[House Hearing, 113 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
POLICY RELEVANT CLIMATE
ISSUES IN CONTEXT
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS
THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2013
Serial No. 113-24
Printed for the use of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Available via the World Wide Web: http://science.house.gov
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COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY
HON. LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas, Chair
DANA ROHRABACHER, California EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
RALPH M. HALL, Texas ZOE LOFGREN, California
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR., DANIEL LIPINSKI, Illinois
Wisconsin DONNA F. EDWARDS, Maryland
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma FREDERICA S. WILSON, Florida
RANDY NEUGEBAUER, Texas SUZANNE BONAMICI, Oregon
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas ERIC SWALWELL, California
PAUL C. BROUN, Georgia DAN MAFFEI, New York
STEVEN M. PALAZZO, Mississippi ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
MO BROOKS, Alabama JOSEPH KENNEDY III, Massachusetts
RANDY HULTGREN, Illinois SCOTT PETERS, California
LARRY BUCSHON, Indiana DEREK KILMER, Washington
STEVE STOCKMAN, Texas AMI BERA, California
BILL POSEY, Florida ELIZABETH ESTY, Connecticut
CYNTHIA LUMMIS, Wyoming MARC VEASEY, Texas
DAVID SCHWEIKERT, Arizona JULIA BROWNLEY, California
THOMAS MASSIE, Kentucky MARK TAKANO, California
KEVIN CRAMER, North Dakota ROBIN KELLY, Illinois
JIM BRIDENSTINE, Oklahoma
RANDY WEBER, Texas
CHRIS STEWART, Utah
Subcommittee on Environment
HON. CHRIS STEWART, Utah, Chair
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR., SUZANNE BONAMICI, Oregon
Wisconsin JULIA BROWNLEY, California
DANA ROHRABACHER, California DONNA F. EDWARDS, Maryland
RANDY NEUGEBAUER, Texas MARC VEASEY, Texas
PAUL C. BROUN, Georgia MARK TAKANO, California
RANDY WEBER, Texas ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas
C O N T E N T S
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Witness List..................................................... 2
Hearing Charter.................................................. 3
Statement by Representative Chris Stewart, Chairman, Subcommittee
on Environment, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology,
U.S. House of Representatives.................................. 7
Written Statement............................................ 8
Statement by Representative Suzanne Bonamici, Ranking Minority
Member, Subcommittee on Environment, Committee on Science,
Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives........... 10
Written Statement............................................ 11
Statement by Representative Lamar S. Smith, Chairman, Committee
on Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of
Written Statement............................................ 14
Dr. Judith Curry, Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric
Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology
Oral Statement............................................... 15
Written Statement............................................ 18
Dr. William Chameides, Dean and Professor, Nicholas School of the
Environment, Duke University
Oral Statement............................................... 34
Written Statement............................................ 36
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, President, Copenhagen Consensus Center
Oral Statement............................................... 46
Written Statement............................................ 48
Appendix I: Answers to Post-Hearing Questions
Dr. Judith Curry, Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric
Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology...................... 88
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, President, Copenhagen Consensus Center........ 90
Appendix II: Additional Material for the Record
Submitted statement by Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member,
Committee on Science, Space and Technology..................... 94
POLICY RELEVANT CLIMATE ISSUES IN CONTEXT
THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2013
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Environment
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:03 a.m., in
Room 2318 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Chris
Stewart [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED]
Chairman Stewart. The Subcommittee on the Environment will
come to order. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to today's
hearing, entitled ``Policy Relevant Climate Issues in
Context.'' In front of you are packets containing the written
testimonies, biographies, and truth in testimony disclosures
for today's witness panels.
I now recognize myself for five minutes for an opening
First, I would like to welcome the witnesses today. I thank
you for your service, and for your sacrifice in being here with
us. We look forward to an interesting exchange with you. I will
have a chance to introduce the witnesses later on. I would also
like to welcome the full Committee Chairman, Chairman Smith.
At his State of the Union address last month President
Obama cited as evidence of climate change that heat waves,
droughts, wildfires, and floods are all now more frequent and
intense. After calling this issue one of the greatest
priorities of his second term, he then signaled his intention
to move forward with aggressive actions in climate change.
While the details of the President's plans are not yet known,
today's hearing is intended to provide Members a high level
overview of the key factors that should inform our decision-
making on what is, unfortunately, one of the most controversial
public policy issues of our day.
Nobel Prize winning physicist Niels Bhor, later followed by
the noted philosopher Yogi Berra, famously said, ``Prediction
is very difficult, especially if it is about the future.'' The
scientific and political rhetoric associated with climate
change would benefit greatly from the humility espoused by
these two gentlemen. For example, the number and complexity of
factors influencing climate, from land and oceans, to sun and
clouds, make precise long term temperature predictions an
extremely difficult challenge. This may help explain why
consensus climate models, likely to serve as a basis for major
economy-wide regulatory actions, have such poor track records.
These models regularly overstate the actual temperature changes
and have failed to predict the current 16 year absence of
global warming. And I would like to emphasize that point, if I
could. Contrary to the predictions of almost all modeling, over
the past 16 years there has been a complete absence of
There are two obvious lessons here. First, modeling
predictions are not infallible. And second, while we encounter
those who claim to know precisely what our future climate will
look like, and then attack anyone who may disagree with them,
when that happens, we have stepped out of the arena of science
and into the arena of politics and ideology. And it is
important to recognize that the direction we choose to take on
climate change is not resolved by science alone. Once the
scientific analysis is complete, we must then make value
judgments and economic decisions based on a real understanding
of the costs and benefits of any proposed actions. It is
through this lens that we should review the President's
forthcoming executive actions and proposed regulations.
While we still don't know the specifics of the President's
plans, we know enough to cause people such as myself great
concern. I am worried that his anticipated restrictions in
industrial CO2 emissions may have no discernible
impact on the climate, but will amount to a significant energy
tax on the American people. And it is important to note this
isn't a cost that you can pass on to the millionaires and the
billionaires that the administration likes to talk about. Much
of these additional costs will be borne by those who can least
afford it, retirees on fixed income, young families, and those
on the bottom of the rung of the economic ladder. The
President's proposals will also reduce our economic activity at
a time when we can least afford it, while sending jobs overseas
to countries like China and India.
If you care about the poor and the disadvantaged among us,
then you must be very careful as you consider some of the
President's proposals to combat climate change. The bottom line
is this, not only should we consider the science behind climate
change, but also the economic costs of implementing any
suggested remedies. I look forward to discussing this in
further detail with our witnesses today, and learning more
about the best approach to this important issue of energy,
climate, and the environment.
I yield back the balance of my time, and recognize the
Ranking Member, Ms. Bonamici, for her opening statement.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stewart follows:]
Prepared Statement of Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart
Good morning and welcome to this morning's Environment Subcommittee
hearing entitled ``Policy Relevant Climate Issues in Context.''
At his State of the Union address earlier this year, President
Obama cited as evidence of climate change that ``heat waves, droughts,
wildfires, and floods--all are now more frequent and intense.'' After
calling this issue one of the greatest priorities of his second term,
he then signaled his intention to move forward with aggressive actions
to combat climate change. Today's hearing is intended to provide
Members a high-level overview of the key factors that should inform our
decision-making on what is unfortunately one of the most controversial
public policy issues of our day.
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Neils Bohr--later followed by noted
philosopher Yogi Berra--famously said, ``Prediction is very difficult,
especially if it's about the future.'' The scientific and political
rhetoric associated with climate change could benefit greatly from the
humility espoused by these two gentlemen.
For example, the number and complexity of factors influencing
climate-from land and oceans to the sun and clouds-make precise long-
term temperature predictions an extremely difficult challenge. This may
help explain why ``consensus'' climate models likely to serve as the
basis for major, economy-wide regulatory actions have such poor track
records. These models regularly overestimate actual temperature changes
and have failed to predict the current 16-year absence of global
warming. And let me emphasize this last statement--contrary to the
predictions of almost all modeling, over the past 16 years there has
been a complete absence of global warming.
There are two obvious lessons here. First, modeling predictions are
not infallible. Second, when we encounter those who claim to know
precisely what our future climate will look like, and then attack any
who may disagree with them, we have stepped out of the arena of science
and into the arena of politics and ideology.
It is also important to recognize that the direction we choose to
take on climate change is not resolvable by science alone. Once the
scientific analysis is complete, we must then make value judgments and
economic decisions based on a real understanding of the costs and
benefits of any proposed actions.
It is through this lens that we should review the President's
forthcoming executive actions and proposed regulations.
While we still don't know all the specifics of the President's
plan, we know enough to cause me great concern. I am worried that his
anticipated restrictions on industrial CO2 emissions may
have no discernible impact on climate, but will amount to a significant
energy tax on the American people. I am also concerned that his
proposals will reduce our economic activity at a time when we can least
afford to do that, while sending jobs overseas to countries such as
China and India. I look forward to discussing this in further detail
with our witnesses today, and learning more about how best to approach
the important issues of energy, climate, and the environment.
I yield back the balance of my time, and recognize Ranking Member
Bonamici for an opening statement.
