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Representative Mike Doyle (PA-18)
Subcommittee on Energy & Environment
Hearing: Countdown to Kyoto

October 7, 1997

Although I remain concerned about some of the scientific evidence that seems to provide the underpinning of the Administration's thinking on climate change, I enter this hearing with an open mind.

I suppose that as this debate proceeds, I am going to find myself in the middle. Advocates of acting on climate change will look towards binding emissions resurictions as the best way to address this issue. Critics of the Administration's climate change policy will say that the potential problems have no firm scientific basis.

It is unrealistic to wait until there is absolute scientific consensus before acting on climate change concerns. However, to look at this as merely a regulatory challenge is misguided, as is the idea that a domestic carbon tax will yield the desired result of reducing global CO2 emissions.

If we are going to commit ourselves to a course of action that is not even-handed . one which calls on the U.S. to take steps that other nations are exempted from - then we should seek a solution which will create jobs and result in economic growth. If we in Congress are going to make demands on the American people to achieve emissions reductions, then it is incumbent upon us to provide direction and support for this effort.

This direction and support must go beyond regulations and taxes. I urge the Administration to look at emissions reduction as a challenge to our scientific and technological know-how, not as an opportunity to burden major segments of our economy.

To the extent that global change poses a threat to our long-term well-being, it is important that we be clear on the effectiveness of various control strategies. Since today's hearing focuses on the scientific basis of climate change, I am anxious to hear how some of the various proposals on the table would play out in reality. There are several control strategies out there, but are we sure that they solve any of the problems we have.

For example, a just-released study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that under the one proposal examined in detail (the Netherlands proposal to reduce CO2 emissions by 2% annually after 2000), the reduction in the global temperature increase in 2100 could be as low as 0.1°C. (The range was 0.1°C to 0.9°C.) The study also found that if developing countries do not limit their emissions, then "[n]one of the emission limitation proposals would lead to anything approaching CO, stabilization."

Making the U.S. and other developed countries carry the burden is more than just a question of equity. It is likely that this approach will not yield the desired results for the environment. Even if the models predicting a warming of 1.0°C to 3.5°C by 2100 are correct, I have very deep concerns that none of the proposals under consideration will have a meaningful impact on global climate.

In conclusion, I want to reiterate my hope that the Administration will work with those of us who have real misgivings about what we are looking to achieve in Kyoto. There is still an opportunity to deal with climate change in a fair and logical way; I hope that those setting Administration policy in this area will recognize this and act accordingly.


Mr. COBURN. Thank you. I just wanted to follow up a little bit on that, Dr. Patrinos. You—I believe you just said as a matter of fact that the load of CO2 in the upper atmosphere is going to be there and we are, in fact, not based on a model, not based on a best guess, but we're, in fact, not going to-we're not going to be able to change that. You-was that your statement?

Mr. PATRINOS. That's correct.

Mr. COBURN. So, to you that is scientific fact that we're going to have global warming and what we've just heard is we've heard a whole bunch of models that we have also had testimony that we don't know everything that's going to fit in that model. So, explain to me how you can say, without a doubt, on a factual basis that that's going to happen when we've just had testimony that the models are incomplete, that, in fact, we don't know that.

Mr. PATRINOS. Well, the models are incomplete because they represent a very complex system. However, the investments we have made in research over the last 20 years have greatly increased our confidence in their ability to basically predict climate change. So

Mr. COBURN. So, you're saying with 100 percent confidence level that the CO2 load in the atmosphere that we're going to have today will, without a doubt, we will have increasing temperatures between, and I believe your earlier testimony, one-and-a-half to three degrees between now and the Year 2100?

Mr. PATRINOS. In scientific endeavors, Mr. Coburn, nothing is ever 100 percent. Scientists

Mr. COBURN. Exactly. That's why I asked you the question, because you said it as fact and that's why I'm challenging it, the way you said it.

Mr. PATRINOS. Science is an inherently messy process. It has lots of fits and starts and dead ends and surprises. At some point, one needs to express his confidence in some scientific result. This is one case where I am very, very confident about the prediction that I made. But I can certainly not say it is 100 percent.

Mr. COBURN. Okay.
Mr. PATRINOS. That would require a prescience that I don't have.


CHANGE Mr. COBURN. Then let me ask you a follow-up question, if I might be able to. Is—if, in fact, we truly reduced emissions, let's say 50 percent below what the 1990 levels, can you say with a certainty, as much certainty as you just said we were going to have warming, that we would slow the warming that we presently see? With the I'm saying with certainty?

Mr. COBURN. Fine.

Mr. PATRINOS. I would use the same certainty that, to some extent, the warming would be slowed.

