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Stanford expert brings climate change science to heated Capitol Hill
Date:8/2/2012

Now's the time to prepare for the heat waves, heavy rains and droughts that climate change will bring, says Stanford's Chris Field, a noted climate researcher.

Speaking Wednesday at a contentious U.S. Senate hearing on climate change, Stanford's Chris Field, an expert on climate change, offered a stark yet hopeful analogy.

Just as speeding increases the chance of having a car accident, climate change intensifies the risk of heat waves, droughts and heavy precipitation, said Field, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. He testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.Speaking Wednesday at a contentious U.S. Senate hearing on climate change, Stanford's Chris Field, an expert on climate change, offered a stark yet hopeful analogy.

"We can point clearly to the causal mechanism, but it's still difficult to predict exactly when or where the crisis either the accident from speeding in a car or the disaster that's related to climate change will occur, he said. "But still, we can have high confidence in the driving mechanism."

Or, as Field put it later in his testimony, "It is critical to understand that the link between climate change and the kinds of extremes that lead to disasters is clear."

Although we can't be certain that staying within the speed limit will prevent a crash, we know it will decrease the risk. Similarly, Field said, we can reduce the risk of a weather-related disaster with measures such as disaster preparations, early warning systems and well-built infrastructure.

While climate change's role in tornadoes and hurricanes remains unknown, Field said, "the pattern is increasingly clear" when it comes to heat waves, heavy rains and droughts.

The hearing came on the heels of months of intense heat waves and massive wildfires. A disastrous drought still affects more of the U.S. than any drought in almost 25 years. Last year alone, the
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Contact: Christine Harrison
christine.harrison@stanford.edu
650-725-8240
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

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