Hearing of the Energy and the Environment Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Subject: The Climate Crisis: National Security, Economic and Public Health Threats. Chaired by: Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA).
Copyright ©2009 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500, 1000 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC 20005 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service at www.fednews.com, please email Carina Nyberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-202-216-2706.
REP. MARKEY: (Sounds gavel.) Good morning, and welcome to the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, and this very important opening hearing.
We stand at a critical moment in history. The country is facing some of the deepest most complex challenges it has ever confronted, an economy in peril, a broken energy system, a climate in crisis. These problems are inseparable, and so are the solutions.
We now have a choice to make. We can continue to sit on our hands allowing our children and grandchildren to inherit a planetary catastrophe, or we can take action to unleash a technology revolution that will revive our economy while protecting our national and environmental security.
Today's hearing is the first of many this subcommittee will hold in the coming weeks as we work with Chairman Waxman and Ranking Member Barton and Upton to pass a comprehensive climate and energy piece of legislation out of committee by Memorial Day.
We begin this process by hearing from a distinguished panel about the grave threats global warming pose to national and global security, public health and economic growth. These witnesses are here in part to purge whatever complacency remains after eight years of climate policy founded on denial, obfuscation and delay.
The American people are ready for bold action, and they expect Congress to pass legislation that will create jobs, save consumers money and protect the planet. There is now a robust scientific consensus that global warming is happening, that manmade greenhouse gas emissions are largely responsible, and that if we fail to dramatically reduce those emissions starting now, catastrophic impacts will result.
This leads to the real question in this debate; can we afford not to act? The human and economic cost of continued delay are staggering, whether it is villages falling into the sea in Alaska, flooding in the Midwest, droughts becoming harder, longer and more frequent in the south, or crop failure and water scarcity feeding a genocide in Sudan. We know that changes brought on or exacerbated by human-induced climate change are happening.
These impacts will threaten national and global security, endanger public health and damage the American economy. In last year's National Intelligence Assessment, the heart of our national security establishment called the climate crisis a threat to American security.
Public health professionals have told us that global warming is already causing tens of thousands of deaths annually in the developing world, and poses a serious threat to public health here at home. Our economy is also in grave danger. If left unchecked, global warming will cause the United States trillions of dollars in coming years.
Recent studies suggest that by 2050, our nation could face at least half a trillion dollars in damages every year due to climate change, a 1.5 percent cut in GDP. Global GDP could fall as much as 20 percent.
The costs of inaction are not limited to the impacts of global warming. They also include the price of lost opportunity. America was once the world's leader in renewable energy technologies, but we are now losing those jobs to our overseas competitors. If we are laggards instead of leaders in the fight against global warming, we will miss out on the greatest economic opportunity of our time. Three point six million Americans have lost their jobs since the beginning of the current recession, and climate legislation offers them new hope.
In less than 300 days, the attention of the world will turn to Copenhagen, site of the negations that we hope will produce the plan forward for the global community to address climate change. The House of Representatives is now taking its first steps down the path towards a responsible policy on climate. As we put our domestic house in order, we can return the United States to its rightful place of leadership in solving the most pressing problems facing the world.
That completes the opening statement of the chair. We now turn and recognize the ranking member of the subcommittee, the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Upton.
REP. FRED UPTON (R-MI): Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Today's hearing does touch on a number of important aspects of the climate change debate, and I've said at nearly every climate change hearing that for me, I don't dispute the science. Right or wrong, the debate over the modeling and science appears to be over.
We've got to get past that and look at our policy options and consequences of the actions that we need to take to address that issue. And whatever policy we deploy, it has to have real environmental impact, meaning a tangible change in global temperature, not just arbitrary reductions in CO2 emissions.
I want to know if the U.S. cuts emissions and China does not, how much will that impact global temperatures? With the ever-increasing emissions of the developing world, even if the U.S. reduces its emissions to zero, there would be no change in global temperature.
Our climate change polices must be linked to a realistic reduction in those temperatures. Cap and trade legislation that we've seen so far, specifically legislation that was voted down in the Senate last year, and legislation introduced last Congress by the full committee chair would create economic opportunities for China, India, but it wouldn't necessarily a national -- and it would also create national security threats, I think, for this country.
There is an analysis that's going to be released in the coming weeks by the National Commission on Energy Policy.
It should be noted that the head of that group was also a top energy and climate advisor to the president, President Obama, through his campaign.
They found that many energy intensive businesses would fall far below a financial tipping point if Congress were to pass climate legislation similar to the bill that failed in the Senate last year. These companies would go offshore, creating economic opportunities for China and India while making the environment, not to mention our economy, worse. Furthermore, if we lost those key industries and their many jobs, I think we'd be on a weaker national security footing.
History has shown that the U.S. is stronger with a robust manufacturing than it is -- and industrial base. The jobs and industries that will bear the greatest cost of climate legislation are the very same industries that we need to keep in America to remain a power on the world stage.
What happens to our national security when we don't manufacture much? What happens when we order all of the steel and aluminum from China? If we take the wrong legislative path dealing with climate change, we run the real risk of permanently destroying our manufacturing and defense supply chains. And I find it ironic that while the big issue of today is a stimulus package to revive our economy, we're also getting ready to go down a legislative path that by all accounts will reduce GDP, send jobs overseas and make energy more expensive. Let's be honest, by design, that's how cap and trade works.
Just last year, members of this Congress were proposing legislation that would increase residential electricity prices by 28 percent by the year 2015, over 40 percent by the year 2020, reduce our GDP in 2015 by 2.3 percent, or $402 billion. And by 2050, by a 6 percent figure with a dollar amount a staggering over $3 trillion.
Michigan already is one of the hardest hit states in our weak economy. We would be disproportionately impacted. NAM did a detailed analysis of the impact of my home state of Michigan, and the impact on jobs. The primary cause of job losses in Michigan would be the lower industrial output due to the high-energy crisis, the high cost of compliance and greater competition from overseas manufacturers with lower energy costs.
Impact on energy prices. Most energy prices would rise under the proposals, particularly for coal and oil and natural gas. We end up with legislation that looks like anything that we saw last year. Doing an $800 billion stimulus this week won't be enough. If we're going to send 3 million jobs overseas in the next six years, and raise nearly $2,000 per household in additional cost, that stimulus package isn't going to be nearly enough to soften the blow.
I do believe that we have to do -- work to address climate change. I don't dispute the science. But our response must be to protect the economy, it's got to be tied to international action and it must have a tangible environment benefit.
Most importantly, I think we need to focus on all of the above. That includes conservation, that includes renewable resources -- (audio break) -- nuclear, which has -- (audio break). That's what we need to do for us to create jobs -- (audio break) -- tax on -- (audio break) -- economy, doing it in the right, smart way. I yield back my time.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the chairman of -- (audio break) -- California, Mr. Waxman.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D-CA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for recognizing me and holding this hearing.
As the Energy and Water Committee develops legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we're going to spend a considerable amount of time examining the potential costs of different approaches. We'll have detailed government analysis and other assessments to project the possible affects of various proposals on electricity rates, gas prices, economic growth and a host of other indicators.
But what I hope we will not do is have an analysis of all of this compared to the analysis that we will hear about today if we do nothing. We're going to consider a different set of costs if we do nothing. The impact of these costs on our national security are -- (audio break) -- and the global economy. Of course comes rising sea levels, severe droughts, increasingly intense storms, forest die-offs, and more frequent fires and the loss of agricultural land. These effects harm people and they impose huge costs on the economy.
Human health will also suffer, even if we make significant improvements to our public health system. For example, as heat waves increase in frequency and severity, more people will get sick, more people will die from heat-related illnesses.
And as we saw with Hurricane Katrina, extreme weather events are harder on the sick than on the healthy, and they cause additional health problems. With these and many other affects of global warming, the most vulnerable among us will be the hardest hit, and this alone is a reason to act.
While the military experts examined global warming, they see additional costs that also demand action. In 2007, a board of 11 retired admirals and generals reviewed the risk from climate change around the globe. Some of these retired military officials had not viewed climate change as a threat prior to this review, but based on their view, the entire board came to this conclusion; climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions in the world.
They warned of large populations moving in search of resources, and weakened and failing governments, which would foster the conditions for internal conflicts, extremism and movement toward an increased authoritarianism and radical ideologies.
Retired General Anthony Zinni, former commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command put it this way. Quote, "We will pay for climate change one way or another. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, or we will pay the price later in military terms, and that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll, there's no way out of this that does not have real cost attached to it. That has to hit home." End quote.
Well, I look forward to exploring these issues further with today's witnesses. I also look forward to working with you, Mr. Chairman, and all the members of our committee as we develop legislation over the coming months. Doing nothing is not an option that anybody should look at without feeling a sense of alarm. I yield back my time.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida for two minutes, Mr. Stearns.
REP. CLIFF STEARNS (R-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In light of the dire warnings that you've outlined, you know, I really think what we need to do is innovate rather than regular our way out of this energy dilemma.
At a time when we're trying to stimulate our economy and avoid entering what we think is a prolonged recession, possibly a depression, there's all this talk about, Mr. Chairman, you bringing an energy bill here before Memorial Day, and I assume this energy bill would be patterned after the Lieberman-Warner bill, which would include cap and trade and a lot of the other highly regulatory measures.
So I want us to be careful here, in light of the economy, that we don't want to destroy American jobs. As pointed out by the ranking member from Michigan, China's already surpassed the United States as the leading greenhouse gas emitter, and India's not far behind.
With equivalent efforts to limit these gases among China and India alone, the United States stands to lose many hundreds of thousands of jobs to these countries, which will profit from unilateral action taken by the United States. If we simply go ahead and do this without a cooperative effort with India and China, we'll be hurting our workers today.
Now, according to one leading think tank, if legislation similar to the Lieberman-Warner bill is enacted, and we're talking about annual job losses that would exceed 500,000 before 2030, and could approach 1 million jobs lost. In my home state of Florida alone, we're projected to lose about 300,000 jobs by the year 2030 if this similar type of Lieberman-Warner bill is passed before this committee.
Aside from losing these very desperately needed jobs to other countries, American families obviously, I believe, would suffer under a cap and trade system.
Now, the Charles River Associates International, its headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts -- the chairman's hometown -- they stated that if we implemented that type of bill, that the number of people that would go on unemployment would increase, subsequently into some type of welfare, and they project losses of 4 (trillion dollars) to $6 trillion. So I think we have to be cautious, Mr. Chairman, and I need to again say we need to innovate rather than regulate. Thank you.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the chairman emeritus of the committee, the gentleman from Michigan for five minutes.
REP. JOHN DINGELL (D-MI): Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your courtesy, and I thank you for holding this hearing today. As I said at the last climate change hearing held by the full committee, global climate change is the most serious environmental issue confronting this nation.
What we will hear today, and what we've heard at the subcommittee hearing last summer, however is that this issue is not just an environmental matter. Instead, it poses a major threat to our national security and to the public health as well.
We often hear about the costs of addressing climate change, and to be very clear, there will be significant monetary costs. Anybody who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves. But we must also make it clear that there is great cost to inaction, that we understand both the cost of action, and the cost of inaction is of the utmost importance in designing fair and balanced climate change legislation.
Now, I will not pretend that this is going to be an easy task, nor can I assure you that it will not be. To start with, putting a dollar value on inflation is difficult. How do you value the affect of the storms that might happen, or the value of potential species extinction? This is not easy to say as to how we should act.
On the contrary, the scientific evidence is in, and it is clear. We have no choice but to act. That is why I, along with Representative Boucher, released a graph last year of a bill to address climate change. It was an interesting piece of work, and interestingly enough, it embodied provisions which were supported by all parts of those involved in the controversy -- by the environmentalists, and by business and industry. And it was a document which I think would be very easy for everyone to come to some kind of agreement on.
Our witnesses today will tell us that our failure to act could put the planet and the country at risk, or even a risk of graver and greater consequences. Today's hearings will help us to understand potential security, and the costs of those consequences.
I hope as we go about the consideration of these questions, we will take a look at the draft that Mr. Boucher and I released last year, and that this will be one of the documents which we will consider as we go about the business of drafting legislation on this very important question. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. MARKEY: All right. The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Kentucky, Mr. Whitfield.
REP. ED WHITFIELD (R-KY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and we appreciate this hearing today. Kevin Trenberth, who was one of the lead authors of the United Nations 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in a blog that he has on Nature's Journal, that -- he said that in fact there are no predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and there never have been. The science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate.
And so when we talk about the cost of not acting, I think it's particularly speculative. But when we talk about the cost of acting, there certainly is more reliable evidence of exactly the cost of acting, particularly when you're talking about implementing a cap and trade system. We can easily go to Europe and determine the cost of acting in Europe. We know that emissions have actually increased since the cap and trade system was implemented in Europe.
We also know that there have been significant job losses, and we also know that using a model based on the Lieberman-Warner bill, as my friend from Florida had stated, the prediction is that throughout the Untied States by the year 2030, there would be 1 million people without jobs, primarily because the job loss would be caused by lower industrial output because of higher energy costs. And when you have countries like China, India and others that are relying more and more on coal production, because of the low cost of coal, America's going to become even less competitive.
