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TIME SENSITIVE MAIL: U.S. Senate Takes Up Global Warming/Climate Chang

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  • Mike Neuman
    [Thought some on list might be interested in helping out, or at least in being informed. GW skeptic?? - Skip to next message, please.] In response to an
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 25 2:14 PM
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      [Thought some on list might be interested in helping out, or at least
      in being informed. GW skeptic?? - Skip to next message, please.]

      In response to an recent request from the Union of Concerned
      Scientists' "Sound Science Initiative" (SSI) project, I've prepared
      the following piece of information for immediate action and
      distribution.
      - Mike
      --------------------------------------------------------

      The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin their deliberations on the all-
      important issue of global warming/climate change sometime next week.
      The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reports that the impetus for
      beginning this debate will be the offering of several climate change-
      related amendments to Senate energy bill S-14, The Energy Policy Act
      of 2003, and that the ensuing debate in the Senate could influence
      federal climate policy for the foreseeable future.

      The UCS suggests U.S. senators need to be made aware of the broad
      consensus that exists among many of the nation's scientists having
      knowledge of the climate and impacts, particularly in light of the
      fact that misinformation has been circulated to the Senate office
      recently, which falsely claims: "there is no scientific consensus on
      climate change". UCS also suggests that industries having a "vested
      interest" in fossil fuel burning in the U.S. have waged "a targeted
      media campaign" which has been "designed to give the impression that
      scientific consensus is lacking on the climate issue".

      The complete UCS message is attached. Individuals who wish to sign
      the letter to the Senate should have at least a master's degree in a
      field that is relevant to climate science or impacts (including
      engineering).

      Those who decide to sign the letter need only do the following:
      email your name, degree, title, department and institution (for
      identification purposes, only), as well as their city and state to: <
      ssi@... >.

      Individuals who do not meet the above qualifications but who wish to
      contribute are being asked to forward the UCS message to others they
      know who might meet the qualifications and be willing to sign the
      letter.

      The names of individuals submitting the above information will
      automatically become part of the sign-on letter, which will be
      delivered to the Senate early next week.

      UCS is asking that replies of prospective signatories be emailed to
      UCS as soon as possible, but NO LATER THAN MONDAY, JULY 28TH, BY
      NOON - EASTERN TIME (11:00 AM, CENTRAL) to be processed in time to
      for delivery to the Senate on Tuesday morning.

      --------- Forwarded message ----------
      To: (Message Recipient)

      We contact you today with a very important and time-
      sensitive appeal. The US Senate is about to spend a
      considerable amount of time discussing global climate
      change. The impetus for this debate will be the offering,
      expected next week, of several climate change-related
      amendments to the Senate's energy bill (S-14, The Energy
      Policy Act of 2003). This climate change debate is widely
      recognized to be a "test" of the political strength of the
      senators who are concerned about the issue, and the debate
      is thus likely to influence federal climate policy for the
      foreseeable future.

      The stakes are high. It is vitally important that the
      Senators debating this issue have a clear and accurate
      understanding of the current status of climate change
      science. Unfortunately, several recent efforts to
      misrepresent the state of the science have been circulated
      to Senate offices. These efforts include, for example:

      * a publication from the Senate's Republican Policy
      Committee on climate change, which stated "there is no
      scientific consensus on climate change" and then recycled
      several outdated criticisms of climate change science;
      * widespread attention to two recent, subsequently rebutted,
      articles that challenge the view that the late-20th century
      warming is unprecedented over the past millennium; and
      * a targeted media campaign designed to give the impression
      that scientific consensus is lacking on the climate issue.

      One effective method for countering the above attacks, which
      are clearly intended to influence the Senate debate, is a
      strong, public show of support from the scientific community
      on this issue. A letter with many expert signers will make
      it difficult for the climate skeptics to advance one of
      their standard counters -- which is, that rebuttals to
      skeptic attacks represent only the opinions of individual
      authors rather than more general scientific agreement. The
      skeptics have also been dismissing documents such as the
      IPCC's Third Assessment Report as merely past scientific
      consensus that has been weakened by recent research.

      To present the strongest possible opinion to the Senate as
      it deliberates on the climate change issue, a sign-on letter
      is being circulated among the climate science community,
      clarifying for the Senate the state of scientific agreement
      on climate change. Please consider joining your colleagues
      in this effort, and make your opinion known to the senate.

      ** The letter is appended below for your review and possible
      signature. Please note that the letter is intended as a
      scientific statement; it makes no endorsement for or against
      any particular legislation. This is a good time to stand up
      and be counted against the obfuscation and dissembling of
      those who wish to maintain the status quo of heavy fossil
      fuel use. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

      Sincerely,
      Jason Mathers
      Sound Science Initiative Project Assistant
      Union of Concerned Scientists
      Two Brattle Sq
      Cambridge, MA
      617 547 5552
      ssi@...

