« PreviousContinue »
prove the modeling substantially. I think this legislation is a positive step forward in the sense that it is bipartisan and tries to answer the many uncertainties involved with this issue.
My concerns with the legislation are the costs, which are substantial, and whether or not creating a new bureaucracy in the Department of Energy and in the White House is going to enhance our ability to deal with this challenging problem or whether it is going to make it even more difficult. It authorizes some $4.8 billion, and I am interested in finding out how much is already appropriated to various agencies and departments for climate change and whether or not there is an overlap in terms of the funding.
In addition, I would like to make sure that the new offices in the Department of Energy and the White House actually reduce bureaucratic burden instead of increasing it. I want to again underscore what Senator Thompson said, and that is the National Academy of Sciences, in their report, said, “Because there is considerable uncertainty in current understanding of how the climate system varies naturally and reacts to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, current estimates of the magnitude of future warming should be regarded as tentative and subject to future adjustments either upward or downward, and reducing the wide range of uncertainty inherent in current model predictions of global climate change will require major advances in understanding and modeling of both the factors that determine atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and aerosols and the so-called feedbacks that determine the sensitivity of the climate system and prescribed increase in greenhouse gases. There is also a pressing need for a global observing system designed for monitoring climate.”
It is really important that Senator Byrd and Senator Stevens are trying to bring some more objective evaluation of where we are to this subject. Would you agree that we need a whole lot more work in this area?
Mr. HANSEN. Yes, absolutely. I have been arguing for some years that—some people would say that the error bars that we have on these forcings are actually underestimated—that we have to measure what things are actually changing. If we are going to project the future, we have to know what is happening now.
Mr. KARL. There is absolutely no question, as I indicated in my oral statement, that we need fundamental observations for the long-term, not just a 2- or 3-year effort. We need to make sure that we put into place an observing system that can guarantee 50 years from now that we will know what actually happened to some of these very important variables that we have discussed here today.
Senator VoINOVICH. This legislation funds clean-coal technology, and Dr. Hansen, you mentioned that. With your understanding of the science today, do you believe it is possible to address the concerns of the climate change proponents and continue to rely upon the burning of our current coal levels?
Mr. HANSEN. Coal has at least two it has several emissions. Black carbon is one of them. I think that scrubbing the sulfate and the black carbon is something that can be done. I think that, as you have mentioned, the technology for that has been worked on. That will take care of part of the problem. In the long-run, if coal needs, we may also need to actually capture the CO2. That is possible, and there are now experiments intended to prove that this can be done in an economic way and we can dispose of the CO2. There are experiments where this is being tested, the CO2 injected into the ocean, and the ocean can absorb it all. So I think that it is technically possible. We need to support that technology, but it will raise a practical issue because it will increase the cost. We need to make sure that it is not so costly that it would discourage some countries from actually using it.
Senator VOINOVICH. Do you think that it could be compensated with more attention to carbon sinks?
Mr. HANSEN. Carbon sinks, if you mean in the biosphere of forests and soils, there is a limit as to how much you can put there. It can help, but by itself, that is not sufficient if we, in fact, continue to have fossil fuels as a major energy source.
Senator VOINOVICH. And what do you think of nuclear power?
Mr. HANSEN. Again, these types of issues, of course, have to be decided by the people through the representatives, and as you know, there are pros and cons to each of these. Nuclear power, from our standpoint as climate scientists, we can say, "Well, it looks great from that standpoint." It produces essentially no CO2. So, if it were acceptable, then that is certainly a good candidate for an energy source.
Senator VOINOVICH. I know that you seem to be reluctant to comment about the organizational structure, when you were asked a question earlier.
Mr. HANSEN. I do not think it is appropriate really, for me to do that.
Senator VOINOVICH. May I ask you this? We have the Department of Energy, President Clinton had a task force with the Council on Environmental Quality in the White House, and there are many agencies right now that are dealing with this issue. From your observation, do you think that these activities are well coordinated?
