[House Hearing, 111 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
THE ADMINISTRATION'S VIEW ON THE STATE OF CLIMATE SCIENCE
SELECT COMMITTEE ON
AND GLOBAL WARMING
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED ELEVENTH CONGRESS
DECEMBER 2, 2009
Serial No. 111-13
Printed for the use of the Select Committee on
Energy Independence and Global Warming
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
62-520 WASHINGTON : 2010
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office Internet: bookstore.gpo.gov Phone: toll free (866) 512-1800; DC
area (202) 512-1800 Fax: (202) 512-2104 Mail: Stop IDCC, Washington, DC
SELECT COMMITTEE ON ENERGY INDEPENDENCE
AND GLOBAL WARMING
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts, Chairman
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr.,
JAY INSLEE, Washington Wisconsin, Ranking Member
JOHN B. LARSON, Connecticut JOHN B. SHADEGG, Arizona
HILDA L. SOLIS, California GREG WALDEN, Oregon
STEPHANIE HERSETH SANDLIN, CANDICE S. MILLER, Michigan
South Dakota JOHN SULLIVAN, Oklahoma
EMANUEL CLEAVER, Missouri MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee
JOHN J. HALL, New York
JERRY McNERNEY, California
Gerard J. Waldron, Staff Director
Aliya Brodsky, Chief Clerk
Thomas Weimer, Minority Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
Hon. Edward J. Markey, a Representative in Congress from the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, opening statement............... 1
Prepared statement........................................... 3
Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. a Representative in Congress
from the State of Wisconsin, opening statement................. 5
Hon. John Salazar, a Representative in Congress from the State of
Colorado, opening statement.................................... 7
Prepared statement........................................... 9
Hon. John Shadegg, a Representative in Congress from the State of
Arizona, opening statement..................................... 13
Hon. Candice Miller, a Representative in Congress from the State
of Michigan, opening statement................................. 14
Hon. Jay Inslee, a Representative in Congress from the State of
Washington, opening statement.................................. 15
Hon. John Sullivan, a Representative in Congress from the State
of Oklahoma, opening statement................................. 16
Hon. Earl Blumenauer, a Representative in Congress from the State
of Oregon, prepared statement.................................. 17
Hon. Marsha Blackburn, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Tennessee, prepared statement......................... 62
John Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy,
Executive Office of the President.............................. 19
Prepared statement........................................... 22
Answers to submitted questions............................... 73
Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere,
Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.................... 33
Prepared statement........................................... 40
Answers to submitted questions............................... 80
THE ADMINISTRATION'S VIEW ON THE STATE OF CLIMATE SCIENCE
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2009
House of Representatives,
Select Committee on Energy Independence
and Global Warming,
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:04 a.m., in room
B-318, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Edward J. Markey
(chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Markey, Herseth Sandlin, Salazar,
Inslee, Sensenbrenner, Shadegg, Miller, Sullivan, Capito, and
Staff Present: Ana Unruh Cohen, Jonah Steinbuck.
The Chairman. Good morning, and welcome to the Select
Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
For many Members of Congress and the public, the concern
about global warming may seem like a relatively new
development. In fact, scientists, including those advising the
U.S. Government, have issued warnings about the rising
concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere throughout
the last four decades.
After a report from his science advisory committee,
President Lyndon Johnson noted in a 1965 special address to
Congress that, quote, a steady increase in carbon dioxide from
the burning of fossil fuels has altered the composition of the
In 1978, Robert White, the first administrator of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, warned that
carbon dioxide emissions can have consequences for climate that
pose a considerable threat to future society. More recently,
the National Academy of Sciences found in a 2001 report
requested by President Bush that, quote, global warming could
well have serious adverse societal and ecological impacts by
the end of this century.
In a report issued earlier this year, U.S. science agencies
concluded that climate changes are underway in the United
States and are projected to grow. Administration scientists
once predicted the impacts of global warming. Now they can
confirm them. And unfortunately, families from New Orleans to
Alaska are living with the harsh consequences.
Given the upcoming international climate conference in
Copenhagen, and the continuing work on domestic clean energy
legislation in Congress, an update on the administration's view
of the state of climate science is timely. In 2007, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in their
comprehensive assessment that global warming is unequivocal and
that this warming is primarily due to human activities.
This decade has been the hottest in recorded history, with
all of the years since 2001 being in the top 10 hottest. This
summer, the ocean was the warmest in NOAA's 130-year record.
The extent of Arctic summer sea ice for the past few years has
shrunk dramatically compared to the previous two decades, with
the reduction roughly three times the size of Texas.
We must be aware that as the climate system warms, we risk
passing certain tipping points of rapid and irreversible
change. In the United States, the effects are evident. Daily
record high temperatures are being broken twice as often as
daily lows. Our farms are threatened by rising temperatures,
water scarcity, and pests. In the Northeast, extreme rainstorms
and the risk of flooding have increased. In Alaska, villages
are finding the land they call home literally melting out from
underneath them as the permafrost thaws. In the West, the
shrinking mountain snow pack and increasing droughts strain our
water resource system.
Fortunately, after decades of warnings, President Obama is
partnering with Congress to realize a new vision for America,
an America freed from dependence on foreign oil and thriving as
a leader of the new clean energy economy. The American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act included more than $80 billion for clean
energy investments to jump-start our economy and generate new
clean energy jobs. The Cash for Clunkers program took gas
guzzlers off the road. Fuel economy standards were raised for
model year 2011 cars and trucks, saving drivers money and
spurring companies to develop more efficient, affordable
In June, the House passed the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy
and Security Act. This is legislation that will put us on a
pollution cutting path and, at the same time, create millions
of new jobs, making America the global leader of the clean
energy economy. The act will also create a National Climate
Service that will provide decision makers with vital climate
As we move forward, we must continue to stay abreast of the
most recent findings and to ground our policy in the latest
Our witnesses today, Dr. John Holdren, the President's
science adviser, and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will help us
Now I would like to turn and recognize the ranking member
of the committee, the gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Markey follows:]
Mr. Sensenbrenner. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And what we have just heard from the Chairman is a case of
denial on what has happened recently. Sound science depends on
sound policy--or sound science policy depends on sound science.
When the science itself is politicized, it becomes impossible
to make objective political decisions. Scientific policy
depends upon absolute transparency. As policymakers, we should
all be concerned when key climate scientists write in private
correspondence that they found a trick to hide the decline in
temperature data documented in climate studies.
Less than 2 weeks ago, some 160 megabytes of data,
containing over 1,000 e-mails, including one from today's
witness, Dr. John Holdren, and 2,000 other documents from the
Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the
UK were posted on the Internet. While the e-mails don't
undermine everything we know about climate change, their
contents are shocking. And in the words of Clive Cook, senior
editor of the Atlantic Monthly, a columnist for National
Journal, and a commentator for Financial Times, the stink of
intellectual corruption is overpowering. The temperature
records from the climate research are one of only three major
data sets which considerably overlap and which have been used
as the bedrock for the assessments by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change and the United States Global Change
The data set in question is the basis for virtually all
peer-reviewed literature. The documents show systematic
suppression of dissenting opinion among scientists in the
climate change community, intimidation of journal editors and a
journal who would deign to publish articles questioning the so-
called consensus, manipulation of data and models, possible
criminal activity to evade legitimate requests for data and the
underlying computer codes filed under Freedom of Information
Acts, both in the U.S. and in the United Kingdom, and
demonstrates that many climate scientists and proponents of
climate change legislation have vested interests, a clear
conflict of interest.
Those with the most to gain from climate change have tried
to dismiss these e-mails as out of context. So I am going to
read a few examples.
From Kevin Trenberth, quote, the fact is that we can't
account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a
travesty we can't. The series data shows that there should be
even more warming, but the data are surely wrong. Our observing
system is inadequate, unquote.
From Phil Jones, quote, I have just completed Mike's nature
trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last
20 years--that is from 1981 onwards--and from 1961 for Keith's
to hide the decline, unquote.
From Andrew Manning, quote, I am in the process of trying
to persuade Siemens Corporation to donate me a little cash to
do some CO2 measurements here in the UK. Looking
promising. So the last thing I need is news articles calling
into question again observed temperature increases. I thought
we had moved the database beyond this, but it seems like the
skeptics are real diehards, unquote.
From Keith Briffa, quote, I tried hard to balance the needs
of the science and the IPCC, which are not always the same. I
worried that you might think I give the impression of not
supporting you well enough while trying to report on the issues
and uncertainties, unquote.
From Phil Jones, quote, I am getting hassled by a couple
people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don't any
of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of
Information Act, unquote.
From Michael Mann, quote, this was the danger of always
criticizing the skeptics for not publishing in the peer-review
literature. Obviously, they found a solution to that. Take over
a journal. So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop
considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed
journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the
climate research community to no longer submit to or cite
papers in this journal. We also need to consider what we tell
or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit
on the editorial board, unquote.
From Phil Jones, quote, if anything, I would like to see
climate change happen so the science could be proved right
regardless of the consequences. This isn't being political; it
is being selfish, unquote.
Now, these e-mails show a pattern of suppression,
manipulation, and secrecy that was inspired by ideology,
condescension, and profit. They read more like scientific
fascism than scientific process. They betray economic and
ideological agendas that are death to disconforming evidence.
Hopefully, this scandal is the end of declarations that the
science is settled, and the beginning of a transparent
scientific debate. The seriousness of this issue justifies
The majority did not permit us to invite a witness to this
morning's hearing, and therefore, I am requesting a minority
day of hearings and am filing with the Chairman a letter signed
by all six of the Republican members of this Select Committee,
pursuant to rule 11 J 1 of the House of Representatives to have
a minority day of hearings.
And I yield back the balance of my time.
The Chairman. I thank the gentleman very much.
The hearing today is for the purpose of hearing from
administration witnesses. In my 34 years here, whether it be a
Democrat or Republican administration, I had no memory of
another witness sitting with administration officials at the
time of their testimony.
Mr. Sensenbrenner. Would the gentleman yield?
The Chairman. I will be glad to yield.
Mr. Sensenbrenner. When I was Chairman of Judiciary
Committee I did not allow anybody to sit with Cabinet-level or
Cabinet-rank level witnesses, but there were other people who
sat with administration witnesses and, in many cases,
contradicted them, including witnesses that were proffered by
the Democratic majority on the Judiciary Committee.
The Chairman. Well, in the 15 years that I have chaired a
committee here in the House, I have always offered as a
courtesy to the Reagan administration, to the first Bush
administration, and to the second Bush administration the
courtesy of having their administration officials sit and make
their presentation. And that is how I have conducted myself
since 1981, chairing committees. And I extended that courtesy
through three Republican administrations. So that is my own
And I did not think it was appropriate to have another
witness sitting with these representatives of President Obama,
since I did not allow that to happen with President Reagan or
the two Bush presidencies.
But I will be more than willing to discuss future hearings
with the gentleman and the minority if they would like.
Let me now turn and recognize the gentlelady from South
Ms. Herseth Sandlin. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have
an opening statement. I will reserve for questions.
The Chairman. Thank you. Then let me recognize the
gentleman from Colorado.
Mr. Salazar. Well thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning. I am looking forward to hearing the testimony
today. We have a complex problem before us today. And I am
interested to hear where we are in the science. I also want to
know what we can do better to adapt our communities and
practices to prepare for the anticipated climate changes.
