Gleick Testimony Responses

Responses from Dr. Peter H. Gleick to additional questions from the Minority Members of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming

December 3, 2010

Dear Select Committee,

Thank you very much for the opportunity to respond on the record to additional questions, submitted from the Minority. In particular, the nature of the questions shows clearly the challenges in dealing with the unavoidable consequences of climate change, and the continued misunderstanding and misrepresentation of science from some members of Congress, and I appreciate the ability to respond in the hopes that this kind of misunderstanding and misrepresentation will end.

Questions from the Minority:

1) You state, “If we act to slow climate change, and the impacts turn out to be less severe than we predict, we will still have reduced our emissions of pollutants.” At what cost is this acceptable? Is it worth an aggregate income loss in the US of $6.8 trillion from 2009 to 2029? Is it worth job losses of nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs in 2029? [Source of numbers: Heritage Foundation]

You stipulate a number and ask how I can justify it. I reject the stipulation: This question implies that any “act” to slow climate change will lead to these costs. These particular numbers come from a partisan organization, not an independent source or an academic source or a peer reviewed source. I therefore reject the strawman argument “is it worth job losses of xxx” when “xxx” is an assumption not supported by evidence.

Moreover, there are many policy decisions that can be made that are low cost that would still slow the rate of climate change and reduce the ultimate social, economic, and environmental damages to the United States. Your job as policymakers is not to reject all action, but to identify the proper action and the weigh the relative costs and benefits. Please look at all the economic assessments of the costs and benefits of climate responses, not just those that favor one ideological point of view. […]

Download the full testimony here