Mr. HANSEN. I think there is a NAS report—Mr. Karl can put in his word here, too, but I think there is pretty widespread agreement that it is not as coordinated as it should be.
Mr. KARL. As I mentioned earlier, this is an exceedingly complex issue, ranging from understanding the physical aspects of the climate system down to the impacts, and I must tell you one of the most frustrating experiences as a scientist is when you try and go interdisciplinary and try and link up the information from one specific scientific specialty to others, to really understand almost every problem we have, relate to multiple stresses. It really requires a lot of coordination. So the statement that it is not nearly as well-coordinated as it could be, I think goes without saying.
Senator VOINOVICH. So you would both agree that, whether through this proposed legislation or some other vehicle, there is a need for better coordination between all of the agencies that are dealing with this problem?
Mr. KARL. Yes.
Chairman LIEBERMAN. Thanks, Senator Voinovich. Senator ColOPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR COLLINS Senator COLLINS. I want to begin by thanking you for holding this hearing. Climate change is a serious and growing problem. Global temperatures have increased by approximately 1 degree over the last 100 years. According to the scientific community, much of this warming is likely due to human activities that have increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. This warming is expected to accelerate. The best predictions forecast an increase in global temperatures of anywhere from 2.5 to 10 degrees by the end of the next century.
According to a report recently prepared by the National Academy of Sciences, such warming could well have serious adverse effects, including droughts, floods, sea level rise, and far-reaching changes to ecosystems. Senator Byrd and Senator Stevens deserve praise for their efforts to address the difficult issue of climate change by crafting legislation that would position the United States to address climate change in a comprehensive manner and with adequate resources.
I am therefore very pleased to join the Senators as a co-sponsor of their legislation. By more than doubling authorized funds for research and development to create new technologies to deal with climate change, this legislation would significantly advance the United States' efforts to address climate change, as well as better position the United States to become a leader in the energy technologies of the future. The Climate Change Strategy and Technology Innovation Act is an important step in creating an appropriate U.S. response to climate change.
But, Mr. Chairman, I would suggest that it is not the only step that we should take. We also need to continue making improvements in energy efficiency, further develop our renewable energy resources, and take action to reduce emissions. In fact, the Chairman and I are co-sponsors of legislation that would attempt to bring about those changes. By taking these actions in combination with the groundbreaking legislation proposed by Senator Byrd and Senator Stevens, I believe that we can create an energy strategy that will save consumers money, make America less dependent on foreign energy sources, and protect society and the environment from the detrimental effects of climate change.
Mr. Chairman, I am very fortunate to have on my staff a climatologist. I suspect that I may be the only Senator who is not a member of the Environment Committee that has a climatologist on my staff, and I have to tell you that he speaks very highly of the work done by the two scientists who are appearing before us today.
Dr. Karl, my staff tells me that you have done groundbreaking work on the analysis of global temperature trends, and your work has made a significant contribution to our knowledge of global warming. Given your expertise on measuring temperature trends, could you discuss an issue that I understand has been hotly debated with climate change, on the differing results between groundlevel and satellite measurements of temperature trends.
I understand that ground-level measurements have often shown greater warming than satellite measurements. So the question that ments or are ground temperatures really warming faster than those in the lower atmosphere?
Mr. KARL. That is a very good question, Senator, and I will try to briefly answer that. As I indicated earlier to Senator Thompson, that if we take a look at the temperatures in the middle part of the troposphere, they have been measured by satellites since 1979. If we go back farther in time, using weather balloons, we can get an estimate of the temperatures in the middle part of the troposphere back to 1960. If we see what is happening at the surface and compare that to the middle part of the troposphere, we find a reasonably consistent picture over that longer 40-year period. If we focus on the last 20 years, we find a significant difference.
Part of that difference, we think we understand in terms of the timing. It is a short record, remember, 20 years, the timing of El Nino events, the timing of volcanic eruptions-Mount Pinutubo, for example, all have big effects in a short record. Also the way in which the Earth is sampled differently from ground-based measurements compared to balloons and from satellite data impacts the difference. So we can go some way toward explaining the difference in the last 20 years, but part of that difference still remains unexplained and it is one of the challenges of the scientific community to understand.