The information found in the recently released report
entitled, ``Global Climate Change Impacts in the United
States,'' is quite comprehensive. However, I am glad to see
that both of you in your testimony say that we need more
regional-specific information to help decision makers plan in
Colorado and the Third Congressional District has rich
agricultural resources and millions of acres of forest. We also
depend in large part on a limited amount of water for our
survival. I am concerned about how we can effectively prepare
for the changes you predict. As I mentioned, water is one of
the natural resources my district heavily depends on. While we
have a lot of snow in the mountains, the valleys see very
I am very proud of the $5 million appropriation for the
Arkansas Valley conduit that was approved this year. That is
the first round of conduit funding, which will be used for the
environment analysis and planning and design. The Arkansas
Valley conduit is designed to provide clean drinking water to
approximately 40 cities, towns, and water providers in the low
Arkansas Valley. These communities are in dire need of a source
of water that will help them comply with the Clean Drinking
Water Act in a manner that they can afford. Every community
that will receive water from the conduit is currently rated
below the 85 percent level of average household income.
The roots of the Arkansas Valley conduit stretch back to
1962, when the conduit was authorized by Congress as part of
the Fryingpan-Arkansas project. And the reason that I bring
this up is it took over 45 years, close to 47 years, to get the
funding for this critical project. And if it takes that long
for something this critical, we need to better prioritize the
needs and support for our communities.
I am a farmer. Agriculture is the cornerstone of my life
and also the district that I represent. In my district, we
produce wheat, potatoes, barley, beef, and many other crops.
Agriculture is one of the top three economies in the district.
The demand to produce more food will only increase as the
population increases. And according to the report I mentioned
before, climate change has the potential to negatively affect
growth and yield of many crops, as well as increase the
populations and vigor of a variety of weeds and insect species.
If this is true, how soon do we anticipate these changes and
how do we accommodate them?
We have already seen the effects of warmer weather and
drought in our forests. Over 2 million acres of forest in
Colorado are dead because of the mountain pine beetle. This
epidemic will change the landscape of Colorado for decades. We
need to manage our forests for resiliency in the future so that
they can withstand the changes in weather.
So I do look forward to your testimony today, and I want to
thank you for being with us. I yield back.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Salazar follows:]
The Chairman. Thank you. The gentleman's time has expired.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona, Mr.
Mr. Shadegg. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I apologize. I
have another hearing, so I will have to leave for a portion of
my time here. But I want to begin by noting something that I
think everyone in the room knows, but nobody wants to
acknowledge. It is that there is an elephant, a large elephant
sitting in the middle of this room. You can ignore if you like.
Members of the minority can ignore it if they like. Members of
the majority can ignore it if they like. Members of the staff
or the press or the audience can ignore it if they like. But
that elephant is the credibility of the entire scientific
community, which has told us that the science behind manmade
global warming is resolved, make no mistake about it.
When you read in the e-mails, which have been made public
recently, that that science was politicized, that its
proponents were unwilling to release their data, that they were
unwilling to have their theories tested, that they were
threatened by anyone and everyone who dared to challenge them,
when you realize they were that insecure, then you have to
understand that their credibility, the entire credibility of
the theory is placed on the line.
Now, that does not mean it cannot be rehabilitated. But it
is interesting to me, those who have not simply accepted the
claim of manmade global warming, man-caused global warming have
been called deniers. I would suggest that when the White House
reads of these e-mails and the Press Secretary for the White
House steps forward and says they mean nothing, the science is
already resolved, maybe the term deniers best applies to those
in that position.
Public policy is a difficult business. It is hard for those
of us who sit on this side of the dais to make decisions and to
make those decisions in the best interests of the Nation. At
times we are asked to call upon our citizens to sacrifice, to
pay more in taxes, to lose jobs, to give up lifestyles, to pay
more for energy. We simply cannot do that when the evidence we
are supposed to be basing our decisions upon has been clearly
politicized, when there is a grave question about its
Until we address the evidence--I am sorry, until we address
the elephant in the center of this room and resolve the
questions raised by the appalling e-mails which have been made
public, it is impossible for this Congress to set public policy
in this area and to make the people of America accept and give
of the sacrifices they will have to give to make the changes
called for by the legislation that is before this Congress.
Anyone who thinks that those e-mails are insignificant,
that they don't damage the credibility of the entire movement,
is naive. We cannot expect people in a free society to make
sacrifices on anything other than hard evidence. Here that hard
evidence has to be hard evidence that in fact global warming is
caused by man and that the sacrifices called for in the
legislation are necessary. These e-mails repeatedly have shown
that the scientists involved and who authored them, the
scientists who are behind global warming or the argument that
global warming is caused by manmade factors, the e-mails
demonstrate that they are afraid to reveal the facts, that they
have been unwilling to have their theories tested, that they
have been unwilling to provide their data, and they are
unwilling to have their theories openly challenged.
Now because their own defenses and justifications for
hiding these facts and their data has changed so many times, we
now learn that maybe the data does not even exist. It is
critical for this Congress to find out and to get to the bottom
of the question of what the elephant in the room is and what
the real science is and whether money and politics has eroded
the credibility of that science.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
The Chairman. The gentleman's time has expired.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Oklahoma, Mr.
Excuse me. I did not see the gentlelady from Michigan.
The Chair recognizes the gentlelady from Michigan, Mrs.
Mrs. Miller. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate you having this hearing. I think it is an
interesting title of the hearing. The state of the climate
science I think is particularly interesting in light of what is
happening. And I would like to associate myself with the
remarks made by the ranking member and the others on the
minority side here of the panel.
I come from the State of Michigan. We have the highest
unemployment in the Nation. Everybody is well aware of that. As
well, we derive about two-thirds of our electricity from coal.
And for these reasons and others, I really looked very closely
at the cap-and-trade legislation and finally decided that it
would just be so devastating for Michigan's economy and our
Nation that I could not support it.
But you know, we had been told that we had to pass this
legislation because the debate was over; the science was
absolute; the science is incontrovertible about climate change,
and regardless of what it means economically to us, we need to
do this to protect our environment and our very way of life.
And you know, particularly hard hit with the cap-and-trade
would be States like Michigan.
In fact, the Detroit News editorialized that the cap-and-
trade legislation, as they said, would be a dagger through the
heart of Michigan's economy. So when I saw this notice, this
committee hearing notice, I was very enthusiastic because I
thought we were going to be able to talk this morning about
what many people are calling Climategate, which I think is an
appropriate analogy, because it is totally a coverup, what is
And the ranking member, I won't go through you any of the
e-mails, I have a list of them here as well, but he certainly
has articulated many of them already. But I thought we were
going to have a hearing about that. And if we are not, I would
mention that I had also respectfully sent a letter earlier this
week to the chairman and the ranking member to ask this
committee to have a hearing. I think it is important that the
committee investigate these e-mails and what has happened in
I think transparency is the most appropriate thing. And I
think it is very important that we have transparency and that
we look at these things, because certainly the central argument
about manmade--manmade--climate change is certainly in
question. I think the science is not settled, and the debate is
raging around the United States and around the globe right now,
particularly on the eve of Copenhagen.
And I would simply just mention one other thing, if I
could, Mr. Chairman. We did have a hearing just a couple months
ago about a dozen fraudulent letters that were sent during the
cap-and-trade legislation. And I thought that was an
appropriate thing. But certainly if we could have a hearing
about a dozen fraudulent letters, we could have a hearing in
this committee about Climategate.
And thank you, and I yield back.
The Chairman. Thank you. The gentlelady's time has expired.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Washington State,
Mr. Inslee. Thank you.
I understand that those people who have been refusing to
accept science for years are enjoying their moment talking
about language from some e-mails that were taken out of
context. I understand their enjoyment to continue to deny
And if you could take those e-mails and chop them up and
put them in a C-130 and sprinkle them over the Arctic and stop
the Arctic from melting, that would be a good thing, but that
won't happen. If you could take those e-mails and chop them up
into fairy dust and sprinkle them over the Greenland ice cap
and stop the accelerated melting going on there, that would be
a good thing, but that won't happen. And if you could take
those e-mails and chop them up and sprinkle them over the
oceans and stop the incredible ocean acidification that is so
damaging, that would be a wonderful thing, but that won't
The fact of the matter is plain and clear for anyone who is
willing to dispassionately look at the evidence. And I would
encourage, for those who want to look at the most recent
evidence on this, to take a look at a group called the
Copenhagen Diagnosis. They are found at
www.Copenhagendiagnosis.com. It is an update of the IPCC
information. And the update is, since 2007, the sequela of both
ocean acidification and global climate change have been either
accelerating or at least worse than was predicted in the IPCC
The global deniers are right; the 2007 IPCC report was not
entirely accurate. It was not entirely accurate because this
problem is worse than the last IPCC report indicated. Surging
greenhouse gases are worse than predicted. Recent global
temperatures demonstrate human-based warming. The acceleration
of melting ice caps in the Arctic is worse than expected. The
rate of decline in glaciers is worse than expected. The
disappearance of the Arctic summer ice is worse than expected.
The current sea level rise estimates are worse than expected in
the IPCC 2007 report. So the point of the current science is
that what we had in 2007 is indeed out of date; this problem is
worse than expected.
And I will just comment on one thing that I learned.
Sometimes you can learn things from silence as well as people
talking. I was at my old school at the University of Washington
last week, and we were talking about this issue. And this young
man stood up, and he was a global climate change denier. And he
was having a field day with some e-mail language that he
thought showed some massive conspiracy by the Trilateral
Commission or something to take over the earth.
And I just said, look, if you are right and if there is no
global warming, if you are so right, what are you going to do
about ocean acidification? What do you say about that? And he
was silent. And that silence speaks volumes. If people over
here want to deny clear science about global warming, they
cannot deny the fact that the oceans are becoming acidified,
that no reputable science anywhere in the world recognizes it
is happening caused by CO2 going into the atmosphere
and going into solution and acidifying our oceans, so I would
just say the science is clear. I wish it was otherwise. Life
would be easier. But this is the challenge of the ages. Thank
The Chairman. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Oklahoma, Mr. Sullivan, is recognized.
Mr. Sullivan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate you holding this hearing today, but
unfortunately, we were not allowed a minority witness.
Yesterday I was pleased to sign onto a letter by Ranking
Member Sensenbrenner and my Republican colleagues on this
committee requesting a day of hearings to consider the
scientific evidence for climate change; the observed and
anticipated impacts of climate change; and the key areas of
further research. I hope you will honor this request, as we are
on the eve of the Copenhagen climate conference.
In light of the recent disclosure of e-mails between
several prominent climatologists revealing possible deceitful
manipulation of important climate data uncovered at the world's
leading climate change unit at the University of East Anglia in
England, I think it is imperative that we launch an
investigation into this issue and reexamine all the scientific
evidence surrounding climate change.
With the United Nations Climate Change Conference in
Copenhagen set to begin in less than a week, we need to have
all the facts before us as we consider whether this is in the
United States' best interests to agree to a binding
international climate treaty.
For the record, I am opposed to any climate treaty that
does not recognize the right of every country to protect its
own national energy interests and would place the United States
at a competitive economic disadvantage worldwide.
I am interested in learning from our panel today whether or
not they would support an independent investigation into the
climate change unit e-mails and whether or not these e-mails
raise concerns about the integrity of the scientific process.
I yield back my time.
The Chairman. Great. The gentleman's time has expired.
All time for opening statements from the members has been
[The prepared statement of Mr. Blumenauer follows:]
The Chairman. We will now turn to our very distinguished
STATEMENTS OF THE HONORABLE JOHN HOLDREN, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY, EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE
PRESIDENT; AND THE HONORABLE JANE LUBCHENCO, UNDER SECRETARY
FOR OCEANS AND ATMOSPHERE, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE NATIONAL
OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF
The Chairman. Our first witness is Dr. John Holdren. He
serves as assistant to President Obama for science and
technology. He is the director of the White House Office of
Science and Technology Policy, and cochair of the President's
Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. He was a
professor at Harvard. He was the director of the independent
nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center. He is a member of the
National Academy of Sciences. He has received the MacArthur
Foundation prize, the Genius Award.
