Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Science of Climate Change

Location: Washington, DC


    Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, the comments made by the Senator from Idaho are such a good prelude to work into what I am about to say. I am chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and in this capacity I have a responsibility because the decisions the committee will reach impact and influence the health and security of America.

    What I am about to do—and it is for this reason that I am doing something that is politically stupid—I am going to expose the most powerful, most highly financed lobby in Washington, the far left environmental extremists.

    The Senator from Idaho talked about the fact that we have to have electricity. Right now, we are dependent upon fossil fuels for 52 percent of our electricity in America. There are people trying to get us to do away with that. If that should happen, I think he has articulated very well what would happen to America if all of a sudden we had to go to natural gas. Already we are seeing some companies moving to Europe and other places because they are thinking that maybe we will buy on to this hoax that will stop us from being able to have fossil fuels. That is why when I became chairman of the committee, I established three guiding principles for that committee.

    No. 1, we are going to make our decisions not on a political agenda but on sound science. No. 2, we are going to have a cost-benefit analysis. At least let the American people know what types of costs are involved in some of these regulations that do not make any sense. No. 3, to change the attitude, an attitudinal change on the various bureaucracies, so they will be there not to rule the people but to serve the people. Without these principles we cannot make effective public policy decisions. They are necessary to both improve the environment and encourage economic growth and prosperity.

    To the average person hearing, all you want is sound science, that sounds perfectly normal. Why would we not want sound science? Why predicate decisions on something that has nothing to do with sound science? But leftwing environmental communities insist sound science is outrageous. For them a pro-environment policy can only mean top-down command-and-control rules dictated by bureaucrats; science is irrelevant, instead for extremists. Politics and power are the motivating forces for making public policy. Sadly, that is true in the current debate over many environmental issues. Too often, emotions stoked by irresponsible rhetoric rather than facts based on objective science shape the contours of environmental policy.

    A rather telling example arose during President Bush's first days in office when emotionalism overwhelmed science in the debate over arsenic standards in drinking water. Environmentalist groups, including the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, vilified President Bush for poisoning children because he questioned the scientific bases of the arsenic regulation implemented in the final days of the Clinton administration. The debate featured television ads financed by environmental extremist groups with children asking for another glass of arsenic-laced water. The science underlying the standard, which was flimsy, was hardly mentioned or held up to any scrutiny. In other words, millions of dollars were spent to make people think President Bush wanted to kill children. This is the kind of extremism we are facing on a daily basis.

    The Senate went through a similar exercise we all remember in 1992. I was serving in the other body, but I was here during debate. That year some Members seized on data from NASA suggesting that an ozone hole was developing in the Northern Hemisphere. The Senate then rushed into panic mode, ramming through by a vote of 96-0 an accelerated ban on certain chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants. Only 2 weeks later NASA produced new data showing that their initial finding was a gross exaggeration and the ozone hole never appeared.

    The issue of catastrophic global warming, which I will speak about today, fits perfectly this mode. Much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear rather than science. Global-warming alarmists see a future plagued by catastrophic flooding, war, terrorism, economic dislocations, drought, crop failures, mosquito-borne diseases, and harsh weather, all caused by manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Hans Blix, the guy who could not find anything with both hands, chief of the U.S. weapons inspectors, sounded both ridiculous and alarmist when he said in March: I am more worried about global warming than I am of any major military conflict.

    It is no wonder he could not find any weapons of mass destruction.

    Science writer David Appell, who has written for such publications as the Scientist News and Scientific American, parroted Blix when he said global warming would "threaten fundamental food and water resources, it would lead to displacement of billions of people in huge waves of revenues, spawn terrorism, topple governments, spread disease across the globe."

    Appell's next point deserves special emphasis because it demonstrates the sheer lunacy of the environmental extremists. He said global warming would be chaos by any measure, far greater even than the sum total of chaos of the global wars of the 20th century, and so in this sense, Blix is right to be concerned.

    Sounds like a weapon of mass destruction to me. And that is what we are hearing.

    No wonder the late political scientist Aaron Wildavsky called global warming alarmism the mother of all environmental scares.

    Appel and Blix sound very much like those who warned us in the 1970s that the planet was headed for a catastrophic global cooling.

    On April 28, 1975, Newsweek printed the article "The Cooling World" in which the magazine warned:

    There are ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food protection—with serious political implications for just about every nation on earth.

    Wait, these are the same guys who talk about global warming today.

    In a similar form, Time Magazine, June 24, 1974, declared "Another Ice Age."

