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POLICY IMPLICATIONS OF GREENHOUSE WARMING Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming Synthesis Panel Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1991
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National Academy Press · 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. · Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council (NRC), whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the panel responsible for this report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report is the result of work done by an independent panel appointed by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, which has authorized its release to the public. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee and by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. Both consist of members of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. The study reported here was supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It also received support from the National Research Council Fund, a pool of private, discretion- ary, nonfederal funds that is used to support a program of Academy studies of national issues in which science and technology figure significantly. The NRC Fund consists of contributions from a consortium of private foundations including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; and the Academy Industry Program, which seeks annual contributions from companies that are concerned with the health of U.S. science and technol- ogy and with public policy issues with technological content. This book is printed on acid-free recycled paper. ~: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (U.S.). Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming Synthesis Panel Policy implications of greenhouse warming/ Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming-Synthesis Panel, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine. p. cm. ISBN 0-309-04440-5 : $14.95 1. Global warming Government policy-United States. 2. Greenhouse effect, Atmospheric Government policy United States. 3. Environmental policy United States/ I. Title. QC98 1.8.G56C65 1991 363.73'87 dc20 91-8977 CIP Copyright ~ 1991 by the National Academy of Sciences No part of this book may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, or electronic pro- cess, or in the form of a phonographic recording, nor may it be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or otherwise copied for public or private use, without written permission from the publisher, except for the purposes of official use by the United States Government. Printed in the United States of America
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POLICY IMPLICATIONS OF GREENHOUSE WARMING- SYNTHESIS PANEL DANIEL J. EVANS (Chairman), Daniel J. Evans & Associates, Seattle, Washington ROBERT McCORMICK ADAMS, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. GEORGE F. CARRIER, T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Applied Mathematics, Emeritus, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts RICHARD N. COOPER, Professor of Economics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts ROBERT A. FROSCH, Vice President, General Motors Research Laboratories, Warren, Michigan THOMAS lI. LEE, Professor Emeritus, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge JESSICA TUCHMAN MATHEWS, Vice President, World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM D. NORDHAUS, Professor of Economics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut GORDON H. ORIANS, Professor of Zoology and Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Washington, Seattle STEPHEN H. SCHNEIDER, Head, Interdisciplinary Climate Studies, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado MAURICE F. STRONG, Chair, Strovest Holdings, Inc., Ottawa, Ontario (resigned from panel February 1990) SIR CRISPIN TICKELL, Warden, Green College, Oxford, England VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Senior Consultant, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida PAUL E. WAGGONER, Distinguished Scientist, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven Staff ROB COPPOCK, Staff Director DEBORAH D. STINK, Staff Officer NANCY A. CROWELL, Administrative Specialist MARION R. ROBERTS, Administrative Secretary . . .
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COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND PUBLIC POLICY CORNELIUS J. PINGS (Chairman), Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, University of Southern California LAWRENCE BOGORAD, Maria Moors Cabot Professor of Biology, Harvard University STUART BONDURANT, M.D., Professor and Dean, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina ALBERT M. CLOGSTON, Member, Center for Material Sciences, Los Alamos National Laboratory RALPH GOMORY, President, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation HARRY B. GRAY, Division of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology WILLIAM G. HOWARD, JR., Senior Fellow, National Academy of . . Englneerlng FRANCIS E. LOW, Institute Professor, Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology JOHN L. McLUCAS, Aerospace Consultant C. KUMAR N. PATEL, Executive Director of Research, Materials Science, Engineering and Academic Affairs Division, AT&T Bell Laboratories FRANK PRESS, President, National Academy of Sciences (Ex-Officio) MAXINE F. SINGER, President, Carnegie Institution of Washington ROBERT M. SOLOW, Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology H. GUYFORD STEVER, Science Advisor SAMUEL O. THIER, President, Institute of Medicine (Ex-Officio) ROBERT M. WHITE, President, National Academy of Engineering (Ex-O~icio Staff LAWRENCE E. McCRAY, Executive Director BARBARA A. CANDLAND, Administrative Assistant IV
