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SLSS CLIMATE RESEARCH

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Let's Cool Our Rhetoric on Climate Change
By Lamar Smith
Climate change is an issue that needs to be discussed thoughtfully and objectively. Unfortunately, claims that distort the facts hinder the
legitimate evaluation of policy options. The rhetoric has driven some policymakers toward costly regulations and policies that will harm
hardworking American families and do little to decrease global carbon emissions. The Obama administration's decision to delay, and possibly
deny, the Keystone XL pipeline is a prime example.
The State Department has found that the pipeline will have minimal impact on the surrounding environment and no significant effect on the
climate. Recent expert testimony before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology confirms this finding. In fact, even if the
pipeline is approved and is used at maximum capacity, the resulting increase in carbon dioxide emissions would be a mere 12 one-thousandths of
1 percent (0.0012 percent). There is scant scientific or environmental justification for refusing to approve the pipeline, a project that the State
Department has also found would generate more than 40,000 U.S. jobs.
Contrary to the claims of those who want to strictly regulate carbon dioxide emissions and increase the cost of energy for all Americans, there is a
great amount of uncertainty associated with climate science. These uncertainties undermine our ability to accurately determine how carbon
dioxide has affected the climate in the past. They also limit our understanding of how anthropogenic emissions will affect future warming trends.
Further confusing the policy debate, the models that scientists have come to rely on to make climate predictions have greatly overestimated
warming. Contrary to model predictions,data released in October from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit show that global
temperatures have held steady over the past 15 years, despite rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Among the facts that are clear, however, are that U.S. emissions contribute very little to global concentrations of greenhouse gas, and that even
substantial cuts in these emissions are likely to have no effect on temperature. Data from the Energy Information Administration show, for
example, that the United States cut carbon dioxide emissions by 12 percent between 2005 and 2012 while global emissions increased by 15
percent over the same period.
Using data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a Science and Public Policy Institute paper published last month found
that if the United States eliminated all carbon dioxide emissions, the overall impact on global temperature rise would be only 0.08 degrees Celsius
by 2050.
Further confounding the debate are unscientific and often hyperbolic claims about the potential effects of a warmer world. In his most recent
State of the Union address, President Obama said that extreme weather events have become "more frequent and intense," and he linked
Superstorm Sandy to climate change.
But experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have told the New York Times that climate change had nothing to do with
Superstorm Sandy. This is underscored by last year's IPCC report stating that there is "high agreement" among leading experts that trends in
weather disasters, floods, tornadoes and storms cannot be attributed to climate change. While these claims may make for good political theater,
their effect on recent public policy choices hurts the economy.
Last spring the Environmental Protection Agency proposed emissions standards that virtually prohibit new coal-fired power plants. As we await
implementation of these strict new rules, additional regulations that will affect existing power plants, refineries and other manufacturers are sure
to follow. Analyses of these measures by the American Council for Capital Formation, which studies economic and environmental policy, show
that they will raise both electricity rates and gas prices - costing jobs and hurting the economy - even as the EPA admits that these choices will
have an insignificant impact on global climate change (a point former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson confessed during a Senate hearing in
2009).
Instead of pursuing heavy-handed regulations that imperil U.S. jobs and send jobs (and their emissions) overseas, we should take a step back
from the unfounded claims of impending catastrophe and think critically about the challenge before us. Designing an appropriate public policy
response to this challenge will require that we fully assess the facts and the uncertainties surrounding this issue, and that we set aside the hyped
rhetoric.
T he wr ite r, a Re publica n, re prese nts Texas's 21st District in the U.S . H ouse and is chair ma n of the House Committee
on Scie nce, Space and Technology.

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'Climate Consensus' Data Need a More Careful Look
In his Aug. 6 op-ed, "A New Climate-Change Consensus," Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp speaks of "the trend -- a decadeslong march toward hotter and wilder weather." We have seen quite a few such claims this summer season, and Mr. Krupp insists that we accept
them as "true." Only with Lewis Carroll's famous definition of truth, "What I tell you three times is true," is this the case.