And so as we talk today about impact on national security, the economy and public health, I hope that we have some very strong, scientific economic evidence of the cost of inaction. And I don't have any time left.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Doyle.
REP. MIKE DOYLE (D-PA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to start my remarks by thanking you for having this important hearing today. Mr. Chairman, at a time when our nation is facing the worst economic in generations, hearings like this one are very important. We must fully understand not only the cost we incur as we attempt to stimulate our economy today, but what cost our nation will face if we do not use this opportunity to address climate change as we rebuild our economy.
As I've said before, the question of whether climate change is happening, and if the actions of mankind are having an affect on its progression is over. While there are few scientists out there that still cast doubt, it can be said that the overwhelming opinion in the scientific community is that this crisis if very real, mankind is in part responsible, and there are actions we can take now to slow and reverse this very dangerous trend.
However, this hearing is not about if climate change is real, this hearing is about the cost of action and the cost of inaction. As many of our witnesses will also testify to, I believe that doing nothing is no longer an option as there are very real costs that will happen if the United States continues to lag behind other nations as they move forward to address this truly global problem.
President Obama stated earlier this week that the country that figures out how to make cheaper energy that is also clean will win the economic competition in the future. Regardless of how any member of this committee feels regarding the science of global warming, I would hope that every member here would agree with the president's statement.
I don't care if you're joining the climate discussion because you feel there is a profound environmental threat, or if you're joining the climate discussion because you see economic advantages for the United States, it's critical that we all work to ensure that we position our nation to be the world's leader in the production of cheap and clean energy.
Like the dotcom boom of the '90s, the energy revolution will provide jobs, the trade and economic growth that our citizens deeply desire. It's critical that this committee act this year and put our nation back on a path for the production, distribution and sale of not only cheap energy, but all the technology that will be required to produce it. And with that, I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
REP. MARKEY: Thank the gentleman. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Shimkus.
REP. JOHN SHIMKUS (R-IL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Brian (sp), if you put this -- just put this up. This is Peabody Mine Number 10 in Kincaid, Illinois prior to the Clean Air Act. It was an efficient operation with a power plant just across the street.
These are the workers who were employed at this mine. They are the faces of the middle class. They are the faces of the United Mineworkers. They are the faces of the unemployed.
I attended a rally at the Christian County Fairground, which attacked the company for the closure of this mine. The real culprit was the legislation passed by this government in the Clean Air Act. I will fight to keep this from happening to my mineworkers again. And I yield back my time.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Gonzalez.
REP. CHARLES GONZALES (D-TX): (Off mike.)
REP. MARKEY: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah, Mr. Matheson.
REP. JIM MATHESON (D-UT): (Off mike.)
REP. MARKEY: The chair recognizes the gentleman from North Carolina, Butterfield.
REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD (D-NC): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for convening this hearing, and thank you for your leadership not only on this committee, but on this very issue that we are talking about. You have been talking about it for so long, long before I came to this Congress, and I just thank you so much.
As with most disasters, Mr. Chairman, the effects of climate change will be most significantly experienced by low-income people, both in our country and abroad. Any climate effect that strains essential resources, such as water, food and shelter is multiplied on poor people who already live on tight margins.
For this and other reasons, the cost of inaction on climate change rises exponentially for the poor of this country, as well as those living in developing regions around the world.
James Lyons testified before the subcommittee last year that people living in developing countries are 20 times more likely to be affected by climate change. Disasters, drought, disease, and severe weather events are typically exacerbated in these developing areas as compared to more developed regions.
The consequences of domestic climate change for the poor could include chronic illness and the loss of property -- yes, the loss of property and livelihood. As temperatures rise, air quality drops and asthma cases rise. Numerous studies have shown a clear link between poverty and increased susceptibility to asthma. And people of color are three times likelier to suffer from asthma-related conditions.
Much of my district in North Carolina includes low-lying and coastal land. A recent University of Maryland study projected an 18- inch rise in sea level by 2080, which would cause over $2.8 billion in property losses in just four of my counties. Bertie County, one of my poorest counties, would lose an estimated $9 million in property. That does not sound like a lot to my friends from urban areas, but it is indeed in a rural area. Inaction would affect their homes, their businesses, and the lives that they have built for their families. We must act in this Congress.
But as we push forward in developing policies which set scientifically based targets for greenhouse gas reductions, we must be sure to remember the needs of low-income people, both here in this country and around the world. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Scalise.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the affects of sweeping climate change legislation.
I certainly look forward to hearing the testimony from our panel today. I would note that for thousands of years, climate and temperate cycles of the earth have been in effect, and this Congress must not hastily pass sweeping climate change legislation without regard to its negative economic impact.
At a time when our economy is struggling, and when we must make bold efforts to become energy independent for national security and other reasons, it is our job to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of each proposal we will place before this subcommittee.
Our main concern that we have focused too little on the effect of sweeping climate change, and what it would have on our economy, as well as the historical record throughout our Earth's history. As Congress considers radical policy changes here in Washington, we're already seeing some of the negative effects take place by decisions that private firms are making today.
There's a major steel manufacturing plant in this country that's currently making a decision between building a $2 billion plant. Right now, their choices are between Louisiana, near my district, or Brazil.
What they've said, according to the CEO of the company, imminent U.S. policy changes dealing with climate change are negatively affecting their decision to build a major plant here in the United States, which would create 700 good jobs. Those are 700 jobs that, because of the decisions that are being discussed here, if we make negative policy changes that are radical, they would run those 700 jobs out of this country and send them to Brazil.
Becoming more energy efficient is a good thing, but I urge caution in proceeding in a radical fashion that could produce dire consequences to our economy without yielding any benefits to our environment. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from our panel.
REP. MARKEY: I thank the gentleman. His time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentle lady from California, Ms. Harman.
REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and my thanks to you and also to the chairman of the floor committee, Mr. Waxman, for your work on the stimulus package that we will vote on tomorrow. There are sections in it on health and energy that are absolutely critical, and that obviously overlapped to the work of this committee. I just want to say as a Californian how much I appreciate the effort to increase the share of FMAP payments that will go to counties and cities.
Mr. Chairman, to paraphrase our new president, leaders must be able to do more than one thing at a time. That means fixing the economy, and beginning to solve perhaps the most pressing public policy challenge of this generation, global climate change.
I recognize, and we've just heard it, that there are a few on this committee who still doubt the science of climate change and its implications, but I am not one of them. The climate is changing more radically and more quickly than we once believed, and the consequences of inactions will be, I'm not shading that at all, catastrophic.
I want to acknowledge the work of some of the witnesses before us. A few years back, Jim Woolsey helped to arrange a simulation in my congressional district called Oil Shockwave. I think he played the president, and I was secretary of defense, and former California governor Pete Wilson was secretary of state, and whatever fire power we brought to that, we couldn't solve the implications of high oil, shockingly high oil prices on the U.S. economy, and we've actually, now, a few months back, seen what happens with that.
So I want to thank him for his work on that, and as you'll hear in a minute, his work on the implications on the electric grid and other things of some of these issues. And as for General Sullivan, you will remember that we had a big fight in Congress, adding a section to the Intelligence Authorization Bill a few years ago, to require a national intelligence estimate on the effects of climate change on our national security. Everybody, or many people, laughed about that. Well, I don't think it's a laughing matter, and I think we have learned that famine and drought produce the perfect conditions for recruiting terrorists and I worry about that a lot. So let me just close by saying, if we worry about jobs, let's get this right and build the jobs of the future and keep America secure.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. MARKEY: The gentlelady's time has expired. The chair recognizes the ranking member of the full committee, the gentleman from Texas, for five minutes.
REP. JOE BARTON (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's good to finally engage in the debate. Global warming or climate change is certainly an issue that we've walked around the edges of in this Congress for the last several sessions, and I think it is an important issue and I think it's good to have these witnesses and the ones that are going to appear after them to begin the information gathering process. I am, I don't think it's a surprise, a skeptic that mankind is causing the climate to change. I do agree that the climate is changing. That's self evident.
I just have a problem because I'm a registered profession engineer, and when I look at all the evidence of the past climate change cycles to see what's different about this one, that somehow mankind is the cause, and the supposed expert IPCC models, unless they've miraculously improved them in the last three to four months, don't do a very good job of even predicting the past. Half the time, they get the degree of change and the direction wrong. Now, maybe they've changed them in the last six months, and maybe some of these witnesses can educate me on that.
We understand that global warming is a theory and it may even be a practical theory, but I'm not yet ready to accept that it's a theology. In some of the more urban global warming advocates do take it as a theology or pseudo religion. When you try to debate with them the facts of the case, they get very intensely upset. Global warming advocates believe that humanity CO2 emissions harm the earth by raising the global temperature, and they say that only draconian action led by the U.S. will save the planet. The U.S. Cap and Trade Group that testified at the full committee several weeks ago, supports a proposal that would cut CO2 emissions by 80 percent in the United States by the year 2050.
Again, I can stand to be corrected, but my understanding, if we cut our CO2 emissions by 80 percent, we're back to the levels that we last experienced in the United States around World War I when we had about 120 million people in this country and over half of those lived on farms and the per capita income was in the hundreds of dollars per person instead of the tens of thousands of dollars per person that it is today. If we do what the advocates say we should do, the econometric models, which I believe are more accurate, almost guarantee a two to three percent GDP negative growth, in other words, a contraction of GDP on an annual basis. You want to talk about launching another Great Depression, let's do some of the things that would require that kind of a contraction. Instead of heading back to the Bronze Age, I think we should look to the future for solutions.
I think it is possible on a bipartisan basis to do things that actually further the science, further the research into carbon capturing conversion, accelerate the use of existing technologies like nuclear power, some of the alternative energy sources that we know are zero free emissions, wind power, new hydro power, things like that. We can have a bipartisan solution, a bipartisan proposal on those kinds of things. No poor country values its environment more than it values its peoples' ability to make a living.
One of the problems we're going to have, it's one thing to ask an industrialized society to do with a little bit less, but it's another thing entirely to ask an evolving society to not do at all. If you go to some of the countries in Africa and Asia, some of the former European Soviet Union satellites in Eastern Europe, and ask them to just not have what we've taken for granted in this country for the last 50 years, I think we're going to get a rude awakening. They're just not going to do it. If the choice is wash your clothes in the ditch, or put electricity that's generated by a coal fired power plant so that you can actually buy a washing machine, most people are going to build the coal fired power plant.
So again, that's why we need to do things like Mr. Boucher's bill on CO2 research for conversion and capture, and do some of the things that I've already alluded to. I see that my time's about to, in fact, it has expired. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate you giving me that notice. Suffice it to say that I'm very involved in this debate. I appreciate the process where we're going to do the hearings before we move a bill. That is somewhat unique in this Congress and I appreciate you doing that, and I look forward to the debate.
REP. MARKEY: I thank the gentleman very much. The chair recognizes the gentlelady from California, Ms. Matsui.
REP. DORIS O. MATSUI (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling today's hearing. I applaud your leadership and vision on this critical and pressing issue. I look forward to working with you and with all the members on the committee to craft responsible solutions to the problem of climate change, and I'd also like to thank today's panelists for sharing their expertise with us. Climate change is a problem that demands action and demands action now. My hometown of Sacramento is a perfect illustration of why we need to solve climate change as soon as possible.
In Sacramento, we live at the confluence of two great rivers. We also live at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We've learned to manage the winter rains that test our levees, and we've learned to manage the spring snow melt that flows down from the Sierras each year. But global warming threatens to upset this finely tuned balance. This year, we're having a major drought. In the recent year, extreme amounts of rain have strained our infrastructure. Behind these changing climatic patterns is a constant threat of flooding. Protecting my hometown from flooding is my top priority. This makes addressing climate change that much more urgent for me. Nearly half a million people, 110,000 structures, the capital of the State of California, and up to $58 billion are at risk from flooding in Sacramento.
Unless we take action now, our way of life in Sacramento, in California and across the country will be changed forever. I look forward to hearing from each of today's witnesses of how we can advance solutions to global warming to keep people safe and help us avoid disaster here at home. Thank you again for your leadership on this issue, Mr. Chairman, and with that, I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. MARKEY: The gentlelady's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Burgess.
REP. MICHAEL C. BURGESS (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you holding the hearing today, entitled "The Climate Crisis, National Security, Public Health and Economic Threats." I think the title kind of invokes what columnist George Wills spoke about last Sunday. The only thing we have to fear is insufficiency of fear. If I were to list the top 100 national security threats facing our country today and ranked them from 1 to 100, I'd be hard pressed to put climate change in the top tier, the top 50 or perhaps even the top 75. Now there may be a national security threat, but so are birds flying above the Hudson River.
