Fighting the Facts on Climate Change

There is no serious debate over whether global warming will happen—it already is. We must start implementing effective solutions now.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) will hold his last hearing as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today to highlight media coverage of global warming, which he believes to be a hoax despite overwhelming consensus in the scientific community to the contrary.

The United States’ most distinguished scientific bodies and professional organizations have all issued statements acknowledging the compelling scientific evidence of human interference with climate, including the National Academies of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society. Not a single peer-reviewed study conducted between 1993 and 2003 challenged the consensus that the earth’s temperature is rising due to human activity.

Professor Daniel P. Schrag, Director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, a witness at the hearing, argues, “There is no serious debate about whether the earth will warm as carbon dioxide levels increase over this century—it will. What is difficult to predict is exactly how much warming will occur, and exactly how that will affect human society.”

Americans agree—74 percent of Americans believe that global warming is a serious problem, and nearly 90 percent believe the federal government should require or encourage companies and individuals to take action to reduce global warming.

The international community has proven its commitment to reducing global warming with the Kyoto Protocol and numerous other decisions; it is time for the United States, as the leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions, to do the same. The United States should take a leading role in developing a global plan for taking action on climate change and utilizing new technologies that will decrease emissions.

The Center for American Progress believes that the United States must establish a national cap-and-trade program in order to reach the long-term goal of preventing the global average temperature from rising more than 3.6°F degrees above pre-industrial levels. The program should include:

  • The immediate creation of a national cap on emissions and a market for trading credits.
  • Economy-wide implementation that protects early adopters, and provides opportunities for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and agriculture and forestry industries to participate.
  • Potential for integration into international carbon credit trading markets in the future.

We already know that the Earth’s temperature has increased 1.5°F degrees over the last century, leading to rising sea levels, a decrease in snow coverage, the retreat of glaciers and sea ice, and an increase of droughts. The next Congress must spend its time tackling this urgent issue and addressing viable solutions—we can not spend any more time debating the existence of a global phenomenon that the scientific community has overwhelmingly agreed on for over a decade.

For more information, see:

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.