Ms. Bonamici. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for
holding this hearing. I would like to thank our witnesses for
being here today. This is an important issue. In fact, I want
to thank the chair of the full Committee as well. Ranking
Member Eddie Bernice Johnson and I sent a letter before this
earlier scheduled hearing emphasizing the importance of this
The reality of climate change is increasingly impossible to
deny. Over the past 25 years numerous scientists from the
United States and around the world have appeared before
Congress to testify about climate change. Countless peer review
studies have shown that climate change is real, and that humans
are a significant contributing factor. Now we must shift the
debate to planning, and discuss what actions we should take to
mitigate the environmental, economic, and health effects that
will inevitably hit our communities.
The stated subject of this hearing is policy relevant
climate issues. Because a preponderance of scientific evidence
shows that human activity is contributing to changes in the
global climate, I submit that all climate change issues have
become policy relevant. The United States, a large historical
producer, and second largest current producer of greenhouse
gases, bears a great responsibility to the rest of the world to
ensure that we promote policies that will reduce the amount of
greenhouse gases we continue to place in the Earth's
atmosphere. We have the talent and ability to take on this
important leadership role. We should also, as a country, have
the will to do so.
Glacial withdrawal, loss of sea ice, ocean acidification,
rising temperatures in sea levels are real and measurable
problems. Although the effects of climate change are global,
the impacts of this change are already felt throughout the
United States. Recent droughts in the American southwest and
historic severe weather events throughout the country are
recent examples. According to the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration and NASA, 2012 was the warmest year
on record in the United States, and the nine warmest years have
all occurred since 1998.
Climate change affects our economy. In my State of Oregon,
we have developed a reputation for growing quality wine grapes,
including world renowned Pinot Noir. Much of the quality is
attributable to the climate in Oregon, where the Pinot grapes
grow at a temperature range between 57 and 61 degrees. Even a
minor variation in temperature can threaten the continued
quality, and hence value, to the Oregon economy of wines in the
Another important impact of global climate change on the
economy in the Pacific Northwest, and other coastal areas,
includes the effect of ocean acidification on the shellfish
industry. The district I represent is home to a thriving
fishing community, and in recent years oceanic and atmospheric
changes have caused low oxygen content in the water, hypoxia,
that has created dead zones that kill fish, crab, and other
marine life. Agriculture and fishing are just two examples of
industries concerned about climate change, and they are looking
to their policymakers for solutions.
Climate change also has broad implications on other aspects
of our Nation's economy. The Federal Government assists those
who are hard hit by harsh weather events, and scientists point
to increasingly severe weather patterns as further evidence of
the changing climate. The Government Accountability Office
recently released a report that, for the first time, lists
climate change as a significant financial risk to the Federal
Government. The report adds that the Federal Government is not
well positioned to address the fiscal exposure presented by
As a Nation, we are becoming too familiar with the
consequences of waiting until the 11th hour to develop
solutions to the problems we face. Let us not make the mistake
with something as serious as climate change. And even though we
may have differences of opinion about what is causing climate
change, we can still discuss the economic gains we can make by
investing in a clean energy economy, modernizing our
infrastructure, and seeking energy independence. The United
States has been a leader in renewable energy technology and
climate research. We must continue our leadership if we intend
to leave our children and grandchildren a clean and healthy
environment in which they can thrive economically.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to the testimony
from these experts today, and I yield back the balance of my
[The prepared statement of Ms. Bonamici follows:]
Prepared Statement of Subcommittee Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing, and I would like
to thank our witnesses for being here today.
The reality of climate change is increasingly impossible to deny.
Over the past 25 years, numerous scientists from the United States and
around the world have appeared before Congress to testify about climate
change. Countless peer-reviewed studies have shown that climate change
is real and that humans are a significant contributing factor. Now we
must shift the debate to planning and discuss what actions we should
take to mitigate the environmental, economic, and health effects that
will inevitably hit our communities.
The stated subject of this hearing is ``policy-relevant'' climate
issues. Because a preponderance of scientific evidence shows that human
activity is leading to changes in the global climate, I submit that all
climate issues have become ``policy-relevant.'' The United States, a
large historical producer and second largest current producer of
greenhouse gases, bears a great responsibility to the rest of the world
to ensure that we promote policies that will reduce the amount of
greenhouse gases we continue to place in the Earth's atmosphere. We
have the talent and ability to take on this important leadership role;
we should also, as a country, have the will to do so.
Glacial withdrawal, loss of sea ice, ocean acidification, and
rising temperatures and sea levels are real and measurable problems.
Although the effects of climate change are global, the impacts of this
change are already felt throughout the U.S. Record droughts in the
American Southwest and historic severe weather events throughout the
country are recent examples. According to the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA, 2012 was the warmest year
on record for the United States, and the nine warmest years have all
occurred since 1998.
Climate change affects our economy. Oregon has developed a
reputation for growing quality wine grapes, including the world-
renowned pinot noir. Much of the quality is attributable to the climate
in Oregon, where the pinot grapes grow in a temperature range of
between 57 and 61 degrees, and even a minor variation in temperature
can threaten the continued quality--and hence, value to the Oregon
economy-of wines in the region.
Another important economic impact of global climate change in the
Pacific Northwest and in many coastal areas is the effect of ocean
acidification on the shellfish industry. My district is home to a
thriving fishing community. In recent years, oceanic and atmospheric
changes have caused low-oxygen content in the water--a condition known
as hypoxia--that has created dead zones that kill fish, crab, and other
Agriculture and fishing are just two examples of industries
concerned about climate change--they are looking to their policymakers
Climate change also has broad implications on other aspects of our
nation's economy. The federal government assists those who are hit hard
by harsh weather events, and scientists point to increasingly severe
weather patterns as further evidence of the changing climate. The
Government Accountability Office recently released a report that, for
the first time, lists climate change as a ``significant financial risk
to the federal government.'' The report adds ``the federal government
is not well-positioned to address the fiscal exposure presented by
As a nation, we are becoming too familiar with the consequences of
waiting until the eleventh hour to develop solutions to the problems we
face. Let's not make that mistake with something as serious as climate
change. And even though we may have differences of opinion about what
is causing climate change, but we can still discuss the economic gains
we can make by investing in a clean energy economy, modernizing our
infrastructure, and seeking energy independence. The United States has
been a leader in renewable energy technology and climate research. We
must continue our leadership if we intend to leave our children and
grandchildren a clean and healthy environment in which they can thrive
Thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman Stewart. Thank you, Ms. Bonamici.
I now recognize the chair of the full Committee, Mr. Smith,
for his opening statement.
Chairman Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, climate change is an issue that needs to be
discussed thoughtfully and objectively. Unfortunately, it is
sometimes surrounded by claims that conceal the facts and
hinder the proper weighing of policy decisions. I believe in
the integrity of science, and challenging accepted beliefs
through open debate and critical thinking is a primary part of
the scientific process. To make rational decisions about
climate change, we need to examine the relevant scientific
issues, along with the costs and benefits, and better
understand the uncertainties that surround both.
As we will hear today, there is still a great amount of
uncertainty associated with our understanding of human
influences on climate. A recent article in ``The Economist''
pointed out that climate models have greatly over-predicted
warming. In fact, global temperatures have held steady over the
last 15 years, despite rising greenhouse gas emissions. ``The
Economist'' calls the lack of warming a surprise. It notes that
the climate might be changing in ways not properly understood,
which could have profound significance for climate science, and
for environmental and social policy. This statement, from a
respected publication that had previously supported aggressive
emission controls, highlights the complexity of the climate
issue. It calls attention to the limits of our understanding as
to its causes. There is still much we don't know.
I am concerned that the administration now seeks to lock in
an inflexible regulatory framework based on a limited
understanding of the challenge. I am also concerned that these
regulations may hinder economic development and our ability to
deal with this and other challenges that lie before us. Several
Federal Government agencies have implemented policies that
drive up energy prices, burden employers, and cost us jobs, but
many of these rules have no meaningful impact on climate
For example, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed
standards that virtually prohibit new coal fired power plants
from being built, and regulations that affect existing power
plants and refineries may soon follow. Analysis of EPA's
regulatory options reveal that these regulations will
significantly increase the price of electricity and gasoline.
At the same time, the agency has stated that cutting U.S.
emissions will have little or no effect on global greenhouse
gas concentrations due to growing emissions in a developing
world, particularly China and India.
A recent Energy Information Administration report shows
that U.S. reductions in emissions have little effect globally.
It found that U.S. domestic carbon dioxide emissions decreased
by 12 percent between 2005 and 2012, more than any other
nation. Global emissions actually increase by 15 percent over
roughly the same period. Affordable, reliable energy is key to
a healthy economy. American consumers and small and large
businesses all depend on reliable and affordable energy. It is
only through sustained economic growth that we will be able to
make the investments in research and technology necessary to
fully understand and properly deal with problems like climate
change. We should take a step back from the claims of impending
catastrophe and think critically about what we know, and what
we don't know, about this issue. While it may require us to
question some accepted views, that may be what is necessary for
us to fully understand the signs of climate change and
determine a rational policy response.
