Statement by Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Committee on Environment and Public Works
March 13, 2002
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to welcome all of the witnesses, especially Professor Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado.
I look forward to the witnesses' testimony and hope that we can use your collective knowledge to reach a better understanding of the economic and environmental impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on global climate change.
Climate change or global warming has become one of the most talked about environmental issues for the last several years. The United States and other nations have spent millions of dollars to study climate change. It seems that the more we spend and study, the more we realize that we don't know.
Our studying climate change for the last ten years has led us to two conclusions:
First, human activity has had an impact on the global climate. In announcing his global climate change strategy, President Bush acknowledged this fact.
However, our years of careful study have made, for policymakers, an even more important conclusion: that we have inadequate evidence to demonstrate humanity's affect on climate change. Since our science is unable to tell us the level of causation, science can't tell us what mitigation strategies we, in Congress, should pursue.
Throughout my career of public service I have tried to base my decisions on the best available information, particularly when those decisions have dramatic consequences on the lives of Coloradans. Unfortunately, in the case of global climate change, we are seeking to craft a policy with profound implications on completely inadequate and speculative information.
In his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjorn Lomborg (Bee-Yorn Lom-Borg) simply asked, "Do we want to handle global warming in the most efficient way or do we use global warming as a stepping stone to other political projects."
Even Mr. Lomborg, a Danish statistician, noted the political salience of the climate change debate. Unfortunately, this important issue has become so politicized that many people look past the facts and, instead, focus on doomsday scenarios.
In noting our lack of understanding of the Earth' climate system, one of our very own witnesses made an equally important point. In her testimony today, Doctor Sallies Baliunas stated, "A value judgment is prerequisite to evaluating the need for human mitigation of adverse consequences of climate change."
Again, "a value judgement is prerequisite." In short, since we don't have enough information, some suggest that we just assume that humans can mitigate adverse consequences of climate change.
Well, this Senator is not ready to make that assumption when making that leap of faith could result in the loss of countless U.S. jobs.
I am happy that the President has chosen to look at the facts in rejecting the Kyoto Protocol. He properly noted that greenhouse gas emissions is directly attributable to U.S. production and economic growth. In my state of Colorado, implementing Kyoto would have translated in the loss of 47,400 jobs and 2 billion dollars in tax revenue by 2010.
I am not ready to make decisions with such consequences without adequate information.
We all make "value judgements" in policymaking. I would ask my friends to ask themselves what it is they value.
And in making that "value judgement" I would ask them to consider the words of John Adams when he said: "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
I look forward to the distinguished panel's testimony, and ask that my testimony be reported in the Record.