[Senate Hearing 110-1060]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
S. Hrg. 110-1060
CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCH
AND SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE,
SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED TENTH CONGRESS
FEBRUARY 7, 2007
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SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
ONE HUNDRED TENTH CONGRESS
DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii, Chairman
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West TED STEVENS, Alaska, Vice Chairman
Virginia JOHN McCAIN, Arizona
JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts TRENT LOTT, Mississippi
BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas
BARBARA BOXER, California OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine
BILL NELSON, Florida GORDON H. SMITH, Oregon
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire
MARK PRYOR, Arkansas JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware DAVID VITTER, Louisiana
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri JOHN THUNE, South Dakota
AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
Margaret L. Cummisky, Democratic Staff Director and Chief Counsel
Lila Harper Helms, Democratic Deputy Staff Director and Policy Director
Margaret Spring, Democratic General Counsel
Lisa J. Sutherland, Republican Staff Director
Christine D. Kurth, Republican Deputy Staff Director
Kenneth R. Nahigian, Republican Chief Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on February 7, 2007................................. 1
Statement of Senator Inouye...................................... 1
Letter, dated July 5, 2006, from Steven F. Hayward, Ph.D. and
Kenneth Green, Ph.D., Scholars, American Enterprise
Institute for Public Policy Research to Prof. Steve
Schroeder, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M
Statement of Senator Kerry....................................... 5
Statement of Senator Klobuchar................................... 8
Statement of Senator Lautenberg.................................. 7
Statement of Senator McCain...................................... 3
Prepared statement........................................... 4
Statement of Senator Nelson...................................... 60
Statement of Senator Stevens..................................... 2
Anthes, Richard A., Ph.D., President, University Corporation for
Atmospheric Research (UCAR); Co-Chair, Committee on Earth
Science and Applications from Space, National Research Council,
The National Academies......................................... 14
Prepared statement........................................... 16
Brennan, Dr. William, Acting Director, U.S. Climate Change
Science Program, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International
Affairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, DOC.. 9
Prepared statement........................................... 11
Knutson, Thomas R., Research Meteorologist, Geophysical Fluid
Dynamics Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, DOC............................................ 23
Prepared statement........................................... 24
Mahoney, James R., Ph.D., Environmental Consultant............... 26
Prepared statement........................................... 28
Piltz, Rick, Director, Climate Science Watch, Government
Accountability Project......................................... 32
Prepared statement........................................... 34
Rowland, Dr. F. Sherwood, Professor, Chemistry and Earth System
Science, School of Physical Sciences, University of California,
Prepared statement........................................... 51
Gleick, Peter H., Ph.D., President, Pacific Institute; MacArthur
Fellow; Member, U.S. National Academy of Science, prepared
Pryor, Hon. Mark, U.S. Senator from Arkansas, prepared statement. 73
Response to written questions submitted by Hon. Daniel K. Inouye
Richard A. Anthes, Ph.D...................................... 78
Rick Piltz................................................... 80
Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland...................................... 86
Response to written questions submitted by Hon. Mark Pryor to Dr.
William Brennan................................................ 78
Response to written question submitted by Hon. Ted Stevens to:
Richard A. Anthes, Ph.D...................................... 79
Thomas R. Knutson............................................ 88
CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCH AND SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2007
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:08 a.m. in
room SR-253, Russell Senate Office Building. Hon. Daniel K.
Inouye, Chairman of the Committee, presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DANIEL K. INOUYE,
U.S. SENATOR FROM HAWAII
The Chairman. I apologize for my delay, believe it or not,
I was stuck in the elevator.
Over the course of this Congress, the Commerce Committee
will pursue legislation to strengthen the Federal climate
research program. We owe it to our constituents and future
generations to support the fundamental science needed to fully
understand the impact of climate change.
However, before we can even begin to debate climate change,
we must investigate the numerous allegations that our Federal
scientists are being constrained from conveying their research
findings and conclusions. Such allegations are very serious.
We, in Congress, as well as decisionmakers within the
regulatory agencies must examine and weigh the scientific
evidence to guide changes in policies, laws and regulations.
To make the best decisions, we need free access to unbiased
scientific findings and conclusions, because the quality of our
decisions is highly dependent upon the science we use to make
To deny Federal scientists the right to speak, or to change
the findings of their work, or to deny the release of their
work, basically creating an atmosphere of intimidation and
fear, is a great disservice to the public.
On January 30, 2007, the Union of Concerned Scientists
issued a report called, ``Atmosphere of Pressure: Political
Interference in Federal Climate Science.'' The report found and
documented an alarming number of instances in which Federal
scientists and employees were pressured to downplay the
significance of their climate science work, or were prevented
from sharing the results and conclusions with the public.
Today's hearing will examine these claims, which suggests
that we have not always had unfettered access to climate change
research data. Let me be clear to those who criticize this
report, claiming that the survey size is too small; one
incidence of political tampering with science is too many.
Dr. Rowland, who appears today, shared the 1995 Nobel Prize
in Chemistry for his work on the environmental effects of
chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. His work eventually led to the
Montreal Protocol, an international treaty, which stopped the
widespread use of CFCs and helped reverse the damage to the
Dr. Rowland serves as an example of the role that accurate,
undistorted science can play in achieving sound policy.
With our witnesses, we'll discuss the extent to which
government scientists are able to communicate their results and
conclusions to Congress and the public and will make
recommendations on how to increase scientific openness in all
of the Federal agencies.
Of course, the communication of scientific information is
just half of the story of science integrity. We also must fund
appropriate research to ensure that climate science advances.
So, we have another witness who will discuss the funding of
climate research, including important satellite measurements.
We have much work ahead of us if we are to seriously
address the issue of climate change.
We begin with the issue of scientific integrity as the
foundation of that effort. So, I thank all of our witnesses for
joining us today, and we're looking forward to a lively
discussion. And may I now call upon the Vice Chairman of the
STATEMENT OF HON. TED STEVENS,
U.S. SENATOR FROM ALASKA
Senator Stevens. Mr. Chairman, global climate change is a
very serious problem for us, becoming more so every day. As far
as the United States is concerned, the evidence of global
climate change is more apparent in my home State of Alaska than
During my most recent trip to the West Coast of Alaska, I
witnessed an incident where the fuel storage tank for the whole
village of Kivalina nearly fell into the ocean due to severe
winter storms and coastal erosion. The potential catastrophe
was averted through emergency action taken by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, but over the past years we've seen many
other changes in the Arctic besides severe coastal erosion.
The Arctic sea ice is receding, the trees are going further
north, the permafrost is thawing, the impact of climate change
is real, and we need to prepare for its effects, and to do
this, we do need sound science.
I am concerned about the human impacts on our climate, and
that's why I have introduced Senate Bill 183, the Improved
Passenger Automobile Fuel Economy Act of 2007. Some think
that's a strange thing, coming from me, but I believe it's
essential that we raise the questions about how much of this
effect is being caused by man, and how much of it is really a
This bill will require a fuel economy standard of 40 miles
per gallon for passenger automobiles manufactured in the model
year 2017. I believe we do have the technology-base to do that.
The transportation sector generates more than one-third of
the Nation's greenhouse gas emissions, I believe we must demand
improved fuel economy from our vehicles, and this bill requires
a voluntary national registry for the greenhouse gas trading
credits. I am extremely alarmed by the information I'm getting
about methane, and its release from areas like our permafrost
in Alaska and in Russia.
We need to look at other possible causes of climate change.
Over the past 100 years, the sun has radiated additional
energy, which is responsible in part for the increase of global
temperature changes. Researchers such as Dr. Syun Akasofu at
our International Arctic Research Center in Alaska, found that
the Atlantic and Pacific oscillations have been dumping warm
ocean water in the Arctic Ocean. This has greatly contributed
to the degradation of the Arctic sea ice.
In order to obtain a better understanding of these, and
other factors, we need a robust climate science budget, and I
support you in the concept that it should be totally non-
partisan, and it should be a concept of validating what each
researcher is asserting.
We have so many different assertions now as to what is
causing climate change. Really, good scientist's conclusions
are based on their own research, and their computer runs remind
me of my first introduction to computers, and that is, you've
got to be sure what goes in if you want to understand what
comes out. Thank you.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN McCAIN,
U.S. SENATOR FROM ARIZONA
Senator McCain. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank you
for holding this hearing. I would just like to briefly say
that, for years we have been frustrated by the lack of
recognition, much less cooperation, on the part of the
Administration in addressing this issue. Required reports that
I would ask be made part of the record have never been--that
were required by law--have never been submitted by the
Administration, and fortunately, hopefully, we have now turned
a corner and that there is finally recognition that the debate
Now, the question is, how do we accommodate, as a world,
conditions that--to some degree--are irreversible, and how do
we as a Congress and a Nation, take the required measures to
reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases?
So, I thank you for holding this hearing, Mr. Chairman. I'd
just like to--an example of the kind of--it was back in Fiscal
Year 2002, Admiral Lautenbacher said, ``The greenhouse gases
are rising today, there's not anything you can do, short of
everyone going to bed for the next 30 years, to stop them from
rising. So, the object is to stop the growth of greenhouse
This is the kind of attitude that, unfortunately we had
from the Administration for many, many years, including the
years that I had the honor of chairing this committee. I hope
today, and in the future, we will turn the corner and get
serious about addressing them.
And I thank you for holding this hearing, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Senator McCain follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona
Thank you Mr. Chairman for calling today's hearing. I applaud your
efforts to continue with these committee hearings concerning one of the
most challenging issues of our time, climate change.
As indicated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's
Fourth Assessment Report Summary for Policymakers which was issued last
Friday, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that mankind is
altering the world's climate system. The Report's assessment is yet
another call for us to take this problem seriously and to immediately
take actions to make significant reductions in our greenhouse gas
I am pleased that the Administration is represented here today to
discuss this serious problem. I hope that we can have an open
discussion on whether or not this Administration have sought to alter
the work of or denied public access to many of our top scientists.
As I have traveled around the world, I have heard from many
scientists of their concerns on this issue. As a result of some
scientists coming forth publicly with their claims, the Administration
has started the process of revising their policies to provide for
greater openness of scientific research results. This problem must be
corrected immediately. Otherwise, we risk losing the confidence of the
American public and the broader research community regarding the
quality and credibility of government-sponsored scientific research
Mr. Chairman, I also note the fact the other Senate Committees are
also having hearings on climate change. I think this a good thing and
will only serve to further educate the Members on this complex issue.
A couple of weeks ago, a coalition of major U.S.-based businesses,
with a combined market capitalization of over $750 billion, joined with
environmental organizations to call upon our Federal Government to
quickly enact strong national legislation to achieve significant
reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The members of the U.S. Climate
Action Partnership recognize that setting the ground rules now for
managing greenhouse gasses will unleash American ingenuity in an all
out effort to meet this complicated challenge.
In their letter to President Bush, the coalition said that,
``properly constructed policy can be economically sustainable,
environmentally responsible, and politically achievable. Swift
legislative action on our proposal would encourage innovation and
provide needed U.S. leadership on this global challenge.'' They further
stated that ``. . . climate change will create more economic
opportunities than risks for the U.S. economy.'' I agree.
Senator Lieberman and I recently introduced our bill S. 280, the
Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007. This legislation is
based upon five guiding principles.
First, it must have rational, mandatory emission reduction targets
and timetables. It must be goal oriented, and have both environmental
and economic integrity. Let us realize that the climate system reacts
not to emission intensity but to atmospheric concentration levels. We
need policy that will produce necessary reductions, not merely check
political boxes. The reductions must be feasible and based on sound
science, and this is what we have tried to do in our bill. We realized
that this problem is an environmental problem with significant economic
implications and not an economic problem with significant environmental
Second, it must utilize a market-based, economy-wide ``cap and
trade'' system. It must limit greenhouse gas emissions and allow the
trading of emission credits across the economy to drive enterprise,
innovation and efficiency. This is the central component of our
legislation. Voluntary efforts will not change the status quo, taxes
are counterproductive, and markets are more dependable than regulators
in effecting sustainable change.
Third, it must include mechanisms to minimize costs and work
effectively with other markets. The ``trade'' part of ``cap and trade''
is such a mechanism, but it's clear it must be bolstered by other
assurances that costs will be minimized. I am as concerned as anyone
about the economic impacts associated with any climate change
legislation. I know that many economists are developing increasingly
sophisticated ways to project future costs of compliance. Lately, we
have seen the increased interest in this area of research. As we learn
more from these models about additional action items to further reduce
costs, we intend to incorporate them. Already, based upon earlier
economic analysis, we have added offset provisions in this bill in an
effort to minimize costs and to provide for the creation of new
markets. And, I assure my colleagues, we will continue to seek new and
innovative ways to further minimize costs. Let me again mention what
the coalition of CEO's of major U.S.-based companies and environmental
groups said last week, ``In our view, the climate change challenge will
create more economic opportunities than risks for the U.S. economy.''
Fourth, it must spur the development and deployment of advanced
technology. Nuclear, solar, and other alternative energy must be part
of the equation and we need a dedicated national commitment to develop
and bring to market the technologies of the future as a matter of good
environmental and economic policy. There will be a growing global
market for these technologies and the U.S. will benefit greatly from
being competitive and capturing its share of these markets. Our
legislation includes a comprehensive technology title that would go a
long way toward meeting this goal. Unlike the Energy bill, it would be
funded using the proceeds from the auctioning of allowable emission
credits, rather than from the use of taxpayers' funds or appropriations
that will never materialize.
And fifth, it must facilitate international efforts to solve the
problem. Global warming is an international problem requiring an
international effort. The United States has an obligation to lead. If
we don't lead proactively, we will find ourselves following. There is
no in between. However, our leadership cannot replace the need for
action by countries such as India and China. We must spur and
facilitate it. We have added provisions that would allow U.S. companies
to enter into partnerships in developing countries for the purpose of
conducting projects to achieve certified emission reductions, which may
be traded on the international market.
These five components represent a serious challenge that will
require a great deal of effort, the concentration of substantial
intellectual power, and the continued efforts of our colleagues and
those in the environmental, industrial, economic, and national security
Again, I thank you for calling this hearing. I welcome our
witnesses here today and look forward to their testimony.
The Chairman. Thank you very much, and I can assure you,
we'll do our very best, sir.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN F. KERRY,
U.S. SENATOR FROM MASSACHUSETTS
Senator Kerry. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. Thank you
for holding this hearing. I thank Senator McCain, also, because
he held some important hearings for a period of time as
This is a very important beginning, Mr. Chairman. There are
two great issues in our Congress right now, one is obviously a
war that we're engaged in, in Iraq, and this. This is the other
It's hard sometimes, because of the draconian scenarios
that the end-game draw for us all with respect to global
climate change. It's hard for some people to wrap their hands
around it and say, ``Wow, this is really serious,'' or ``We
could do something about it.''
The bottom line is, as you know, Mr. Chairman, we have no
choice. We have to. I've been involved in this, since I got on
the Commerce Committee. Senator Gore and I, and a few others
held the first hearings on this back in 1987. We then became
participants in the first inter-parliamentary conference,
sometime around 1989-1990, I remember. Then we went down to
Rio, and took part in the Earth Summit, and came up with an
agreed-upon framework for voluntary reductions. But even then,
in 1990, the science was there and people were accepting that
we had to do something. In 1992, President George Herbert
Walker Bush signed that Framework Agreement, and we ratified
Since then, the science has been growing. You've had the UN
IPCC Report of 2001, which could not have been more clear. In
fact, we've had 928 peer-reviewed studies, all of which confirm
the human input to global climate change, to the warming, to
the greenhouse gas effect, and all of us understand the basic
science. That, without the greenhouse effect, life wouldn't
exist on Earth. We all understand that it's containing gases--
and I'm not going to go through it all now, except to say that
the science has been building on this.
As John Holdren at Wood's Hole in Harvard says, you know,
the other side has a responsibility to show something to the
contrary. There isn't one peer-reviewed study, not one, that
suggests an alternative that scientists accept as to why the
warming is taking place, and not one peer-reviewed study that
tells us why there might be this warming outside of human-
induced greenhouse gases.
So, what are we doing here? Now, scientists tell us there
is a confirmed consensus that we have a 10-year window. Now,
what happens if we're all wrong? Those of us who believe the
science of 928 peer-reviewed reports, and of over 1,000-1,500
scientists, and over 600 who just gathered in Paris--what
happens if we're wrong? And we embrace doing things about clean
fuels and efficiency; and clean coal technology? The ``Big
Three'' of what we have available to us. If we're wrong, we've
got cleaner air, a healthier Nation, more jobs, better
technology, and we've protected the environment.
What happens if they're wrong? Catastrophe. That's the
ledger, here. Mr. Chairman, you know this is important because
this Administration has been beyond irresponsible on this.
Beyond irresponsible. In the face of all of this science, in
the face of all of these reports, they're playing games,
political games for money.
What they do is they take the science, and they tailor it
to reflect their political goals. The interference is
stunning--from deleting key words, deleting words, this is
George Orwell at its best--deleting ``warming climate,''
deleting ``global climate change,'' deleting ``climate change''
from press releases, changing agency mission statements, de-
emphasizing climate research, denying media access to prominent
climate scientists. It's absolutely stunning, what's been going
on. And it has to stop.
This is the right place to begin, Mr. Chairman, looking at
what has been going on in terms of blocking America's access to
the truth. And we have to build on this, but Senator McCain is
right--we all have to recognize, this Congress has got to take
the steps to deal with this. The signs are everywhere.
I've just finished, actually, writing a book on this. You
can look at what's happening in Alaska alone. I think, Senator,
if I'm wrong--didn't they spend several hundred million dollars
to move a village?
Senator Stevens. About to.
Senator Kerry. They are going to have to do it. And, the
fisherman can't go out and fish to the extent they were,
because the slush is such, they can't ride snowmobiles, reduced
to boats, the winter storms prevent them from doing it--life is
Senator Stevens. I'd add to that, they can't afford the
Senator Kerry. And they can't afford it.
In Alaska they can't afford it? God, I thought they gave it
to them for free there.
Senator Kerry. When you sit with Jim Hansen, and Dr. Hansen
tells you months ago that within the next 30 years, the Arctic
ice is going to disappear, it's not a question of if, and, or
but. Barring some God-intervention that we can't predict, it's
gone. And that means more water exposed to the sun, which heats
up, which means the Greenland Ice Sheet is more at risk, and
we're just playing with the potential for catastrophe. So, I
thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think there is nothing more
important for us to focus on, and I intend to certainly pour my
energies into this, because I think it's a great challenge of
The Chairman. I thank you very much. I was ready to pack my
STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK R. LAUTENBERG,
U.S. SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY
Senator Lautenberg. Thanks, Mr. Chairman, for holding this
hearing, and finally coming to grips with something that has
been obvious in our view for some time now.
And I do want to welcome this distinguished panel,
particularly Mr. Tom Knutson, who is a scientist from the NOAA
lab in Princeton, New Jersey.
The first question that arises is whether or not there's
actually global warming taking place? And finally, when it
smacks us in the face, we say, ``You know what? It feels warmer
here.'' The warmest month, the warmest year, all of the
statistics that tell you what the condition is.
I sit on another committee, the Environment and Public
Works Committee, and it was there that it was suggested that
global warming was one of the worst--was the worst hoax
perpetrated on man. And this is not years ago, this is weeks
ago that this proposition was put out in front of us.
The next one was whether or not human action has any
influence on it. We had a scientist there who was brought in
from France, from the Pasteur Institute, who said that there
was really a global warming going on, that we'd see more
incidents of malaria. And we don't see the mosquito population
growing, that was very comforting, I must tell you.
So, this total state of denial is ridiculous, and finally,
now, the truth is going to come out. If anyone had any doubt on
global warming's effect on the Earth, or the human effect on
global warming, the recent IPCC report just erased all of the
doubt. The work of 2,500 scientists, 113 countries, researchers
who were free to let science speak for itself, down to my
colleagues, who have said the theory that the warming of the
climate system is unequivocal, and human activity is to blame.
The importance of what the report says is the fact that
this report relies on uncensored, unedited, unmodified science
to say so. In contrast to the honesty of the IPCC Report, the
Bush Administration has permitted the removal, the censored
redaction of data, that was developed, destroying the meaning
of the scientists in order to advance a political agenda.
The Administration has obstructed, blocked, and delayed
release of government reports on global warming, they deleted
key words, ``global warming,'' ``warming climate'' from public
documents. It's hard to imagine that something so crude would
purvey the Administration's view, and the handling of science.
Well, we're going to make a change, this Committee's
hearing indicates that, as was said in a movie, ``we're sick
and tired of it, we're not going to take it anymore.''
Thank you very much.
The Chairman. Thank you very much, and now may I call upon
STATEMENT OF THE HON. AMY KLOBUCHAR,
U.S. SENATOR FROM MINNESOTA
Senator Klobuchar. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I'm very
pleased that the Commerce Committee is looking at the issue of
I'm on the Agriculture Committee and the Environment and
Public Works Committee, in addition to this committee, so it
puts me in a unique position to continue to work on this issue.
The bad news is Secretary Johanns is testifying in the
Agriculture Committee, so I'm going to be brief.
I was just at home, in Minnesota over the weekend, where
you know, we had 70-below-zero wind chills. So, global warming,
I didn't think, would be the topic people would want to talk
about. But, it was amazing to me, whether it was hunters who
are seeing the effects firsthand throughout our state, or
people who ice fish who took months to put their fish houses
out. People are very concerned about this. It has gone beyond
the science, to regular people seeing the effects of global
warming in our state, and wanting to do something about it.
Like most Americans, I'm an optimist. I come from the state
that gave you the pacemaker and the Post-It note, and I believe
in the power of science, in the power of innovation, in the
power of technology. I believe in the intelligence and the
ingenuity of the American people when we're confronted with a
challenge. That's why I'm so troubled when I hear about efforts
to elevate politics over science; when I learn that our best
and our brightest thinkers and researchers are not getting the
breathing space that they need to do their work.
I believe we can do better. I come from the background of a
prosecutor, and the cardinal rule in our job is that evidence,
and not politics, determines our decisions in charging and
prosecuting criminals. That's a simple but all-important
concept. And that's where I come from when I look at this issue
before us today.
That's why I think our government's approach to climate
change has to rest on three principles. Our policy decisions on
climate change and global warming must be guided by the best
science available, not by the worst partisan politics. Second,
our government has a duty to give our scientists and
researchers all of the support they need to help us confront
and overcome this enormous challenge. And third, the American
public has a right to hear, consider and debate the conclusions
of our scientists. And our scientists have a right to express
their views without government interference or suppression.
If we do not adhere to these principles, we're going to be
falling farther, and farther behind in our efforts to tackle
global warming. I appreciate the leadership of people in this
room, like Senator McCain, and Senator Kerry on this issue. I
believe we are close to getting things done on this issue, that
there is a movement across this country, a bipartisan movement.
But, to do that, we have to get the science right, and we can't
suppress the work of our scientists.
So, I thank you, thank you very much.
The Chairman. Thank you very much, Senator. And now we come
to the panel.
Our first witness, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for
International Affairs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, and Acting Director of the Climate Change
Science Program, Dr. Bill Brennan.
STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM BRENNAN, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CLIMATE
CHANGE SCIENCE PROGRAM, DEPUTY
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS,
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DOC
Dr. Brennan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I'll see if I can
encroach on Dr. Anthes' space just a little bit here.
Chairman Inouye, and Vice Chairman Stevens, I appreciate
the opportunity to testify before you today about climate
change research and scientific integrity.
My name is Bill Brennan, and since June 2006, I have been
the Acting Director of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program,
in addition to my position as the Deputy Assistant Secretary
for International Affairs with the Department of Commerce's
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In 2001, President Bush commissioned the National Academy
of Sciences to do a special report on the state of the science
on climate change. The Academy responded that the surface
temperature of the Earth is warming, and that human activities
are largely responsible. The President followed up on this
report by creating a special cabinet-level committee, headed by
the Departments of Commerce and Energy, as well as creating the
Climate Change Science Program, and the Climate Change
Technology Program, to lead the Administration's efforts to
confront this serious environmental problem.
CCSP integrates Federal research on global change, and
oversees the nearly $2 billion spent by 13 Federal agencies.
This program is charged with investigating natural and human-
induced changes to Earth's environmental systems, and to
monitoring and understanding and predicting global change. The
goal is to provide a sound, scientific basis for Federal,
State, and local decisionmakers, resource managers, the science
community, the media, and the general public.
With the February 2, 2007 release of the latest report by
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there is even
more certainty about the observed warming as a result of the
increase in greenhouse gases for which humans have been
responsible. Not only does the Bush Administration accept the
report, U.S. science and government played a large role in its
development. Many U.S. scientists were instrumental in putting
this report together.
U.S. observation networks, computer modeling labs and
research programs all provided crucial data and analyses.
Without the efforts of the United States, much of this report
would not have been possible.
Over the next 2 years, CCSP will be completing a series of
21 Synthesis and Assessment Reports. The first report released
in May 2006, helped correct errors identified in satellite
data, and contributed significantly to the IPCC's findings.
Soon, we will have a report on the North American carbon cycle,
which will focus on key issues for carbon management and
policy. Later this year, the CCSP will address the sensitivity
and adaptability of ecosystems to climate change.
These reports are being developed with an intensive
commitment to scientific peer-review, transparency and public
involvement. CCSP continues to engage the National Research
Council, to provide a review of the conduct and performance of
the program, and their analysis is available to the public.
I want to thank Dr. James Mahoney for all of his efforts in
creating this process, and leading the CCSP for the last 4
Regarding concerns about scientific communications, I think
it is important to point out that to the best of my knowledge,
no one has suggested the science or the research findings have
been interfered with. But concerns have been raised about the
intersection of science policy and science, and how that is
communicated to the public. The Bush Administration strongly
believes scientific findings should be communicated clearly,
accurately and completely. The White House has asked
Departments and agencies to review their respective policies to
ensure scientific openness, and ensure that employees and
management understand their rights and obligations under these
Some NOAA scientists have expressed concerns about their
ability to talk to the media. Admiral Lautenbacher, NOAA's
Administrator, and a scientist himself, sent communications to
every NOAA employee, clearly stating his commitment to
scientific integrity and open discussion of scientific results.
He has conducted several town hall meetings around the country
with NOAA employees, and expressly stated that anyone who feels
that NOAA or the Department of Commerce are not supporting the
free flow of scientific research, they should contact him
The Department has revised three outdated and contradictory
communications policies. Under the new policy, scientists and
researchers are free to communicate their research findings,
and are encouraged to work with the public affairs office when
it comes to communicating the research. However, this is not a
This new policy also contains a strong appeals process to
quickly address any issues that may arise, and NOAA scientists
and employees provided the Department with valuable feedback,
and have helped make this policy a much better product.
Since 2001, the Bush Administration has been clear that
climate change is a serious problem. The Earth is warming, and
humans are the leading cause. The Administration has spent
nearly $29 billion on climate change, including $9 billion on
climate change science, more than all other nations combined.
U.S. researchers and funding are responsible for much of the
world's understanding of climate change, and the recent IPCC
report would not have been possible without the United States.
Regarding scientific communications and openness, the
Administration takes the concerns of its scientists very
seriously, and I am particularly proud of the CCSP Program,
which has a process that is open and transparent, including
public reviews of its reports, and independent reviews of its
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to testify before
[The prepared statement of Dr. Brennan follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dr. William Brennan, Acting Director, U.S.
Climate Change Science Program, Deputy Assistant Secretary for
International Affairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
Chairman Inouye and Vice Chairman Stevens, I appreciate the
opportunity to testify to you today about climate change research and
scientific integrity. My name is Bill Brennan, and since June 2006, I
have been the Acting Director of the U.S. Climate Change Science
Program, as well as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International
Affairs with the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
I will first talk about the Climate Change Science Program and the
current state of climate research and then I will discuss the issue of
scientific communications, emphasizing issues at NOAA.
What Is CCSP?
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) was established by
President Bush in 2002 and integrates Federal research on global
climate change, as sponsored by 13 Federal agencies. \1\ CCSP is a
multi-agency program charged with: investigating natural and human-
induced changes in the Earth's global environmental system; monitoring,
understanding, and predicting global change; and providing a sound
scientific basis for national and international decisionmaking. The
CCSP combines the near-term focus of the Administration's Climate
Change Research Initiative, initiated in 2001--including a focus on
advancing the understanding of aerosols, carbon sources and sinks, and
improvements in climate modeling--with the breadth of the long-term
research elements of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
\1\ The CCSP participating agencies include the Departments of
Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, the
Interior, State, and Transportation, the National Science Foundation,
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA), U.S. Agency for International Development,
and the Smithsonian Institution. Additional CCSP liaisons reside in the
Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Council on Environmental
Quality, the National Economic Council, and the Office of Management
Since CCSP was created in 2002, the program has successfully
integrated a wide range of research, climate science priorities and
budgets of the 13 CCSP agencies. CCSP integrates research and
observational approaches across disciplinary boundaries and is also
working to create more seamless approaches between theory, modeling,
observations, and applications required to address the multiple
scientific challenges posed by changes in climate. CCSP is taking on
the most challenging questions in climate science and is developing
products to convey the most advanced state of knowledge to be used by
Federal, state and local decisionmakers, resource managers, the science
community, the media, and the general public. Since 2002, the
Administration has spent approximately $9 billion on climate change
Agreement on Climate Change
In 2001, the President asked the National Academy of Sciences to do
a special report on the state of the science on climate change. The
report, entitled Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key
Questions stated: ``Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's
atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface
temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures
are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several
decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule
out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of
natural variability.'' In reaction to the report, the President created
a cabinet-level committee, and in particular CCSP and the Climate
Change Technology Program to lead the Administration's efforts to
confront this serious environmental problem. Since 2001, the
Administration has devoted nearly $29 billion to climate-related
science, technology, international assistance, and incentive programs.
The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC), released on February 2, 2007, expressed even more certainty
that the changes observed over the last several decades are mostly due
to human activities, primarily through the release of greenhouse gases.
The Bush Administration accepts the published report, and notes
that the U.S. Government played a large role in its development. Many
U.S. scientists were instrumental in putting together this report,
especially Dr. Susan Solomon, a senior scientist at NOAA's Earth System
Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, who was Co-Chair of the
Working Group I (WG1). U.S. observations networks, computer modeling
efforts, and research programs all provided crucial data and analysis.
Without the efforts of the Administration and the CCSP program, much of
this report would not have been possible.
