[JURIST] Former Vice President Al Gore [personal website] testified before US congressional committees Wednesday that global warming [EPA materials] is "a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth." In his opening statement [prepared text, PDF; recorded video] to a joint session [hearing materials] of the House committees on Energy and Commerce and Science and Technology [official websites], Gore reviewed new evidence showing human activity is the main cause of global warming, but he said it is not too late to take action. Gore cited recent momentum toward "action to solve the climate crisis:"
More than 420 Mayors have now adopted Kyoto-style commitments in their cities and have urged strong federal action. The evangelical and faith communities have begun to take the lead, calling for measures to protect God’s creation. The State of California, under a Republican Governor and a Democratic legislature, passed strong, economy wide legislation mandating cuts in carbon dioxide. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have passed renewable energy standards for the electricity sector. Much more needs to be done, but change is in the air.
Gore advocated replacing the the UN's 1997 Kyoto protocol [text], which the United States has not ratified, with a new global treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions [EPA backgrounder], as well forbidding further construction of coal-burning power plants in the US.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) [official website], the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, challenged the connection between carbon dioxide levels and global warming, calling Gore's description "totally wrong" [statement text]. Gore responded:
The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say, "Well, I read a science fiction novel that told me it's not a problem."
Gore was to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee [official website] later Wednesday. AP has more. The Washington Post has additional coverage.
This report was prepared in partnership with the Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law.