      *** HOW THE LETTER WILL BE USED
      The letter will be delivered to Senate offices on Tuesday
      July 29th. It may be read into the Senate record,
      referenced in Senate remarks, or otherwise used in the
      debate. It may also be referenced in media accounts of the
      senate debate.

      *** HOW TO SIGN ONTO THE LETTER
      If you are a scientist or engineer holding at least a
      master's degree in a field that is relevant to climate
      science or impacts, please consider signing the letter.
      After your review, you can add your signature by simply
      emailing your name, degree, title and department,
      institution (for identification purposes only), city and
      state to < ssi@... >.

      When you send us your authorizing email, your name will
      automatically become part of the sign-on letter that will be
      delivered to the Senate early the week of July 28.

      *** HELP CIRCULATE THE LETTER
      You can help by circulating this request to colleagues
      within the US whom you think would be interested and meet
      the criteria to sign on. But be sure to forward this request
      TODAY!

      *** DEADLINE
      The timing here is absolutely urgent, as the letter will be
      delivered to the Senate the morning of Tuesday, July 29th.
      We would appreciate your reply as soon as possible, but no
      later than Monday July 28th at noon Eastern Time.

      *** THANK YOU!
      Thank you for considering this request. You and your
      scientific colleagues have an important role to play as our
      country grapples with complex questions about climate change
      mitigation, adaptation, and energy security. Current
      attempts to distort the debate must be challenged, and sound
      information on climate change should guide federal
      policymaking.

      ********************************************
      July 29, 2003

      United States Senate
      Washington, DC 20510

      Dear Senators Frist and Daschle:

      Two years have elapsed since the publication of the most
      recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
      Change (IPCC) and the National Research Council (NRC) on the
      state of the science of climate change and its impacts on
      the United States and the rest of the world. As scientists
      engaged in research on these subjects, we are writing to
      confirm that the main findings of these documents continue
      to represent the consensus opinion of the scientific
      community. Indeed, these findings have been reinforced
      rather than weakened by research reported since the
      documents were released.

      In brief, the findings are that:

      1) Anthropogenic climate change, driven by emissions of
      greenhouse gases, is already underway and responsible for
      most of the observed warming over the last 50 years -- the
      largest warming that has occurred in the Northern Hemisphere
      during at least the past 1000 years;
      2) Over the course of this century the Earth is expected to
      warm an additional 2.5 to 10.5 0F, depending on future
      emissions levels and on the climate sensitivity -- a
      sustained global rate of change exceeding any in the last
      10,000 years;
      3) Temperature increases in most areas of the U.S. are
      expected to be considerably higher than these global means
      because of our nation's northerly location and large average
      distance from the oceans;
      4) Even under mid-range emissions assumptions, the projected
      warming would cause substantial impacts in the U.S.,
      including an increased likelihood of heavy and extreme
      precipitation events, exacerbated drought, and sea level
      rise;
      5) Almost all plausible emissions scenarios result in
      projected temperatures that continue to increase well beyond
      the end of this century, raising the possibility of eventual
      devastating impacts such as the disintegration of the
      Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, leading to widespread
      coastal inundation; and,
      6) Due to the long lifetimes of greenhouse gases in the
      atmosphere, the longer emissions increase, the faster they
      will ultimately have to be decreased in order to avoid
      dangerous interference with the climate system.

      Evidence that climate change is already underway includes
      the instrumental record, which shows a surface temperature
      rise of approximately 10F over the 20th century, the
      accelerated sea level rise during that century relative to
      the last few thousand years, global retreat of mountain
      glaciers, reduction in snow cover extent, earlier thawing of
      lake and river ice, the increase in upper air water vapor
      over most regions in the past several decades, and the
      0.090F warming of the world's deep oceans since the 1950's.

      Evidence that the warmth of the Northern Hemisphere during
      the second half of the last century was unprecedented in the
      last 1000 years comes from three major reconstructions of
      past surface temperatures, which used indicators such as
      tree rings, corals, ice cores, and lake sediments for years
      prior to 1860, and instrumental records for the interval
      between 1865 and the present.

      On the subject of human causation of this warmth, the NRC
      report stated that, "The IPCC's conclusion that most of the
      observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been
      due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations
      accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific
      community on this issue." Indeed, computer simulations do
      not reproduce any of the late 20th century warmth if they
      include only natural climate forcings such as emissions from
      volcanoes and solar activity. The warmth is only captured
      when the simulations include forcings from human-emitted
      greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere.

      In summary, the main conclusions of the IPCC and NRC reports
      remain robust consensus positions supported by the vast
      majority of researchers in the fields of climate change and
      its impacts. The body of research carried out since the
      reports were issued tends to strengthen their conclusions.

      Sincerely,

      [Requested Signatures]


      ***THE UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS***
      The Union of Concerned Scientists is a nonprofit partnership
      of scientists and citizens combining rigorous scientific
      analysis, innovative policy development, and effective
      citizen advocacy to achieve practical environmental
      solutions. To learn more about UCS, please visit us on the
      web at: < http://www.ucsusa.org >.
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