Scaring people into feeling better about paying more for their energy consumption under the guise of potential greater national security is a hard sell. People in my district know that as a nation, we have got greater domestic security concerns, and especially now greater economic concerns to address before we try to track the weather and beach erosion. We simply do not know the future or what technology may exist in the future, but we do know that the technology that we will need to dramatically change the way we deliver and consume energy will require a strong and growing economy. Strong and growing economies have obligations to protect their national security.
I would also argue that the needs of challenged societies do not hinge on the exploitation of natural resources, but rather on the lack of affordable resources, given the needs of their people. Strong and growing economies have the financial resources to provide additional aid to people in need. Strong and growing economies can protect themselves more easily and adapt to changes and mitigate the effects of natural disasters. Let's ensure that our ability and the ability of developing economies to prosper are not put at future risk by the way we choose to address the issue of human contributions to what we now know as climate change. I think you for the consideration, Mr. Chairman. I'll yield back the balance of my time.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Washington state, Mr. Inslee, for an opening statement.
REP. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to make two points, first, in response to Mr. Barton's entreaty that we follow science rather than theology. I think all of us have to be willing to accept new science, and I want to say that I have been wrong on this issue of global warming now for several years. I've been advocating action for this and I have been wrong.
I based my earlier positions on this climate change report of 2007, the physical science basis consensus product of, you know, a couple thousand of the world's best scientists, including, I believe, Nobel prize winner, Dr. Chu, as a filmy and convenient truth and a lot of other things I've read.
All of those things were wrong. They grossly understated the threat that we are facing today. Because during the last 12 months, we have had an avalanche of information scientifically to indicate our previous projections grossly understated the pace and depth and scope of this threat. What we previously felt the Arctic would be around in 50 years, it's gone now, virtually, in the summer. While we previously said that glaciers in Glacier National Park would be around in decades, they're essentially going much more rapidly. Where we previously thought ocean acidification would take 70 years to make it impossible for coral reefs to exist, they're now rapidly approaching that level right now off the coast of the state of Washington.
This is a much deeper problem than we thought it was 12 months ago, and that's why it demands urgent action. And it demands action tomorrow when we vote on the Economic Recovery Bill, which is the largest investment in innovation, creativity and job creation in green collar jobs in American history. Ninety billion dollars to do exactly what my Republican friends say they believe in, which is innovation and I entreat them to vote for the largest investment in innovation. At A123 Battery Company with lithium ion battery. At the Ausra Solar Concentrated Solar Thermal Plant. At MagnaDrive in Bellevue, Washington. At Detroit's GM where we want to make electric cars. I hope they'll vote with us tomorrow to innovate our way out of this problem. Thank you.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Pitts.
REP. JOSEPH PITTS (R-PA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. I believe that it is of the utmost importance to protect our environment and our atmosphere. However, we need to ensure that our solutions don't create new problems. The massive federal regulations that will ensue from an overarching, broad climate change piece of legislation could dramatically hurt national security and our economy. The U.S. military is the country's largest consumer of oil and 90 percent of the federal government energy cost comes from the military. The military has acknowledged the need to decrease their dependency on oil, and they have taken proactive steps towards this by turning to hybrid electric engines, nuclear powered ships, alternative fuels and geothermal, wind and solar energy.
According to a Heritage Foundation analysis, the EPA could regulate greenhouse gas emissions from numerous types of engines, including those installed in military tanks, trucks, helicopters, ships and aircraft. Therefore, it is imperative that greenhouse gas emissions regulations must not hamper our nation's ability to train and equip our troops by placing restrictions on our military that will be overly cumbersome. In a time of serious economic downturn, we should be careful about advocating a regulatory policy that will raise the cost of energy and further burden businesses and consumers.
Instead we need to make sure our economy is vibrant, and we can do this by ensuring there is enough investment capital to advance alternative and energy efficient technologies. I urge the committee to consider potential negative effects that overly stringent climate change legislation may have on our nation's armed forces and the economy. Now is not the time to debilitate the economy or the military's ability to prepare for and engage in conflicts around the globe, and, again, thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the hearing. I look forward to hearing the testimony of our witnesses, and I yield back.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Pallone.
REP. FRANK PALLONE, JR. (D-NJ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Everyone here understands the serious threat that global climate change represents to the world. The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, predicted serious risks and damages to species, ecosystems and human infrastructure if action is not taken to reduce emissions. I want to focus on the public health issues related to global warming. First, let me be clear. Global warming has very real and devastating effects on public health.
According to the IPCC, climate change contributes to the global burden of disease, premature death, and other adverse health impacts. Furthermore, the World Health Organization has stated that climate change is a significant and emerging threat to public health. The organization estimates the changes in Earth's climate may have caused at least five million cases of illness and more than 150,000 deaths in the year 2000. As a member from New Jersey, air quality issues are a particular concern for me. The EPA designates New Jersey as a nonattainment area, meaning New Jersey has ozone levels higher than allowed under the EPA's 8-hour ozone national air quality standard. These higher concentrations of ground ozone cause serious consequences for people with cardio-respiratory problems. Reducing global warming pollution will substantially reduce particulate matter, which would significantly benefit people living in nonattainment areas.
The goal of these hearings is to determine how best to manage the effects of global warming and how to craft an aggressive policy to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Through Chairman Markey's leadership in the select committee on global warming, we know we need aggressive action. Congress must pass legislation that will set the necessary short and long-term emission targets that are certain and enforceable. We can't afford to wait another year to act. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Barrow.
REP. JOHN BARROW (D-GA): I thank the chair. I'll waive an opening.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman waives. The chair recognizes the gentlelady from Wisconsin, Ms. Baldwin.
REP. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-WI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We know that climate change comes with a very large price tag and the costs are not just measured in dollars. Our emissions have put our environment, social structure and national security at risk, and if we fail to act comprehensively, the impacts will be felt through the loss of human life, health, species extinction and loss of ecosystems and social conflict.
As members of Congress, especially as members of the People's House, we're generally prone to crafting and passing legislation that provides immediate or near term relief to our constituents, just as we're doing with the recovery package this week. However, it's a seeming challenge for us to enact consequential legislation that may raise costs in the near term with benefits that aren't reaped for perhaps the generation, maybe more than a generation, to come. Legislation that will have benefits that some of us won't even live to see. Yet, this is exactly the predicament that we now find ourselves in. Do we make the investment now to avoid the worst impacts of climate change?
According to Lord Nicholas Stern, whom the subcommittee heard from less than a year ago, the cost of acting today is about one percent of global GDP each year. However, if we wait and leave this issue to a future generation and watch the costs and risks rise, the cost of inaction rises up to 20 percent of global GDP each year. I'm of the opinion that the risks are too great for us to fail to act in the very near term.
I've seen firsthand the intense rain, flooding and devastation that people in my district and across the upper Midwest are experiencing as the result of intense rainfall last year. We lost homes, businesses and farmland, not to mention millions of dollars in lost productivity. I can only hope that we will do everything in our power to ensure that these 100 year events do not become the norm in the future. Mr. Chairman, the scientific community has come together on this issue. It is high time that we do. I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. MARKEY: The gentlelady's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Vermont, Mr. Welch.
REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for this hearing. For decades, the issue of climate change has focused on a debate about science. But today, I think that question is closed. Overwhelming scientific research shows that global warming is real. It's urgent and it requires our immediate action. Last month, we heard testimony from our country's largest corporations, and it really goes to the heart of what some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been saying.
We've got to focus on economic consequences. Their universal testimony, undivided, united opinion, was that the cost of inaction would be dire to the economy. And today, we'll hear further that addressing climate change is critical for maintaining national security and protecting public health. Addressing the challenge presents us with an opportunity. And that's really where we have to decide whether we're going to face this challenge confidently, the way America does when it's successful, or defensively.
Addressing this challenge is critical to all of us. We know it in Vermont, even as a small state. We've realized that we can and must make a contribution to a sustainable future. And in fact, we're seeing that some of our best jobs are created by companies that are engaging in this battle directly and energetically. And the test of leadership for this Congress is to face directly the realities that are difficult and as my colleague from Wisconsin said, delay is going to cost us more, not less. We must tackle this challenge squarely and directly as the confident nation that we are. Thank you. I yield back.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from New York, Mr. Engel.
REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this very important hearing this morning. Climate change is real. We all know the signs. There's no longer a debate. It is one of the greatest environmental, economic and international security threats of our time. To protect our nation and our environment, we must decrease our consumption of oil and increase our ability to produce clean biofuels here at home. We made progress toward these goals last Congress, by enacting the Energy Independence and Security Act. That legislation made groundbreaking steps to increase CAFE standards for our vehicles, strengthen energy efficiency for a wide range of products and promote the use of more affordable American biofuels.
I am continuing to work to advance those goals with my Open Fuel Standards Act, which would require that 50 percent of new cars sold in the United States by 2012 are flex fuel and 80 percent by 2015, meaning that they are able to run on any combination of ethanol, methanol or gasoline. But it's not just the transportation sector that contributes to climate change. It's much bigger than that. And that's why we're gathered here today. We must implement a cap on carbon emissions. We must work together as scientists, entrepreneurs and Americans, simply Americans, to deploy the next generation of energy that will allow us to build the next generation's economy. I look forward to today's hearing and I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. McNerney.
REP. JERRY McNERNEY (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I've had the privilege of serving on your committee on, the select committee on global warming, and I've seen some very incredible testimony, some stunning testimony, including some from the witnesses that are in front of us today. I want to thank the witnesses for your hard work, for coming over here today, for facing this panel. I've been in the business. I've seen some incredible technology out there. I know we can do this, and you know, we've heard plenty about the choice between the economy and moving forward and reducing our emissions.
That this is going to hurt our economy that's going to create jobs. That's a false choice. We have the technology, we have the wherewithal in the United States of America to do this, and it's going to create jobs and it's going to make us have a strong economy. I look forward to working with members of this committee and hearing this testimony, and we'll end this dependence on oil and we'll create a great, green economy. Thank you.
REP. MARKEY: Thank you. The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentlelady from California, Ms. Capps.
REP. LOIS CAPPS (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. I very much look forward to our esteemed witnesses' testimony. The climate crisis is upon us. The earth is warming and the threat is real. Our economy, our national security, and the public's health and wellbeing are all at risk. Global warming will obviously affect our economy.
According to the well respected Stern Review, every dollar we spend to reduce greenhouse gasses now will save us $5 later. Already, the rising sea level has left residents of a small village in Northwest Alaska unable to fish, unable to build safe homes, and that's just one example. In my home state of California, a study by the economists from the University of California, Berkeley, found that $2.5 trillion dollars' worth of real estate assets are vulnerable to flooding and sea rise. In addition, $500 billion of transportation facilities are at risk as a result of rising sea levels, including five major California airports that sit on the coast. One of these airports is the Santa Barbara airport that I fly in and out of each week.
The climate crisis also threatens our national security. Policy analysts have issued several reports finding that a failure to act will have dire consequences triggering humanitarian disasters and political instability in what are already some of our most fragile regions, such as Africa and the Middle East. Finally, as a public health nurse, as a grandmother of a child who has asthma, I'm gravely concerned about the effect of global warming on the public's health. For example, rising temperatures increase ozone smog, which worsens the condition of people suffering from respiratory diseases like asthma. Increased levels of carbon dioxide may prolong the pollen season, intensifying the suffering of the 36 million Americans plagued with seasonal allergies.
Increasing temperatures have also caused extreme heat waves with tragic consequences. In July of 2006, an extreme heat wave in California caused at least 140 deaths. Our sources of clean drinking water are also at risk, especially again in California. Many of my constituents rely on the Colorado River for a portion of their drinking water. The river faces long term drought due to global warming and it is estimated that it will take 15 to 20 years of normal rainfall to refill the river's main reservoirs. We need to address this situation. I'm thankful that this process is beginning today.
REP. MARKEY: The gentlelady's time has expired. All opening statements by members of the subcommittee have been completed. I note that a member of the full committee, Ms. Christensen, from the Virgin Islands is here, and I don't, if you like, by unanimous consent, is there a one minute statement you would like to make at this time?
REP. DONNA CHRISTENSEN (D-VI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and ranking member, and thank you for allowing me to sit in on the hearing. And while I would like to associate myself with the remarks of my colleague, Ms. Capps from California, but I also wanted to point out that while climate change is an important issue for everyone everywhere, it's especially critical to the Caribbean, where my district sits, and despite the fact that we contribute relatively little to greenhouse gasses, we are likely to face severe, the severest of impacts, and so, and also the reports have shown that the cost of inaction for us is unsustainable. So, I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses.
REP. MARKEY: I thank the gentlelady and we thank her for visiting with us today. That completes all opening statements. We will now turn to our very distinguished panel and I will begin by recognizing our first witness, who is Dr. Daniel Schrag. He is the director of the Center for the Environment, and the director of the Laboratory for Geochemical Oceanography at Harvard University. He is a former member of the board of reviewing editors for Science Magazine and a MacArthur Fellow, a winner of that genius award. We look forward to your testimony, Dr. Schrag. Whenever you are ready, please begin.
MR. DANIEL SCHRAG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As an earth scientist who studies how the climate has changed in the past --
REP. MARKEY: You could move your microphone just in a little bit closer.