Mr. Chairman, I just want to make the observation that I
think this is an exceptionally knowledgeable panel of experts
and witnesses we have before us today, and I very much look
forward to their testimony. Now I yield back.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith follows:]
Prepared Statement of Committee Chairman Lamar S. Smith
Climate change is an issue that needs to be discussed thoughtfully
and objectively. Unfortunately, it's sometimes surrounded by claims
that conceal the facts and hinder the proper weighing of policy
I believe in the integrity of science. And I find it unfortunate
that those who question certain scientific views on climate have their
motives impugned. Challenging accepted beliefs through open debate and
critical thinking is a primary part of the scientific process. To make
a rational decision on climate change, we need to examine the relevant
scientific issues along with the costs and benefits and better
understand the uncertainties that surround both.
As we will hear today, there is still a great amount of uncertainty
associated with our understanding of human influences on climate. A
recent article in The Economist pointed out that climate models have
greatly over-predicted warming. In fact, global temperatures have held
steady over the past 15 years despite rising greenhouse gas emissions.
The magazine calls the lack of warming a ``surprise.'' It notes
that the climate might be changing in ways not properly understood,
which ``could have profound significance for climate science and for
environmental and social policy.''
This statement, from a respected publication that had previously
supported aggressive emission limits, highlights the complexity of the
climate issue. It calls attention to the limits of our understanding as
to its causes. Indeed, there is much we don't know. I am concerned that
the Administration now seeks to lock in an inflexible regulatory
framework based on a limited understanding of the challenge. I'm also
concerned that these regulations may hinder economic development and
our ability to deal with this and other challenges that lie before us.
Several federal government agencies now implement policies that
drive up energy prices, burden employers and cost us jobs. But, many of
these rules have no meaningful impact on climate change. For example,
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed standards that
virtually prohibit new coal-fired power plants from being built. And
regulations that affect existing power plants and refineries are soon
to follow. Analyses of EPA's regulatory options reveal that these
regulations will significantly increase the price of electricity and
At the same time, the Agency has stated that cutting U.S. emissions
will have little or no effect on global greenhouse gas concentrations
due to growing emissions in the developing world, particularly China
and India. A recent Energy Information Administration report shows that
U.S. reductions in emissions have little effect globally. It found that
U.S. domestic carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 12 percent between
2005 and 2012--more than any other nation. Global emissions actually
increased by 15 percent over roughly the same period.
Affordable, reliable energy is key to a healthy economy. American
consumers and small and large businesses all depend on reliable and
affordable energy. It is only through sustained economic growth that we
will be able to make the investments in research and technology
necessary to fully understand and properly deal with problems like
climate change. We should take a step back from the claims of impending
catastrophe and think critically about what we know and what we don't
know about this issue.
While it may require us to question some scientific views, that may
be what is necessary for us to fully understand the science of climate
change and determine a rational policy response.
Chairman Stewart. Thank you, Chairman Smith.
If there are Members who wish to submit additional opening
statements, your statements will be added to the record at this
At this time I would like to introduce our witnesses, and,
as the full Committee Chairman recognized, this is an
Our first witness is Dr. Judith Curry, Professor and Chair
of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia
Institute of Technology, and President of the Climate Forecast
Applications Network. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, she had
faculty positions at the University of Colorado, Penn State
University, and Perdue University. Dr. Curry also currently
serves as the NASA Advisory Council, Earth Science
Subcommittee, and the DOE Biological and Environment Research
Advisory Committee. Dr. Curry received a Ph.D. in atmospheric
science from the University of Chicago in 1982.
Our second witness today is Dr. William Chameides, Dean and
Professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke
University. Dr. Chameides has over 30 years of experience in
academia as professor, researcher, and teacher. He is a member
of the National Academy of Sciences. Previously Dr. Chameides
worked at the Environmental Defense Fund as a chief scientist.
He received his Ph.D. from Yale University.
Our final witness today is Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, Director of
the Copenhagen Consensus Center, and adjunct professor at the
Copenhagen business school. Dr. Lomborg is one of ``Time''
magazine's 100 most influential people, and one of the 75 most
influential people of the 21st century, according to
''Esquire'' magazine. Dr. Lomborg received his Ph.D. in
political science at the University of Copenhagen.
As our witnesses should know, and I am sure that you do,
spoken testimony is limited to five minutes each, after which
the Members of the Committee will have five minutes each to ask
I recognize now Dr. Curry for five minutes to present her
TESTIMONY OF DR. JUDITH CURRY, PROFESSOR,
SCHOOL OF EARTH AND ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES,
GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Dr. Curry. I would like to thank the Subcommittee for the
opportunity to offer testimony this morning. My name is Judith
Curry. I am chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric
Sciences at Georgia Tech. For the past 30 years I have
conducted research on topics that include climate feedback
processes in the Arctic, the role of clouds and aerosols in the
climate system, and the impact of climate change on hurricanes.
As president of a small company, Climate Forecast Applications
Network, I have worked with decision-makers on climate impact
assessments and using short term climate forecasts to support
adaptive management. I am also proprietor of the weblog
Climate, Et Cetera.
For the past several years I have been promoting dialogue
across a full spectrum of beliefs and opinion on the climate
debate. I have learned about the complex reasons that
intelligent, educated, and well-informed people disagree on the
subject of climate change, as well as tactics used by both
sides to try to gain political advantage in the debate. Through
my company, I have learned about the complexity of different
decisions that depend on weather and climate information. I
have learned the importance of careful determination and
communication of forecast uncertainty, and the added challenges
associated with predicting extreme weather events. I have found
that the worst prediction outcome is a prediction issued with a
high level of confidence that turns out to be wrong. A close
second is missing the possibility of an extreme event.
If all other things remain equal, it is clear that adding
more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will warm the planet.
However, the real difficulty is that nothing remains equal, and
reliable prediction of the impact of carbon dioxide on the
climate requires that we better understand natural climate
variability. My written testimony summarized the evidence for
and against the hypothesis that humans are playing a dominant
role in global warming. I will make no attempts to summarize
this evidence in my brief comments this morning. I will state
that there are major uncertainties in many of the key
observational data sets, particularly before 1980. There are
also major uncertainties in climate models, particularly with
regards to the treatment of clouds and the multi-decadal ocean
The prospect of increased frequency or severity of extreme
weather in a warmer climate is potentially the most serious
near term impact of climate change. A recent report from the
inter-governmental panel on climate change found limited
observational evidence for worsening of most type of extreme
weather events. Attempts to determine the role of global
warming and extreme weather events is complicated by the rarity
of these events, and also by their dependence on natural
weather and climate regimes that are simulated poorly by
climate models. Given these uncertainties, there would seem to
be plenty of scope for disagreement among scientists.
Nevertheless, the consensus about dangerous anthropogenic
climate change is portrayed as nearly total among climate
scientists. Further, the consensus has been endorsed by all of
the relevant national and international science academies and
I have been trying to understand how there can be such a
strong consensus, given these uncertainties, excuse me. How to
reason about uncertainties in the complex climate system is
neither simple or obvious. Scientific debates involve
controversies over the value and importance of particular
classes of evidence, failure to account of indeterminacy and
ignorance, as well as disagreement about the appropriate
logical framework for assessing the evidence. For the past
three years I have been working towards understanding the
dynamics of uncertainty at the climate science policy
interface. This research has led me to question whether these
dynamics are operating in a manner that is healthy for either
the science or the policy process.
The climate community has worked for more than 20 years to
establish a scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate
change. The IPCC's consensus-building process played a useful
role in the early synthesis of scientific knowledge on this
topic. However, I have argued that the ongoing scientific
consensus seeking process has had the unintended consequence of
oversimplifying both the problem and its solutions, introducing
biases into both the science and related decision-making
When uncertainty is not well characterized, and there is
concern about unknown unknowns, there is increasing danger of
getting the wrong answer, and optimizing for the wrong thing. I
have argued in favor of abandoning the scientific consensus
seeking approach in favor of open debate and discussion of a
broad range of policy options on the issues surrounding climate
change. There are frameworks for decision-making under deep
uncertainty that accept uncertainty and dissent as key elements
of the decision-making process. Rather than choosing an optimal
policy based on a scientific consensus, decision-makers can
design robust and flexible policy strategies that are more
transparent and democratic, and avoid the hubris of pretending
to know what will happen in the future. The politicization of
the climate change issue presents dawning challenges to climate
science and scientists.
I would like to close with a reminder that uncertainty
about the future climate is a two-edged sword. There are two
situations to avoid. The first is acting on the basis of a
highly competent statement about the future that turns out to
be wrong, and the second is missing the possibility of an
extreme catastrophic outcome. Avoiding both of these situations
requires much deeper and better assessment of uncertainties and
areas of ignorance, as well as creating a broader range of
future scenarios than is currently provided by climate models.
This concludes my testimony.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Curry follows:]
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED]
Chairman Stewart. Thank you, Dr. Curry.
Dr. Chameides, please, sir, for five minutes.
TESTIMONY OF DR. WILLIAM CHAMEIDES,
DEAN AND PROFESSOR,
NICHOLAS SCHOOL OF THE ENVIRONMENT,
Dr. Chameides. Thank you, Chairman Stewart, Ranking Member
Bonamici, Chair of the Full Committee Smith, and other Members
of the Subcommittee for the opportunity to testify today. My
name is Bill Chameides. I am the dean of the Nicholas School of
the Environment, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of
Sciences. I am atmospheric scientist who has focused
principally on the chemistry of the lower atmosphere, trying to
understand the causes of environmental change, and identify
pathways towards a more sustainable future.
