Statement of Rep. Jo Ann Emerson on The National Assessment on Climate Change

Statement of Rep. Jo Ann Emerson on The National Assessment on Climate Change

October 05, 2000

The original intention of the National Assessment was to summarize the potential effects of global warming on our nation.  It was to detail the effects that climate change will have on agriculture, water resources, forests and human health.

I cannot stress the importance of this document because it will be taken to COP-6 this November and used to negotiate the role of the United States in the Kyoto Protocol.

Last year, in the FY 2000 appropriations, I included language that directed that all research used in the National Assessment must be subjected to peer review and made available to the public prior to use in the assessment, and the assessment must be made available to the public through the Federal Register for a 60 day public comment period.

This language was not challenged by the Administration.

The Administration released a “draft” summary report on June 12 by posting it on a website and publishing a notice in the Federal Register that it was available for comment until August 11.  This action is clearly at odds with Congressional intent.

The underlying regional and sectoral work that was to have served as the basis for the summary report has not been completed or made available for review.  The National Assessment, for all practical purposes, was completed before all the research was done.

They started with the conclusions and then they proceeded with building their case to support those conclusions.

I am appalled at the way taxpayer dollars have been spent for political purposes.  With tens of millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to try and justify the desired premise that barring significant increases of government power over our lifestyle the planet will meet a burning, flooding, demise.

Given the importance of the National Assessment, it is absolutely paramount that it be based on sound science.  If the science underlying this document is questionable, the very credibility of this document, and the policies made from it, can be called into question.

The Administration is rushing to release a junk science report in violation of current law to try to lend support to its flawed Kyoto Protocol negotiations. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The National Assessment, as it now stands, is a biased, gloom and doom piece of science fiction. Even some reviewers from within the Environmental Protection Agency have complained that the National Assessment is “going too far” in its use of hype.

One EPA reviewer stated that “many statements in the overview document have a rather extreme or alarmist tone and do not appear to fairly reflect the scientific literature, the historical record, or the output of extant models.”  When the EPA is calling something alarmist or extreme then something really must be wrong.  In my humble opinion, this further illustrates the biased science that went into creating the National Assessment.

Another thing that irks me about all of this is even though the National Research Council advised against using foreign models for analysis of US climate, the White House used a Canadian “hot” model and the British “warm” model to conduct the National Assessment.

The plot thickens when we learn that there are a number of US taxpayer funded models, including the NCAR, which could have and should have been used.  The real story here may lie in the comparison of the models: the NCAR model predicts significantly lower temperatures for the same input.  But, this is not a convenient political result.

What is even more embarrassing is that the two models that were used in the National Assessment predict dramatically different results.  One predicts drought when the other predicts too much rain.  One predicts the Great Lakes will rise while the other predicts the Great Lakes will fall.  Of course, all of this will be papered over in the political summary under control of the Administration.

The National Assessment and the Kyoto Protocol are just more example of this Administration’s  flawed energy policy.

The increase in the price of oil has provided a realistic simulation of the economic chaos that would result from the Kyoto Protocol.  Politicians on every continent are now running for cover.  Al Gore has pressed President Clinton to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to give him cover through the election.  DoE officials are saying there may have to be choices about eating and staying warm this winter. 

Europe has already seen public chaos (blockade of refineries) and a challenge to current governments in Norway, France and now Tony Blair has seen his lead in the polls tighten and is hearing footsteps approaching in Great Britain.

I am troubled by the fact that noted scientists who are skeptical about global warming are never heard from and aggressive attempts are made to discredit these researchers.  It is an absolute shame that these scientists were shut out of the process.

The groups putting this report together are more concerned with rushing the reports to meet an artificial deadline than in producing a document that can stand up to scientific and public scrutiny.  The best example of this is that the National Assessment has not been subject to peer review.  As many of you know, peer review is a basic tenet of the scientific process here in America.  It is the principle that other scientists should be able to review a study to determine if the research has been conducted properly and if the conclusions match the data. 

It is a dangerous precedent to allow such an important document to bypass the very process that gives it credibility. 

Stressing the political nature of this hurried, unsupported document is that the underlying science is expected to be ready any month, though not in time for an October release of frightening, if imagined, conclusions.  I am not at all amused by the fact that the National Assessment is being used as a political tool.  We have spent far too much time and money to have a flawed and biased report determine the US participation in the Kyoto Protocol.