But repetition of a fib does not make it true. As one of many pieces of evidence that our climate is doing what it always does, consider the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's year-by-year data for wet and dry years in the continental U.S. .
From 1900 to the present, there are only irregular, chaotic variations from year to year, but no change in the trend or in the frequency of dry years
or wet years. Sometimes there are clusters of dry years, the most significant being the dry Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. These tend to be
followed by clusters of wet years.
Despite shrill claims of new record highs, when we look at record highs for temperature measurement stations that have existed long enough to
have a meaningful history, there is no trend in the number of extreme high temperatures, neither regionally nor continentally. We do see the Dust
Bowl years of the 1930s setting the largest number of record highs, at a time when it is acknowledged that humans had negligible effect on
climate.
What about strong tornadoes? Again there is no trend. Last year was an unusually active season, and unfortunately some of those storms ravaged
population centers. We were told that these disasters were the result of human CO2 emissions. Yet 2011 was only the sixth worst for strong
tornadoes since 1950 and far from a record. And have any of us heard about this tornado year? Why not? Because 2012 has been unusually quiet.
Most of the tornado season is behind us, and so far the tornado count is mired in the lowest quintile of historical activity. As for hurricanes, again
there is no discernible trend. Regarding wildfires, past western fires burned far more acreage than today. Any climate effect on wildfires is
complicated by the controversial fire suppression practices of the past hundred years.
Lurid media reporting and advocates' claims aside, even the last comprehensive Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report noted that
"archived data sets are not yet sufficient for determining long-term trends in [weather] extremes." Yet this has not stopped global warming
advocates from using hot summer weather as a tool to dramatize a supposedly impending climate Armageddon.
In a telling 2007 PBS interview, former Sen. Tim Wirth gloated about how he had rigged the 1988 Senate testimony chamber to dramatize the
impact of NASA scientist James Hansen's histrionic testimony on imminent danger from global warming: "We called the Weather Bureau and
found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer . . . So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on
record in Washington or close to it."
Not content to gamble on the vagaries of weather statistics, Mr. Wirth also boasted, "What we did is that we went in the night beforehand and
opened all the windows . . . so the air conditioning wasn't working inside the room . . . when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which
is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot." Tricks like those described by Sen. Wirth have been refined to an art to promote
the cause of economically costly action to prevent supposedly catastrophic consequences of increasing CO2. Contrast these manipulations with
the measured and informative Senate testimony of climatologist John Christy earlier this month. See: .
In an effort to move the science debate completely into the political arena, Mr. Krupp implies that with the exception of a few enlightened
Republican governors and captains of industry, most "conservatives" are climate skeptics -- and vice versa. But some of the most formidable
opponents of climate hysteria include the politically liberal physics Nobel laureate, Ivar Giaever; famously independent physicist and author,
Freeman Dyson; environmentalist futurist, and father of the Gaia Hypothesis, James Lovelock; left-center chemist, Fritz Vahrenholt, one of the
fathers of the German environmental movement, and many others who would bristle at being lumped into the conservative camp.
Whether increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is bad or good is a question of science. And in science, truth and facts are not the playthings of
causes, nor a touchstone of political correctness, nor true religion, nor "what I tell you three times is true."
Humanity has always dealt with changing climate. In addition to the years of drought and excessive moisture described above, the geological
record makes it clear that there have been longer-term periods of drought, lasting for many years as during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s to many
decades or centuries. None of these past climate changes, which had a profound effect on humanity, had anything to do with CO2, and there are
good reasons for skepticism that doubling CO2 will make much difference compared to natural climate changes.
It is increasingly clear that doubling CO2 is unlikely to increase global temperature more than about one degree Celsius, not the much larger
values touted by the global warming establishment. In fact, CO2 levels are below the optimum levels for most plants, and there are persuasive
arguments that the mild warming and increased agricultural yields from doubling CO2 will be an overall benefit for humanity. Let us debate and
deal with serious, real problems facing our society, not elaborately orchestrated, phony ones, like the trumped-up need to drastically curtail CO2
emissions.

Climate Change: Basic Information


ON THIS PAGE

Climate change is happening

Humans are largely responsible for recent climate change

Climate change affects everyone

We can make a difference

How is the climate changing in the U.S.?