    However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe, they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past 3 decades.

    Then we had the Science News article that talks of the same thing, and an article from Science Digest titled "Earth's Cooling Climate."

    Decline in temperatures since 1940 raises question of man's role.

    In 1974, the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation, stated: During the last 20 to 30 years, world temperature has fallen, irregularly at first but more sharply over the last decade.

    Two years earlier, the board had observed

    judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high temperatures should be drawing to an end .    .    . leading into the next glacial age.

    That was the same timeframe that the global-warming alarmists are concerned about global warming. How quickly things change. Fear of the coming ice age is old hat, but fear that manmade greenhouse gases are causing temperatures to rise to harmful levels is in vogue now. That is popular. Go in any establishment in Washington and the liberals are talking about global warming. They do not care about what is happening with other countries and the weapons of mass destruction. They are concerned about global warming. That is the in thing to talk about.

    Alarmists brazenly assert that this phenomenon is fact and the science of climate change is settled. In fact, it is far from settled. Indeed, it is seriously disputed.

    I ask unanimous consent to have printed at the end of my remarks a July 8th editorial of this year by former Carter administration Energy Secretary James Schlesinger on the science of climate change.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. INHOFE. Dr. Schlesinger takes issue with alarmists who assert there is a scientific consensus supporting their views. He says, "There is an idea among the public that 'the science is settled.' That remains far from the truth."

    Keep in mind, this is not someone from a Republican administration.

    I refer to a chart demonstrating this is not really a partisan issue. There is no one more knowledgeable on energy than the former Secretary of Energy under the Carter administration. He has been saying there is scientific disagreement over global warming. It is controversial.

    But anyone who pays even cursory attention to the issue understands that scientists vigorously disagree over whether human activities are responsible for global warming or whether those activities will precipitate national disasters. Only the scaremongers agree. I submit, furthermore, that not only is there a debate but the debate is shifting away from those who subscribe to global-warming alarmism.

    After studying the issue over the last several years, I believe the balance of the evidence offers strong proof that natural variability, not manmade, is the overwhelming factor influencing climate, and that manmade gases are virtually irrelevant.

    It is also important to question whether global warming is even a problem for human existence. Thus far, no one has seriously demonstrated any scientific proof that increased global temperatures would lead to the catastrophic predictions by alarmists. In fact, it appears just the opposite is true, that increases in global temperature have a beneficial effect on how we live our lives.

    For these reasons, I will discuss an important body of scientific evidence and research that refutes the anthropogenic—which means manmade—theory of catastrophic global warmings. I believe this research offers compelling proof that human activities have little or no impact on climate. This research, well documented in scientific literature, directly challenges the environment world view of the media, so they typically do not receive proper attention and discussion.

    Certainly, members of the media would rather level personal attacks on scientists who question "accepted" global warming theories than engage on the science. So you have two groups at work here: The environmental extremists doling out to you the lies and the money to politicians and the liberal media that nests with them. This is an unfortunate artifact of the debate, a relentless increase in personal attacks on certain members of the scientific community who question so-called conventional wisdom.

    I believe it is extremely important for the future of this country that the facts and the science get a fair hearing. Without proper knowledge and understanding, alarmists will scare the country into enacting its ultimate goal: Making energy suppression in the form of harmful mandatory restrictions on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions the official policy of the United States of America.

    Such a policy would induce serious economic harm, especially for the low-income and minority populations. Energy suppression, as official Government and nonpartisan private analyses have amply confirmed, means higher prices for food, higher prices for medical care, and higher prices for electricity, as well as massive job losses and drastic reductions in gross domestic product, all the while providing virtually no environmental benefit. In other words, it is a raw deal for the American people but especially the poor.

    In a minute we are going to shift to the Kyoto Treaty. The issue of global warming garnered significant international attention through the Kyoto Treaty, which requires signatories to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by considerable amounts below the 1990 levels. The Clinton administration, led by former Vice President Al Gore, signed the Kyoto Treaty on November 12, 1998, but never submitted it to the Senate for ratification. Let's remember what our Constitution says: If we want to join a treaty, the President takes the lead and then he submits it to be ratified by the U.S. Senate. It has never been submitted to us.

    The treaty explicitly acknowledges as true that manmade emissions, principally from the use of fossil fuels, are causing global temperatures to rise, eventually to catastrophic levels. Kyoto enthusiasts believe if we dramatically cut back or even eliminate the use of fossil fuels, the climate system will respond by sending global temperatures back to normal levels—whatever normal levels would be.