My main message today is the risks posed by human caused
climate change are significant, and warrant timely action to
minimize these risks. Yes, there are uncertainties, but these
uncertainties do not justify inaction. What they do suggest is
that our response should be a flexible one that allows for
course corrections as new information and knowledge comes
available. Much of what we know about the climate is the
product of more than 100 years of research, founded on the most
basic laws of science, and grounded by ever improving
observations of the climate system. Thermometer measurements
show that the Earth's average surface temperature has risen
substantially over the past century. Much has been made of the
so-called recent pause, or hiatus, in global warming, but we
should keep the following context in mind. Present day
temperatures are anomalously high. The last decade was the
warmest on record. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record
occurred since 2001, and 2010 and 2005 were the warmest and
second warmest years on record, respectively.
Significantly, the frequencies of extremely hot summer days
has increased by more than a factor of 10 globally. The climate
in the United States has become more variable and extreme. Over
the past 50 years we have seen an increase in prolonged
stretches of excessively high temperatures, more heavy
downpours, and in some regions, more severe droughts. The
preponderance of evidence suggests that most of the recent
decadal scale warming can be attributed to fossil fuel burning
and other human activities that release carbon dioxide and
other heat trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
I have noted that Dr. Curry, in her written testimony,
states that a 2012 paper by Tonen Xiao suggests that the
anthropogenic global warming trends might have been
overestimated by a factor of two in the second half of the 20th
century. Now, Dr. Curry has been a colleague of mine for many
years. I respect her as a scientist. In fact, I was--I
enthusiastically helped recruit her to her present position at
Georgia Tech. But I find some of her statements to be
problematic, and this is one of them. In the case of the Tonen
Xiao paper, it is germane and important to also note that one
of the implications of their result is that virtually all of
the net warming over the past 100 years can be attributed to
Human caused climate changes and impacts will continue for
many decades, even centuries, however, the precise nature of
these impacts cannot be predicted with great certainty. But we
do know that the risks are considerable, and we haven't
discussed at all the problem of ocean acidification from
CO2, which is a virtual certainty.
So how should we, as a Nation, respond? There is, of
course, room for debate about what climate policies should be
implemented, but uncertainty is not a reason for inaction. We,
as individuals, and as a society, often act in the face of
uncertainty. I, for example, cannot predict if, let alone when,
there will be a fire in my house, but I pay for fire insurance.
Similarly, in the face of uncertain but substantial risk from
climate change, it is prudent to develop and implement a risk
based flexible response to the climate change challenge. Such a
response should have the following elements, reducing
greenhouse gas emissions, mobilizing--investing in science,
technology, and information systems, participating in
international climate change efforts, and coordinating a
Let me highlight a few of these, and more details are in my
written testimony. The nation will need to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions. The magnitude and speed of emissions reductions
depends, of course, on societal judgments about how much risk
is acceptable, and what cost. However, given the long lifetime
associated with infrastructure for energy production, and the
potential for irreversible climate change, the most effective
strategy is to begin ramping down emissions as soon as
Because we cannot predict the exact path climate change
will take, we cannot prescribe a set of climate policies today
that we know will be optimum for decades to come, and so we
need an iterative risk management approach that systematically
and continuously identifies risks, advances a portfolio of
actions that reduce risks, and revises responses in light of
new knowledge. And it is my impression that, on this issue, Dr.
Curry and I are in agreement.
America has choices to make about climate change, choices
that we must face in the face of uncertainty, but also risks
that are growing with every new ton of greenhouse gases we
emit. We cannot avoid these choices. Bear in mind that making a
choice to do nothing is, in fact, a choice. It is a choice that
our children, and their children, and their children after
them, will face increased risks from human induced climate
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Chameides follows:]
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED]
Chairman Stewart. Dr. Chameides, thank you, sir.
And now Dr. Lomborg.
TESTIMONY OF DR. BJORN LOMBORG, PRESIDENT,
COPENHAGEN CONSENSUS CENTER
Dr. Lomborg. Thank you very much. My name is Bjorn Lomborg.
I work at the Copenhagen Consensus Center, and adjunct
professor at the Copenhagen Business School. We are talking
about policy relevant climate issues, so I would like to show a
little bit of my testimony, in terms of saying what is actually
relevant for the decisions that you will have to make. Yes, as
I think all of us agree, global warming is definitely partly,
and mostly man-made. It is a long term problem. I have tried to
indicate what is the total cost of this, but we are probably
talking about 1.4 percent of GDP over the next couple of
centuries. Obviously that is an order of magnitude impact. So
it indicates it is not the end of the world, as it is sometimes
being portrayed, but it is certainly not nothing either, so let
us try and get this right.
We also need to recognize that the last 20 years of what we
have tried to do has managed to do almost nothing. What you see
here is the CO2 emissions from 1950, and out until
2035 from the International Energy Agency. You see a little bit
of crosses around 2010, which was what we promised with Kyoto.
We managed virtually nothing. We have spent 20 years, and
managed to do virtually nothing. And we need to recognize that
the current approach, that focuses very much on saying, it is
about wind turbines and solar panels, yes, they are going to
help, but not very much. By--right now, about 0.8 percent of
all energy comes from modern green agency, and in 2035, with
very optimistic scenarios, it is going to be 3.2 percent. So we
are talking about a very small part of the solution. If we are
going to fix climate change, we will need game changers.
We also need to recognize, as several Members pointed out,
cutting CO2 is not free. There is a strong
correlation between how much more economic growth we have and
how much more CO2 you put out. So, again, we have to
recognize we are not polluting the atmosphere with CO2
just simply to annoy the environmentalists. We are doing it
simply because it is what powers everything we like. And so,
unless we find technologies that allow us to continue economic
growth without the CO2 emissions, I think we are
going to find it very hard to get most nations on board to
reduce their carbon emissions.
We also need to recognize that, whatever we do, it is only
going to have long term impact. No matter what we do, it is
really only going to impact the temperature development in the
second half of the century. And, as some of the Members also
pointed out, we need to get China and the rest of the
developing world on board. We can do a lot of good, certainly.
I come from the European Union. We feel incredibly virtuous,
but we have done virtually nothing. Let me just show you one
graph, which I think, in many ways, shows you--this is for
Britain, but this is true also for the European Union. If you
will look at the blue curve, you see how much Britain has
actually cut its carbon emissions, and they are very, very
proud of this too. But if you look at the red curve, it
includes how much they also import, minus what they export, of
their carbon emissions. And, of course, what they have
essentially done, and what a lot of us have done, is we have
simply exported a lot of our stuff to China. So we get China to
emit all the CO2 for us, we feel virtuous, but it
doesn't actually help the planet.
So, again, we need to find a way that actually works not
just to make us feel good, but something that will actually end
up doing good. So, fundamentally, if I have to summarize why it
hasn't worked so far, well, we have done Kyoto style cuts,
which actually cost quite a bit, they do very little good, and
we need to recognize that right now, and certainly in the next
10 or 20 years, green energy is not really ready to take over
in any major way. We need to recognize that currently we are
just spending lots of money doing fairly little good.
This is--I am--I apologize, this is the most complicated
graph, but it shows you how much different--of the main
countries are paying in implicit CO2 costs per ton
of CO2. Germany is paying almost $150 per ton. The
United States is probably paying a little less than $50 per
ton. Compare this to the fact that the best and the largest
meta-study of what is the damage cost for an extra ton of
CO2, I estimate it is probably around $5 per ton. So
you are--you guys are paying perhaps 10 times too much, Germany
is paying perhaps 30 times too much. South Korea, obviously, is
just paying through the roof, and there are a lot more
expensive solutions. We need to find cheaper ways to tackle
And that is why I think we need to--if I--in summary, we
need to recognize this cannot be about trying to make fossil
fuels so expensive nobody wants them. That is never going to
work politically, and it is bad economics. Instead, what we do
need to do is to focus on making green energy so cheap that
everyone eventually will want them. And, of course, that is
especially China and India. That is going to happen through
innovation. This will take time, and we would all wish this not
to be the case, but we have got to face up to the fact that
that is the only way we are really going to cut carbon
We need to recognize we are spending very little on
research and development right now. We are spending a lot of
money on inefficient cutting of carbon emissions. Why don't we
spend more on innovation, and less on cutting carbon emissions?
Ultimately, that will end up doing a lot more good.
Let me just--and I don't mean to beat advice or anything,
but if you looked at what President Obama said in the--in his
State of the Union, he actually proposed an energy security
trust. And if you--and it was very sketchy what exactly was
going to come out of that, but if--the thrust of that was to
say, let us take a little money and spend it on research and
development to make green energy cheaper for the future, that
way we will cut carbon emissions much cheaper by making it
cheap for everyone, also the Chinese and the Indians.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lomborg follows:]
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED]
Chairman Stewart. Thank you, to all of you, for being
available to us in your questioning today. The Committee rules
limit questioning to five minutes, and alternating between
Republican and Democratic Members of the Subcommittee. And the
Chair now recognizes himself for five minutes to begin
Again, in a sincere way, thank you for a very
intellectual--and I appreciate the tone of your testimony
today. I do think the nuts and bolts of this issue are fairly
straightforward, and several of you indicated that it is risk
management, it is risk analysis. What are the actual risks,
what are the actual costs, and what is the most effective way
to getting and arriving at a desirable outcome, which all of us
want to do? I don't know anyone who doesn't want to arrive at
the same outcome on this. Of course, analyzing the risk is
where this has become so politicized, I am afraid.