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program managed the U.S. author
nomination process for IPCC WG1, including soliciting complete
applications, interfacing with relevant Technical Support Units and the
Secretariat in Geneva, convening disciplinary expert panels, hosting
series' of meetings, and consolidating all materials of selected
finalists. CCSP also managed the Expert and Government Reviews for WG1
by providing technical advice and networking infrastructure. CCSP
agencies assisted with issuing a public call for comments, collecting
comments, assembling expert panels to review inputs for technical
merit, accepting/rejecting/modifying said input, and preparing the
The work conducted by the Federal agencies as part of CCSP was
critical to gaining a greater understanding of climate change
processes, including relating observations and models, for the IPCC
report. CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Report 1.1 reconciled lingering
and long-standing difficulties that have impeded understanding of
changes in atmospheric temperatures and the basic causes of these
changes. It brought models and observations more closely in line, and
provided increased confidence in our ability to model and predict
Over the next 2 years CCSP will be completing a series of 21
Synthesis and Assessment Reports, with the report on emissions
scenarios to be released shortly. These reports describe the state of
the science on a range of key issues, thereby providing further
important contributions to the Nation's and world's discussion on
climate change. The first report, released in May 2006, helped correct
errors identified in satellite data and other temperature observations
in the troposphere and stratosphere, and contributed significantly to
the IPCC's increased confidence in the influence of anthropogenic
greenhouse gases on temperature increase since the mid-20th century.
Due out in the next couple of months will be a report on the North
American Carbon Cycle, which will focus on key issues for carbon
management and policy. In addition, later this year the CCSP will
release several products that address the sensitivity and adaptability
of ecosystems to climate change.
How Are CCSP Reports Produced?
I want to describe the process by which the Climate Change Science
Program is producing its 21 reports--which is with an intensive
commitment to scientific peer review, transparency and public
involvement. The specific details of each step of the process are
available on the CCSP website (http://www.climatescience.gov). All of
the products are being drafted by expert groups in compliance with the
provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act and each product will
receive intensive scientific peer review, as well as at least two
general public reviews (one for the prospectus and one for the full
report). CCSP has also engaged the National Research Council (NRC) to
provide continuing analysis and advice on the conduct of the CCSP
program including the preparation of the CCSP scientific products. The
NRC advisory reports will all be public documents, and will provide the
Congress and all interested stakeholders with independent reviews of
CCSP performance. I want to publicly acknowledge and thank Dr. James
Mahoney, who is on the panel today, for all his work and efforts in
creating this process and leading the CCSP program for 4 years.
Administration View on Scientific Communications
The Bush Administration values science as a basis for effective
policy action in its service to the public, and regards the timely,
complete and accurate communication of scientific information as an
important part of that service. The White House, through the Office of
Science and Technology Policy, asked departments and agencies to review
their respective policies to ensure scientific openness and that
employees and management understand their rights and obligations under
NOAA Scientific Communication
The media have covered a handful of instances where NOAA scientists
have expressed concerns about their ability to talk to the media about
their research. Admiral Lautenbacher, NOAA's Administrator and a
scientist himself, continues to take this issue very seriously. He has
sent communications to every NOAA employee about the importance of open
communications, as science is the foundation for everything that NOAA
does as an agency. He has conducted several town hall meetings around
the country with NOAA employees and expressly stated that anyone who
feels that NOAA or the Department of Commerce processes are not
supporting the free flow of scientific research should contact him
personally. I would like to point out that NOAA scientists publish
between 800 and 1,000 scientific papers a year. In coordination with
NOAA's public affairs office, frequent interviews are conducted on our
research and several hundred press releases are sent out each year.
DOC Communication's Policy
The issue of scientific integrity is important not only to NOAA but
also the Department of Commerce, which has several bureaus, in addition
to NOAA where scientists and researchers provide crucial information to
the media and the public on a regular basis. Secretary Gutierrez and
Deputy Secretary Sampson have made this issue a top priority for the
Department and have reiterated their strong support for open
communication of peer-reviewed science. When the Department reviewed
its current communications policies, it found they dated back decades
and are based on those set up by President Jimmy Carter. There are
actually three different department-wide orders that at times are
contradictory and certainly are woefully outdated. The Department has
accordingly decided to consolidate and simplify the three dated
policies into one policy relevant to current times.
It is my understanding that the drafting process is almost complete
and that the Department is in the process of fulfilling its labor
relations obligations regarding union consultation. In this drafting
process, the Department sought the input of many scientists and
employees. As I understand it, this was an unprecedented process,
involving three separate rounds of input and feedback. The Department
has been very pleased with the constructive feedback and officials feel
the draft policy has been greatly improved due to this feedback. The
policy will reaffirm the Department's goal of fostering transparency
and media and public access, including a specific statement that
clarifies the independence of fundamental research communications. And,
the new policy has a strong appeals process so that if someone feels
aggrieved, they can seek a quick appeal. It has been and continues to
be the Secretary's policy and that of his leadership team to encourage
and support open communication of scientific research and findings.
Since 2001, the Bush Administration has spent $29 billion on
climate-related science, technology, international assistance, and
incentive programs. Federal researchers and grant money from the U.S.
Government contribute substantially to the world's understanding of
climate change. The recent IPCC report would not have been possible
without the United States. The Administration has been clear that
climate change is a serious problem, the Earth is warming and humans
are the leading cause.
The report of Working Group I of the IPCC demonstrates that the
level of scientific certainty has increased regarding the human impact
on climate change. However, more research must be done to answer the
many questions and uncertainties that remain in this field, such as the
role aerosols and deep ocean currents play in regulating the climate,
as well as further work on the relationship between climate frequency,
distribution, and severity of extreme weather events, such as tropical
cyclones and drought.
Regarding scientific communications and openness, the
Administration takes the concerns of its scientists very seriously, and
each Department and Agency is reviewing (and modifying if necessary)
its policies to ensure government scientists do not face censorship on
any scientific matter, including climate change issues. The CCSP
program has an open and transparent process, which includes several
public reviews before any reports are finalized. The Department of
Commerce is also in the final stages of revising and updating its
policies to ensure open communication of scientific research and
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman for allowing me the opportunity to
testify on these important issues.
The Chairman. I thank you very much, Dr. Brennan. And now,
may I call on Dr. Richard A. Anthes, President of the
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
STATEMENT OF RICHARD A. ANTHES, Ph.D., PRESIDENT,
UNIVERSITY CORPORATION FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH (UCAR); CO-
CHAIR, COMMITTEE ON EARTH SCIENCE AND
APPLICATIONS FROM SPACE, NATIONAL RESEARCH
COUNCIL, THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Dr. Anthes. Is that OK?
Mr. Chairman, Vice Chairman, and members of the Committee,
thank you for inviting me to testify here today.
My name is Richard Anthes, and I am President of UCAR, the
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. We manage the
National Center for Atmospheric Research, or NCAR, under
sponsorship of the National Science Foundation. I'm also
current President of the American Meteorological Society.
But, I am here today largely in my capacity as Co-Chair of
the National Research Council's Committee on Earth Science, and
Applications from Space. I've been asked to discuss some of the
recommendations from the recently completed report: Earth
Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for
the Next Decade and Beyond. This report, which was requested by
NASA, NOAA, and the USGS was a result of more than 2 years of
work by over 100 leaders in the broad Earth science community.
As explained in more detail in my written testimony, the
Committee's recently completed report provides a prioritized
roadmap of Earth observations to advance Earth science and
applications from space, from short-term needs for information,
such as weather forecasts and warnings and protection of life
and property, to longer-term scientific understanding that is
essential for understanding our planet, and how our planet
supports and sustains life.
The Committee's vision is encapsulated in the following
declaration, first stated in our Committee's interim report,
published in 2005. ``Understanding the complex changing planet
on which we live, how it supports life, and how human
activities affect its ability to do so in the future, is one of
the greatest intellectual challenges facing humanity. It is
also one of the most important challenges for society, as it
seeks to achieve prosperity, health and sustainability.''
As detailed in our final report, and as we were reminded by
reading the front page of nearly every newspaper this past
week, describing the powerful findings of the latest Report
from the IPCC, our society is faced with a number of profound
scientific and societal challenges, including climate change,
and their impacts on our key parts of our economy, human
health, sea level, eco-systems, patterns of precipitation, and
In addition to the ever-increasing need for better weather
forecasts and warnings, we also need to know more about air
quality and extreme natural events, including severe storms,
heat waves, Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Yet, at a time when the need has never been greater, we are
faced with an Earth observation program that will dramatically
diminish in capability over the next 10 to 15 years.
The 2005 interim report warned of a national system of
environmental satellites that was ``at risk of collapse.'' That
judgment, which may have seemed somewhat extreme at the time,
was based on the observed, precipitous decline in funding for
Earth-observation missions and the consequent cancellation, de-
scoping and delay of a number of critical missions and
instruments, which you see here, illustrated in this first
This slide shows the decrease in the number of missions and
the number of instruments of U.S. Earth observations from
space. We have reached the golden age of Earth observations
from space, if this trend is not reversed, with a maximum of
instruments and observations in space in 2006. You see a
decrease, by 2010 of something like 35 percent, in the number
of instruments in space.
Since the publication of our interim report, NASA has
delayed or canceled several missions, significant cuts have
been made to NASA's research and analysis accounts, NOAA's
NPOESS preparatory project mission was delayed for a year and a
half, the key sensor plan for the next generation of NOAA geo-
stationary satellites was canceled, and the NPOESS program
breached the Nunn-McCurdy budget cap, with the latter having
particular consequences for the measurement of forcing and
feedbacks needed to observe and understand global and regional
climate change. It is against this backdrop that I discuss the
Mr. Chairman, it is often said that when you're in a hole,
you should stop digging. Our report recommends a path forward,
that restores U.S. leadership in Earth science and applications
and averts the potential collapse of our system of
environmental satellites. As documented in our report, this can
be done in a fiscally responsible manner.
As you will observe in slide two, you will see that our
recommendation can be implemented in a cost-effective manner by
simply restoring NASA's Earth science budget to 2002 levels.
These numbers are in constant Fiscal Year 2006 dollars.
We make a number of specific recommendations which I will
summarize briefly here. Even in a constrained fiscal
environment, we believe it's imperative that NOAA restore key
climate, environmental and weather capabilities to the NPOESS
mission. These include restoring capabilities to measure total
solar radiation, and Earth radiation, ocean surface vector
winds, and sea surface temperature and ozone profiles.
We also recommend that NASA undertake 15 new missions in
the period 2008 to 2020. In addition to restoring some of the
capabilities lost on NPOESS, these missions will provide an
integrated, robust program to advance Earth system science, and
derive numerous benefits of critical importance to society,
including of particular relevance to this hearing, improved
weather and climate prediction.
Implementing these missions will not only greatly reduce
the risk to the people of our country, and the world, of
natural hazards of all kinds, it will support more efficient
management of natural resources, including water, energy,
fisheries, eco-systems, and support the economy and industries,
so that the cost of this program is repaid many times over.
Our report also discusses the need for improved
coordination between NASA and NOAA in making these
measurements. Mismatches in the missions between NOAA and NASA
can lead to difficulty in transitioning NASA research
measurements into NOAA operational measurements, therefore our
committee recommends that the Office of Science and Technology
Policy develop and implement a comprehensive plan for achieving
and sustaining global Earth observations.
Mr. Chairman, the observing system we envision will help
establish a firm and sustainable foundation for Earth science,
and associated societal benefits through the year 2020 and
beyond, will be achieved through effective management of
technology advances and international partnerships, and broad
use of satellite science data by the research and
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
I'd be happy to answer any questions you have.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Anthes follows:]
Prepared Statement of Richard A. Anthes, Ph.D., President, University
Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR); Co-Chair, Committee on
Earth Science and Applications from Space, National Research Council,
The National Academies
Mr. Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Members of the Committee: thank
you for inviting me here to testify today. My name is Richard Anthes,
and I am the President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric
Research, a consortium of 70 research universities that manages the
National Center for Atmospheric Research, on behalf of the National
Science Foundation, and additional scientific education, training and
support programs. I am also the current President of the American
Meteorological Society. I appear today in my capacity as Co-Chair of
the National Research Council (NRC)'s Committee on Earth Science and
Applications from Space: A Community Assessment and Strategy for the
The National Research Council is the unit of the National Academies
that is responsible for organizing independent advisory studies for the
Federal Government on science and technology. In response to requests
from NASA, NOAA, and the USGS, the NRC has recently completed a
``decadal survey'' of Earth science and applications from space.
(``Decadal surveys'' are the 10-year prioritized roadmaps that the NRC
has done for 40 years for the astronomers; this is the first time it is
being done for Earth science and applications from space.) Among the
key tasks in the charge to the decadal survey committee were to:
Develop a consensus of the top-level scientific questions
that should provide the focus for Earth and environmental
observations in the period 2005-2020; and
Develop a prioritized list of recommended space programs,
missions, and supporting activities to address these questions.
The NRC survey committee has prepared an extensive report in
response to this charge, which I am pleased to be able to summarize
here today. Over 100 leaders in the Earth science community
participated on the survey steering committee or its seven study
panels. It is noteworthy that this was the first Earth science decadal
survey, and the Committee and panel members did an excellent job in
fulfilling the charge and establishing a consensus--a task many
previously considered impossible. A copy of the full report has also
been provided for your use.*
\*\ A copy of this report is maintained in the Committee's files.
The Committee's vision is encapsulated in the following
declaration, first stated in the Committee's interim report, published
``Understanding the complex, changing planet on which we live,
how it supports life, and how human activities affect its
ability to do so in the future is one of the greatest
intellectual challenges facing humanity. It is also one of the
most important challenges for society as it seeks to achieve
prosperity, health, and sustainability.''
As detailed in the Committee's final report, and as we were
profoundly reminded by reading the front page of nearly every newspaper
this past week describing the powerful findings of the latest report
from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world faces
significant and profound environmental challenges: shortages of clean
and accessible freshwater, degradation of terrestrial and aquatic
ecosystems, increases in soil erosion, changes in the chemistry of the
atmosphere, declines in fisheries, and above all the rapid pace of
substantial changes in climate. These changes are not isolated; they
interact with each other and with natural variability in complex ways
that cascade through the environment across local, regional, and global
scales. Addressing these societal challenges requires that we confront
key scientific questions related to ice sheets and sea level change,
large-scale and persistent shifts in precipitation and water
availability, transcontinental air pollution, shifts in ecosystem
structure and function in response to climate change, impacts of
climate change on human health, and occurrence of extreme events, such
as hurricanes, floods and droughts, heat waves, Earthquakes, and
Yet at a time when the need has never been greater, we are faced
with an Earth observation program that will dramatically diminish in
capability over the next 10-15 years.
Last April, my Co-Chair, Dr. Berrien Moore, came before Congress to
testify in response to release of the Committee's 2005 interim report.
His testimony highlighted the key roles played by NASA and NOAA over
the past 30 years in advancing our understanding of the Earth system
and in providing a variety of societal benefits through their
international leadership in Earth observing systems from space. He
noted that while NOAA had plans to modernize and refresh its weather
satellites, NASA had no plans to replace its Earth Observing System
platforms after their nominal 6 year lifetimes end. He also noted that
NASA had canceled, scaled back, or delayed at least six planned
missions, including a Landsat continuity mission. This led to the main
finding in the interim report, which stated ``this system of
environmental satellites is at risk of collapse.''
Since the publication of the interim report, the Hydros and Deep
Space Climate Observatory missions were canceled; the flagship Global
Precipitation Mission was delayed for another two and a half years;
significant cuts were made to NASA's Research and Analysis program: the
NPOESS Preparatory Project mission was delayed for a year and a half; a
key atmospheric profiling sensor planned for the next generation of
NOAA geostationary satellites was canceled; and the NPOESS program
breached the Nunn-McCurdy budget cap. As you have all heard, the
certified NPOESS program delays the first launch by 3 years, eliminates
2 of the planned 6 spacecraft, and de-manifests or de-scopes a number
of instruments, with particular consequences for measurement of the
forcing and feedbacks that need to be measured to understand the
magnitude, pace, and consequences of global and regional climate
change. It is against this backdrop that I discuss the present report.
As you will see in the report, between 2006 and the end of the
decade, the number of operating missions will decrease dramatically and
the number of operating sensors and instruments on NASA spacecraft,
most of which are well past their nominal lifetimes, will decrease by
some 35 percent, with a 50 percent reduction by 2015 (see Figure 1
below). Substantial loss of capability is likely over the next several
years due to a combination of decreased budgets and aging satellites
already well past their design lifetimes.
In its report, the Committee sets forth a series of near-term and
longer-term recommendations in order to address these troubling trends.
It is important to note that this report does not ``shoot for the
moon,'' and indeed the Committee exercised considerable constraint in
its recommendations, which were carefully considered within the context
of challenging budget situations. Yet, while societal applications have
grown ever-more dependent upon our Earth observing fleet, the NASA
Earth science budget has declined some 30 percent in constant-year
dollars since 2000 (see Figure 2 below). This disparity between growing
societal needs and diminished resources must be corrected. This leads
to the report's overarching recommendation:
``The U.S. Government, working in concert with the private
sector, academe, the public, and its international partners,
should renew its investment in Earth observing systems and
restore its leadership in Earth science and applications.''
The report outlines near-term actions meant to stem the tide of
capability deterioration and continue critical data records, as well as
forward-looking recommendations to establish a balanced Earth
observation program designed to directly address the most urgent
societal challenges facing our Nation and the world (see Figure 3 below
for an example of how nine of our recommended missions support in a
synergistic way one of the societal benefit areas--extreme event
warnings). It is important to recognize that these two sets of
recommendations are not an ``either/or'' set of priorities. Both near-
term actions and longer-term commitments are required to stem the tide
of capability deterioration, continue critical climate data records,
and establish a balanced Earth observation program designed to directly
address the most urgent societal challenges facing our Nation and the
world. It is important to ``right the ship'' for Earth science, and we
simply cannot let the current challenges we face with NPOESS and other
troubled programs stop progress on all other fronts. Implementation of
the ``stop-gap'' recommendations concerning NPOESS, NPP, and GOES-R are
important--and the recommendations for establishing a healthy program
going forward are equally as important. Satisfying near-term
recommendations without placing due emphasis on the forward-looking
program is to ignore the largest fraction of work that has gone into
this report. Moreover, such a strategy would result in a further loss
of U.S. scientific and technical capacity, which could decrease the
competitiveness of the United States internationally for years to come.
Key elements of the recommended program include:
1. Restoration of certain measurement capabilities to the NPP,
NPOESS, and GOES-R spacecraft in order to ensure continuity of
critical data sets.
2. Completion of the existing planned program that was used as
a baseline assumption for this survey. This includes (but is
not limited to) launch of GPM in or before 2012, securing a
replacement to Landsat 7 data before 2012.
3. A prioritized set of 17 missions to be carried out by NOAA
and NASA over the next decade (see Tables 1 and 2 below). This
set of missions provides a sound foundation for Earth science
and its associated societal benefits well beyond 2020. The
committee believes strongly that these missions form a minimal,
yet robust, observational component of an Earth information
system that is capable of addressing a broad range of societal
4. A technology development program at NASA with funding
comparable to and in addition to its basic technology program
to make sure the necessary technologies are ready when needed
to support mission starts over the coming decade.
5. A new ``Venture'' class of low-cost research and application
missions that can establish entirely new research avenues or
demonstrate key application-oriented measurements, helping with
the development of innovative ideas and technologies. Priority
would be given to cost-effective, innovative missions rather
than ones with excessive scientific and technological
6. A robust NASA Research and Analysis program, which is
necessary to maximize scientific return on NASA investments in
Earth science. Because the R&A programs are carried out largely
through the Nation's research universities, such programs are
also of great importance in supporting and training next-
generation Earth science researchers.
7. Suborbital and land-based measurements and socio-demographic
studies in order to supplement and complement satellite data.
8. A comprehensive information system to meet the challenge of
production, distribution, and stewardship of observational data
and climate records. To ensure the recommended observations
will benefit society, the mission program must be accompanied
by efforts to translate raw observational data into useful
information through modeling, data assimilation, and research
Table 1. Launch, orbit, and instrument specifications for the
recommended NOAA missions. Detailed descriptions of the missions are
given in Part II of the final report, and Part III provides the
foundation for selection.
Survey Mission Description Orbit Instruments Estimate
Timeframe: 2010-2013--Missions listed by cost Small Missions (<$300
CLARREO Solar and Earth LEO, SSO Broadband 65
(Instrument radiation radiometers
Re-flight characteristics for
GPSRO High accuracy, all- LEO GPS receiver 150
water vapor, and
weather, climate and
Timeframe: 2013-2016--Missions listed by cost Medium Missions ($300-$600
XOVWM Sea surface wind LEO, SSO Backscatter 350
vectors for weather radar
and ocean ecosystems
Table 2. Launch, orbit, and instrument specifications for the
recommended NASA missions. Detailed descriptions of the missions are
given in Part II of the final report, and Part III provides the
foundation for selection.
Survey Mission Description Orbit Instruments Estimate
Timeframe: 2010-2013--Missions listed by cost Small Missions (<$300
CLARREO (NASA Solar and Earth LEO, Absolute, 200
portion) radiation, Precess spectrally-
spectrally resolved ing resolved
forcing and response interferomet
of the climate er
Medium Missions ($300-$600 million)
SMAP Soil moisture and LEO, SSO L-band radar, 300
freeze/thaw for L-band
weather and water radiometer
ICESat-II Ice sheet height LEO, Non- Laser 300
changes for climate SSO altimeter
Large Missions ($300-$900 million)
DESDynI Surface and ice sheet LEO, SSO L-band InSAR, 700
deformation for Laser
natural hazards and
Timeframe: 2013-2016--Missions listed by cost Medium Missions ($300-$600
HyspIRI Land surface LEO, SSO Hyperspectral 300
composition for spectrometer
vegetation types for
ASCENDS Day/night, all- LEO, SSO Multifrequenc 400
latitude, all-season y laser
CO2 column integrals
SWOT Ocean, lake, and LEO, SSO Ka-band wide 450
river water levels swath radar,
for ocean and inland C-band radar
GEO-CAPE Atmospheric gas GEO High and low 550
columns for air spatial
quality forecasts; resolution
ocean color for hyperspectra
coastal ecosystem l imagers
health and climate
Large Missions ($600-$900 million)
ACE Aerosol and cloud LEO, SSO Backscatter 800
profiles for climate lidar,
and water cycle; Multiangle
ocean color for open polarimeter,
Timeframe: 2016-2020--Missions listed by cost Medium Missions ($300-$600
LIST Land surface LEO, SSO Laser 300
topography for altimeter
and water runoff
PATH High frequency, all- GEO MW array 450
weather temperature spectrometer
and SST *
GRACE-II High temporal LEO, SSO Microwave or 450
resolution gravity laser
fields for tracking ranging
large-scale water system
SCLP Snow accumulation for LEO, SSO Ku and X-band 500
fresh water radars, K
availability and Ka-band
Large Missions ($300-$900 million)
GACM Ozone and related LEO, SSO UV 600
gases for spectrometer
intercontinental air , IR
quality and spectrometer
stratospheric ozone , Microwave
layer prediction limb sounder
3D-Winds Tropospheric winds LEO, SSO Doppler lidar 650
(Demo) for weather
* Cloud-independent, high temporal resolution, lower accuracy SST to
complement, not replace, global operational high accuracy SST
Further, the Committee is particularly concerned with the lack of
clear agency responsibility for sustained research programs and the
transitioning of proof-of-concept measurements into sustained
measurement systems. To address societal and research needs, both the
quality and the continuity of the measurement record must be assured
through the transition of short-term, exploratory capabilities, into
sustained observing systems. The elimination of the requirements for
climate research-related measurements on NPOESS is only the most recent
example of the Nation's failure to sustain critical measurements.
Therefore, our committee recommends that the Office of Science and
Technology Policy, in collaboration with the relevant agencies, and in
consultation with the scientific community, should develop and
implement a plan for achieving and sustaining global Earth
observations. This plan should recognize the complexity of differing
agency roles, responsibilities, and capabilities as well as the lessons
from implementation of the Landsat, EOS, and NPOESS programs.
Mr. Chairman, the observing system we envision will help establish
a firm and sustainable foundation for Earth science and associated
societal benefits through the year 2020 and beyond. It can be achieved
through effective management of technology advances and international
partnerships, and broad use of satellite science data by the research
and decisionmaking communities. Our report recommends a path forward
that restores U.S. leadership in Earth science and applications and
averts the potential collapse of the system of environmental
satellites. As documented in our report, this can be accomplished in a
fiscally responsible manner, and I urge the Committee to see that it is
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I am
prepared to answer any questions that you may have.
The Chairman. Without objection, the report that you've
mentioned will be made part of the record, do you have any
objections to that?
Dr. Anthes. No, I have no objections. *
* The information referred to has been retained in Committee files.
The Chairman. Then I thank you very much.
May I now call on the research meteorologist, Mr. Thomas
STATEMENT OF THOMAS R. KNUTSON,
RESEARCH METEOROLOGIST, GEOPHYSICAL FLUID
DYNAMICS LABORATORY, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC
Mr. Knutson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My name is Tom Knutson, I'm a climate scientist at NOAA's
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey,
one of the world's leading climate modeling centers.
I thank the Committee for inviting me to testify today
about my experiences as a government scientist, and
communicating science to the media. Any opinions I express here
are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of NOAA, or
the Department of Commerce.
I have published several papers in leading climate journals
on the question of global warming, and hurricanes. I'm a member
of a World Meteorologic Organization Committee on Tropical
Cyclones and Climate Change. We and our colleagues released a
recent assessment statement on this topic, this past December.
I am currently on the author team for the CCSP assessment
report on Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate,
where I and several others are focusing on hurricane aspects.
During my career, at no time have I perceived any
interference from NOAA management with my research efforts or
scientific publications, such as the Journal of Climate.
Concerning my interactions with the media, and with NOAA
public affairs in Washington, I will say at the outset that I
have had many opportunities to communicate my science to the
media over the years. However, among these, I have had just a
few opportunities--just a few opportunities--to address a
national television audience. There have been some instances
where my ability to communicate with the national media has
been hindered, or interfered with. I will briefly describe some
of these experiences.
NOAA's media policy, issued in June 2004, and its
implementation, has led to a number of missed opportunities for
interviews at GFDL. In some cases, this was due to the hurdle
of needing to obtain prior approval of public affairs people in
Washington. I, and several of my colleagues at GFDL have been
frustrated by this burden. Some of us believe it has caused
reporters to steer away from GFDL scientists for interviews,
because of the various hurdles and time constraints.
Several of us at GFDL have had public affairs officers
monitor some interviews, typically through phone conferencing.
In one case, a public affairs officer traveled from Washington
to New Jersey to be in the room with me for a television
interview. The impression I had--along with others at GFDL--is
that at times, NOAA public affairs was becoming more of an
obstruction, than a promoter of interaction between GFDL
scientists and the media.
Examples of such interference that either others, or I,
experienced included: canceled press releases, requests for
interviews that were never responded to, i.e., pocket vetoes,
and being given guidelines for steering certain interview
questions in directions that were not based on science
Here are two other specific examples. In October 2005, I
received a request to appear on the CNBC program, On the Money,
where I had appeared several weeks earlier. I contacted NOAA
Public Affairs for approval. A few minutes later, I was called
by a public affairs person, and was quizzed for several minutes
on what I planned to say on the program. I received a voice-
mail a few minutes later, informing me that the interview had
been turned down.
Internal NOAA e-mails on this incident, obtained later
through a FOIA request, are available for review on Congressman
On another occasion, in Summer of 2005, NOAA Public Affairs
had inquired whether I was interested in appearing on a
television talk show to discuss global warming and hurricanes.
I later received a voice-mail from them, stating, the White
House said no.
In response to questions, I detailed these turn-down
incidents to a Wall Street Journal reporter in February 2006.
From the time that Jim Hanson, and later, other scientists and
I, went public, I have experienced no further interference that
I am aware of, in communicating with the media.
GFDL's unofficial operational practice from shortly
thereafter, has been to keep NOAA Public Affairs in Washington
informed, but generally, to notify them after the fact, after
media contacts. A new draft media policy is being developed at
the Department of Commerce, which includes NOAA. I, and others,
at GFDL will be anxious to see how NOAA will interpret and
implement this new policy.
I think it is important that improved policies be in place
to ensure that communication between government climate
scientists and the media remain open and free of obstruction.
I appreciate being given the opportunity to testify today.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Knutson follows:]
Prepared Statement of Thomas R. Knutson, Research Meteorologist,
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, National Oceanic And
Atmospheric Administration, DOC
My name is Tom Knutson. I am a climate scientist at NOAA's
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey. I would
like to thank the Committee for inviting me to testify today about my
experiences as a government scientist in communicating science-related
topics to the media. Any opinions I express here are my own, and do not
necessarily reflect those of NOAA or the Department of Commerce.
I have authored several publications in leading climate science
journals on the question of global warming and hurricanes. Most of my
career I have worked at GFDL--one of the world's leading climate
modeling centers. I am a member of a WMO (World Meteorological
Organization) committee on Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change. We
developed, in collaboration with a cross-section of the international
tropical cyclone research community, an assessment statement on this
topic, which was released this past December. I am currently on the
author team for the U.S. CCSP (Climate Change Science Program)
assessment report on ``Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing
Climate,'' where I and several others are focusing on hurricane
My Experiences With the Media and NOAA Public Affairs
During my career, at no time have I perceived any interference from
NOAA management with my research efforts or scientific publications in
journals such as the Journal of Climate. Concerning my interactions
with the media and with NOAA Public Affairs in Washington, I will say
at the outset that I have had many opportunities to communicate my
science to the media over the years. However, among these I have had
just a few opportunities to address a national television audience.
There have been instances where my ability to communicate with the
national media has been hindered or interfered with. I will briefly
describe some of these experiences.
A New NOAA Media Policy--2004
NOAA's media policy, issued in June 2004, requires prior
notification of Public Affairs before media interviews involving policy
relevant research such as mine. This led to a number of missed
opportunities for interviews, at times simply due to the additional
hurdle and complexity of getting in touch or coordinating with Public
Affairs people in Washington (for example evenings and weekends). I and
several of my colleagues at GFDL have been frustrated by this burden.
