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IMPACT OF INCREASING CO2 ON RADIATION ABSORPTIVITY But my understanding is that the atmosphere is essentially opaque already with carbon dioxide. There is enough CO2 up there that it is opaque to re-radiation of most of the energy being emitted by the Earth, and that what we are doing when we increase CO2 is we are not getting a linear increase in other words, as we increase CO2, we are not getting a linear increase in the amount of energy retained, but it is rather logarithmic because we are simply broadening the curve, and you are talking about increasing the wings of the absorption curve rather than increasing the impact of
So, Dr. Lane, you can start off in responding to that scientific question, which I think is a very important one, and, also, my previous comments.
Dr. LANE. Mr. Ehlers, I appreciated your questions very much. None of these scientific questions on our global environment are easy, I think One point I would make is that the models
and there are many models that are used to try to best understand the mechanisms that are at work in the environment and the extent to which global change is occurring. Those models do take into account the absorptivity of not just CO2, but the other greenhouse gases and their concentrations at various heights in the atmosphere. And as I know you know, it is not a simple system with a single layer of CO2 sitting up there. It is a distributed system, and there is absorption of radiation going on at various stages at various heights. And, ultimately, some of the infrared that is emitted by these molecules that have absorbed from lower elevations is radiated in all directions, and some of those directions are upward.
And, in fact, it is that mechanism that helps us understand why one impact of the greenhouse effect is that the lower atmosphere indeed warms; the upper atmosphere cools. It is the same physical mechanism that has to do with the distribution of radiation.
So the models do take these things into account, and there are some things on which the models agree. And I think this basic mechanism is one of them.
The second thing I would say is that among the scientific skeptics—it is, of course, valuable to have skepticism in science. That is what allows us to advance our understanding. There need to be people there who ask difficult questions, and, in fact, I think any good scientist is going to ask the other scientist, “How do you know? Are you sure of this?" Or, “Didn't you leave this out?" As you know, that is the way science advances, so that is healthy.
Some of the skepticism that is out there that is advertised as being science is really a bit misleading and I think confuses, in the public mind, what we know about
what we know with a high-level of confidence about the impact of greenhouse effect on the climate of the Earth.
With regard to
Mr. EHLERS (continuing). Interject there? I agree there is some of that. I call that political "science,” with "science” in quotation marks. (Laughter.)
And it is not the study of politics. (Laughter.]
It is "politicized science," perhaps. But I am talking about serious capable scientists who are having some honest disagreements about this. And I am particularly concerned about the reports that it is difficult to get funding.
Dr. LANE. And that, I think, is the most important all your questions are important, but that is the one that I want to be absolutely sure that I respond to.
I was at the National Science Foundation 4.5 years and certainly enjoyed that. It was an extraordinary experience, and I had the opportunity to interact with a very large number of scientists in all fields of research. During that period, I had a number of researchers complain to me about the peer review process that it was too conservative. It wasn't really willing to reach out and take the risks that we need to take in science
if we are really going to push the frontier. I had anecdotal complaints from people who just had submitted 12 proposals or 20 proposals and didn't get funded, and they were unhappy. But there was no clear rationale for it. I never had anyone come to me and say that I believed my proposal in this field was rejected because of bias against my beliefs on what the science says.
It is not to say there aren't people who feel that way, but I simply wanted to indicate that I have heard from unhappy researchers about their proposals and about the system, and I have had researchers tell me they thought the reviewers were biased against them. I just have not had any in this particular area.
Mr. EHLERS. Yes.
Mr. EHLERS. I recognize the Science the National Science Foundation as the least likely to have a problem with this. I am more concerned about the EPA, DOE, and so forth. And now in your new role, you have something to say about all of that, and perhaps NOAA might be in that camp.
Dr. LANE. And let me just make one quick comment and then ask my colleagues to respond.
I have worked with the Department of Energy for a very long time through their extramural programs, but also the intramural programs. I have a very high regard for the quality of the research that they support. And, in fact, my research over many, many period of time a long period of time was supported by the Basic Energy Sciences of the Department of Energy. And I could not tell the difference between the way in which the Department of Energy ran its peer review program and the way the NSF did.
With regard to EPA, I know EPA has been strengthening steadily their use of peer review to ensure objectivity in the selection of the research that they support.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you. I realize the time is up for my—Mr. Chairman, I suspect I shouldn't turn to any of the others for responses to this.
CONDUCT OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH BY A REGULATORY AGENCY I would say that one open question here that I believe this Committee should address, and that is whether the scientific research effort within EPA should be conducted by a regulatory agency. We have had problems with that originally with the AEC and separated that out. It may be time to separate out the environmental research and put it under some other agency either NSF or NOAA, or some other agency-rather than the regulatory agency.
Chairman CALVERT. And as the gentleman-
Chairman CALVERT. And as the gentleman knows, I agree with you. I would be more than happy to pursue to that.
Dr. Lane, you may respond on my time. How is that? Dr. LANE. I will make a quick response then. I understand the question and what the concern might be, but I believe that mechanisms are in place to ensure that the peer-reviewed science is separated from any influence having to do with the other responsibilities of the agency. It is very important that that be the case.
But I believe it is also very important that each of our mission agencies, including the regulatory agencies, have a component of research activity and peer-reviewed research activity, where they interact with the larger science community. That corporeality of support ensures that the important scientific questions are addressed—that they are addressed by the best minds, best ideas, in a fully objective review process.