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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Acad- emy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the supe- rior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Acad- emy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medi- cal care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) is a joint committee of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. It includes members of the councils of all three bodies. v
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Preface Greenhouse gases and global warming have received increasing attention in recent years. The identification of the antarctic ozone hole in 1985 combined with the hot, dry summer of 1988 to provide the drama that seems to be required for capturing national media coverage. Emerging scientific results, including findings about greenhouse gases other than carbon diox- ide, added to the interest. One consequence was congressional action. The HUD-Independent Agencies Appropriations Act of 1988 (House Report 100-701:26) called for a NAS study on global climate change. This study should establish the scientific consensus on the rate and magnitude of climate change, estimate the projected impacts, and evaluate policy options for miti- gating and responding to such changes. The need for and utility of improved temperature monitoring capabilities should also be examined, as resources permit. According to subsequent advice received from members of Congress, the study was to focus on radiatively active trace gases from human sources, or "greenhouse warming." This report is one of the products of that study. The study was conducted under the auspices of the Committee on Sci- ence, Engineering, and Public Policy, a unit of the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Insti- tute of Medicine. The study involved nearly 50 experts, including scientists as well as individuals with experience in government, private industry, and public interest organizations. The study was conducted by four panels that did their work in parallel. but with considerable exchange of information and some overlap in membership. The Synthesis Panel (whose membership is listed on page iii) was charged . . V11
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V111 PREFACE with developing overall findings and recommendations. The Effects Panel examined what is known about changing climatic conditions and related effects. The Mitigation Panel looked at options for reducing or reversing the onset of potential global warming. The Adaptation Panel assessed the impacts of possible climate change on human and ecologic systems and the policies that could help people and natural systems adapt to those changes. The members of these panels are listed in Appendix C. This is the report of the Synthesis Panel. The reports of all four panels will be published by the National Academy Press in a single volume. The panels conducted their analyses simultaneously between September 1989 and January 1991. The chairmen of the Effects, Mitigation, and Adaptation panels were members of the Synthesis Panel. Several members of the Synthesis Panel also were members of other panels. In its deliberations, however, the Synthesis Panel considered more than just the reports of the other panels. It also heard from experts with a range of views on the policy relevance of computer simulation models, widely held to be the best available tools for projecting climate change, and of economic models used to assess conse- quences of policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The study also drew upon the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international effort released during the course of the study. Several members of the various study panels also contributed to that effort. Finally, the study drew upon other Academy studies. For example, in its examination of sea level change, the panel used analyses from the following reports: Glaciers, Ice Sheets, and Sea Level: Effects of a CO2-Induced Climatic Change (National Academy Press, 1985), Responding to Changes in Sea Level: Engineering Implications (National Academy Press, 1987), and Sea Level Change (National Academy Press, 19901. The report of the Synthesis Panel is thus more than a summary of the assessments performed by the other three panels. It contains topics beyond those covered by the other panels and reflects the deliberations and judgments of the Synthesis Panel. The report identifies what should be done now to counter potential greenhouse warming or deal with its likely consequences. The recommendations of the Synthesis Panel, if followed, should provide the United States with a framework for responding to this very important concern. The Honorable Daniel J. Evans, Chairman Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming Synthesis Panel