Some of us believe it has caused some reporters to steer away from GFDL
scientists for interviews because of the various hurdles and time
constraints. Reporters are busy and often operate under tight
Several of us at GFDL have had Public Affairs officers monitor some
interviews, typically through phone conferencing. In one case a public
affairs officer traveled from Washington to New Jersey to be in the
room with me for a television interview. He did not interfere with the
The impression I had (along with others at GFDL) is that at times
NOAA Public Affairs was becoming more of an obstruction than a promoter
of interaction between GFDL scientists and the media. Examples of such
interference that either others or I experienced included: canceled
press releases, requests for interviews that were never responded to
(``i.e., pocket vetoes''), and being given guidelines for steering
certain interview questions in directions that were not based on
Press Release Example
In August 2004, I was asked by NOAA Public Affairs to send them
copy of an upcoming paper in the Journal of Climate so that a press
release could be prepared. I never heard back from them and apparently
no press release was issued. Despite this, the New York Times learned
about the upcoming paper and ran a story on it that generated
considerable media interest and more interviews.
On the Term ``Global Warming''
In Summer 2005, I was invited by the American Meteorological
Society (or AMS) to give a talk here on Capitol Hill on my research. I
followed NOAA procedures for this type of appearance, sending my
PowerPoint presentation to Legislative Affairs for review several days
prior to my talk. I received e-mail expressing some concern with my use
of the term ``Global Warming'' in the title. I did not make any
changes, and a few days later received e-mails indicating that the term
would be OK for my particular talk. (By that time seminar announcements
advertising a talk on ``hurricanes in a warming world'' had already
been released on the Internet by the AMS.)
Two ``Turned Down'' National TV Appearances on ``Global Warming and
Later that summer, returning from vacation, I listened over the
weekend to a voice-mail from NOAA Public Affairs inquiring about
whether I would be interested in appearing on a television talk show
involving Ron Reagan, Jr., to discuss hurricanes and global warming. A
second voice-mail came from a ``booker'' for the show. As it was the
weekend, I responded to the booker's cell number and agreed to make
myself available for taping on Monday, providing the appearance was
approved by Public Affairs. Arriving at my office on Monday morning, I
listened to a new voice-mail from Public Affairs advising me something
to the effect of: ``Tom, sorry for the confusion . . . . The White
House said no . . .''
On October 19, 2005, I received a media request to appear on the
CNBC program ``On the Money'' where I had appeared several weeks
earlier. I contacted NOAA Public Affairs for approval. A few minutes
later I was called by a Public Affairs person and was quizzed for
several minutes on what I planned to say on the program. I was asked
whether I thought there was a trend in Atlantic hurricane activity. I
gave a guarded response that, based on recently published work, there
was some possibility that a trend was emerging. I received a voice-mail
a few minutes later informing me that ``About the CNBC interview
tonight, I'm afraid it has been turned down.'' Internal NOAA e-mails on
this incident, obtained later through a FOIA request, are available for
review on Congressman Waxman's website: http://oversight.house.gov/
Some months later I learned that I have the right as a private
citizen to talk to the media on my own time, and in principle I could
have tried to use this tactic to circumvent NOAA's ``turn down''
(assuming a media organization would actually agree to go along.)
In response to questions, I detailed these ``turn-down'' incidents
to a Wall Street Journal reporter for a Feb. 16, 2006 article.
Aftermath of Going Public
From the time that Jim Hansen, and later other scientists and I,
went public, I have experienced no further interference that I am aware
of in communicating with the media. GFDL's unofficial, operational
practice, shortly thereafter, has been to keep NOAA Public Affairs in
Washington informed, but generally notify them after the fact about
One later incident that I was tangentially involved with was the
several-month hold-up, apparently somewhere in the Department of
Commerce, of a NOAA FAQ sheet on Atlantic hurricanes and climate that
others and I at NOAA had helped to put together. More detail on that
incident is presented in a Nature article dated Sept. 28, 2006.
In summary, prior to going public with these incidents, I
experienced some cases of what I view as unreasonable levels of
interference with my communication with the media. Requirements such as
prior notification of Public Affairs have hindered GFDL scientists'
communications with the media. A promising development is a new draft
media policy being developed in the Department of Commerce, which
includes NOAA. I and others at GFDL will be anxious to see how NOAA
will interpret and implement the new policy. I think it is very
important that such improved policies be in place to ensure that the
channels of communication between government climate scientists and the
media and public remain open and free of obstruction.
I appreciate being given the opportunity to testify today. Thank
The Chairman. Thank you very much, Mr. Knutson.
And may I now call upon Dr. James Mahoney, Environmental
STATEMENT OF JAMES R. MAHONEY, Ph.D.,
Dr. Mahoney. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I assume this is still on? Am I transmitting OK?
Thank you, Chairman Inouye, and Vice Chairman Stevens, and
other Members of the Committee. I appreciate your invitation to
address the Committee today.
I am James R. Mahoney, and I currently serve as an
Environmental Consultant, but I wanted to identify that from
2002 until 2006, the specific dates are in my written
testimony, I was Assistant Secretary of Commerce, and Deputy
Administrator of NOAA, and I was also a Director of the Climate
Change Science Program during its first four, formative years.
I reluctantly retired from my Federal appointment about 10
months ago because of continuing, significant health problems,
so I am now speaking as an individual, but where appropriate, I
try to draw on the information that I developed during my time
in my position.
I received a Ph.D. degree in meteorology from MIT, with a
specialization in geophysical fluid dynamics, a specialization
that Mr. Knutson has furthered much more over the years of his
In response to the Chairman's letter, I address three main
topics today. One, the evolution of NOAA's scientific
communication policy; two, the peer-review process required for
reports to be officially released by NOAA, and; three, other
relevant items. And I have chosen that third category ``other
relevant items'' to provide a little highlight/background on
the Climate Change Science Program, because we have developed a
very special approach to transparency and review, which I think
is serving the science field, and especially the Nation, very
I appear today in the hybrid position I mentioned a minute
ago. I have knowledge from my time in Federal appointment, but
I am now a private citizen. Relative to the broader issue of
scientific integrity, I certainly rely on my experience and
judgment developed in more than 40 years as a working scientist
in environmental management, including earlier experience as
Director of the Federal Acid Rain Assessment Program back in
NOAA has a long and well-recognized culture aimed at
fostering integrity in scientific communication activity. I
suggest, for the Committee's interest, a definition of
communication activities that includes several parts, this is
laid out in my testimony. For time limits, I will just name
them--at the highest level, I see the scientific synthesis
documents that bring things together, like we have in the
Climate Change Science Program, and like the international body
has with the IPCC reports, as you know, a good example being
the new Fourth Assessment Summary, which was released last
After that special synthesis material, which is of the
most, hopefully, the most importance and relevance to the
Nation, and to this Committee's work, are the general rung of
important peer-reviewed scientific papers. The peer-review is
the highest standard for normal contribution of papers to be
Next, the scientific papers that are presented at meetings,
verbally, and often in written form, but often without peer-
review. Then, books and monographs, then various project
summaries, and then on down to the case of informal
presentations that may include school lectures, other community
events, and matters of this sort.
I mention these at the outset, with reference to that
highest standard, and suggest that that highest standard of
aggressive and transparent review--and inclusive review by all
of the interested constituencies--are the measures most
appropriately applied to the CCSP reports, which set out to
give us the best look at this information, as well as the IPCC
assessments, as with the current fourth one now coming along.
I note that there are thousands of NOAA scientists working,
and they produce several thousand scientific communications
each year. Moreover, the NOAA Public Affairs Offices around the
country typically field approximately 20 to 50 different media
inquiries each day. So, this question of communications is a
very broad one, which carries on almost all of the time.
NOAA's communication policy is aimed at reducing or
eliminating errors, and that is the policy that, and the
standard that we should be held to.
Some NOAA scientists have complained about alleged muzzling
of some of their activity, Mr. Knutson has just spoken about
this, and NOAA has taken several steps to address this. As Dr.
Brennan said before, Administrator Lautenbacher has written to
all NOAA employees twice about this, and I know that the
Department of Commerce is currently revising its communication
policy, and I have great hope that it will clarify some, any
The peer-review process at NOAA, I would refer to the same
six categories, beginning with synthesis products, other peer-
reviewed papers, and on down the line, and I simply recommend
to the Committee that the six-part table that I have presented,
or any other similar grouping--I'm not claiming special status
for my six, but the concept of understanding the different
types of communications, I recommend to the Committee for its
use in reviewing the different approaches to peer-review in
Now, I'll finish with a couple of comments about the CCSP
Program. Dr. Brennan has already addressed this, so I will
simply note that when we prepared the CCSP Strategic Plan to
guide the development of our Synthesis and Assessment
documents, we asked the National Academy of Sciences to conduct
two, separate reviews of that work. The first at a draft stage,
and the second review after the plan was fully completed. The
Academy found that plan to be an ideal tool for guiding the
Nation's climate studies throughout the upcoming years. And we
have tried very hard to use this as the basis for the work in
the CCSP Program.
I'll just mention before closing that the analyses carried
out in the CCSP studies have been aimed at the most challenging
scientific question, so we get the best view and guidance. We
address those questions, we address the stakeholders, we
attempt to look at uncertainties, but with the maximum
transparency for all viewers, and reviewers, and I cite this as
some of the major progress which has been achieved in the last
With that, Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Vice-Chairman, I end my
testimony. I'd like to add just the--what I'll call a
professional comment at the end. I believe that there is
abundant evidence about the human causation of climate change
about which you began this hearing today. I also believe that
the working scientists have very important contributions to
make in this area, and I strongly favor the theme you have
addressed for this hearing.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Mahoney follows:]
Prepared Statement of James R. Mahoney, Ph.D.,
Environmental Consultant *
* Previously (April 2, 2002-March 30, 2006): Assistant Secretary
for Oceans and Atmosphere, U.S. Department of Commerce; Deputy
Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration;
and Director, U.S. Climate Change Science Program.
Chairman Inouye, Vice Chairman Stevens and Members of the
Committee: thank you for your invitation to address the Committee today
on the important issue of assuring integrity in climate change
research. I am James R. Mahoney, and I currently serve as an
Environmental Consultant, providing scientific and professional advice
to a number of organizations. From April 2, 2002 to March 30, 2006, I
was Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, and
Deputy Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Organization (NOAA). During this period I was also the Director of the
U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), involving 13 Federal
agencies conducting and overseeing total annual budgets of
approximately $2 billion dedicated to scientific research, Earth system
observations, computer simulations of future climate conditions, and
evaluation of possible adaptation and mitigation actions to address
climate change. I reluctantly retired from my Federal appointment
approximately 10 months ago because of continuing, significant health
In 1966 I received the Ph.D. degree in meteorology from MIT, with a
specialization in geophysical fluid mechanics. Since that time I have
had over 40 years continuous experience in science-based environmental
management, including service on the faculty of Harvard University,
advisory assignments with national government agencies and
international organizations in several regions of the world, extensive
private sector environmental assessment and design work, and two
appointed positions with the U.S. Federal Government (involving overall
management of national acid rain studies from 1988 to 1991, and climate
science studies from 2002 to 2006).
In response to the issues raised in Chairman Inouye's letter, my
testimony today addresses three main topics: (1) the background and
evolution of NOAA's communication policy related to scientific
research; (2) the peer-review process required for scientific reports
or conclusions to be officially released by NOAA; and (3) other
important and relevant items. Related to this final topic, I address
the scientific and general public review process required for
scientific reports and conclusions being released by the Climate Change
Science Program. These CCSP processes are highly important for assuring
the credibility of complicated and often controversial climate science
findings that, in turn, underpin the development of appropriate climate
change policies that will be needed in the years and decades ahead to
address regional-, national-, and international-scale challenges.
I appear today in somewhat of a ``hybrid position''. In the case of
positions developed and actions taken during the recent 4 years (ending
on March 31, 2006) while I served in my Federal appointed assignments,
I attempt to speak from the perspective of my former position, and to
convey the requested information based upon my memory and personal
files, augmented by recent dialog with a limited number of my former
colleagues. In the case of the broader issue of scientific integrity
involved in the reporting of controversial environmental research, I
also rely on the experience and judgment I have developed during more
than 40 years of environmental study. As an example, I benefited from
the development of a large body of ``lessons learned'' during my years
as Director of the interagency National Acid Precipitation Assessment
Program, from 1988 to 1991. Many lessons developed in the process of
applying acid rain research findings to Federal legislation (for
example, to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990) positively influenced
my commitment to highly transparent and inclusively reviewed scientific
statements related to climate change.
The Background and Evolution of NOAA's Communication Policy Related to
As one of the principal scientific agencies within the Federal
Government NOAA has long had a well-recognized culture aimed at
fostering integrity in its scientific communications activities. I
suggest for the Committee's interest a working definition for
``communications activities'' to include (1) scientific synthesis
documents (often co-authored by multiple experts) intended to summarize
the best available ``state of the science'' in defined areas of
coverage; (2) peer reviewed research papers appearing in recognized
scientific journals; (3) verbal (and often written) scientific papers
presented at scheduled scientific meetings; (4) books, monographs and/
or sections of books intended to summarize science in designated
subject areas; (5) program and project report documents that provide
examples (but not exhaustive summaries) of interesting developments in
the areas studied; and (6) informal presentations to students,
community groups, etc.
This list of six categories is ranked in the order of decreasing
requirements (in my view) for thorough and formal review before
dissemination. Examples of Category 1 include the Synthesis and
Assessment Reports (SAR's) being prepared by the Federal Government
sponsored Climate Change Science Program (discussed further below), and
the several volumes of the United Nations sponsored Fourth Assessment
Report (FAR) being prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) that released last week its new Summary for Policymakers
for the Working Group I (Physical Science findings). Both the CCSP and
the IPCC documents are being prepared following well-established
protocols to assure comprehensiveness, transparency and broad review by
In the case of NOAA's scientific communications (including all six
categories mentioned above) it is important to note that thousands of
NOAA scientists produce several thousand scientific communications each
year. Even in the category of media inquires NOAA typically receives
twenty to fifty press inquiries each workday. The normal scientific
culture of carefully reporting the findings of studies has served NOAA
and other Federal scientific agencies well for many years--in most
cases. My observation is that--in all large workforces--there will
always be some small percentage of errors in communication. Many of
these errors are inadvertent, and can usually be rectified quickly. My
personal observation is that there are occasional ``intended errors''
or misrepresentations that can occur within any organization and that
illustrate the need for effective communications policies applicable to
government scientific organizations. These situations can arise from
two causes: (1) a scientist may desire to claim disproportionate credit
for his/her work, or (2) the bias of a scientist (or a group of
scientists) may lead to inaccurate reporting or discussion of findings.
NOAA's communication policy over several years has aimed to reduce
or eliminate errors and misrepresentations by: (1) assuring appropriate
internal scientific reviews before technical information is
communicated; (2) asking scientists to coordinate their communication
activities with the public affairs offices in the major elements of
NOAA (to avoid ``left hand--right hand'' inconsistencies among various
researchers). Please note that the internal scientific reviews
mentioned here are to be conducted by scientific peers, and not by
During recent years some scientific issues (climate change in
particular) have become very controversial among elements of the
public, and this has created increased challenges to the integrity of
scientific reporting by NOAA and other agencies. In this situation of
heightened sensitivity some NOAA scientists have complained about
alleged ``muzzling'' of their ability to speak to the media. In
particular, NOAA's long-term practice of using its public affairs
specialists to seek consistency among the reports by various scientists
has been seen as an impediment to full reporting. NOAA has been taking
several steps to address this concern since it has arisen. In
particular, NOAA Undersecretary Lautenbacher has written to all NOAA
employees twice during the past year affirming his support for open
reporting by all NOAA scientists. Moreover I understand that the
Department of Commerce (DOC) has been revising its communications
policy to encourage, but not require, scientists to work with their
counterparts in Public Affairs prior to dissemination. I understand
that this revised policy should be ready for adoption within the next
few weeks. It is my view that this revised policy should resolve most
or all of the recent complaints by some NOAA scientists, and I am sure
that if any further issues arise, they will be addressed promptly by
The Peer-Review Process Required for Scientific Reports or Conclusions
to Be Officially Released by NOAA
In response to this question, I refer to the six categories of
``communications activities'' that I previously recommended for
consideration. Not all of these categories represent ``official
releases'' by NOAA, so it is important to recognize the differences
between the categories. Table 1 on the next page addresses each
As Table 1 illustrates, the scientific Synthesis and Assessment
Reports (for example, the 21 CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Reports)
represent an example of the most stringent requirements for peer
review, including the opportunity for comments by interested public
constituencies as well as by members of the scientific community. The
IPCC Fourth Assessment Report documents (such as the physical science
Summary for Policymakers released last week) are similar examples. A
large number of NOAA scientists, as well as many U.S. Government
scientists from other agencies took part in the preparation of the new
IPCC document. Dr. Susan Solomon of the NOAA Boulder Laboratories
served as the overall Co-Chairman of IPCC Working Group I, providing
substantial leadership to this major international activity.
Table 1. Classification of Categories of Scientific Information
Communication Suggested to the Senate Committee by James R. Mahoney
(These classifications are not used in the NOAA Communication Policy)
Category Topic Release? Comments
1 Scientific Yes Requires extensive peer
synthesis and public review
2 Peer-reviewed Case-by-case Peer review
research papers determination accomplished by the
publishing journal and
3 Papers presented Usually not Peer review by NOAA
at meetings scientific staff
4 Books & Case-by-case Peer review by NOAA
monographs determination scientific staff
5 Program & project Yes Peer review by NOAA
report documents scientific staff &
6 Lectures to No Peer review by NOAA
students & other scientific staff is
As the table illustrates, other communications activities routinely
undertaken by NOAA scientific staff typically have differing
requirements for peer review. All of the first five categories require
at least peer review by other NOAA scientific staff (i.e., independent
review by expert staff not involved in the drafting of the information)
before dissemination or other use of the information. The sixth
category (informal lectures to students and other community groups)
does not require peer review in all cases because the information
conveyed in such lectures usually would not constitute an official
dissemination by NOAA.
I recommend that the Committee keep in mind the six-part table
presented here, or a similar classification scheme, when considering
the manner in which NOAA (and possibly other Federal science agencies)
conveys technical information to the scientific community, to students,
and to interested constituencies among the general public.
The Scientific and General Review Process of the CCSP Scientific
Synthesis and Assessment Products
In June 2001 the President called for an increase in Federal
funding for climate research and observations, as part of his overall
plan (also including control technology development and major new
international technical collaboration) to address climate change
issues. A major part of the reasoning for increased climate research
was the need to improve the accuracy of regional and global scale
understanding of climate variability, and to improve projections of
future climate conditions related to profiles of future greenhouse gas
emission rates around the world. In February 2002 the President created
a new, cabinet-level interagency management structure to supervise the
approximately $2 billion annual Federal expenditure in climate research
and monitoring. After confirmation by the Senate in late March 2002, I
undertook my new position as CCSP Director on April 2, 2002. The
earliest focus for the new CCSP management structure was the creation
of a Strategic Plan that would assure the development and dissemination
of the best available scientific syntheses of high-priority climate
The CCSP Strategic Plan, which has guided both scientific reporting
and the development of improved assessment methodologies, was adopted
in July 2003 after extensive peer review, public review and special
review by an ad hoc committee of the National Academy of Sciences
convened at the request of CCSP. The National Academy conducted a
second round review of the newly revised CCSP Strategic Plan in late
2003, and reported its finding that the Plan constituted a good vehicle
to guide the development of the Nation's climate studies throughout the
The CCSP Strategic Plan required the development of detailed,
aggressive plans for scientific peer review, and comprehensive public
review, of the scientific Synthesis and Assessment Reports by CCSP. The
review process was complicated by the passage of the Information
Quality Act of 2002 and the adoption of separate guidelines to comply
with the Act by OMB between 2003 and 2005. In 2005 CCSP published its
Guidelines for Producing CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Products,
incorporating the combined requirements of the CCSP Strategic Plan and
the OMB Guidelines responsive to the 2002 Information Quality Act. The
detailed guidelines for the CCSP products are available on the CCSP
website www.climatescience.gov, and are being used as the basis for
extensive peer and public review of the entire set of 21 CCSP Synthesis
and Assessment Reports currently being prepared. These guidelines
represent one of the most comprehensive summaries of guidance for the
preparation and review of important government science documents. I
commend these guidelines to the Committee and its staff, both to
evaluate the approach to scientific dissemination adopted by CCSP, and
to provide examples that may be useful for other government science
reporting as well.
Time does not allow detailed discussion of these CCSP guidelines,
but I note the summary statement of principles for the guidelines for
the interest of the Committee. These general principles are:
Analyses structured around specific questions.
Early and continuing involvement of stakeholders.
Explicit treatment of uncertainties.
Transparent public review of analysis questions, methods and
Adoption of a ``lessons learned'' approach, building upon
the ongoing CCSP analyses.
I cite one example of the major progress attained by the CCSP
collaborating agencies during the past few years, by reference to the
IPCC Fourth Assessment science summary released last week: When the
prior IPCC Third Assessment was released in late 2000, the large
computer models used for the future projections of global climate
conditions were supplied by Canadian and European research institutes,
because the U.S. climate modeling capability was not ready for use in
these global studies. In the new 2007 IPCC assessment, my view (shared
by many in the field) is that the United States has assumed the
leadership position in the critically important computer modeling of
future climate conditions for the global climate science community.
To the Vice Chairmen and Members of the Committee, I thank you for
your invitation to appear before the Committee today. I shall be
pleased to answer any questions you choose to pose.
The Chairman. Thank you very much, Dr. Mahoney.
And I'll now call on the Director of Climate Science Watch,
Government Accountability Project, Mr. Rick Piltz.
STATEMENT OF RICK PILTZ, DIRECTOR, CLIMATE SCIENCE WATCH,
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT
Mr. Piltz. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice-Chairman,
Members of the Committee. I greatly appreciate the opportunity
to present testimony at this hearing.
In my written testimony, I address several issues that I
believe are of particular significance for Congressional
oversight at this time. Very briefly, a few key points.
First, on the Administration's suppression of the National
Assessment of Climate Change Impacts: In the 1998 to 2000
timeframe, the Federal Global Change Research Program
initiated, pursuant to the Global Change Research Act, a
project to assess the potential consequences of climate
variability and change for the United States. A multi-agency
coordination effort supported assessment activities involving
hundreds of scientists and stakeholders in 19 regions around
the country, including the Pacific Islands, Alaska, the Gulf
Coast, the Mid-Atlantic, and others.
In November 2000, an independent synthesis panel made up of
leading scientists and other experts, issued the National
Assessment report that--to this day--remains the most
comprehensive, scientifically-based assessment of the potential
consequences of climate change for the United States. The
National Assessment was designed to become an ongoing process
to support national preparedness in dealing with global climate
But the Bush Administration abandoned support for this
process of communication between scientists and stakeholders,
and has failed to move forward with a follow-on National
The Administration has suppressed discussion and use of the
National Assessment Report by Federal agencies in research and
assessment activities, and has suppressed references to it in
published program documents, including annual program reports
to Congress, that for 9 years, I edited while working for the
Climate Change Research Program.
It is my understanding that the White House, through the
agency of the Council on Environmental Quality, directed this
suppression, which was then implemented by the CCSP leadership
during the last 5 years.
Myron Ebell, of the industry-funded policy group the
Competitive Enterprise Institute, has been quoted as saying,
``To the degree that it is vanished, we have succeeded.'' And
the fact that the Administration and the CCSP leadership
essentially made the National Assessment vanish, in the
Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program,
issued in 2003.
The National Research Council has used and praised the
National Assessment as an important and credible study, and was
critical of the program's unjustified failure to incorporate
and build on the National Assessment in its Strategic Plan.
The White House Science Office, the Council on
Environmental Quality, and the CCSP leadership stonewalled the
Academy by failing to respond to and address this criticism, by
providing any justification for their actions, scientific or
I see the Administration's treatment of the 2000 National
Assessment as the political interference with scientific
integrity that has done, and continues to do, the greatest
damage in undermining national preparedness in dealing with the
challenge of global climate change. I believe it would be
appropriate for the Committee to investigate this, and even
more important, for Congress to move to revitalize what should
become an ongoing National Assessment process. High-level
support for this kind of direct, unfiltered communication
between scientists and stakeholders, would convey important
information to policymakers and society about climate change
impacts, and potential response strategies.
Also, the Administration has acted in a variety of ways to
impede and manipulate communication about climate change by
Federal scientists to wider audiences, including Congress and
the media. And it's not so much interference with what's
published in the technical journals, but it's when the science
comes forward and is communicated to a wider audience--
Congress, the media, the public--that the political gatekeepers
step in, through a variety of mechanisms.
Last week, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the
Government Accountability Project released their joint report,
Atmosphere of Pressure. This report--investigation--uncovered
new evidence of widespread political interference in Federal
climate science. One hundred and fifty Federal climate
scientists reported, collectively, at least 435 such incidents
of political interference during the past 5 years. More than
100 survey respondents reported changes or edits during review
of their work, to change the meaning of their findings. That
number should be zero.
Political interference in climate science has moved from
the anecdotal to the epidemic. And even if we succeed in
lifting this heavy hand of censorship, there is still the
problem of getting the political leadership to embrace the
findings that are put forward by the scientists, and act on
them to translate them effectively into National policy.
This atmosphere of pressure that we have been seeing has
serious consequences for the Nation's ability to have access to
the best available scientific information for understanding and
responding to climate change. The UCS/GAP report has a set of
recommendations, that ensure basic freedoms for government
scientists, and that taxpayer-funded science sees the light of
day, without manipulation of climate science communication by
Congress should act to extend whistleblower protection to
scientists who report interference. Federal scientists have a
constitutional right to talk about any subject, so long as they
speak as a private citizen, and the public has the right to
A case example of my own personal experiences with what I
consider inappropriate White House political interference with
Climate Change Science Program reports produced by career
Federal science professionals is summarized and explained in my
I'll conclude on that. I'd be pleased to answer any
If I could just add one additional item. Dr. Brennan
referred to the U.S. Climate Change Science Program budget as
$2 billion. In fact, it was $2 billion in 2004. But the
Administration has steadily cut back the funding for climate
change research, to the point where, in the President's Fiscal
Year 2008 request the other day, that budget request is now
$1.5 billion. That is an almost 30 percent cut in real terms in
the climate research budget in 4 years, and almost all of that
can be accounted for by cutbacks in the global climate
observing system--the NASA/NOAA observing system, which is in a
state of crisis. Dr. Anthes has addressed that, I address it
also in my written testimony, but I urge the Committee to look
into this. I think it's a tremendously important issue for
oversight, and to be rectified by Congressional action.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Piltz follows:]
Prepared Statement of Rick Piltz, Director, Climate Science Watch,
Government Accountability Project
Chairman Inouye, Vice Chairman Stevens, members of the Committee--I
greatly appreciate the opportunity to present testimony at this
hearing, which addresses a subject of crucial importance for good
policymaking and an informed society. I am currently the Director of
Climate Science Watch, a program of the Government Accountability
Project in Washington, D.C. The Government Accountability Project, a
29-year-old nonprofit public interest group, is the Nation's leading
whistleblower protection organization. Climate Science Watch engages in
investigation, communication, and reform advocacy aimed at holding
public officials accountable for how they use climate research in
addressing the challenge of global climate change.
Since 1988, my primary professional focus has been on the
relationship between science and policy on global climate change. \1\
From April 1995 until March 2005, I worked in the program coordination
office of the multiagency U.S. Government program that supports
scientific research on climate and associated global change. \2\ The
program was originally established as the U.S. Global Change Research
Program (USGCRP) under the Global Change Research Act of 1990. In 2002,
the Bush Administration established the U.S. Climate Change Science
Program (CCSP), incorporating the USGCRP and the President's Climate
Change Research Initiative.
\1\ I studied Political Science at the University of Michigan,
earning an M.A. and Ph.D. Candidate status. I have worked on issues of
environmental and energy research and policy both inside and outside of
government since 1979. From 1991 through 1994 I served as a Majority
Professional Staff Member of the Committee on Science, Space and
Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives. During that time I
supported the Committee's oversight of climate and global change
research and policy issues.
\2\ The Climate Change Science Program Office, where I worked,
supports this research effort by performing interagency coordination,
strategic planning, communications, and reporting functions, and
serving as the program secretariat. I worked directly with the program
leadership, career Federal science program managers, and the senior
professional staff in the program office. At the time I resigned in
March 2005 my position was Senior Associate. During the time I worked
in the program office I was employed by the University Corporation for
Atmospheric Research (UCAR), based in Boulder, Colorado. UCAR is a
nonprofit consortium of North American member universities that grant
doctoral degrees in the atmospheric and related sciences. I was
assigned to work in the program office under a grant from the National
Science Foundation to the UCAR Joint Office of Science Support.
Key Issues Addressed in My Testimony
We currently face major, interrelated problems with the U.S.
Climate Change Science Program and with how the Administration is
undercutting climate science assessment, communication, and research.
In my judgment, the following are of particular significance for the
public interest and for Congressional oversight at this time:
1. The Administration suppressed official use of the National
Assessment of Climate Change Impacts and has failed to continue
the National Assessment process, thus undermining national
preparedness for dealing with the challenge of global climate
2. The Administration has acted in a variety of ways to impede
and manipulate communication about climate change by Federal
scientists and career science program leaders to wider
audiences, including Congress and the media.
3. The Administration has cut the climate change research
budget to its lowest level since 1992 and is presiding over
what appears to be a growing crisis in the global climate
observing system, thus undermining a critical national
My testimony deals with each of these problems and concludes with a
set of recommendations.
1. The Administration Suppressed Official Use of the National
Assessment of Climate Change Impacts and Has Failed to Continue
the National Assessment Process, Thus Undermining National
Preparedness for Dealing With the Challenge of Global Climate
During the 2001-2005 time-frame, I came to the conclusion that
politicization of climate science communication by the current
Administration was undermining the credibility and integrity of the
Climate Change Science Program in its relationship to the research
community, to program managers, to policymakers, and to the public
interest. Among the key issues that I viewed as particularly
significant in the politicization of the program, foremost was the
treatment by the current Administration of the National Assessment of
the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change
The National Assessment to this day remains the most comprehensive,
scientifically based assessment of the potential consequences of
climate change for the United States. No national climate change
assessment process or reporting of comparable subject matter and
regionally-based, nationwide scope has subsequently been undertaken
with the support of the Federal Government. The National Assessment was
a pioneering experiment in societal relevance for climate change
I see the Administration's treatment of the 2000 National
Assessment, and the abandonment of high-level support for an ongoing
process of scientist-stakeholder interaction, as the central climate
science scandal of the Administration--the action that has done, and
continues to do, the greatest damage in undermining national
preparedness in dealing with the challenge of global climate change.