We welcome you, sir, before our committee.
Whenever you are ready, please begin.
Mr. Sensenbrenner. Mr. Chairman, I would request that the
witnesses be sworn before they testify today.
The Chairman. The committee will stand in brief recess.
The Chairman. The ranking member of the committee has made
a request to have the witnesses sworn in.
The Chair has a right to, at his discretion, to make that
determination. And I do not think it is necessary. I think that
the administration is going to testify truthfully before our
committee today. And we will operate under that premise.
And we will begin the hearing with the testimony of Dr.
Holdren, the President's science adviser.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOHN HOLDREN
Mr. Holdren. Thank you, Chairman Markey, Ranking Member
Sensenbrenner, members of the committee.
I do thank you for inviting me to testify on this timely
and important topic today. I had planned to summarize in my
brief oral statement the written statement that I provided to
the committee addressing current and projected impacts of
climate change, and also climate science research activities,
needs, and products, as the letter of invitation requested.
But given the emphasis in some of the opening comments on
the e-mails, I am going to divert from that program and say a
few words about the e-mails, and then finish with the
concluding part of my original oral statement.
The e-mails are mainly about a controversy over a
particular data set and the ways a particular small group of
scientists have interpreted and displayed that data set. It is
important to understand that these kinds of controversies and
even accusations of bias and improper manipulation are not all
that uncommon in science, in all branches of science. The
strength of science is that these kinds of controversies get
sorted out over time as to who is wrong, who is right, and how
much it matters by the process of peer review and continued
critical scrutiny by the knowledgeable community of scientists.
Of course, openness in sharing of data and methods is very
important to this process. And as I think you all know, this
administration is a strong proponent of openness in science and
in government. And Administrator Lubchenco will have some
things to say about public access to the climate data
maintained by her agency and maintained by other agencies in
the United States.
In this particular case, the data set in question and the
way it was interpreted and presented by these particular
scientists constitute a very small part of the immense body of
data and analysis on which our understanding of the issue of
climate change rests.
The question being addressed by these data was, have there
been natural periods of warming in the past, in the last 1,000
or 2,000 years in particular, that have been stronger than the
episode now being experienced? That is an interesting question.
And because of the controversy around it at the time most of
these e-mails were written, that is in the early 2000s, the
National Academy of Sciences undertook a thorough review of all
of the relevant data sets and all of the methods of analysis,
not just the data set used by these particular authors or the
methods used by these particular authors.
The National Academy's report on this matter was published
in 2006, and it concluded that the preponderance of available
evidence points to the conclusion that the last 50 years have
been the warmest half century in at least the last 1,000 years
and probably much longer.
There is and there will remain after the dust settles in
this current controversy a very strong scientific consensus on
the key characteristics of the problem. Global climate is
changing in highly unusual ways compared to long experienced
and expected natural variations. The unusual changes match what
theory and models tell us would be expected to result from the
very changes in the atmosphere that we know have been caused by
human activities, above all burning fossil fuels and tropical
Significant impacts on human well-being from these changes
in climate are already being experienced. And continuing with
business as usual in the fossil fuel burning and tropical
deforestation activities that are the largest contributors to
these changes in the atmosphere is highly likely to lead to
growth of the impacts to substantially unmanageable levels. The
details in support of those propositions are in my written
Let me turn to the closing part of my remarks. I have tried
to indicate in the written testimony, and here, that we in fact
know a great deal about global climate change, what its causes
are, how it works, what its impacts are and are likely to
become. But of course, there is more to learn. And the Federal
Government is doing a lot in support of the research needed to
learn more and its translation of that research into products
our society can use to better cope with climate change. But
there again, we need to do more.
With that said, I emphasize again that, in my judgment and
that of the great majority of other scientists who have
seriously studied this matter, the current state of knowledge
about it, even though incomplete, as science always is, and
even though controversial in some details, as science almost
always is, is sufficient to make clear that failure to act
promptly to reduce global emissions to the atmosphere of carbon
dioxide and other heat-trapping substances is overwhelmingly
likely to lead to changes in climate too extreme and too
damaging to be adequately addressed by any adaptation measures
that can be foreseen.
The United States, as the largest contributor to the
cumulative additions of anthropogenic, that is human-caused,
greenhouse gases to the atmosphere since the beginning of the
Industrial Revolution, and still today the second largest
emitter after China, and as the world's largest economy and
preeminent source of scientific and technological innovation,
we have the obligation and the opportunity to lead the world in
demonstrating that the needed emissions reductions can be
achieved in ways that are affordable and consistent with
continued economic growth; that create new jobs; and that bring
further co-benefits in the form of reduced oil import
dependence and improved air quality.
President Obama is going to Copenhagen to underline that
his administration is fully committed to assuming this
leadership role. The administration obviously will need the
support of the Congress in delivering on this promise.
And I would like to thank you, Chairman Markey, and this
committee for your own leadership in this critically important
I thank you as well for your attention.
[The statement of Mr. Holdren follows:]
The Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Holdren, very much.
Our second witness is Dr. Jane Lubchenco. Dr. Lubchenco is
the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, and
the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration. She has been a distinguished scholar on these
issues. She is one of the most highly cited ecologists in the
world, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and
similarly a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, as was Dr.
We welcome you, Dr. Lubchenco. And whenever you are ready,
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JANE LUBCHENCO
Ms. Lubchenco. Thank you, Chairman Markey, Ranking Member
Sensenbrenner, members of the committee.
I greatly appreciate the opportunity to testify today. I
appreciate your interest in the science of climate change and
the spectrum of climate sciences and services needed in this
country and abroad to make critical decisions for now and for
As President Obama said to the National Academy of
Sciences, science is more essential for our prosperity, our
security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life
than it has ever been before.
As head of NOAA, one of the Nation's premiere science
service and stewardship agencies, with responsibilities for
both oceans and atmosphere, I strongly support a focus on
science-based decision-making. Science can help inform the
understanding of opportunities and challenges presented by
Through sustained Federal and extramural partnerships and
collaborations, the Nation has made very significant progress
in our understanding of climate change. The core capabilities
needed to understand the state of the climate and make
projections about future climate and associated impacts include
integrated and comprehensive observing systems on land and the
oceans, the atmosphere and space; research into the physical
system and its interconnectedness to the human ecological and
biogeochemical systems, modeling from intra-seasonal to multi-
decadal to centennial time scales; and a means to assess and
communicate the climate information about current and future
Three entities, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, the IPCC, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and
the National Academy of Sciences have all published several
peer-reviewed syntheses of the latest climate science findings
and associated impacts. NOAA scientists have played a
significant role in all of these assessments. For example, NOAA
played a lead role in the development of the USGCRP's Global
Climate Change Impacts in the United States report, a landmark
assessment report that Dr. Holdren and I proudly announced just
this last June. And NOAA scientists made up 73 percent of the
Federal authors in the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report for
working group one, the basis of the physical understanding of
climate. Since the IPCC process began in the late 1980s, a
wealth of global scientific information has cumulatively
provided stronger and stronger evidence that the earth is
warming and that humans are primarily responsible.
As stated in the Global Change Impacts 2009 report, global
warming is unequivocal and is primarily human induced. This
warming can be seen in increases in global average surface air
and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice,
rising sea levels, and changes in many other climate-related
variables and impacts. Most of the observed increases in global
temperatures since the mid-20th century are due primarily to
human-induced concentrations in heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
When I served on the very first National Academy of
Sciences study on policy implications of global warming in the
1980s, we talked about what human-induced climate change might
look like at some point in the future. Today we know that it is
happening now. We are already seeing the effects of climate
change on our landscapes, our neighborhoods, our farms, as well
as our forests, oceans and mountains. We are able to measure
these changes through significant advances in our observing
systems over the last 20 to 30 years, many of which are the
result of NOAA's responsibility and innovation, and through
collaborative global and national efforts to provide systematic
and widespread monitoring of the climate system and associated
environmental and social changes.
As a result, we have a much better understanding of present
and expected impacts of climate change. Widespread climate
change impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase.
I emphasize that climate change is not a theory. It is a
documented set of observations about the world.
A key element of the U.S. Global Change Research Program
emphasizes the importance of multiple independent analyses and
data sets to quantify uncertainties. And therefore, we have the
benefit of this policy when it comes to global change analyses.
The NOAA data used in the IPCC report are openly available.
They are used heavily in the IPCC results of temperature change
similar to other major global data sets maintained by other
U.S. agencies, such as NASA, and that maintained by other
countries, such as the United Kingdom.
So what do these data sets, what do these observations tell
us about climate change? What do we know with certainty about
trends to date, and what do we think is highly likely in the
Global average surface temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees
Fahrenheit since 1900 and is projected to rise another 2 to
11.5 degrees by 2100. The current atmospheric carbon dioxide
concentration is estimated at about 385 parts per million,
which is higher than the highest point in the last 800,000
years. Temperatures in the next couple of decades will be
primarily determined by past emissions of greenhouse gases, but
increases thereafter will be primarily determined by future
Current observed global emissions of carbon dioxide
emissions are beginning to exceed even the upper range of the
2007 IPCC scenarios. There is strong agreement and much
evidence that with current climate change mitigation policies
and related sustainable development practices, global
greenhouse gas emissions will continue to grow over the next
As we continue to learn more about the climate system, I
would like to reiterate the importance of looking at the earth
system holistically, and understanding the interconnected
nature of the ocean, atmosphere, and terrestrial systems. In
particular, I would like to emphasize the importance of
continuing our work to better understand the oceans and the
potential impacts of climate change on them.
I believe we have been championing the notion that we do
not have, but urgently need, a strong focus on ecosystem-based
science to inform decisions about adapting to climate change.
An ecosystem-based approach also provides a broad array of
potential tools for adaptation to climate change. Climate
change interacts with and exacerbates other changes, ranging
from overfishing to nutrient pollution to invasive species and
habitat destruction. Removing one or several of these stresses
is likely to enhance the resilience of the system to other
Equally important is the need to acknowledge that we are
likely to see surprises as human actions disrupt many
fundamental biogeochemical and ecological processes. The now
routine appearance of dead zones, areas of low or no oxygen on
the coasts of Oregon and Washington during the summertime, is
an example of an unanticipated change with possibly serious
What does managing with the expectation of surprises look
like? These are rich areas for future research and management
And finally, ocean acidification, which I call the equally
evil twin of climate change, provides yet another major threat
to coastal and ocean ecosystems. Getting a better handle on
rates of change in ocean chemistry and the consequences to
marine biota are high priorities. The seemingly persistent
hypoxic events off the Pacific Northwest coast and this
increasing corrosiveness of the water because of acidity are
two examples of potential consequences from increasing
CO2 in the atmosphere.
In addition, climate change can exacerbate other human-
induced stresses to aquatic systems, such as those caused by
nutrient-loading invasive species and overfishing. As water
resources are stressed, coastal areas are at increasing risk
from sea level rise, inundation, and storm surge. North
Atlantic fish populations are shifting north due to warmer
oceans. And the threat to human health increases due to heat
stress, air quality, and water-borne diseases.
