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Mr. Chairman, the Administration could have avoided seeding these concerns if it had followed the common sense approach requested by Congress and taken the time to get it right:
First, complete the underlying regional and sector work, peer review the science used as its basis, and make the results available for public comment;
Second, write the synthesis overview report based on this work, not independently, peer review the results and make a complete draft easily available for all interested citizens to review with enough time to gather complete comments and expose them to the public.
In addition, Mr. Chairman, the independent National Research Council should have a strong role in the drafting process, not just White House allies as implied in some critiques.
Lastly, but importantly, one must question the use of foreign computer models in this study. Was this in our best interest? The National Assessment used a Canadian and a British Large Scale General Circulation Model (GCM's) to make climate change predictions at a regional level. According to a June 23rd Science Magazine article entitled “Dueling Models: Future U.S. Climate Uncertain,” there is a clear consensus of opinion in the scientific community that these models are not intended, or capable of, predicting future impacts of climate change on a regional basis. Even the EPA web site makes this point.
The mere use of the foreign computer models in the National Assessment once again, begs an answer to an obvious question: What needs to be done to improve U.S. modeling capability? Other questions that need answers are: How well has the current Administration been spending our money in the climate arena? Do we have our scientific priorities in order?
These, along with many other questions, I hope will be asked of those testifying before you and the Committee this morning. We must pursue a more consensus building approach to the climate change issue. Senator Frank Murkowski and I have introduced legislation that we believe provides a framework for national consensus—making continued stalemate on this issue unnecessary and intolerable. We have the vehicle to move forward. We should do so expeditiously, and with the constructive support of the Administration.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK H. MURKOWSKI, U.S. SENATOR FROM ALASKA
I want to thank Chairman McCain and the members of the Committee for holding this hearing today to review the recent National Assessment Report on climate change and its impacts on the United States.
The report estimates effects of climate change on various regions of the country, and various sectors of our economy, such as agriculture and water resources. At the heart of this report are "potential scenarios” of climate change over the next 100 years predicted by two climate models–one from Canada, and the other from the United Kingdom. These two climate models were “state of the art” three years ago when work began on this report, but it's important to note that significant advances in our ability to model climate on regional scales have been made since then.
These "scenarios” of climate change were then used to drive other models for vegetation, river flow, and agriculture each of these models have their own set of assumptions and limitations reflecting incomplete understanding of the Earth system and its component parts.
The end result of the three-year study is a 600 page report that paints a rather grim picture of 21st Century climate. Now the environmentalists and others in favor of the Kyoto Protocol are shouting from the rooftops-saying that these “potential scenarios” mean that we should go forward with drastic and costly measures to limit greenhouse gases.
As the Committee considers the National Assessment Report today, I encourage you to look beyond the rhetoric to the science that underlies this assessment-we are only just now beginning to conduct the kind of scientific research that will allow us to determine impacts of climate change on the regional and local scales that are most relevant to our constituents.
For example, a reasonable test of a climate model is whether or not it accurately simulates today's climate—the National Assessment's own science web site displays a chart that compares rain and snowfall predicted by the two climate models to actual measured precipitation (see attached Figure). The areas in blue and purple reflect areas where the model predicts more than TWICE as much rainfall as observed—if you live in an area with 10 inches of rain, the model would predict that you get 20 or more. Similarly, the areas in red reflect areas where the model pre
Now, we know that the amount of rain and snow falling within a river basin determines river flow—which determines:
• the amount of water for irrigation of crops
So depending on what the climate models say, you can imagine very different impacts—and if the models are off by 50 or 100% in either direction, so too could be the estimates of impacts from climate change on these sensitive areas of the environment and our economy. This is just one example of the need for continued scientific research to understand the entire Earth system and how it responds to changes in atmospheric trace gas concentrations.
Nonetheless, the National Assessment has been a very useful exercise: it shows the difficulty of estimating regional impacts of climate change; it highlights the need for additional scientific research (namely improved climate models and observing systems); and it reminds us of the potential risk of climate change a risk that we should responsibly address through the construction of a national energy strategy that includes consideration of climate change and its potential risks.
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which I chair, has held a number of hearings on climate change and its economic consequences for the United States—and the findings are not encouraging. If we heed the environmentalists' call and ratify the Kyoto Protocol, American consumers would see gasoline prices above $2.50 per gallon and watch their electricity bills increase by over 85%, according to the Energy Information Administration. These projections have withstood scrutiny and have been confirmed by numerous other studies of Kyoto and its economic impacts.
Furthermore, the Kyoto Protocol will not lead to stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere—the principal goal of the Framework Convention on Climate Change signed by the U.S. in 1992. Without developing country participation in the Protocol, greenhouse gas emissions would continue to rise as a result of industrialization and increased energy needs of China and India-nearly onethird of the world's population. No matter what kinds of cuts in emissions we make, Kyoto will not result in any meaningful difference in the climate.
