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Are we so certain about the future climate changes that we should take action that will change the lives of millions of our own citizens at a cost of untold billions of dollars?
We will explore these and other questions today.
And I would now ask my colleague, Mr. Roemer, if he would like to present an opening statement for the Democratic side.
Mr. ROEMER. I would, Mr. Chairman.
I ask unanimous consent to have my entire statement entered into the record.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. So ordered, without objection.
First of all, I want to commend you for holding these hearings. And I think it is important for both Democrats and Republicans to have the opportunity to further develop their views on this very important issue.
Mr. Chairman, I hold you in the highest respect, and you and I often agree on issues pertaining to economics and fiscal balancing the budget issues.
But on this issue, I think we part our ways.
Clearly, Mr. Chairman, the environment has been a bipartisan issue over several decades. All of the landmark environmental statutes, such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and Super Fund Reauthorization, to name a few, were signed into law by Republican presidents and passed with bipartisan support in the United States Congress.
This continues to be an area of federal activity that the public strongly supports. It is ironic that systematic dismantling of environmental research and environmental statutes has now been held up by the Republican leadership as a litmus test for ideological purity.
I hope in the end good sense and common sense will prevail. The global change research program was in fact established by the Bush Administration.
The budget approved for global change in 1990 envisioned an ongoing budget of about $2 billion for all of the agencies involved. The budget adopted by the Clinton Administration is in fact slightly below this.
Why was this program so strongly supported by two Administrations, a Republican and a Democratic one?
The answer is simple; economics. The consequences of global warming may be several percent of the world's GDP. The cost of avoiding global warming may also be several percent of the world's GDP.
Given the enormous costs and benefits, it makes eminent sense to do the necessary research to find out as much as we can about global warming. How much, how soon, and even if it will occur.
I would also like to include for the record a statement by Frank Nutter, President of the Reinsurance Association of America, about global change research.
Global change, even if we do nothing to curtail carbon emissions, will provide a pathway to help us make the transition in an economically efficient manner.
Some of these adjustments may be substantial. But let's at least study the matter to find out if in fact they will be substantial.
The policy we have followed of targeting environmental research, belittling the possibility of any impacts and so on, will not make the problem go away, it will only put us on a slower track to understanding this problem.
Meanwhile, the Europeans are making major investments in energy conservation and alternative energy sources.
The Japanese are making major investments in environmental technologies.
And the rest of the world is positioning itself for the future.
We could not only lose the intellectual lead, we could lose markets that we will never regain.
In sum, Mr. Chairman, I think this boils down to three issues of disagreement.
First of all, this is the Science Committee. We should not bury our heads in the sand and say we do not want to study this and further discern what impacts there may be.
This has always been something we have been concerned about in a bipartisan manner.
Secondly, it has huge economic implications for the GDP of the world, whether that be in the United States or China. We should work together in a bipartisan way to see if China decides to continue to burn coal, that we work with them in productive ways, in ways that benefit our economics and our technology, to compete with the Japanese and the Europeans to provide them that technology and provide jobs in America.
And thirdly, I think that there are also trade implications for us in this matter as well.
At a meeting of the United Nations several years ago, the Japanese and the Germans have 25- and 30-year plans to deal with technology and energy-related resources, whereas the United States seems to go back and forth as to whether even to enter this field.
So, Mr. Chairman, I think this is definitely a matter that we should study and find out if and when there are consequences. And I would encourage the Members of this Committee to be open to the different possibilities entailed in that.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. I think that was an excellent opening statement for your side of the aisle, and I hope nothing I said in my opening statement suggested that global warming should not be studied and examined with an open mind.
So we should move to the first panel. The first panel will address
Ms. RIVERS. I have two questions actually, one that relates back to a hearing we had previously here, but I think the same issue will apply to this one, given that we have scientists of differing views testifying today.
At the last hearing we had of this type on ozone depletion, there were some very serious charges levied by one of the witnesses that both you and I spoke to repeatedly, and this witness, Dr. Sally Baliunas, repeatedly said that she had been threatened with loss of funding for her views, et cetera, et cetera.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Yes.
Ms. RIVERS. I believe that the Chairman then went to the floor and repeated some of those charges and part of this discussion.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Yes.
Ms. RIVERS. But yet, when we finally received, after many, many inquiries, her statement, I find that what it says is she had a coffee break conversation with someone she will not identify, who expressed his or her opinion. Dr. Baliunas had no way of knowing whether it was correct or not, but chose not to offer a proposal anyway, and then produced absolutely nothing else.
These are very serious charges.
Well, first of all, that is not a parliamentary inquiry, but I will answer this. Yes, we do have further information. I do not know if you listened to my opening statement but
Ms. RIVERS. I came late. I apologize.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. (continuing) --but one of the top research people, a Director of Research at the Department of Energy was fired from his job because Mr. Gore's office gave a call and had him fired, Mr. Will Harper, and that is not
Ms. RIVERS. Did he threaten Sally Baliunas?