    In 1997, the Senate sent a powerful message that Kyoto was not acceptable. In this resolution that was passed, called the Byrd-Hagel resolution, they said it is the sense of the Senate—this is very significant—that:

    The United States should not be a signatory to any protocol to, or other agreement regarding, the United Nations framework convention on climate change of 1992, at negotiations in Kyoto in December of 1997, or thereafter, which would—

    Would do what? No. 1:

    mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex 1 parties, unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for developing country parties within the same compliance period.

    What they are saying, and what we voted on here right in this room, in this body, is that we are not going to ratify anything that does not impose the same regulations on developing countries as it does developed nations.

    And second:

    that it would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States.

    Obviously, that is very significant at this time. The treaty would have required the United States to reduce its emissions 31 percent below the level otherwise predicted for 2010. Put another way, the United States would have had to cut 552 million metric tons of CO2 per year by the year 2008 through 2012.

    As the Business Roundtable pointed out:

    [That target is] the equivalent of having to eliminate all current emissions from either the United States transportation sector—

    That is everything that is moving out there in transportation—

    or the utilities sector, [that would be] residential and commercial, or industry.

    In other words, you have to eliminate everything in order to reach that.

    The most widely cited and definitive study came from Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates. According to Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates' economists, Kyoto would cost 2.4 million U.S. jobs and reduce GDP by 3.2 percent, or about $300 billion annually, an amount greater than the total expenditure on primary and secondary education in America. Certainly that would result in the serious harm to the economy of the United States that was voted on by this body without one dissenting vote.

    Because of Kyoto, American consumers would face higher food, medical, and housing costs. For food, an increase of 11 percent; for medicine, an increase of 14 percent; and for housing, an increase of 7 percent. At the same time, an average household of four would see its real income drop by $2,700 in 2010, and each year thereafter.

    Under Kyoto, energy and electricity prices would nearly double and the gasoline prices would go up an additional 65 cents a gallon.

    I hope somebody is listening out there.

    Some of the environmental community have dismissed the Wharton report as a tainted product. I point them to the 1998 analysis of the Clinton Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Department of Energy, which largely confirmed Wharton's analysis. Keep in mind, all these disastrous results of Kyoto are predicted by the Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates, a private consulting company founded by professors from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School.

    This month the Congressional Budget Office provided further proof that Kyoto-like carbon regulatory schemes are regressive and harmful to economic growth and prosperity.

    As the CBO—that is, the Congressional Budget Office—found:

    The price increases resulting from a carbon cap would be regressive—that is, they would place a greater burden on lower-income households than higher-income households.

    As to the broader macroeconomic effects of the carbon cap and trade schemes, the CBO said:

    A cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions could impose significant costs on the economy in the form of welfare losses. Welfare losses are real costs to the economy in that they would not be recovered anywhere else in the form of higher income. Those losses would be borne by people in their role as shareholders, consumers and workers.

    Some might respond that the Government can simply redistribute the wealth, redistribute the income, in a form of welfare programs to mitigate the impact, but the CBO found otherwise. The CBO said:

    The Government could use the allowance value to partly redistribute the costs of a carbon cap-and-trade program, but it could not cover these costs entirely. [And, further,] Available research indicates that providing compensation could actually raise the cost to the economy of a carbon cap.

    That is what CBO said just this month.

    Despite these facts, groups such as Greenpeace blindly assert that Kyoto "will not impose significant costs" and "will not be an economic burden."

    Among the many questions this provokes, one may ask: Won't be a burden on whom exactly? Greenpeace doesn't elaborate. But according to a recent study by the Center for Energy and Economic Development sponsored by the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, if the U.S. ratifies the Kyoto or passes domestic climate policies effectively implementing the treaty, the result would be to:

    disproportionately harm America's minority communities and place the economic advancement of millions of U.S. Blacks and Hispanics at risk.

    This was the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

    Among the study's key findings—and this is one that is very significant here, too, when we talk about unemployment rates—this line would be unemployment rates without Kyoto. It goes straight across. We can see it starting at about 10.5 percent, going across from the current time to 2012.

    This line down here is the line for Hispanics. This is unemployment rates.

    The study concluded, if we should have to comply with Kyoto regulations, it would go up, unemployment would go up at that particular rate and, for Hispanics, at this particular rate.