Thus, I believe it would be appropriate for the Committee to
investigate the Administration's treatment of the 2000 National
Assessment, as part of oversight of the White House's political
intervention in the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and in
particular its assessment and communication activities.
The National Assessment was initiated, carried out, and published
between 1997 and 2000, during the time I worked in the program office.
The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates the production and
submission to the President and the Congress ``no less frequently than
every 4 years'' scientific assessment reports of global change that
include the impacts of such change on the environment and on various
socioeconomic sectors. To be responsive to this statutory mandate, the
program sponsored the National Assessment. The process involved
communication between scientists and a variety of ``stakeholders,''
from the public and private sectors and academia. It was intended to
initiate a process of interaction and reporting that would be ongoing
and developed and improved over time.
A National Assessment Synthesis Team made up of leading scientists
and other experts, was established as a Federal advisory committee to
guide the process. It produced a National Assessment report that
integrated key findings from regional and sectoral analyses and
addressed questions about the implications of climate variability and
change for the United States. The report was forwarded to the President
and Congress in November 2000.
Climate change impacts vary by region and sector, as do response
strategy options. University-based teams led 19 regional workshops and
assessments across the United States that focused on interrelated
environmental and socioeconomic issues. In addition, five sectoral
reports focused on issues that were national in scope and related to
the goods and services on which society and the economy depend,
including reports on agriculture, water, human health, forests, and
coastal areas and marine resources.
Every Member has an interest in the kind of information such an
assessment can make available for consideration in developing national
policy. These were groundbreaking, integrative efforts that were
designed to be of use to Congress and the Federal agencies, state and
local officials, regional and sectoral planners and resource managers,
educators, and the general public. They exemplified a vision of a
democratic process for societally relevant environmental assessment,
based on dialogue between interdisciplinary teams of scientific experts
and a wide range of stakeholders and the general public. Through this
process, the agenda for ongoing research and assessment would be
informed by a better understanding of the concerns of policymakers and
the public, and policymakers and the public would learn about issues of
climate change and its potential consequences so as to better equip
them for making decisions.
In June 2001, the Committee on the Science of Climate Change of the
National Research Council (NRC) issued a report titled Climate Change
Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions. The study originated from a
White House request in May 2001 to help inform the Administration's
review of U.S. climate change policy. The Committee was made up of 11
eminent climate scientists. It was chaired by Ralph J. Cicerone of the
University of California, who is today the President of the National
Academy of Sciences. The section of the NRC report on ``Consequences of
Increased Climate Change of Various Magnitudes'' is based almost
entirely on the findings of the National Assessment. The NRC Committee
did not in any way call into question the scientific legitimacy or
significance of the National Assessment, but rather drew on it as a
core text in this advisory report to the White House.
The Administration's Treatment of the National Assessment
Despite the utility of the National Assessment, the Administration,
most aggressively from the second half of 2002 onward, acted to
essentially bury the National Assessment, i.e., by suppressing
discussion of it by participating agencies for purposes of research
planning by the Climate Change Science Program; suppressing references
to it in published program documents including annual program reports
to Congress; withdrawing support from the coordinated process of
scientist-stakeholder interaction and assessment that had been
initiated by the first National Assessment; and making clear that no
second National Assessment would be undertaken. The Administration
failed to consider and utilize the National Assessment in the Strategic
Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program issued in July 2003.
From my experience, observation, analysis of documentation, and
personal communications with others in the program, I believe it is
clear that the reasons for this were essentially political, and not
based on scientific considerations. I believe this is generally
understood within the program.
In late May 2002 the Administration issued the report U.S. Climate
Action Report 2002: Third National Communication of the United States
of America Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change. This Climate Action Report was one of a series of reports
required periodically pursuant to U.S. responsibilities under the
Framework Convention on Climate Change, the foundational climate
treaty. Chapter 6 of the Climate Action Report, ``Impacts and
Adaptation,'' drew substantially on the findings of the National
Assessment for its discussion of the potential consequences of climate
change for the United States. This was appropriate, considering that
the National Assessment had recently been published and represented the
most systematic, in-depth study of this subject that had been done to
that point (and remains so at the present time).
The ``Impacts and Adaptation'' chapter prompted press coverage,
including a prominent story in the New York Times, on how the chapter
suggested a new acknowledgement by the Administration of the science
pointing to the reality of human-induced climate change and a range of
likely adverse societal and environmental consequences. This appeared
to cause a public relations problem for the Administration. Asked about
the report and the press coverage of it, the President replied in a way
that distanced himself from it by referring to it as ``a report put out
by the bureaucracy.''
My understanding at that point, which I believe was coming to be
more widely shared, both inside and outside the program, was that the
Administration was uncomfortable with the mainstream scientifically
based communications suggesting the reality of human-induced climate
change and the likelihood of adverse consequences. Straightforward
acknowledgement of the growing body of climate research and assessment
suggesting likely adverse consequences could potentially lead to
stronger public support for controls on emissions and could be used to
criticize the Administration for not embracing a stronger climate
change response strategy. It was the concern about this linkage that
seemed to underlie much of what I perceived to be the Administration's
intervention in managing communications by the Climate Change Science
In this context, for the Administration to have released a U.S.
Climate Action Report with a chapter on climate change impacts that
identified a range of likely adverse consequences, based on scientific
reports including the National Assessment, could rightly be seen as an
anomaly and appeared to be seen as a significant political error by
Administration allies dedicated to denying the reality of human-induced
global warming as a significant problem. On June 3, 2002, Myron Ebell
of the Competitive Enterprise Institute sent an e-mail message
addressed to Philip Cooney, Chief of Staff at the White House Council
on Environmental Quality (CEQ), offering to help manage this ``crisis''
and help ``cool things down.'' (This document was obtained by a
nongovernmental organization via a Freedom of Information Act request).
In the e-mail to Cooney, Ebell said: ``If it were only this one little
disaster we could all lock arms and weather the assault, but this
Administration has managed, whether through incompetence or intention,
to create one disaster after another and then to expect its allies to
clean up the mess.'' He told Cooney the Administration needed to get
back on track with disavowals of the Climate Action Report and the
National Assessment. Shortly thereafter, Cooney began to play a more
visible role in Climate Change Science Program governance as the CEQ
liaison to the interagency principals committee, and in intervening to
manage and edit Climate Change Science Program communications.
Immediately prior to taking the position of CEQ Chief of Staff,
Cooney had been employed as a lawyer-lobbyist at the American Petroleum
Institute (API), the primary trade association for corporations
associated with the petroleum industry. He was the climate team leader
at API, leading the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse
gas emissions. CEI also had a close relationship with the oil industry,
having reportedly received $2 million in funding between 1998 and 2005
In July 2003 the program issued its Strategic Plan for the Climate
Change Science Program. The document was submitted to Congress under
the signatures of Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, Secretary of
Commerce Donald L. Evans, and Office of Science and Technology Policy
Director John H. Marburger. In the plan, the existence of the National
Assessment was mentioned only in a single sentence, which did not even
include the title of the report. There was no description of the
structure, process, scope, purpose, or contents of the National
Assessment. The National Assessment did not appear in the bibliography
of the plan. No information was given to suggest how copies might be
obtained. In effect, mention of the National Assessment had almost
completely vanished from the CCSP Strategic Plan.
National Research Council's Criticism of the CCSP on the National
The final report of the National Research Council's Committee to
Review the U.S. Climate Change Research Program Strategic Plan, issued
in February 2004, was critical of the failure of the program to
incorporate and build on the National Assessment in its Strategic Plan
for assessment and ``decision support'' activities. On the subject of
the National Assessment's scientific credibility the report said:
It is especially important that CCSP synthesis and assessment
products be independently prepared, or evaluated, by the
science community. This will provide a level of credibility
that reports produced exclusively within the government
sometimes fail to achieve. The only previous centralized
assessment effort by the CCSP agencies, the U.S. National
Assessment on the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability
and Change, followed these credibility assurance guidelines.
The National Assessment's Overview and Foundation reports are
important contributions to understanding the possible
consequences of climate variability and change. (National
Research Council, Committee to Review the U.S. Climate Change
Science Program Strategic Plan, Implementing Climate and Global
Change Research: A Review of the Final U.S. Climate Change
Science Program Strategic Plan (National Academies Press, 2004,
On the value of the National Assessment's process of engaging
scientists and ``stakeholders'' in dialogue, the NRC review said:
The processes of stakeholder engagement and transparent review
of the National Assessment reports were exemplary. . . . The
Strategic Plan . . . should more effectively buildupon a
growing capability within the U.S. climate and global change
research community to interact with potential users of climate
and global change science, as was demonstrated in the U.S.
National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate
Variability and Change (NAST, 2001). The revised plan generally
overlooks the insights and relationships that were developed by
the National Assessment . . . (pp. 13-14).
On the significance of the regional-scale assessments included as
part of the National Assessment, the NRC review said:
The plan also does not include areas of research relevant to
regional-scale assessments identified as a result of the
National Assessment. . . . This deficiency needs to be remedied
quickly so that the program's decision support activities
reflect what the scientific community now knows, what it can
accomplish, and what users would like to know (p. 14).
On the Administration's apparent refusal to provide any scientific
rationale for the disappearance of any acknowledgement of the National
Assessment, the NRC review said:
For the most part the CCSP's revisions to the Strategic Plan
are quite responsive to comments expressed at the workshop, in
written input, and by this Committee. One notable exception is
the fact that the revised plan does not acknowledge the
substantive and procedural contributions of the U.S. National
Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability
and Change (NAST, 2001), a major focus of the Global Change
Research Program (GCRP) in the late 1990s. Many participants at
the [CCSP] December  workshop criticized how the draft
Strategic Plan treated the National Assessment, as did this
Committee in its first report. The revised plan does not
reflect an attempt to address these concerns, and no rationale
for this decision has been provided. (pp. 29-30).
Although OSTP Director John Marburger has referred to the National
Academy of Sciences as the ``gold standard'' of scientific advice to
the government, and despite the criticism of the plan for failing to
provide any rationale for the disappearance of the National Assessment,
Dr. Marburger, then-CCSP Director James R. Mahoney, and other
Administration officials and CCSP leaders offered no response to this
criticism of how they treated the National Assessment. No changes were
made to the Strategic Plan in response to the NRC's criticism. It
appeared to me that something akin to a conspiracy of silence was being
enforced within the Federal Government, which had nothing to do with
the scientific merits of the National Assessment.
The Role of the Council on Environmental Quality
The Administration, without ever clarifying the issue forthrightly,
has allowed a perception to persist that the suppression of the
National Assessment was required by a legal agreement pursuant to a
joint stipulation to dismissal of a 2001 lawsuit filed by the
Competitive Enterprise Institute et al., seeking to halt the
distribution of the National Assessment. White House and Climate Change
Science Program officials have never offered an honest public
explanation of why the terms of that dismissal would have legally
required (as distinct from an unofficial, secret political agreement)
that the White House and the Federal agencies suppress a taxpayer-
funded, scientifically based assessment sponsored by the Federal global
change research program, even for purposes of using it as a scientific
document or in program planning for research and future assessments.
I have examined the official court records on lawsuits filed by CEI
et al., in 2001 and 2003 and find no basis for such suppression.
Rather, it appears that, although the CEI lawsuits were dismissed, the
Administration decided nevertheless to award what I have termed the
global warming denial machine a political victory that they could not
have won had their lawsuits gone to trial. Myron Ebell of CEI has been
quoted as saying of the National Assessment, ``To the degree that it
has vanished, we have succeeded'' (Greenwire, October 3, 2006).
It is my understanding that the White House directed CCSP Director
Mahoney to suppress the use of and references to the National
Assessment in program planning and publications. It is my understanding
that this directive was likely given by Philip Cooney at CEQ, acting as
an agent of CEQ Chairman James Connaughton and, by extension, the White
House policy and political apparatus. One of the CCSP agency principals
informed me that a subsequent directive to the agencies to refrain from
referencing the National Assessment had come from Mahoney's office.
Mahoney later confirmed to Environmental Science & Technology, a
journal of the American Chemical Society, that Federal researchers were
restricted from referring to the National Assessment (Environmental
Science & Technology Online, October 12, 2005).
Unlike the other representatives on the program's interagency
principals committee, the great majority of whom were career science
program management professionals, CCSP Director Mahoney was a Senate-
confirmed Presidential appointee, as the Assistant Secretary of
Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Deputy Administrator of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and thus a political
representative of the Administration. On the matter of not citing or
using the National Assessment, I believe it was well-understood by the
agency principals that to challenge the Chairman would, in effect, have
been to challenge the White House--in particular CEQ.
Building appropriately on the pioneering work of the National
Assessment could have had a salutary influence on developing the
priorities of the CCSP Strategic Plan and surely would have led the
program toward a different overall configuration of follow-up
scientific and assessment priorities. It could have led to a different
approach to evolving the discourse between scientists and users of
information--a freer relationship and one less constrained than is the
current process by political gatekeepers concerned with controlling the
flow of communications about climate change and its implications for
the United States.
2. The Administration Has Acted in a Variety of Ways To Impede and
Manipulate Communication About Climate Change by Federal
Scientists and Career Science Program Leaders to Wider
Including Congress and the Media
The ability of our society and public officials to make good
decisions about important issues depends on a free, honest, and
accurate flow of scientific research and findings. Unfortunately, the
Administration and industry-funded special interest groups have acted
to impede and manipulate essential communication about global climate
change and its implications for society and the environment. The many
climate scientists in the employ of the Federal Government represent a
tremendous resource. Their knowledge and advice should be heeded,
rather than manipulated or ignored. Without strong action to protect
and restore integrity of Federal climate science communication, our
Nation will be ill-prepared to deal with the challenge of global
Atmosphere of Pressure: The Union of Concerned Scientists--Government
Accountability Project Joint Report
On January 30, 2007, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the
Government Accountability Project \3\ released their joint report,
Atmosphere of Pressure: Political Interference in Federal Climate
Science. The Atmosphere of Pressure study found that 150 Federal
climate scientists report personally experiencing at least one incident
of political interference in the past 5 years, for a total of at least
435 such incidents. I have transmitted the report to the Committee as a
supplement to my written testimony. *
\3\ The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading scinece-based
nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. The UCS
Scientific Integrity Program mobilizes scientists and citizens alike to
defend science from political interference and restore scientific
integrity in Federal policymaking. More information about UCS and the
Scientific Integrity Program is available online at www.ucsusa.org/
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is the Nation's largest
whistleblower organization. GAP attorneys and organizers assist
whistleblowers in taking their evidence of wrongdoing to appropriate
government agencies, committees, and officials to investigate, expose,
and rectify the problems they have identified. More information about
GAP is available online at www.whistleblower.org.
* The information referred to has been retained in Committee files.
As a part of this study, UCS sent surveys to 1,600 climate
scientists at seven Federal agencies and departments, to gauge the
extent to which politics was playing a role in scientists' research.
279 scientists responded to the survey. At the same time, GAP conducted
40 in-depth interviews with Federal climate scientists and other
officials and analyzed thousands of pages of government documents,
obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and inside
sources, regarding agency media policies and Congressional
These two complementary investigations arrived at similar
conclusions regarding the state of Federal climate research and the
need for strong policies to protect the integrity of science and the
free flow of scientific information. The following is taken from the
Executive Summary of the UCS-GAP joint report:
Political Interference With Climate Science
The Federal Government needs accurate scientific information to
craft effective policies. Political interference with the work of
Federal scientists threatens the quality and integrity of these
policies. As such, no scientist should ever encounter any of the
various types of political interference described in our survey
questions. Yet unacceptably large numbers of Federal climate scientists
personally experienced instances of interference over the past 5 years:
Nearly half of all respondents (46 percent of all
respondents to the question) perceived or personally
experienced pressure to eliminate the words ``climate change,''
``global warming'' or other similar terms from a variety of
Two in five (43 percent) perceived or personally experienced
changes or edits during review that changed the meaning of
More than one-third (37 percent) perceived or personally
experienced statements by officials at their agencies that
misrepresented scientists' findings.
Nearly two in five (38 percent) perceived or personally
experienced the disappearance or unusual delay of websites,
reports, or other science-based materials relating to climate.
Nearly half (46 percent) perceived or personally experienced
new or unusual administrative requirements that impair climate-
One-quarter (25 percent) perceived or personally experienced
situations in which scientists have actively objected to,
resigned from, or removed themselves from a project because of
pressure to change scientific findings.
Asked to quantify the number of incidents of interference of
all types, 150 scientists (58 percent) said they had personally
experienced one or more such incidents within the past 5 years,
for a total of at least 435 incidents of political
The more frequently a climate scientist's work touches on sensitive
or controversial issues, the more interference he or she reported. More
than three-quarters (78 percent) of those survey respondents who self-
reported that their research ``always'' or ``frequently'' touches on
issues that could be considered sensitive or controversial also
reported they had personally experienced at least one incident of
inappropriate interference. More than one-quarter (27 percent) of this
same group had experienced six or more such incidents in the past 5
Barriers to Communication
Federal scientists have a constitutional right to speak about their
scientific research, and the American public has a right to be informed
of the findings of taxpayer-supported research. Restrictions on
scientists who report findings contrary to an administration's
preferred policies undermine these basic rights. These practices also
contribute to a general misunderstanding of the findings of climate
science and degrade our government's ability to make effective policies
on topics ranging from public health to agriculture to disaster
The investigation uncovered numerous examples of public affairs
officers at Federal agencies taking a highly active role in regulating
communications between agency scientists and the media--in effect
serving as gatekeepers for scientific information.
Among the examples taken from interviews and FOIA documents:
One agency scientist, whose research illustrates a possible
connection between hurricanes and global warming, was
repeatedly barred from speaking to the media. Press inquiries
on the subject were routed to another scientist whose views
more closely matched official Administration policy.
Government scientists routinely encounter difficulty in
obtaining approval for official press releases that highlight
research into the causes and consequences of global warming.
Scientists report that public affairs officers are sometimes
present at or listen in on interviews between certain
scientists and the media.
Both scientists and journalists report that restrictive
media policies and practices have had the effect of slowing
down the process by which interview requests are approved. As a
result, the number of contacts between government scientists
and the news media has been greatly reduced.
Highly publicized incidents of interference have led at least one
agency to implement reforms; in February 2006, NASA adopted a
scientific openness policy that affirms the right of open scientific
communication. Perhaps as a result, 61 percent of NASA survey
respondents said recent policies affirming scientific openness at their
agency have improved the environment for climate research. While
imperfect, the new NASA media policy stands as a model for the type of
action other Federal agencies should take in reforming their media
The investigation also highlighted problems with the process by
which scientific findings are communicated to policymakers in Congress.
One example, taken from internal documents provided to GAP by agency
staff, shows edits to official questions for the record by political
appointees, which change the meaning of the scientific findings being
When adjusted for inflation, funding for Federal climate science
research has declined since the mid-1990s. A majority of survey
respondents disagreed that the government has done a good job funding
climate science, and a large number of scientists warned that
inadequate levels of funding are harming the capacity of researchers to
make progress in understanding the causes and effects of climate
change. Budget cuts that have forced the cancellation of crucial Earth
observation satellite programs were of particular concern to
Morale among Federal climate scientists is generally poor. The UCS
survey results suggest a correlation between the deterioration in
morale and the politicized environment surrounding Federal climate
science in the present Administration. One primary danger of low morale
and decreased funding is that Federal agencies may have more difficulty
attracting and keeping the best scientists.
A large number of respondents reported decreasing job satisfaction
and a worsening environment for climate science in Federal agencies:
Two-thirds of respondents said that today's environment for
Federal Government climate research is worse compared with 5
years ago (67 percent) and 10 years ago (64 percent). Among
scientists at NASA, these numbers were higher (79 percent and
77 percent, respectively).
A Case Study of Political Interference From My Experience
I worked on many projects during the 10 years I served in the
program office. One key ongoing project for which I was responsible
involved coordinating the development of and editing nine editions of
the program's annual report to Congress, Our Changing Planet. The
report is distributed to all Members of Congress and all Congressional
committees and subcommittees with relevant oversight or budget
jurisdiction. The report also is distributed more widely and is one of
the principal means by which information about the highlights of recent
research and research plans of the Federal program as a government-wide
entity is communicated. I also provided senior advisory and editorial
support on a number of aspects of the development of the Strategic Plan
for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, issued in July 2003 and
distributed to Congress and more widely in both print and electronic
In developing program publications and on other matters, I worked
with a large network of career science program managers in the
participating agencies. In producing a particular edition of the Our
Changing Planet report, I would work with as many as 90 individual
contributors, spanning as many as 13 participating agencies, to
solicit, coordinate, and edit their submissions and review comments
into a completed, integrated document. Before being issued, this report
had to be reviewed and approved, first by career science program
managers in all participating agencies, then by Administration
officials in the Executive Office of the President (EOP), including
OSTP, OMB, and CEQ.
Starting in October 2002, in this final-stage editorial review and
clearance process, it came to my attention that CEQ Chief of Staff
Philip Cooney was extensively marking up reports in a manner that had
the cumulative effect of adding an enhanced sense of scientific
uncertainty about global warming and minimizing its likely
consequences, while also deleting even minor references to the National
For example, in a memorandum dated October 28, 2002, he marked-up
the first draft of the CCSP Strategic Plan after it was approved by
CCSP agency principals and before it was released for NRC review and
public comment. Most of his roughly 200 text changes were incorporated
in the review draft. A number of these changes in text relating to
questions of climate science altered the content of the draft as it had
been developed by Federal science program professionals. Taken in the
aggregate, the changes had a cumulative effect of shifting the tone and
content of an already quite cautiously-worded draft to create an
enhanced sense of scientific uncertainty about climate change and its
implications. The draft Strategic Plan was legitimately criticized by
reviewers who charged that the CCSP had adopted a vocabulary with an
exaggerated emphasis on scientific uncertainties. To my knowledge this
CEQ mark-up was not shared with or vetted by CCSP principals or CCSP
agency science program managers. The process was quintessentially non-
transparent and, in my view, a policy-driven political interference in
a key science program document.
As another example, the CEQ Chief of Staff made about 100 revisions
to the final draft of the FY 2003 Our Changing Planet, some of which
substantially changed or deleted text relating, for example, to
decision support on mitigation and adaptation options, integration of
climate science with comparative analysis of response strategies,
ongoing regional assessments of global change consequences, and the
relationship between energy-related emissions, climate change, and
I could give additional examples, but I will conclude with a few
summary observations about this process:
(a) From my observation, a few examples of relatively heavy-
handed interventions sufficed to send a message to the program
leadership about White House political sensitivities. Under
those circumstances, I believe a kind of anticipatory self-
censorship kicks in, and reports begin to be drafted with an
eye to what will be able to obtain CEQ approval--which appeared
to be the final step in the White House clearance process.
(b) Although this matter has received a good deal of media and
political attention, I have always regarded it as essentially a
single graphic case study illustration of a much larger pattern
of Administration interference with and spinning of climate
change science communication. I believe it is an indicative and
revealing case study, but I believe we should focus primarily
on the larger pattern and take steps to correct a whole set of
problems. The former CEQ Chief of Staff has moved on to a
position with ExxonMobil, but rearranging the deck chairs does
not make the problems go away and, as part of his legacy, the
National Assessment he played a role in suppressing remains
(c) It has been suggested by some critics that, since neither I
nor Cooney is a scientist, this issue is simply a matter of
competing editorial viewpoints. I believe this view betrays a
fundamental misunderstanding of the problem, calling for some
clarification. My job was to work closely with career science
professionals to communicate climate research information
clearly and accurately in such a way that it would be readily
understandable and of value to general attentive readers such
as those in Congressional offices. There was no political
agenda other than to encourage a bipartisan appreciation for
the value of this national research program. The science
professionals I worked with will attest to the appropriateness
of my role, the integrity with which I played it, and my grasp
of the subject matter, as will the fact that I was asked to
continue in this role throughout my tenure with the program. I
was aligned with and accountable to the mainstream climate
science community every step of the way. CEQ was not. What CEQ
was doing with its interventions was something quite different,
and in my view of clearly questionable legitimacy. I see that
as the essential difference in our roles.
3. The Administration Has Cut the Climate Change Research Budget to its
Lowest Level Since 1992 and Is Presiding Over What Appears To
Be a Growing Crisis in the Global Climate Observing System,
Undermining a Critical National Intelligence-Gathering Process
Funding for climate and global change research under the Global
Change Research Program (FY 1989-FY 2002) and Climate Change Science
Program (FY 2003-present) is shown in the table on the following page,
which is taken from the CCSP website. The table shows that, in real
terms, funding is currently at the lowest level since 1992.
The President's FY 2007 budget request for the CCSP was 26 percent
less than the program's budget in 1995, the high-water mark. The FY
2007 request was 13 percent less than the program's budget in FY 2001,
the last budget before the current Administration took office.
The Administration's response to criticism on climate change is
often to point to how much is spent on research. The Climate Change
Science Program is indeed a large program, with a budget that supports
a wide range of both governmental and nongovernmental scientific
research, as well as climate observing systems, in particular NASA's
space-based remote-sensing observing system. But, notwithstanding the
importance that Administration officials purport to give to the issues
addressed by the program, the Administration is now steadily reducing
the budget request for the program. Why?
A review of the CCSP budget tables as presented in the FY 2006 and
FY 2007 editions of Our Changing Planet indicates generally that the
steady cuts in the overall CCSP budget from FY 2004 onward are almost
entirely attributable to cuts in the NASA Earth Science research and
observations budget. The NASA budget figures as arrayed in Our Changing
Planet during the past several years are difficult to interpret in any
detail, nor is the discussion in the report of NASA's program at all
illuminating about the reasons for and implications of the cutbacks in
NASA's program, nor about how these cutbacks are allocated across
specific clearly identifiable program activities. However, the report
says that, from FY 2005 to the FY 2007 request, NASA's CCSP budget was
cut by 17 percent, from $1.241 billion to $1.029 billion. (The
inflation-adjusted cut would be greater.) This includes a 13 percent
cut in the ``Scientific Research'' portion of the budget, and a 20
percent cut in ``Space-Based Observations.''
Funding for Global Change Research under the CCSP and USGCRP, Fiscal
Years 1989-2007 (dollars in millions) *
Past, present and future budget data are key components of the
information transmitted to Congress in Our Changing Planet. This table
shows the evolution of funding for the program since 1989. Note that the
scope of activities included within the budget is not constant over the
period. In some cases (as in 1989-1990), a substantial portion of the
year-to-year budget change results from shifting activities into or out
of the program. These changes in program definition are the result of
changing scientific priorities and other factors.
Fiscal Year Actual dollars (2005)
1989 134 209
1990 659 975
1991 954 1,355
1992 1,110 1,531
1993 1,326 1,775
1994 1,444 1,885
1995 1,760 2,234
1996 1,654 2,039
1997 1,656 1,995
1998 1,677 1,989
1999 1,657 1,925
2000 1,687 1,896
2001 1,728 1,886
2002 1,667 1,792
2003 1,766 1,857
2004 1,977 2,023
2005 1,865 1,865
2006 (estimate) 1,709 1,674
2007 (request) 1,715 1,643
* The table is posted on the Climate Change Science Program website at:
default.htm#funding. The table was updated November 2006.
Without going into further detail in this written testimony, I
suggest that this extraordinary scaling back of the Administration's
commitment to a strong Earth Science research and observations program
at NASA has very serious implications for the strength of the Nation's
climate change science capability. The Administration must be held
accountable for this indirect method of undermining the ability to
understand, assess, and communicate what is happening with climate and
associated global change--especially if we also take into consideration
the extraordinary and disturbing developments with the NPOESS next-
generation weather-climate satellite system that are taking place on
the watch of Administration officials at DOD, NOAA, and NASA.
The NPOESS Crisis
The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite
System (NPOESS) was created by a Presidential Decision Directive in
1994, under which the military and civil meteorological programs were
merged into a single program. NPOESS was intended as an operational
system to provide state-of-the art data for weather forecasting and
climate system monitoring. Within NPOESS, NOAA is responsible for
satellite operations, the Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible
for major acquisitions, and NASA is responsible for the development and
infusion of new technologies.
To continue climate-quality measurements beyond the first series of
NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) research satellites (NASA is not
developing a second series of EOS satellites), it was assumed that the
NPOESS system would continue, in an operational environment, the mature
EOS measurements, many of which address the Nation's climate monitoring
NPOESS, as originally configured, would have represented a
significant step forward in the Nation's ability to deploy a
comprehensive climate observing system. Many key climate variables
would be measured for decades. However, cost estimates for the program
skyrocketed from $6.5 billion to $10 billion and the scheduled launch
of its first satellite slipped from May 2006 to at least April 2008--a
gap that the Government Accountability Office concluded could leave the
United States with gaps in vital climate and weather forecasting data.
As a result of the massive cost overrun, NPOESS was subjected to a
statutorily required re-scoping in 2006. During the re-scoping process,
ground rules endorsed by the NPOESS Executive Committee stipulated that
a higher priority would be placed on the continuity of operational
capabilities in support of weather measurements, which resulted in a
lower priority for climate-focused measurements. The Office of the
Secretary of Defense (OSD) led a tri-agency process culminating in the
certification of a restructured NPOESS Program on June 5, 2006. The
result was a decision to reduce the overall number of satellites and
eliminate climate sensors from the system.
Climate Science Watch has obtained a December 11, 2006, joint
document prepared by the NASA Earth Science Division and the NOAA
Climate Observations and Analysis Program that describes the impacts of
the Nunn-McCurdy Certification of NPOESS on the climate program goals
of NASA and NOAA. The document was developed at the direction of the
Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as a result of a meeting
on June 26, 2006.
On the importance of a continuous climate-quality data record, the
Detecting climate change, understanding the associated shifts
in specific climate processes, and then projecting the impacts
of these changes on the Earth system requires a comprehensive
set of consistent measurements made over many decades. Many
climate trends are small and require careful analysis of long
time series of sufficient length, consistency, and continuity
to distinguish between the natural long-term climate
variability and any small, persistent climate changes.