We must continue to enhance our scientific capacities,
including research, observation, modeling, predictions,
projections, and assessments to ensure that we are providing
policy and decision makers, planners, and the public with the
best possible science-based information to take on the
challenges and opportunities posed by climate change.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to
provide you with this review and update of the climate change
science and ocean acidification. NOAA looks forward to
continuing to provide national and international leadership, in
collaboration with our partners, to ensure the solid foundation
of climate science and service necessary to inform critical
decisions about our future as a Nation and a global society.
The Chairman. Thank you.
Now I know you want to give us a brief demonstration of the
science. And if you would like, could you please do that at
this time? And then we will go to questions.
Ms. Lubchenco. Okay. Thank you very much. I appreciate
What I would like to do is just start here briefly and then
move over and describe what I would like to share with you. I
greatly appreciate the opportunity to not only present the oral
testimony that I did but to provide a demonstration of some
basic scientific concepts of ocean acidification.
Ocean acidification is a global scale change in the basic
chemistry of the oceans that is underway now as a direct result
of the increases of CO2 in the atmosphere. We are
just beginning to understand the impacts of ocean acidification
on life in the ocean. The moniker osteoporosis of the sea gives
you a hint about some of its impacts.
The basic chemistry of ocean acidification is understood
and is not controversial. Here are three basic concepts: Number
one, the chemistry of the oceans is dependent upon the
chemistry of the atmosphere. More CO2 in the
atmosphere means more CO2 in the ocean. Number two,
as CO2 from the air is dissolved into the ocean, it
makes the oceans more acidic. The resulting changes, number
three, in the chemistry of the oceans disrupt the ability of
plants and animals in the sea to make shells and skeletons of
calcium carbonate. And those chemical changes also dissolve
shells that are already formed.
So who in the oceans is affected by this? Any plant or
animal that has a shell or a skeleton made of calcium
carbonate. The hard parts of many familiar animals, such as
oysters, clams, corals, lobsters, crabs such as those on this
table, and those on the posters, are made of calcium carbonate.
Many microscopic plants and animals at the base of the food
chain also have calcium carbonate shells or skeletons. Some of
these microscopic plants and animals are so abundant that when
they die, they form massive deposits as they accumulate on the
sea floor. The famed White Cliffs of Dover are a familiar
example of calcium carbonate or chalk deposits, the skeletons
of microscopic organisms.
More acidic ocean water is corrosive to all of these
calcium carbonate shells and skeletons, but let me focus on two
quick examples. Number one, corals, that provide the
fundamental structure for the world's treasured coral reefs,
make their skeletons with calcium carbonate. More acidic ocean
water makes it harder for corals to make their hard parts. If
the ocean becomes too acidic, coral reefs may well disappear.
Pteropods, number two, also called sea butterflies, are
small-shelled animals about the size of a lentil bean. They
occur in the millions off the coast of my home State of Oregon,
but also throughout the world's oceans. They are a key or the
primary source of food for juvenile salmon and many other fish
around the world. Pteropods are particularly susceptible to
increasingly acidic ocean water, as you will see in a moment.
And I mention them in part because they illustrate the broader
consequences of disruption of one part of the ocean ecosystem
reverberating throughout other parts of the system, potentially
affecting jobs, food security, tourism, and more.
The severity of ocean acidification's impacts is likely
dependent in part on the interaction of acidification with
other environmental stresses, such as rising ocean
temperatures, overfishing, and pollution from the land. Early
evidence suggests that some species are better able to thrive
in increased acidity, but the adaptability of most organisms to
increased acidity is unknown.
While our understanding of ocean acidification's impacts
are still unfolding, the basic science of how the ocean is
acidifying and the effects of increased acidity on some marine
organisms is well known. And I would like to now demonstrate
two of the basic concepts that I just mentioned. The ocean does
a great service by absorbing tremendous amounts of carbon
dioxide from the atmosphere. And in fact, the oceans have
absorbed already about a third of the carbon dioxide that
humans have contributed to the atmosphere over the last two
centuries. This greatly reduces the impact of these heat-
trapping pollutant gases on the earth.
But the carbon dioxide that is absorbed by oceans changes
the chemistry of sea water, making it more acidic and more
corrosive. When carbon dioxide dissolves in water, it forms
carbonic acid, making the water more acidic. And to illustrate
how this occurs, I brought a vessel of water, some common
laboratory blue dye that changes color as the acidity in the
solution changes, and some dry ice, which is simply compressed,
frozen carbon dioxide. So I will first squirt some of this dye
into the pitcher of water, swirl it around a little bit.
Actually, I was going to do that in this, wasn't I? I will put
it in here. Okay. I am just going to add a little more dye
here. So this dye----
The Chairman. Why don't you move that microphone over?
Ms. Lubchenco. Do we need the microphone? Can I project
without it? So I squirted a little bit of this dye into the
water. You can see the blue color, which indicates this
solution is a neutral level of acidity. And to demonstrate that
the water absorbs carbon dioxide and that it then becomes more
acidic, I am just going to drop a few chunks of this dry ice,
frozen carbon dioxide, into the water. And you can see that the
water changes color from blue to yellow, telling you that it
has become more acidic.
I have used tap water to demonstrate this concept, but the
same phenomenon happens with sea water as with tap water. As it
absorbs carbon dioxide, the carbon dioxide changes into
carbonic acid and becomes more acidic. Over the last two
centuries, the oceans have now become 30 percent more acidic
because of the CO2 that they have absorbed from the
The second demonstration that I want to do for you
involves--I am just going to set this aside. Thank you--
illustrates another very important principle. And that is that
calcium carbonate, which is the basic building block of all of
these calcifiers, oysters, clams, mussels, oysters, those are
all made of the same stuff as chalk.
Now, chalk in the olden days when I was growing up, most
chalk that we would use in school was pretty pure calcium
carbonate. Today other substances have been added to it to make
it less dusty, less breakable, et cetera. So if you want to try
this at home, you need to get almost pure chalk, which is what
What I am going to do is to show you what happens to chalk
or other types of calcium carbonate when it is in regular
water, when it is in water; half water-half vinegar solution,
which is more acidic. As you know, vinegar is a weak acid. So I
have combined water and vinegar there. And in this container,
this is all vinegar. And so we have an increase in the amount
of acidity from normal water; half water-half vinegar; and pure
And what I want you to notice is that when we put calcium
carbonate, chalk, into the water, the same would happen if you
put it into sea water, nothing happens. This is the way the
ocean has been for a long time. Shells are fine in water. They
If you put chalk into half water-half vinegar, you can see
some bubbling start to happen. That is the calcium carbonate
that is beginning to dissolve in the weak acid and releasing
carbon dioxide, bubbles of carbon dioxide.
And if we put the chalk into pure vinegar, you can see that
it starts bubbling much more quickly, much more rapidly, and is
in fact dissolving much more rapidly. So here we have just a
couple simple demonstrations that illustrate some very basic
principles of what happens in oceans as they absorb the carbon
dioxide that we have put into the atmosphere.
I want to be crystal-clear here: The ocean will never be as
acidic as vinegar is. I have used it here simply as a visual
demonstration of what happens when you increase the level of
acidity in a solution, what happens to calcium carbonate
To show you what actually happens in seawater, the seawater
that is projected to be affected by increased CO2 by
the end of this century, I have a video clip. And I want to
tell you a little bit what it shows and then start the clip.
The first 10 seconds will show you a living, swimming
pteropod, one of these small animals that I spoke of earlier.
It is a beautiful creature about the size of a lentil bean. It
is incredibly important as a food source for juvenile salmon,
for mackerel, for pollock, for herring. They are very, very
abundant in oceans throughout the world. After that, you will
see what happens to a pteropod in seawater that is the same
chemically as seawater that is projected by the end of the
So let's start the video clip, if we could, please.
And you will see first, once we get to it, impacts of ocean
acidification. This is a swimming pteropod, a sea butterfly,
swimming through the ocean. It is a small-shelled mollusk. This
is the way it looks naturally. This is a pteropod shell that
you will see time-lapse photos of what happens to the shell in
seawater after 45 days projected for the year 2100.
And, finally, this last clip is an animation illustrating
from the year 1765 to 2100 the effect of increasing ocean
acidity on the availability of the calcium carbonate mineral
that pteropods, corals, and other organisms need to create
their shells and skeletons. This is under a business-as-usual
emissions scenario. And the change in color from purple to blue
to yellow to red indicates increasing ocean acidity and
decreasing availability of the calcium carbonate that is needed
for shells and skeletons.
Ocean acidity has increased by 30 percent since the
beginning of the Industrial Revolution just over 200 years ago.
This increase is 100 times faster than any change in acidity
experienced by marine organisms for at least 20 million years.
By the middle of this century, it is expected that coral
calcification rates will decline by a third. And, at that
point, erosion of corals will outpace new growth, making many
coral reefs unsustainable. And by the year 2100, vast areas of
the ocean, ultimately shown here in red, will have reached
levels of acidification where pteropods, corals, and other
important marine species will likely be severely compromised.
So, in conclusion, our understanding of the impacts of
ocean acidification is relatively new. Roughly two-thirds of
the published research has come to light since 2004, which is
why you probably haven't heard a lot about this issue.
Thanks to Congress's action in passing the Federal Ocean
Acidification Research and Monitoring Act, more attention will
be given to this subject, particularly by scientists at NOAA
and our partners at the National Science Foundation and in
Nonetheless, our fundamental scientific understanding of
the basic chemistry of ocean acidification is sound. More
CO2 emitted into the atmosphere will increasingly
lead to more CO2 being absorbed by oceans. That will
make oceans more acidic.
And we are now beginning to understand the ocean's very
capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere is being
degraded by ocean acidification. These mechanisms can only be
addressed by decreasing the amount of CO2 that
enters the atmosphere. The dramatic impacts that ocean
acidification can and will have on marine ecosystems are clear.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The statement of Ms. Lubchenco follows:]
The Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Lubchenco, very much.
I think you all brought us back to our sophomore and junior
years in high school with some of these elemental explanations
of how our planet works.
And I think, to a very large extent, you have explained to
us why just about everyone under the age of 25 wants us to do
something about this problem, because they have recently been
in science classes, in high schools, grammar schools, colleges
all across the country. So they might be a little bit more
familiar with this than people who are a little bit older. But
I think that is why we call them the green generation, because
they are reflecting the science that is being taught them today
across our country and across the planet.
So let me begin by recognizing myself for a round of
questions, and I will begin with you, Dr. Holdren.
Reconstruction of global temperatures over the last
millennium show a dramatic rise over the course of this
century. That has produced a so-called ``hockey stick'' graph,
which is being questioned in some circles.
Can you clarify for us the evidence that supports the
significant rise in temperatures over the past century?
Mr. Holdren. Sure.
When one talks about reconstruction of past temperatures,
one is talking about using a variety of indicators of what the
temperature of the Earth was in the period before we had
adequate thermometer measurements to meaningfully determine the
average surface temperature of the Earth. Those methods include
the analysis of bubbles in ice cores, analysis of tree rings,
of fossil pollens, of sediments, and a variety of other so-
called paleoclimatological indicators.
The hockey-stick metaphor came about when an analysis of
the last 1,000-plus years of temperature, based on a variety of
reconstructions available at that time from these different
proxies--the ice cores, the tree rings, the sediments, the
fossil pollens, and so on--came out with a temperature trace
that, with some bumps, was relatively flat for most of the last
1,000 years and then rose rather sharply in the 20th century,
indeed, then, extremely sharply. So the thing had the shape of
a hockey stick: a long relatively flat section and then a steep
This was the particular graphic that led to a considerable
amount of controversy at the end of the 1990s and the beginning
of the 2000s as to whether the particular approaches to
developing that graph used by the group of scientists who did
it and published it in the journal Nature in 1998 were
absolutely correct. There was a flurry of activity at that
time, a flurry of controversy about whether their statistical
methods were right, whether they had used the right proxies,
whether they had interpreted them correctly.