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Now in terms of Dr. Baliunas, Dr. Baliunas made it very clear to this chairman that she had to go to a lawyer to make sure she was not sued, and unless she could actually prove something in a private conversation, she could not make a public charge because she was personally liable.
Now that is the type of atmosphere we have in Washington, D.C.
Ms. RIVERS. Truth is always a defense to libel. Truth is always a defense to libel.
Mr. BAKER. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Reclaiming the Chairman's prerogative, truth is not always a defense. It is only a defense if you can prove that it is the truth. And in private conversations, threats can be made.
And in this particular case, that witness went to a lawyer and was probably told by the lawyer that she could not prove that that threat had been made.
The Chairman has given a very good example of the very thing that you are asking, and I do not understand why your outrage now has not gone on to requesting information
from Mr. Gore's office of why his office required the firing of Mr. Will Harper, Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy.
Ms. RIVERS. Who was fired, you say.
Ms. RIVERS. So there was a very direct and very severe response?
Ms. RIVERS. Which is what we would look for whenever anyone steps over their bounds.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. That is correct. That is correct.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. First of all, the Chairman will rule that that was not a parliamentary inquiry.
Ms. RIVERS. Okay. This one will be.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Well, I am sorry, you are not recognized. We have another member asking for recognition.
Mr. BAKER. Some of us came here to hear today's witnesses, not to replow the old ground.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. If the lady does have a parliamentary inquiry, she has a right to express her parliamentary inquiry.
Mr. ROEMER. Mr. Chairman, I would just ask unanimous consent. I think the gentlelady is trying to state a parliamentary inquiry, and I would say this
Mr. ROHRABACHER. The Chairman agreed with that, and let's hear what it is.
Ms. RIVERS. Given that this Committee has already made decisions, many of them hostile, in this area about funding
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Would the lady express her parliamentary inquiry?
Ms. RIVERS. Yes. I will right now.
Ms. RIVERS. I did not know the facts would insult the Chair, but that
Mr. ROHRABACHER. If you will not desist—if you will express your parliamentary inquiry and quit insulting this Committee by claiming a parliamentary inquiry in order to prevent us from hearing the first panel.
What is your parliamentary inquiry?
Ms. RIVERS. My parliamentary inquiry is, if we receive information today that leads us in another direction than where the Committee has already gone, how will the Committee reconsider its decision?
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Excuse me? Excuse me. What is your parliamentary inquiry? Are you meaning to try to have a speech here, a political speech to try to prevent us from hearing the panel? Or do you have a parliamentary inquiry?
Ms. RIVERS. No. You are talking much more than I am.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. That is enough. We will call the first panel, and I would request that members, if they use the method of parliamentary inquiry, if they expect to have a way of handling one another with civility, which is the purpose of our parliamentary system, that they not make a mockery of the parliamentary system by claiming time and using our time in a way that takes away from the central effort of the day.
Would the first panel please be seated.
Our first panel today will address the issue of climate modeling.
Peter Guerrero is Director of the Environmental Protection Issues for the General Accounting Office.
In July of this year, the General Accounting Office published a study on the limitation of generally used climate models.
Dr. Jerry Mahlman directs the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at NOAA at Princeton's Laboratory.
And Dr. Patrick Michaels is Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia, and has been a leading spokesman on the issue of global warming. And with that gentlemen, would you like to proceed?
MENTAL PROTECTION ISSUES, RESOURCES, COMMUNITY,
I will summarize my remarks, and our full statement has been submitted for the record.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee as it focuses on the issues concerning the use of models to predict future climate change.
My testimony is based on GAO's report on the limitations of these models that we issued this past July.
The report looked at two issues. First, factors limiting the ability of the model to accurately predict climate change, and second, the amount of federal expenditures for the modeling efforts.
In general, we found that the models were better today than they were a decade ago at predicting climate change. Despite these improvements, however, their accuracy was still limited.
One limiting factor stems from the fact that scientists do not fully understand how certain climate processes, such as cloud formation, will interact with greenhouse gases. As a result, the models currently provide only incomplete or inaccurate representations of these processes, and this introduces uncertainty into the predictions made by the models.
A second limiting factor is insufficient computing power to process the vast quantities of data required to more accurately simulate the changes in climate. Modelers try to overcome this limitation by introducing assumptions that deliberately simplify some operations in order to free computer time for other, more critical operations. These simplifications can affect the accuracy of the models' predictions.
To help the GAO assess the state of progress modelers have made in dealing with these kinds of issues, the Interagency Subcommittee on Global Change Research arranged, in the fall of 1994, for a special forum on global change modeling.
The forum brought together a representative set of scientists, both converts and skeptics, to develop a consensus statement on the issues related to the use of global climate models and their estimates of future climate change.
The assembled scientists developed a ranking system from "vir