Interruptions in the climate data records make the resolution
of small differences uncertain or even impossible to detect. To
confidently detect small climate shifts requires instrument
accuracy and stability better than is generally required for
weather research and most other scientific uses. For more than
thirty years, NASA research-driven missions, such as the EOS,
have pioneered remote sensing observations of the Earth's
climate, including parameters such as solar irradiance, the
Earth's radiation budget, ozone vertical profiles, and sea
surface height. Maintaining these measurements in an
operational environment provides the best opportunity for
maintaining the long-term, consistent, and continuous data
records needed to understand, monitor, and predict climate
variability and change.
On the implications of losing the NPOESS climate sensors, the
For NASA, NPOESS was not only a converged civilian and military
weather observing system but also the cornerstone of the
Nation's future climate research program. For NOAA, NPOESS
represented a key component of the operational climate
observing program and a cornerstone of its Climate Goal. . . .
Unfortunately, the recent loss of climate sensors due to the
NPOESS Nunn-McCurdy Certification places the overall climate
program in serious jeopardy.
These shortfalls are characterized in a letter from the Chair
of the Joint Science Committee from the World Climate Research
Programme (WCRP) and from the Chair of the Steering Committee
from the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) to the Chair of
the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). The
Chairs from WCRP and GCOS stated:
Some of the difficulties in establishing and maintaining
climate observations from space are currently being highlighted
by the de-scoping of NPOESS, in which climate observations have
been seriously compromised. . . . [U]nless revised plans
compensate for the anticipated shortcomings in climate
observations, gaps in several key climate data records (some
that go back almost 30 years) are highly likely. . . . WCRP and
GCOS assert that our ability to address critical climate
issues, with profound societal implications, will be strongly
limited unless observation of climate variables is given higher
priority. We urge that this be done. [emphasis added]
The report contains joint NASA-NOAA recommendations as to how the
impacted climate-related observations and related science might be
recovered. However, there is no indication as to the projected cost of
even a partial recovery of the observing capability to be lost under
the current re-scoping of NPOESS. Nor is there any indication of
whether the Administration will request the funding needed in order to
implement a recovery.
Who is accountable for the mismanagement and failure of leadership
of this essential program? A May 2006 investigative report by the
Commerce Department Inspector General was sharply critical of high-
level Federal management for failing to deal effectively with the long
delays and major cost overruns in the development and deployment of
\4\ U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General,
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration--Poor Management
Oversight and Ineffective Incentives Leave NPOESS Program Well Over
Budget and Behind Schedule. Audit Report No. OIG-17794-6-0001/May 2006.
Conclusions and Recommendations
1. Revitalize the National Assessment Process
Reports of a steady stream of scientific findings on global climate
change, in particular reports on observed and projected consequences of
global warming, have increased the level of concern among policymakers
and the public. Debate on appropriate climate change policy and
response strategies at the international, national, and state levels
has also increased in urgency in the U.S. public arena. In this
context, re-activating the National Assessment process and producing a
second National Assessment report would make a major contribution to
the Nation's preparedness for addressing the challenge of global
warming and climate change.
The essential idea is not to replicate the 2000 National Assessment
in its particulars, but rather to move forward with a strong, updated,
coordinated, integrative effort, employing the method of having climate
scientists and other experts communicate directly with policymakers and
other stakeholders, geographical region-by-region, and socioeconomic
sector-by-sector, to diagnose vulnerabilities and develop response
strategies, without political interference with free and open
communication. Climate change impacts vary by region and sector, as do
response strategy options. Every Member has an interest in the kind of
information such an assessment could make available for consideration
in developing national policy.
2. Address the Problems of the Council on Environmental Quality, Agency
Media Policies, and Public Communication by the Climate Change
On the White House Council on Environmental Quality
The UCS-GAP report does not substantially address the higher levels
in the chain of command that has resulted in political interference
with climate science communication, starting with the President. In
particular, the report does not focus on the role of the Council on
Environmental Quality. CEQ is a White House policy office, not a
science office. In my view it was problematic from day one that CEQ
officials, whose essential job was to advance the President's policy
and political position on global climate change, were at the table
participating directly in the governance of the Climate Change Science
Program and shaping its communication of climate change research. In my
judgment, CEQ should be put back on the policy side of the science-
policy fence--as was the case under the previous Administration. And
management of the CCSP should be back on the science side of the fence.
On Agency Media Policies
The Government Accountability Project has prepared a critical
analysis of the new media policy developed at NASA in 2006 in the wake
of publicity surrounding NASA's scandalous attempt to muzzle public
communication by Dr. James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard
Institute of Space Studies. While the NASA media policy appears to be
an improvement over the prior situation, GAP's analysis raises concerns
about agency media policies and identifies legislative action that the
Committee should consider. A statement and memorandum prepared by Tom
Devine, Legal Director at GAP, is included with this testimony as an
On Public Communication by the Climate Change Science Program
Congressional oversight should include a focus on the Climate
Change Science Program and the CCSP Office as well as the agencies. In
order to ensure the scientific independence and credibility of the
program and its products, the CCSP should develop CCSP-wide principles
and policies on communications to ensure the scientific independence of
climate change science communications.
Currently, there is no procedure under which the CCSP, or the CCSP
Office, can communicate on behalf of the Federal climate research
enterprise as a whole. Media inquiries to the CCSP are channeled to the
NOAA Public Affairs Office--an office that, as discussed in the UCS-GAP
report, has been politically compromised in its climate science
communication by the Department of Commerce and by the Administration
political appointees at the head of NOAA. One key example has been
communication on the scientific question of the relationship between
global warming and increased hurricane intensity.
Congress, the media, and the public need to be able to receive
communications directly from the Climate Change Science Program that
are not filtered through the public and governmental affairs offices of
a single agency. One alternative would be to give the Climate Change
Science Program Office the resources, staffing with scientific
expertise, and freedom from White House political manipulation, to
communicate, and to coordinate communications, on behalf of the full
range of scientific research supported by the CCSP participating
3. Implement the Recommendations of the Union of Concerned Scientists--
Government Accountability Project Report
The UCS-GAP report, Atmosphere of Pressure--Political Interference
in Federal Climate Science has brought to light numerous ways in which
U.S. Federal climate science has been filtered, suppressed, and
manipulated in the last 5 years. I fully support the UCS and GAP
recommendations of the following reforms and actions:
Congress must act to specifically protect the rights of
Federal scientists to conduct their work and communicate their
findings without interference and protect scientists who speak
out when they see interference or suppression of science.
The Federal Government must respect the constitutional right
of scientists to speak about any subject, including policy-
related matters and those outside their area of expertise, so
long as the scientists make it clear that they do so in their
private capacity. Scientists should also be made aware of these
rights and ensure they are exercised at their agencies.
Ultimate decisions about the communication of Federal
scientific information should lie with scientists themselves.
While non-scientists may be helpful with various aspects of
writing and communication, scientists must have a ``right of
last review'' on agency communications related to their
scientific research to ensure scientific accuracy has been
Pre-approval and monitoring of media interviews with Federal
scientists by public affairs officials should be eliminated.
Scientists should not be subject to restrictions on media
contacts beyond a policy of informing public affairs officials
in advance of an interview and summarizing the interaction for
Federal agencies should clearly support the free exchange of
scientific information in all venues. They should investigate
and correct inappropriate policies, practices, and incidents
that threaten scientific integrity, determine how and why
problems have occurred, and make the necessary reforms to
prevent further incidents.
Congress should immediately exert pressure on the Executive
Branch to comply with its statutory duty under Federal law and
undertake periodic scientific assessments of climate change
that address the consequences for the United States. (The last
national assessment was conducted in 2000.)
Funding decisions regarding climate change programs should
be guided by scientific criteria, and must take into account
the importance of long-term, continual climate observation
programs and models.
All branches of the government must have independent
3. End the Cutbacks and Restore Support for Space-Based Observations
and Long-Term Monitoring of Essential Climate and Global Change
The scaling back of the Administration's commitment to a strong
Earth Science research and observations program at NASA should be the
subject of in-depth Congressional oversight. The Committee should
investigate the implications of these cutbacks for the Nation's climate
change research capability and should seek to rectify this situation
with appropriate funding levels and program oversight.
Congress should also hold Administration officials accountable for
allowing essential climate sensors to be dropped from NPOESS, the next-
generation DOD-NOAA environmental satellite system, at the same time
NASA is not developing a next generation of its Earth Observing System
satellites. The Committee's oversight should include investigation of
recommendations for mitigation of the crisis that have been developed
under the guidance of the NASA Earth Science Division and the NOAA
Climate Observations and Analysis Program.
In each case, I recommend that the Committee not limit itself to
hearing testimony from Administration political appointees, such as the
NASA Administrator, the NOAA Administrator, or the Director of the
Office of Science and Technology Policy. Officials whose primary
commitment is to advance White House policy and political objectives
will tend to put the best face on a bad situation and be less than
fully forthcoming with the Committee with explanations of the real
problems. Instead, I recommend that the Committee hear from and ask the
tough questions of senior career officials with both programmatic and
technical expertise, such as Jack Kaye of the NASA Earth Science
Division and Thomas Karl of the NOAA National Climatic Data Center.
Hopefully they will feel free to tell you a straight story.
NASA and other agencies have trumpeted new media policies as proof
of their good intentions and new-found respect both for scientific
freedom and freedom of speech. Indeed, the policies have appealing
rhetoric that can help change bureaucratic attitudes. That matters.
Depending on the political cycle, the rhetoric could be sufficient to
sustain an open environment within scientific agencies.
Unfortunately, the policies' fine print exposes them as a trap that
could be used to fire, or potentially prosecute, almost any scientist
if the political environment becomes hostile again. First let's
consider what's in them. The Achilles' heel is a loophole that cancels
all the new free speech rights if a scientist discloses information in
new, pseudo-classified, hybrid secrecy categories. These categories,
with new names such as ``Sensitive but Unclassified'' or ``Sensitive
Security Information,'' do not purport to have the national security
significance of classified documents. In fact, they are just new names
for longstanding categories like ``For Official Use Only,'' that
primarily are secrecy shields of convenience for virtually any
information the agency wants to keep off the market of public
discourse, either to control timing or avoid embarrassment. Although
the SBU or SSI brands can be issued arbitrarily, the potential criminal
liability can be even more severe than for genuinely classified
Even worse, information can be designated as SBU or SSI after-the-
fact. For example, one GAP air marshal client has been fired 3 years
after-the-fact for disclosing Sensitive Security Information, even
though it was not marked as restricted at the time. The whistleblower
was challenging a security breakdown, and his dissent was vindicated as
the agency quickly canceled a reckless decision when it became public.
Depending on the next election results or other factors that should be
irrelevant, under NASA's fraudulent media policy reform, every NASA
scientist communicating with this Committee could be fired several
years from now for disclosing Sensitive but Unclassified information.
Not only is the policy disingenuous, it is illegal. It violates the
Whistleblower Protection Act on its face, because that law only permits
blanket restrictions on public speech if information is properly
Let's also consider what the policy doesn't include. The Anti-Gag
Statute, an appropriations rider passed unanimously by Congress for the
last 18 years, bans any spending to implement or enforce any
nondisclosure policy, form or agreement, unless it also has an addendum
with specific Congressional language that, in the event of a conflict
with the policy, the Whistleblower Protection Act and the Lloyd-
Lafollette Act protecting safe communications with Congress will
supersede any contradictory language and prevail. The NASA media policy
does not contain this addendum. Any funds spent to implement and
enforce it have been and will be illegal expenditures.
There is no possibility that this was a good faith error. GAP's
legal director Tom Devine spent over an hour tutoring the NASA Office
of General Counsel lawyer who wrote the phony reform, both on the
requirements of the Whistleblower Protection Act and the Anti-Gag
Statute. The lawyer reassured GAP that he understood what those laws
required. But NASA issued a policy that is a custom fit for violating
these fundamental merit system and whistleblower rights for scientific
freedom. The illegality is deliberate.
Legislation co-sponsored in the last Congress by Representatives
Waxman, Davis, and Platts and marked up unanimously in committee (H.R.
1317 and H.R. 5112) directly addresses this type of back-door
scientific repression. It codifies and provides a remedy for the Anti-
Gag Statute, and establishes checks and balances on the currently-
unrestrained use of pseudo-classification gag orders. The media
policy's fine print illustrates why your Committee should act
immediately to pass this badly needed reform. The Committee also should
have GAO audit how much money has been spent illegally to implement and
enforce the NASA media policy. An April 1, 2006, memorandum GAP
prepared on the policy is attached.
To: Climate Scientists
From: Government Accountability Project
Re: Analysis of NASA's Recently Released Media Policy
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is issuing advisory
comments on NASA's new media policy that it released yesterday, March
30. The new policy came in response to public outcry over NASA's
suppression of climate science research inconsistent with the Bush
Administration's political agenda. NASA is touting the development as a
free-speech breakthrough for agency scientists.
GAP identified the areas in which the new policy is an improvement:
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin's reassuring rhetoric is
of symbolic value, demonstrating official respect for
The new media policy does not cover scientific reports, web
postings, or professional dialogue such as at conferences,
allowing scientists to share information with their colleagues
without going through public affairs political appointees.
The policy officially recognizes the free speech right for
scientists to express their ``personal views'' when they make
clear that their statements are not being made on behalf of
However, in six critical areas the new policy falls short of
genuine scientific freedom and accountability, and potentially
undermines the positive guarantees:
While recognizing the existence of a ``personal views''
exception, the policy doesn't announce the circumstances when
that right cancels out conflicting restrictions, which are
phrased in absolute terms applying to contexts such as ``any
activities'' with significant media potential. This leaves a
cloud of uncertainty that translates into a chilling effect for
The policy fails to comply with the legally-mandated
requirements of the Anti-Gag Statute to explicitly include
notice that the Whistleblower Protection Act and Lloyd-
Lafollette Act (for Congressional communications) limit and
supersede its restrictions.
The policy institutionalizes prior restraint censorship
through ``review and clearance by appropriate officials'' for
``all NASA employees'' involved in ``preparing and issuing''
public information. This means that scientists can be censored
and will need advance permission from the ``appropriate''
official before anything can be released.
The policy defies the WPA by requiring prior approval for
all whistleblower disclosures that are ``Sensitive But
Unclassified'' (SBU). The legal definition of SBU is broad and
vague, to the point that it can be interpreted to sweep in
virtually anything. The WPA only permits that restriction for
classified documents or those whose public release is
specifically banned by statute.
The policy bans employees' free speech and WPA rights to
make anonymous disclosures, requiring them to work with NASA
public affairs ``prior to releasing information'' or ``engaging
in any activities or events that have the potential to generate
significant media or public interest or inquiry.''
The policy gives NASA the power to control the timing of all
disclosures, which means scientists can be gagged until the
information is dated and the need for the public to know about
critical scientific findings has passed.
In December of last year, NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen was
threatened with ``dire consequences'' by a political appointee for
statements he made about the consequences of climate change. According
to GAP's legal director, Tom Devine, ``Under this so-called reform, Dr.
Hansen would still be in danger of `dire consequences' for sharing his
research, although that threat is what sparked the new policy in the
first place. The new policy violates the Whistleblower Protection Act,
the Anti-Gag Statute, and the law protecting communications with
Congress, the Lloyd-Lafollette Act. The loopholes are not innocent
mistakes or oversights. GAP extensively briefed the agency lawyer on
these requirements, who insisted he understood them fully. NASA is
intentionally defying the good government anti-secrecy laws.''
The Chairman. Thank you very much, Mr. Piltz. I'd like to
assure the panel that all of your prepared statements and
reports will be made part of the Committee's record. And I can
assure you that we will study them very carefully.
And now, may I call upon the Bren Research Professor,
Chemistry and Earth System Science, School of Physical
Sciences, University of California, Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland.
STATEMENT OF DR. F. SHERWOOD ROWLAND, PROFESSOR, CHEMISTRY AND
EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCE, SCHOOL OF PHYSICAL SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE
Dr. Rowland. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm Sherwood Rowland, Professor of Chemistry and Earth
System Science at the University of California, Irvine, where I
have been for more than 40 years.
I first testified to the U.S. Congress in December 1974, in
connection with the study published that year with Professor
Mario Molina on the depletion of stratospheric ozone by the
chlorofluorocarbon gases, then used worldwide as refrigerants
and aerosol propellants.
The following year, the same gases were identified as being
potent greenhouse gases, despite their very low concentrations
in Earth's atmosphere. Three years later, members of our
research laboratory at the University of California Irvine,
began collecting ground-level atmospheric samples in widely
distributed remote locations in both Northern and Southern
hemispheres, to monitor these rising, global CFC
When we extended our studies beyond the CFCs, we quickly
discovered that the concentrations of methane gas found in
these samples after emission from rice paddies, swamps, coal
mines, cows and other sources, were also increasing. Because of
the greenhouse gas significance of both CFCs and methane, we
have continued now for 28 years, with financial support from
NASA, to monitor these gases in atmospheric samples collected
quarterly from Northern Alaska, to Southern New Zealand.
The concentration of methane gas in the atmosphere has more
than doubled since 1800, as shown by comparison with the
concentrations found in air bubbles in glacial ice cores. This
growth has made methane a significant contributor to global
greenhouse forcing over these two centuries, second only to
gaseous carbon dioxide, in quantitative importance up to the
In our continuing analyses of atmospheric composition, we
now have a record, more than a decade long, in both
hemispheres, of the concentrations of more than 100 gaseous
molecules, of either natural or industrial origin. In addition,
with the support of the Department of Energy we have applied
the identical analytical techniques to the same set of
atmospheric gases in more than 20 U.S., and many foreign
cities, and to the U.S. Southwest as a region.
These data are very pertinent to estimates of the
contributions of tropospheric ozone, another greenhouse gas.
All of these studies form a small part of the much larger
scientific understanding of the greenhouse effect, global
warming, and the accompanying concern about abrupt climate
change. This background of participation in the atmospheric
science community has meant interactions both within the
science itself, and in its interfaces with the various
governmental organizations, and the general public.
Beginning in 1988, the global scientific understanding of
these areas began to be organized internationally by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. The initial
portion of the fourth IPCC report on the fundamental science of
the planetary energy balances, and how they effect the climate,
was reported in Paris last week. It was, and is, a very stark
presentation of how the growing concentrations of the
greenhouse gases and other ongoing atmospheric changes are
already significantly affecting large portions of the Earth,
for example, melting of ice in the polar North, and prolonged,
severe drought in Southeastern Australia.
The outlook for the coming decades is for much further
change, including rising sea level, hurricane intensity, et
This IPCC report represents an outstanding effort on the
part of the international scientific community, and has the
support of almost all of its members. Complete unanimity is
never expected, nor is there any mechanism for establishing the
competence and credibility of those claiming to speak as
scientists, other than the seldom-performed examination of his
or her record of past successes and failures.
The closer we come to widespread public interest from the
general public, the harder it becomes to evaluate the merits of
the scientific case in the mix of other opinions. The IPCC
report represents the best effort of the scientific community
to evaluate the problems of climate change, and it should be
listened to by us.
Those of us who are based in universities are accustomed to
presenting, directly, our findings and our opinions about the
context of our results. And in most of my experience, our
colleagues in national laboratories have had almost as much
freedom in their presentations.
Describing one's work as one sees it is the bedrock of the
scientific enterprise. However, in the last several years, my
scientific conversations have run into far too many instances
in which the reports of the significance of the work have been
subsequently changed by others--often by persons with less, or
even no, expertise in the subject at hand.
Some of these conflicts have been gathered together with
verified details by the Union of Concerned Scientists, and by
the Government Accountability Project, and are presented here
today. Working out the best approaches to mitigation or
adaptation to future climatic change, is critically dependent
upon possession of the most accurate and pertinent knowledge.
I will conclude by quoting the remarks of the late Senator
John Chafee, of Rhode Island, at the closing of a hearing on
the atmosphere which had just been held with the Senate
Subcommittee on the Environment, which he chaired. ``If we were
masters of the world, we would do something about carbon
dioxide. But we are not. We can't tell the Soviets what to do,
or the Chinese. But, it seems to me, that is not an excuse for
no action at all on the part of the United States. That is why
I find fault with the view that, if we take action, the
Europeans may not. But, that's not a call to inaction, to me.
We ought to do what we can, and set an example.''
These were his comments to us in June 1986, and
unfortunately, they are just as applicable now as they were 21
[The prepared statement of Dr. Rowland follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland, Professor, Chemistry and
Earth System Science, School of Physical Sciences, University of
I am Sherwood Rowland, Professor of Chemistry and Earth System
Science at the University of California Irvine, where I have been for
more than forty years. I first testified to the U.S. Congress in
December 1974 in connection with the study published that year with
colleague Prof. Mario Molina, on the depletion of stratospheric ozone
by the chlorofluorocarbon gases then used worldwide as refrigerants and
aerosol propellants. The following year, these same gases were
identified as being potent greenhouse gases despite their very low
concentrations in Earth's atmosphere. Three years later members of our
research laboratory at the University of California Irvine--as did
others--began collecting ground-level atmospheric samples in widely
distributed remote locations in both northern and southern hemispheres
to monitor these rising global CFC concentrations.
When we extended our studies beyond the CFCs, we quickly discovered
that the concentrations of methane gas, found in these samples after
emission from rice paddies, swamps, coal mines, cows and other sources,
were also increasing. Because of the greenhouse gas significance of
both CFCs and methane, we have continued, with financial support from
NASA, to monitor these gases in atmospheric samples collected quarterly
from northern Alaska to southern New Zealand. The concentration of
methane gas in the atmosphere has more than doubled since 1800, as
shown by comparison with the concentrations found in air bubbles in
glacial ice cores. This growth has made methane a significant
contributor to added global greenhouse forcing over those two
centuries, second only to gaseous carbon dioxide in quantitative
importance up to the present.
In our continuing analyses of atmospheric composition, we now have
a record more than a decade long in both hemispheres of the
concentrations of more than one hundred gaseous molecules, of either
natural or industrial origin. In addition, with the support of the
Department of Energy, we have applied the identical analytical
techniques to the same set of atmospheric gases in more than 20 U.S.
and many foreign cities, and to the U.S. Southwest as a region. These
data are very pertinent to estimates of the contributions of
tropospheric ozone, another greenhouse gas. All of these studies form a
small part of the much larger scientific understanding of the
greenhouse effect, global warming, and the accompanying concern about
abrupt climate change.
This background of participation in the atmospheric science
community, has meant interactions both within the science itself and in
its interfaces with the various governmental organizations and the
general public. Beginning in 1988, the global scientific understanding
of these areas began to be organized internationally by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. The initial portion
of the Fourth IPCC report, on the fundamental science of the planetary
energy balances and how they affect the climate, was reported in Paris
last week. It was--and is--a very stark presentation of how the growing
concentrations of the greenhouse gases and other ongoing atmospheric
changes are already significantly affecting large portions of the
Earth--for example, melting of ice in the polar North, and prolonged
severe drought in southeastern Australia. The outlook for the coming
decades is for much further change, including rising sea level,
hurricane intensity, etc.
This IPCC report represents an outstanding effort on the part of
the international scientific community, and has the support of almost
all of its members. Complete unanimity is never expected, nor is there
any mechanism for establishing the competence and credibility of those
claiming to speak as scientists, other than the seldom performed
examination of his or her record of past successes and failures. The
closer we come to widespread public interest from the general public,
the harder it becomes to evaluate the merits of the scientific case in
the mix of other opinion. The IPCC report represents the best effort of
the scientific community to evaluate the problems of climate change,
and it should be listened to.
Those of us who are based in universities are accustomed to
presenting directly our findings and our opinions about the context of
our results. In most of my experience, our colleagues in national
laboratories have had almost as much freedom in their presentations.
Presentation of one's work as one sees it is the bedrock of the
scientific enterprise. However, in the last several years, my
scientific conversations have run into far too many instances in which
the reports of the significance of the work have been subsequently
changed by others, often by persons with less, or even no, expertise in
the subject at hand. Some of these conflicts have been gathered
together, with verified details, by the Union of Concerned Scientists
and by the Government Accountability Project, and are presented here
today. The working out of the best approaches to mitigation or
adaptation to future climatic change is critically dependent upon
possession of the most accurate and pertinent knowledge.
I will conclude by quoting the remarks of the late Senator John
Chafee of Rhode Island at the closing of a hearing on the atmosphere
which had just been held with the Senate Subcommittee on the
Environment, which he chaired.
``If we were masters of the world, we would do something about
carbon dioxide. But we are not. We can't tell the Soviets what
to do, or the Chinese. But it seems to me that is not an excuse
for no action at all on the part of the United States. That is
why I find fault with the view that if we take action, the
Europeans may not. But that is not a call to inaction to me. We
ought to do what we can and set an example.''
These were his comments in June 1986, and unfortunately they are
just as applicable now as they were 21 years ago.
The Chairman. Dr. Rowland, I thank you very much, and if I
may, I'd like to begin my questioning.
It has come to my attention that in July of last year, the
American Enterprise Institute--a well-known think-tank in
Washington--sent letters to climate scientists offering $10,000
to those willing to dispute the findings of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which
consolidated world research on climate change, and concluded
that human activities are warming the planet.
And, if I may, I'd like to place a copy of this letter in
[The information previously referred to follows:]
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Washington, DC, July 5, 2006
Prof. Steve Schroeder,
Department of Atmospheric Sciences,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX.
Dear Prof. Schroeder:
The American Enterprise Institute is launching a major project to
produce a review and policy critique of the forthcoming Fourth
Assessment Report (FAR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC), due for release in the Spring of 2007. We are looking to
commission a series of review essays from a broad panel of experts to
be published concurrent with the release of the FAR, and we want to
invite you to be one of the authors.
The purpose of this project is to highlight the strengths and
weaknesses of the IPCC process, especially as it bears on potential
policy responses to climate change. As with any large-scale
``consensus'' process, the IPCC is susceptible to self-selection bias
in its personnel, resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent, and
prone to summary conclusions that are poorly supported by the
analytical work of the complete Working Group reports. An independent
review of the FAR will advance public deliberation about the extent of
potential future climate change and clarify the basis for various
policy strategies. Because advance drafts of the FAR are available for
outside review (the report of Working Group I is already out; Working
Groups II and III will be released for review shortly), a concurrent
review of the FAR is feasible for the first time.
From our earlier discussions of climate modeling (with both
yourself and Prof. North), I developed considerable respect for the
integrity with which your lab approaches the characterization of
climate modeling data. We are hoping to sponsor a paper by you and
Prof. North that thoughtfully explores the limitations of climate model
outputs as they pertain to the development of climate policy (as
opposed to the utility of climate models in more theoretical climate
research). In particular, we are looking for an author who can write a
well-supported but accessible discussion of which elements of climate
modeling have demonstrated predictive value that might make them
policy-relevant and which elements of climate modeling have less levels
of predictive utility, and hence, less utility in developing climate
policy. If you are interested in the idea, or have thoughts about who
else might be interested, please give Ken Green a call at your
If you and Prof. North are agreeable to being authors, AEI will
offer an honoraria of $10,000. The essay should be in the range of
7,500 to 10,000 words, though it can be longer. The deadline for a
complete draft will be December 15, 2007. We intend to hold a series of
small conferences and seminars in Washington and elsewhere to coincide
with the release of both the FAR and our assessment in the Spring or
Summer of 2007, for which we can provide travel expenses and additional
honoraria if you are able to participate.
Please feel free to contact us with questions and thoughts on this
Kenneth Green, Ph.D.
Steven F. Hayward, Ph.D.
The Chairman. This letter is addressed to Professor Steve
Schroeder, dated July 5, 2006, on the letterhead of the
American Enterprise Institute, and signed by Dr. Steven Haywood
and Dr. Kenneth Green.
Dr. Rowland, have you seen this type of letter?
Dr. Rowland. I did see that letter. A couple of days ago.
The Chairman. And what are your thoughts on this letter?
Dr. Rowland. I think it illustrates the problem of getting
science out in an understandable fashion in Washington, D.C.,
where there are many competing sources--many of them with
money--that put out steady information that affect the general
public's view of what is going on.
Within the scientific community, with its refereed
publications, there has been very little denial or avoidance of
the realization that global warming is actually happening. The
question of details is always valid, but the fact that Alaska
is showing all of these signs of increasing temperature, makes
me say simply that global warming is occurring. Our problem now
is, what can we do to slow it down, to adapt to it, to
mitigate. But, we have to take very seriously the fact that
The Chairman. Do you see this letter as an attempt to bribe
scientists to manufacture criticism of the IPCC report
Dr. Rowland. I think that the question of who is a
scientist and what they believe is a very broad-ranging one.
There are undoubtedly people that will respond to this, that
have their own beliefs. What I'm saying is that the
overwhelming opinion of the scientists that have spent their
discussions trying to understand it, say global warming is
occurring. There certainly are facets that need to be explored,
but using the existing knowledge to denigrate the IPCC, I
think, is unfortunate. But it's something that will go on. We
need to keep in mind that the scientific community has tried to
do the best they can on this, and is putting out their result
in the IPCC reports. And I would urge people to examine the
science as discussed there, rather than what appears in other
less scientific sources.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
Mr. Piltz, I just have a few minutes left. What are your
thoughts on the letter?
Mr. Piltz. On the letter? Yes, I saw an example of that
letter last year when it was going around, one of the leading
scientists shared it with me. I know that they were concerned
about it. I hesitate to attribute motives to the sender of the
letter. I do think it's important when you have the
international science community, through the IPCC, or through
other major assessments that are well-reviewed and well-vetted,
that this is the material that those of us who are not
necessarily climate science experts should use, and embrace.
And, I do think we have seen the beginnings of an
orchestrated political effort to undermine the perception of
the IPCC. Because the IPCC's conclusions about global climate
change, and its implications, raise questions that could cause
pressure for a stronger policy. And people who don't find that
politically congenial do have an interest in somehow making it
look like the IPCC is somehow controversial.
So, I was concerned, when I saw this. As to whether that
was part of this sort of, denialist or contrarian or skeptic
The Chairman. Dr. Mahoney, do you think that if we follow
the path we're following, we're on a path to destruction that's
Dr. Mahoney. Mr. Chairman, yes I do. I think that the time-
scale over which that, the word you use was destruction, would
occur, is something that needs to continue to have sharpened--
more and more sharp definition in time. So, I think that is--
the way I view what we do with the science now, I think the
last few years have seen a real coalescence of the science on
the fundamental issue that humans are a principle cause of the
climate change that we're seeing.
