[ RadSafe ] Nnuclear energy and climate change(?)

John Jacobus crispy_bird at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 3 13:10:17 CDT 2005

While this news article does not relate directly to
nuclear power, climate changes are certainly a factor
in the discussions involving new plant construction. 
If you do not feel this is inappropriate, I apologize.

-----Original Message-----
From: fyi at aip.org [mailto:fyi at aip.org] 
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2005 1:44 PM
To: Jacobus, John (NIH/OD/ORS)
Subject: FYI #142: Senate Climate Change Hearing

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science
Policy News
Number 142: October 3, 2005

Senate Hearing Demonstrates Wide Disagreement About
Climate Change

Last week's hearing of the Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee provided fresh evidence of the
wide disagreement there is about whether the Earth's
climate is changing, and the extent to which human
activity is responsible for this change.

The committee's announcement about this hearing said
only that it would "discuss the role of science in
environmental policy making." No witness list was
provided.  Nevertheless, the large hearing room was
filled to capacity with the public spilling out into
the hallway.  Although initial topics ranged as widely
as the ban on DDT and the Endangered Species Act, the
hearing quickly centered on global climate change.

Chairman James M. Inhofe's (R-OK) position on this
topic is unambiguous, as he has previously described
the threat of catastrophic global warming as the
"greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American
people."  The hearing did not reveal any change in the
chairman's thinking.

The lead witness, author Michael Crichton, attracted
the most interest from the senators.  Crichton's
novel, "State of Fear," takes issue with the theory
that human activity is causing global climate warming.
 Also testifying was Professor William Gray of
Colorado State University, best known as a hurricane
forecaster, who has serious doubts about the ability
of scientists to forecast global climate change. 
Witnesses taking a different approach were Richard
Benedick of the National Council for Science and the
Environment and David Sandalow of The Brookings
Institution. Testifying about the DDT ban and its
effect on malaria outbreaks was Donald Roberts of the
University of the Health Services.

Inhofe opened the hearing by saying of the witnesses
that they were "a real heavy group."  He criticized
efforts that were "pushing people's political agenda,"
and spoke of the need to use "sound science" in
policymaking decisions.   Ranking Minority Member Jim
Jeffords (I-VT) expressed his support for Chairman
Inhofe, but then asked, "given the profound suffering
and ecological damage along the Gulf Coast, why are we
having a hearing that features a fiction writer as our
key witness?"   Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) charged
that the hearing "will muddy the issues," noted
Crichton's book was fiction, and his views not
subjected to peer review. Senator Christopher Bond
(R-MO) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) both
discussed damage that had been done to their states'
economies by what they termed faulty science
underlying policy decisions.  Bond criticized the
"media hype" surrounding some issues.

Crichton called for the independent verification of
scientific research, criticizing climate research for
not being conducted as vigorously as medical testing. 
He said climate change should not be ignored, but that
future research should have higher quality standards. 
Benedick, the Reagan Administration's chief negotiator
on the Montreal CFC Protocol, explained that
policymakers must act sometimes without complete
scientific certainty.

Gray was emphatic in his remarks.  Standing,
inconventionally, to address the senators and the
audience, he criticized the "hype" about climate
change, saying he was "appalled at what has come
forth." Gray charged members of association boards
issuing statements warning of climate change "don't
know much," and that researchers "have the basic
physics wrong."  Gray said it is impossible to model
fully the atmosphere, making it impossible to project
the earth's climate in ten to fifteen years.

Sandalow urged Congress to request a National Academy
of Sciences' study on extreme weather events.  He also
wants the National Academy to examine the state of
global climate change research.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) asked pointed questions. 
She charged that the work of many researchers had been
maligned, taking direct issue with Grey's criticism. 
Under persistent questioning from Boxer, Grey admitted
that only "some" of his papers had been published, and
only a "couple" peer-reviewed.  Boxer said that her
staff had not been able to find any work by Gray on
global warming that had been peer-reviewed.  During
later questioning, Gray said that his  proposals had
been rejected 13 times, pointing to "general
brainwashing" in scientific journals and the media as
the reason why his climate change research had not
been funded.  Regarding Crichton, Boxer said that his
book was fiction, and cannot be used to make policy.

Perhaps the only person holding the middle ground was
Senator Murkowski.  In her opening remarks she had
complained that faulty research had led to bad
decisions affecting Alaska's fishing and minerals
industries.  But her later remarks had a different
tone. While saying  "prediction is not fact," and
noting that various studies and reports are less than
conclusive, she spoke of changes she has witnessed in
Alaska and declared, "we are experiencing climate

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
The American Institute of Physics
fyi at aip.org    http://www.aip.org/gov
(301) 209-3094

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tired anything new."
-- Albert Einstein

-- John
John Jacobus, MS
Certified Health Physicist
e-mail:  crispy_bird at yahoo.com

Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005 

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