Now, are there still problems with both surface and tropospheric temperature measurements? Certainly we try to put error bounds on the data, and we think even given the error bounds that we put on these two different sets of measurements, in the troposphere and at the surface, there still remains an unexplained physical difference that we do not quite have resolved yet today.
Senator COLLINS. Thank you.
Dr. Hansen, I have a question for you, also. In your written testimony, you speak extensively of the importance of combating air pollution as a means of addressing climate change. As you point out, this would have substantial collateral benefits. Your statistics on the impact of air pollution in Europe are really stunning: 40,000 deaths and 500,000 asthma cases a year in France, Switzerland, and Austria alone. In your judgment, does the Kyoto Protocol adequately and efficiently address the global warming impacts of black carbon and other forms of air pollution?
Mr. HANSEN. No, it does not. It, in fact, does not include black carbon. It does not include tropospheric ozone. As you notice in my chart, if you add up our estimates of those two forcings, it is comparable to that of CO2, and I think it is important that they be included. Given the difficulty, the cost of the kind of agreements that you would need for the Kyoto Protocol, I just do not see us having two of these. So I think it makes much more sense to combine the air pollution issue and the CO2 issue, otherwise we are just not giving enough attention to this aspect of the problem.
I do not know how many people are dying from global warming right now, but I do not think it is very many, and I do not think there are as many people being affected by that. So it is just inappropriate to neglect this air pollution aspect.
Senator COLLINS. And that does appear to be a significant weakness of the Kyoto Protocol.
Senator COLLINS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman LIEBERMAN. Thanks very much, Senator Collins. I remember being at a seminar on global warming in which
this was one of those Aspen programs in which we had a bunch of scientists talking to a bunch of us members of Congress, and one member of the House, who happened to be a Republican, at the end said-it was Jim Greenwood who said, “So let me get this straight,” to the scientists, “If you are right," and they were mostly very proactive about global warming, “and we take appropriate remedial action, we will have saved the planet as we know it. And if you are hyperventilating a bit, all we will have done is to clean up the air and keep a lot of people healthier than they otherwise would be." So, not a bad trade-off. Thank you.
Senator Bennett, thanks for being here.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR BENNETT Senator BENNETT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. If I may, I would respond to that with another set of trade-offs. There is no agreement in the scientific community about what is causing global warming. There are hypotheses that are vigorously argued one side or the other. There is, as nearly as I can tell, absolute agreement in the economic community that Kyoto would be a disaster, economically, to the United States, if it were to be put into place. My point is that the greatest enemy of the environment is poverty.
Dr. Hansen has talked about India and the brown cloud that hangs over India. The reason India puts up with that is not that they like air pollution, but that they cannot afford in their economy the kind of scrubbers that we have. So if we go chasing down the cliff, and I consider it a cliff, of Kyoto, we run the risk of impoverishing the economy that drives the rest of the world, and thereby end up with people in underdeveloped countries causing greater global warming than otherwise. So I would have argued with your Republican friend if I had been present at that particular Aspen Institute.
Dr. Hansen, I do not want to mousetrap you or blindside you in any way. I have here a report written by Patrick Michaels. Are you familiar with Mr. Michaels?
Mr. HANSEN. Yes, I am.
Senator BENNETT. Rather than debate it, I would ask you to supply for the record your rebuttal to Mr. Michaels' argument, so that those who do not know what we are talking about will understand this. I am quoting from this report, he says, “NASA scientists—on June 23, 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen testified before the House that there was a strong cause-and-effect relationship between observed temperatures and human emissions into the atmosphere," and then you presented a model based on that assumption where you predicted an increase of .45 degrees centigrade from 1988 to 1997, and Mr. Michaels has a chart where he shows that prediction was wrong on the high side by a fairly significant amount.
I would appreciate it if you would respond to that chart and give