Senator Tim Hutchinson
Statement before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
July 10, 1997
Hearing on Global Climate

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to hear testimony regarding the scientific basis behind the Global Climate. This is kind of a deja vu experience, because one of my first hearings in the Senate and the first hearing in this committee was a science hearing on the EPA's clean air proposal.

Today we have a similar hearing, this time focusing on the science of the greenhouse effect on the United States. If there is anything I have learned from the Clean Air hearings is that many times scientists do not agree on the science. Despite the fact that it seems to be the common assertion that humans are causing the greenhouse effect, in reality there is some disagreement regarding our actual effect.

There is agreement that humans are adding some greenhouse gases, the disagreement, however is whether these additions are causing significant changes in the Earth's temperature. I have an Associated Press article, that if we have time I might ask the panel to comment on, which states that it is possible that North America's ecological systems have always been in flux.

According to the article, not long ago ice sheets two miles thick covered the entire northern half of the continent. The article goes on to say that as recently as 1850, temperatures were few degrees cooler than they are today and that any warming we may be experiencing now this is merely the continuation of a natural warming trend that began 150 years ago.

These scientific uncertainties are disturbing, especially when considering we are faced with the administration's support for legally binding reductions of greenhouse emissions. Even more frightening, perhaps, than the U.S. being legally bound to reducing emissions, is the prospect that "developing" nations, such as China and Mexico will not be required to implement similar reductions.

I question whether this will do any good at all for the reduction of greenhouse emissions. If humans are causing a great warming of the earth, then all humans must be concerned with this trend, not just the countries that are developed.

This December in Kyoto, Japan, the world will decide what needs to be done to reduce the threat of global warming. I, along with 58 other Senators, cosponsored the Byrd resolution opposing the United State's agreeing to any terms in Kyoto that unfairly harms the United States.

If the developed countries alone are responsible for reducing the world's emissions, these nations could face serious economic disadvantages. In Arkansas, where agriculture is the leading industry, we cannot afford to give such a competitive advantage to these developing countries, such as China.

Arkansas is the leading producer of rice in the United States. Forty percent of the state's rice is exported out of the country. The state's economy relies heavily on rice productions, yet China produces 24 times the rice of the U.S. If we limit rice production, or hinder it in any way, the Mississippi Delta, an already impoverished area would be devastated.

Again, I want to thank the Chairman for calling this hearing and for the witnesses who will testify today. I hope we can establish some facts today.