So I stand in favor of each of our agencies having an important research arm.
Chairman CALVERT. Well, following what Mr. Ehlers' point was, is some of the issues beyond climate change let's say particulate studies, which are going on now within the same body that is going to regulate particulates once we understand the small particulate issue better, is somewhat troubling to many, and certainly to me. And I think when we take on that regulatory burden which will be a significant one, we better make sure that the science is correct.
Mr. GARDINER. Mr. Chairman, if I could just say on behalf of EPA, I think that Dr. Lane said that the key to this at least certainly in our view—is the question of whether you are having independent peer review of the scientific research-as well as for that matter, to your point, Congressman Ehlers, about the grant proposals themselves that come in from researchers, which is exactly as Dr. Lane pointed out.
What we do at EPA, we have very strong external peer review of all of our scientific products, both the grants that come in, as well as the products that are produced under those grants. And when we take regulatory actions, as we did in the case of the particulate standards, we did that based on a series of over 80 independently peer-reviewed scientific studies. And that is the approach that we are going to take, and I think that is the approach that the scientific community would suggest and other scientific agencies would suggest, as the way to ensure that you don't get biased in your studies of any sort, whether it is of the grant proposals or of the ultimate scientific research.
Chairman CALVERT. Ms. Lofgren.
Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I found this panel very interesting.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMS Dr. Hakes, in your written testimony, you indicate that the focus of the programs that you have looked at are climate change, but that, quote, "they often have additional benefits for improved air quality and the like."
In your judgment, do these additional benefits are they significant enough to warrant pursuit of these programs? Or, did you not evaluate that aspect? Is this just an aside in your testimony?
Dr. HAKES. Well, I think you can assume that the benefits in these other areas would sort of track the carbon savings. I mean there would be some benefits for other air quality issues. You would probably get some impact in a reduction in oil imports, other issues like that. We really didn't have time to quantify all that. But in areas where the carbon benefits are fairly modest, those benefits would also probably be quite modest.
ACCESS TO SUPERCOMPUTERS Ms. LOFGREN. Let me ask Dr. Lane and it is a pleasure to see you again in your new capacity about the supercomputer issue.
You mentioned that the NRC identified lack of access to powerful supercomputers as a key problem and that the Information Technology Initiative is going to address that with additional computers, and the like.
What are the applications, other than use for climate modeling, for these supercomputer resources? And, do we know how many additional computers we are talking about? And, where will they be located? And, who will have access to them?
Dr. LANE. Ms. Lofgren, the Information Technology Initiative referred to, of course, is separate from
Ms. LOFGREN. Yes.
Dr. LANE [continuing]. The Climate Change Technology Initiative.
Ms. LOFGREN. Right.
Dr. LANE. But I wanted to point out the benefits that it will provide.
The Information Technology Initiative is focused on several objectives. One is to increase substantially our investment in long-term research, so that is to ensure that we are working on the computers that we are just now imagining and the software and all of the fundamental computer science, computer engineering questions that need to be addressed.
Second is to make available the cutting edge systems the most capable bardware, software for some of the most important science and engineering, and most challenging science and engineering research questions. And one of those is global climate change modeling, because the facts are that as good as our models are and our researchers are outstanding, certainly leaders in the world—but the largest, most sophisticated models are in Europe. And that is, in large measure, because they have invested in the
computational capability that they need to carry out those calculations.
So, we think we can—the sum is much bigger than the parts here, by making the investment in teraflop-initially, a few teraflops; then, 10 teraflops; then, of the order, 40 or so trillion operations per second computer capability-we can, in fact, be again leaders in the world in modeling, not only intellectually which we are now, but also in terms of actually carrying out the model calculations.
So, the kind of computer capability we are talking about is comparable to what currently the Department of Energy is making available for their stockpile stewardship program. It is also a very challenging set of research issues. We are going to learn from what is being done on that defense-side of DOE to do some important work on the civilian side, and climate change is just one example of that. Combustion may be another area, certain materials research, those problems that would require large team efforts and this level of computer capability.
Maybe Mr. Reicher could answer.
Increasingly, with these faster and faster computers on the weapons-side, we are making the capability available on the civilian-side, building systems that can be switched from defense work to civilian work so that at the weapons labs, for example, we are more and more able to do the kind of modeling of climate combustion and other kinds of key challenges that we face in the world today.
NOAA OCEAN-OBSERVING NETWORKS Ms. LOFGREN. If I could, just one quick follow-up question and you can maybe give me your answer not here since we are out of time_but I do notice your comments on page 10, Dr. Lane, about the NOAA ocean-observing networks. We had a big spat about that last year, and I am wondering if you could let us know whether, in your judgment, the resources allocated to that aspect of this is sufficient?
Dr. LANE. I definitely will respond to your question. (The information follows:) (Dr. Lane refused to submit the information for the record.) Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you. Chairman CALVERT. Thank you. Ms. Johnson. Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Thank you, Mr. Chair
COST OF EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS
I would like to focus on the emission fumes and the effect of some of the modeling and some of the research, and determine and get some response as to whether or not there is a reason why we can't get a clear picture in cost, because it seems that, in my particular area, and, of course, around the Nation, some environmental damage we can't do much control over, with emissions, we, hopefully, can.