We could refer back many years, and many scientists would
say we already had a consensus, but I think it's fair to say
that that consensus has become more firm and more broad in the
last very few years. And so now, I look at the science as
appropriately turning its attention to what I described in a
lecture last week, for example, is the very important
differential questions: What impacts are the most severe, and
when are they likely to occur? What's our confidence in that
because we have to pay special attention that, if we estimate a
time too long, we're in grave trouble, of course. What
mitigation measures would help the most, and when and where do
they need to be applied?
So, I think I see something of the nature of a sea change
in the science, where we can turn away from this fundamental
yes or no, is there any human influence--the answer is yes. But
now we have an even greater challenge for the science, which is
to say--let us really get on about figuring out, with the best
confidence we can, when changes are likely to occur, and what's
our ability to forestall those changes by the various measures
available to us.
The Chairman. One last question.
In my four decades of experience in the Senate, I have
observed that people of the United States begin to act when
they get scared, or there's something they fear down the road.
Most people will conclude that at this moment they have not
reached that level of fright regarding climate change. When
will something happen where people will come to this level of
fright? Dr. Rowland?
Dr. Rowland. I will resort to discussing an earlier
problem--that of stratospheric ozone depletion, where the
question of what should be done was being discussed back and
forth. The United States in that case took action in 1976,
while the rest of the world--except for Scandinavia--was not
aggressively pursuing the problem, until suddenly the Antarctic
ozone hole appeared. This manifestation of loss of ozone--in a
distant location, but with massive loss there, suddenly raised
the attention of everybody, saying, ``We don't understand it
completely, but this sudden change to the Earth seems to have
been done by man,'' That realization led very quickly to the
Montreal Protocol, and to the toughening of the controls on
chlorofluorocarbons, in fact, their elimination by 1996, as far
The important consequence there was, in fact, the
appearance of something totally unpredicted. I'm afraid, that
that's what the likelihood will be on global warming. Something
will happen that we haven't really factored in, that is even
more serious than the things that we have seen. Sea level will
rise gradually, but something else--I'm still concerned about
that. There are enough changes going on to be very worried just
by what we see. But, we don't know, we don't understand the
Earth system completely, and so maybe something else will
The Chairman. If this was an issue of great concern and
fright, these seats would have been filled here.
Thank you very much.
Senator Stevens. Thank you.
I do have another conflict, as I told the Chairman, let me
just ask a general question or two.
We've been pursuing this subject at the Arctic Institute,
International Arctic Research Commission in Fairbanks for some
time. And, with the cooperation of the Congress, we've put
vessels out on the Arctic Ocean for the last 4 years to measure
the change in temperature, and to really follow the change in
the ice, as it shifted around in the Arctic Ocean.
As I said in my opening statement, I've been told that the
oscillations in both the Atlantic and Pacific have increased
the temperature of the water going into the Arctic Ocean, and
that had a lot to do with this disappearance, or the starting
of the disappearance of the Arctic Ice. We've had some
predictions that it might be as early as 2040, others told us
it would be 2320--so, we've had a whole series of predictions
Beyond that, I'm told now that because of that increase in
temperature of the Arctic, both the Russian and Alaska ice is
thinning and the permafrost is starting to melt and recede, and
as it does, it's releasing a great deal of methane emissions.
And, that the studies show that not only that, it contributes
to methane, but the increased cultivation of the lands of the
Earth is adding a great deal of methane, and the chart I saw
showed that the methane spike was greater than all of the other
greenhouse gases together.
Now, I'm looking at this from the point of view of our
safety. Some people are suggesting, ``Let's just put a blanket
over Alaska, and don't let them develop anything more.'' We
have 34,000 trillion cubic feet of gas. We have half of the
Nation's supply of coal. We have more oil and gas out on the
Outer Continental Shelf, we have two-thirds of the Continental
Now, our future, I think, needs some of that energy, but at
the same time, these other issues are coming up about
greenhouse gases, and I wonder two things: One, is it possible
to capture some of that methane as the permafrost in Russia and
the U.S. subsides? I'm told that's increasing annually, the
amounts that are being released. On the other hand, is it
possible to convince the farm community that there ought to be
some different way of using fertilizer, so that the methane
doesn't come from the farm community? And, do any of you
conclude that the people who say we should shut down Alaska are
Now, it's a hard job to represent a State that's one-fifth
the size of the United States and we have three Representatives
in Congress. We find that out too often. Now, the Chairman
says, is anyone scared? I'm scared. And I've changed my policy
on the concepts of the CAFE standards--I want to know what else
we can do to convince the rest of the country that this is a
serious question, and action should be taken?
And I can go back--is it possible to trap some of this
methane as it escapes? I'm told if we could refine that
methane, it would be a very good fuel, better than some of the
other gases and petroleum. But, it's escaping.
Dr. Rowland. I don't think that it is possible to trap the
methane from such widespread sources. However, I do have to say
that our own global methane measurements have shown that the
amount of methane in the atmosphere, the yearly increase, has
been slowing down for the last few years. There has been very
little change in the global amount since the year 2000. This
leveling off shows up in our data, and it shows up in the NOAA
data from Boulder, Colorado. We're trying to understand why the
increase in the amount of methane in the atmosphere has slowed
down. I attribute part of this to places where people have been
capping off leakage, because they realize that methane can be--
if it is trapped and prevented from escaping, then they can
sell it as a fuel.
Senator Stevens. That's what I'm saying, can we do that in
Dr. Rowland. I don't think you can, unless it's a very
concentrated source. I don't think you can do it with cows or
rice paddies, which are other sources.
What can be done is with that part that's already under the
control of mankind--namely the oil and gas industry. We went
into the Southwest United States into Oklahoma and Texas and
Kansas, and found that there were a lot of hydrocarbon leakages
there. And that seems to be something, a very positive thing
that we can do, that is to look all over the U.S., and all over
the world, for that matter--about those places where we have
methane already under control, but are letting it escape
because it leaks away. That's something that I think might
counteract very strongly the tendency toward increases in the
amount of methane in the atmosphere.
Senator Stevens. Well, what about--I've got to leave, this
is my last question, I'm really late now--what about the impact
of the oscillation of the Atlantic and the Pacific? The heat in
the Arctic Ocean? That's not man-made, that came from the sun.
Dr. Rowland. That's not man-made, but the consequences of
it are spread very widely. It's only when you have something
already in a controlled fashion that you do well in improving
Senator Stevens. Well, thank you all, I do have some
questions to submit for the record, also, and I look forward to
reading some of the documents that you submitted for the
record. I appreciate it very much, Senator.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
Senator Lautenberg. Thanks, Mr. Chairman, and thanks to all
of you for the work that you've done, and for bringing your
views, even though we have a contrary analysis of what a couple
have said. After having heard so much about the intimidation of
science, and scientists and their effort to tell it like it is,
Mr. Knutson, you said that NOAA had sent Public Affairs
officers to monitor comments that you would be making to the
press--what do you think, once again--what was their intention?
Did they just want to listen to you? You have a lot of
intelligent knowledge, did they just want to hear?
Mr. Knutson. I'd rather not speculate on their motives. I
can say that they did not interfere with what I said in these
appearances, but I know a number of scientists have commented
that this just seems to not be right, that it seems--some call
this activity ``minders''--having minders come around to see
what see what we say, and sort of monitor us.
Senator Lautenberg. You're generous in your views.
Mr. Piltz. Well, how Mr. Knutson was dealt with by the NOAA
political structure has been revealed--at least to some
extent--by internal e-mail traffic that was obtained by Freedom
of Information Act requests, and it was--in particular--after
Hurricane Katrina and toward the end of the 2005 hurricane
season when NOAA was, this was very much in the media, and
there was the question of, does the intensity of this hurricane
activity have something to do with global warming? Clearly, it
was on the public's mind. And the NOAA leadership was doing a
press wrap-up on the season and all of that, and it seemed to
me, there was clearly an effort to selectively put forward
certain scientists at NOAA and keep others out of the media, in
such as way as to sort of sever the link in the public mind
between increased hurricane intensity and global warming.
Tom Knutson's work was climate modeling projections that
showed that under business-as-usual greenhouse gas scenarios,
that over the course of the 21st century, more and more of our
hurricanes would be category four and category five.
There was a political operative at the Department of
Commerce who, in collusion with the NOAA Press Office, didn't
want Tom Knutson giving interviews to the press in which he
would describe his work. And instead, they selectively put
forward people from the weather service who said, ``We don't
see any connection.'' It's a tremendous--it's a really amazing
example of the mismanagement, misrepresentation of the state of
knowledge on this issue, selectively, by the NOAA leadership.
Senator Lautenberg. We have documents that show redaction
and changes in wording that ``could be dangerous, might be
dangerous,'' or ``is dangerous''--what does that say? Is there
any possibility that this was just innocent scribbling?
Dr. Mahoney. No, Senator. Senator, no--I don't think those
comments were made where they were, or they were offered as
editorial comments. I don't think they were offered simply to
try to pick one word over another, I think they were attempts
to create a more moderate picture, or a less dangerous picture.
If I pick up on the Chairman's words, the issue is how much
would the public be scared by some of these things? I have no
doubt that some people interpret their, did interpret their
jobs as--among other things--aimed toward reducing, what I
call, the ``fear factor.'' I'm just quoting that here, I'm not
saying that's a phrase in common use about it. And that would
be a reason that some editorial comments would be reflected
I do think there's another matter that is important in
context to this, Senator, if I could add to that. Some
documents are meant to be project reports, or planning
documents or things of that sort. And, I saw occasions to my
views, since this--much of this came to my attention--where
some, including among working scientists, would see in the case
of a document, the opportunity to editorialize, somewhat, by
pointing out the great problems that might occur. Because,
after all, each of us as individuals have our thoughts and
feelings--we may feel this is highly possible, or not, in some
So, from the perspective of trying to create a plan
document, or an overall project report document, I would find
that I would try to be very careful to avoid extremes at either
end. And the extreme at the one end would be that which, would
be attempts to take out all the scary words. The extreme at the
other end would be that, that would say, ``The sky is
falling,'' when it may not be appropriate to say that. So, I--
Senator Lautenberg. Well, it certainly doesn't seem to have
been a journalistic exercise, to improve the quality of the
language. I mean, it's obviously designed to change what's
being said into something less, something different.
And, Mr. Piltz, do you want to make a last comment, before
I get chastised by the Chairman?
Mr. Piltz. Yes, Senator, if I could just comment on that. I
worked for the Climate Change Science Program for 10 years, and
I worked with career science professionals throughout the
agencies, putting together 9 editions of the annual report of
the Program to Congress, Our Changing Planet. It's not a
technical document, it's a communication to Congress and to a
wider audience, but it had many state of knowledge statements
I'm not a scientist, but I worked with 90 career science
professionals, with them clearing every step of the way, to put
together the most careful, reviewed language on what was
understood, the highlights of recent research, and what the
And, that--once that had been cleared by the science
professionals--and I was accountable to them at every step of
the way, it would go to the White House for final review and
clearance. And there, political gatekeepers would step in. And
most notably, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Chief-
of-Staff for several years there was a former oil industry
lobbyist, who clearly had a political agenda.
And, I think, if you kind of look at the process, he was
not accountable back to the science community, his proposed
edits didn't have to be vetted by anyone, there was some
pushing and pulling as to exactly how much of it to take, but I
think that if you put it in front of the scientists and say,
``Was this editing that enhanced the quality of the scientific
communication, or made it more accurate?'' I think you will
find that the answer was no.
And so, I don't think it was a question of toning down
extremes. I think it was a question of White House
misrepresentation of language that had been agreed upon by
Senator Lautenberg. I will close with this, Mr. Chairman. I
have a report submitted from the U.S. Climate Change Science
Program in 2003, and it starts with, ``Warming will also cause
reductions in mountain glaciers, advance the timing of the melt
of mountain snow, of snow packs in polar regions,'' et cetera,
et cetera. And the entire paragraph is deleted, by Mr. Cooney,
I believe. And, I mean, that evidence is hardly circumstantial.
This is a gross attempt not to furnish the information as it
was developed, period.
Mr. Piltz. I think it was generally understood among people
in the program that there was something about this process that
wasn't completely on the up-and-up. Everyone has a right to
comment, but I think under the previous Administration,
comments of as little merit as we were seeing would have been
flat-out rejected by the Program Office, and they would have
been backed up by the White House Science Office, and here, a
lot of that stuff was being allowed to go through. And I--I
think that the science leadership was trying to hold the line,
but they were really under a tremendous amount of White House
pressure. That's why the National Assessment got suppressed,
they're not even allowed to talk about that, to this day.
Senator Lautenberg. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. It
will be on us if we don't listen to what we're hearing these
Thank you very much.
The Chairman. Thank you very much, Senator Lautenberg. I'd
like to recognize Senator Nelson, but before I do, I'd like to
note that Senator Nelson is an astronaut, he worked on NASA
issues for several years. And, as all of you aware, in research
of this problem, climate change, the bulk of the money is in
NASA. And his subcommittee is the one that authorizes the
funding for research for NASA. So, he's a kingpin.
STATEMENT OF HON. BILL NELSON,
U.S. SENATOR FROM FLORIDA
Senator Nelson. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, I would
describe myself as a lieutenant of Senator Inouye, and it is a
privilege. Thank you for this opportunity.
Thank you all for your public service.
Dr. Griffin, the Administrator for NASA, assures me that
this attempted muzzling of scientists at NASA has stopped. I
would like to know your observations. Does anybody disagree
Senator Nelson. Does that mean you all agree that the
muzzling has stopped? I mean, this kind of nonsense is going to
Dr. Mahoney. Senator, I think I could comment, certainly
for myself, and just by noting the affiliation of others around
the table. We all may hear things generally, I don't think we
have a close-in observer of NASA practices these days. My--all
that I've heard is that there's been a major improvement in
recent times. But, I don't think that there's a strong
oversight role here in the--at the witness table at the moment.
Senator Nelson. Mr. Piltz?
Mr. Piltz. The last four pages of my written testimony
submission, Senator, is a memorandum prepared by the Legal
Director of the Government Accountability Project, with which
I'm affiliated, on the NASA media policy. And, we do
acknowledge that there has been a significant improvement in
the ability of NASA scientists' ability to communicate.
However, there are problems with that media policy. There
are hidden traps in it that could be used, there are issues
having to do with the protections under the Whistleblower
Protection Act that are not fully incorporated into that
policy, and I'm not technical on this issue, but I commend it
to your attention, and the Committee's for your consideration.
Senator Nelson. OK, we will follow up on that. It's my
judgment that Dr. Griffin wants to exorcise any of that
political restraint on scientists in his agency, and I
certainly want to assist him in making sure that that's the
Now, at least NASA has come out with a communications
policy, which you refer to. Tell me, Dr. Brennan, why hasn't
NOAA come out with such policy?
Dr. Brennan. Well, sir, thank you for the question. As I
indicated in my statement, the Department of Commerce is in the
process of finalizing a revised policy that overcomes some
inconsistent and confusing communication policies from several
One of the things I think is important to bear in mind,
sir, is that the Department of Commerce has not just NOAA in
its operational science and forecasting-type of capability, it
also has the scientific measurement, precision measurement of
the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, it has the
population dynamic research and science of the Census Bureau,
Economic Analyses and Forecasting, so it has a wide array of
scientific disciplines, and consequently, it has a much more
difficult matter of developing a policy that will be applicable
throughout that range of disciplines.
Nevertheless, sir, and I think it has been pointed out
here, the Department has put together a policy that provides an
opportunity for scientists to address their scientific
findings, without the interference of the Public Affairs, if
they so choose--a policy that has an appeals process, so that
if there's any concern, there's a rapid means of addressing
that, and also a robust training program so that any mistakes
that have been made in the past can be overcome, and we can set
this behind us.
Senator Nelson. Well, I just heard what you said, with
regard to all of the multiplicity of disciplines, and so forth,
but what we're trying to get at is that scientists are not
politically intimidated. We want that intimidation dead. As
former Congresswoman Carrie Meeks said, ``Black Flag dead.''
And, I would assume that you bringing out a policy that
everybody can see would be important. So, when do we expect
that policy to come?
Dr. Brennan. Sir, it's my understanding that it will be
issued in the next couple of weeks.
Again, sir, several scientists throughout the agencies
participated in several rounds and iterations and developments,
and have made this a much-improved product.
Senator Nelson. All right, let's talk about the cooperation
between NASA and NOAA.
There was a pretty rocky time, back a few years ago, and
that particularly came out with regard to the GOES and the
POESS. No, the GOES and the POESS satellites were the ones that
we had pretty good coordination. But, a few years ago as you
worked to this new system called NPOESS, we had a pretty rocky
time in coordination.
Are NASA and NOAA beginning to cooperate a little better?
Dr. Anthes. An important part of our recommendation to OSTP
was to develop a national strategy so that we have a long-term
plan for Earth observations that would involve both NASA and
NOAA in a more coordinated fashion. There is definitely room
for improvement in the relationship between NASA and NOAA in
terms of transitioning research observations into operational
observations. So, we're recommending that a national plan be
developed which transcends Administrations and Congresses and
develops a long-term plan for sustained Earth observations for
both research, operations, and applications.
Senator Nelson. Is there anything that needs to be done
(from your recommendation to us) in our oversight capacity with
regard to the leadership of those two organizations to get them
to get along better?
Dr. Anthes. It's difficult to legislate individuals to get
along. That's why our recommendation to OSTP is to develop a
process that transcends whoever's in power at the moment in the
two agencies, so that it's not a matter of people getting along
personally, but a plan that's in the national interest,
regardless of who's in charge.
Senator Nelson. It is my understanding, and it is certainly
my hope, that Dr. Griffin and the Admiral are having a fairly
good, open line of communication, working on this system now.
Is that translating down into the lower structure of the
bureaucracy in those two agencies?
Dr. Anthes. Well, you'd have to ask the lower structures of
Senator Nelson. What's your observation, is what I'm trying
Dr. Anthes. In terms of our report, it's too early to see
if there will be any action. But there definitely needs to be
action. That's why we're recommending these 17 missions to both
NOAA and NASA, and we certainly hope the two agencies get
together and do something. This does not require a huge amount
of money. To do the incremental program requires about $2.50
per person in the United States. That's an inexpensive visit to
the coffee shop. So, this can be done, and nothing is more
important. The Nation is at risk by our diminishment of
Senator Nelson. Mr. Chairman, I have two more questions,
I'll be happy to wait until after Senator Kerry has finished.
Senator Kerry. I'm happy to have you finish.
Senator Nelson. All right, let me ask you again, Dr.
Anthes, what essential space-based measurement capabilities are
going to be lost in the coming decade, and what is the impact
on climate research?
Dr. Anthes. Well, a number of observations are being
degraded, and some are being lost. For example, ocean
altimetry, measuring the sea level height, a very important
variable for monitoring climate change, how fast the sea level
Vertical profiles of ozone are being lost. The atmospheric
sounding capability, the vertical profiling capability of
temperature and water vapors is being seriously degraded--not
completely lost, but being degraded. The loss of these
capabilities will affect, not only our measurements of how
climate is changing in all regions of the world, but also the
prediction by the numerical models of hurricanes and other
So, it's a whole suite of observations, scores of them
which are either being degraded, or lost completely.
The important thing is that it is the system of these
observations that is important. It's not just one single type
of observation, it's how they all work together that counts. It
is like taking a measurement of your body's health. You don't
want to just measure one part of the body, you have to
understand and measure the whole body.
So, that's what we're talking about--it's important to
measure the entire Earth with a suite of observations, that
puts the picture together of how the whole planet is changing.
That's what we're recommending.
Senator Nelson. Mr. Chairman, that's where I want to sound
the alarm bell. Because it is in the degrading of those systems
that we're losing our ability to measure the changes, which is
the very subject of this hearing. And, yet global warming is
the reason we need to have those assets up there. And, they're
We've had the Triana satellite spacecraft, sitting in a can
waiting to be launched for several years. One of its functions
would be to measure the heat of the Earth, which just happens
to dovetail with the subject that we've been discussing here,
What do you think about that?
Dr. Anthes. Well, you have to measure, you have to know how
much energy the sun is putting out, You have to measure, also,
how much the Earth is radiating back. The balance of these two
is responsible for global warming. Right now, there's a net
surplus of energy coming into the Earth. So, to separate the
factors of solar variability, greenhouse gas increases and
other contributions such as changing soil moisture, changing
reflectivity of clouds, melting ice, and so forth, you have to
measure the radiation coming back from the planet.
So, yes, if you don't measure these essential climate
forcing functions, you're not going to be able to understand
what's happening now, what's happened in the past, and
certainly what is likely to happen in the future.
Senator Nelson. Mr. Chairman, that's about $150 million
launch cost for that Triana satellite, it's sitting there. It's
built and under the present constraints of NASA, they have
difficulty coming up with that money for launching. We may want
to look to see outside of the budget of NASA, or create an add
for that, but also that's not to minimize all of these other
And, my final question Dr., Mr. Piltz--or I guess it's Dr.
Mr. Piltz. Mr. Piltz.
Senator Nelson. All right. Tell us what you think about the
budget trend for climate research, being consistent or
inconsistent with the scientific importance of this work?
Mr. Piltz. Well, whenever it's criticized, this
Administration likes to say, ``Well, we spend a whole lot of
money on research.'' And it is a big research program, and it's
a fine research program, it's worthy of bipartisan support. But
this Administration has been systematically cutting the budget
for the Climate Change Science Program, in the Fiscal Year 2008
request, it's down almost 30 percent in real terms, from just 4
years ago, in 2004. That is a radical cutback. And most of that
can be accounted for by the NASA scientific research, and
especially global observing system budget. This is a major
problem. It's not a $2 billion program anymore, it's a $1.5
billion program, and it was that in 1991, when it was just
ramping up as a new start under then-President Bush.
If I could just add one recommendation for your oversight
on the NPOESS crisis, there is a joint document, December 2006,
prepared by NASA Earth Science Division, and the NOAA Climate
Observations and Analysis Program that describes in detail the
impacts of the Nunn-McCurdy certification of NPOESS on the
Climate Program goals of NASA and NOAA. I do not think this
document has been released, but--but it describes in stark
terms, in NPOESS the Pentagon dumping the climate sensors off
the next generation of environmental satellites--that is the
future of the climate-observing system. And, we have a major
I recommend that, if you do oversight on this, that you not
limit yourself to hearing testimony only from Administration
political appointees, such as the NASA Administrator and the
NOAA Administrator, the Director of OSTP. I mean, they're
committed to advancing, you know, White House policy and
political objectives, and they'll tend to put the best face on
a bad situation, and perhaps be less than fully forthcoming
with the Committee in calling things to your attention.
I recommend that you hear from and ask the tough questions
of people who wrote that joint report to the White House. Bring
in people like Tom Karl of the NOAA National Climactic Data
Center, the Director there, or Jack Kaye, of the NASA Earth
Science Division, and get them to tell you a straight story.
Senator Nelson. Thank you for that recommendation. We'll
follow up on that.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Senator Kerry.
The Chairman. And now I'd like to call upon a recognized
leader in this area of concern, Senator Kerry.
Senator Kerry. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, very, very much.
Gentlemen, I apologize for not being able to be here during
your testimonies, because we had a competing hearing in the
Finance Committee on the budget. But, I did get a summary of
each of them from my staff, so I'm aware of what you said,
pretty much, and will follow up on a few of the things that you
did say, and go to a few other places, too, if I can.
Mr. Piltz, let me just confirm with you--you were the
coordinator of the National Assessment, you coordinated the
agencies that put together the National Assessment for the year
Mr. Piltz. I did not have operational responsibility for
the National Assessment. It was coordinated out of the office
that I worked in. The National Assessment Coordinator, Dr.
Michael McCracken, had a separate staff within the program that
I worked in. And I was working on the annual reports to
Congress, and other things. I was very closely attuned to what
was happening with that, I was in on the early planning
meetings, I saw the whole process by which the National
Assessment was developed, I went to the meetings of the
synthesis team and the regional workshops around the country,
and I saw exactly what happened to it, under the Bush
Administration, from practically the day----
Senator Kerry. You described that earlier. Precisely what
happened to it? Would you describe it right now?
Mr. Piltz. Well, as early as 2001, and much more
aggressively from the middle of 2002 onward, the Administration
moved to first ignore and then actively suppress the--they
disbanded the whole National Assessment process, this
nationwide expert-stakeholder dialogue that was the
intelligence gathering, diagnosis capability. And, they
literally suppressed the use of the report, for any--I mean,
not just as a policy document, which it wasn't, but even for
I was directed by the White House Science Office to delete
the section on the National Assessment from the annual report
to Congress in the year it came out, and then from the middle
of 2002 onward, we had a very strong push to take it out of the
Strategic Plan, and----
Senator Kerry. Did they tell you why they wanted you to
take it out? Were you given any reasons?
Mr. Piltz. No, there is--the Administration has never gone
on record with any reason for why there is anything wrong with
the National Assessment. It has been used by the IPCC, it has
been used by the Academy, it has been praised by the Academy,
and no scientific or intellectual justification has been given
for why this would not be playing a significant role in
research planning and decision-support activities. Not just the
original document, which is 6 years old now, but the whole
process that it initiated, of unfettered communication.
No, there's never been, I mean--I think it's evident that
the reasons were politically driven, rather than scientifically
justified. I think it's generally understood within the
Senator Kerry. And as you say, it was generally
understood--what was the understanding about what the political
Mr. Piltz. Well, you know, Dr. Mahoney could probably
address this too, but I--it was my----
Senator Kerry. He's smiling, he's looking forward to doing
Mr. Piltz. It was my understanding--and I was not in the
room when high Administration officials decided this, I just
saw the fallout from it--but it is my understanding that the
White House directed the CCSP leadership, and in particular,
it's my understanding that Phil Cooney at CEQ was the proximate
White House political operative agent. But just as an operative
in a chain of command that went all the way to the top--
directing the CCSP leadership that we weren't going to be using
this report, discussing it, putting it in the Strategic Plan,
and making it very clear that we were not going to go forward
with another integrated National Assessment process.
And that was transmitted, then, to the agencies by the, at
the principals level.
Senator Kerry. How many years had you worked there?
Mr. Piltz. Ten years.
Senator Kerry. What was your background before that?
Mr. Piltz. Well, I had been working on the collision
between science and policy on global warming since I first
moved to Washington in 1988, the same week as the famous
hearing where Jim Hansen testified. I was on the staff of the
House Science Committee for 4 years, 1991 to 1994, I'm--my
academic training is as a social scientist. At this point I
know a lot more science than most policy people, and a lot more
politics than most scientists, so I'm in between those two
Senator Kerry. And what do you think has been the
consequence for our country of this flat-Earth approach to the
science and the global warming issue itself, global climate
Mr. Piltz. Well, you know, the Administration has had many
mechanisms, I mean, there's the National Assessment, there's
the keeping scientists away from the media, there are some
disappearing websites, there are these pre-clearances--it goes
on and on--ignoring the Arctic Assessment, it just depends on
what they need to do. But, the net effect of it, is rather than
to embrace the scientific assessment and use that to drive
effective response strategies, it's somehow worrying about
trying to make the science communication conform to a pre-
determined political position, that might be threatened by a
more straightforward science communication.
Senator Kerry. What would you call that?
Mr. Piltz. What would I call it?
Senator Kerry. What's the--I mean, what's the rationale?
Mr. Piltz. I believe that, sir, when the President is asked
about global warming, and says, ``Yes, the Earth is warming,
fundamental debate--is it man-made or natural? '' That's not a
fundamental debate in the science community. And, I mean, you
ask me what would I call it? I call it misrepresenting the
Senator Kerry. Dr. Mahoney, your testimony, your written
testimony, leads one to believe that there had been no real
occurrences where NOAA scientists have been prevented from
speaking freely regarding their scientific findings to the
media, is that really your opinion?
Dr. Mahoney. No, it isn't, Senator, and I don't think I
Senator Kerry. Well, just in the written testimony, it
doesn't make it explicit. Could you make it explicit here, now?
Are there instances where scientific findings have been
prevented from being spoken about to the media by scientists,
by NOAA scientists?
Dr. Mahoney. What I think has occurred, Senator, in some
cases is, in the process of interacting with the Public Affairs
representatives in NOAA in particular, there's a perception
developed that some of the scientists were discouraged, or at
least not encouraged, and in some cases discouraged from
carrying out interviews with the media. In some cases,
interviews that might have been set up were denied by the
Public Affairs Office representatives and the like. And, I
certainly saw instances of that during my time at NOAA.
Senator Kerry. Dr. Anthes, you said in your testimony that
we need to restore U.S. leadership on Earth science, and that
the Bush cuts to NOAA and NASA have hurt us. The cuts are about
30 percent, aren't they?
Dr. Anthes. The cuts in NASA are about 30 percent, and in
real purchasing power, from the value as recent as the year
2000. So, this is a 30 percent cut in the Earth science
research. And you can look forward, into the future, and see
that there are almost no plans in NASA for additional missions
to study the Earth from space. I showed a chart in my testimony
that shows the number of instruments was decreasing from about
120 last year, to something like 80 in 3 years from now, and
then on down to 50 percent by 2015. So, unless things are
turned around, there is a huge shift away from Earth science
and observations from space, which are needed more than ever.
This is not the time to be cutting back on observations, it's
the time to restore them and restore the U.S. to a leadership
Senator Kerry. Well now, each of you with one exception,
have testified here to the need to commit to science. What we
have on the record here is a picture of this Administration
willfully, purposefully, quashing science from reaching the
American people. Willfully stepping in the way of legitimate
global climate change conclusions being drawn. Willfully
stepping in the way of proactive steps to try to deal with
this. In effect, a dodge and a duck, an avoidance of reality.
That's the conclusion you have to draw from scientists being
told, ``Don't talk about it,'' words being stripped out of
reports, and budgets being cut.
Dr. Brennan, what's your response to that? Are you proud of
a record of the last 6 years that sees the United States
falling behind the rest of the world, avoiding science, and not
telling the American people the truth?
Dr. Brennan. Thanks, sir. My response to that is that the
United States is the lead in advancing climate science, as I
testified, the United States involvement in the world----
Senator Kerry. How can you be the lead in advancing climate
science if--I mean, I was here with Senator Hollings, as
Senator Inouye was, when we passed the Global Change Research
Act, 1990. And we specifically set out the following, ``at
least every 4 years, to give us the National Scientific
Assessment. To integrate, evaluate, interpret research findings
on climate change, scientific uncertainties, analyze the
effects of global climate change on the natural environment,
agriculture, energy production, use, land and water resources,
transportation, human health, welfare, human social systems,
biological diversity, analyze current trends in global change,
both human inducted and natural.'' Don't you think that if the
IPCC report comes out in 2001, if you guys were serious about
this, that you might have reported to the Congress after that
your judgments about that report?
