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This policy would severely damage not only our own economy, but it would foreclose economic development for most of the world's populations and condemn them to poverty. You cannot improve your standard of living without energy.
Fifth, my final point, is that there is no scientific consensus that global warming is occurring as a result of human activities. Some 17,000 scientists, over 2,300 of them specialists in fields related to global warming, have signed a petition against the Kyoto Protocol, the Oregon Petition; 17,000 scientists who have no particular axe to grind.
Despite what you may have been led to believe, the scientists contributing to the IPCC science reports have never been surveyed or polled as to their views, and the IPCC report summaries themselves are ambiguous and inconclusive.
In conclusion, despite the fact that science does not support the emission cuts called for in the Kyoto Protocol, I personally do not argue for complacency. Any human-induced change in environment must be carefully monitored and evaluated.
In the meantime, however, what should we do? I believe that common sense, no-regrets policies like cost-effective energy conservation and improved efficiency are in order, rather than hasty and economically damaging actions to cut energy use based on insufficient science.
As you heard during your testimony, the bells have gone off for a vote. Fortunately, it is only a single vote, so we will be able to return very shortly from that. So the Committee will be in recess very briefly for a quick vote and then we shall return. Thank you.
Chairman TALENT. Let me reconvene the hearing, if I can have order in the room please.
We will reconvene the hearing. I am sorry that I missed Dr. Singer's testimony. I have a markup going on in another Committee and will attempt not to leave in the future.
I do want to take a moment to assure all the witnesses that they will each have full opportunity to respond to what other witnesses are saying. I imagine the questions and answers will bring out all these points.
I will now recognize Dr. John R. Christy, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.
Dr. Christy, I am very grateful to you for coming all this way to testify, and you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF JOHN R. CHRISTY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF
Mr. CHRISTY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Members on Small Business, for inviting me to provide some information on the global climate.
I am John Christy, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and a key contributor of the IPCC, which I thought was a credible report.
Please note that I will be referring to figures which you should have attached to your copies of my remarks.
Twenty years is nothing in terms of the Earth's climate, but 20 years is everything in terms of the science of climate, as shown in figure 1.
In the late 1970's, as you see the surface temperature record there, the climate stories were filled with potential disasters of a coming ice age. I lived in South Dakota during the coldest winter of that decade, and we can only hope those ice age forecasts of the seventies will never be realized.
Ten years ago, the potential catastrophe of human-induced global warming began receiving a lot of attention, thanks in part to a couple warm, but not record breaking, summers in the eastern United States. The predictions were horrifying, rapid
temperature rises, coastal flooding, massive hurricanes and so on. Twenty years have now passed since the 1970's and we are now almost exclusively discussing global warming, brought to the forefront 10 years ago.
Twenty years makes all the difference in the science of climate. When global warming became a popular issue 10 years ago, I and others were concerned with the lack of proper data to describe the Earth system and a lack of proper perspective in which to judge the quasi-extreme events occurring at that time, the events so often connected with human-induced climate change. In 1989, NASA scientist Dr. Roy Spencer and I set out to create a satellite data set of truly global observations of atmospheric temperature. These data would not be plagued as the traditional surface data are by changing locations or dependence on transient shipping or lack of coverage for large areas. We did not know what these data would show, whether warming or cooling. Our goal was precision, to provide scientists with excellent, truly global temperature data.
An added incentive for us was that the two layers that we could monitor and observe were two that climate models indicated would show the most rapid responses to climate change: The lower troposphere, the surface at 20,000 feet, which should warm faster than the surface, and the stratosphere, which would cool. In the data presented here, all known artificial effects, such as orbit decay and orbit drift, have been removed.
The top part of the figure there shows the tropospheric temperature since 1979, and it has little trend, either up or down, while the stratosphere, the lower quantity, shows a pretty strong decline, influenced by volcanic and ozone depletion.
Were these data accurate? Balloons also measure the atmospheric temperature at various places around the world, and I and others have compared the satellite data with many other estimates of global temperature, and with this example, done with the United Kingdom Meteorological Office 400-balloon network, you can see the correlation is very high and there is no trend for the period 1979 to 1997. Such independent comparisons demonstrated the satellites were truly providing the precision for which we had hoped. This is that same period in which the science of climate shifted from thinking mostly about global cooling to thinking mostly about global warming.
If we look at the comparison since 1979 between the surface and atmospheric temperatures, the satellite is green, the surface is orange, we see that the trends seem to be going in different directions.
Now, we have only 20 years of satellite data, and that is too short a period to judge long-term climate variations. However, these data tell us that in this layer and during this period when CO2 warming should be most pronounced, we see no trend. We also see something that is not predicted by climate models, a difference in trend between the surface temperatures and the deep atmosphere.
Could the consensus about global warming reached by these same climate models be misrepresentative of the next century if this actual data is not reproduced? It becomes clear that 20 years of truly global data are important.
I am going to change to a different topic here. The recent fixation on extreme events as indicators of climate change is misleading because we know very little about how these events occur and we are able to publicize even marginal extremes to fantastic proportions. Perspective is often lost in the media, though fortunately we have considerable historical information archived at the National Climate Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.
For example, last month a government-sponsored press conference announced that five States, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Jersey, experienced one record high monthly temperature at some point between January and May of this year. Human-induced warming was implicated in that announcement.
But is this significant, since these five States would all fit into the State of Kansas, twice? This sample is not geographically representative.
Please allow me to put a different spin on record high temperatures, using data provided by NCDC, and you will see my point.