And then I think something that I appreciate with this
panel here, once the risk is determined, trying to determine
the actual cost to it, and what that means. And as I indicated
in my opening statement, this can't be borne by a small
percentage of people. The cost of this will be borne by all of
us, and in some cases by people who can least afford it. And I
am not only talking about those of us here in the United
States, but around the world, and people who will be, in a very
real way, denied a standard of living that allows them for the
minimal standards of power, and, in many cases, the things
tangent to that. For example, health care.
And, Dr. Chameides, I appreciated your analogy with the
fire insurance. And, of course, all of us understand that, but
I wonder if you have a scenario where your house is worth
$100,000, but it costs you $200,000 to buy an insurance policy
for that, and I won't ask you if that is a good decision,
because of course it is not, and I think that is where many of
us are wondering, what is the cost of that insurance, then? And
you list several suggestions in your testimony of things that
we could do to substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
which is incredibly expensive, and, frankly, changes our whole
economy--mobilizing new--now for adaptation. And I won't read
your entire list, but, I mean, have you seen any analysis that
would give you a figure for that of economic input in dollars?
Dr. Chameides. Certainly. There have been many, many that
had indicated--I mean, it depends, again, on how rapidly you
want to decrease, but most analyses have indicated that the
price to our economy for decreasing emissions at a substantial
rate over the next decade or two are fairly modest, on the
order of about one percent or less of GDP.
I think the important thing to bear in mind is----
Chairman Stewart. Could I just interject?
Dr. Chameides. Sure.
Chairman Stewart. I mean, to some people one percent may be
modest, but it is a meaningful amount of money. We are talking
trillions of dollars there. Again--yes?
Dr. Chameides. Yeah, it is true, but it is one percent,
okay? Without making a value judgment. But I think the
important thing to bear in mind is--I mean, and, again, we can
argue about how rapidly we should cut, and how much we should
cut, but we are talking about a process of cutting emissions
that will need to occur over many, many decades. We don't
necessarily need to make major cuts now. I think it is
important that we get started.
One of the analogies that I would make--sometimes there has
been discussion about this or that has virtually no impact on
the temperature in 2050. I would like to make the analogy of,
you know, at some point at the end of this hearing, I am going
to head over to the Metro, and it is going to be--let us say
1,000 steps. And I have got to make that first step, and that
first step is really important. But someone could say, don't
take that first step. It doesn't get you anywhere. I think we
have to recognize that that first step in setting us down the
road will be very, very important. And it could be very modest.
I think we could decide on that.
Chairman Stewart. Okay. If I could shift gears for just a
minute, and I will just allow any on the panel to address this,
and that is--it is interesting to me that the--if you take the
top 20 primary modeling of this, and yet we are about to drop
out of the lowest level of that modeling, with this pausing in
temperature rise, and none of them predicted that. And, I mean,
is there any idea--might that continue for five years, for ten
years, for 20 or 30 years? Do we have any idea? Dr. Curry?
Dr. Curry. I can address that. There are some hypotheses
that this could go out for another 20 years or so. Associated--
we have recently seen a shift to the cool phase of the Pacific
Decadal Oscillation, which means we will see more La Ninas,
which have a cooling effect. And this could keep us in a--
basically a flat period for several more decades. So we don't
quite know--we are also--people are projecting that the sun
will be acting in a direction that is towards cooling, relative
to what we saw in the latter half of the 20th century.
So there are signals that we could see cooling for the next
few--or steady temperatures for the next few decades.
Chairman Stewart. Okay.
Dr. Chameides. Take a couple of seconds----
Chairman Stewart. Yes.
Dr. Chameides. --the time has expired. I think we don't
know, and there is a chance that it may continue. And, in fact,
there is equal chance, and perhaps less--more of a chance that
it will increase again at a rapid rate. I think the important
thing to do is--if you look at the graph of model predicted
temperatures over--and observe, you will find many instances in
the record over the 20th century where the model over-predicted
the warming for a period of time, like it is now. And what
happens is eventually the atmosphere catches up, and, actually,
at some points the model under-predicts the warming. So the
fact that we are over-predicting the warming right now is not
unprecedented, although it is troubling for many of us, yes.
Chairman Stewart. Okay. Thank you. I will give the time
over to the gentlewoman from Oregon.
Ms. Bonamici. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank
you, panel, for your testimony.
Dr. Chameides, in your testimony you state that most of the
recent decadal scale warming can be attributed to fossil fuel
burning and other human activities that release carbon dioxide
and other heat trapping greenhouse gases into the environment.
Will you please expand on what the other human activities are?
Dr. Chameides. Certainly. A good deal of it is biomass
burning, deforestation, for example. There are also greenhouse
gases that other than carbon dioxide. For example, diesel
burning, and other solid fuels that give rise to black carbon,
or soot emissions. Methane emissions, some from agriculture,
some from landfills and so forth are also quite important, for
example. Fertilizers tend to emit nitrous oxide, which is also
a very effective greenhouse gas. And then there are
fluorocarbons that are used in the chemical industry that also
contribute to global warming.
Ms. Bonamici. Thank you very much. And you also state in
your testimony that uncertainty is not a reason for inaction,
and suggest taking the risk based and flexible response to the
climate change challenge. And I appreciate the analogy, like
buying insurance for your house, and the Chairman also talked
about that, you know, considering what if the insurance costs
more than the house? I think I have to submit that it is easier
to replace a house than a planet, if we have the kind of damage
that could come from climate change. What are the main risks to
humans if we don't decrease our emissions? And are there
increased risks if delay action? And, in the same vein, you
talked about the greater risks from further climate change. Are
the risks different as greenhouse gas emissions increase, or
are they the same risks, only amplified?
Dr. Chameides. I would say that, as far as we know, we have
a long list of risks. Some of the impacts that we see
potentially happening now, and some that we think will come.
And I don't necessarily think that qualitatively that will
change, although they might become more severe. And, of course,
those risks relate to loss of life and property due to extreme
weather, droughts. Sea level rise, of course, is a large one.
We are seeing what we believe is a decimation of forests in the
west from pine bark beetle infestation, which seems to be in
part due to the fact that temperatures are so high, and the
climate is so dry, and a variety of other things.
I think what is very, very important to bear in mind, in
terms of making a decision about the future and the risks, is
that the impact of emissions today won't be fully felt for a
number of decades. It is sort of the flip side of what Dr.
Lomborg was saying. And so if we say, well, let us delay and
see what happens in 20 years, basically not only then have we
locked in what is happened in the intervening 20 years, but we
have now locked in to a future.
And so the issue of the risks that we face is the fact that
what we do today will have a major impact in the future, and do
we want to take that chance, or do we want to begin to do
something to mitigate that?
Ms. Bonamici. Thank you. Dr. Lomborg, you talked about
investing in--heavily in research and development into green
technologies. In times of budget constraints, oftentimes those
investments are targeted for cuts, unfortunately. And we are
committed, I think, in the United States to investing in
renewable technology and renewable energy. So could you talk a
little bit about what green technologies you would propose,
what are the benefits, other than, of course, for the industry
itself, of investing in green technology?
Dr. Lomborg. Absolutely, and thank you. The important part
is to recognize that investing in research and development,
investing in smart minds--come up with new idea is much, much
cheaper than the support that we give to existing inefficient
technologies, like subsidizing solar panels or wind turbines
right now, so we could actually make money and invest a lot
more in research and development. My point is simply to say, we
don't know which technologies--and I think we would all agree
we don't know what technology's is going to power the middle of
the century. But what we need to do, and what America has been
so amazing at doing, is to show the way for the rest of the
world, coming up with great innovations.
I love--if you know Craig Venter, the guy who sequenced the
human genome, he is working on making a bacteria that will
essentially be producing diesel. I don't know if it is
possible--it is probably technologically possible, but we also
know that it is not economically feasible right now, but
imagine if we could do it? And those are the kinds of ideas--
there are thousands, literally thousands, of ideas out there.
They cost very little to support each one of those, and we
really just need one, or a few, of those technologies to come
through, and they will then make it possible for everyone else,
the Chinese and the Indians, to cut their carbon emissions
So I agree with Dr. Chameides. Obviously, if we don't do
anything for 20 years, we would just have wasted 20 years. But
if we actually make sure that the future will have viable
alternatives, we could see a dramatic reduction in CO2
in just a short while, once we get the economics right.
Ms. Bonamici. I see my time has expired. I yield back.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Stewart. Thank you.