MR. SCHRAG: I believe the geologic data suggests that most scientific assessments of global warming err on the conservative side. This has led to a misunderstanding of the risks of adverse impacts of climate change. I will give a few examples today.
To quickly remind the committee, and if you could, click once on the slide, humans are changing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, mostly from burning coal, oil and gas. The current level, more than 380 parts per million, is higher than it has been for at least the last 650,000 years and perhaps for tens of millions of years. Next, two clicks, please.
By the middle of this century, we will be a 500 parts per million. The issue before us is not whether we will get to 500 but whether we stop at 500 or go to 1000. It is an uncontrolled experiment, filled with uncertainty and just like uncertainty in the financial market, it is a reason for grave concern.
Observations and models tell us that climate change in this century may be dramatic, perhaps even catastrophic. We tend to focus on the more extreme and more adverse consequences, not because we are unaware of any beneficial outcomes but simply because global warming is like an insurance problem. We need to understand the probability of the most undesirable outcomes to best gauge what steps to take to avoid them.
I will give two examples of how conservative the scientific community can be. Next slide please. First, consider the sea ice distribution in the Arctic in September of 2007. Previous studies, including the IPCC, predicted that the Arctic ice cap might disappear in the summer toward the end of the century, certainly no earlier than 2050. Then in 2007, there was a 20 percent decline in aerial extent of sea ice, below the previous record which was 2005. New studies now predict that the Arctic may be ice free as soon as the middle of the next decade, a milestone that will drastically change the Arctic climate, will change world commerce, and will enhance the melting of land ice on Greenland, because the Arctic sea ice keeps Greenland cold.
The second example, next slide -- well, actually skip to the next one -- is the IPCC's discussion of future sea level rise. The IPCC predicts 20 to 25 inches, based on different emission scenarios, of overall sea level rise. But most of that is actually due to the formal expansion of sea water. Only two inches, over the century, are attributed to melting of Greenland, even though Greenland ice has about 23 feet of potential sea level rise stored on it. The projection is an extrapolation of the current rates of warming, assuming that the current melting of Greenland will go on and stay the same throughout the century with no change, a highly unlikely outcome. It illustrates the basic problem. When pushed, the scientific community often falls back on an answer that can be defended with confidence, even though it may not provide you, the policy makers, with an accurate picture of the risk involved.
Why are scientists so conservative in their assessment of climate change? A major reason is that the scientific method teaches us to be conservative and to state things only when we know them with high confidence, such as a 95 percent confidence interval. This is in striking contrast to questions of national security, as illustrated by the 1 percent doctrine articulated by former Vice President Cheney. In Cheney's formulation, it's a probability of a high consequence event, such as a nuclear terrorist attack. If only 1 percent, then we should treat it as an absolute certainty and act accordingly. It's really just an extension of the Precautionary Principle.
But climate change may have just as serious implications for national security. Consider the advance of the timing of mountain snow melt as the earth warms. In the Western U.S. -- next slide please. Sorry, skip this next slide, one more. In the Western U.S., this could mean as much as 60 to 80 days earlier snow melt than today by the end of the century. And again, this could be conservative. If the rivers drain in the Sierra Nevada in California, for example, which are run dry by mid-summer, then California agriculture would be impossible. And this is mild compared with other parts of the world. The great rivers that drain the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau, the Indus, the Ganges, the Mekong, the Yangtze, and the Yellow, all depend on melting snow and ice for a large fraction of their water.
How might the decline of the Indus, for example, affect the political stability of Pakistan and the support for Islamic terrorism? How will China and India deal with reduced water resources and will it lead to more regional conflict? The risk of serious water stress, not just in Asia but around the world, contributing to failed states and major security disasters is well above a 1 percent threshold for serious action and illustrates how global warming poses and enormous challenge to peace and stability around the world.
A final point that I would like to make before this committee is that many steps to mitigate climate change will also result in an increase in our national security. Energy security is at the heart of many issues of security around the world, including funding our enemies or the strengthening influence that Russia has over Europe because of dependence on natural gas imports. Most new technologies that can reduce carbon emissions will also reduce our dependence on foreign sources of fossil fuels.
Energy efficiency is the most important strategy, as it will likely result in significant savings to our economy. Investments in renewable energy resources in appropriate locations as well as carbon capture and storage for coal fired power plants and other large stationary sources of CO2 will reduce our need to import greater amounts of liquid natural gas in the future. And our dependence on foreign oil will only be reduced in the long run if we can develop clean, domestic alternatives such as synthetic fuels produced from blending biomass and coal with carbon sequestration. Through such steps, we can lead the rest of the world down a path toward greater prosperity, stability and security. If we fail in this task, we risk threatening the stability of our climate, our society, and our entire planet. Thank you.
REP. MARKEY: Thank you, Professor Schrag, very much. Our second witness is General Gordon Sullivan, who is the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Association of the United States Army and a former chief of staff of the U.S. Army. He headed the Military Advisory Board for the Center for Naval Analysis Corporations' report on national security and the threats of climate change. We are honored to have you with us, General Sullivan. Please proceed when you are ready to go.
GEN. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and ranking member. About two years ago, I appeared before the first meeting of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming in my capacity as the Chairman of the Military Advisory Board, the CNA, reporting on national security and the threat of global climate change. The advisory board consisted of three and four-star flag and general officers from all four services. Mr. Chairman, I request that this report be once again entered for the record.
REP. MARKEY: Without objection, so ordered.
GEN. SULLIVAN: Our charge was to learn as much as we could in a relatively short period of time about the emerging phenomenon of global climate change using our experience and expertise as military leaders to process our learning through a national security lens. In other words, we will ask what are the national security implications of global climate change. In summary, what I reported at that time is the following. First, global climate change is a serious threat to our national security. Second, climate change will be what we call a threat multiplier. In many areas of the world that will be hardest hit by climate change, impacts are already being stressed by lack of water, lack of food, and political and social unrest. Global climate change will only magnify those threats. Third, projected climate change will add to tensions even in stable regions of the world. And lastly, climate change, national security, and energy dependence are a related set of global challenges.
In the two years since I appeared before this committee, we have seen no evidence to contradict those findings. In fact, we have only seen the findings confirmed and reinforced. In concurrence with one of our recommendations, the National Intelligence Estimate Assessment on Global Climate Change was conducted by the National Intelligence Council. The NIA remains classified, but public accounts of the Assessment suggest very strong agreement with our findings. Since our report, the scientific community, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has also continued their important work in examining climate change. What we have learned from their most recent work is that climate change is occurring at a much faster pace than the scientists previously thought it could.
The Arctic is a case in point. Three years ago, scientists were reporting, as has been stated here twice already, that the Arctic would be free from ice within about 40 years. Now they are telling us that it will happen in a couple of years.
As a matter of fact, the northern part of the Bering Sea is now free of ice. The acceleration of the changes in the Arctic are stunning. The trends of chronological data and concrete evidence of change continue to suggest the globe is changing in profound ways.
I am not a scientist, nor are most of my colleagues on the Military Advisory Board. I would characterize us as military professionals accustomed to making decisions during times with ambiguous information, with little concrete knowledge of the enemy intent. We based our decision on trends, experience, and judgment. We know that demanding 100 percent certainty during a crisis could be catastrophic and disastrous.
And so we ask quo vadis? Where do we go? I ask it in Latin because I believe it is a very fundamental question for the United States of America. Where we go will be a reflection of how we feel about the world in which we live. I feel right now, we are drifting -- excuse the metaphor -- in uncharted waters. This is not the time to wait for 100 percent certainty. The trends are not good.
What can guide us in choosing our path is up to do you. I believe there is a relationship between energy dependence, climate change, economic revitalization, and our national security. These are deeply related issues. When we consider investments in one, we must consider the impact on the whole. My personal view is that the United States of America is obliged to play a leadership role in this area. Leadership by the U.S. will be key. The best opportunity for us to demonstrate our global leadership on this issue is in Copenhagen, and I do believe we must take bold and swift steps even here at home to gain credibility necessary to participate in those discussions with credibility. We must show leadership in developing energy alternatives that reduce our need for fossil fuels. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. MARKEY: We thank you, general, very much. Our next witness is Mr. James Woolsey. Mr. Woolsey is a venture partner with VantagePoint Venture Partners in San Bruno, California and serves on the National Commission on Energy Policy. He is also a Senior Executive Advisor for Booz, Allen, Hamilton. He has served presidential appointments in both democrat and republican administrations, most recently as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Thank you, Mr. Woolsey, for being with us here today. Whenever you're ready, please begin.
MR. WOOLSEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's an honor to be with you. The subject of the hearing suggests that energy in the current environment needs to be secure, needs to be clean, and needs to be affordable. And in moving in that direction, we have to keep in mind, I think, two different types of threats to our security. One is what a colleague of mine calls this distinction malevolent, as distinguished from malignant. A malevolent threat is one that someone plans. And with respect to our energy infrastructure, probably the two most dangerous are our dependence on oil from the Middle East and the results of our funding both sides of the War on Terror and on and on -- a set of issues I don't need to go into in detail with this committee.
But the electricity grid is another extraordinarily vulnerable part of our system. The National Academy of Sciences' study of 2002, which I participated in, said "Simultaneous attacks on a few critical components of the grid could result in a widespread and extended blackout. Conceivably, they could also cause the grid to collapse, with the cascading failures in equipment far from the attacks leading to an even larger long-term blackout."
And then I say, Mr. Chairman, if we had a serious attack on the grid, either by way of cyber of attacks or by way of physical attacks and we lost a chunk of it, we are not back in the 1970's in the pre- Internet/Web days; we are back in the 1870's in the pre-electricity era. That set of issues has not been successfully addressed in the last seven years since we wrote that for the National Academy of Sciences.
If we look at malignant threats, threats no one is trying to create but which come about because of the complexity of systems, there are a number. And one I think of the most serious is certainly a climate change. That issue is dealt with in pages two through nine of the attacked chapter of a book which the staff has kindly allowed me to attach to my testimony. And will simply say that I believe Professor Schrag summarized those issues extremely well. We have a habit, from the non-scientific community, at looking at changes if it's linear, whereas in fact, some of the most troubling changes can be exponential. And particularly in this climate area, it's difficult for us to get our minds around it.
The other is that we don't need to believe that all climate change is anthropogenic, is caused by human beings, in order to believe that it's a serious problem. The world may well be in the middle of a several thousand year warming trend now. For historic reasons, the world's climate has changed many times, so for many years
But we are certainly doing something quite serious to it by doubling, tripling, and more than tripling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. I think that one needs to keep in mind that one needs to remember both these malignant and these malevolent problems, as one makes progress. We don't want, for example, to deal with climate change in a way that enhances the vulnerability of the electricity grid.
As a device to illustrate this, the last seven pages or so of the attached chapter of mine is a dialogue between a tree hugger and a hawk. My tree hugger is the ghost of John Muir, and my hawk is the ghost of George S. Patton. Muir is concerned only about carbon. Patton is concerned only about terrorism. What they keep finding is that on many proposals they are able to agree on what to do, even though they're not doing it for the same reasons.
For example, energy efficiency in buildings, so look at what Wal-Mart has been able to do. Patton and Muir agree on that. Combined heat and power, generating huge amounts of electricity from waste heat; Denmark gets a third of its electricity from waste heat. We get a tiny percent, just because of policies by the Public Utility Commissions. Patton and Muir agree on that.
Distributed generation, encouraged by such steps as the German Feed-in Tariff, which Congressman Inslee and others are working on here, can help move us toward renewables substantially. Decoupling revenues from earnings for electric utilities, as California did 20 plus years ago and a few states have followed since, can add a substantial set of incentives toward energy efficiency. Moving toward flexible fuel vehicles, as Congressman Engel has suggested, as Brazil has done; making the fuels out of cellulosic and waste feed stocks; and to some extent, turning toward electricity as in plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles -- all of these matters Patton and Muir, in my construct, find great common cause in.
Interestingly enough, Muir is more open to adding large power plants, either from renewables or from coal with carbon capture and sequestration, assuming it's successful, or from nuclear than is Patton, because Patton says I don't want to add to the electricity grid. He says the electricity grid is much more vulnerable than the Maginot Line. The Maginot Line could at least be defended from one direction. The way we're going about it now, the grid can't be defended at all. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. MARKEY: Thank you, Mr. Woolsey, very, very much. Our next witness is Dr. Kristie Ebi, an independent consultant specializing in impacts of and adaptation to climate change. She is a lead author of both the Human Health Chapter of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report and for the United States Climate Change Science Program's Synthesis Assessment Project on the Effects of Global Change on Human Health and Welfare and Human Systems. We thank you, Dr. Ebi, for being here. Whenever you're comfortable, please begin.
DR. KRISTIE EBI: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with all the members here of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. Climate change poses current and future risks for U.S. citizens. Although data are limited, injuries, illnesses, and deaths due to climate change may already be occurring, with the magnitude and extent of adverse health impacts expected to increase with additional climate change.