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Acknowledgments The work of the other panels was indispensable in the preparation of this report. George F. Carrier was chairman of the Effects Panel; Thomas H. Lee was chairman of the Mitigation Panel; and Paul E. Waggoner was chairman of the Adaptation Panel. Full membership lists for the other panels are given in Appendix C. While this report represents the work of the Synthesis Panel, it would not have been produced without the support of professional staff from the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine: Rob Coppock, who drafted the chapters and the question and answers section (Appendix A), and refined them on the basis of the panel's discussions and conclusions, and Deborah Stine, whose work on the Mitigation Panel report is reflected in Chapter 6. Nancy Crowell contributed to preparation of the Adaptation and Mitigation panel reports and the administrative organization of the study. Their resumes are included with those of the panel in Appendix B because of their intellectual contributions, which advanced the committee's efforts throughout the study. The report was greatly improved by the diligent work of its editor, Roseanne Price. In addition, invaluable support was provided by Marion Roberts. The panel also acknowledges with appreciation presentations made at meetings of the Synthesis Panel by the following persons: Frederick Bernthal, Assistant Secretary of State Roger Dower, World Resources Institute Jae Edmonds, Battelle Northwest Laboratories James Hansen, Goddard Institute for Space Studies Dale Jorgenson, Harvard University IX
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x Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Gordon MacDonald, MITRE Corporation Alan Manne, Stanford University Richard Morgenstern, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Veerabhadran Ramanathan, University of Chicago William Reifsnyder, Yale University Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research Robert Williams, Princeton University Timothy E. Wirth, United States Senator ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
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Contents INTRODUCTION 2 BACKGROUND.. The Global Nature of Greenhouse Warming, 3 Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Human Activities, 3 The Effects of World Population and Economic Growth, 4 Trends in Human Activities Affecting Greenhouse Gas Concentrations, 5 3 THE GREENHOUSE GASES AND THEIR EFFECTS Earth's Radiation Balance, 12 What We Can Learn from Climate Models, 17 What We Can Learn from the Temperature Record, 20 Sea Level, 23 Possible Dramatic Changes, 24 Conclusions, 24 4 POLICY FRAMEWORK...................... Comparing Mitigation and Adaptation, 27 Assigning Values to Future Outcomes, 29 A Method for Comparing Options, 30 Assessing Mitigation Options, 31 Assessing Adaptation Options, 32 Other Factors Affecting Policy Choices About Greenhouse Warming, 33 xz ..... 10 .. 27
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. . All 5 ADAPTATION Methods of Adaptation, 34 The Role of Innovation, 35 Assessing Impacts and Adaptive Capacity, 36 CO2 Fertilization of Green Plants, 36 Agriculture, 37 Managed Forests and Grasslands, 37 Natural Landscape, 37 Marine and Coastal Environments, 38 Water Resources, 38 Industry and Energy, 39 Tourism and Recreation, 39 Settlements and Coastal Structures, 39 Human Health, 39 Migration, 40 Political Tranquility, 40 Some Important Indices, 40 Evaluating Adaptation Options, 41 Adapting to Climate Change, 42 Activities with Low Sensitivity, 42 Activities That Are Sensitive But Can Be Adapted at a Cost, 42 Activities That Are Sensitive with Questionable Adjustment or Adaptation, 44 Cataclysmic Climatic Changes, 44 Conclusions, 45 6 MITIGATION................... The Role of Cost-Effectiveness, 48 Technological Costing Versus Energy Modeling, 48 Planning a Cost-Effective Policy, 49 An Assessment of Mitigation Options in the United States, 51 Comparing Options, 60 Implementing Mitigation Options, 62 Conclusions, 63 CONTENTS .. 34 7 INTERNATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS International Activities, 65 Future International Agreements, 66 Other Actions, 66 8 FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS ...................... Policy Considerations, 68 Capacities of Industrialized and Developing Countries, 68 ... 64 . 67
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CONTENTS Taxes and Incentives, 69 Fundamental and Applied Research, 69 A Proposed Framework for Responding to the Threat of Greenhouse Warming, 70 General Conclusions, 71 9 RECOMMENDATIONS ....... Reducing or Offsetting Emissions of Greenhouse Gases, 72 Halocarbon Emissions, 73 Energy Policy, 73 Forest Offsets, 75 Enhancing Adaptation to Greenhouse Warming, 76 Improving Knowledge for Future Decisions, 78 Evaluating Geoengineering Options, 80 Exercising International Leadership, 81 APPENDIXES A QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT GREENHOUSE WARMING ................................................. The Greenhouse Effect: What Is Known, What Can Be Predicted, 85 A Framework for Responding to Additional Greenhouse Warming, 96 Impacts of Additional Greenhouse Warming, 97 Preventing or Reducing Additional Greenhouse Warming, 103 Adapting to Additional Greenhouse Warming, 107 Implementing Response Programs, 109 Actions to be Taken, 1 10 B BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON SYNTHESIS PANEL MEMBERS AND PROFESSIONAL STAFF .............. C MEMBERSHIP LISTS FOR EFFECTS, MITIGATION, AND ADAPTATION PANELS............................... INDEX . . . . . Xlll . 72 85 .... 114 . . . .117 . 121
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