It is important to understand that there were a variety of
other research groups around the world doing proxy analyses and
getting similar results--with some variations, because proxies
are difficult to interpret. The different proxy measures
typically relate to different specific areas in the world where
the proxy indicators have been preserved. And you need to merge
them together in a way that ultimately makes sense and is
scientifically rigorous, and that is very challenging.
But, in the end, as I mentioned before, the effective
resolution of the controversy was when the National Academy of
Sciences conducted a major study looking at all the proxy data
sets, all the methods that had been used to interpret them.
Their results, published in 2006, led to the conclusion which I
mentioned before. In fact, it was even a little stronger than
the conclusion I mentioned before. They said it was highly
likely that the temperature increase of the 20th century was
unprecedented in the last 2,000 years.
There was some greater degree of bumpiness in some of the
proxy records than the 1998 Nature publication had included. So
it was kind of a warped hockey stick, but still a hockey stick.
The Chairman. Okay. Thank you, Dr. Holdren.
And, Dr. Lubchenco, there has been a, kind of, a series of
stories going around, making the rounds, that the planet is
actually not warming but cooling, and that evidence over the
past decade indicates that we are in a cooling period and not
in a warming period, historically.
What would your response to that be?
Ms. Lubchenco. If you look carefully at the climate
records, the warming that has occurred is not gradual, it is
jerky. And you get periods of time where there are steep
increases and other times where it is relatively flat, other
times where there are slight dips. And the key point here, I
think, is to really understand global trends you need to look
at long enough periods of time that you get a clear signal. It
is quite possible to have a decade in which you see very little
change, but if you look at the entire century, you see some
And, in fact, if I could have the slide that I brought--I
was hoping someone would ask this question, so thank you, Mr.
Chairman, for doing so. And what you will see on this slide are
the actual temperature data from, if it will boot, from--thank
You see here, on the far right, data from the last decade--
whoops, that is not what it was supposed to do. Can we do that
Okay. So what I wanted to do--yes, okay. So let's just do--
yes, stop right there. Can you go back one? There you go.
Okay. So this is the most recent data trend. And if you
take just that period of time, there is no discernible, no
obvious trend in that. If you then go and take a longer
interval of time--next one, please--and keep going back through
time, you see more and more information that gives you a better
sense of what the actual, real overall trend is.
And so, in that entire record, it is possible to have some
ups and some downs. The point is that the overall record is an
The Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Lubchenco, very much.
My time has expired. The Chair recognizes the gentleman
Mr. Sensenbrenner. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I want to go back to the e-mails that ended up being placed
in the public record. And I don't want to get to whether or not
they were legally placed in the public record; the question is
whether or not they were accurate. Because if they were
accurate, it is profoundly disturbing, and it does end up
putting into question all of the science of climate change.
Now, the data from the Climate Research Unit at the UEA in
England is one of only three major data sets, but they
considerably overlap. And they have been used as a basis for
the IPCC report, as well as the U.S. Global Change Research
Program. And that means that these two booklets that were
passed out this morning, you know, at best, need to have a
thorough review in the light of this information that has been
disclosed. And, at worst, it is junk science, and it is a part
of a massive international scientific fraud.
Now, Dr. Holdren, you have been in the middle of a lot of
this. And I have a couple of questions based upon your
statements before you joined the Obama administration.
You gave an interview in August of 2006 with BBC News in
the UK. And you said that a sea-level rise of up to 13 feet was
in the realm of possibility. However, that is 11 feet higher
than what the IPCC has estimated over this period of time,
which is somewhere between seven and 23 inches.
Now, with respect to the hockey-stick theory, which the
chairman has referred to, that has been pretty much discredited
in the scientific community. And yet, in your October 13th e-
mail, which is now in the public record, you aggressively
attacked the two scientists that put this together, a Dr.
Willie Soon and a Dr. Sallie Baliunas, for that.
Now, I think it is pretty clear that, in both cases, you
were wrong. And I guess I would like to know if you are
concerned, now that you are in the White House and representing
all of the public, whether you are concerned about the
misrepresentation of the state of science with respect to
And I would also like to know if you still support the
principal critic of those who trashed the hockey-stick theory,
and that is a Dr. Michael Mann, knowing of his efforts now to
hide his data and to encourage his colleagues to shut out
journals like Climate Research to publish works contrary to his
Mr. Holdren. Congressman, let me try to take those in the
order you asked them.
And the very first part of your statement, with respect I
would disagree with you that this current uproar calls into
question all of climate science. I do not believe that it
remotely does that----
Mr. Sensenbrenner. Well, sir, I didn't say that. I said it
ought to be looked at again. And, you know, there is increasing
evidence of scientific fascism that is going on. And I think,
as policymakers who are making decisions about the state of the
American economy for the next several generations, that we
ought to have accurate science. And it appears there is enough
question on whether the science we have is accurate. That has
to be resolved, and I wish we could have done it in this
hearing, but the chairman wouldn't let us. But go ahead.
Mr. Holdren. I very much agree that we need to resolve the
current issue. It is important to understand what has really
gone on here, to get to the bottom of it. As I indicated
before, that has been one of the strengths of science over the
years, the capacity to get to the bottom of the controversies
that emerge. And I believe we will get to the bottom of this
But the key point is, however this particular controversy
comes out, the result will not call into question the bulk of
our understanding of how the climate works or how humans are
You mentioned an interview of mine a few years ago in which
I talked about the possibility of a sea-level rise in this
century as much as 13 feet. That was based upon scientific,
peer-reviewed publications that appeared in the early 2000s
that indicated that, over geologic time in periods of natural
climate change, there had been episodes in which the rate of
sea-level rise increased by as much as two to five meters per
century, and that this could not be ruled out at the
temperatures for which we were heading in the 21st century as a
result of our activity----
Mr. Sensenbrenner. But you are still 11 feet above what the
IPCC is recommending.
Mr. Holdren. Sir, if you will----
Mr. Sensenbrenner. My time is almost up, and I would just
like to, you know, say that there is an awful lot of scientific
McCarthyism, meaning name-calling, going on. Because I quote
from your e-mail of October 13th, 2003, saying, ``Doing this
will reveal that Soon and Baliunas are essentially amateurs in
the interpretation of historical and paleoclimatology records
of climate change.''
You know, you are not dealing with their issue, you are
calling them names. And I think we ought to get to the bottom
of this without having the name-calling. And I wish that you,
as the President's science advisor and a former employee of one
of the most distinguished universities in the world, would be
able to get beyond the name-calling and get to it.
My time is up, and I yield back.
Mr. Holdren. I would be happy to answer all of the
congressman's questions, if I am allowed.
The Chairman. You will be given enough time, but let me
turn right now and recognize the gentleman from Washington
State, Mr. Inslee.
Mr. Inslee. It is continually stunning to me that people
can sit and watch the evidence before their eyes of what the
seas are going to look like in a century that might melt
pteropods and somehow blow that off and be more interested in
e-mails from London. It is interesting to me.
And the only way I have been able to understand is it is
that some people believe there is a massive global conspiracy
that is intent on world domination associated with phonying up
information about pteropods and the fact that the Arctic is
So I just want to ask you if you are part of that massive
international conspiracy. Are either one of you members of the
Trilateral Commission, SPECTRE, or KAOS? I just need an answer.
Mr. Holdren. Congressman Inslee, I am not a member of any
of those organizations, and I do not believe that there is a
It would be an amazing thing, indeed, if the academies of
science of virtually every country in the world that had one
and if the Earth and planetary sciences departments in every
major university that had one around the world were all
engaged, together with the United Nations Environment
Programme, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and
all the other bodies that have reviewed this matter, in a
That really defies imagination, that the great bulk of the
scientific community all around the world looking at these
matters has come to the same conclusion.
Mr. Inslee. Well, I will just tell you how I look at this.
The National Academy of Sciences has looked at this in great
detail, in great summary, from a wide variety of data sets, not
just from the individuals who wrote the e-mails but, in fact,
from a wide variety of data sets, including information
generated by NASA and NOAA and a whole host of United States
agencies. And they concluded that, in fact, both there are
changes in the atmospheric climate and that there is increasing
acidification, or at least NOAA has, associated with
If that is true, isn't it fair to categorize, as much as we
want to get people to use the right language in their e-mails,
that this is a tempest in the teapot coming out of England?
Isn't that a right characterization of this?
Mr. Holdren. Well, I think we need to wait until all the
facts are in to find out exactly what some of these e-mails
mean, in terms of how the scientists in question behaved. I
mean, I would point out that scientists are human, and, from
time to time, they experience frustration, anger, resentment.
And, from time to time, they display defensiveness and bias and
even misbehavior of some kind. They are like any other group of
human beings, they are subject to human frailties.
I think the facts are not entirely in on this particular
case as to how much and what kinds of frailty might have been
But the key point is that, when we get to the bottom of it,
no matter how it comes out, the great bulk of the data on which
our understanding of the climate system rests will not have
been affected. And our basic understanding of where we are,
where we are headed, and by how much we would need to change
course to avoid really unfortunate consequences will not have
Mr. Inslee. And let me ask you, is there anything about
these e-mails that affect ocean acidification at all, Dr.
Ms. Lubchenco. Congressman, I haven't read all of the e-
mails, but I have seen nothing in them, in those that I have
read, about ocean acidification. It really is not an area that
is something that that particular research group was focused
And, in my view, the e-mails really do nothing to undermine
the very strong scientific consensus and the independent
scientific analyses of thousands of scientists around the world
that tell us that the Earth is warming and that the warming is
largely a result of human activities.
Mr. Inslee. So, let me, if I can--I have some concerns
about the state of our science that are reflected in the fact
that everything that I am reading suggests that the predictions
were not sufficiently dire as to what we are experiencing.
Now, I am not a scientist, as you are, but it seems to me
the evidence that I am seeing come in--I am looking at this
Copenhagen Diagnosis report I made reference to in my opening
statement-- that the Arctic ice sheets are melting much more
fast in the summer than we anticipated, that there has been a
40 percent greater than average ice sheet melt than predicted
in the IPCC report in 2006, that we have seen an increasing
rate in sea rise than was expected.
And, to me, just my lay approaches, the evidence seems to
be coming in, in the last 24 months, either on the direst end
of the spectrum that was considered or outside of that
spectrum. Is that a fair characterization of a huge data set,
or what are we to make of this?
Mr. Holdren. Well, let me, Congressman, take the
opportunity of this particular question to answer part of
Congressman Sensenbrenner's, because he referred to the IPCC's
finding in its fourth assessment report about sea-level rise.
In that report, the IPCC made clear that they were only
considering the thermal expansion of seawater and a small
contribution from the melting of mountain glaciers in their
sea-level rise estimate for the 21st century, leaving out
deliberately the mechanism thought to have caused the more
rapid rises in sea level that have occurred from time to time
in the geologic past.
And the reason they left out those mechanisms that are
capable of causing more rapid sea-level rises, they explained
in their report, was that we do not yet understand those
mechanisms well enough to model them and arrive at the sort of
quantitative conclusion that the IPCC was emphasizing. And, in
addition, we didn't know at that time, we didn't have enough
data to know whether, on balance, the Antarctic ice sheet, the
larger of the two, was gaining mass or losing mass.
Since that IPCC report, there has been a great deal of
additional work on these questions. We now know that both the
Antarctic and the Greenland ice sheet are losing mass. We know
that the rate of sea-level rise today is more than twice the
rate of sea-level rise averaged over the 20th century.
