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Mr. ROHRABACHER. Just to let you know, and I respect each and every one of the panelists today, I mentioned earlier that I am a journalist by profession.
We were taught as journalists to put the most important item right up front. That is the lead of the story. Now in the academic world it is just the opposite, as you lead up to your most important point.
Mr. ŘOHRABACHER. When it comes to situations like this where we have about five minutes, I know how frustrating it must be to be trained in the academic profession and not be able to lead up to your point because, just as you get there, you have run out of time. So we will try to accommodate you, but if we could try to keep it as close to five minutes as possible so we can get some dialogue, and you can then actually expand upon your points.
Mr NIERENBERG. Mr. Chairman, can I respond very briefly to that? I have a special problem. I understand that very well.
You see, several of the speakers now have spoken about hundreds, and even millennia, you see, in terms of this decay period. This is a very crucial policy issue, and I did not want to respond the same way just by saying it is 100 years and letting it go at that.
That is the crucial issue as far as you are concerned, you the Congress.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Thank you, Doctor, we will be discussing that.
Mr. Gardiner? STATEMENT OF DAVID GARDINER, ASSISTANT ADMINIS
TRATOR, OFFICE OF POLICY, PLANNING AND EVALUATION, U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Mr. GARDINER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to be here to discuss the EPA report entitled The Probability of Sea Level Rise, which we released on October 27th, 1995.
This report provides estimates of the impact of climate change on coastline seal level elevations and is the first to attach not “predictions” but “probabilities” to different projections of sea level rise.
This report builds on previous scientific studies, reconfirming the likely risk of sea level rise and reinforcing our concerns regarding the resulting environmental and economic impacts.
It also projects that global warming will worsen sea level rise significantly unless actions are taken to avoid it.
Let me say at the outset that we believe there is a strong scientific consensus on the following facts:
First, the sea is rising now, a trend that is confirmed by measurement data from the last 100 years.
Second, the sea will continue to rise over the next century and beyond.
Third, climate models are getting more accurate over time and are important for understanding future potential climate changes.
Fourth, there is a growing scientific consensus that human-induced climate change is a reality.
And fifth, the uncertainties surrounding our projections of sea level rise are narrowing.
The EPA report is the product of sound science and increases our confidence in the estimates of sea level rise.
Now let me briefly summarize the reasons both why we did the report, the methods we used in developing the report, and the basic conclusions of the report.
First, EPA undertook this report because we are committed to doing the best possible science on issues that affect our environment.
Such research provides vital information to the public, decisionmakers, and other government agencies to assist them in doing the best possible job of managing our environmental resources.
Increasing sea level poses significant risks to our environment. . Some of these effects are potentially catastrophic and irreversible.
A sea level rise corresponding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate changes' latest best estimate, and EPA's 50 percent best estimate for the year 2100, could drown approximately 15 to 60 percent of our coastal wetlands, depending on whether they could migrate inland or whether levees and bulkheads block their migration.
Inundate more than 5,000 square miles, an area the size of Connecticut, of dry land in the United States if no protective actions are taken.
Areas at highest risk from sea level rise are areas currently experiencing rapid erosion rates and with very low geographic relief such as parts of the United States Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
In addition, a large and growing proportion of the Nation's population, facilities, and development is or are being located along the coasts.
Coastal development decisions are being made every day-decisions which are sensitive to sea level rise. Far-sighted policy making requires planning for the future to ensure that our efforts make economic and environmental sense.
That is what our report is all about. Helping coastal planners, engineers, and government agencies and the public carry out their responsibilities to protect the future of the coastal environment for the American public by providing them with information so that they can make better-informed, common-sense cost-effective decisions to protect coastal areas and structures, personal property, and coastal weapons in their particular communities.
Perhaps as important as why EPA did the report is how EPA did the report is how EPA did the report, and this, Mr. Chairman, gets at the question you were discussing with Mr. Guerrero at the end of the last panel.
Using existing models, including those from the IPCC, EPA conducted a study of the probable effects of global warming on sea level rise.
As part of a rigorous review process, reviews were sought and received from over 20 prominent members of the U.S. and international scientific community. I would indicate on the chart that is over here on the easel, the list of those 20 prominent scientists. I think their views represent a cross-section of the beliefs on the likely effects of climate change, as well as its impacts on sea level
The agency went a step further and incorporated the reviewers' best estimates of the parameters most important to estimating the extent and probability of sea level rise.