Chairman Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is probably an
indication of the expertise of this panel that almost all my
questions have already been answered, but I do want to make a
couple comments, and maybe come at some of these issues from
Dr. Lomborg, in your last answer, I think you answered one
of my questions, which was--you are not suggesting doing that--
you are not suggesting delaying. In fact, just the opposite. It
is a very active proposal that will actually, I believe, not
only benefit America economically, but will actually lead to a
greater reduction in carbon dioxide, or other greenhouse gases,
and actually lead to a cleaner environment. And I just have a
hard time understanding why that doesn't hold more attraction,
rather than plowing ahead with policies that we know is going
to hurt American economically, and obviously not produce the
results that many of us would like, and we could probably agree
Let me ask something else. The United States, as I
mentioned in my opening statement, has reduced carbon dioxide
emissions 12 percent of the last seven years. The reset of the
world has increased carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent.
That is as good of a record as, I think, any industrialized
country in the world has, so we can be grateful for what we
have been doing in the United States. And I don't think we need
to keep punishing our citizens economically for doing the right
thing. But you mentioned a while ago that we are paying 10
times more than we should for I guess energy, but I wanted to
ask you to expand a little bit on that. I know you mentioned
Germany 30 times or greater, but why are we paying 10 times too
much, and how--what is the answer to not doing that?
Dr. Lomborg. Thank you very much. Yes, fundamentally we
have a split in the climate conversation between feeling good
and doing good. The feeling good part is where we put up a
solar panel that is not yet effective, or a wind turbine that
is not yet effective, but telling ourselves, but we are at
least cutting carbon emissions. Which is true, but for every
ton we cut, we pay perhaps $50----
Chairman Smith. I see
Dr. Lomborg. --when the benefit of that ton is only about
$5. Now, again, obviously, you can quibble about the exact
numbers, but it indicates that we are paying a large sum of
money to do a little good.
And I would like to get back to your point of--on the
fracking. Fracking is a technology that we invested in from
the, what, late '70s in the United States, and we are only just
seeing the benefits now. Essentially the United States probably
reduced about eight percent just from fracking. So, to put it
very bluntly, with fracking you probably cut about 400 million
tons every year of CO2, and you are getting paid for
it. You are actually making--compared to prices before, you are
probably making about $125 billion a year for the American----
Chairman Smith. We ought to be encouraging that, rather
than trying to----
Dr. Lomborg. So my----
Chairman Smith. --deter it, yeah.
Dr. Lomborg. The simple point is it is a lot easier to cut
Chairman Smith. Okay.
Dr. Lomborg. --and make people money than it is----
Chairman Smith. Right.
Dr. Lomborg. --to tell them, could you please cut carbon
emissions, and it will cost them a lot of money. And that is
what innovation can do.
Chairman Smith. Exactly. Thank you, Dr. Lomborg. Let me
address my next question to all panelists, and, Dr. Curry,
start with you. And this is the connection between extreme
weather and climate change.
Last year the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change,
IPCC, found that there is a high agreement that long term
trends in weather disasters ``have not been attributed to
climate change. Droughts have become less frequent, less
intense, were shorter in regions like central North America,
and the absence of extreme weather trends caused by climate
change is also true for floods, tornadoes, and tropical
storms.'' Let me just ask you all if you agree with that
conclusion. That was a small part of a larger report by the
Panel on Climate Change. Dr. Curry?
Dr. Curry. I do agree with that statement. The extreme
events have been--seemed very extreme the last decade, and they
were certainly more extreme than we saw in the 1980s. But if
you go back to the 1950s, and if you go back to the 1930s, you
saw similar patterns. You know, droughts in the southwest,
elevated hurricane activity, et cetera.
Chairman Smith. Thank you. Dr. Chameides, do you agree with
Dr. Chameides. Without saying I agree or disagree, let me
just quote to you something that comes from our own U.S.
National Climate Assessment. This just----
Chairman Smith. Is it possible you might tell me whether
you agree or disagree?
Dr. Chameides. I have to see the statement in more detail.
It is not--I am not--I just don't know. I can't comment on it.
Chairman Smith. Okay.
Dr. Chameides. Well, what it says is that over the past 50
years, for the United States, we have seen an increase in
prolonged stretches of excessively high temperatures, more
heavy downpours, and, in some regions, more severe drought.
Chairman Smith. Right.
Dr. Chameides. So there are some aspects that we are seeing
Chairman Smith. Yeah.
Dr. Chameides. This is the U.S.----
Chairman Smith. I think the point the report is making is
to--if you look at this over a number of years, and sort of put
it in context that we are seeing that extreme weather occurs
many decades ago, and is going to continue to occur, and there
is not necessarily any correlation between that and, say,
carbon dioxide emissions.
But, Dr. Lomborg, do you have an opinion on that?
Dr. Lomborg. I think the fundamental point is that there
are some things that are actually getting more extreme, but
there is also a lot of hype, I would agree. But I think the
real point is to recognize trying to regulate extreme weather
through carbon cuts is an extremely inefficient way to do it,
certainly in the next half century. Now, I think we all agree
that eventually we need to fix this, but I would----
Chairman Smith. Um-hum.
Dr. Lomborg. --surmise that, to the extent that you worry
about people being hit by hurricanes, people being hit by heat
waves, there are much more direct, and much cheaper, and much
more effective ways to help them in the short and medium, and
even rather long term.
Chairman Smith. And I agree with you. I think technology
developments need to come first, and that will yield a better
result, and a more cost efficient result as well.
Thank you all for your comments. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Stewart. Thank you, Chairman Smith.
I now turn the time over to colleague from Maryland, Ms.
Ms. Edwards. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Ranking Member
I had hoped that, in today's hearing, we would be able to
identify the remaining uncertainties about climate science, and
understand our ability to mitigate them, and to inform policy
decisions that protect the public and our economy, and I am not
totally sure I have heard that quite yet. And, in fact, it has
been quite disturbing, because what I hear from our witnesses
is that they agree that climate change is happening, that the
globe is warming. They agree that it is some combination of
natural occurrence and human activity. And, in fact, all of you
are members of various scientific and other societies who
conclude that a vast majority what is happening right now is
caused by human activity.
And yet, here we are, with one of our witnesses saying,
well, you know, let us just wait and invest down the line to
get cheaper technology, green technology, that helps us
mitigate some of our concerns, and that is really disturbing to
Dr. Chameides, in your testimony, you say that greenhouse
gases that we emit now are going to linger in the atmosphere
for generations, impacting our great-grandchildren, just as we
are experiencing the impacts of fossil fuels burned over the
last century. And so, considering the position that some are
taking, that action now to address climate change is way too
costly, and your point about the lingering consequences, isn't
the cost of inaction now great, or greater, than the cost of
Dr. Chameides. Thank you. I--my testimony indicates that it
is my strong opinion that a prudent course of action would
begin to act now. I don't think we can afford to wait. As I
said, I think that the issues of how fast, and at what cost,
are issues that we should discuss as a society. But I think it
is imprudent to decide that we will simply wait and see what
One of the things I said in my testimony with regard to
carbon dioxide that I think is useful to bear in mind as a
measure, some of the carbon dioxide that we emitted, we
emitted, in the first Model T car is in the atmosphere today.
And some of the carbon dioxide that we are going to emit when
we drive home or whatever tonight is going to be in the
atmosphere of our great-great-grandchildren. So there is a
decision we have to make about how much of that legacy do we
want to leave for our future generations? And every day that we
delay means more of our legacy will be that carbon dioxide.
Ms. Edwards. Thank you. One of the challenges we have--and,
Dr. Lomborg, I agree that we need to make investments in green
technology. In fact, I think many of the Members on my side of
the aisle have voted repeatedly to make those investments in
green technology, and in enhancing research and development
activities, and we have been stopped in our tracks over and
over again by folks who say, no, we don't want to think about
that at all, we don't want to make those kind of investments,
when we know that that would be good for the future at the same
time that we are trying to reduce CO2 emissions.
But I am interested in your testimony because you say--and
it sounds that our Chairman kind of agreed with the investments
in green technology over time, but you are calling for $40
billion of investment from the United States Government in
green technology. And I am going to tell you, you go lobby that
side of the aisle and see if you can find $40 billion for that
kind of investment, because I rather doubt that that can
happen, and especially in this constrained environment. And so
wouldn't you agree that there has to be some sort of balance
that says we have to both reduce our current emissions--the
United States has to take a lead on doing that, try to
encourage as much as possible China and India. We know what
those contributions are, but we have a little bit of skin in
that game, and we have to invest in green technology. But to
think that we are going to somehow come up with a magic $40
billion to do that, I think, is--well, it is foolhardy.
Dr. Lomborg. And thank you very much for those comments. My
point is simply to say that those are the technologies that
will power the future. What we have seen right now--and let us
just remember the last 20 years. We have been making these
kinds of statements, especially in Europe, for a very long
time. We want to cut carbon emissions, we have given subsidies
to a lot of technologies, and we have managed to cut very, very
little. And to the extent that we have, we have just exported a
lot of our emissions to China.
So my concern is really that, by continuing to say, let us
cut carbon emissions, we actually just end up doing very little
for a decade or two. I would hate to see that happen, whereas,
if we invest in research and development, we could actually get
possibly everybody on board. Just to give you a sense of order
and magnitude, you are right now spending about $17 billion on
biofuel subsidies. That would probably be a good thing to cut.