And the current best estimates of the peak sea-level rise
to be expected in this century are one to two meters. That is
not as high as my number from 2006. The advancing science has
ruled out the high end of that range. But it makes me wrong in
2006 by about a factor of two. And it makes the IPCC wrong by a
much larger factor, by which their numerical estimate
understated the possible rise of sea level in the century we
are now in.
Mr. Inslee. Doctor.
Ms. Lubchenco. Congressman, let me just add to that that
the scientific assessment process that the IPCC uses or that
National Academy of Sciences uses are inherently conservative.
And scientists are, by and large, fairly reluctant to make
statements that they can't back up without good data.
And I think the sea-level rise example is a classic case in
point. Scientists knew when they were projecting a 23-inch sea-
rise increase by the end of the century that there were
important factors that they couldn't account for, but they
couldn't include them because they didn't understand them well
enough. And so they erred on the side of caution.
And I think we see this over and over in many of the IPCC
conclusions. They are inherently conservative. And so, when the
reality plays out, it is sometimes more than what was predicted
because of that need to have agreement and levels of certainty.
Mr. Inslee. Thank you.
The Chairman. Great. The gentleman's time has expired. The
Chair recognizes the gentlelady from Michigan.
Mrs. Miller. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And I have listened very closely. I think it is all very
interesting listening to you all and some of the other
questions, as well, from members of the panel here.
I am not a scientist, but I don't question that the Earth
climate is changing. You know, we used to have dinosaurs, and
there is still a lot of debate about what happened to the
dinosaurs. Then we had the Ice Age; there was a lot of debate
about what happened during the Ice Age.
I was noticing an article in one of our papers just the
other day. They are doing some studies in Lake Superior along
the Pictured Rocks, and they are indicating that they think a
couple of thousand years ago the water levels there could be
anywhere as much as 50 or 60 feet higher than they are
So the climate of the world is never static. It is never
going to be static. The climate is going to change. And, for
me, the question is, as you say, the science is--I am
paraphrasing what Dr. Lubchenco said--that the science is
incontrovertible, that it is unequivocal, that the climate
change is human-induced or human-produced. And that is the
question that I am struggling with.
That is why I think all of these e-mails coming out are
very interesting. I think it is unfortunate that anybody that
questions the ideology, the absolute science that man is
creating all of this is somehow--that we don't care about the
planet, I mean, it is ridiculous. And I think it is unfortunate
that that happens. But, whatever.
I do think that the question, as I say, for me is whether
or not it is human-induced, particularly when this Congress has
been travelling down a path with cap-and-trade legislation that
is going to, in my opinion, decimate the American economy and
that of my State.
I think that we look at these e-mails--and, you know, it is
an attempt, in many cases, just to silence any dissent, which I
think is very unfortunate. And I will just read one. I am not
sure if the ranking member read this previously.
But here is one. You know, there weren't e-mails during the
Dinosaur Age, by the way, either, or the Ice Age. But here is
an e-mail saying, ``I think we need to stop considering the
Climate Research journal as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal.
And perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate
research community to no longer submit to or cite papers in
How ridiculous. How unfortunate that here is this Climate
Research journal that, if they question the incontrovertible
science, that they are, you know, just dismissed and made to
feel as though, you know, they can't even question this. I
think it is a travesty.
And I do recognize that the e-mails are an inconvenient
truth, perhaps are an embarrassment, particularly on the brink
of Copenhagen. But I think one of the most important jobs of
the Congress is to exercise its oversight responsibilities. And
because of these e-mails, because, in my opinion, there is at
least a debate, a debate on whether or not climate change is
human-induced or man-produced--for instance, I was just reading
the other day that, in Indonesia, where the peat moss is
naturally composting, that that is the third-largest producer
of carbon dioxide in the planet, more so than many other kinds
of things. I am not sure how our cap-and-trade legislation is
going to address that. You know, as I say, the climate is never
going to be static.
So, with that, Mr. Chairman, I guess I would just use my
time here again to ask that this committee consider a hearing
into this climate-gate debate that is exploding around us.
And I would also ask of Dr. Holdren, who made a comment--
you said that you thought that the uproar should be resolved.
And I guess I would just ask you, how? Do you think we could do
that without completely being dismissive of anyone that would
ask such a question, in light of all of these e-mails? And how
would you think it could be resolved with the best transparency
and with the interests of the American people and our economy,
certainly, at heart?
Mr. Holdren. Absolutely, I think it can be resolved. And I
think it can be solved without name-calling and without being
dismissive. Notwithstanding occasional exceptions, there is a
long history of respectful and civil debate among scientists
who have differing views on many of the details of virtually
In this particular case, one already sees a very
substantial amount of activity of scientists who are going to
be looking at these data, who are going to be looking to try to
understand what the e-mails are really saying, who are going to
reexamine the questions that were at issue then.
I think there is no question that this will happen whether
or not this committee or any other holds a hearing on the
subject. That is the way the science community works. When
results are called into question, scientists flock to the
scene, as it were, in order to figure out what was really going
on there and what the best approximation to the truth we can
get at at the current state of understanding is.
And that is current constantly changing. One needs to
understand that, as new information becomes available, anybody
who is a good scientist looks at the new information in the
context of the old information and tries to develop a better
picture of what is happening. I believe that that will happen
Ms. Lubchenco. Congresswoman, may I offer a comment?
Mrs. Miller. Certainly.
Ms. Lubchenco. Could I draw your attention to page 6 of
this document? There is a figure here that I think addresses
the very important question that you asked earlier. And that
is, what is the human contribution to global climate change,
and how do we know if humans are having an influence?
You are absolutely correct that climate has changed a lot
in the past. We have good evidence of that. We have been able
to model those changes and understand more through time about
what the natural changes are and what factors are influencing
This particular figure shows what the climate would be
doing without the additional carbon dioxide that humans have
put into the atmosphere, along with other greenhouse gases. And
that is what is shown in this blue--the dark blue band. This is
1900 to 2000.
Mrs. Miller. If I could, I know my time has expired. Let me
just ask you, does that graph take into consideration what is
happening in Indonesia? And do you consider what is happening
in Indonesia man-induced?
Ms. Lubchenco. There are many sources of carbon dioxide,
some of which are natural and some of which are a result of
changes in land-use practices, so they are affected by human
activities, as well as burning of fossil fuels.
And these kinds of analyses take into account our current
understanding of the sum total of emissions from multiple
sources. And they tease apart what is the human contribution
from what would be happening naturally. And there is clear
evidence that what is happening now is strongly influenced by
Mrs. Miller. I am not sure if that was a yes or no, but my
time has completed. Thank you very much.
The Chairman. The gentlelady's time has expired.
The gentleman from Oklahoma, Mr. Sullivan.
Mr. Sullivan. Thank, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you both for being here.
I was going to ask first about the e-mails too. Do you
think the scandal--and there seems to be a culture of
corruption in the scientific community right now on these e-
mails and manipulation of data, for a purpose to get their own
results, do you see that as a problem, yes or no?
Ms. Lubchenco. Congressman, I don't believe that the
exchanges that you saw are typical of the broader scientific
Mr. Holdren. I would add that I, too, do not believe that
these e-mails are remotely sufficient to demonstrate a culture
of corruption in the scientific community. They are e-mails
from a relatively few people involved in a particular
controversy that was attended by a good deal of frustration and
anger. And as to exactly what went on in the way of
manipulation of data, I think that remains to be seen.
To the extent that there was manipulation of data that was
not scientifically legitimate--and I emphasize that scientists
manipulate data all the time in order to make them
comprehensible and consistent. But if there was manipulation of
data that was not scientifically legitimate, yes, I regard that
as a problem, and I would denounce it.
And I think, again, that the merit of the scientific system
is that, over time, it tends successfully to unearth those
kinds of instances, to unmask them, and to correct them. That
is what I assume will happen here.
Mr. Sullivan. Well, since we do now know that some people
are manipulating data and are trying to pervert the system for
this final analysis, do you both support an independent
investigation into this?
Mr. Holdren. I am not sure an independent investigation, if
you mean by the Congress of the United States, is the right way
to get at scientific truth. I think the scientific community
has well-established mechanisms for doing that, and I believe
they have already been set in motion by these disclosures.
We will find out what went on there. It is not clear, at
this point--I haven't read all the e-mails either. It is not
clear, at this point, what some of them mean. I would point
out, for example, that the term ``trick'' is often used in
science to describe a clever way to get around a difficulty
that is perfectly legitimate. The use of the word ``trick''
does not, in itself, in science demonstrate that there was
I think we need to hear all sides of the story before we
decide what happened there. If it turns out there was improper
manipulation, again, I would denounce it, and I would be
grateful that the scientific process had run its course and
disclosed it. If this committee or others want to have hearings
that end up calling as witnesses people, scientists who are
involved in trying to sort that out, I think, of course, that
Mr. Sullivan. Now, both of you are scientists. What is
the--we were talking about manmade and natural causes of
CO2. If you could just, really quickly, simply break
down how much is manmade and how much is natural, percentage-
Mr. Holdren. Well, first of all, what you need to
understand is the natural flows of carbon dioxide in and out of
the atmosphere--out of the atmosphere by photosynthesis and by
absorption in the oceans, back into the atmosphere from
outgassing from the oceans and by the decomposition or
combustion of organic matter--have largely been in balance for
a long time.
They are currently in the range of something like seven or
eight times the human input. But the problem is that the
natural input and uptake has been in balance and the human
input has driven the system out of balance and is leading to an
accumulation of additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
This is extremely well-understood scientifically. Nobody
disputes this particular point in science.
Mr. Sullivan. But it is at least seven or eight times
greater than the manmade cause.
Mr. Holdren. Yes, but it is in balance. It is in and out.
And so, the fact that the flows are greater----
Mr. Sullivan. Here is one on these sea creatures and
everything. It says that the ocean absorbs approximately 25
percent of the CO2 to the atmosphere from human
activity each year. So if seven or eight times more is
naturally caused, if you eliminate the human beings from the
Earth and all human activity, would ocean acidification still
occur? It wouldn't?
Mr. Holdren. It would for the time required to take the
excess out of the atmosphere that has accumulated there. In
other words, the oceans are not yet in equilibrium with what we
have done to the atmosphere, but they will get there.
Ms. Lubchenco. Congressman, I think what you are asking is,
if humans were not putting more carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere, wouldn't the oceans already be absorbing some? And
the answer is yes, but they would also be using some of the
carbon dioxide, and it would be in balance.
What is different now is that humans have contributed now
about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide that is in the
atmosphere. And some of that has been taken up by oceans,
making them more acidic.
Mr. Sullivan. But isn't one of the ocean one of the biggest
Ms. Lubchenco. The oceans and the land both release
CO2 and take it up. And that process has been in
balance over millennia, and that continues. What is happening
is that humans are adding more to the atmosphere and more to
the oceans. So the total amount of CO2, it is being
redistributed because of our activities.
Mr. Sullivan. So if 97, 96 percent of the emissions are
natural and 4 percent are manmade, we have a responsibility for
that 4 percent. But even if we eliminated it, isn't it a little
arrogant to think that we could manipulate the entire process?
Ms. Lubchenco. We have manipulated the entire process. I
think that is the point.
Mr. Sullivan. Oh, I know you have, on the numbers and
Ms. Lubchenco. So human activities have----
Mr. Sullivan. You have said that you guys can make any
data--I know that. I see it in my opponents with polling data.
I know how that works. But----
Ms. Lubchenco. These are not data that somebody has pulled
out of the air or out of their heads. They are measurements.
Mr. Sullivan. You also have said that fish have moved to
warm spots, and they are moving--it is in the Atlantic. You
said the fish are moving?
