Did The July 21, 2001 U.S. Senate Committee Hearing On “Climate Change Science And Economics” Provide A Balanced Perspective On The Climate Science Issues?

On July 21, 2005, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a Full Committee Hearing entitled “Climate Change Science and Economics.” The Hearing was:

“To receive testimony regarding the current state of climate change scientific research and the economics of strategies to manage climate change. Issues to be discussed include: the relationship between energy consumption and climate change, new developments in climate change research and the potential effects on the U.S. economy of climate change and strategies to control greenhouse gas emissions.”

I am particularly interested in learning what testimony was given since I was called on July 11 and invited to present testimony at this Hearing. However, on July 13, I was e-mailed

“Dr. Pielke: we have had a change in plans. We have decided to ask NCAR
to provide a senior scientist from that organization for the hearing.

As a result we won’t be asking you to drop everything and appear at our
hearing. My apologies for the confusion.”

When I read the testimony that was presented, Dr. Jim Hurrell of NCAR was my “replacement.” He provided a much different perspective on the science issue than I would have given (http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Testimony&Hearing_ID=1484&Witness_ID=4227). For example, he reported

“…. The CCSP Assessment Product on Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere is assessing these new data, and the preliminary report (which has been reviewed by the NRC) finds that the surface and upper-air records of temperature change can now, in fact, be reconciled. Moreover, the overall pattern of observed temperature change in the vertical is consistent with that simulated by today’s climate models.”

The CCSP Report he refers to has not been finalized, nor has the final version been subjected to public comment (I am a Convening Lead Author on the chapter “What measures can be taken to improve our understanding of observed changes?”). The revised Executive Summary has not even been circulated to the Committee (in the draft version that was reviewed by the National Research Council there were major issues with the draft Executive summary (see http://books.nap.edu/catalog/11285.html), which were so serious that I authored a report of its deficiencies (Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Minority Report, Comments Provided to the NRC Review Committee of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s Synthesis and Assessment Product on Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere). His statements “that the surface and upper-air records of temperature change can now, in fact, be reconciled” and “the overall pattern of observed temperature change in the vertical is consistent with that simulated by today’s climate models” oversimplify and mischaracterize the text as it currently exists. Moreover, these are not scientifically balanced conclusions. This testimony is an example of cherrypicking of information to promote a particular view of climate science.

Indeed, other testimony similarly cherrypicked information. For instance, while Dr. Ralph Cicerone in this testimony (http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Testimony&Hearing_ID=1484&Witness_ID=4225) included some information from the National Research Council report , he missed the opportunity to educate the Committee on the spectrum of newly recognized human climate forcings, as reported in the NRC (2005) report, and how this complicates our ability to achieve skillful climate forecasts. He should have summarized the findings of that report in his testimony. As President of the National Academy of Science, it is particularly important that he provide a balanced presentation of climate science. He did not do so.

If my invitation to present had not been withdrawn, I would have built on my 2002 testimony to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations which is part of the Energy and Commerce Committee. This testimony was given in my capacity as President-Elect of the American Association of State Climatologists. I would have used the Findings in the National Research Council report, my invited essay, and other recent work in the science community to prepare my testimony.

Unfortunately, the Senators were not provided a balanced Hearing on climate science.

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