I am sure I am going to offend somebody here. You are certainly
also--I would like to just look into those numbers, I can't
quite remember them, but you are at least spending $20 billion
on subsidies to solar panels. If you add that up, you would
have $37 billion I----
Ms. Edwards. Well, we need to cut--see, my time is expired,
but we must cut CO2 emissions. That is part of our
responsibility. It is the responsibility to challenge our
international partners to do that, and to make the investments
in green technology and research and development that I would
agree that we should.
And my time is expired. Thank you.
Chairman Stewart. Thank you, Ms. Edwards.
Mr. Neugebauer. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank
you for holding this important hearing, and thank our panelists
for being here.
You know, I am just an old land developer from Lubbock,
Texas, and so I am not a scientist, but what I do know a little
bit about is markets. And I think, Dr. Lomborg, you mentioned
that we ought to shift some of our resources into the research
side, and what we have been doing is subsidizing alternatives
that we thought would be a part of the solution. And, as you
mentioned, some of those numbers are big.
And so if we are going to do a cost benefit analysis of
these things, doesn't it distort our ability to determine both
the cost and the benefit if the government is distorting the
marketplace? And, because many of the alternatives that are
being offered out there are not commercially viable. And so
what happens to things that aren't commercially viable, if--
unless the government determines that it is going to subsidize
it, they go away, and so those become temporary solutions. So
what is your thoughts for the government to step back? I mean,
what we have seen from--particularly from this administration
is that you have gone out and given huge loans, and grants, and
subsidies to commercial entities, but it turned out that the
government thought that was a great idea, the customers didn't
agree with that.
So is your--is it your testimony that we should basically
get the government out of the subsidy business?
Dr. Lomborg. No, it is that we should be much smarter about
how we make the argument. Let us remember, if global warming is
a problem, and I am arguing that, with the best meta-studies, a
ton of CO2 emitted about now causes about $5 of
aggregate damage, we need to somehow reflect that. What we need
to recognize is that right now we are possibly subsidizing
green energy sources to the tune of $50 per ton of CO2
avoided, so we are paying too much to avoid too little damage.
But that doesn't alleviate us from actually having to do
something to avoid those tons that the United States is
responsible for. But, of course, we would also like to see all
the tongs that the Chinese are responsible for, and the Indians
are responsible for. And, as the Chairman rightly mentioned, I
think the Chinese and Indians are more concerned about just
getting their kids an education, and food on their table, and a
lot of other issues. So it lies to our responsibility to make
sure that we invest smartly so that we can avoid that extra
damage down the line.
If you invest in research and development--and there will
be an under investment in research and development in the
private market, simply because if you--imagine Mitchell, he did
the first fracking back in '78. If nobody had supported him,
why on earth would he have done it? Because had he found out
how to frack spending 30 years, he would have not been able to
patent that. He would probably not have been able to recoup all
those benefits. There are huge social benefits. That is why we
invest in medical sciences, to--for people to come up with
great new cures. And, likewise, we should be investing in long
term innovation for technology.
So my argument is to say stop subsidizing as much, and
start investing a lot more in research and development.
Mr. Neugebauer. Dr. Curry, do you concur with that?
Dr. Curry. Well, yeah. I didn't hear much that I would
Mr. Neugebauer. Okay. And, one of the things that you bring
up, and it is a concern I have, is that if the rest of the
world--I mean, we almost make it sound like it is--that the
United States is the number one contributor to greenhouse gases
in the world, and that is, from my reading, is not the case. Is
that--anybody disagree with that? So the question is, if the
rest of the world isn't going to either have the resources to
make these investments, or decides not to buy into it, and what
we have seen is many of the other countries have not bought
into it, then doesn't that diminish our ability to really have
impactful changes, if, in fact, we are affecting the climate?
Dr. Lomborg. Sorry. Just very briefly, if you do a cost
benefit analysis, the current approach is probably not a good
way to go. But if you invest in research and development, the
benefits could be 10, or even more, the amount of dollars that
you put in. So it would both benefit the United States, because
you would have better technology for the future, and you would
also help the rest of the world. I would surmise that might be
a good deal, even just for the United States. But, of course,
it would be ideal if we could also get China and India on
Chairman Stewart. Thank you again. It looks like our last
questioner today is Mr. Weber.
Mr. Weber. Dr. Lomborg, I think--and I came in late, and
didn't get to hear all of you all's testimony, I apologize, so
I am--I will go with what I have got. I believe you testified
you recommend $40 billion in research from the United States,
and my colleague down on the other side of the aisle said, you
know, go lobby this side of the aisle. How much luck have you
had lobbying China?
Dr. Lomborg. We asked some of the world's top economists
what are the smartest ways to deal with global warming, and
what they suggested was we should be spending 0.2 percent----
Mr. Weber. Are you lobbying China, and Russia----
Dr. Lomborg. Yes.
Mr. Weber. --and India?
Dr. Lomborg. Yes, but it is----
Mr. Weber. Okay.
Dr. Lomborg. --also important----
Mr. Weber. How much money are they investing?
Dr. Lomborg. Well, they are investing some money, but,
honestly, I don't know what----
Mr. Weber. Somewhere south of 40 billion, I suspect?
Dr. Lomborg. Yeah. Let us also say I am suggesting it is a
Mr. Weber. Okay.
Dr. Lomborg. --GDP, so they would be investing a lot less.
Mr. Weber. And this is a question for all three of you. Are
you all aware of the amount of energy required, alternating
current, to run an electrical grid, for example, the size of
the one in Texas, which is 85 percent of the state? Are you all
aware of how much energy is required, and how much of that is
alternating current, how much direct current, which would be
solar panels, produces for that grid? Dr.--is it Chameides,
Chameides? Are you aware of that?
Dr. Chameides. I don't know the numbers.
Mr. Weber. How about you, Dr. Curry?
Dr. Curry. I don't know the numbers, but I am doing
research related to wind energy generation----
Mr. Weber. Okay.
Dr. Curry. --and----
Mr. Weber. All right. Well, I own an air conditioning
company, and let me tell you, it is a huge amount of power
required to power a compressor to enable us to sit here today
without the windows open, with the lights on, and also to do
things like refrigerate your food. Just minor details.
Our quality of life is sustained by the energy that America
produces. The things that make America great are the things
that America makes. We have the most stable energy source in
the world, and that is not by accident. That is by
entrepreneurs getting out and developing their industry, and
risking their capital. And I will get off that soapbox for a
minute, and I will ask you all questions.
So--there is advocacy going on that the United States needs
to cut their CO2 emissions, while the rest of the
world, admittedly China, Mexico, India, and some of the other
countries will not. All that does is puts us at an economic
competitive disadvantage, and, in fact, would enable them to
perhaps become the world leader in the market economy. Our
quality of life would go down. We would export a lot of jobs
overseas. Without really knowing that global warming is
affecting us, are any of you able to adequately measure the
amount of a tree's ability to assimilate CO2 and
carbon dioxide, and to reproduce oxygen? Do we know that? Is
that factored into you all's thought process? Do we need to
plant more trees? Dr. Curry?
Dr. Curry. That is certainly a, you know, a good thing. It
would have many beneficial impacts on the environment----
Mr. Weber. Okay.
Dr. Curry. --but there are ways of natural sequestration of
Dr. Chameides. There are a variety of ways of using land,
farm land in particular, and forests, to what we call offset
the emissions from the energy grid, and allowing those offsets
into a system would greatly reduce the costs.
Mr. Weber. Okay. And let me--my time is running short here.
Dr. Chameides, I think you made the comment that the CO2
emissions from Model As and Model Ts are in still in the
atmosphere, and I am curious how you have been able to identify
those, because I can't tell them apart from the '56 Chevy I
drove in high school.
Dr. Chameides. I--they are playing ragtime music. No, I am
sorry, I apologize.
Mr. Weber. That is all right.
Dr. Chameides. So we--first of all, we know that the extra
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is largely coming from burning
of fossil fuels from isotopic data. And from that isotopic data
as well, we can estimate fairly well, accurately, how long a
carbon dioxide molecule ultimately stays in the atmosphere, in
a sense, after it has been emitted. And from those two things
we can estimate how much of the carbon dioxide that was
emitted, say, in 1920, or '15, or whenever it was----
Mr. Weber. Okay.
Dr. Chameides. --is still in the atmosphere today.
Mr. Weber. Okay. And then, lastly, if we are wrong on
global warming, and if global cooling results in the next--
does--that become the discussion in 40, or 50, or 75 years, how
does the United States recover from losing its market edge in
the world, from a policy standpoint? How do we recover from
that mistake? Dr. Curry?
Dr. Curry. Well, this is why I suggest we need to consider
a broad range of possible future climate scenarios on time
scales, you know, out to 3, 4, 5 decades, versus, you know,
this century. What may happen, you know, on the near term
decadal time scales may going in a different direction than the
longer term change, and I think those are the kinds of
scenarios that we need to consider if our policies are going to
Dr. Chameides. I guess I--with all due respect, I would
question the premise. I think we can intelligently come up with
a large portfolio of options and policy responses, including
investments in research and other types of activities that will
not substantially change our market position.
With regard to the China and other countries, I think, you
know, we need to recognize that it is a double-edged sword. We
are in a bit of a bind, because their emissions threaten our
well-being. And so it behooves us to not only worry about what
we are doing, but to engage with those countries to get them to
get--be serious about their emissions. And China is a strange
animal, but they have actually built a lot of coal fired power
plants, but they have also invested in a lot of renewable
energy. I think about 25 percent of their rebuilds----
Mr. Weber. Okay.