    It also affects the poverty rates for Blacks and Hispanics. Again, for Blacks, the poverty rate, if you take this as a baseline and take it straight across from the year 2000 to 2012, this being a little over 26 percent, then you follow with Kyoto, look at what happens to the poverty rate—the same thing happening down here for Hispanics. In other words, it is discriminatory against these particular individuals.

    Among the study's key findings—again, let me remind you, this is not some organization that should be questioned; this is the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and among their findings: Kyoto will cost 511,000 jobs held by Hispanic workers and 864,000 jobs held by Black workers. Poverty rates for minority families will increase dramatically, and because Kyoto will bring about higher energy prices, many minority businesses will be lost.

    This is not Senator JIM INHOFE talking, this is the National Black Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

    It is interesting to note, the environmental left purports to advocate policies based on their alleged good for humanity, especially the most vulnerable. Kyoto is no exception. Yet Kyoto and Kyoto-like policies developed in this body would cause the greatest harm to the very poorest of Americans.

    Environmental alarmists, as an article of faith, peddled the notion that climate change, as Green Peace put it, is "the biggest environmental threat facing .    .    . developing countries."

    Such thinking runs totally contrary to the public declaration of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, a program sponsored by the United Nations, which found that poverty is the No. 1 one threat to developing countries.

    I would like at this point to talk a little bit about John Christy. Dr. John Christy is director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, who passionately reiterated the point about poverty in the May 22 letter to the House Resources Committee Chairman, RICHARD POMBO of California. As an addendum to his testimony during the committee's hearing on the Kyoto Protocol, Dr. Christy, an Alabama State climatologist, talked eloquently about his service as a missionary in Africa.

    I am going to dwell a little on this because I have had a mission in west Africa for quite a number of years and I have been there and have seen what he is about to describe as a reality. We talked about the poverty in America. We talked about what is going to happen to minorities—Blacks and Hispanics in America.

    Let us look at where the poverty is the worst. Dr. Christy said, "Poverty is the worst polluter." As he noted, bringing modern, inexpensive electricity to developing countries would raise living standards and lead to a cleaner environment. Kyoto, he said, would be counterproductive, and, as I interpret him, immoral, for Kyoto would divert precious resources away from helping those truly in need to a problem that doesn't exist and a solution that would have no environmental benefit.

    The following is an excerpt of a letter worth quoting at length. This is Dr. Christy talking about his experience in Africa:

    The typical home was a mud-walled, thatched-roof structure. Smoke from the cooking fire fueled by undried wood was especially irritating to breathe as one entered the home. The fine particles and toxic emissions from these in-house, open fires assured serious lung and eye diseases for a lifetime. And, keeping such fires fueled and burning required a major amount of time, preventing the people from engaging in other less environmentally damaging pursuits.

    I've always believed that establishing a series of coal-fired power plants in countries such as Kenya (with simple electrification to the villages) would be the best advancement for the African people and the African environment. An electric light bulb, a microwave oven and a small heater in each home would make a dramatic difference in the overall standard of living. No longer would a major portion of time be spent on gathering inefficient and toxic fuel. The serious health problems of hauling heavy loads and lung poisoning would be much reduced. Women would be freed to engage in activities of greater productivity and advancement. Light on demand would allow for more learning to take place and other activities to be completed. Electricity would also foster a more efficient transfer of important information from radio or television. And finally, the preservation of some of the most beautiful and diverse habitats on the planet would be possible if wood were eliminated as a source of energy.

    Providing energy from sources other than biomass (wood and dung), such as coal-produced electricity, would bring longer and better lives to the people of the developing world and greater opportunity for the preservation of their natural ecosystems. Let me assure you, notwithstanding the views of extreme environmentalists, that Africans do indeed want a higher standard of living. They want to live longer and healthier with less burden bearing and with more opportunities to advance. New sources of affordable, accessible energy would set them down the road of achieving such aspirations.

    These experiences made it clear to me that affordable, accessible energy was desperately needed in African countries.

    As in Africa, ideas for limiting energy use, as embodied in the Kyoto protocol, create the greatest hardships for the poorest among us. As I mentioned in the Hearing, enacting any of these noble-sounding initiatives to deal with climate change through increased energy costs, might make a wealthy urbanite or politician feel good about themselves, but they would not improve the environment and would most certainly degrade the lives of those who need help now.

    Some in this body have introduced Kyoto-like legislation that would seriously hurt low-income and minority populations.

    Last year, Tom Mullen, president of the Cleveland Catholic Charities, testified against S. 556, the Clean Power Act of last year, which would have had a lot of Kyoto-type implications; that it would impose onerous and unrealistic restrictions, including a Kyoto cap on carbon monoxide emissions by electricity.