We solicited expert opinions on a variety of key factors. All of the estimates, from skeptics to supporters of global climate change and sea level rise were used and were given equal weight in deriving the results of this study.
The reviews also supported the statistical viability and universal acceptance of the quantitative methods used in the study.
I would also note that a paper by the authors will shortly be published as a distinguished scientific journal.
Finally, the results:
The EPA report estimates, and what we believe to be the best estimate, is that of the 50 percent chance of sea level rising 18 inches or 45 centimeters by the year 2100, with more than twothirds of that increase attributable to a warming in the Earth's atmosphere.
The EPA report attaches probabilities of 10 percent and 1 percent, respectively, to its estimates on the 29 and 44 inch rise by 2100.
We estimate a 90 percent change of an 8-inch rise.
Estimates of sea level rise vary substantially by locality due to local coastal conditions, and if we can actually, it is the next chart-for example, by 2100 there is again a 50 percent change that the sea will rise 13 inches in Los Angeles, 20 inches in Miami Beach, 22 inches in Boston, 27 inches in Atlantic City, 38 inches in Galveston, 55 inches in Grand Isle, Louisiana. [Chart 2]
I would like to note the agreement and general consistency between the EPA and IPCC sea level rise estimates.
Again, if we look at the next chart, we can see that there is substantial consistency between the best estimate by the IPCC which projects a 19-inch increase by the year 2100, very close to EPA's estimate of 18 inches. (Chart 3)
We are in close agreement with IPCC's low estimate of an 8-inch rise for which we estimate a high likelihood probability of 90 percent. I will conclude shortly.
In summary, the probability of sea level rise is an example of EPA's commitment to sound science. I am confident that this study adds substantially to the scientific literature on sea level rise and breaks new ground in making available realistic and useful estimates of the probability of sea level rise to decision makers, scientists, and the public.
Ultimately this report will help decision makers make common sense, cost-effective decisions to protect our coastal areas.
November 16, 1900
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the EPA report entitled The Probablity of Sea
Level Rise, which was released on October 27, 1995. This repart provides estimates of
the impact of cilmate change on coastline sea level elevations and is the first to attach
probabilities to different projections of sea lovel rise. This report builds on previous
studies, and both reconfirms the likely risk of sea level riso and reinforces our concerns regarding the resulting environmental and economic impacts. This is part of EPA's
offorts to assess environmental risks, as well as to estimate the benefits and costs of
My fellow panelists from the General Accounting Office, the U.S. Global Change
Ressarch Program, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy will be addressing
the general issue of climate modeling, their use in projecting potential impacts of global
climate change, and the conclusions of the IPCC Second Assessment Report. I will
therstore focus my testimony on the EPA report on sea level rise. I would like to say up front that there is a strong scientific consensus on the following facts: (1) the sea is rising now and measurement data from the last 100 years confirms this fact; (2) the sea
will continue to rise over the next century and beyond; (3) climate models are getting better over time and are important for understanding future potential climate changes; (4) there is a growing consensue that human-Induced climate change is a reality, and (5) the uncertainties surrounding our projections of sea level riso are narrowing. The
EPA raport is the product of good science and increases our confidence in the
estimates of een loval rise.
Increasing sea lovel povas significant risks to our environment. The 1989 EPA Report
to Congress, The Potential Elects of Global Climate Change on the United States,
concluded that a rise in sea level would inundata wetlands and lowlands, accelerate
coastal erosion, exacerbate coastal flooding, thrasten coastal structures, and increase
the sallnity of rivers, bays and aquifers. This can result in loss of habitat for fish,
migratory birds and other species and lost recreational opportunities for humans. Some
of these effects are potentially catastrophic and irreversible. A sea level nise
comesponding to the IPCC's latest best estimate and EPA's 50 percent estimate for the
year 2100 could:
Drown approximately 15 to 80 percent of our coastal wotlands, depending on
whether they could migrate inland or whether levoss and bulkheads block their
migration. With current sea level trends already threatening the wetlands of
Louisiana, any additional sea level rive caused by climate chango will
exacerbate the problem.