Dr. Brennan. Sir, as you know the Administration, utilizing
the CCSP process, is advancing the 21 Synthesis and Assessment
Reports to advance our understanding of a science that is
developing and evolving very rapidly, and it provides a very
direct way to get advances to----
Senator Kerry. Well, let me ask you about your
understanding. Do you accept the scientific consensus that
since the Industrial Revolution, the planet has warmed up by
0.8 degrees Centigrade, do you accept that?
Dr. Brennan. I accept that the scientific consensus that
unequivocally indicates that the Earth is warming, and that
there are anthropogenic causes for that.
Senator Kerry. Do you accept the science that says that
that carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere, coupled
with other greenhouse gas will continue to do damage for its
half-life of whatever, 70 years or more, and that therefore, no
matter what we do, there will be another add-on of temperature
increase to somewhere in the vicinity of 1.5 degrees
centigrade, do you accept that?
Dr. Brennan. I accept that we are continuing to add
emissions to our environment----
Senator Kerry. That's not what I asked you. I asked you
whether or not the existing levels, no matter what is added,
just what is there now, pre-ordains a continued increase in
temperature up to about 1.5 degrees, do you accept that?
Dr. Brennan. I accept that we have carbon increasing in our
atmosphere, sir, yes.
Senator Kerry. So, you accept that we're stuck with that
increase in temperature, no matter what we do?
Dr. Brennan. No, I believe that the temperature will
continue to increase.
Senator Kerry. Fair enough. And, do you accept the
consensus of the scientific community are now ratified by what
was put out in Paris last week, that we can no longer afford
the cushion of a temperature increase up to 3 degrees
centigrade, we are now stuck with a 2 degree, sort of,
precautionary level, which leaves us now with a margin of 1.5
to 2 degrees. That everything man-made that we do, in India, in
China, here, the entire cushion available to us is a 0.5
degree, do you accept that science?
Dr. Brennan. I agree that the cushion available to us is
narrow, sir. And the Administration supports the IPCC report.
Senator Kerry. If that's the case, where is the plan for
this Administration to cut carbon? To cap carbon? To reduce
carbon? To the levels that will hold us to 450 parts per
million, which is the scientifically agreed-upon level that we
must accept. Where's the plan?
Dr. Brennan. Sir, the Administration has been developing
and has a plan, and has been working to reduce greenhouse gas
intensity, it has been working to address the fuel side to
reduce emissions, to stop emissions, and then to reverse----
Senator Kerry. Sir, with all due respect, that's just talk.
There's no real plan to hold carbon emissions to a 450 parts
per million level. The President's State of the Union message
suggested some gasoline savings, which is good, and he
suggested some alternative fuels. None of which get you close
to the level of 450 parts per million. And I just talked to a
number of scientists last week, who confirmed that we can no
longer afford the 550 parts per million they thought we could,
they've ratcheted it down, why? Because of the evidence of the
break-up of the ice, what is happening across the planet. Now,
do you guys take that seriously, or don't you?
Dr. Brennan. Absolutely, sir.
Senator Kerry. Well, if you take it seriously, where's the
assessment to the American people of what we have to do to deal
Dr. Brennan. Sir, as I said, the Administration is
producing the 21 Synthesis and Assessment products to advance
our understanding of these impacts.
Senator Kerry. With all due respect, it's been over 5 years
since the last report, and it is unclear when 19 further
reports of those 21 are going to be due. Totally unclear. Do
you really believe that two reports in two separate areas is
sufficient to say that after 6 years you're doing the job,
Dr. Brennan. Sir, these reports are on a schedule for
completion that will be submitted to you in a timely fashion to
address the issues that have been raised, and to support the
Administration's view that this is the most appropriate way to
advance the scientific understanding.
Senator Kerry. This is where I am. I will acknowledge that
there is no computer model that tells us precisely what's going
to happen. I understand that. I also have read enough to
understand that there's certain cooling that takes place, there
are particulates in the atmosphere, the cooling is now
neutralized, and equals--if you take all of the greenhouse
gases--except for carbon dioxide--there's sort of an
But then you've got the carbon dioxide outside of that.
There's been a 35 percent increase in carbon dioxide since the
beginning of the Industrial Revolution. I'm not a scientist,
but I know enough to connect the dots here, that when I've got
all these scientists screaming at me, saying, ``Precautionary
principle, you gotta do this, we gotta hold it to 450 parts per
million, we've lowered our estimate, we're now looking at
devastation, permafrost melting in Alaska, huge, 66-square mile
sheet of ice breaks off, creates its own island,'' you know,
it's all accelerated. The glaciers of the planet are melting,
not just in our own part, all over the planet. Every indicator
is leading to this. An Arctic bird was discovered down in San
Diego a few weeks ago, I mean, you run the gamut.
You guys aren't responding to it. I have to tell you this.
Dr. Brennan. Sir, I believe we share a common goal in
reducing these emissions, and the approach----
Senator Kerry. No, I don't think we do share that, because
you fought against Senator McCain's and my efforts to have
increased CAFE standards a few years ago, the most we could get
was 35 votes in the Congress. You weren't there, you didn't
stand for it, the President didn't, you're not supportive of
And I think it is the most serious dereliction of public
responsibility that I've ever seen. Ever. When scientists are
told, ``Don't tell the American people the truth,'' I mean,
this is serious stuff. In all of the years I've been on this
Committee, I've never seen something like this. Where an
Administration is unwilling to pull people together and say,
``How are we going to do this?''
When I was a Lieutenant Governor back in the 1980s, I had
the privilege of chairing the only Governor's task force in the
country chaired by a Lieutenant Governor, and I met with John
Sununu--then the Governor of New Hampshire, and with Dick
Celeste, then-Governor of Ohio. And we patched together the
sulfur plan for acid rain, which was then the great concern.
And we are the ones who sort of created the whole emissions
trading concept, which was originally put in for acid rain.
In 1990, I remember, the very industry that is now standing
up against it fought us tooth and nail. And they said, ``Don't
do this to us, it's going to cost $8 billion, and you can't do
it in the timeframe you're setting.'' The environmental
community came in and said, ``It's not going to cost $8
billion, it's going to cost $4 billion, and we can do it in
half the time.'' And guess what? Thanks to John Sununu, EPA
Administrator Bill Reilly, and President George Herbert Walker
Bush, who was responsible about it, we passed it. We did it,
and we did it in half the time that the environmental community
predicted, and at half the cost. Because no one could predict
what would happen when you started down that road of targets,
goals, mandates, and technology that was tried to meet them.
And there's a progressive gain in technology that we can't
You folks are not leading this country to a place where we
can embrace that, and go do that, with alternatives,
efficiency, renewables. And, we still hear you fighting about
Kyoto, which we're way beyond, at this point.
I know we can pontificate up here, and that's all we get,
sitting here as a Senator. And we can try and take something to
the floor. But I've got to tell you, in my judgment in 22 years
here, you're not doing your job. The Administration's not doing
its job. This is a disgrace. You are turning your backs on
future generations in this country. And, you are potentially
inviting the possibility of global catastrophe, which will cost
millions of lives, spread disease, destroy species, destroy
land, you've got 100 million people living within 3 feet of sea
level in buildings in Shanghai, in New York, in Boston, and
other similar places, and you're just inviting this potential
I think you ought to go out, and you can protest and sit
there and say you're doing it. You're not doing it. And I
invite you to go back and talk to your people back there, and
take a look at what your public responsibility is.
Is there anybody here who disagrees? Mr. Piltz?
Mr. Piltz. I don't disagree. But I would say, Dr. Brennan's
a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce. I understand the
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy declined an
invitation to testify at this hearing, and they left Dr.
Brennan hanging out here to get beat up.
Senator Kerry. You're good to support him.
Mr. Piltz. The problem is--the power----
Senator Kerry. I understand, folks, this is the forum we
have, but this is deadly, serious stuff. This is the most
serious thing I see. This is, what, how many years now of
hearings on this Committee, since 1987--almost 20 years. Almost
20 years of hearings on this Committee, when we've been talking
about this very science.
We need a carbon cap, we've got to reduce carbon. We've got
to get serious about putting incentives in our automobiles to
be hybrids, and plug-ins and all kinds of things. We've got to
move now to clean coal technology. There are 16 coal-fired
plants that they're planning to build in Texas under TXU,
without new source performance standards, they're going to put
78 million tons of additional CO2 into the
atmosphere. China is building one coal-fired plant per week.
That can't happen.
And we better show the global leadership to prevent it from
happening. And I don't care if people get tired of me ranting
on this, I'm going to rant on this every day I can for the
next--for the time I'm here. Because this is the most serious
issue we have.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Nelson. Mr. Chairman. I would recommend, as a
result of what we've heard today that we, you--our Chairman--
invite the testimony from OSTP that could not appear today. So
that we can get more at the Administration's agenda with regard
to this. Because, I think the things that Senator Kerry has
said are scientifically obvious. And time is running out.
The Chairman. I can assure you, that we will make another
attempt to invite those witnesses.
In the meantime, the record will be kept open for 2 weeks.
So, if you have any changes you would like to make in your
statement, or if you want to have addendums made, please feel
free to do so.
We will also have 2 weeks to submit questions, and we hope
that you will be responding to them.
I thank you very much, and the meeting is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 12:20 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.)
A P P E N D I X
Prepared Statement of Hon. Mark Pryor, U.S. Senator from Arkansas
Thank you Mr. Chairman. This is a very important topic and the
necessity for a fair and open discussion of scientific investigations
and their results extends beyond today's topic of climate change and
affects many other areas of public policy. It is common practice in
science to challenge and test new results and through this process of
verification, acceptance, and rejection come to a consensus. We are
fortunate in the United States, and throughout most of the world, to
have a system of peer review whereby good science and bad science can
be equally debated. Sometimes these scientific debates can take decades
before there is agreement, especially in a new field such as climate
change where a great deal of science still needs to be performed and
much needs to be learned.
What is not acceptable is for people and organizations to try to
influence the scientific debate by exerting undo influence on
scientists or distorting their results. Dr. Alfred Sommers, former Dean
of the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health summed up my
feelings when he said:
``We have a uniquely non-politicized peer review scientific
establishment in this country. My concern is that
politicization is accretive in nature. If it goes on long
enough it becomes the norm, and even a new Administration eight
or 12 years from now will just accept it.'' \1\
\1\ Johns Hopkins Magazine, Political Science, November 2004, Vol
56, No. 5.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that significant
global warming is occurring and that worldwide industrialization over
the past century is a contributing factor. Last week the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report on the
physical science basis for climate change. One of their conclusions is
that most of the temperature change is very likely, meaning a 90
percent certainty, due to increased levels of atmospheric greenhouse
gases. What is less clear, and still needs to be investigated, is what
will be the affect of climate change on the Earth. This very important
debate can only take place if scientists are allowed to freely voice
their concerns, conduct their research, and publish their results
without fear of pressure or interference.
Again, I thank the Chairman for holding this hearing and 1 look
forward to hearing the testimonies of the witnesses.
Prepared Statement of Peter H. Gleick, Ph.D., President, Pacific
Institute; MacArthur Fellow; Member, U.S. National Academy of Science
Threats to the Integrity of Science
Senators, thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today
on the critical issue of the integrity of science. Good, independent
science--indeed, good information in general--is crucial to making good
political decisions. It is difficult enough to make intelligent policy
choices given the complexities of today's political, environmental,
economic, and social challenges. It is almost impossible when good
science or data are ignored or distorted, or when bad science is sought
out, to support pre-determined political conclusions. Yet never have
the political abuses and misuses of science seemed as pervasive and
intentional as they have over the past few years.
The United States has a long and proud non-partisan tradition of
scientific research, analysis, and support. As far back as the American
Revolution, Benjamin Franklin embodied the ideal of integrating a
passion for science and fact with diplomacy and politics. This
tradition continued through more than two centuries of advances in both
science and in the tools and avenues for moving scientific information
into the policy arena. By the end of the 20th century, institutions
like the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP),
the President's Science Advisor, the Office of Technology Assessment
(OTA), the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering (NAS and
NAE), national laboratories and universities, and even the media, were
considered vital, independent sources of information, fact, and
analysis needed across the political spectrum for making smart
For the last several years, there have been growing indications of
systematic challenges and threats at the Federal level to the integrity
of the scientific process using a variety of strategies and tactics.
Independent government review organizations and advisory boards have
been disbanded. Access to data and information has been reduced.
Federal scientists have been muzzled. Scientific reputations, rather
than scientific evidence itself, have been questioned. Scientific
analyses and conclusions, prepared within Federal agencies or by people
outside of government, have been changed for political and ideological
reasons by people who have not done the scientific work. Work by
partisan organizations has been substituted for work by non-partisan
The Pacific Institute and its Integrity of Science program \1\ has
been cataloging and evaluating threats in the areas of environmental
problems, energy policy, human health, and national security. My
testimony today will offer a framework (see Table 1, below) for better
understanding and categorizing these threats. I also offer a few
specific examples and cases that may offer some insights into how
Congress might act to once again support the use of science in
informing and setting policy.
\1\ The Pacific Institute, founded in 1987, is an independent, non-
partisan policy research center. For details, see www.pacinst.org.
Scientific Misconduct and Altering Good Science
Policymakers have the right to make decisions that consider, but
then discount, good science. Science is, after all, only one factor
among many that must be weighed in making policy. But they have no
right to seek bad science to support predetermined conclusions, to
misrepresent, misquote, misuse, or suppress science that contradicts
those conclusions, or to penalize scientists who seek to inform and
educate the public.
Equally important, political operatives and appointees must not be
permitted to alter scientific findings and edit scientific conclusions
to support pre-determined outcomes, as has recently been reported in
the fields of climate change, the health effects of pollution, and the
need to protect threatened animals and plants under the Endangered
Suppressing or Limiting Good Science
Access to information is a cornerstone of good policy. Efforts by
outside parties, or Federal agencies, to restrict or limit access to
information are particularly damaging in a democratic society. These
efforts take different forms. Access to good science can be limited
through changes in funding to selectively collect, fail to collect, or
reduce access to certain kinds of data. Recent changes in funding have
reduced the ability of the United States to collect data on
environmental issues, to analyze data that are collected, and to
disseminate information to the public. For example, the decision to
close Environmental Protection Agency libraries in major cities (such
as Washington, Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City) would cut the
availability of scientific information, data, and reports available to
the public. Funding cuts for satellite instrumentation to monitor the
Earth's climate will hinder the development of intelligent climate
Scientific Policy Misconduct
Ensuring that science is made available to policymakers has long
been a challenge. In recent years, however, certain actions have made
it more difficult for independent, nonpartisan science to reach
Congress and decisionmakers. The loss of the Office of Technology
Assessment has crippled Congress's ability to analyze information,
receive independent advice, and make thoughtful decisions on vital
The recent disbanding of a wide range of independent advisory
committees, or efforts to pack them with ideological allies, weakens
the policy process. For example, the Secretary of Health and Human
Services (DIMS) disbanded the National Human Research Protections
Advisory Committee and DHHS's Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing.
Fifteen of the 18 members of the Advisory Committee to the Director of
the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) were replaced, many
with scientists with stronger ties to industries that may be regulated
or in leadership positions of organizations opposed to public health
and environmental regulation. \2\
\2\ Michaels, D. et al. 2002. ``Advice Without Dissent. Editorial.
Science, Volume 298, No. 5594, p. 703, October 25, 2002.
The U.S. Department of Energy's principal outside advisory board on
scientific and technical matters, in place for more than a quarter
century, was recently disbanded. The independent committee set up by
Congress to advise the government on the safety of the Nation's nuclear
weapons stockpile has been eliminated. \3\ The Secretary of Health and
Human Services disbanded advisory committees that provided oversight on
genetic testing and the use of humans in research. A nominee to the
Army Science Board was rejected by the current Administration because
he was thought (incorrectly it turns out) to have contributed to the
Presidential campaign of another Republican candidate for President.
All of these actions have the effect of reducing the quantity and
quality of independent scientific advice that reaches decisionmakers.
\3\ J. Dawson, ``Disbanding NNSA Advisory Panel Raises Concerns,
Physics Today, September 2003.
Arguments From Ideology
There is, unfortunately, a long history of policy arguments made
from ideological or religious perspectives that result in attempts to
discredit contradictory scientific information. The classic example, of
course, is the order that Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian
physicist, astronomer, and philosopher, stand trial on suspicion of
heresy in 1633. The charges stemmed from Galileo's research and
writings that supported the idea that the Earth moved around the Sun,
rather than the understanding of the time that the Earth was fixed in
the heavens, derived from literal readings of the Bible. The idea that
the Sun was stationary was condemned as ``formally heretical'' and
Galileo was required to recant his ideas, subjected to house arrest for
the remainder of his life, and had all his publications banned. As
Galileo said: ``I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who
has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to
forgo their use.''
More recently, biology in the Soviet Union during the 1930s and
later periods was crippled when control and direction of state research
was given to T.D. Lysenko who rejected the science of genetics for
ideological reasons. Between 1934 and 1940, under Lysenko's admonitions
and with the approval of Stalin, many geneticists were executed or sent
to labor camps.
In the United States, ideological arguments that lead to the
rejection of scientific information and conclusions, and contribute to
public confusion and policy disarray, are still seen in disputes over
evolution, climate change, sex education, and various health research
efforts, such as stem cells. The inability to believe or accept
something because of ideological or religious contradictions says
nothing about the accuracy or truth of scientific findings.
Ad Hominem; Personal Attacks
An unusual and disturbing trend can be seen in efforts to discredit
scientists on personal grounds, rather than on challenges to science.
Such personal attacks have no place in public discourse. In the world
of political spin and hypocrisy, we've also seen pundits attempt to
paint all scientists as ideologues who twist their science to fit
preconceived political preferences. \4\ Scientists make errors; indeed
some let ideology trump evidence. But these scientists cannot long
escape the proper functioning of the scientific process. Fraud, abuse,
and error are found out, revealed, and discredited.
\4\ See, for example, P. Noonan, ``The Heat is On.'' Wall Street
Journal, July 20, 2006.
Scientists, including this witness, have been threatened with
lawsuits for offering public opinions on controversial issues to
reporters. \5\ But there is a difference between scientists who distort
their work and produce bad science based on pre-conceived political
positions, and scientists who are willing to share peer-reviewed
results with the public and policymakers. The former are fortunately
rare and almost always discovered and discredited by the normal
scientific process; the latter are not common enough and they should be
encouraged, not discouraged.
\5\ See ``Science, Climate Change, and Censorship,'' The Pacific
Institute, Patrick Michaels, and Climate Change. http://
Blanket attempts to discredit good science and scientists who
attempt to inform the public and policymakers must be challenged.
Similarly, officials who open ``investigations'' of scientists, who
reach conclusions that differ from their own do a disservice to
science, unless there is evidence of wrongdoing.
Misuse of Uncertainty and Arguments From Consensus
Finally, there is a serious misunderstanding among some
policymakers of the nature of scientific certainty and knowledge, and a
corresponding misuse of uncertainty. Absolute certainty in science, or
even in politics, is a rare luxury, and never guaranteed. Insisting
that scientists provide certainty before setting vital public policy is
a recipe for inaction and delay. As Dr. Stephen Jay Gould said, ``In
science, `fact' can only mean `confirmed to such a degree that it would
be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples
might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal
time in physics classrooms. Yet political strategists often publicly
recommend using uncertainty to delay actions long past the time when
scientists believe we know enough to act. \6\ The issue of climate
change is an example of this, where the misuse of uncertainty has
delayed national action long past the time when effective policies were
\6\ See, for example, the call to make scientific uncertainty a key
part of the climate debate by Luntz Research Companies. 2002. ``The
Environment: A Cleaner, Healthier, and Safer America.'' Memorandum for
GOP Congressional Candidates. p.137. http://www.ewg.org/briefings/
luntzmemo/pdf/LuntzResearch_--environment.pdf. See also the statement
by the Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong, ``The view that smoking causes
specific diseases remains an opinion or a judgment, and not an
established scientific fact. Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong Limited,
Similarly, there is confusion all along the political spectrum on
the issue of ``consensus'' in science. A ``consensus'' among scientists
does not make an issue true or false. It is a reflection of the best
scientific understanding at the time. For example, an argument is often
made in the context of global climate change that very large numbers of
climate scientists believe in climate change; therefore it must be a
serious problem. This is backward: climate change is a serious problem
because of the mass of scientific evidence that underlies those
beliefs, and it is that evidence that produces the consensus of
opinion. The strength of the argument comes from the science itself,
not the consensus.
In the long run, the truth of whether the Earth is round (mostly),
goes around the sun (so the best evidence shows), or is warming due to
industrial activity (considered ``very likely'' i.e., more than 90
percent certainty) will be demonstrated on the global stage. Our job as
scientists is to seek the best understanding of the world around us and
to communicate that understanding to the public. Your job as elected
officials is to encourage scientists to give you their best
understanding, fund new science if there are gaps vital for the public
interest, to weigh scientific information, and then to make decisions.
Short-term political or economic advantage must be trumped by our
collective responsibilities to protect public health, the environment,
and our national security and to ensure that our decisions are informed
by the best available information.
Congress can act to help restore confidence in the integrity of
science and to reduce threats to science and scientists working to
advise policymakers and the public:
Reinstate independent advisory committees to Congress and to
Require that no political litmus tests be imposed on
advisory committee appointees.
Guarantee open public access to government studies, data,
and scientific fmdings.
Require transparency of information on conflicts of
Prohibit Federal agencies and employees from modifying,
censoring, or altering scientific findings.
Re-establish and adequately fund an independent advisory
organization to Congress on technology and science issues.
Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony to you, and
for entering it in the record.
Table 1--Categories of Deceitful Tactics and Abuse of the Scientific
Process (source: P.H. Gleick, Pacific Institute, 2007)
There are many tactics used to argue for or against scientific
conclusions that are inappropriate, involve deceit, or directly abuse
the scientific process.
Appeal to Emotion
This is a large category and involves using various tactics to
incite emotions in people in order to persuade them that a particular
argument or hypothesis is true or false, independent of the scientific
Appeal to Fear
Appeal to Flattery
Appeal to Pity
Appeal to Ridicule
Appeal to Spite
Personal (``Ad Hominem'') Attacks
This approach uses attacks against the character, circumstances, or
motives of a person in order to discredit their argument or claim,
independent of the scientific evidence.
Guilt by Association
Challenge to Motive (such as greed or funding)
Mischaracterizations of an Argument
This approach typically mischaracterizes an issue or evidence and
then argues against the mischaracterization. It can include:
Begging the Question
Selective Choice of Problems
Straw Man Argument (includes substituting a distorted,
exaggerated, or misrepresented position for the one being
Loaded Question (includes posing a question with an implied
position that the opponent does not have)
False Dichotomy (for or against)/False dilemma (includes
assuming that there are only two possible opinions or choices)
Misplaced Burden of Proof
Confusing Cause and Effect
Red Herring (includes presentation of an irrelevant topic to
divert attention from another topic)
Slippery Slope (includes the assertion that one event must
inevitably follow from another)
Accusing all of a group of people or arguments or set of facts as
having the characteristics of a subset of that group.
Misuse of Facts
Selective Choice or Presentation of Data; Biased Sample
Inadequate Sample; Hasty Generalization; Leaping to a
Selective Omissions of Data
Illusory Precision (where precision isn't needed or available)
Inappropriate Vagueness (where precision is needed)
Unrelated Facts (bringing unrelated facts that seem to support
Misuse of Uncertainty
Misrepresentation of Uncertainty
Including appeal to authority not competent to address issue:
Hidden Value Judgments
Including judgments based on ideological or religious rationales
rather than reviewable and testable evidence.
The violation of the standard codes of scholarly conduct and
ethical behavior in professional scientific research, including:
Fabrication (the fabrication of research data and observations)
Falsification (manipulation of research data and processes or
omitting critical data or results)
Failure to Acknowledge and Correct Errors
Science Policy Misconduct
The manipulation of the process of integrating science and policy,
Packing Advisory Boards
Imposing Litmus Tests
Altering or Suppressing Information
Bullying of Scientists
Selective Funding or De-funding
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. Mark Pryor to
Dr. William Brennan
Question 1. Last year there was an article in Nature questioning
whether NOAA was accurately presenting the conclusions of its
researchers regarding the possibility that global warming could be
affecting the severity and frequency of hurricanes. The article states
that in May 2006 an internal panel, chaired by Dr. Leetma of NOAA,
prepared a statement on the current stats of the science and that the
statement did not contain any policy recommendations. Why did NOAA
management request that the statement be made ``less technical? ''
Answer. The two-page Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on
Atlantic Hurricanes and Climate was a summary of existing scientific
research containing no new science, but rather detailing the current
state of science on hurricane activity and climate. The first draft
used technical phrases which may not have been readily understood by a
wide variety of audiences. The changes recommended did not change the
scientific findings, but rather were intended to provide clarity and
additional context to make the document more accessible to lay
Question 2. What is the status of the statement?
Answer. The FAQ document is updated as new and relevant information
becomes available, and was last updated on December 12, 2006.
Question 3. Was it ever publicly released?
Answer. Yes. The two-page FAQ document on Atlantic Hurricanes and
Climate was publicly released on September 27, 2006, and was last
updated on December 12, 2006. The FAQ document is available at http://
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. Daniel K. Inouye to
Richard A. Anthes, Ph.D.
Question 1. The Climate Change Science Program budget shows a
steady decline in funding from approximately $2B in FY 2004 to $1.5B
proposed for FY 2008. NASA's Space Based Observation Program has been
particularly hard hit, going from $1.01B in FY 2004 to a projected
$576M in FY 2007. How has this substantial decrease in the CCSP budget
affected funding decisions with the agencies?
Answer. The CCSP wrote a Strategic Plan in July 2003. The NRC's
2004 review of the Plan said that the program would require significant
new funds to fulfill its mandate. But, the funding profile has gone in
the opposite direction. In this era of declining funds, agencies have
tried to cobble together the resources to simply maintain core,
activities, but have not been able to take on many new activities that
this Nation dearly needs.
For example, the Strategic Plan said that we would improve
understanding of the economics of climate change, which now is the
issue of the time regarding climate change. We have only the vaguest
understanding of the costs and benefits of climate change and
mitigation and adaptation options. The CCSP should be able to address
these and other areas that relate to trillion dollar decisions, but it
does not have the resources to do this. As another example, the
Strategic Plan said that the U.S. was going to do a much better job of
providing information to inform decisions at a variety of scales and
for a variety of sectors. The CCSP has not had the funds to do that. A
final example I will give is the demanifestation of climate sensors/
capabilities associated with NPOESS, which has seriously jeopardized
the ability to measure long-term trends. This was a major concern
addressed in our Decoded Survey report.
Overall I am deeply concerned about the health of the Nation's
climate program. We are hearing that ``the science is settled--now is
the time for action.'' While I agree with the latter part of this
statement, the former can be grossly misleading. The Nation needs the
science now more than ever. The world is committed to climate change,
which will affect many things that we require or hold dear, e.g.,
water, ecosystem services, etc. This speaks to the essential need to
adapt to climate change. But, our ability to adapt wisely is
significantly limited by the state of the science. For example, we
simply don't know whether precipitation will increase or decrease over
most of the United States--an absolutely fundamental gap in our
understanding related to adaptation. The CCSP does not have the funds
to address these and other areas that relate directly to trillion
dollar decisions. In brief it is imperative that ``action'' must
involve a strengthened observation, research, decision support, and
communication enterprise--the four pillars of the CCSP.
Question 2. Who is making the decisions regarding which sensors are
in the national interest and will be kept on NPOESS?
Answer. I assume the ultimate decision will be by the Administrator
of NOAA, in consultation with DOD (which shares NPOESS costs with
NOAA), and with ultimate approval by Congress.
Question 3. Last week you were in Washington, D.C. to brief
policymakers on the National Research Council report. The report
recommends a path forward that restores U.S. leadership in Earth
Science and Applications and calls for NASA and NOAA to undertake a
series of 17 specific missions over the next decade. What has been the
response from NASA, NOAA and OSTP to the report and its
Answer. There has been no formal reaction as yet, although the
agencies have formally acknowledged receipt of the report and thanked
the NRC for its work. There have been many informal contacts and
conversations with certain NASA, NOAA, and OSTP officials that have
been positive and hopeful. The response from the Congress, the science
community and the media has been generally very positive. Dr. Mike
Freilich, the director of NASA's Earth Science Division has publicly
praised the report, and we understand front his recent Senate testimony
that he is looking to prepare a roadmap guided by the report
recommendations, and based on more detailed studies of the mission
concepts at NASA field centers. What Dr. Freilich cannot do, however,
is change the budgetary reality.
The Administrator of NASA, Dr. Mike Griffin, has made remarks that
suggest he does not support the recommendations of the report. In his
recent testimony regarding the NASA budget Dr. Griffin, has made it
clear that his priorities remain centered around human exploration.
Ills assessment of the Earth science program as ``in good shape''
suggests that he will attempt to implement only that portion of the
report recommendations which can be accomplished within existing and
currently planned Earth science funding levels. The President's FY 2008
request for the NASA budget shows a continuing decline of the Earth
Science budget after a small increase in FY 2008. According to decadal
survey cost estimates, this approach would likely only result in
implementing a very small fraction of the recommended missions (perhaps
3-4 of the 15 missions recommended for NASA).
Response to Written Question Submitted by Hon. Ted Stevens to
Richard A. Anthes, Ph.D.
Question. I understand that the recent Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change report concludes that much of the warming over the past
50 years is caused by humans. I am concerned about human-caused
factors. However, I am also interested in the effects of natural causes
such as solar flares and the impact of the Pacific and Atlantic decadal
oscillations. Do you feel enough has been done to examine the impacts
of natural factors on climate change?
Answer. Thank you Senator Stevens for your excellent question.
The short answer is that while increased effort on understanding
both natural and anthropogenic climate change and variability,
especially on regional and local scales where they matter most to
people is needed, we know enough already to conclude that the human
effects on climate change are now outweighing natural (non-human)
The IPCC has concluded that most of the observed global temperature
increase in the past 50 years is ``very likely'' due to human activity.
This conclusion is based on studies that assess the causes of climate
change, first considering all the possible agents of climate change
(forcings), both natural and from human activities. The capability of
climate models to simulate the past climate is also assessed, given
both the observations and estimates of past forcings, and the climate
changes. Given good replications of the past, the forcings can be
inserted one by one to study their individual effects and allow
attribution of the observed climate change to the different forcings.