The risks include greater numbers of preventable illnesses and deaths due to increases in the frequency, intensity, and length of heat waves, with the greatest risk among older adults, those with chronic medical conditions, infants, children, pregnant women, outdoor workers, and the poor. Climate change is projected to increase heat related mortality several fold; increases in the frequency and intensity of floods, droughts, wildfires, and windstorms, with the risk highest among the poor, pregnant women, those with chronic medical conditions, and those with mobility and cognitive constraints.
Projecting additional health burdens is difficult, because extreme weather events, by definition, are rare. However, the impacts can be large for a single event. Higher concentrations of ground level ozone, with the highest risk among asthmatics and those with chronic heart or lung disease, diabetics, athletes, and outdoor workers; without taking into account possible changes and the precursors required for ozone formation, ozone related mortality is projected to increase at least 4 percent by 2050 in the New York area alone. Ozone related morbidity also would be expected to increase, including more asthma attacks among susceptible individuals.
Certain food and water borne diseases, with the highest risks amongst older adults, infants, and those who are immuno compromised; the number of cases of salmonella, which has caused several recent food borne outbreaks, increases with ambient temperature. Possible changes in the geographic range and incidents of water borne and zoonotic diseases; reports are appearing of infectious disease outbreaks in areas that previously had been considered too cold for their transmission. Other health impacts also may increase. For example, there are anecdotal reports of increases in suicide rates among native Alaskans associated with the loss of culture, lands, and livelihoods because of melting permafrost, loss of sea ice, and other changes due to climate change.
The magnitude and extend of these impacts will vary significantly across regions, requiring understanding of the local factors that interact with climate change to increase the health risks. Demographic trends, such as an older and larger U.S. population will increase overall vulnerability. In addition, the U.S. may be at risk from climate related diseases and disasters that occur outside our borders. The unprecedented nature of climate change may bring unanticipated consequences for public health.
The current and projected health impacts of climate change are significantly larger in low income countries, challenging their ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Adaptation and mitigation are equally important for addressing these health risks. Neither is sufficient. Focusing only on mitigation will leave communities inadequately prepared for the changes expected in the short term. And focusing only on adaptation will increase the amount of future climate change to which communities will need to adapt.
The U.S. has well-developed public health infrastructure and environmental regulatory programs that, if maintained, would moderate the risks of climate change. However, there are limits to the degree to which adaptation can reduce these health impacts. Some low income countries are struggling to adapt to the climate change impacts they are experiencing now. And as we heard, that does increase our national security threats.
Actions that lead to greenhouse gas emission reductions can have significant, positive impacts on human health. For example, in the year 2020, thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of asthma-related emergency room visits could be prevented from the implementation of a range of activities that reduce fine particulate matter concentrations associated with carbon dioxide emissions. In addition to saving lives, the associated economic benefits would range from $6 to $14 billion, and that's in one year. Thank you very much.
REP. MARKEY: Thank you, Dr. Ebi. Just for the members' information, the House is in recess subject to the call of the chair. So we're going to have a good stretch here, in order to listen to the witnesses and to cross examine them.
Our next witness is Dr. Frank Ackerman, and economist who has written extensively on environmental economics and climate change. He is the Senior Economist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute at the U.S. Center as well as a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Development and Environmental Institute at Tufts University. We welcome you, Dr. Ackerman. Whenever you're ready, please begin.
MR. ACKERMAN: Thank you. Thank you for inviting my testimony. Several people have said already today the debate has largely shifted from science to economics. Climate change is real. It's caused by human activity. It's going to be increasingly bad for us. The question now before us is can we afford to do anything about it.
As a group of prominent economists, including several Nobel Laureates said, "The most expensive thing we can do is nothing." There's a growing recognition in the economics profession of the cost of doing nothing. The Stern Review, sponsored by the British government, was a major step forward in understanding that. As has been mentioned, the Stern estimate of the cost of doing nothing ranged, depending on how you understand the damages, from 5 percent to 20 percent of world output, compared to a cost of solving the problem, eliminating most of those impacts, which Stern estimated at 1 percent of world output for some decades.
There are many studies of local and regional impacts of climate change, varied impacts on different ecosystems, different climate regions within the United States. There's an excellent study by Matthias Ruth of the University of Maryland reviewing a lot of these. My research, which is described in my written testimony, was in response to requests for a total dollar estimate for the cost of inaction for the United States.
We did one study of the U.S. and a study looking more in-depth at Florida. We found that just a few categories of damages would amount to 1.5 percent of U.S. income by the end of this century. For Florida, which is much more in harm's way, four categories of damages could amount to as much as 5 percent of saved income by the end of the century.
The categories that we looked at are hurricane damages; the effects of sea level rise, solely on residential real estate, not on all the properties in the state; cost to the electrical system of the change in demand; costs of more expensive and difficult water supply for the U.S. For Florida, we were not able to produce a similar water estimate, but we estimated the cost of losses to the state's very important tourism industry. Now, I would emphasize that these numbers, while they are larger than the 1 percent estimate of the costs of action, they are partial estimates of the cost if inaction.
There is no such thing as a total dollar estimate for the costs of inaction. Lives will be lost to climate change if we do nothing about it. There's no meaningful way to put a dollar cost on those, but you can't forget it. The costs of Hurricane Katrina were not just property losses. They were also the more than 1,000 people who died there. Damages to nature and extinction of species likewise have no meaningful price.
Turning to economic categories, we did not estimate agricultural losses, except to the extent they were included in water losses. We didn't estimate wildfires and forest die off costs or the cost of floods in the Midwest, California and elsewhere. We didn't look at the costs of the infrastructure along the coasts, other than the cost to residential real estate.
And a very important point, which has come out in the economics literature lately, is the importance of looking at worst case risks, rather than averages. Climate change will get worse on average, and the worst case risks are indeed ominous. The risks of an abrupt discontinuity, a climate catastrophe, has to be taken seriously. When people buy insurance, they buy insurance against worst cases, not average. On average, you don't need fire insurance. On average, you have 99 percent confidence that you don't need fire insurance. You can live a richer life if you cancel the fire insurance.
Not taking seriously the worst case risks the same way that we do when we buy fire insurance is taking a huge gamble. The future is only going to happen once. If we're lucky, we wouldn't need insurance, but that's not the way anybody thinks about these risks in their ordinary life.
So we concluded that climate change will be bad for the economy, just a few categories of economic damages for the U.S. as a whole exceed the costs of action. For Florida, it's much worse. We did a similar, short study of the Caribbean, where we found devastating costs to the island economies that are completely at risk from climate change. Those are likely to cause a flood of refugees, as the speakers discussing security have mentioned. There are real issues about refugees caused by climate change. Where are people leaving the Caribbean because of climate going to go, probably not to Venezuela.
And finally, there is an international dimension to this. I've been to a lot of climate change conferences in the last eight years. It's been embarrassing to go to them as an American.
People tend to come at you again and again about what are you thinking of doing nothing about it? And why should we do anything about it when the world's largest economy is doing nothing? So I'm very happy to see that we have a chance to change that and to go back and challenge the rest of the world to keep up with us. Thank you.
REP. MARKEY: Thank you very much. I very much appreciate your testimony. And now we'll move to our final witness who is Dr. Patrick Michaels. Dr. Michaels is a Senior Fellow of Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute. He is also a Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and Visiting Scientist with the Marshall Institute in Washington, D.C. Thank you for joining us, Dr. Michaels. Please proceed with your testimony.
MR. MICHAELS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would also like to thank the subcommittee for inviting my testimony on the impacts of climate change. The subcommittee is asking very important questions. What are the implications of climate change for national security, economic development, and public health?
But before providing informed opinion on the costs of climate change, one must have constant predictions of climate change itself. On my first slide, if I could, one proceeds from changes in atmosphere composition to changes as modeled by climate models and then ultimately to the impacts. What I would like to examine is what's going on with our climate models.
We often hear that, quote, "The science is settled on global warming." In fact, this is far from the truth. Our models are not -- repeat, not simulating global temperature trends in recent decades.
Here I'm going to examine in the next slide the ensemble of 21 models used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for their mid-range projection of carbon dioxide emissions. And the world has been going along with this emission scenario, the changes and concentration in the atmosphere have been very close to these estimates.
Note that the behavior of the models is linear. They tend to predict a constant rate of forming. This was from 2000 to 2020. The individual models vary quite a bit from model to model and, in fact, some models can even have cooling trends in them for certain periods of time.
The next slide shows the observed temperatures for the last -- since the second warming of the 20th Century started in the late 1970s. One of the things that you see, it actually, too, is constant, despite this much talked of peak in 1998, which is clearly a high point in the record as a result of solar activity in addition to an El Nino and pressure from greenhouse warming.
Now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to give us the range of predictions from each model. Next slide. From all 21 models, I ran them for various periods of time; five-year trend, six-year trend, seven years, on out to 15-year trends. The bottom line is the second percentile of warming. The top line is the 97.5 percentile. So this is the 95 percent confidence range in the climate models.
And the solid black line are the observed temperature trends for the last five years, six years, seven years, etcetera, on out to 15 years. You can see that they are running at or below the bottom limit of the model's confidence. This is not very good and unfortunately tells us that we are undergoing a systematic failure of our mid-range models in recent decades.
The next slide shows what happens as this persists. Assume that the temperatures in 2009, globally, are the same as the average for 2008. That's a reasonable assumption, because we're in what's called a La Nina, which is a relatively cool period. And the addition of yet another year to these 15-year trends gives you everything below the 95 percent confidence level. It's very unfortunate, but it tells us a lot that we need to do.
Now, everybody knows that the behavior of the last 10 to 12 years seems to be a bit unusual. So let's extend this analysis in the next slide to the last 20 years, if we could. That would be in the next image, there you go. And we have to take out the effect of Mount Pinatubo, which occurred in 1991 and introduced a cooling at the beginning of the record, so there was a rapid warming that was induced that biases that record.
The models, themselves, do not have volcanoes in them, so an apples-to-apples comparison takes that out. And you can see, again, that the observed temperature range, and that was temperatures -- with trends on up from 14 to 20 years is falling below the 95 percent confidence level.
What so we say? One implicit assumption about calculating the cost of inaction is that we know, with reasonable confidence, what the climate changes will ensue as carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere. This demonstration shows that the oft-repeated mantra in Washington, quote, "The science is settled," is not true at all. More important the rates of warming on multiple time scales are invalidating the mid-range sweep of IPCC models.
This is a problem that's received very little attention. But it is very germane to this committee. Until we know -- until we have models that, in fact, accommodate the behavior of recent decades, we appear to be overestimating the rate of climate change. As you can see, it's all at the lower end where the observations are.
If climate change is overestimated, then so are the impacts of that change. And that's something we must pay attention to as we address this issue.
Thank you very much.
REP. MARKEY: Thank you, Dr. Michaels, very much. The Chair will now recognize himself for five minutes for a round of questioning.
Professor Schrag, you just heard what Dr. Michaels said. He's basically saying is we just shouldn't worry as much about global warming because it's not going to be as bad as the models are predicting.
Your quick response to that.
PROF. SCHRAG: Well, I think it lies in the face of all of our knowledge, both about earth history. We can actually get a very good sense of the sensitivity of the earth's climate to changes in carbon dioxide from looking at the past over various time scales, over ice ages or even back millions and tens of millions of years.
And the general answer we get is, in fact, that the models tend to be less sensitive than the real world. Very clear from that estimate that, in fact, we're in for bigger trouble.
Looking at the last two decades, is a very tricky thing what Dr. Michaels was talking about, simply because we also have sulfate aerosols that we're putting out from burning a lot of coal, especially now that China is burning so much coal, and putting sulfur dioxide into the air.
That counteracts the effect of CO2, and makes -- and because we don't know that number very well, it means that we don't understand the rate (we're forcing ?) - perfectly. But it'd be a big mistake to think that that should give us comfort. In fact, the opposite conclusion is the case. If, in fact, temperature has not warmed as much because of sulfur emissions, sulfur doesn't last in the atmosphere very long, where as carbon dioxide last for hundreds of years. And that means we're in for a big shock in the decades ahead.
REP. MARKEY: Okay. Thank you, Professor Schrag.
General Sullivan, you were Army Chief of Staff back in the early 1990s. And I know you had decisions you had to make about Somalia at that time, and the events that ultimately led to "Black Hawk Down," the movie.
Could you talk a little bit about climate change, Somalia, Darfur, that whole region in terms of how, as a military, a group, you were analyzing the climate change data.
GEN. SULLIVAN: Well, as you stated Somalia, Darfur, that part of Africa is buffeted -- has been buffeted by drought for years. The drought enabled frankly the warlords to start controlling food aid that was going in. They were controlling the food, selling the food to their people.
That created the depths of other tribes that marked -- supported by the warlords, which created instability, and it enabled, frankly, Somalia to move on to where it's a failed state now. And as we all know, you now have pirates operating out of Darfur, which are destabilizing the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
It's all related to the same thing which is going on in Darfur. We have migratory farmers or herders superimposing themselves on the top of farmers, and it's a vicious cycle.