Ms. Lubchenco. Yes, sir.
Mr. Sullivan. Okay. Don't they always move to a warmer
Ms. Lubchenco. What is changing in the oceans is where it
Mr. Sullivan. But doesn't that--it does change. I mean----
Ms. Lubchenco. Many fish move. Most fish and many other
species stay in the type of water in which their physiological
performance is the best.
What we are seeing now is that, because oceans are warming
overall, the places--if you look at a place on the coastline,
for example, in California, the places that used to be a
certain temperature are now warmer. And so, species that used
to live there are moving northward to stay in the temperature
zone that they would have been in previously. So species are
moving in response to the changing distribution of heat in the
Mr. Sullivan. And, Doctor, you said in your testimony, or
you stated before that sea levels----
The Chairman. The gentleman's time has expired----
Mr. Sullivan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman. You can complete your question, if you would
Mr. Sullivan. Oh. At sea levels, with the data you have
interpreted, will rise 11 feet by the year----
Mr. Holdren. No, I did not say that. I said that was a
possible outcome, an upper limit on the amount of sea-level
rise based on understanding of the processes that was available
at the time.
It is now considered that the upper limit on sea-level rise
in this century is about two meters or a little over six feet.
And that is what I now say because that is what the current
The Chairman. The gentleman's time has expired.
Six feet does sound like a very large increase in the water
levels of the planet.
The gentlelady from Tennessee, Mrs. Blackburn.
Mrs. Blackburn. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I want to thank each of you for submitting your
testimony in advance.
We have had multiple hearings this morning for the Energy
and Commerce Committee, so I have been upstairs in a mammogram
hearing over the controversy that came there.
And I do have a statement, Mr. Chairman, that I will submit
for the record.
The Chairman. Without objection, it will be included.
[The statement of Mrs. Blackburn follows:]
Mrs. Blackburn. And since I didn't give that, I will just
take all of my time in questions. How is that?
But, Dr. Holdren, I wanted to talk with you. I was
delighted that you were here. Some of the e-mails that have
come out recently from CRU indicate some animosity, I guess
would be the best way to describe it, in research for the
medieval warm period, the research by Dr. Soon.
And I wanted to see if you would elaborate on your
intentions in those e-mails.
Mr. Holdren. The great bulk of scientists who have looked
at these questions concluded a long time ago that the medieval
warm period was a regional phenomenon and not a global
The arguments by Soon and Baliunas, to the contrary, fared
very badly in the scientific community, in terms of the rigor
and validity of their arguments. And that is the reason that
they were often disparaged in discussions of this matter, in
particular because they continued to espouse the view that the
medieval warming period was a global phenomenon long after
evidence to the contrary became persuasive to everyone else.
One of the characteristics one expects of scientists is to
change their mind when data and analysis show that they were
wrong the first time. I changed my mind about the maximum sea
level possible in the 21st century when the analysis and the
data changed. And that is what we expect from others. When that
doesn't happen, a degree of frustration and anger often
materializes because of a concern that people are simply
muddying the water by repeating discredited hypotheses.
Mrs. Blackburn. Okay. Well, let's apply that statement,
then, looking at the climate change data that has been lost.
And do you think that the climate change data has been
compromised since there was original data lost by CRU?
Mr. Holdren. Yeah, I think that is unfortunate. Whenever
any original data are lost, that is a misfortune. It is
unfortunate that it happened. I wish it had been prevented.
I think the robustness of all of the data sets we have
available to us is sufficient to survive that loss, but I do
regret the loss.
Mrs. Blackburn. Well, if further review on all of this
shows that the IPCC report in 2007 used corrupted or tainted
data, what do you think they ought to do about it? Should they
be willing to go back and say, ``You know, we are going to have
to change our mind on this because we used corrupted data or we
didn't give the whole picture or science; if you look at the
whole thing, it proves us wrong''?
Mr. Holdren. To the extent that it is shown that data were
corrupted and influenced conclusions of the IPCC, of course
those conclusions should be revised. And the IPCC, in every
successive report that it produces, which is roughly every 5
years, revises a whole variety of conclusions it reached in the
previous assessment because new information has become
It is, of course, unfortunate if the new information that
becomes available is that data that were previously used were
corrupted. But, in terms of the outcome, the revision of the
findings based on new information is the same. Scientists do
that all the time. The IPCC does it, and they will do it. If it
is determined that any conclusion of the IPCC was based on data
that were corrupted, you can be sure that those conclusions
will be revised in the next assessment.
Mrs. Blackburn. We have done some hearings, I think it was
in 2005, we did some hearings in the Energy and Commerce
Committee on the hockey-stick theory and Dr. Mann's hockey-
stick theory. And I know Dr. Wegmann and the National Academy
of Sciences have made comments that Dr. Mann didn't use proper
statistical methods in his research on that. What is your
Mr. Holdren. I think there is reason to believe that some
of the statistical methods that Dr. Mann used were not the best
for the purpose. The Academy pointed that out. And it,
nonetheless, concluded that his basic finding that the last 50
years were the warmest half-century in the last 1 to 2,000
years was nonetheless robust.
And, again, I would point out that arguments about what are
the best statistical techniques to use are pervasive in the
scientific community. And it is no surprise that one has a
difference of opinion. It is no surprise that a scientist may
have made a mistake in the method chosen to analyze a
particular data set. Again, the key thing about science is not
that scientists are always right; it is that they fix their
mistakes over time.
Mrs. Blackburn. Well, let me ask you this. I know that some
of the scientists who have come before us and they advocate
limiting greenhouse gas emissions also have stated they think
that maybe the global temperatures have stopped rising over the
past 10 years even though the greenhouse gas emissions have
So how do you go about explaining that discrepancy, when
you look at what is natural, what is manmade, what is cyclical,
how do you explain that?
Mr. Holdren. Well, first of all, I think, Congresswoman,
before you came in, Dr. Lubchenco explained a diagram that is
on the board that actually addresses that question.
And the key point is that the climate and the surface
temperature of the Earth fluctuates all the time for a wide
variety of reasons, most of them natural. What we are seeing is
superimposed on those natural fluctuations a long-term trend of
increasing global average surface temperature of the magnitude
and of the sort expected to result, according to both theory
and models, from the increases in carbon dioxide and other
heat-trapping substances that humans have imposed on the
If you look at the actual temperature data--and I have in
front of me the NOAA data set for the global average surface
temperatures through 2008--what you see is that 9 of the 10
warmest years in the 140-year thermometer record, the period of
time since 1880 when we have had enough thermometer
measurements around the land and the ocean to meaningfully
define a global average surface temperature, 9 of the 10
warmest years in that period occurred since 1998. 1998 itself
was the second warmest year in the record; 2005 was the first
warmest. All 15 of the warmest years in the 140-year record
occurred since 1990.
You look at the numbers, you do see a bump, as you see up
there on the screen in the far right, where, in the last few
years, there is no discernible upward trend. But this is
completely consistent with having natural fluctuations, natural
ups and downs superimposed on a long-term warming trend
associated with greenhouse gases.
The Chairman. The gentlelady's time has expired.
Mrs. Blackburn. Mr. Chairman, can I ask one other part on
The Chairman. We will have a second round. The gentlewoman
went 8 minutes on the--8 minutes and 15 seconds.
Mrs. Blackburn. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from
Mr. Inslee. Dr. Holdren, you have testified several times,
listening to you, that, given the extensive review by the
National Academy of Science and using information based from
NOAA, NASA, and a whole host of other data sets, that there is
no reason to revise their fundamental conclusion that humans
are contributing to changing climate, and NOAA not to change a
fundamental conclusion that the oceans are becoming more
Mr. Sensenbrenner suggested that there is some scientific
fascism, and that is a quote. Is there any evidence of fascism
in the NOAA organization, of scientific fascism associated with
Mr. Holdren. I am not even sure exactly what that term
would mean, but I don't--I am not aware of any cabals,
conspiracies, misbehavior in the characterization and use of
data in NASA or NOAA.
Mr. Inslee. Well, I tell you, it is troublesome to me the
people who put the men on the moon, the people who discovered
water on the moon, the people who are doing great research
figuring out how the oceans are becoming acidic, some of whom
are my constituents, it is disturbing to me that people would
come to this chamber and call them fascists. I have to tell
you, I have a problem with that. I don't think that is right.
These men and women are doing the best they can to provide
us data and conclusions to the best of their ability. And they,
through their professional work, have reached a very, very
strong consensus on these scientific issues, who are working
for Uncle Sam. And I think that is wrong to say that about
And there is a little emotion in my voice because I have
seen in my neighborhood what this phenomenon is doing. I would
like to be able to catch salmon, and my grandkid--who
celebrated his first birthday Sunday--to catch salmon that live
on pteropods maybe 50 or 60 years from now. And when people
watch what I watched and say that this is just a big scientific
fascist conspiracy that are ginning this stuff up, I have a
problem with that.
I will just ask you, Dr. Lubchenco, I was at a pier in
Seattle about 6 months ago when a NOAA ship docked. And it had
a bunch of NOAA scientists on it who were investigating the
rate of acidification off the Pacific coast.
And when they were explaining to me their findings, their
jaws were kind of agape, because what they told me is that the
rate of acidification was stunning to them, particularly in the
shallow waters off our Pacific coast. They explained to me, as
I understand this correctly, the waters are more acidic the
lower in the water column they have been, but now very acidic
levels are becoming very close, within 150, 200 feet of the
And this was shocking to them. And the only explanation
they had was that CO2 was going into the atmosphere
and disturbing the equilibrium of this process. It has been
going on for eons.
Could you tell us about what your information is about
Ms. Lubchenco. Mr. Congressman, I think the rate of change
in ocean acidification has surprised many people.
And it is absolutely the case that off the west coast of
the United States, where winds blow along the coastline and
push the surface waters away from the coast, which pulls up
cold, nutrient-rich, low-oxygen, and lower-pH water to the
surface, that that is where we are seeing some of the greatest
increases in acidity happening around the world.
And it is of deep concern because those areas, as you well
know, are historically very, very rich. Our wonderful
productive fisheries off that area are, in large part, a
consequence of this upwelling.
Mr. Inslee. I appreciate that.
I want to ask, is there anybody in this room, including the
two witnesses and my Republican colleagues and my Democratic
colleague, is there anybody in this room who has information to
suggest that the oceans are not becoming more acidic? Has
anybody got information like that? Anybody?
Has anybody got an explanation why the oceans are becoming
more acidic, other than the fact that there is massive amounts
of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere? Has anybody got an
explanation for that?
I haven't heard any, and yet people are trying to gin up
this controversy because--you know why? It is not because they
are not intelligent. It is because they are afraid that we
can't solve this problem. And I think if we had a little more
confidence in ourselves and our ability to solve this problem,
we would open our minds to the scientific information that is
becoming available to us.
And this idea of equilibrium--I will just try one more--I
don't know why it is so hard for people to understand the idea
of equilibrium. To me, it is like this. Is this a fair
metaphor? A guy goes to a doctor. He says to the doctor, ``I
gained 10 pounds.'' ``Well, have you changed your behavior at
all?'' ``Yes. I have started eating a huge banana split at
lunch and dinner every single day.'' And he goes, ``Well, it is
obvious. You have been eating more food.'' And he goes, ``No,
no, it's not the banana split. Look at all the other food I
have eaten. It is the other stuff. That is 85 percent of my
That is 85 percent of the CO2 that is going into
the atmosphere. Don't look at the banana split, don't look at
the coal-fired plants, don't look at the cars. Is that kind of
a metaphor for what we are facing here?