The best climate models have been extensively tested and evaluated
using observations. They are exceedingly useful instruments for
carrying out numerical climate experiments, but they are not perfect,
and some models are better than others. Uncertainties arise from
shortcomings in our understanding of climate processes operating in the
atmosphere, ocean, land and cryosphere, and how to best represent those
processes in models. Yet, in spite of these uncertainties, today's best
climate models are now able to reproduce the climate of the past
century, and simulations of the evolution of global surface temperature
over the past millennium are consistent with paleoclimate
As a result, climate modelers are able to test the role of various
forcings in producing observed changes in climate. Forcings imposed on
the climate system are both natural in origin, such as changes in solar
luminosity or volcanic eruptions, or human-induced, such as increases
in aerosol and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Climate
model simulations that account for such changes have now reliably shown
that global surface warming of recent decades is a response to the
increased concentrations of greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols in
the atmosphere. When the models are run without these forcing changes,
the remaining natural forcings and intrinsic natural variability fail
to capture the increase in global surface temperatures. But when the
anthropogenic forcings are included, the models simulate the observed
global temperature record with impressive accuracy.
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. Daniel K. Inouye to
Question 1. Last year, in response to a letter from Senator McCain,
the National Science Board recommended that all Federal agencies that
conduct research establish clear policies and procedures for presenting
their data. Both NASA and NOAA have taken steps to revise and clarify
their respective media policy.
Should Congress establish a consistent Federal policy regarding the
dissemination of research by Federal employees? What should be the
criteria for such policy? And is there a good model that can be used
across the Federal Government?
Answer. I am most familiar with the problems related to
communication of climate and global change research, though I believe
my response is of more general applicability.
Several scientific information pathways should be considered in
establishing policy on the dissemination of research conducted by
Federal employees. They include media communications, Congressional
communications (hearing testimony and reports), public communications
(presentations, lectures, websites, brochures, etc.), professional
communications (i.e., primarily scientific publications, but also
conferences), and major scientific assessment reports. These pathways
have key elements in common but are not identical in the issues they
raise for policymaking.
Federal policy regarding the dissemination of research by Federal
employees must include certain consistent, government-wide safeguards.
However, given the diversity of participating research agencies, a one-
size-fits-all policy may not be the best approach for addressing the
full range of pathways of science communication. In addition,
functional and organizational differences within a particular agency
may warrant somewhat different requirements.
In general, any government-wide policy should specify what category
or categories of communication it is addressing, specify the purpose of
the policy (i.e., to promote the communication of research),
acknowledge the broad statutory and constitutional rights held by
Federal scientists (and other Federal employees), address the
employees' obligations, lay out a grievance and reporting system, and
define a baseline of protections. Detailed implementation of any
government-wide policy should then be developed as appropriate by
Recommendations for Executive Branch Agencies on Ensuring the Integrity
of the Dissemination of Climate Change Research \1\
\1\ These recommendations for Executive Branch agencies follow
closely those made by the Government Accountability Project, as
contained in GAP's report, Redacting the Science of Climate Change: An
Investigative and Synthesis Report (March 2007), by Tarek Maasarani.
1. Eliminate pre-approval, routing, intake, anticipated Q&A, and
monitoring requirements for agency media, and, where applicable,
Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) communications.
The ultimate decision about the content of and parties to any
particular media communication should rest with the reporter and the
scientist he or she requests. Public Affairs Offices (PAO) should take
an active role in coordinating and facilitating media interactions,
especially connecting journalists with the appropriate scientists and
supplying corrections and background information. It may be reasonable
to require notification of the PAO and a post-interview recap, as many
local PAOs have done to the scientists' and reporters' satisfaction.
2. Reaffirm the ``personal views'' exception for all media,
Congressional, public, and professional communications.
Scientists must be apprised of their constitutional right to speak
about any subject, including policy-related matters and those outside
their area of expertise, so long as:
Scientists make it clear that they do so in their private
capacity, not as a representative of their agency. Identifying
the scientist with his or her agency, position, and area of
expertise is permissible so long as the communication includes
the ``private capacity'' disclaimer; and
Scientists' personal communications do not unreasonably take
from agency time and resources. Personal use of telephone or e-
mail should be allowed during employees' ``paid free time.''
Longer interviews may need to be conducted during authorized
breaks or after work. Insofar as the agency facility is usually
open to the public, reporters should be able to interview with
scientists on the premises.
3. Comply with the mandatory requirements of the Anti-Gag Statute
to notify employees of their whistleblower and related rights by
incorporating the statutorily-prescribed addendum into the text of any
restrictive communication policy or directive.
4. Comply with the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) by including
the necessary exceptions.
The Whistleblower Protection Act protects any unclassified
disclosures, or those not specifically prohibited by statute, that a
Federal employee reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross
waste, gross mismanagement, abuse of power, or substantial and specific
danger to public health or safety. Communication policies should
include this exception to any restrictions it imposes.
5. Eliminate communications restrictions based on the ``Sensitive
but Unclassified'' (SBU) classification.
The unsettled legal definition of SBU can cover virtually any form
of communication and thereby implicates constitutional and statutory
free speech concerns. Correspondingly, regulations governing the
definition of ``Sensitive but Unclassified'' and related categories
must be tightened so that employees know what type of information is
properly marked SBU.
6. Guarantee the timely and proactive release of press releases.
Any scientist, whether they are lead or co-author of a published
report, study, or article, should be given the necessary approval and
assistance to issue a press release within a reasonable time and
concurrent with the publication date--even if a release has already
been or will be issued by another institution.
7. Leave content editing to the scientists for scientific
publications, Congressional written testimony and reports, web postings
and presentation material, and press releases.
Although non-scientists and agency management may be actively
involved in copy-editing and proof-reading, they should not have the
authority to alter the substance of written scientific information
without the scientists' expressed approval. The qualified scientists
actively involved in the research or synthesis of research alone should
be responsible for its content. Co-authors, peer review, ethics, and
personal reputation are the proper check.
8. Reaffirm a scientist's ``right of last review'' for all media,
Congressional, public, and professional communications.
Federal employees should have the right to approve the scientific
content in the final version of any proposed Federal publication that
significantly relies on their research, identifies them as a lead
author or contributor, or purports to represent their scientific
opinion. This includes, but is not limited to, reports, web postings,
and press releases. In the case of multi-author publications, co-
authors should have a meaningful right of review and comment. Where an
agency adopts an agency-wide position on a scientific issue, scientists
should be allowed to register their disagreement publicly and without
consequence. Finally, Federal employees should be permitted reasonable
access to all drafts and edits of their publications produced
throughout the review process.
9. Solicit the input of scientists and other stakeholders in the
development of the content of substantial Congressional and public
reports and the procedures that govern their production.
10. Continue to ensure that Federal employees are not restricted
either from publishing their research in peer-reviewed journals and
other scientific publications or from making oral presentations about
their research at professional conferences or other meetings of their
11. Establish effective transparency and accountability procedures.
In order to make the above two recommendations meaningful:
The editing and review process must clearly identify all
participants and text changes in each stage of review.
Participants must be able to address any concerns or questions
about changes with the party that made them;
An internal disclosure system must be established to allow
for the confidential reporting and meaningful resolution of
inappropriate alterations, conduct, or conflicts of interest in
the review process in particular; and
More generally, the government and its agencies must afford
Federal scientists adequate whistleblower safeguards, including
protections from retaliation, the impartial investigation and
fair resolution of complaints, due process rights,
confidentiality of disclosures, and adequate corrective relief.
12. Adequately inform and clarify scientists' rights and
Every public affairs office should evaluate its existing policies
and develop (or reaffirm) a set of simple and unambiguous policies in
light of these recommendations and with the input of their own
scientists. These policies should clearly incorporate the scientists'
rights, as well as responsibilities, and be broadly disseminated to
both scientists and management through annual reports, Internet sites,
employment contracts, workplace posters, employee handbooks, and
special trainings. Although agency- or department-wide policies may
articulate an overarching set of principles and basic rights and
responsibilities, it is suggested that implementation guidelines should
be afforded some measure of adaptability to the particular needs of
agency subdivisions. In any case, communications policies should be
uniformly applied and readily available to all employees and the
13. Investigate and correct the inappropriate policies, practices,
and incidents identified in the Government Accountability Project
report, Redacting the Science of Climate Change, and identified in
Determine whether and why the reported problems have occurred.
Where confirmed to be true, provide:
Adequate relief, including, but not limited to,
reinstatement, public, and/or private acknowledgement to those
who may have been harmed;
Adequate discipline of those found responsible, including
but not limited to firing or demoting them to a position of
less authority; and
Necessary reform to correct the institutional conditions,
policies, and activities that prompted the problem.
14. Encourage the media to recognize and place primary emphasis on
reporting credible peer-reviewed information from the scientific
15. Improve public affair's affirmative role of translating science
for public consumption.
Mandating PAOs to aggressively pursue the dissemination and
accessibility of their scientists' work to the public, media,
Regularly training scientists on effective communication
Hiring more local public affairs officers to work directly
with the scientists.
16. Develop a transparent communications policy for the Climate
Change Science Program that meets the recommendations for media policy
reform set out above and that streamlines the approval process for CCSP
products and communications.
17. End the suppression of meaningful and appropriate references to
and use of the National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of
Climate Variability and Change in the communication of climate change
research and assessment, including in CCSP reports to Congress,
research and assessment planning documents, and websites.
18. Ensure CCSP compliance with the Global Change Research Act by
producing in the statutorily required timely and regular manner an
integrated, scientifically-based assessment of climate and global
change, including an analysis of current and projected trends, and with
a focus on the impacts of climate and global change on society and the
Recommendations for Action by Congress
1. Consider enacting legislation to ensure the integrity of the
dissemination of research as outlined in the above recommendations.
2. Enact legislation to protect Federal free speech and
whistleblower rights, with particular reference to employees of Federal
3. Strengthen essential Congressional oversight functions on issues
of scientific integrity.
Four Legal Cornerstones for Freedom of Speech in the Context of
A comprehensive approach to policymaking must include certain
consistent, government-wide criteria for ensuring the integrity of the
process for disseminating federally-funded scientific research. The
Government Accountability Project calls attention to consensus, expert
criteria that have existed since the issuance of the 1995 report of the
Congressionally-charted HHS Commission on Research Integrity.
To summarize, those criteria require application of and compliance
with four cornerstones for freedom of speech in the context of
1. The First Amendment, with respect to the right of government
scientists to express their personal views on their own time,
without prior restraint or restriction of their anonymity,
about matters of public concern;
2. The Lloyd-Lafollette Act of 1912, 5 USC 7211, which requires
an unqualified, safe channel for government employees to
communicate with Congress;
3. The Whistleblower Protection Act, 5 USC 2302(b)(8), the
statutory application of constitutional free speech rights; and
4. the Anti-Gag Statute, \2\ unanimously passed by Congress as
part of every appropriations law since FY 1988, which bans
spending to implement or enforce any nondisclosure policy, form
or agreement unless it contains a Congressionally-drafted
addendum that specifies the Whistleblower Protection Act and
the Lloyd-Lafollette Act (protecting communications with
Congress) prevail and supersede any conflicting language from
the agency-based restriction.
\2\ The current version can be found in Sec. 820 of the
Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary,
and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act of 2006, which became Pub.
L. 109-115 on November 30, 2005, and is extended through the current
continuing resolution. SEC. 820. No funds appropriated in this or any
other Act may be used to implement or enforce the agreements in
Standard Forms 312 and 4414 of the Government or any other
nondisclosure policy, form, or agreement if such policy, form, or
agreement does not contain the following provisions: ``These
restrictions are consistent with and do not supersede, conflict with,
or otherwise alter the employee obligations, rights, or liabilities
created by Executive Order No. 12958; section 7211 of title 5, United
States Code (governing disclosures to Congress); section 1034 of title
10, United States Code, as amended by the Military Whistleblower
Protection Act (governing disclosure to Congress by members of the
military); section 2302(b)(8) of title 5, United States Code, as
amended by the Whistleblower Protection Act (governing disclosures of
illegality, waste, fraud, abuse or public health or safety threats);
the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (50 U.S.C. 421 et
seq.) (governing disclosures that could expose confidential government
agents); and the statutes which protect against disclosure that may
compromise the national security, including sections 641, 793, 794,
798, and 952 of title 18, United States Code, and section 4(b) of the
Subversive Activities Act of 1950 (50 U.S.C. 783(b)). The definitions,
requirements, obligations, rights, sanctions, and liabilities created
by said Executive Order and listed statutes are incorporated into this
agreement and are controlling.'': Provided, That notwithstanding the
preceding paragraph, a nondisclosure policy form or agreement that is
to be executed by a person connected with the conduct of an
intelligence or intelligence-related activity, other than an employee
or officer of the U.S. Government, may contain provisions appropriate
to the particular activity for which such document is to be used. Such
form or agreement shall, at a minimum, require that the person will not
disclose any classified information received in the course of such
activity unless specifically authorized to do so by the U.S.
Government. Such nondisclosure forms shall also make it clear that they
do not bar disclosures to Congress or to an authorized official of an
executive agency or the Department of Justice that are essential to
reporting a substantial violation of law.
The proper model is found in H.R. 985, which recently passed the
House by a 331-94 vote. It provides a remedy for the Anti-Gag Statute,
and in Section 13 reinforces the WPA with a scientific freedom
amendment that makes the following actions legally-recognized ``abuse
of authority'' and protects any government scientist from challenging:
``As used in section 2302(b)(8), the term `abuse of authority'
(1) any action that compromises the validity or accuracy of
federally funded research or analysis;
(2) the dissemination of false or misleading scientific,
medical, or technical information;
(3) any action that restricts or prevents an employee or any
person performing federally funded research or analysis from
publishing in peer-reviewed journals or other scientific
publications or making oral presentations at professional
society meetings or other meetings of their peers.''
A further improvement could be to make those same actions illegal,
so that a government scientist also could ``walk the talk'' and be
legally-shielded from retaliation for refusing to obey orders
implementing the above practices.
The Government Accountability Project's Model Media Policy
Section 1: Purpose
.01 This Order establishes this agency's media policy governing
media communications including advisories, press releases, statements,
interviews, news conferences, and other related media contacts. Public
affairs offices have been established to facilitate the active
dissemination of agency research results and to coordinate media and
public relations activities. A principal goal of public affairs is to
help the agency or program achieve its vision of a better informed
society and of policymaking based on sound and objective science.
Section 2: Rights
.01 Scientists and other employees of the government have the
fundamental right to express their personal views, provided they
specify that they are not speaking on behalf of, or as a representative
of, the agency, but rather in their private capacity. So long as this
disclaimer is made, the employee is permitted to mention his or her
institutional affiliation and position if this has helped inform his or
her views on the matter. The employee is allowed to make reasonable use
of agency time and resources for the purposes of expressing their
personal views, i.e., accommodations comparable to what would be
allowed on other personal matters.
.02 Employees have the right of final review to approve and
comment publicly upon the text of any proposed publication that
significantly relies on or interprets their scientific research,
identifies them as a lead author or contributor, or purports to
represent their scientific opinion. In the case of multi-author
publications, procedures should be set up to allow co-authors to have a
meaningful right of review and comment.
.03 Final authority over the content of and parties to any
particular media communication rests with the reporter and the
scientist he or she requests.
Section 3: Responsibilities
.01 Public affairs is responsible for:
a. promoting media attention on important scientific and
b. coordinating journalists and the sources of information they
are looking for, and
c. providing both reporters and scientists with timely,
accurate, and professional media assistance.
.02 Employees are responsible for working with public affairs to
make significant research developments accessible and comprehensible to
.03 Employees are responsible for the accuracy and integrity of
their communications and should not represent the agency on issues of
politics or policy without prior approval from the PAO. Employees are
not free to disclose classified information unless authorized by the
U.S. Government or Federal statute.
Section 4: Guidelines for Media and Public Interactions
.01 To help public affairs best fulfill its responsibilities,
employees are asked to:
a. keep the PAO informed of any media interest or potential for
interest in your work, subject to the protections of the
Whistleblower Protection Act.
b. notify the PAO of any impending media contacts and provide a
c. request press releases from the PAO and submit drafts for
review of their form and non-scientific content.
d. work with the PAO to review presentations or news
conferences for their form and non-scientific content.
.02 Public affairs officers should
a. respond to all media inquiries within 120 minutes during the
b. do all they can to help reporters get the appropriate
information know the reporter's deadline to ensure timely
c. provide contact information where they will be available,
even after hours, on weekends, and on holidays.
d. draft regional and national press releases whenever
e. ensure a timely turn-around on press releases over no more
than 1 week.
f. develop or coordinate the development of talking points in
collaboration with the relevant experts for the release of
scientific papers and other agency products.
Section 5: Media Coverage
.01 In the spirit of openness, media representatives must be
granted free access to open meetings of advisory committees and other
meetings convened by this agency, as well as permission to reasonably
use tape recorders, cameras, and electronic equipment for broadcast
.02 The PAO sponsoring or co-sponsoring a meeting may be present,
or consulted, to undertake all responsibilities of a news media nature,
including but not restricted to necessary physical arrangements.
.03 It shall be the responsibility of the servicing PAO to
cooperate fully with and accede to all reasonable requests from news
media representatives. In instances where conflicts or
misunderstandings may arise from the expressed views, wishes, or
demands on the part of news media representatives, such matters should
be referred at once to the Director for resolution.
.04 The PAO Director shall exercise full authority and assume
responsibility for all decisions involving the news media and related
Section 6: Internal Reporting
.01 The agency will offer an internal disclosure system to allow
for the confidential reporting and meaningful resolution of
inappropriate alterations, conduct, or conflicts of interest that arise
with regards to media communications.
Anti-Gag Addendum and Relevant Statutory Rights
[As explained in the previous section, ``Four cornerstones for
freedom of speech in the context of scientific freedom.'']
Question 2. The Global Change Research Act of 1990 requires the
Administration to prepare a National Assessment of the Potential
Consequences of Climate Variability and Change ``no less frequently
than every 4 years.'' The only National Assessment produced was by the
Clinton Administration. In 2005, the GAO concluded that the Bush
Administration's plan to publish individual Synthesis and Assessment
Reports did not meet the statutory mandate of the Act. In fact only one
of the proposed twenty-one reports has been released. In your testimony
you discuss the assessment's ability to provide response strategy
What were some of these options as listed in the last Assessment?
Did the Assessment also include mitigation factors as well?
Answer. Due to the limited time and resources for many of the
studies during the first cycle of National Assessment reports, response
strategy options were often only touched upon without substantial
development. However, there were a few well-funded studies that lasted
long enough to start to get at these questions. I expect there would
have been substantially more development of response strategy issues
had the first reporting cycle--which produced the National Assessment
Synthesis Team Overview and Foundation documents as well as a set of
regional and sectoral reports--continued into an extended and ongoing
assessment process as originally intended.
Thus, for example, in the Mid-Atlantic region (funded by EPA), a
study was started along the southern New Jersey coast, working with
stakeholders to consider how best to respond in the face of rising sea
level (what areas to protect and how, what areas to agree could not be
protected and would be transformed, etc.). EPA also funded a study for
a few years along the Gulf Coast (Houston, the Louisiana delta region,
and an area in the panhandle region of Florida), with the intention of
working with stakeholders to analyze what could be done. But with the
new Administration's completely non-supportive view of the National
Assessment process, the study was modified to focus in a more limited
way on the question of what information decisionmakers would need in
order to address the issues. The impacts of climate variability and
change on coastal ecosystems and communities is one key area in need of
expert-stakeholder interaction to assess adaptation strategies.
Another general area is water resources. There have been studies
about how water management should be adjusted in the face of El Nino/La
Nina variations. It is my understanding that California, for which one
of the National Assessment regional reports was developed, later
launched a significant program for assessing the implications of
climate change for water resources. Other regions should also be
supported in developing this type of assessment activity.
The early impact studies have led the Department of Transportation
to undertake efforts to investigate adjustments it needs to make. DOT
has one study in the Louisiana delta region, and my understanding is
that their workshops and other activities have identified a range of
transportation infrastructure adaptation issues.
The first National Assessment report identified a wide range of
potential consequences of climate change and, by implication, a wide
range of potential adaptation response strategy issues facing
policymakers and resource managers, region-by-region and sector-by-
sector. In order to advance this work, the National Assessment process
needs to be revitalized, with Federal support for a distributed process
of expert assessment coupled with engagement with policymakers and
The National Assessment process initiated in the late 1990s focused
on projected change and impacts, pursuant to the requirements specified
in the Global Change Research Act. The project did not address the
complex issues of mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions and thereby slow the rate of global warming. It did not focus
on policy options for developing and deploying sustainable energy
technologies, nor on the relationship between energy alternatives and
economic development. It did not address the need to consider climate
change adaptation and mitigation strategies in an integrated way--for
example, looking at how climate change might affect wind resources, the
availability of water resources for hydropower, agricultural resources
for the production of biofuels, and the demand for energy for buildings
In my judgment, a revitalized National Assessment process should be
expanded to incorporate the full range of adaptation and mitigation
issues. The Federal Government should commission a new nationwide,
regionally- and sectorally-based assessment of technologies and
strategies for mitigating global warming. This component of the
assessment should include, for example, energy policy experts,
renewable energy and energy efficiency companies, state energy offices,
electric utilities, electricity regulators, and so on, somewhat
analogous to the network established for the original National
Assessment of climate change impacts.
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. Daniel K. Inouye to
Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland
Question 1. The overall levels of methane in the atmosphere, while
at record levels, have stabilized over the past few years. Why do you
believe this is happening and what, if any, are the policy implications
of this stabilization?
Answer. The standing amount of methane in Earth's atmosphere
depends upon the rates of emission of a dozen or more source types
(swamps, cattle, termites, mining, natural gas leaks) and upon the
actual removal processes from the atmosphere. The removal occurs almost
entirely by one chemical reaction, the attack by hydroxyl (HO)
radicals, and is reasonably well established and measured. However, the
sources are geographically widely distributed and seldom intensively
studied on a global basis (e.g. what are the amounts of methane
released from Ugandan cattle.) Some of the sources such as emissions
from rice paddies are affected by changes in agricultural practice
whose effects on methane emission have not been well documented--rice
paddies are numerous, vary much from one another in different
locations, and are being judged by relatively few experiments. The only
process which I know to reducing emissions are the efforts to close
methane leaks from the oil and gas industry, and these efforts are in
general not fully documented.
Methane is in a different timeline category than most of the other
greenhouse gases because its atmospheric lifetime is decadal in
nature--about 8 years--in contrast to the century long time scale of
carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and the chlorofluorocarbons, on the one
hand, and the monthly scale of tropospheric ozone and aerosols such as
black carbon. Basically, the 1 percent growth rate in methane during
the 1980s represented emissions equal to about 13 percent of the total
amount present, and 12 percent loss of that present--net change +1
percent. The slow-down recently suggests that presently the emissions
are now only about 12 percent of the amount present, for a net balance
of no change.
This suggests two aspects--first, the change in global methane
concentration which has taken place has been in part spontaneous rather
than from deliberate actions, and second, that, for example, a
concentrated effort on finding and fixing leaks in the existing global
oil and natural gas delivery system might well tighten up the system
enough to drive the global methane concentration downward, and ease
somewhat the total greenhouse gas strain on the environment. The
scattered reports which I have read where such leaks have been sought
and fixed indicates that--because the leaking material is largely a
commercial fuel which could otherwise be sold--that the costs for
rigorous attention to the reduction of leakage may not have large
associated net costs.
Question 2. What kinds of deposits of methane is it feasible to
trap or cap?
Answer. My impression is that trapping and capping is very closely
associated with the concentration of methane gas--that is, the ratio of
the amount of methane relative to the amount of air mixed with it is
the key to the cost and thereby the feasibility of trapping. The
separation of methane from air has a cost associated with it which is
generally dependent on how much air there is, rather than how much
methane. The obvious first choice is closing the leaks of methane in
the delivery system, not yet mixed with air. On the other end, capping
of rice paddy emissions or the bubbles coming up from the melting
Siberian tundra represent conditions which are far less favorable for
collection of the purified methane.
Question 3. Politicizing the scientific process may make funding
agencies hesitant to support controversial science. Also, young
scientists may be unwilling to gamble their careers on an area of
research where their funding could be under fire from political forces.
What are your views on whether the funding agencies and newly minted
Ph.D.s are more or less wary of working in certain controversial areas
Answer. My own career experience began with roughly two decades of
working with radioactive materials under circumstances in which the
only disagreements were internal within the scientific conclusions to
be drawn from certain experiments, that is with almost no public
contact. From this situation, the CFC/ozone depletion hypothesis
dropped into the middle of deep public controversy. The political
controversy in this case was basically not between national political
parties but between orientations toward the environment or toward
industry. In the 1970s and 1980s, there were strong supporters on both
sides from both the Republican and Democratic parties, in approximately
equal numbers. The funding agency which was supporting my research in
1973 was the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which had been supporting
my radiochemical research in a long, continuing series of one-year
contracts for 17 years. This support continued through the transition
into public controversy, as well as through the transformation of the
AEC into ERDA and then DOE, and eventually ended in 1994. By this time,
the larger part of research support for my work was coming from NASA,
most of it for aircraft-based atmospheric experiments in a form quite
different from our original laboratory-based experiments.
The most obvious changes in the ``CFC/ozone controversial'' period,
(which lasted approximately 14 years until the adoption of the Montreal
Protocol in 1987 and the NASA Ozone Trends Panel report early in 1988)
were the drying up of invitations to give seminars to U.S. chemistry
departments (but an increase to other departments) and applications for
postdoctoral positions from U.S. students. Applications for
postdoctoral positions from Asian and European universities continued
as before, especially from Japan.
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. Ted Stevens to
Thomas R. Knutson
Question 1. From what I understand, you are one of the only
scientists that has alleged censoring from NOAA. Considering that the
agency sends out over 10,300 reports, press releases, and press
contacts annually, do you believe that there is truly a systemic
problem at the agency?
Answer. The problem is more serious than implied in the question.
At the hearing. I focused on my own experiences, with a few anecdotal
comments about the experiences of others at GFDL. Being an active
researcher, I have little time to explore/document the pervasiveness of
these problems at NOAA in detail. However, a recent report by the
Government Accountability Project has researched this question in some
detail. The full report can be downloaded from this site:
Based on this report, it seems clear that the interference that
government climate scientists at NOAA and other agencies have
experienced in their interactions with the media is not just confined
to a few isolated incidents involving a few scientists. Rather, there
have clearly been more numerous incidents than should be tolerated at
any agency, in my opinion.
The 10,300 NOAA reports and contacts annually is not a very
appropriate statistic in the context of the problems being discussed,
which are focused on the much smaller set of reports and individuals
involved with leading-edge global warming research. For example, former
GFDL directory Jerry Mahlman is quoted in the GAP report as follows:
``NOAA employs roughly 1.200 people, the large majority of
which have little or nothing to do with climate, or climate
change. I think it is fair to say that there are about 120
people who are connected with the climate problem in some form
other another. . . . Of that roughly 120 people, I would
estimate that about, say, 20 of them are the ones who are
actively submitting climate-warming relevant scientific papers
to prestigious scientific journals . . .''
The NOAA incidents outlined in the GAP report typically involve
some of these scientists (who are relatively rare within NOAA) that are
publishing leading climate warming-relevant research in such journals.
In my opinion, NOAA should take pride in the accomplishments of its
climate scientists within the ranks of the organization, and should
encourage their interactions with the media. Instead the incidents
outlined in the GAP report reveal an organization where a number of
these scientists have at times had to try to overcome various hurdles
from NOAA public affairs, and elsewhere in the government, in trying to
convey their science to the general public. Since their research is
funded by the U.S. tax payers, it seems appropriate to me that the tax
payers should be entitled to learn about the results of the research
that they are paying for, without interference from NOAA public affairs
or other parts of the Federal Government.
Question 2. I understand that the recent Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change report concludes that much of the warming over the past
50 years is caused by humans. I am concerned about human-caused
factors. However, I am also interested in the effects of natural causes
such as solar flares and the impact of the Pacific and Atlantic decadal
oscillations. Do you feel enough has been done to examine the impacts
of natural factors on climate change?
Answer. This is a very interesting question. My colleague Tom
Delworth and I published an article in the journal Science several
years ago examining possible causes for warming during the 20th
century, focusing especially on the early 20th century warming. Here is
a link to the article: http://www.gfdl noaa.gov/reference/bibliography/
Our analysis suggests that natural internal climate variability
played a prominent role in the early 20th century warming, perhaps
comparable to that of increasing greenhouse gases. In particular the
strong warm event that occurred in the high latitudes of the northern
hemisphere around the 1940s seemed to fit best with an explanation of a
strong role (in that region) for internal climate variability. In the
high northern latitudes, particularly around the North Atlantic,
temperatures actually cooled from the 1940s to the 1970s. Based on this
analysis, there does seem to be a role for internal climate variability
in explaining some of the multi-decadal temperature variations during
the 20th century. In fact, our climate model produced fairly realistic
examples of such variations.
However, there is little evidence that natural internal variability
has caused the global scale warming that has taken place from the late
1800s to the present. This warming has a much different spatial pattern
than the multi-decadal variation that took place in high northern
latitudes in the early 20th century. The broad-scale long-time scale
global warming has no ``naturally occurring'' analog in our climate
model simulations. However, it is rather well-reproduced in our model
if we force the model using best estimates of the changes in greenhouse
gases and aerosols since the late 1800s.
Our view is that high northern latitude regions are characterized
by a greater degree of natural multi-decadal climate variability than
elsewhere on the globe. This can complicate the detection of the
greenhouse warming signal in those regions. For example, is the more
rapid warming in recent years in high northern latitudes an example of
polar amplification of the greenhouse warming signal? Or is it another
manifestation of internal climate variability, perhaps combined with a
more modest greenhouse warming signal? The short answer is that we
don't know at this time. However, we can say with a high degree of
confidence that the global warming signal is not solely natural in
origin, but rather that a large part of the global warming has been
caused by increases in greenhouse gases from human activity.
Is enough being done to understand the role of natural factors? I
think there is room for expanded research efforts on this topic (in
fact on both natural and human-caused climate change). However, I don't
believe that the relative degree of effort being expended on
understanding these two topics (natural vs. human-caused climate
change) is seriously out of line at this time.