Feb 25, 2009
Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe
Update on the Latest Global Warming Science
Thank you, Madame Chairman, for holding today’s hearing. As you know, no one likes to talk more about climate science than I do. However with this being the first climate change hearing in the 111th Congress, and in the midst of a deep financial crisis and recession, I thought I’d start by quoting Ronald Reagan: “There you go again.” In these turbulent financial times, rather than opening with climate hearings analyzing the issues that concern Americans, such as how cap-and-trade policies and taxes will affect our energy prices and our bottom line, we are here today to focus once again on speculative computer model predictions of 50 to100 years away of a looming climate catastrophe, and the public health and ecological chaos that will result from man’s supposed effect on his climate by the continuing use of fossil fuels.
I don’t need computer models to tell me that people are hurting financially, or that hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their jobs every month, and I don’t need a degree in science to tell me that the climate will continue to change and challenge us all. I see it everyday. Rather, as lawmakers, it is our duty here in this Committee to analyze the policy issues that affect all Americans, especially in the near term, and I am hopeful that this year we will schedule more hearings that address these types of issues.
Now, before I comment on the science and welcome our distinguished witnesses, I thought I would try and put some of these economic issues in perspective with the science. I will use numbers that Americans are unfortunately getting used to seeing with all of the debate on bailouts. As you can see, this chart represents the costs of the various government bailouts within the last year (Auto Bailout $17 Billion, Housing Bailout $200B, Mortgage Bailout $275B, Bank Bailout, $700B, Economy Bailout $787B). The bottom number represents the amount of money the sponsors of the Lieberman-Warner bill said would be generated under their cap-and-trade bill, which is included in the billions, to keep the numbers in perspective.
What they all have in common is they represent previously unimaginable amounts of money that the government is currently spending or eventually taxing to throw at our problems to try to “boost” our economy. In the cap-and-trade context, this comes in the form of taxes through passed-on higher energy costs. In terms of effectiveness, we learned last week that at least with the auto bailout, the initial offering will be ineffective, with GM and Chrysler both asking for billions more and still leaving bankruptcy options open. Time will tell whether these other bailouts are also proven ineffective.
Now where does climate science come in? It comes in once again in terms of effectiveness, using our tax dollars wisely. Assuming IPCC’s own targets for stabilization of CO2 in the atmosphere at 450 ppm (parts per million), the EPA has confirmed that a U.S. only cap-and-trade carbon policy will be ineffective. These targets are simply not achievable with the approach to climate change that has been the focus of the policy debate for years.
Now my colleagues will argue that we must focus on a new global international policy the U.S. should lead in order to reach such pie-in-the-sky reduction levels. However, these efforts should be contrasted with last month’s Chinese government reports that show China is aiming to increase its coal production by about 30 percent in 2015 to meet its energy needs. In addition, other developing countries state they will not agree to binding caps and that climate funding is an entitlement, not aid, to be paid for by who else but us? It is time for us to get realistic about these policies, and focus on what is achievable, both globally and domestically, to help bring down energy costs to consumers and make us more energy secure.
Now, regarding the science, I welcome all of our witnesses here today, including Dr. William Happer. Dr. Happer is a professor at the Department of Physics at Princeton University and former Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy from 1990 to 1993. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Sciences. I welcome his and all of the witnesses’ testimony.
As you know, I regularly serve as a disseminator of information on the latest science that is not being reported in the mainstream media. I have given over twelve floor speeches documenting the politicization of the global warming science issue. My continuing fear is that objective, transparent, and verifiable science gets lost in the public dialogue.
Contrary to what the media and the UN have promoted, there is a growing body of scientific studies and scientists who are openly rebelling against the so-called “consensus.” Recently, I released a new minority report on climate science which documents many of the studies. That report included over 650 scientists who have challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore. It features the skeptical voices of over 650 prominent international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC scientists. This updated report includes an additional 250 scientists and climate researchers since the initial release in December 2007. I would note the over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.
I would like to insert this report in the record and I look forward to referencing it in questions for the witnesses.