Dr. Chameides. --is----
Mr. Weber. And, I am sorry, I am out of time, but, Dr.
Lomborg, Mr. Chairman, if I may very quickly? How do we
Dr. Lomborg. Well, I think your point is well taken that
you are not going to see dramatic reductions if it actually
starts impacting people's life quality. And I think that is
really the argument for why we haven't done anything in the----
Mr. Weber. Thank you.
Dr. Lomborg. --last 20 years. So we need to find smarter
ways that is actually going to bind everyone together, and it
is going to be cheaper.
Mr. Weber. Thank you. I yield back the time I don't have.
Chairman Stewart. Yes, Mr. Weber. And I misspoke, you are
not the last questioner today.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much. And I did hear your
testimony, and I had to run off to the Foreign Affairs
Committee to see that we don't borrow money from China, in
order to give money to China, because of predictions of global
Now, I can remember at least 10 different occasions in my
memory of scientists who have said, case closed. Remember that
expression? Case closed, there is global warming. And I
remember my colleagues picking up on that, on the other side,
case closed. And you still hear that ringing, that--well, this
is--what--the change in the climate is due to man-made
activity, and this was done in order to suppress debate. Let me
just say that I have in 24 years in Congress, and I was a
journalist and a writer before that, and spent some time in the
White House, I have never heard such an effort go on among
academic people to cut off debate on an issue than this one. I
have never seen it before.
Let me ask you some specific questions. You have some
experts here now. It appears to me that the baseline for
deciding how much warming is taking place is around the 1850s.
And the baseline that we are talking about, in the 1850s,
happens to be at the very tail end of a couple hundred years of
what is recognized cooling. Have we come back to the point yet
that there was a natural thing before that cooling started. Is
the temperature of the Earth yet back to what it was before it
went through the mini-Ice Age? Are we back to that temperature
yet before the mini-Ice Age?
Dr. Curry. Well, there is debate about what the, you know,
what the global temperature was during, say, the medieval warm
period, and it is very hard to sample and infer all that. So
that is an area of active debate.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Do we have--anybody else have any
suggestions on that?
Dr. Chameides. A wide number of studies, in a variety of
different ways, indicate that the present day temperature is
warmer than it has been probably for at least 1,000 years or
longer. Let me just give you one----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Well--but, wait--but we don't know the----
Dr. Chameides. One----
Mr. Rohrabacher. One question. We don't know that--even if
it is hotter than it was before the decrease in temperature,
when we are claiming that this is some abnormal----
Dr. Chameides. It is higher----
Mr. Rohrabacher. --change?
Dr. Chameides. --than--it is higher than temperatures that
we have seen for 1,000 years, so it goes----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay.
Dr. Chameides. Okay.
Mr. Rohrabacher. All right.
Dr. Chameides. Let me just give you one simple example----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Yeah, you said it. The reason why I
stopped is to clarify that, because you said it is hard to
Dr. Chameides. No.
Mr. Rohrabacher. --but----
Dr. Chameides. There is----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay.
Dr. Chameides. These analyses are difficult, but there are
many of them. Let me just give you one example that I think
well illustrates what we are talking about.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Um-hum.
Dr. Chameides. There is a glacier in Peru, it is the--I
will--I am going to do a terrible job. I think it is Quelccaya
Glacier, that we have been following for rather a long time.
Ice that had been in that glacier continuously for 6,000 years
has recently melted. So, in other words, that glacier's ice has
been sitting there for 6,000 years, through the medieval warm
period, all this other stuff----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Um-hum.
Dr. Chameides. --and now it is melted. Those kinds of--that
kind of information sort of indicates to me, more than sort of
for me, anyway, that something unusual is going on.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Dr. Curry, do you agree with that?
Dr. Curry. Well, the issue of trying to infer globally what
the climate was like, you know, 1,000 years ago is very, very
difficult, you know, and so we have regional expressions, such
as what was mentioned. But how to infer what was going on
globally, you know, the estimates are very indirect, and,
Mr. Rohrabacher. Well, especially mankind's--when people
are advocating not just that we are in some kind of a warming
trend--I don't know anybody that denies that we have gone
through warming and cooling trends, but how much of this has
anything to do with human activity, and gives an excuse, by
government, to control human activity, meaning our lives and
our freedom? There is no way to know whether that glacier was
melting as a result of a natural trend, or by the fact that too
many people drive cars now, and too much combustion from--too
much CO2. There is no way to know what that--what
actually caused that glacier to go back.
Now, let me ask--people have told me that this melting in
the Arctic, that we actually had very similar meltings in the
Arctic in the 1930s. Is that correct?
Dr. Curry. Actually, the analogy was in the 1950s we saw a
melt back in the western Arctic, the European Arctic, that
wasn't quite as big as today. But in terms of, you know, trying
to put together this--hemispheric sea ice records prior to the
satellite era, prior to----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Um-hum.
Dr. Curry. --1979 is challenging. And----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Yeah.
Dr. Curry. --there is a lot of Russian data that really
needs to be incorporated. And there is an international effort,
trying to take the sea ice record back to 1880 in a more robust
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay. And I would like to know--when you
mentioned, Doctor, that we have the warmest nine years on
record now in the last nine years, what is on the record mean?
Where does that start at the----
Dr. Chameides. I meant----
Mr. Rohrabacher. --bottom of----
Dr. Chameides. --the instrumental record, yes.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Are we talking about the bottom of the
global cooling era there, those hundreds of years where you had
that mini-Ice Age? Is that what you are starting there as on
Dr. Chameides. Yes, but it is the warmest.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Yeah. So on the record there could mean
something, it could mean nothing. Because----
Dr. Chameides. Well----
Mr. Rohrabacher. If we are talking about using a baseline
that is way below some average, well, then that base--then it
Dr. Chameides. Well, your point is well taken, but the
other data that we have, this paleo climate data, would
indicate that the temperatures we have seen, not necessarily on
a decadal time scale, but several decadal time scales, are
warmer than we have seen for a long, long time. As I said----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Long, long time?
Dr. Chameides. --1,000 years, 2,000 years, something like
Mr. Rohrabacher. Before mankind existed, there were times
when more CO2 was in the air. We had times before
mankind existed when it was warmer. And when we had, before
mankind, cycles of warming and cooling. Maybe the sun has
something to do with it.
Chairman Stewart. And the gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you.
Chairman Stewart. Thank you.
I would like to thank the witnesses once again for your
valuable testimony, and for--the Members for their questions.
The Members of the Committee may have additional questions for
you, and we will ask you to respond to those in writing, if
that is the case. The record will remain open for two weeks for
additional comments and written questions from the Members.
Witnesses, once again, with our gratitude, you are excused, and
this hearing is now adjourned. Thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 11:20 a.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
Answers to Post-Hearing Questions
Answers to Post-Hearing Questions
Responses by Dr. Judith Curry
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED]
Responses by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED]
Additional Material for the Record
Submitted statement by Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member,
Committee on Science, Space and Technology
Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing today. Climate
change is one of the greatest challenges facing our Nation, and indeed,
the entire world. Unfortunately, since the Republican Party took over
the House in 2011, the issue of climate change has been largely
ignored. This is a problem that cannot be dismissed. Putting our heads
in the sand and hoping for the best is a recipe for disaster. So I am
glad we are having this hearing today, and I hope it is the first of
The science surrounding this issue reached a consensus a long time
ago, and that consensus is that the world is warming and most of that
warming is being caused by humans. In our own country, organizations
like the National Academy of Sciences, American Association for the
Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical
Union, American Meteorological Society, American Physical Society, and
the Geological Society of America have all acknowledged this. Moreover,
these prestigious organizations have been joined by national academies
of science from numerous countries around the world, including the
United Kingdom, France, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Russia, China, Brazil,
India, and Japan among many others. It has been reported that since
2007, not a single scientific society of national or international
standing maintains a formal opinion dissenting from this fundamental
point. The consensus is literally overwhelming.
Unfortunately, many of my colleagues in the Majority don't seem to
have gotten the memo. Many openly dispute the science or allude to some
unspecified but supposedly vast scientific conspiracy. Others, while
less conspiratorial, insist that nothing can be done about the problem.
This is a failure of leadership of the highest order.
Many prestigious organizations and individuals have laid out the
terrible economic consequences of inaction, including in recent reports
by the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. These organizations
also note that the brunt of these effects will be borne by people
around the world who can least afford to deal with them. A slow motion
human tragedy could be unfolding before our eyes, and it is
unconscionable for us to sit and watch it progress when we know how to
So I am happy we are having a hearing on this important issue. I am
also pleased that the Majority has called a witness, Dr. Lomborg, who
in both his current testimony and previous testimony in Congress, has
supported placing a price on carbon and dramatically increasing green
energy research investments. These types of solutions may not be easy,
but they are absolutely critical to ensure that we don't pass a
terrible problem onto our children and grandchildren.
Mr. Chairman, I hope that this hearing will mark the start of a
serious conversation on the Committee about climate change, and I hope
it will be followed by hearings with testimony by the organizations