Chairman TALENT. What is the NCDC?
Mr. CHRISTY. National Climate Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina. It is where all our climate data is from.
Chairman TALENT. Is that a government operation?
If you divide the recorded climate history of the entire U.S. into halves in 1940 and look at all-time record high temperatures, you would see that four States had equal highs in both halves. Of the remaining 46 States, 35 recorded their all-time record high temperatures before 1940, and only 11 have since 1940. Or, take the Midwest, this is brand new, newly digitized information, where from the early years now provides a better look at extremes.
For the 10 hottest 3-day periods, these are killer heat waves, in the Midwest since 1896, only two occurred after 1940, and they placed seventh and eighth. Do these results prove cooling is going on? No. They prove that the spin one places on extreme events can be very misleading.
The recent attention given to the heat in the South is another example. A wire service story declared June 1998 the hottest in the history of Huntsville, Alabama. I was surprised that our Office of State Climatologist had not been asked about the record, which I new to be misleading. So I did some checking and found at least 6 other years between 1914 and 1953 in which June was hotter than 1998. I sent the information to the local paper, and they published it. The problem was that a local weather service forecasting office which reporters typically call did not have access to records before 1958 and could not have known about the earlier, hotter years.
Again, the Florida fires and drought were highlighted every evening on the news in June. Was this drought remarkable? The answer from climate records at NCDC is no, absolutely not.
In figure 5, I show the percentage of months in which north central Florida experienced drought conditions decade by decade. In this century, you can see that only one other decade, 1940's, were there fewer drought months than in the 1990's.
Now, yes, it was hot in the South, but the heat wave was due to a weather pattern that placed warm air in the South and cool air in the West. To a climatologist, it was equally remarkable that towns in the High Plains recorded their latest snowfall ever in June 1998, or that Fresno, California, my hometown, for the first time in its history failed to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit by the middle of July. In fact, and this may seem remarkable to you, in fact, for the Nation as a whole, the temperature in June 1998 was below normal.
Regarding Texas in July, let me say that Dallas is due. North Central Texas Climate Division 8 of the past 10 years have seen colder than average July temperatures. In the past 30 years, 20 have been colder than average. A climatologist sees nothing unusual about Dallas being warmer than average this year. Dallas is due.
To see the real picture of extreme weather variations given by droughts and floods from 1895 to the present, here is figure 6. In this chart, again kindly provided by NCDC, is the percentage of area in the lower 48 States which in any given month experienced extreme conditions, dry or wet. The results show there is no significant long-term trend in either condition. In fact, we have not had a widespread drought in several years, and looking at the chart, we should expect one in the near future, based solely on statistical probability and not on human inducements.
My point is this: Arriving at conclusions about human-induced climate change based on selective extremes is faulty and misleading. In the United States, the evidence presented here suggests human-induced climate change is not yet discernible.
The satellite and balloon data show that significant global warming is not now occurring, though the simple theory and laboratory experiments of greenhouse warming are indisputable. The detection of human effects on the Earth's climate has not been convincingly proven because the variations we have observed to date are not entirely outside of the natural variations of the system. Warming of the planet has occurred on the order of 10 degrees in 40 years in periods of the Holocene here. So I think John has said earlier
Chairman TALENT. Explain that just a second. You just said the Holocene?
Mr. CHRISTY. In the past 12,000 years, there are records of temperature rises in a period of 40 years of on the order of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius.
Chairman TALENT. When was the Holocene? Mr. CHRISTY. The last 12,000 years. Chairman TALENT. You said Holocene. I thought you meant that phenomenon where you can project an FBI picture. I guess that is a holograph, isn't it?
Mr. CHRISTY. A Holocene is a period of climate history.
Mr. CHRISTY. Another reason why we cannot discern this, or climate models have a little bit of trouble with this, is the Earth's system is very complex and probably has ways to expel heat energy which are not properly accounted for in climate models.
The temperatures in the stratosphere suggest something is going on, but separating the massive effects of volcanoes and ozone depletion, which are effects unrelated to fossil fuel emissions, is not easily done.
I believe some minor warming due to increasing greenhouse gases will occur, though untangling that component from the natural variability would be extremely difficult. Even drastic actions at this point will have a minuscule effect on whatever the present course of the climate is.
We do know that a CO2-enriched atmosphere is beneficial to our carbon-based ecosystems. However, at this point we simply do not know whether the CO2-enriched climate of the next century will be made more difficult or more benign or even noticeably different for our country or for the world. The research is really just beginning.
I will close with a personal observation. Some activists cultivate the notion that they are taking the high moral ground by putting global warming on the same “save the Earth platform" as preserving wildlife, saving rain forests or cleaning the Earth's rivers and oceans.
Serving as a missionary in Africa in the early 1970's gives me a different perspective on proposals to combat global warming. The artificial rise in fuel and energy costs created by the Arab oil embargo was a crushing blow to many, but in particular to the world's poorest peoples. Many people in Africa suffered or died when gasoline prices soared beyond their ability to pay, halting transportation and other energy-related activities that preserve both life and property. I am well aware of this personally because people would come to my door and bang on it in the middle of the night to try to get an injured or very ill person to the clinic, and many of them were unable to because there just wasn't any gasoline.
In addition, many of the life saving activities supported by the benevolence of wealthy countries, such as ours, were curtailed due to the rising costs and slumping economies back home.
Disrupting the lives of those whose existence is too often literally hanging by a thread causes the kind of suffering that the average