« PreviousContinue »
Costs and Benefits of Efforts to Mitigate Warming If mankind had to choose between a warmer or a cooler climate, humans, most other animals and, after adjustment, most plants would be better off with higher temperatures. Not all animals or plants would prosper under these conditions; many are adapted to the current weather and might have difficulty making the transition. Society might wish to help natural systems and various species adapt to warmer temperatures (or cooler, should that occur). Whether the climate will warm is far from certain; that it will change is unquestionable. The weather has changed in the past and will no doubt continue to vary in the future. Human activity is likely to play only a small and uncertain role in climate change. The burning of fossil fuel may generate an enhanced greenhouse effect or the release into the atmosphere of particulates may cause cooling. It may also be simply hubris to believe that Homo Sapiens can affect significantly temperatures, rainfall and winds.
As noted, not all regions or all peoples benefit from a shift to a warmer climate. Some locales may become too dry or too wet; others may become too warm. Certain areas may be subject to high pressure systems which block storms and rains. Other parts may experience the reverse. On the whole, though, mankind should benefit from an upward tick in the thermometer. Warmer weather means longer growing seasons, more rainfall overall, and fewer and less violent storms. The optimal way to deal with potential climate change is not to strive to prevent it, a useless activity in any case, but to promote growth and prosperity so that people will have the resources to deal with any shift.
It is much easier for a rich country such as the United States to adapt to any long term shift in weather than it is for poor countries, most of which are considerably more dependent on agriculture than the rich industrial nations. Such populations lack the resources to aid their flora and fauna in adapting, and many of their farmers earn too little to survive a shift to new conditions. These agriculturally dependent societies could suffer real hardship if the climate shifts quickly. The best preventive would be a rise in incomes, which would diminish their dependence on agriculture. Higher earnings would provide them with the resources to adjust.
Should warming become apparent at some time in the future and should it create more difficulties than benefits, policy makers would have to consider preventive measures. Based on history, however, global warming is likely to be positive for most of mankind while the additional carbon, rain, and warmth should also promote plant growth that can sustain an expanding world population. Global change is inevitable; warmer is better, richer is healthier.
Bibliography Ammerman, Albert J. and L.L. Cavalli-Sforze. (1984). The Neolithic Transition and the
Genetics of Populations in Europe, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.. Bartlett, Robert (1993). The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural
Change 950-1350, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Boserup, Ester. (1981). Population and Technological Change: A Study of Long-Term
Trends, Chicago: University of Chicago.
Carruth, Gorton. (1993). The Encyclopedia of World Facts and Dates, New York: Harper
Chao, Kang (1986). Man and Land in Chinese History: An Economic Analysis, Stanford
CA: Stanford University Press.
Cheetham, Nicolas. (1981). Mediaeval Greece, New Haven: Yale University Press..
London: Yale University Press.
National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine (1991). Policy
Implications of Greenhouse Warming, Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Crowley, Thomas J. and Gerald North, (1991). Paleoclimatology, New York: Oxford
Deland, Antoinette (1987). Fielding's Far Eası, New York: Fielding Travel Books. Folland, C.K., T.R. Karl, N. Nicholls, B.S. Nyenzi, D.E. Parker, & K. Ya. Vinnikov,
(1992). “Observed Climate Variability and Change,” Intergovemmental Panel on
Climate Change, Climate Change 1992, Cambridge, England: University Press. Giles, Bill (1990). The Story of Weather, London: HMSO. Gimpel, Jean (1983). The Cathedral Builders, trans. by Teresa Waugh, London: Pimlico
Kane, Sally, John Reilly, & James Tobey (1991). Climate Change: Economic
Implications for World Agriculture, Resources and Technology Division,
Economic Report No. 647 (October).
European Forests, 1971 to 1990,” Science, (April 3). Ko-chen, Chu (1973). "A Preliminary Study on the Climatic Fluctuations During the last
5,000 years in China," Scientia Sinica, 16(2) (May).
Kremer, Michael (1993). “Population growth and Technological Change: One Million
B.C. to 1990,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 108(3) (August).
University Press, Vol. 2 1985.
Lamb, Hubert H. (1982). Climate, History and the Modern World, New York: Methuen.
papers, London and New York: Routledge.
Modern Chronologically Arranged, 4th edition, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Levenson, Thomas (1989). Ice Time: Climate, Science, and Life on Earth, New York.
