

20 years later ...

Greenies: Quick, get rid of HFCs, they cause global warming.

http://businessmi...e-change

Greenies: Save the world, replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs.

Oh oh. CFLs cause skin cancer.

http://commcgi.cc...in.shtml

Greenies: Boy were you dumb to pay attention to us!

Howhot
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2012
NP

Greenie says: Yes we did effect the size of the ozone and it is one if the few cases where governments across the world agreed to remove carbon fluorocarbons as a propellant and refrigerant. It was done with really good reason, as CFCs would destroy high-altitude ozone like there was no tomorrow.

So, while propellants where easy to replace, it took a lot of development work to find refrigerants that would not destroy ozone. Unfortunately there side-effect is they also act as green house gas, a greenhouse gas that would not be a problem if it wasn't for 33 GIGATONS of CO2/yr dumped out by coal fired plants that has created an greenhouse gas emergency.

---
CFLs Just move on to LEDs and be done with it.