House Republicans Challenge Energy Secretary on Climate Change

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Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 04:19 PM

By Dan Weil

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Republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology took issue with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz over climate change at a hearing Tuesday, telling the former MIT physicist that many elements of climate science are open to question.

Several Republicans quizzed Moniz as to how much climate change stems from human activity, as opposed to natural fluctuation.

“Is there any way to estimate what percent? Is it 50 percent, 90 percent of human activities?” Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican asked, according to Politico.

Moniz said he doesn't know the precise percentage.

"In my scientific view, what we are seeing is consistent with being driven by manmade activities," he said. "Basically, my statement is based on the fact that if one simply looks at what one knows and one has known for over a century about how CO2 [carbon dioxide] in particular drives global warming through the greenhouse effect."

Moniz said it is known how much carbon dioxide we emit from combustion and how much carbon dioxide is gathering in the atmosphere, he said. "We know the time trajectory of those."

The debate indicates the Obama administration will have a tough time gaining GOP support for its climate change plan, which is expected to be announced next month, according to Politico.

Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California brought up Moniz' resume, while suggesting other experts have differing views, Politico reports.

"You're from MIT, and I appreciate I'm from Long Beach State," the congressman said. "But there are other people with credentials, like Richard Lindzen from MIT, who are very skeptical of some of the research that has been going on." Lindzen is one of the leading climate science skeptics.

Meanwhile, a recent Australian study determined that the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide is helping plant growth in arid deserts, USA Today reports.

Randall Donohue, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, found that climate change helped spark an 11 percent increase in plant growth in the U.S. Southwest, the Middle East, parts of Africa, and the Australian Outback.

"If elevated CO2 causes the water use of individual leaves to drop, plants will respond by increasing their total numbers of leaves," Donohue said, according to USA Today.


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