McNeill, William H. (1963). The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community,
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Mendelsohn, Robert, William D. Nordhaus, and Daigee Shaw (1994). “The Impact of
Global Warming on Agriculture: A Ricardian Analysis,” The American Economic
Parry, M., T. Carter, and N. Konijn eds., (1988). The Impact of Climatic Variations on
Agriculture, Vol. 1: assessments in Cool Temperate and Cold regions, Vol. 2:
Schelling, Thomas C. (1992). “Some Economics of Global Warming," American
Economic Review (March).
Van Doren, Charles (1991). A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future, New
York: Ballantine Books.
Van Kooten, G.C. (1990). “Climate Change Impacts on Forestry: Economic Issues,"
Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics 38, pp. 701-710.
Holocene," Quaternary Research 4, 9-24.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. That was very interesting, that last observation or analysis was especially interesting.
Dr. Corell? STATEMENT OF ROBERT W. CORELL, PH.D., ASSISTANT DIREC.
TOR FOR GEOSCIENCES, NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION; AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON GLOBAL CHANGE RESEARCH
Mr. CORELL. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, it is a pleasure for me to be here today and I thank you for that opportunity.
It is my honor to be here to testify on behalf of the Departments and Agencies that support and implement the U.S. Global Change Program.
While this panel is focusing on impacts, my responsibility I think here today is to talk about the research strategies that lie behind our modelling efforts and the research strategies that help us support our studies of impacts.
I have two things I would like to do, in summary.
One is to paint an overall picture of the strategy that underpins the global change program, and secondly to make some summary comments drawn from Panel One on the issue of modelling,
The U.S. Global Change Program is comprised of activities in 15 federal research agencies that support scientific research, as well as the planning and oversight activities that reside in the Executive Office of the President.
Together we plan, integrate, coordinate, and implement the programs and activities that comprise the U.S. Global Change Program.
We do that because it brings the unique capabilities of each of these agencies in an interlocked manner to give a holistic program of research addressing global change issues.
The program was established actually by President Reagan and forwarded to the Congress as a Presidential initiative in the budget for 1990.
It was formalized by the Congress through Public Law 101-606, the Global Change Research Act. It is within that framework that the program operates.
It is designed by law to provide for the development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated U.S. research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.
It further defines the scope fairly broadly to changes in the global environment, including alterations in climate, land productivity, oceans and other water resources, atmospheric chemistry, and ecological systems that may alter the capacity of the earth to sustain life. That is a very broad charge.
We take that seriously. To get some sense of priority, we have constrained our activities to five topical areas addressing seasonal to interannual climate fluctuations such as those resolving around El Nijo.
Secondly, to address the climate change issue that occurs over Thirdly, to deal with the stratospheric ozone issue, its depletion, and increased UVV radiation.
Fourthly, to look at changes in land cover, land use, and how the terrestrial and rain ecosystem function and respond to these changes.
And finally, a long-term fundamental research to understand how this planet ticks, what makes it function, and what are its major characteristics and behavior?
Now to do that, we have designed programs to observe, to document, to look at process studies that help us understand the process, develop modeling strategies that look both in the past and the present and the future; to look at this issue of impacts or consequences of change; and to develop new techniques and methodologies that assist decision makers in dealing with the questions that are so central.
The program has invested about $1.8 billion during the FY 1995 year just ended this past September. About 60 percent of that investment is in satellite and ground-based observation and data management.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Would you repeat that figure again for me, please?
Mr. CORELL. 60 percent-
Mr. CORELL. The 1995 budget for U.S. global change among the 11 agencies that field the programs is $1.8 billion.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Yes. I was afraid, I thought you said “million.”
Mr. CORELL. No. Billion.
About 60 percent is devoted to satellite and ground-based observation and data management of the kind that was so central to our discussion in the first panel.
The second, 30 percent is devoted to field programs and process studies to gain knowledge about the crucial factors that affect change on the planet.
About 4 percent goes to global climate modeling, and the remaining 6 percent is divided in studies of consequence in developing new tools of analysis.
That is the total character of the program.
In returning to the issue of modeling, within the global change program there is a concentrated effort to do global modeling of the Earth's system, as well as special attention to modeling the climate system.
Understanding and predicting the behavior of the Earth's system as we heard this morning is one of the most challenging scientific problems of our times. The spatial scales range from "very local" to "global.” Times scales from minutes to the millennia. And the governing process involves the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of our planet.