Mr. Holdren. Not bad.
Mr. Inslee. Not bad, huh, for an amateur.
Thank you very much.
The Chairman. The gentleman's time has expired.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin.
Mr. Sensenbrenner. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I do appreciate Mr. Inslee's metaphor. But let me say that
the controversy over the leaked e-mails and their contents
cannot be ignored, because it goes to the very basis upon which
this debate has gone on for the last several years. And I see
an awful lot of attempts by people in this room to shove that
concern under the rug. I am telling you now, it will get worse
rather than getting better.
And I will define what I mean by ``scientific fascism.''
These e-mails trash the scientific conclusions by those who
have disputed Dr. Mann's hockey-stick theory. There are
information in the e-mails that the publication, Climate
Research, in which they were published, ought to be boycotted
because they weren't doing the politically correct thing. And I
understand that the editor of Climate Research ended up getting
fired as a result.
Now, there is intimidation in the scientific community by
people who wish to be contrary to what the conventional wisdom
is. And we are being asked as a Congress to make major changes
in American society in energy use and on how much the out-of-
pocket cost is to every person in this country as a result of
And we in Congress better get it right. The scientists may
be able to change their story and do more research on it, but,
once Congress passes a law, it will be as difficult to repeal
the consequences of that law as putting milk back into the cow.
We know all about cows in Wisconsin. Now, the denial has
not stopped, because 6 weeks ago, on October 27th, Michael Mann
wrote an e-mail that says in part, as we all know, this isn't
about truth at all; it is about plausibly deniable accusations.
We need to know the truth here before we can legislate in the
name of the American people.
Now, Dr. Holdren, given the fact that you were involved in
the e-mail traffic that has been released from the University
of East Anglia in England and the discrediting of the Soon, and
I am mispronouncing, Baliunas, study on the hockey stick
theory, and it has been considerably discredited, how can you
be objective on this when you are testifying before Congress,
advising the President, and speaking to the American public?
Mr. Holdren. First of all, Congressman Sensenbrenner, let
me say that science is rough. Scientists are brutal in
criticism. Anybody who has ever taken a doctoral exam in
natural science understands that very well. So there is nothing
unusual about strong language in criticizing results of others
that one has concluded are deeply wrong.
Mr. Sensenbrenner. But you are defending the results of
others that have since been proven right.
Mr. Holdren. Let me finish answering the question----
Mr. Sensenbrenner. How can you be objective?
Mr. Holdren [continuing]. If I may. We are all, when we
testify, doing so on the basis of the best information
available to us at the time as scientists. The notion that one
cannot be objective because one has concluded that a particular
study by particular people was deeply flawed, and that was my
conclusion from reading the study by Soon and Baliunas, that it
was deeply flawed, and that has been the conclusion of the
great bulk of the rest of the community, that being so, I
cannot be expected to be unbiased as to the merit of that
particular study. I am biased by study. I am biased by having
read it, studied it, and understood what is wrong with it.
Mr. Sensenbrenner. And I respect your opinion on that. But
it seems to me that other people ought to look into this.
Now, I want to ask you a question that you can answer yes
or no. You are the science adviser to the President. And I
would like to ask you to guarantee Congress that you will
provide the public, including us, access to all documents
prepared with government funding relating to science change.
And that includes studies that the IPCC has either gotten or
utilized, so that nobody can wiggle out of this by saying that
the IPCC is exempt from this because they are an international
body. Will you give us that information and then allow the
public, including other scientists, to be able to see it? After
all, the taxpayers have paid for it.
Mr. Holdren. I am not sure what all you are asking,
Congressman, but I am absolutely in support of the public and
the taxpayers having access to the results of research that
they paid for. The only constraints on that are research
classified for national security reasons or research that is
incomplete. It is a problem where people insist on the release
of data that scientists have not yet even finished assembling,
because this leads to interpretations immediately on the basis
of an incomplete picture.
But once research is complete and is published in the peer-
reviewed literature, or is submitted as a report for use by
government policymakers, I do believe that all of the data
behind that, all of the methods, all of the analysis should be
made available to the Congress, the public, the taxpayers, yes.
Mr. Sensenbrenner. You will be getting a few letters from
us to that effect.
The Chairman. The gentleman's time has expired.
Let me put up two charts here. The first chart is just a
chart reflecting what Dr. Lubchenco and you, Dr. Holdren, have
referred to, which is this dramatic spike which has been
created in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. This
seems to be an incontrovertible fact. No one actually denies
this. It is measurable. And it correlates almost directly with
the industrialization of not only our country, but Europe and
increasingly in China and India, as the amount of
CO2 emitted globally has increased. And in fact, in
2009 the trend is that this will be a warmer year than last
year was. And so the spike is going back up again, if all data
up until the end of November continues on for the concluding
month of this year. So we can see this trend. And it has gone
unabated since the rise of the industrial era.
Now I will show you another chart. This is a chart of the
number of 40 home run hitters in Major League Baseball from
1920 until today. Now, the average was 3.3 players were
averaging over 40 home runs per year, from 1920 until the
1990s, which is why Ted Williams and Willie Mays and Babe Ruth
were so famous that they could hit more than 40 home runs.
Then, all of a sudden in the 1990s, there was a huge spike in
the number of people hitting more than 40 home runs. Now Major
League Baseball said, well, you know, perhaps the players are
getting stronger. Others said, well, perhaps the baseballs are
But once a steroid testing program was put in place over
the last 3 years, an amazing thing has happened. There was a
precipitous drop in the number of 40 homerun hitters back to
normal levels. An artificial substance injected into players, a
huge increase in the number of home runs. But once it was
removed, we went back to normal levels again. Now, some people
of course are arguing that the new normal was people hitting
more than 60 home runs and 70 home runs. Huh? Well, it turns
out that the testing program brought it down dramatically once
we dealt with the reality of the science of what was going on
Well, here we have the same trend, but we have yet to
inject the solution, that is the reduction in the amount of
CO2 being emitted by the United States, by Europe,
and by other parts of the world. That is our challenge. It is
incontrovertible. Artificial substance put into man or nature
causes big differences. And so these spikes are very, very
Now, there were deniers in Major League Baseball. They
said, oh, no, steroids has nothing do with it. And by the way,
Major League Baseball wanted to go along with it in the same
way that the coal industry, the oil industry, other fossil fuel
industries want to go along with the myth that nothing really
abnormal is happening. But the consensus of the science in the
world, the National Academy of Sciences of every country in the
world is that this spike in CO2 is manmade and that
it is causing dramatic changes in our oceans, to our glaciers,
in the Arctic, in the villages of Alaska that see their
permafrost melting and their villages falling into the ocean,
and droughts being created around the world. And all of this
evidence is basically so massive that there is no way to avoid
And so what the minority has decided to do, what the
deniers, what the oil and coal industry want to do is to use
the few e-mails of a few people who are doubting this science,
which is a consensus around the country, as a way of trying to
cast doubt, the same way Major League Baseball did, on the
undeniable correlation between the injection of these
artificial sources into the atmosphere are having on our
And so, you know, we can continue this pretense and we can
use a small number of e-mails, I suppose, to have a larger
debate. But I think that it would be better for us to accept
the science, to accept this curve, to basically deal with the
reality that the minority has no answer for why it has spiked
so dramatically, why it is going back up again this year. They
sit over here using a couple of e-mails as a reason why we
should stop all efforts to deal with this catastrophic threat
to our planet. And so since no alternative theory has been
presented--at least baseball said, well, the players are
getting stronger, huh, that was their answer, but everyone who
was looking at it was saying, how can they be so much stronger
than the players just 5 years ago? Well, that is the same thing
that is happening with this CO2 trend. Okay? There
is no explanation for it, other than that it is manmade.
And by the way, you can say, well, it is not that big. What
is the difference? A degree or two. Well, a kid has a
temperature of 98.6 normally. Well, you add a couple of degrees
temperature to that child, and they are at 100.6. The doctor
says, well, you have been at that new normal for 14 days now,
so don't worry about it, ma'am, your son Joey, he is going to
be fine. The new normal is 100.6. Well, who would ever accept
that as an answer because it was only a 2-degree change in the
Well, that is what we have got here for the planet. A 2-
degree change in the overall temperature of our planet is just
as catastrophic as it would be for a small child who had
received no medical attention because the doctor had concluded,
or a small number of doctors would say the child can live with
the new normal of 2 degrees higher. What parent would ever run
that risk of not giving treatment to that child? And that is
what we are talking about here.
Yes, there is a normal temperature for the planet. But you
add on 2 more degrees, 3 more degrees, it is catastrophic. You
get the consensus, as Dr. Holdren is saying, that there is a 6-
foot rise in the sea level of our planet; that is not
frightening enough for the other side. They want to know why it
is not 11 feet anymore. Well, 6 feet has such catastrophic
consequences for Alaska, for the Everglades, for Boston, for
Cape Cod, for Southern California, that it is almost
unimaginable what changes would have to take place in our
So what is the answer? Again, we keep saying, what are you
saying is the answer to why this is spiking so dramatically?
Where is your evidence? Just by casting doubt with a few e-
mails on a consensus globally and a century-wide study of this
Mr. Sensenbrenner. Would the gentleman yield?
The Chairman. No, I will not yield at this time--is not
going to deal with this issue. Okay? These scientists are our
best people in our country. And they are joined by thousands of
others, not only here but across the world, in their
construction of their analysis. There is no alternative theory
that the minority is proposing other than that which we know
has been funded by the oil and coal and other industries that
want to continue business as usual.
Now, we have tried to construct in the Waxman-Markey bill
an alternative way in which these issues could be dealt with.
And they of course don't want to deal with that issue because
they would prefer their denial.
What I am going to say to you, Dr. Holdren, if you could,
is I would like you to go through the other points that you
would like to make in response to the questions that were
raised by Mr. Sensenbrenner in his opening question of you.
Mr. Sensenbrenner. You are a little bit over.
The Chairman. Which I have allowed all of the minority
members to do so. And it is the courtesy I have extended to
each minority member, I am going to extend to myself.
Mr. Holdren. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think
actually we have gone through the main points in the further
discussion of sea level rise. And I wouldn't have anything
further I feel I need to add.
The Chairman. Okay, thank you, Dr. Holdren, very much.
Mr. Sullivan, do you have any additional questions?
Mr. Sullivan. No, I don't.
The Chairman. You do not. Okay. Well, then I will allow any
written questions that would be posed to the witnesses to be
made by members who were not here.
We thank our two witnesses for their testimony here today.
It is extremely valuable at this time in our planet's history
for the two of you to be working for our country and for the
world. It is an honor for us to have you here today. We thank
you for your distinguished service.
With that, this hearing is--the gentle--Dr. Lubchenco,
would you like to be recognized?
Ms. Lubchenco. The gentle doctor? Mr. Chairman, thank you
very much for this opportunity. I especially appreciate the
extra time to do this demonstration. And I might draw
everyone's attention to sort of the final results of the status
of the chalk in the three different solutions just to bring the
The Chairman. Would you summarize the status in the three
Ms. Lubchenco. The chalk that is in the water only has not
changed at all. The chalk that is in the half water-half
vinegar is dissolving. And the chalk that is in the total
vinegar has dissolved quite substantially, and will continue to
The Chairman. We thank the expert testimony that we
received today. Again, there is a part of us that really needs
to go back to sophomore and junior year in high school so we
can get a briefing once again on the essential science that
affects our planet. We thank you for everything that you have
done here today. With that, this hearing----
Mr. Holdren. And we thank you, Mr. Chairman, and we thank
The Chairman. We thank you. This hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:15 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]