REP. MARKEY: And you relate this to drought that leads to famine ultimately caused by this --
GEN. SULLIVAN: Absolutely.
REP. MARKEY: -- climate change phenomenon?
GEN. SULLIVAN: Absolutely, we can. And when we see the Himalayas, as was mentioned by Dr. Schrag, when we think about the water loss there, you can see the same picture in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and elsewhere. Not to mention, by the way, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinians, the water in that part of the world comes from down Jerky, the Jordan River. And it's all related.
REP. MARKEY: Thank you, General Sullivan.
Mr. Woolsey, could you expand upon General Sullivan's point with regard to the National Security implications for our country, if we see deterioration because of climate change in these regions of the country.
REP. WOOLSEY: Mr. Chairman, it's going to hit us very close to home. One of the fastest set of melting glaziers is apparently in the Andes. And if we think we have trouble coming up with the sound and agreed upon immigration policy for the United States now, what is it going to be like if our Southern borders are seeing millions of our hungry and thirsty Southern neighbors headed toward tempered climates.
Also, from the point of view of our being able to moderate some of the terrible events from weather pattern changes and so forth such as the U.S. Armed Forces instead, particularly the Navy so well in response to the Tsunami in Indonesia a few years ago, it's going to be very difficult for any country, even us, to shoulder much of a humanitarian burden if we're seeing direct and immediate effects that we have to deal with that the stress our own systems here.
I shared the policy panel for a Defense Science Board study last year that was chaired by former Secretary of Defense, Schlesinger, and our report, called, "More Fight, Less Fuel," is on the Defense Science Board website. It might be worth the Committee having a look at, because it talks about the interaction of energy policies and the capabilities of the armed forces.
And there is a classified annex, which the Committee certainly can have access to, I'm sure through the Defense department, and I can tell the staff about that.
REP. MARKEY: And, Mr. Woolsey, you would recommend that the members see that classified annex because it does relate to climate change and its impact?
REP. WOOLSEY: It does. It relates principally to specific vulnerabilities of our military, as a result of things like electricity great vulnerability.
REP. MARKEY: Well, my time has expired.
REP. WOOLSEY: But that's one of the subjects, but that's the classified part that mainly deals with that.
REP. MARKEY: Thank you, Mr. Woolsey.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Upton.
REP. UPTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to make a couple of comments and get the reaction from you all. First of all, General Sullivan, your statement that energy alternatives to reduce reliance on fossil fuels needs to be a priority is one that I think most of us share. And I appreciated that.
Admiral Woolsey, we've had some briefings, I guess you could say, in the last year about the vulnerability of our grid, and what terrorists might be able to do. And I would hope that if this stimulus package passes that some of those concerns can be addressed in terms of the smart grid. Maybe that's something that we need to have a hearing on at some point later this year. It came to a head last year with Chairman Boucher.
REP. MARKEY: We will do that.
REP. UPTON: But I'd like to just make a couple of comments. We haven't done just nothing. In my view, we've actually done a lot. And Dr. Ackerman, you shouldn't be embarrassed by the lack of activity when you look at the progress that our country has made.
Now, we've had a -- until this year, we've had a growing economy, a growing population. And we've tried to figure out how we're going to be prepared by the year 2030 when our electricity use is expected to go up as much as 40 to 50 percent. There's been a lot on conservation. We're focused on renewables. A number of states have, including mine, now have a RPS standard that -- on track. Texas is another state that has done the same thing. With maybe the exception of Nantucket, we're actually doing something about, but we'll deal with that Massachusetts' issue another day.
And nuclear has been, to me -- that, I have been embarrassed. I have been embarrassed about the lack of progress on nuclear, that we haven't actually turned that switch back to green after 20-some years.
We've made progress on autos. I know the Chairman and I were both at the auto show here in D.C. this last week. And it's amazing to see some of the new cars that are going to be in the showroom, not only this year but in the future. And you look at some of the electric hybrids that the big three are developing all to be in the showroom by sometime next year.
We're seeing great strides on appliances, the standards there. Building standards. Jane Harman, my colleague, on light bulbs, who is here. As those kick in within a couple of years, and we're going to save tons of carbon from being admitted into the atmosphere. And it was something that we worked on together.
FutureGen. I think there's money in the stimulus package for FutureGen. And I hope that that works. I'm a very strong supporter of clean coal. And I would say that we're probably doing more as a nation on carbon capture than just about anything else. And the hearing that we had with USCAP a couple of weeks ago, you know, they're hoping by 2015 we're going to have an answer. Again, we're the leaders on that technology.
And when you look at that, since 2002 despite -- you know, we've had a growing economy, our greenhouse gas intensity has actually fallen by an average of about two percent per year from the year 2002 to 2007. When you counter that with what's happened in the EU, it came up with this scheme as Mr. Gore would say on cap and trade, and their emissions has actually gone up, not gone down.
So, our concern when you look at these statistics, the U.S. emits about five and a half billion tons of energy based on CO2 each year. Developing world does 14 billion tons, almost three times as much. By 2030, we're going to increase allegedly by about two billion tons annually, but, again, the developing world is going to go up by another 12.8 billion or six times what we are expected to do.
We need incentives for clean energy. I think we can do it. We need to be on that path. But what happens if the developing countries, China and India -- China's now the world's largest emitter, what if they don't follow that track? My state is so hard hit. We are devastated with the job losses, and our economy is just totally in the tank. And I can just see that this will yet be another incentive for those jobs and economic opportunities to go some place else.
So maybe in the last -- can I get an extra 10 minutes for them to respond?
I don't know who would like to respond to that, but I wouldn't be embarrassed. I think we've been on a road of progress.
And I look forward to continuing that road of progress to have the incentives to actually see us get to the conclusion that certainly General Sullivan would like us to see.
In my remaining time, who would like to respond?
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman has a few seconds left for the panel to answer. We'll give one person down here a chance to respond.
REP WOOLSEY: First of all, Congressman, thanks for the promotion, but I never got above Captain in General Sullivan's organization in the Army.
I think you make a good point. In our own way we have made some progress in a number of these areas. But we haven't always chosen the most effective way to do it. For example, a renewable portfolio standard has some positive features, but you get just as much credit for moving away from natural gas to renewables, as you do moving away from coal. Whereas, if you had a Feed-in Tariff, you would have a lot more incentive, I think, to move not only for large facilities, like, say solar power plants and wind farm, but also -- wind farms, but also the distributed generation.
It's a -- I think a far superior mechanism. The Germans have shown how well it works in Germany. So we haven't really picked, I think, in many circumstances the mechanisms that can move us quickly. And I agree with you very much about, again, hybrids. I drive one myself. And the infrastructure I picked up at Wal-Mart for $14.95, it's an orange extension cord, and that's all the new infrastructure you need for a plug-in. It's a pretty good deal.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah, Mr. Matheson.
REP. MATHESON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Professor Schrag, one of the issues that Congress is going to have to deal with if it puts together a cap and trade bill is setting the targets from year to year, and what the shape of the curve is going to be over time. And the panel here has talked about a sense of urgency about wanting to take action, and I think you've heard a lot of folks -- members of Congress also acknowledge that sense of urgency.
But we've got this challenge because there's certain technologies out there that are not at the level of maturity that we'd like them to be for us to have real certainty about our ability, whether it's carbon capture sequestration, whether it's alternative fuel cellulosic ethanol, whatnot.
So I wondered if you could talk me for a bit about your thoughts about what the shape of the curve should be or more -- if you don't know specifically what the shape, how should we decide what those targets should be from year to year?
PROF. SCHRAG: I think it's a very good question. I think that clearly -- or it needs to be. And I think economists and scientists would both agree that there needs to be a price on carbon. But putting a price on carbon too quickly, too high, would have a bad effect, because as you say some of the major technologies that are going to be necessary to meet these challenges aren't really demonstrated yet.
And what that means in practical terms is that banks and financial institutions aren't willing to invest in those projects. So I think there's a two pronged approach. One is, I think through the stimulus package and additional things that this Congress will do over the next two years, we need to see some government support, perhaps loan guarantees for getting some number, a dozen, 10, 20 major projects in these categories; carbon capture and storage, synthetic fuels that are clean, that are low carbon and are capital intensive.
And we need to demonstrate to the market that these technologies can work. Find out what works and find out what doesn't work. And find out what it really costs. We need to build some nuclear plants and figure out what they really costs. But it's also very important in setting the price on carbon for cap and trade or whatever additional mechanisms are used by this Congress, that you forecast to the market that the long-term price is going to rise. Because unless that is done, you won't get the right type of investment in technology.
It's very important that we -- I think we start out with a low price that doesn't really hurt our industry in the short run, but in the long run, that price has to rise and we have to forecast that it will rise.
My final point is that the concern that the Congressman from Michigan and many others have expressed, the loss of jobs overseas. This is a very serious issue. I actually think the best way to get China and India engaged is to take a start and focus on the technologies that will apply to their economies. And there are some trade issues that we could deal with, like an non-discriminatory tariff that would level the playing field. Much more easier to enforce if we got together with the EU, and then went to China and India and talked. And I think those are very interesting ideas that need to be explored.
REP. MATHESON: I think your ideas have merit, but I got to say it also still points out this challenge that we have of -- you've talked about the notion of perhaps government-sponsored efforts to encourage how we learn about these technologies the next couple of years or fill out those costs. And yet, we're talking about moving a bill this year. It's going set these cap levels and these targets year by year where we won't have that information yet of the -- for the next two or three years while we -- or however long it's going to take to develop those technologies.
And I don't know if I'm asking you another question or just pointing out the challenge I think we face here in terms of trying to get this right.
PROF. SCHRAG: Remember that the low-hanging fruit in all of this is energy efficiency. It's probably negative costs, or at least it's not extremely expensive. It makes us leaner and more competitive around the world. Now, I think the initial impact of a low price on carbon through a cap and trade bill is going to be a huge investment in energy efficiency. And that's great for the U.S. economy in its competitiveness.
Some of the bigger, deeper cuts down the road as the cap tightens in the future will come from these other technologies. And that means separate from the cap and trade, we have to get some of these technologies built, not just at a demonstration scale, but at a real commercial scale so we can see what happens.
REP. MATHESON: Okay. Mr. Woolsey, you mentioned just in the last time about the Feed-in Tariff in Germany. Could you explain that a little more to the Committee right now?
MR. WOOLSEY: Yes. I'll state very briefly Congressman Inslee has forgotten more about this issue than I'll ever know, so he is one of the resident experts up here. But the Germans came up with this mechanism, and it's been adopted in a number of other countries to guarantee a reasonable price for generation of renewables that one has a right to, whether one is a small rooftop generator photovoltaics on the roof of the farmhouse, like I have on mine. Or whether one sets up a large number of solar panels, let's say in a retirement complex for hundreds of homes.
In most of the United States, the utilities and the Public Utility Commissions have a mindset that the way to produce electricity is to build big power plants and string transmission lines and distribution lines. They've been doing that for well over a century. They know how to do it, and that's what the polices implement.
What a Feed-in tariff does is say, if you're doing renewables, you can get paid a reasonable price by the utility in order to send back to the grid a certain amount of renewable power. And it may be a relatively large amount if you're a small corporation or it may be a small amount if you're a household.
In much of the United States you can do what we do at our farm, you can run your meter backwards to zero by having photovoltaics on a roof. But you can't make money. And the Germans have figured out, I think, better than anybody else how to incentivize renewables with a relatively simple process. It's easier for them because they have a -- our electricity is largely done state by state. Not everything, but a lot. But that's a broad outline of the issue.
REP. MATHESON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Kentucky, Mr. Whitfield. I'm sorry. I did not see the gentleman. The Chair with the indulgence of Mr. Whitfield will recognize the ranking member of the full committee, Mr. Barton.
REP. BARTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm such a shrinking violet it's easy to overlook me.
I want to start out with Dr. Michaels by complimenting you on being here. And I want the record to show that the rules of the committee ostensibly require that there be two minority witnesses -- or a third of the witnesses be minority, which if you take six witnesses, we should have two minority. But Dr. Michaels is our only one. It's five to one, which we appreciate you being the one, Dr. Michaels, showing up.
REP. : Would the gentleman yield?
REP. BARTON: I will at the end of my time if we can get a little extra time.
REP. : I may forget what I'm going to ask you by that time. I just wondered if you knew that the Chairman had four, and when he found out Dr. Michaels was really going to be here that he added Professor Schrag made it. It must really say something for Dr. Michaels. I yield back my time.
REP. BARTON: Anyway, Dr. Michaels, you are an active official of the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change; is that not correct?
DR. MICHAELS: Yes.
REP. BARTON: Okay. So you're not some out in the right field guy who's just observing. You're active in the participation of the IPCC?
DR. MICHAELS: Yes.
REP. MARKEY: Can you move the microphone over to Dr. Michaels.
REP. BARTON: These models that you refer to in your testimony, for the lack of a better term, they're the official models of the UN?
