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Wednesday, July 29, 1998


Washington, DC. The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:35 a.m., in room 2360, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Jim Talent (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.

Chairman TALENT. I call the Committee to order.

Today the Committee on Small Business will be holding its third hearing on the impact of the Kyoto Protocol, in which the United States agreed to reduce its production of greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels. Our previous hearings established that this is equivalent to raising the cost of energy to the American economy by 30 to 50 percent.

For Americans, this would mean: Gasoline prices would increase by as much as 65 cents per gallon; natural gas prices for industry would increase by 90 percent; the gross domestic product would decline by 242 percent. The proponents of the Kyoto Protocol justify this effect on the American economy by the need to prevent what they describe as a catastrophic warming of the Earth's temperature.

I called this hearing with scientific witnesses to determine whether and to what extent the Earth is actually warming. My research into this subject suggests that the catastrophic global warming predictions of the Kyoto Protocol are based primarily on the pretense of a consensus within the scientific community, when in fact no such consensus exists; highly selective and misleading use of data; and failure to confront the body of evidence suggesting that the Earth's warming trend is natural and beneficial.

We have a number of distinguished scientists here today, several of whom will attempt to disabuse me of these views. The Committee is grateful for the time of these witnesses. I am especially grateful that several of the witnesses postponed important personal trips to be here today, and I am also grateful to all the witnesses for understanding why, in our grief over the death of Officers Chestnut and Gibson, the ranking member and I decided to postpone this hearing for several days.

I want to introduce the witnesses later. But right now I want to recognize our ranking member, the distinguished gentlelady from New York, Ms. Velazquez, for whatever opening comments she may wish to make. Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Today's hearing is another in a series that the Committee has held to examine the effects of global warming. Last month we examined the Kyoto Protocol and its effect on small business. Today we turn our attention to the signs of global warming.

While there may be question over how and in what way global warming exists, the effects of greenhouse gases on our environment are now becoming more and more evident. In the last century the Earth's temperature rose by 1 degree Fahrenheit. In fact, recent data not only shows that this is the warmest century on record, but also that the 1990's are shaping up to be the warmest decade ever.

The forecast is not any better. Scientists estimate that over the next century temperatures will continue to rise another 1.8 to 6 degrees. We already are witnessing severe weather patterns occurring with greater frequency. The resulting damage to our ecosystem has drastically escalated. Shifts in our agricultural growth conditions are beginning to rob regions of their ability to produce food.

The threat to human health has also increased. There is a reduction in the availability of fresh water. We have also seen an increase in the range and instances of disease. Estimates show that by the year 2100 we may see $50 to $80 million more cases of malaria alone.

Today's hearing on the science behind Kyoto will hopefully shed some light on how global warming will affect regional weather patterns and the rate of climate change. Furthermore, I hope we will hear what effect higher temperatures will have on health, the ecosystem, and socioeconomic conditions. Today's hearing should also provide some insight into possible solutions to address these problems.

Let me close by once again thanking the Chairman, Mr. Talent.

Thank you.

Chairman TALENT. I appreciate the comments of the gentlelady.

I will introduce each witness as he testifies. The first witness today is Dr. Robert T. Watson, who is the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He resides in Washington, DC.

Dr. Watson, I want to thank you for being here today, and especially for postponing a trip that you had planned in order to attend. It was very kind of you. Please proceed with your testimony.

STATEMENT OF ROBERT T. WATSON, CHAIRMAN, INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE Mr. WATSON. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, it is a pleasure to be here today to discuss what is really a very important issue for both this and future generations. I am testifying in my capacity as the new Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Despite what you will hear from several members of this particular panel, there is in my opinion no doubt that the overwhelming majority of scientific experts, while recognizing that scientific uncertainties do exist, still believe that human-induced climate change is inevitable. There are a number of questions, however: What will be the rate of climate change, the magnitude of climate change, and where specifically will climate change occur?

The large majority of scientists also believe that, on balance, there will be a number of adverse effects: human health, heatstress mortality and increase in vector-borne diseases such as malaria; changes in ecological systems, particularly forested systems and coral reefs; and, indeed, changes in socioeconomic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, water resources, and human settlements.

What I will testify today is not my own work but indeed the careful work of thousands of experts: climatologists, modelers, oceanographers, meteorologists, chemists, biologists, technologists, economists, and social scientists. These experts come from universities, government laboratories, the private sector, and from industry.

