With projected sea level rise of 3 to 6 feet, some cities will simply drown. "New Orleans is gone. Atlantic City is gone," he said.
All four hold leading roles in publishing scenarios for the outcomes of climate change. McCarthy, Wuebbles and Shepherd have worked on U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, and Balbus is a lead author on the U.S. Global Change Research Program's 2013 National Climate Assessment chapter on human health.
This year's National Climate Assessment, a report issued every four years, will be "very different," said Wuebbles.
"This is a report that really attempts to speak to people in a language that is much plainer," he said. "The more that we can get the language plainer, the more people can relate to, that will also help."
Keystone XL's climate impact
Although the meeting was not a full committee hearing, members of the Environment and Public Works Committee came to discuss climate change impacts to their home states.
"We're seeing irrigation projects that have operated for 75 years with water -- the last two years, zero water," said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M). "We're seeing catastrophic fires, more acreage burned, and then the floods that come up afterwards."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked the panel whether the United States should go forward on the construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude from Canada's bitumen-rich oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico.
The way the extraction of oil sands is being conducted right now, it is "the dirtiest possible source of fossil fuel," McCarthy said. "Simply to burn it is a ridiculous, ridiculous exercise."
A recent report from Keystone XL supporter group the Consumer Energy Alliance said the pipeline would create more than 5,000 jobs and add $1.8 billion to the economy of Nebraska. Supporters say the pipeline would not increase greenhouse gas emissions any more than if it were not built, because the oil would be transported anyway through an alternative pipeline.
It's "essentially a game over for climate change," Wuebbles said.
Boxer and Sanders will introduce carbon tax legislation today (see related story). "If we can get an idea together to put a price on carbon, we can meet our goals," Boxer said.
She vowed to pass legislation through her committee, despite the strong opposition climate legislation would receive from the other side of the aisle. "It's not going to be pretty," she said. "It's going to make sausage look pretty."
Environment and Public Works ranking member David Vitter's (R-La.) office was unable to provide comment in time for publication.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500