CONFIDENCE OF GLOBAL WARMING PROJECTIONS Mr. COBURN. Okay. Thank you. Dr. Prinn, is it, in your opinion, is it necessary-does science that we have today, the models that we have today, does science say it is necessary to reduce emissions?

Mr. PRINN. Let me put it this way. I don't think scientists at the present time can rule out the rapid warming pathways. Under those circumstances and remembering that the greenhouse gases we're talking about will last for decades to centuries, then I think that's why we need to think about policy right now and why we need to do something right now. You're taking a risk until scientists can rule out those rapid warming pathways. And so, it's not a matter of seeking 100 percent certainty that we're on one of those pathways at the moment, although I do think if the fingerprint issue were carefully worked on by scientists that might provide a calibration. But, as I said in my testimony, what I think and what my-I and my colleagues think needs to be done at the present time to really address this issue is to think very carefully about new technologies, first and foremost, and second, to think about the ways in which political agreements can be made with all of the countries of the world so that those technologies, as they are invented and become implemented, that they can be used worldwide because that's the only way we'll get out of this real tough position that we could be heading toward. We've sort of got to prepare our forces, as it were, to use if necessary.

POPULATION CONTROL AND CLIMATE CHANGE Mr. COBURN. Let me follow up with each of the other gentlemen. Recently, Vice President Gore made some statements that struck me that his solution for solving many of our problems is population control and the fact that we need to make greater availability of population control and abortion services throughout the world as part of our policy. Would it be your opinion that population growth and the indirect expansion of use of fossil fuels, etc., would be something that we, as a policy of the government, this government, should be in the business of to limit global warming since we've made the connection? And, please, each of you answer, if you will.

Mr. ROBOCK. Well, if—it depends how much energy each person uses. If people—if there are more people and they continue to use energy with current technology, indeed, they will produce more CO2 and produce more global warming. If the United States does nothing and how can we expect, say, a businessman in India who's told to cut his CO2 emissions or a person in China who wants a refrigerator or a car, say, you can't do it but everybody in the United States is doing it, everybody in the developed world is doing it, how can you expect them to make any changes at all if we don't set an example of using new technologies so that each person in the world can live at a high standard of living like we have but without using so much energy, not making the same mistakes we did with the environment.

Mr. COBURN. Okay. So, I want to get you back to the question, though. The question was that should we be active in our policy to limit population growth around the rest of the world? That was my question.

Mr. ROBOCK. If there are more people and they use more greenhouse gas-produce more greenhouse gases, that will cause a large change in climate. So, whether it should be our policy to do that, that's not really my area of expertise. But, if there were fewer people, if the population grew more slowly, then there would be less climate change.

Mr. COBURN. Dr. Prinn?

Mr. PRINN. On the population issue, surely this is a no-brainer. Of course, you know, the slower the population rise in the world going into the future, the less of all sorts of environmental problems we will have. I don't think you have to be a policy wonk or an expert in anything to sort of recognize that. It seems to me very obvious.

Mr. COBURN. Okay.
Mr. SPENCER. I don't have an expert opinion on that question.
Mr. PATRINOS. Neither do I.

FRAGILE VS. RESILIENT EARTH Mr. COBURN. I haven't heard-Dr. Spencer, I heard you talk about this in terms of resiliency but I would-you know, one of the I deliver babies as a profession. And, you know, we still don't understand why a woman doesn't discard her baby as foreign genetic material. I mean, we still don't understand that in terms of immunology but, nevertheless, that happens. I'm having trouble understanding the lack of models appreciating the fact that we have a-kind of a balanced environment in the world and that the scientific idea that to every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction and I haven't heard that in the testimony on global warming, that, in fact, that the Earth should have the potential, through other changes in other aspects of variables that affect the climate, that if, in fact, we do harm, as we obviously have with some of our emissions, harm the balance that which we either warm or cool, that there should be other equal and opposite reactions within this global balance that would take care of that. Why–have we accounted for that in the models and have we seen some samples or examples where that's, in fact, happened? Dr. Spencer.

Mr. SPENCER. That's a good point because the history of GCMs is that, I think without exception, if they put our best knowledge of the physics into the equations in these GCMs and run them, they don't produce a realistic temperature and, in fact, they drift away from a realistic climate. And, of course, they all have to use fudge factors in order to get the predicted temperature to come out right. And that's evidence of just what you're saying, that there are physical processes which aren't included in the models yet which bring the system back to a state of equilibrium. And I think we're still in the developmental stage and we don't have all those physical processes yet that bring the system back to equilibrium in the model.

Mr. COBURN. Dr. Robock, I've noticed you.

Mr. ROBOCK. I don't agree. The models conserve energy, they conserve mass, they conserve water. They do represent the basic physics of the system. If you put more energy in then is being taken out, the climate warms. And the rate at which it cools, the rate at which it warms, is built into the models. You have a certain

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