DR. MICHAELS: The UN uses three suites of models in there that they concentrate on in their latest report. The one I looked at was the mid-range suite because that's the one at which the concentrations with CO2 that are in the atmosphere resembles the most.
REP. BARTON: But these aren't models sponsored by Exxon Mobil or I mean --
DR. MICHAELS: No.
REP. BARTON: -- these are the official UN -- a subset of --
DR. MICHAELS: No. There's 21 different models that they use.
REP. BARTON: Okay. Now, I'm going to read from your testimony -- or at least paraphrase from your testimony: "We often hear that the science is settled on global warming. This is hardly the case. There's considerable debate about the ultimate magnitude of warming. I must report that our models are in the process of failing. When I say that, I mean that the ensemble of 21 models used in the mid-range projection for climate change for the IPCC. If it's demonstrable that these models have failed, then there's no real scientific basis for any estimates of the cost of inaction.
Now, why do you say that that models are failing? And again, these are the official UN climate change models. These aren't some business-sponsored anti-climate change models. These are the ones that everybody is basing their so-called projections on. Why do you say they're failing?
DR. MICHAELS: What I did is I looked at the range of projections made by these models, and I looked at them for multiple, multiple iterations. For example, for the -- I used 20 years of models, and for five-year projection ranges, I moved forward one month, beginning at 60 months and then at one -- 60 -- one plus 61, etcetera.
It was a very, very large sample size that can give you the distribution of warming rates for different lengths in time predicted by the models. And then you can compare that to the observed warming rates for the last five years, for the last 10 years, for the last 15 years and the last 20 years. And what you see is that the observed temperatures fall along or below the 95 percent confidence limit for the model.
REP. BARTON: So they fall because they don't predict the --
DR. MICHAELS: They predict too much warming. And if you take a look at the systematic behavior of the models, which is very interesting, they generally predict constant rates of warming. Not increasing rates of warming. And, in fact, the rate of warming -- since 1977 does corresponds to a constant rate. It just happens to be right at the lower limit of the rates that are given by the family's models.
That tells me something. Nature has been responding to carbon dioxide for decades. And maybe you ought to listen to nature, rather than to (commentators ?).
REP. BARTON: Dr. Schrag showed a chart early in his presentation. It shows the last 650,000 years of temperatures, as far as we know it, and it shows it going up and down, up and down, up and down. For most of that time period, there were no human beings, as we know them today on the earth. So what caused the rapid increase in temperature those previous times, since there were no men around?
DR. MICHAELS: Oh, these were the Ice Age isolations that you see in his Ice Core records. Those were caused by earth orbital changes, we think. That's the current myth. That myth is --
REP. BARTON: It's obvious it couldn't have been caused by man- made CO2.
DR. MICHAELS: It's not caused by carbon dioxide, no.
REP. BARTON: Mr. Chairman, could I have one more question?
REP. BAIRD: Yes.
REP. BARTON: I know my time has expired.
And Dr. Michaels, I'm told that in these core samples and the pinecone samples and all of those data sets that it appears that the temperature goes up before the CO2 concentrations go up by a time period somewhere between 100 to 800 years. So in other words, the dominant variable is temperature and the dependent variable is CO2. Is that correct?
MR. MICHAELS: There are instances in that record where, in fact, the temperature changes precede the changes in carbon dioxide.
REP. BARTON: Precedes. So what we have is a theory that CO2 is driving temperature. But that's all it is. It's a theory. It's not a scientific fact, is it?
MR. MICHAELS: Well no, I -- the link is very, very complicated. Carbon dioxide in laboratory experiments is demonstrated to absorb, in the infrared, and everything else being equal you will get a warming from CO2. That's really not the point that I'm trying to make. The point is that the warming has been tending to run underneath what is projected by our models, and so therefore there's a reasonable argument that the sensitivity that is within the models for very complicated reasons, has been overestimated.
REP. BARTON: That little beep means my time is up. We appreciate the discretion of the chairman and we look forward to him showing more discretion at future hearings.
REP. MARKEY: And it will be forthcoming. The gentleman's time has expired, the chair recognizes the gentleman from Washington state, Mr. Inslee.
REP. INSLEE: Dr. Michaels, I'm stunned that you've come here and talked about things that just don't seem to meet any scientific sense, to me. I've listened to your testimony with care. And what you did is you compared observational data in the past to models in the future.
And you said that the rate of change in the models of the future are different than the observational data in the past, that there must be something wrong with the model. Now that makes no sense whatsoever on a scientific basis. If you want to compare -- if you want to compare models to observational data you have to do it in the same time period.
And, in fact, the observational data with the modeling data in the past is quite consistent. You showed a difference between observational data in the past and modeling projections in the future. And there is some difference because it shows an accelerated rate of warming, which is consistent with what's going on in the real world. Now how can you possibly come in here and think you're going to blow this one right by us and nobody's going to figure this out? Do you take us for real chumps up here?
MR. MICHAELS: I really would prefer that we -- we did not get personal. In fact, there's substantial overlap between the period that I looked at. Half of the period that I looked, it overlaps the model. Number two, and we could go to my -- my graphics. I don't know how hard they would be to come up with? Can we go to --
REP. INSLEE: Yeah, let's do that. Why don't you go to -- let me ask the staff to put up the Global Mean Surface Temperature chart, source IPCC/AR4. Can you put that up, please? Because I think what we'll see is if you were forthright with this committee, you would say that the modeling data is quite consistent with the observational data in the past.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman. Would you yield for a second? I would ask my colleague from Washington state not to disparage and call the panelist a liar. When you -- when you -- when you propose the fact that he is not forthright, you are making the premise that he is -- and actually providing testimony that's not true. He's a noted citizen, respected policy observer on the U.N. and climate. And I think it's just egregious that we attack the only Republican panelist we have on this committee when you've got five on your side.
REP. MARKEY: If the gentleman -- let me just note that the gentleman from Washington state did not use the word liar.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): He said he was not forthright, Mr. Chairman. We can quibble about words but we know what that means.
REP. MARKEY: Well I appreciate that. But I think that, as we know --
MR. MICHAELS: I think I can defuse this with a very simple answer.
REP. MARKEY: If I may, Dr. Michaels. There's a difference in terms of which term is used, in terms of the response someone is trying to elicit from a witness. And we're going to put the time back on the clock for the gentleman from Washington state. And I don't think that the gentleman from Washington state was doing anything other than trying to engage in a -- and by using the word forthright trying to use terminology that would have a scientific discussion.
If he had used the word liar, if any member uses the word liar here, I'm going to rule them out of order in this hearing or any other hearing. If he engages in the use of language which is commonly considered to be abusive, I will do that. I don't think using the word forthright in the way in which he did it, in this scientific discussion, really was intended to be a personal insult. If anything, the gentleman from Washington was using the word chump to refer to himself in this discussion, and I felt that that was -- that was also an inappropriate word.
REP. INSLEE: That was over the line. I apologize for my self -- my self description (of chump-dom ?)
REP. MARKEY: Self description.
REP. INSLEE: And I want to say for the record --
REP. MARKEY: I will put the time back on the clock, up to approximately (three minutes ?).
REP. INSLEE: Thank you. And I want to make that clear Mr. Shimkus is always forthright and I appreciate his observation. But I do want to point out that I think a forthright assessment of the scientific principles are that one does not compare apples to oranges and criticize a model that's essentially been (accurate ?) with observational data.
And if you look at the chart that's on the screen now, it will compare the modeling data for --to observational data prior to the year about 2004. And I think you'll see there's a very high degree of correspondence the two showing that the modeling data, compared to observational data in the past, is very, very close. Now what we have seen with the modeling data, a forthright statement is that the model suggests an accelerating rate of global warming and in fact that that is what we have experienced and that's why everyone with their eyes open are now seeing very significant changes in our climatic system. I'll ask Professor Schrag to comment on that, if that's a fair assessment of the evidence?
MR. SCHRAG: I think that is a fair assessment and I think it is correct that the models are predicting an accelerated response over the next several decades. Part of the reason is what I said earlier, the aerosol effect that has been essentially dampening the effect of CO2 is short-lived. And over time, we will see the CO2 continue to accumulate and the impact of CO2 grow and grow relative to the aerosol --
REP. INSLEE: And I may note, the acceptance of this forthright scientific data is becoming so widespread that this is a debate we should not be having. Today I just got a message on my Blackberry that Exxon oil was in a meeting yesterday or this morning, talking about the need to respond to global warming. It just isn't a debate anymore.
And it's unfortunate that our committee is sort of fighting the Civil War again. And we've got to stop fighting the Civil War and try to find a bipartisan consensus on how to move forward. And I really look forward to the day when the witnesses who are before us from the Republican side, will talk about how we design a cap and trade system that will minimize any dislocation. I just look forward that day. I hope it is coming shortly, because I think the forthright conclusion we can draw on a bipartisan basis is that we know it's going on, it's not good, and I look forward to the day we can jointly figure out a way to solve that.
Thank you, I yield back.
MR. MICHAELS: Can I respond?
REP. INSLEE: You've got 15 seconds. If you'd like, go ahead.
MR. MICHAELS: These are the A1b scenarios. I hope you have good eyes. You can see the rates are, in fact, not accelerating over the course of 100 years. In fact, they are constant. And that the rates that are being observed, which are also constant, are at the low end of the projection ranges made by the A1b scenarios. Those are constant. If you have good eyes back there you can see that. Thank you very much.
REP. INSLEE: Thank you to all witnesses.
MR. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired, the chair recognizes the gentleman from Kentucky, Mr. Whitfield.
REP. ED WHITFIELD (R-KY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think the frustrating thing about this debate is -- I read an article the other day where someone said that in all my years of doing science I've never seen this sort of gag order on people trying to speak their views, whether they disagree or agree with the projections of the impact of global warming. And that stems from the fact that Dr. Michaels, because of actions taken by Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, Dr. Michaels was state climatologist and actually lost his job there and at the University of Virginia because he continued to speak out on global warming, which was different than the position of the governor.
In addition to that, an official in Oregon lost his job because his views were different than those of the governor of Oregon. He continued to speak out on global warming. In Delaware, Governor Ruth Ann Minner got upset because of one of the climatologists there participated in an amicus curiae brief before the Supreme Court in which they were questioning some of the scientific evidence on global warming.
In Washington state Mark Albright (ph) lost his job for the same reason. And I think it is disturbing that on an issue this important, that can have the impact and the future that this has, that we get into these kinds of situations.
I think the important aspect of this is that everybody give their views and then let's make decisions and try to solve the problem. I noticed that Professor Schrag made the comment that generally they are very conservative in their arguments about global warming and the impact of global warming. And yet, when I read Dr. Ackerman's testimony, on clip note four, when he talks about, on page five, he said, "Since the future will only happen once, and we want to know how bad the risk the future damages could be, we're going to use the worst limit of what IPCC calls the likely range of outcomes." And that's fine, but as politicians when we go out to civic clubs and everywhere else and we make speeches, we try to find evidence that will back us up.
And when you get people who are really totally convinced that we need to take drastic action to prevent the impact of global warming in the future, we're going to take the studies, the worst-case scenario being, according to Dr. Ackerman, that by 2100 U.S. temperatures are going to rise 12 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit. In Alaska they're going to rise by 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Sea level is going to increase by 45 inches. And hurricane intensity will create damages estimated to be $397 billion by 2100.
Now I might also say that Chris Lindsey who was on the -- and was contributing to the IPCC in the area of hurricanes -- he resigned from the IPCC because he said that the leading author had a press conference and emphatically stated that increased hurricane intensity was due to global warming. And Lindsey resigned from that. The reason I know about that is because we had a lengthy oversight hearing about that a number of years ago. Now, Dr. Ackerman, I know you want to make a comment. Dr. Michaels wants to make a comment. So, Dr. Ackerman you go ahead.
MR. ACKERMAN: Okay. We did look at, not the absolutely worst case but the 83rd percentile of the range that was suggested the worst of the IPCC's likely -- the 83rd percentile. The future is going to happen once and a cost-benefit calculation based on the average or most likely gives you a 50 percent chance of not being bad enough. People don't think that way in ordinary life. Insurance, which never passes a cost-benefit test, is what people do when they're facing a severe risk which they can't afford. That is absolutely what we're facing here. The science -- you know, what it looks like at the 83rd percentile of risk for this century, looks pretty bad.
Now in terms of the hurricane debate, I know there's been a lot of debate about the details of that. Roger Peelty Jr. (ph), one of the critics of the position that we took on hurricanes, read over my reports. I had a long correspondence with him. He persuaded me that I had a small numerical error that made it six percent too high. He was very happy to hear that I corrected it. There's another footnote in my testimony that tells you that I am using the numbers based on my correspondence with him.
REP. WHITFIELD: And thank you very much for that. My time has expired but I would like Dr. Michaels to be able to make his comment as well.
