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June 8, 2001
of days in space, is not Florida or America but home becomes the planet, this beautiful blue and white ball suspended in the middle of nothing-and space is nothing. Space goes on and on. It is an airless vacuum that goes on and on for billions of light-years. There in its midst, suspended, is this wonderful creation called planet Earth, our home. As I would look at the rim of the Earth, I could see what sustains all of our life. I could see the atmosphere. As I would look further, I would start to see how we are messing it up.
For example, in a ground track coming across South America, I could look out the window of the spacecraft to the west and, because of the color contrast, even from that altitude I could see the destruction of the rain forest in the upper Amazon region.
Then, in the same window of the spacecraft, I could look to the east at the mouth of the Amazon River and could see the result of the destruction of the trees for the waters of the Atlantic which were discolored from the silt for hundreds of miles from the mouth of the Amazon. That was a result of the
destruction of the trees hundreds of
I came away from that experience becoming more of an environmentalist. I came away from that experience with a profound sense of obligation to become a better steward for our planet Earth. The legislation that the Senator has offered is another step in attempting to get this Nation and this planet to recognize that something is changing: that we best use the best minds, the best science, and the best technology to address how we can stop what seems to be the inevitable march of warming the temperature of this planet to the point at which it could cause great destruction.
I thank the President for his recognition. I thank the Senator from West Virginia for his statement today, and for offering this legislation. I thank kim for his very kind indulgence to listen to my remarks, which are complimentary to him for what he was of fered here today. Thank you. Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia is recognized. Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I seek recognition for only a brief statement. I thank the distinguished Senator from Florida for his observations today. He comes to the Senate as one who is different from the rest of u8different in that his experiances inclade that of being a formor astronaut. My name is BYRD, B-Y-R-D. I don't have the wings of a bird. But I have the Imagination that can fly uninhibited through the unlimited bounds of space. As the Senator from Florida spoke, I found myself traveling with him and looking out of the windows of his spacecraft in wonder at what has hap pened to planet Earth, the planet that
we call home.
I thank him for taking the floor
$6003 shown by Senator BYRD and Senator STEVENS with their introduction of the Climate Change Strategy and Technology Innovation Act of 2001. Senator BYRD has shown great courage by taking action to address global warming in such a forthright and courageous manner. As Livy once wrote of the great general Hannibal, Senator BYRD is preferred "in any action which called for revigor and courage, and under his leadership the men"-or in this case his colleagues in the Senate "invariably showed the best advantage of both dash and confidence." Senator BYRD's vigor and wisdom in introducing this bill are on historio parallel with the acts of Hannibal.
about his experiences in that regard. I
I look forward to hearing from Sen-
Mr. President, I send to the desk the bill and ask for its referral.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The bill will be appropriately referred.
Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I yield the floor.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, the Climate Change Strategy and Tech nology Innovation Act of 2001 asks for a commitment of the 107th Congress to Develop bold, innovative technologies to better understand global climate change. I thank my friend Senator BYRD for introducing this Bill and I am proud to be an original co-sponsor.
On May 29, I chaired an Appropria-
The degree to which any particular
Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I
I have been informed that the bill will likely be referred to the Government Affairs Committee, and as chairman of that committee, I look forward to reviewing it in detail. As I under stand it, this legislation will create an aggressive comprehensive effort within the executive branch that will provide the scrutiny and creative thought that
global warming requires. I hope that it will be the tree off of which other allmate change measures will branch. As Senator BYRD has said, it is meant to complement, not replace, other mitigation measures-measures that must inClade binding targets for emissions rc
The timing for the introduction of this bill could not be better. On Wednesday, the National Academy of Sciences released their latest report on climate change at the request of the White House. The White House asked the questions, and the answer was clear: global warming is "real," is caused by human activity, and has potentially disastrous consequences. Now, as President Bush prepares to go to Europe next week, he must heed these disturbing findings and propose meaningful, binding measures to address climate change.
The mandate is clear, we must take
action and take action now to stop the overheating of our planet. We must be aggressive and we must be creative. We must harness one of our great Amer ican traditions, which is an unparalleled capacity for innovation, and lead the world in doing so. We must use flexible market structures in order to allow that innovation to flourish, we must set the strict caps on emissions that are necessary to drive that innovation.