Observations across the United States and world provide multiple, independent lines of evidence that
climate change is happening now.Learn More

What are climate change and global warming?


Global warming refers to the recent and ongoing rise in global average temperature near Earth's surface.
It is caused mostly by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is
causing climate patterns to change. However, global warming itself represents only one aspect of climate
change.
Climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period
of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind
patterns, among other effects, that occur over several decades or longer.

Climate change is happening

Our Earth is warming. Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.4F over the past century,
and is projected to rise another 2 to 11.5F over the next hundred years. Small changes in the
average temperature of the planet can translate to large and potentially dangerous shifts in
climate and weather.
The evidence is clear. Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in
weather and climate. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods,
droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans
and glaciers have also experienced some big changes - oceans are warming and becoming more
acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. As these and other changes become more
pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our
environment.
Learn more about the signs of climate change in the United States.

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Humans are largely responsible for recent climate change

Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning
fossil fuels to produce energy, although deforestation, industrial processes, and some agricultural
practices also emit gases into the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around Earth, trapping energy in the atmosphere and
causing it to warm. This phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect and is natural and
necessary to support life on Earth. However, the buildup of greenhouse gases can change Earth's
climate and result in dangerous effects to human health and welfare and to ecosystems.
The choices we make today will affect the amount of greenhouse gases we put in the atmosphere
in the near future and for years to come.
Learn more about the causes of climate change.
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Climate change affects everyone


Learn More

Climate Change Facts: Answers to Common Questions

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Our lives are connected to the climate. Human societies have adapted to the relatively
stable climate we have enjoyed since the last ice age which ended several thousand years ago. A
warming climate will bring changes that can affect our water supplies, agriculture, power and
transportation systems, the natural environment, and even our own health and safety.

Some changes to the climate are unavoidable. Carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere
for nearly a century, so Earth will continue to warm in the coming decades. The warmer it gets,
the greater the risk for more severe changes to the climate and Earth's system. Although it's
difficult to predict the exact impacts of climate change, what's clear is that the climate we are
accustomed to is no longer a reliable guide for what to expect in the future.
We can reduce the risks we will face from climate change. By making choices that reduce
greenhouse gas pollution, and preparing for the changes that are already underway, we can
reduce risks from climate change. Our decisions today will shape the world our children and
grandchildren will live in.
Learn more about the impacts of climate change and adapting to change.
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We can make a difference

You can take action. You can take steps at home, on the road, and in your office to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and the risks associated with climate change. Many of these steps can
save you money; some, such as walking or biking to work can even improve your health! You can
also get involved on a local or state level to support energy efficiency, clean energy programs, or
other climate programs.
Learn more about what you can do.
Calculate your carbon footprint and find ways to reduce your emissions through simple everyday
actions.
Personal Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator
EPA and other federal agencies are taking action. EPA is working to protect the health and
welfare of Americans through common sense measures to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and
to help communities prepare for climate change.
Learn more about what EPA is doing.

Climate Change
Facts about Climate Change

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The science of climate change is complex, but everyone should know the basics.
The science of climate change is complex, but everyone should know the
basics: the Earth is heating up because gases produced from vehicles, power
plants, deforestation, and other sources are building up in the atmosphere, acting
like a thick blanket over our planet.
We can all reduce climate change by doing our part to decrease the emission of
heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. Read below to learn some more facts about
climate change!

THE FACTS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

FACT: Average global temperatures increased by about 1 degree Celsius over


the 20th century.

FACT: The United States contains only 5 percent of the world's population,
but contributes 22 percent of the world's carbon emissions.

FACT: 15 percent of carbon emissions come from deforestation and land use
change.

FACT: The Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) is thought to be the first species to
go extinct because of climate change.

FACT: Personal cars and trucks in the United States emit 20 percent of the
United States' carbon emissions.

FACT: Air conditioning and heating account for almost half of electricity use
in the average American home.

FACT: Climate change is linked to stronger hurricanes, more


drought and increased coral deaths from bleaching.

FACT: Climate change is linked to an increase in disease-carrying pests that


lead to the increased spread of diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, lyme
disease and West Nile virus.