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Mr. ROHRABACHER. Especially in relationship to Mr. Moore's testimony about an historical perspective on changes in climate that has taken place even within our mankind's limited time on this Earth. I mean I took one class in geology, and I know that there were times when the glaciers came down and they came back up.
In this period of time, having a situation that we might be in a time when the glaciers are receding does not seem to justify spending billions of dollars building sea walls rather than bridges, talking about the apocalypse that is coming up in order to get people to spend money on other things that perhaps are higher priority for this society.
Mr. OLVER. Would the chairman yield?
Mr. ROHRABACHER. First I would like Dr. Watson to be able to answer my outburst here, and then I would be very happy to yield.
Mr. WATSON. One needs to also look at rates of temperature change, and if you look at the paleo record, it shows the types of projections we are making, one to 3.5 degrees centigrade over the next hundred years, is a rate that is unprecedented in the last 10,000 years. That is a rate that these complex forestry systems can't keep pace with.
The other point we make, and I agree with Bill, in fact, where there is no vision the people will perish. The vision we need is indeed there are cheap ways to adapt, there are cheap ways to use energy efficiency, and there are cheap ways to change our energy policies.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Dr. Watson, I would agree with that, but what happens when we get these type of what I consider to be unjustified scare scenarios is that we start ignoring the economics that Dr. Moore is talking about.
For example, I believe that cars will be made cleaner-burning automobiles and that we will actually have more efficient machinery because it economically makes sense for that to happen. As we have more knowledge in this world and people have more knowledge, the innovation will take its course and we will see these changes take place.
But instead, if we end up building billion-dollar sea walls instead of investing money in fuel technology for automobile dealers who want to sell cars because they want to sell to the public on the economic basis, well, maybe we won't have the money to invest in that new technology.
Mr. WATSON. But we need to stimulate that new technology. If there is not a recognition that global warming is at least an issue that must be taken seriously, the marketplace probably won't be stimulated in the correct way to look at these energy efficiencies, whether it's cars, whether it's buildings, whatever.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. I believe that what you just said is the motive of most people that I have met in what I consider to be the environmental movement that are hyperactivists in that movement feel totally justified. And the reason why you find skepticism from this chairman is that I have met so many people who feel absolutely justified in not lying, they don't look at it as lying, but as at stating a problem and then exaggerating it to the point because we have got to get public attention on this because that is their priority.
I have seen this ever since I was a reporter, and that was 25 years ago.
Mr. WATSON. But you don't see it in the international assessments. The international assessments don't use the word apocalypse. You don't see it in the testimony of any of the people in front of you here.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. To be fair, after hearing some of your either predictions or projections, I would have probably used this headline, even though you didn't use the word apocalypse.
But I would be very happy to yield, and then I would like to thank Dr. Moore, and we will be ending this in a few minutes.
But thank you very much, Dr. Moore.
Mr. MOORE. I would like to have a chance to answer some of these.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Okay.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Yes, sir. And I will certainly give my colleague, I don't want him necessarily to have the last word.
If you would like to say a few words and then we will close it out.
Mr. OLVER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Listening to your comments, Mr. Chairman, I was beginning to wonder whether there was any implication that the Corps of Engineers was involved in the promotion of this exaggerated, in your view, view of the apocalyptic view of global warming,
I didn't know we were. I think it is rather a red herring to be talking about building sea walls. It would be exceedingly expensive and probably quite useless if we are talking about what would happen if Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets were to melt.
I mean the implications of that, with what would ultimately be the rise of land in the surfaces underneath and so forth and what that would do to territory all over, I don't know whether that has been modeled sufficiently carefully to really even predict what would be likely to be going on.
I am interested that Dr. Nierenberg and Dr. Watson essentially, I think, corroborate each other's view that the best data are these surface data, the surface data which we have for at least 100 years, 130 years, the beginning of good data over a period of time, surface and water data over a period of time. And even then I doubt if they would argue that these are evenly taken all over the world. It is very spottily taken in different places around the world, the best we have available if we could go back and figure out. First we would have to agree what all of the parameters are that ought to be taken into account in a model and then the record is probably there, although we may never have a reliable set of that record along the way.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. If I could just interrupt.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Let me give you an example. In the 1970s all the data, and I mentioned the Global 2000 report earlier, all the data showed that we were going to run out of energy, and all the scientists, I am sure, that were testifying right before all these committees came here and swore up and down that within a few
years it was going to be a total catastrophe in terms of the price of oil and et cetera, et cetera.
Well, what happened? Some of the things we did were very good. That's correct. You know, I think most of the good things happened because of market pressure, because of the increase of the price, but we did other things.
Right now, I happen to be sucking on a cough drop. I don't have a cold. Do you know what I have got? I have got some sort of problem with the air conditioning in here and I have a lot of problems with buildings that I visit because all of these building codes that we established during that time because of this oncoming energy crisis said you had to seal the windows to consume energy and we got no fresh air in those buildings, and my body reacts to that. That is all I am trying to say.
Mr. BAKER. I think you've got a lawsuit. (Laughter.]
Mr. ROHRABACHER. All I am trying to say is that when we are talking about issues like this, we cannot, number one, afford to exaggerate, we cannot afford to let people extrapolate from scientific models and then base our policy on that.
Mr. OLVER. Well, but at the same time, and this will be one last very short thing.
