The House and the Senate held competing A-list hearings on global warming on Wednesday at 10AM. Testifying before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee was Dr. James E. Hansen, whom the committee described as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. He is of course also Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. I tried to watch both hearings on the internet and thereby undoubtedly missed a lot of good stuff as I switched back and forth. Interestingly, Pachauri, an economist and engineer, talked mostly about global warming science, while Hansen, an astronomer, talked mostly about economics. Pachauri was utterly dreary. Hansen was an interesting mix. He inveighed against cap-and-trade as an ineffective scam designed to pay off big business. He instead endorsed a stiff carbon tax with 100% of revenues rebated to consumers.
When asked by Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) about what would happen to North Dakota and its near-total reliance on brown coal for producing electricity, Hansen said that employment in the coal industry would go down, but that North Dakota had lots of potential for wind power and potentially for growing well-designed bio-fuels. He observed that these new industries might create more jobs than would be lost in the coal industry. That is true. One of the ways to create jobs is to make production and use of capital less efficient. For example, there would be tens of millions, probably even hundreds of millions, of new jobs in North Dakota and throughout rural America if mechanized agriculture were banned. Then the federal government could throw billions of dollars of taxpayer money into improving farming technology. Think of the breakthroughs that could be made with revolutionary new horse-drawn plows, etc.
The Republican witnesses—Professor William Happer at the Senate hearing and Professor John Christy at the House hearing—were articulate, intelligent, and scientifically accurate. Christy made a strong case against energy poverty. Naturally, most Senators and Representatives were unimpressed and unhappy with them.