What decisionmakers should take into account is that the atmospheric residence time of carbon dioxide is extremely long, more than a century; and hence, if indeed policy formulation waits until all scientific uncertainties are resolved, and if indeed greenhouse gases are responsible for changing the Earth's climate, as projected by all climate models, the time to reverse that damage would actually be centuries to millennia.

I have a Figure 1 which actually shows that if you doubled atmospheric CO2 over the next 70 years in the atmosphere and then kept it absolutely level for the next 1,000 years, sea level would continue to increase almost monotonically for the next 600 years and a long time thereafter.

So a key question for policymakers is, what level of information do you need to make policy? A decision to act or not to act will indeed have profound implications.

Simply stated, however, greenhouse gases have increased in the atmosphere due to human activities. There is no doubt that carbon dioxide has increased by nearly 30 percent since the preindustrial era, the mid 1880's; and indeed this is due largely to changes in land use, deforestation, and due to the use of fossil fuels, coal, oil,

and gas.

The Earth's atmosphere has indeed warmed over the last 100 years about half a degree centigrade, slightly more on land, slightly less in the oceans. The 1980's and the 1990's are shaping up to be the two hottest decades of the last 600 years. Precipitation changes are occurring. Tom Karl's work at NOAA has shown there were changes in both the spatial patterns and the temporal patterns of precipitation, with more precipitation falling in heavy precipitation events.

The theoretical models, when we try to compare them to the observations, are in fairly good agreement between theory and observation in spite of what you will hear from several other witnesses. If you take into account all the changes occurring, that is to say, changes in greenhouse gases and aerosols, there is indeed reasonable agreement in the Max Planck model, the U.S. Met Office model, and the GFLD model in Princeton, there is reasonable agreement between theory and observations.

If we take into account what is likely to occur over the next 100 years due to economic growth, population growth, one will expect a significant increase in the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. This is projected to lead to a temperature increase of somewhere between 1 and 342 degrees centigrade by the year 2100.

Indeed, that is a very wide range. As Pat Michaels points out quite correctly, there are a significant number of uncertainties. That is why we do not take a single point. That is why we take a range.

The question is, why should we care? I have already alluded to it. Not only will there be changes in temperature but changes in precipitation patterns and sea level. We project that sea level will also increase by between 15 and 95 centimeters by the year 2100.

What are the implications? As I have already said, there will be implications for natural ecological systems, especially forests and coral reefs, as a sustained temperature increase in the ocean will clearly have adverse effects on the viability of many coral reefs around the world. Forested systems will also be threatened, even after you take into account the positive effects of carbon dioxide fertilization. We go into some detail of this in the IPCC report.

With respect to food, we believe that globally there may not be any adverse effects of climate change on global food production, but a significant decrease in the tropics and subtropics where people are already hungry today, and an increase actually in production in the high northern latitudes of the USA, Canada, and Siberia. This takes into account the positive CO2 effect. If we did not take the positive CO2 effect into account, we would actually project a decrease in productivity globally. So we do take into account what is mentioned by some of the other witnesses, the so-called beneficial effects of carbon dioxide.

We have to recognize that more than a billion people across the world today do not have adequate supplies of fresh water. Nineteen countries today are water scarce or water stressed, many of them in Africa and the Middle East. Most of the projections would suggest that these arid and semiarid areas will become even more arid and semiarid in the future under the climate change scenarios that we project.

Sea level is projected to increase, as I stated earlier, 15 to 95 centimeters. This could lead to a significant loss of land in lowland deltaic areas in Egypt, Bangladesh, and China, with tens of millions of people being displaced if we do not build seawalls. Countries such as Bangladesh do not have the financial or institutional infrastructure to take care of their defense against sea level rise. In addition, many small island states will be completely threatened.

The issues on human health are indeed vexing in diseases such as malaria. There are currently 200 million cases of malaria per year. Two million people die per year from malaria, primarily in the tropics. There would be a projected increase in the incidence of malaria, once again primarily in places where there are not good health care facilities. This is not a major threat to the United States, but it is a threat to places such as Africa.

What are the social costs of inaction? There is a range from the IPCC of 1 to 242 percent of gross domestic product across the world, with a number of 5 to 9 percent for developing countries. These numbers are very, very soft and very squishy. But the key point is there is a cost of inaction. Unfortunately, developing coun

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