MR. MICHAELS: Well there are several places that I would like to comment and obviously do not have time for it. I will say in the Stern report, which is (not ?) quoted here, that the worst case climate scenarios are assumed and the discount rates are thought to be economically very unrealistic. With regard to the employment problems that certain people have had, I just think that's very sad. We thrive on intellectual diversity. People are not promoted from assistant to associate to full professor at major universities for doing nothing. And for the political process to have interfered there, it's a very, very, very black and sad (thing ?).
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Green.
REP. GENE GREEN (D-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And before I get into some of the questions I'd like to ask Mr. Woolsey, you made a statement a few minutes ago that you get the same credit for not burning coal to create electricity as you do if you don't burn natural gas. And that's not what I understood. I thought that coal plants emit much more carbon than say a natural gas plant?
MR. WOOLSEY: Coal plants do produce a great deal amount of carbon per BTU than natural gas does. What I was saying was that the instrumentality of the renewable portfolio standard doesn't really discriminate between gas and coal. It just wants an increase in renewables. There was a very good op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about this a couple of weeks ago. And I thought a feed-in tariff was a superior mechanism to a renewable portfolio standard for the purpose of emphasizing renewable in a more effective way.
REP. GREEN: Well thank you for that clarification because if we're looking at controlling carbon, a renewable standard may be one of the avenues. But we also need to make sure that renewable standard is something that you're ultimately going after with the carbon capture or the carbon sequestration.
Dr. Ackerman, in order to evaluate the cost of an action on climate change you compare the economic consequences to possible climate scenarios and a business as usual case: a unchecked growth in greenhouse gas emissions with rapid stabilization case whereby the U.S. reduces its emissions by 80 percent, accompanied by a 50 percent reduction in total oil emissions; a) under your rapid stabilization case, what happens if only the U.S. acts to reduce its emissions while major emitters such as China or India do not follow suit? Will the cost of inaction become smaller or greater?
MR. ACKERMAN: There's really no hope of solving this problem if we don't have a global agreement on it. No country represents more than 20 percent of the total. The U.S. and China are both at about that point.
REP. GREEN: Thank you. Since we only have five minutes and I have a whole lot of questions, I thank you for that. My next follow- up is that -- so in your opinion it's crucial that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are linked to global action to reduce carbon emissions?
MR. ACKERMAN: Absolutely, it has to be done globally.
REP. GREEN: Could we ever achieve a rapid stabilization case without strong mandatory reductions by other major emitters?
MR. ACKERMAN: No, everybody has to agree to reduce.
REP. GREEN: Your analysis found that under the business as usual case, combined increased cost for electricity added up to $141 billion per year in 2001, or a .14 percent of projected U.S. output. Last year there was an EPA analysis of climate change legislation, Senate Bill 1766 by Bingaman-Specter. And the Senate found that electricity prices were projected to increase 40 percent in 2030 and an additional 25 percent in 2050. How do these increased costs of climate change -- addressing climate change in the EPA analysis compare with your estimates under a business as usual case for electricity rates?
MR. ACKERMAN: I haven't looked at that EPA study. I know that our subcontractors who analyzed the electric power system were actually quite conservative in the costs that they were able to look at, mostly looking at increased air conditioning load. There are a number of other effects on the power system which they were not able to quantify, so I'd not be surprised if someone else came up with a higher number.
REP. GREEN: I appreciate it, coming from a part of the county that we need LIHEAP from May to September. For our poor folks, I appreciate that. Mr. Woolsey, you made several observations in your work on malignant threat regarding climate change impacts on our energy infrastructure. Can you further elaborate on your point that our energy systems are vulnerable to climate change?
MR. WOOLSEY: Well, they contribute to climate change in so far particularly as they use coal and oil. And so -- but they are also vulnerable. For example, Hurricane Katrina barely missed the Colonial Pipeline, which is a major pipeline from the Gulf up to the East Coast. Most of us around here would have done a good deal more bicycling and walking had Katrina been just a mile or two different from where it was.
And the electricity grid in Cleveland suffered an outage in August of '03 when a tree branch touched a power line in the middle of a storm.
And within nine second some 50 million consumers were off-line in the U.S. and eastern Canada. Now probably a decade, two decades ago that would have been an outage in parts of Cleveland. But because our electricity grid is so stressed and is so overloaded with the demands of running a deregulated system, and everybody being able to shop all over the country for every little bit of electricity and so on, it has produced an extraordinarily vulnerable system, vulnerable to natural interference such as a tree branch touching a power line. And unfortunately, terrorists are a lot smarter than tree branches.
REP. GREEN: And I appreciate that and hopefully this stimulus reinvestment bill that has money in there for transmission expansion and also other things, will help that. Because that's one of the issues, we need to have alternatives to having just one line. I have one more question if I could?
REP. MARKEY: Very quick.
REP. GREEN: Okay. Dr. Ebi, can you explain how increasing temperatures could facilitate the development of ground level ozone and how this could impact public health within pollution prone areas? And specifically, do you suggest that the U.S. coordinate the public health responses to climate change across the level of federal government?
MS. EBI: The rate at which ground level ozone is formed, and it's formed on clear, cloudless days, the rate is temperature dependent. All else being equal, as the temperature goes up there will be more ground level ozone.
REP. GREEN: And how do you suggest we coordinate between our public health responses in that? Because again, coming from the Houston area, we have an ozone problem. And is it coordination of the federal agencies in response to that -- this what we should do?
MS. EBI: There needs to be coordination not only within the federal government but across borders, because there's also hemispheric transport of ozone.
REP. GREEN: Thank you.
REP. MARKEY: The gentleman's time has expired. We'll recognize the gentleman from Illinois for six and a half minutes.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I did do an opening statement so --
REP. MARKEY: We want to balance you out with Mr. Green.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like, Mr. Chairman, if we could submit James Cunnington's (ph) report from December 2007 on energy and climate policy. In here, there's a couple noted aspects, $37 billion in climate change. Before the stimulus bill, that would have been real in Washington.
Now $37 billion is chump change. But I would say that's doing something. I would also want to highlight an issue in here about the important transitions of emitting countries. It does address some of the answers. We're really flat-lining growth from '90 -- projected to 2095 if the developing countries -- I can guarantee you the developing countries are not going to go into a worldwide climate policy.
We met with the Chinese two years ago, asked them a couple times, their basic response was, "You had your chance to get to the middle class, now it's ours." The only thing we have is fear left, Mr. Chairman. Fear on the stimulus, $900 billion. It's fear for immediate action on climate change. When in the world do we stop attacking a messenger of a divergent scientific opinion? And shame on us for doing so.
If we were to apply the fairness doctrine that we're going to try to ram down America on telecommunications policy, fairness doctrine would say three panelists for a view on climate change that's supportive of what Dr. Michaels is speaking of, and three in opposition. So I would hope that as we talk about fairness doctrine, that would be brought to the committee. Let me ask a quick -- how would each of you respond? Of course, I have very limited time for this statement. We will harness the sun and the wind and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. True or false, Dr. Michaels?
MR. MICHAELS: (Off mike.)
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Dr. Ackerman?
MR. ACKERMAN: (Off mike.)
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Okay, I will -- Dr. Ebi.
MS. EBI: I agree there would need to be additional information before I could comment.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Okay, here's the statement. We will harness the sun and the wind and the soil for fuel, to fuel our cars and run our factories. Mr. Woolsey.
MR. WOOLSEY: Today, I drive a plug-in hybrid and I have photovoltaic cells on my roof and batteries in my basement and I drive 40 to 50 miles a day on sunlight.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Yeah, and I -- I mean, yes or no?
MR. WOOLSEY: It can be done. Yes, it can be done.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Okay, and your electricity comes from what commodity product?
MR. WOOLSEY: It comes from Baltimore Gas and Electric, which is whatever they use. Some of it is coal, some of it is other.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Okay, but that's not wind and that's not solar.
MR. WOOLSEY: They are moving into --
REP. SHIMKUS (?): And that's not renewable, as by the definition of our --
MR. WOOLSEY: Solar is part of it. These are changing.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): But that's not -- again, I'm just saying this statement. Okay, let's go to General Sullivan.
GEN. SULLIVAN: I have no idea.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Okay yeah, thank you. An honest answer. I will tell you, you're not going to operate a United States steel mill on wind, on solar, on renewable.
MR. WOOLSEY: It will take a lot longer.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Well, I will say you will never run a United States steel mill on wind, on solar, on a renewable.
MR. WOOLSEY: I disagree.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): And that's what this process is all about. Professor Schrag.
MR. SCHRAG: I think what's missing from this question is the time scale. In the next decade it's going to be very hard to switch off of fossil fuels more than 80 percent of our energy. Long time scales, we're going to have to because we're going to run out, and that's just the way it is. It's going to get very expensive. And you know, today in Iceland, for example, Alcoa is building aluminum smelting plants that are run on geothermal. So it is possible, it's just expensive in other parts of the world and the U.S. today. But at some point, fossil fuels are going to get even more expensive. And the security issues associated with that are serious.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): And that's part of our debate on climate change because those of us who are for all of the above strategies, if you want to talk national security and having reliable power, the nuclear portion has to be part of this debate. The environmental left has yet to come to the table to believe that growth in the nuclear power movement in this country.
They continue to block the ability to store high level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. They will allow the continued storing of this on site to a point where the reservoirs will be full and these sites will have to be decommissioned. We're actually paying federal tax dollars to these companies to store the waste that we've agreed to hold.
I'd like to ask Dr. Michaels, I think a lot of us are concerned, especially with the comments made today in your lone voice, and this issue of fear. You hear it, the world is going to end and we've got to do something now. Tell me why you believe there is this rush to act.
MR. MICHAELS: That's a very complicated question. It's obviously political. Obviously a lot of voices are not being heard. And my fear -- my fear -- is that that is going to have a very counterproductive effect. And I really want the committee to consider this.
If you take capital out of the system with expensive taxes and cap and trade programs, that capital would normally be used by individuals in their 401Ks for investment. And those investments are often made in companies that produce things efficiently or produce efficient things compared to their competitors. They are advantaged in the competitive marketplace.
So you can have a very counterproductive effect by putting in regressive energy taxes or other programs like that. You take capital out of the system that would normally be used for investment in companies that produce things efficiently. This is very, very obvious that people are doing this. I ask you to take a look at the share prices of various producers of automobiles and take a look at the share prices of those --
REP. SHIMKUS (?): And let me be real quick. Professor Schrag, just your quick answer on coal liquid technology. Support it? I mean, in your testimony you talk about being able to pull off the carbon stream.
MR. SCHRAG: If done improperly the way the South Africans do, it's one of the dirtiest technologies in the world. If it's done properly with biomass blending and carbon sequestration, it can be among the cleanest technologies in the world.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): Mr. Chairman, did you hear that testimony? It's your witness. Did you hear his answer?
REP. MARKEY: I'm sorry --
REP. SHIMKUS (?): I'm teasing. I'm teasing.
REP. MARKEY: Can you repeat the answer?
REP. SHIMKUS (?): No, I'm just teasing, Mr. Chairman.
REP. MARKEY: I would really like to hear the answer again. Please.
MR. SCHRAG: The answer was that the same technology that makes incredibly dirty fuel in South Africa, twice the emission of regular oil, if done properly with the right regulations, with blending biomass with the coal -- and we're talking about could be waste biomass or woodchip -- and capturing the carbon from the process, can actually produce very efficient, clean fuel. But, it has to be done right, not in a dirty fashion.
REP. MARKEY: And let me -- I'll just say to the gentleman, in the stimulus bill the House put in $2.5 billion for carbon capture and sequestration trying to find ways of using technologies that can suppress (the carbon ?). The Senate put in about $4 billion. The debate is not over whether or not we should be doing something in this area. The debate is over how many billions of dollars we should be spending in this area. So that's really not what this debate is about.
REP. SHIMKUS (?): And we haven't seen the conference report, Mr. Chairman, but I think that's now been cut to $1 billion from what I've heard, in the conference report. But I need -- I do need to just give credit to the quote I used on "we will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories," President Barack Obama, my state. We are very excited. But this is part of the research you have to do to find out exactly what people are saying because this is impossible in the near term.
REP. MARKEY: I thank the gentleman. And I thank all of the witnesses as well. This has been a very, very helpful stage-setting hearing for us
We discussed the economic, the national security and the health implications of climate change. And I think that we heard here today that there is a real urgency for our country to become the leader. And that is the intention of this subcommittee and full committee. We intend on acting this year in a way that deals with the urgency of the problem.
And there is good news. The good news includes the fact that 42 percent of all new electrical generating capacity installed in 2008 was wind power. Fifty percent was natural gas. So that's not a bad formula for dealing with climate change.
And I think that's going to accelerate in the years ahead, even as we do the research to deal with carbon capture and sequestration to try to accommodate coal in the years ahead. So that's a huge number, 42 percent of all new electrical generating capacity. It can be expected to go to 50 and 60 percent in the years ahead as the national renewable electricity standard is adopted.
So, I'm very optimistic. And this panel has helped to pinpoint the problem but talk about some of the solutions as well, and we thank you for that. And with the thanks to the committee, this hearing is adjourned.