As I understand their bill, Senators STEVENS and BYRD have laid out a program that will provide the framework for the United States to address the dire problem of climate change. We must accept this challenge and begin to take serious measures to reverse this troubling trend. or future genera
tions will suffer the consequences and
remember us with disappointment.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Seu
But -- and I cannot stress this enough- we are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to carbon dioxide or to forecast what the climate will be in the future. That is to say, contrary to media impressions, agreement with the three basic statements tells us almost nothing relevant to policy discussions.
One reason for this uncertainty is that, as the report states, the climate is always changing; change is the norm. Two centuries ago, much of the Northern Hemisphere was emerging from a little ice age. A millennium ago, during the Middle Ages, the same region was in a warm period. Thirty years ago, we were concerned with global cooling.
Distinguishing the small recent changes in global mean temperature from the natural variability, which is unknown, is not a trivial task. All attempts so far make the assumption that existing computer climate models simulate natural variability, but I doubt that anyone really believes this assumption.
We simply do not know what relation, if any, exists between global climate changes and water vapor, clouds, storms, hurricanes, and other factors, including regional climate changes, which are generally much larger than global changes and not correlated with them. Nor do we know how to predict changes in greenhouse gases. This is because we cannot forecast economic and technological change over the next century, and also because there are many man-made substances whose properties and levels are not well known, but which could be comparable in importance to carbon dioxide.
What we do is know that a doubling of carbon dioxide by itself would produce only a modest temperature increase of one degree Celsius. Larger projected increases depend on "amplification" of the carbon dioxide by more important, but poorly modeled, greenhouse gases, clouds and water vapor.
The press has frequently tied the existence of climate change to a need for Kyoto. The NAS panel did not address this question. My own view, consistent with the panel's work, is that the Kyoto Protocol would not result in a substantial reduction in global warming. Given the difficulties in significantly limiting levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a more effective policy might well focus on other greenhouse
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substances whose potential for reducing global warming in a short time may be greater.
The panel was finally asked to evaluate the work of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, focusing on the Summary for Policymakers, the only part ever read or quoted. The Summary for Policymakers, which is seen as endorsing Kyoto, is commonly presented as the consensus of thousands of the world's foremost climate scientists. Within the confines of professional courtesy, the NAS panel essentially concluded that the IPCC's Summary for Policymakers does not provide suitable guidance for the U.S. government.
The full IPCC report is an admirable description of research activities in climate science, but it is not specifically directed at policy. The Summary for Policymakers is, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives (many of whom are also their nations' Kyoto representatives), rather than of scientists. The resulting document has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.
Science, in the public arena, is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens. This is what has been done with both the reports of the IPCC and the NAS. It is a reprehensible practice that corrodes our ability to make rational decisions. A fairer view of the science will show that there is still a vast amount of uncertainty far more than advocates of Kyoto would like to acknowledge -- and that the NAS report has hardly ended the debate. Nor was it meant to.
Statement of Richard Lindzen, May 2, 2001
Page 1 of 5
Testimony of Richard S. Lindzen before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on 2 May 2001.
I wish to thank Senator Voinovich, Senator Smith and the Environment and Public Works Committee for the opportunity to clarify the nature of consensus and skepticism in the Climate Debate. I have been involved in climate and climate related research for over thirty years during which time I have held professorships at the University of Chicago, Harvard University and MIT. I am a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the author or coauthor of over 200 papers and books. I have also been a participant in the proceedings of the IPCC (the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The questions I wish to address are the following: What can we agree on and what are the implications of this agreement? What are the critical areas of disagreement? What is the origin of popular perceptions? I hope it will become clear that the designation, 'skeptic,' simply confuses an issue where popular perceptions are based in significant measure on misuse of language as well as misunderstanding of science. Indeed, the identification of some scientists as 'skeptics' permits others to appear 'mainstream' while denying views held by the so-called 'skeptics' even when these views represent the predominant views of the field.
Climate change is a complex issue where simplification tends to lead to confusion, and where understanding requires thought and effort. Judging from treatments of this issue in the press, the public has difficulty dealing with numerical magnitudes and focuses instead on signs (increasing v. decreasing); science places crucial emphasis on both signs and magnitudes. To quote the great 19th Century English scientist, Lord Kelvin, "When you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind."
As it turns out, much of what informed scientists agree upon is barely quantitative at all:
that global mean temperature has probably increased over the past century,
that CO2 in the atmosphere has increased over the same period,
that the added CO2 is more likely to have caused global mean temperature to increase rather than decrease, and
that man, like the butterfly, has some impact on climate.
Such statements have little relevance to policy, unless quantification shows significance.
The media and advocacy groups have, however, taken this agreement to mean that the same scientists must also agree that global warming "will lead to rising sea waters, droughts and agriculture disasters in the future if unchecked" (CNN). According to Deb Callahan, president of the League of Conservation Voters, "Science clearly shows that we are experiencing devastating impacts because of carbon dioxide pollution." (Carbon dioxide, as a 'pollutant' is rather singular in that it is a natural product of respiration, non-toxic, and essential for life.) The accompanying cartoon suggests implications for severe weather, the ecosystem, and presumably plague, floods and droughts (as well as the profound politicization of the issue). Scientists who do not agree with the catastrophe scenarios are assumed to disagree with the basic statements. This is not only untrue, but absurdly stupid.
Indeed, the whole issue of consensus and skeptics is a bit of a red herring. If, as the news media regularly report, global warming is the increase in temperature caused by man's emissions of CO2 that will give rise to rising sea levels, floods, droughts, weather extremes of all sorts, plagues, species elimination, and so on, then it is safe to say that global warming consists in so many aspects, that widespread agreement on all of them would be suspect ab initio. If it truly existed, it would be evidence of a thoroughly debased field. In truth, neither the full text of the IPCC documents nor even the summaries claim any such agreement. Those who insist that the science is settled should be
Statement of Richard Lindzen, May 2, 2001
Page 2 of 5
something trivial and without policy implications except to those who bizarrely subscribe to the socalled precautionary principle a matter I will return to later. (Ian Bowles, former senior science advisor on environmental issues at the NSC, published such a remark on 22 April in the Boston Globe: "the basic link between carbon emissions, accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and the phenomenon of climate change is not seriously disputed in the scientific community." I think it is fair to say that statements concerning matters of such complexity that are not disputed are also likely to be lacking in policy relevant content. However, some policymakers apparently think otherwise in a cultural split that may be worthy of the late C.P. Snow's attention.)
The thought that there might be a central question, whose resolution would settle matters, is, of course, inviting, and there might, in fact, be some basis for optimism. While determining whether temperature has increased or not is not such a question, the determination of climate sensitivity might be. Rather little serious attention has been given to this matter (though I will mention some in the course of this testimony). However, even ignoring this central question, there actually is much that can be learned simply by sticking to matters where there is widespread agreement. For example, there is widespread agreement
that CO2 levels have increased from about 280ppm to 360ppm over the past century, and, that combined with increases in other greenhouse gases, this brings us about half way to the radiative forcing associated with a doubling of CO2 without any evidence of enhanced human misery.
that the increase in global mean temperature over the past century is about 1F which is smaller than the normal interannual variability for smaller regions like North America and Europe, and comparable to the interannual variability for the globe. Which is to say that temperature is always changing, which is why it has proven so difficult to demonstrate human agency.
that doubling CO2 alone will only lead to about a 2F increase in global mean temperature. Predictions of greater warming due to doubling CO2 are based on positive feedbacks from poorly handled water vapor and clouds (the atmosphere's main greenhouse substances) in current computer models. Such positive feedbacks have neither empirical nor theoretical foundations. Their existence, however, suggests a poorly designed earth which responds to perturbations by making things worse.
that the most important energy source for extratropical storms is the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles which is predicted by computer models to decrease with global warming. This also implies reduced temperature variation associated with weather since such variations result from air moving from one latitude to another. Consistent with this, even the IPCC Policymakers Summary notes that no significant trends have been identified in tropical or extratropical storm intensity and frequence. Nor have trends been found in tornados, hail events or thunder days.
that warming is likely to be concentrated in winters and at night. This is an empirical result based on data from the past century. It represents what is on the whole a beneficial pattern.
that temperature increases observed thus far are less than what models have suggested should have occurred even if they were totally due to increasing greenhouse emissions. The invocation of very uncertain (and unmeasured) aerosol effects is frequently used to disguise this. Such an invocation makes it impossible to check models. Rather, one is reduced to the claim that it is possible that models are correct.
that claims that man has contributed any of the observed warming (ie attribution) are based on the assumption that models correctly predict natural variability. Such claims, therefore, do not constitute independent verifications of models. Note that natural variability does not require any external forcing natural or anthropogenic.
that large computer climate models are unable to even simulate major features of past climate such