On the data from Mr. Michael this morning, I am certainly happy to hear that you now understand that problem quite completely. I certainly do not. I am quite puzzled by it. I suspect it was a look at one parameter of a very limited set of data that we have considerably less than the surface data from weather balloons.
Now, I don't know where they were. I don't have any idea whether these data are normalized properly and whether it's one parameter out of a whole bunch of parameters.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. That's true of Dr. Watson's view.
Mr. OLVER. Well, yes, in all of these cases. But none of us here, at least. The professionals behind the table at the other end probably have looked at many different aspects of those data. We are only being given the pieces that each side wants to tell us, in a sense, probably from both sides. But the weight of the numbers is certainly in one direction in this process.
Mr. BAKER. Mr. Chairman, if I could ask a question through you.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. I think we will do that, and then we better close because this could go on and on.
Mr. BAKER. Mr. Chairman, the reason I am a little concerned about the apocalypse now and causing the huge crisis in order to make small steps in the right direction is we are often blinded by that. We all like pristine forests. I will give you a very pertinent example to California and then, hopefully, the scientists can get back to the committee and tell us where I am wrong or what we ought to do.
We like pristine forests.
So we made the ruling that we are not going to take beetle-ridden, drought-weakened, dead trees out of the Sierras. So they are going to stand there until they rot. Right now they are worth a thousand dollars apiece as 2x4s, but if they wait five years or ten years they will rot and they'll go into the ground.
This is normally a good thing except when a third of your forest has died. They are waiting to become fuel so a forest fire will start so we can put more carbon in the air.
The environmentalists in this administration have decreed that it is more important to have pristine forests than to selectively manage your forests, and they have refused to allow California to cut or use these trees when they are valuable.
So I think one environmental assumption, pristine forest, is overclouding another, and that is these trees are surely going to burn and do more environmental damage down the road. So I would love to have the scientists running the train rather than the Bruce Babbitts and the politicians.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. I am going to ask one last question and then we will call it off because it is actually based on what you said.
Dr. Watson, I read a column by Warren Brooks, who is now dead, that he analyzed that older trees, and especially trees that are in the condition Mr. Baker just described, but older trees in general, actually are producing more of the type of pollutants and discharge that add to global warming than young trees and thus those people who would be really concerned about global warming, instead of protecting the old forests, would want to actually cut them down and plant new trees.
Now, I am just asking. I don't know, I am not suggesting that that is true, but you seem to be an expert in this area. Maybe you could just let me know if that is true.
Mr. Watson. I am not an expert in this area, but I will try and find an answer for you and get it to you on the written record.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Okay.
Mr. WATSON. It is clear that an old tree is not continuing to sequester CO2. It basically gets to maturity. But what one has to consider, though, in a complex situation like the California situation, isn't just taking out the dead and dying trees, we have to drive roads through it, et cetera. So you have to look at the whole system to see what the overall balance, obviously, on both the economic and the ecological systems are.
So I think we have to be careful.
What one has brought up, though, what you have really suggested or inferred in some sense, is one of the clever ways, if we can make it economically viable by good technologies, is actually biomass that is specifically grown, so that it would burn as fuels, is a very good way to go. You replace the coal or oil or natural gas. So using biomass plantations, growing trees purposefully burning them with all the right environmental safeguards, is a very, very good renewable technology.
So these are all the types of things that we need to look at. That particular technology could have incredible help in rural development both in the United States and other parts of the world. So all of these issues have to be looked at very, very carefully.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Thank you very much, Dr. Watson.
I would like to thank the members of the subcommittee, and I think we had a very interesting discussion today. This committee is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3:55 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.) (The following material was received for the record:)
APPENDIX I-OPENING STATEMENTS FOR THE RECORD
Rep. George B. Brown, Jr.
climate Models and Projections of
November 16, 1995
I believe this hearing will serve to point out the error in judgement made by this Committee in passing authorization bills earlier this year containing disproportionate, damaging cuts global change research programs. Cuts to these programs will perpetuate limitations in our understanding of the earth's climate system. In the absence of real information people will be encouraged to substitute hand - waving and conjecture for substantive scientific inquiry into the phenomena that shape earth's climate. Cutting these programs will not stop carbon dioxide from increasing in the atmosphere or terminate interest in speculating on its affects.
It appears to me the budgets for climate research and climate change impact research have been systematically targeted for deep cuts by this Committee. The budgets for global climate change research at EPA, NASA, NOAA, and DOE have been cut by over quarter from the FY 95 funding levels. Budgets for research and development of technologies that would assist Our nation in conserving energy and expanding our energy options have been cut by almost half from their FY 95 levels. This is short-sighted and foolish.
I believe we are all reluctant to advocate for radical changes that would alter our economy and our way of life without reliable information that such changes are indeed necessary. However, hesitation to embark on a difficult policy path is not a rational explanation for scaling back the global climate change research programs on the scale recommended by this Committee. understand anyone embracing ignorance in the face of a potential problem of this magnitude. I cannot understand why we should not pursue research which will provide explanations about how this planet functions. If climate change is real, then we will need to understand how it will affect us and what our options will be for adapting to any negative consequences or exploiting positive ones. If climate change is NOT real, then the research being done by these agencies will confirm that for us. Although there are scientists who question the severity of climate change impacts and the reliability of global climate models, it does not appear that