As the Senate stated when it passed S. Res. 98, the “Byrd-Hagel Resolution” regarding climate change, a climate treaty must include meaningful developing country participation and must not come at economic cost to the United States. Neither of these conditions have been met in the current Kyoto Protocol, and it is clear to me that we need an alternative approach to addressing the risk of climate changeone that recognizes the global, long-term nature of the problem.
To this end, I have sponsored, with Chairman McCain and 19 other Senators, the Energy and Climate Policy Act (S. 882) which provides a technology-based alternative to the Kyoto Protocol. Our bill: • Creates a new $2 billion effort over the next ten years to cost share technology
development with the private sector; • Creates an Office of Climate Change within the Department of Energy to co
ordinate research and development activities across a wide range of energy
technologies; and • Promotes voluntary reductions by improving the government's system of track
ing voluntary emissions reductions. Senator Craig has also introduced a bill (S. 1776) that I have cosponsored which complements S. 882—it addresses some issues such as strengthening coordination between elements of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. We anticipate including elements of Senator Craig's bill in an amended version of S. 882 when we consider it later in the year. I welcome interest from members of the Committee if they wish to review our legislation and offer comments or amendments.
In summary, I believe that we should take prudent steps to address the possible risks of climate change, but we should recognize the global, long-term nature of the problem and respond accordingly. A balanced portfolio of energy options, including expanded use of natural gas and continued reliance on emissions-free nuclear and hydro power, would produce fewer greenhouse gases than the Administration's current energy plan. We should expand existing emissions-free technology, including nuclear, hydropower, solar, wind and biomass, but we should also promote new technology to trap and store greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere and encour
age voluntary actions to reduce greenhouse gases and use energy more efficiently. We should also invest in a new generation of energy technologies that can be deployed in developing countries, preventing greenhouse gas emissions before they
The risk of human-induced climate change is a risk we should responsibly address, and a balanced, technology-driven energy strategy offers us the means to do so. As we consider our future national energy strategy (which drives our greenhouse gas emissions), we now have an excellent opportunity to address our environmental concerns at the same time that we address our growing dependence on foreign oil.
I thank Chairman McCain and the members of this Committee for their interest in these issues, and look forward to working with you on establishing a balanced energy portfolio that makes good sense for our economy, our environment, and our national security.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE ANNAPOLIS CENTER
Global Climate Modeling:
The public's and decision-makers' understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of computer modeling of global climate is essential to the formulation of long-term policies related to global climate change. In the hope of facilitating better understanding of the status of climate modeling, the Annapolis Center gathered a diverse group of experts for discussion of the status of climate modeling and to prepare this report.
The majority of the group's views on this general subject were as follows: • There are a number of “greenhouse" gases in the earth's atmosphere, including
water, in the form of vapor, CO2, and methane. (Water vapor is a much stronger
contributor to the natural (non-anthropogenic) greenhouse effect than CO2.) • Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has been increasing for more than 100 years,
almost certainly in large part because of human activity. • There are growing indications that global near-surface temperatures have in
creased over the past century by about 1°F (0.6°C). Temperatures in the lower five miles of the atmosphere, the lower-to-mid troposphere, have increased only
slightly, if at all, in the past several decades of instrumental monitoring. • Natural increases in atmospheric CO2 in the Earth's past have been well docu
mented, however, the cause-and-effect relationships with past climate change
are not clear. • The rate of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere in the past century is greater
than any previously recorded historic rate. • How much of the observed warming is caused by human activities and by nat
ural climate variations is uncertain. Climate Modeling and Simulation
How can we understand the earth's climate system and the possible consequences of increased concentrations of greenhouse-gases in the atmosphere? We can do some things in the laboratory, but because the earth's climate system is so large and incredibly complex, we can recreate only small pieces of it in the lab for extensive study. So scientists develop computer models based on the governing physical principles as expressed by mathematical equations that describe many of the processes that may affect climate. Such models act as simulation laboratories in which experiments can be performed that test various assumptions and combinations of events. These experiments not only can expand our knowledge, they can also develop insights into possible climate futures.
Although there are a variety of increasingly complex climate models, only the "general circulation model” (GČM, sometimes also referred to as a global climate model) determines the horizontal (geographical) and vertical (atmospheric and oceanic) distributions of a group of climatic quantities, including (1) temperature, wind, water vapor, clouds and precipitation in the atmosphere; (2) soil moisture, soil temperature and evaporation on the land; and (3) temperature, currents, salinity and sea ice in the ocean. The related equations are so complex, however, that they can only be solved for specific geographical and vertical locations, and only over specific time intervals. For example, a typical GCM subdivides the atmosphere into thou