Dianne Feinstein

Global Warming: A Time to Act - Oct. 25, 2006

Dianne Feinstein
October 25, 2006— Los Angeles, California
Town Hall Meeting
Print friendly

Today, I am here to discuss global warming -- the single greatest environmental challenge facing this planet. So let me explain the gravity of the problem. Bottom line: the fuel we use to power our homes, our cars, and our businesses is causing the earth to warm faster than anyone expected.

The first seven months of this year, and the last three decades, were the warmest in the United States since national record-keeping began in 1895. And the Earth’s temperature has climbed to the highest point it has been in the past 12,000 years.

A scientific consensus has been forged. There is broad agreement that the Earth will only get hotter. The question is how hot and why?

First, how hot?

If we act now and further temperature increases are kept to 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century, the damages – though significant – will be manageable. But if we don’t act, and warming increases by 5 to 9 degrees by the end of this century, the damage will be catastrophic and irreversible.

So we must act now.

Each of us is confronted with a choice: a choice that will impact not only our future, but the futures of our children and grandchildren. Do we continue with a business-as-usual attitude?

Or do we make the changes necessary to prevent catastrophe?

Now for the question, why?

Quite simply, because we are addicted to fossil fuels. And it is the burning of these fuels – coal, oil, gasoline and natural gas and the greenhouse gases they produce – that is the primary cause of global warming.

Carbon dioxide is produced by power plants, cars, manufacturing, and to power residential and commercial buildings. And here is the key: Carbon dioxide doesn’t dissipate. It stays in the atmosphere for five decades or more – causing the Earth’s temperature to rise.

That means that the carbon dioxide produced in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s is still in the atmosphere today. And the carbon dioxide produced today will still be in the atmosphere in 2050 and beyond.

And there will be serious consequences for our planet unless we make major changes.

Leading scientists say that to stabilize the planet’s climate by the end of the century, we need a 70 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels by 2050.

So the goal should be to stabilize carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million by 2050. This could contain further warming to 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit.