Climate change debunkers take stage in US Congress
Agence France-Presse
Published: Thursday March 26, 2009

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As President Barack Obama tries to green the United States by slapping limits on carbon emissions, Congress was told to ignore his plan because climate change does not exist.

"The right response to the non-problem of global warming is to have the courage to do nothing," said British aristocrat Lord Christopher Walter Monckton, a leading proponent of the "climate change is myth" movement.

The Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, who was an advisor to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, argued before the Energy and Environment Subcommittee that for 14 years, contrary to broadly accepted scientific beliefs, "there has been no statistically significant global warming."

The House hearing, titled "Adaptation Policies in Climate Legislation," discussed ways to address President Barack Obama's cap-and-trade proposal in his 3.55-trillion-dollar budget plan, presented to Congress in February.

Obama's proposal would limit emissions of greenhouse gases for manufacturers, and permit companies to trade the right to pollute to other firms -- a similar cap-and-trade system to the European model.

The moves are now subject of intense political opposition in Congress, notably from lawmakers representing US states heavily invested in energy production through fossil fuels.

"Adaptation is at present unnecessary," said Lord Monckton at the hearing. "Mitigation is always unnecessary. It is also disproportionately expensive.

"Green jobs are the new euphemism for mass unemployment," he added.

Addressing the hearing on the "balanced Biblical view" for environment and development issues, Pastor Calvin Beisner -- national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance, a coalition of clergy, theologians and religious leaders -- questioned proposed efforts to combat climate change.

"I am convinced that policies meant to reduce alleged carbon dioxide-induced global warming will be destructive," he said.

"The Biblical world view sees Earth and its ecosystems as the effect of a wise God's creation and ... therefore robust, resilient, and self regulating, like the product of any good engineer."

Beisner argued that policies to reduce carbon emissions would destroy jobs and be prohibitively expensive.

"The truth is that no alternative fuels can compete at present with fossil fuels for price," he said.

Congressman Joe Barton, from the oil-rich state of Texas, maintained that "mankind always adapts," and that "adaptation to shifts in temperature is not that difficult."

What will be difficult, he argued, was "adaptation to rampant unemployment and enormous, spontaneous and avoidable changes to our economy if we adopt such a reckless policy as cap-and-tax or cap-and-trade."

Facing down the non-believers, an array of government agency representatives and environmental organizations described the mounting threats to humanity from devastating climate change -- including rising sea levels, soaring temperatures and increasingly violent weather phenomena.

Tom Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), stressed mitigation would not suffice.

"While increased mitigation measures will likely reduce the need for future adaptation, the United States and the world will continue to experience changing climate conditions and resulting impacts," he said.

President of National Wildlife Federation, Larry Schweiger, urged lawmakers to back moves to tackle climate change, telling them that the United States "must invest now in safeguarding the natural world from the inevitable impacts of global warming."

Recalling the report from the Nobel Prize-winning UN intergovernmental panel on climate change, Schweiger warned that due to cataclysmic climate change, "in the lifetime of a child born today, 20 to 30 percent of the world's plant and animal species will be on the brink of extinction, if we don't take action now."

Many Republicans in Congress remain deeply skeptical about adopting a market-based mechanism to cut carbon emissions, fearing it may hit the competitiveness of US firms and products on global markets, particularly while China and India refuse to make concessions in tandem.

A recent study funded by the environmental group Greenpeace claimed the United States could reduce carbon emissions by 83 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 while sharply expanding employment, through dramatic increases in wind, solar and other green energies.

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