What are the facts behind the theory of global warming, and do they justify EPA regulations on greenhouse gases? Is Professor Richard Somerville of the University of California at San Diego right when he says “we know CO2 is increasing and it’s because of humans” ?
This was the question at the heart of a House Energy Hearing on the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (HR910) chaired by Congressman Ed Whitfield (R – KY) on March 8, 2011. H.R. 910 aims to block Clean Air Act regulations on greenhouse gas by the EPA.
A panel of seven academic and scientific experts from across America, and one from Canada, spoke about their views on climate change and global warming. Members of Congress on the Energy and Power subcommittee were then allotted five minutes each to question witnesses.
Those academics and scientists on the witness panel in favor of the mainstream scientific view of global warming did not hold back on voicing their opinions. From alleged responsibility for wildfires out West and massive crop failure causing a 5 billion dollar loss in 2002, to being a dire threat to health, national security and economic wellbeing, global warming took all the heat.
Dr. Somerville urged energy-efficient programs that would purportedly cut global CO2 emissions by 80% by mid-century and decrease US reliance on foreign oil. In addition to these suggestions, he warned of impending droughts, death-causing heat waves and floods on a scale we haven’t yet seen in the future, if we don’t address global warming soon.
His comments were echoed by similar statements emphasizing a serious threat posed by human-caused global warming from Dr. Knute Nadelhoffer, Director of the University of Michigan Biological Station and Dr. Francis Zwiers, Director of the Pacific Climates Impact Consortium at the University of Victoria, in Canada.
But not all the scientist witnesses were on board with this thinking. In fact some felt minority opinions were intentionally marginalized in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) study done on the subject.
According to Dr. Roger Pielke, a Senior Research Scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at University of Colorado, Boulder, “the IPCC did not seriously address non-human causes,” and “systematically excluded a range of views,” using “strong-arm tactics.”
Dr. Pielke stated that “climate changes—always has, always will,” and went on to claim that “you cannot prove how much warming is human-caused.” His views were supported by the statements of Dr. John Christy of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.
“The past thirty-two years, temperature has risen 9/100s of a degree per decade,” Dr. Christy reported. Dr. Christy then outlined possible alternate reasons than global warming for the slight temperature rise, including changing land use and naturally-occurring circulation problems.
“Current metrics are of little value to understand greenhouse effects,” said Dr. Christy. Dr. Donald Roberts Professor Emeritus of the University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD emphasized his disagreement with the purported health effects of global warming both “as a scientist and as a taxpayer.”
On the political side, outlooks varied sharply. Democratic Congressmen such as Bobby Rush, Henry Waxman and Jay Inslee came out strongly in favor of regulations.
Mr. Rush even showed an enlarged copy of a cartoon about global warming. How much global warming was caused by the cardboard manufacturing process was not divulged.
Mr. Inslee accused scientists like Dr. Pielke, Dr. Roberts and Dr. Christy of resistance to global warming’s truth until “the entire Artic ice shelf melted or hell freezes over” and claimed that Republicans have “an anti-science bias.”
Upping the fear, Congressman Waxman drew a parallel between global warming and cancer. He criticized Congressman Whitfield’s hearing, saying he would not seek the opinion of one doctor saying he was fine when all the rest said he was sick.
“Doing nothing would be breathtakingly irresponsible,” said Mr. Waxman, who then commented that “history will not judge us kindly.”
Congressman David McKinley (R – WV) referred to West Virginia’s 10.3% unemployment rate and the negative effects of “economic malaise” that he fears EPA regulations will have on his coal-fueled state.
Republican Congressmen such as Mike Burgess, Morgan Griffith and David McKinley came out strongly opposed to EPA regulation.
Congressman Burgess of Texas became visibly angry as he argued that EPA regulations will put “energy cost beyond the reach of the average American middle-class family.” He described being “reviled” in his home district even after voting no on the Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill (H.R. 2454) of 2009.
Dr. Christy echoed Mr. Burgess’ comments. “As someone who has lived in Africa I can tell you that life without energy is brutal and short,” Dr. Christy said.