    That was Tom Mullen before the committee which I chaired. He is the president of Catholic Charities in Cleveland. He has devoted his whole life to helping poor people.

    He noted that this regime would mean higher electricity prices for the poorest citizens of Cleveland.

    For those on fixed incomes, as Mr. Mullen pointed out, higher electricity prices present a choice between eating and staying warm in the winter. As Mr. Mullen said:

    The overall impact on the economy in Northeast Ohio would be overwhelming, and the needs that we address at Catholic Charities in Ohio with the elderly and poor would be well beyond our capacity and that of our current partners in government and the private sector.

    That is the sworn testimony of Mr. Mullen before my committee.

    I see that Senator Voinovich from Ohio has approached the floor. He remembers very well when Tom Mullen of Catholic Charities of Ohio was in testifying. Senator Voinovich made several comments as to the seriousness that he believed this would impose upon the poor people of Ohio. There is no one more concerned about the poor people in Ohio than Senator Voinovich.

    In addition to its negative economic impacts, Kyoto still does not satisfy Byrd-Hagel's concerns about developing countries. Though such countries as China, India, Brazil, South Korea, and Mexico are all signatories to Kyoto, they are not required to reduce their emissions even though they emit nearly 30 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.

    It says we have to treat the developing nations the same as these countries that have signed onto the protocol. But they don't have to do it. Within a generation, they will be the largest emitters of carbon, methane, and other such greenhouse gases.

    Despite the fact that neither of Byrd-Hagel's conditions has been met, environmentalists echoed by the liberal media have bitterly criticized President Bush for abandoning Kyoto. But one wonders why. Why don't they assail the 95 Senators—both Democrats and Republicans—who, according to Byrd-Hagel, presumably oppose ratification if the treaty came up on the Senate floor?

    Why don't they assail former President Clinton or Vice President Gore who signed the treaty but never submitted it for ratification?

    To repeat, it was a unanimous vote saying we cannot ratify Kyoto—the Kyoto Treaty that the President had signed—unless they would take care of these needs; that is, treating developing countries the same as other countries and if it would provide for any kind of damaging economic effect.

    So when you look at it, you see it was 95 to 0. You have Senators who are of the liberal persuasion—fine people but certainly a different philosophy than mine; Senators BOXER, COLLINS, FEINGOLD, DORGAN, GRAHAM, JEFFORDS, KENNEDY, KERRY, LIEBERMAN, Moseley-Braun, ROCKEFELLER, and many others—who are really sincerely talking in favor of this Kyoto Treaty, but they cast their vote against it. They said: We don't want to ratify this treaty, and we are not going to ratify this treaty unless it treats the developing countries the same as it does the developed nations and unless it doesn't perform any kind of damage to the economy.

    If Byrd-Hagel would not ratify Kyoto if it caused substantial harm and if the developing countries were not required to participate in the same timetable, now it brings us to a very significant question: If the Byrd-Hagel conditions are ever satisfied, should the United States ratify Kyoto? Answering that question depends on several factors, including whether Kyoto would provide significant needed environmental benefits.

    First, we should ask what Kyoto is designed to accomplish. According to the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Kyoto will achieve "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."

    What does this statement mean? The IPCC offers no elaboration and doesn't provide any scientific explanation about what that level would be. Why? The answer is simple: thus far no one has found a definitive scientific answer.

    Recently scientists have answered that question.

    Dr. Fred Singer, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Virginia, who served as the first Director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service, which is now part of the Department of Commerce, and more recently has served as a member and vice chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere, said:

    No one knows what constitutes a "dangerous" concentration. There exists, as yet, no scientific basis for defining such a concentration, or even of knowing whether it is more or less than current levels of carbon dioxide.

    One might pose the question: If we had the ability to set the global thermostat, what temperature would we pick? Would we set it colder or warmer than it is today? What would the optimal temperature be? The actual dawn of civilization occurred in a period climatologists call the "climatic optimum," when the mean surface temperature was about 1 to 2 degrees Celsius warmer than it is today. If we could choose, what would we choose? Why not go 1 degree or 2 degrees higher, or 1 degree or 2 degrees cooler, for that matter?

    The Kyoto emissions reduction targets are arbitrary, lacking any real scientific basis. Kyoto, therefore, will have no impact on global temperatures. This is not just my opinion but the conclusion that is reached by the country's top climate scientists.

    Dr. Tom Wigley, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, found that if the Kyoto protocol were fully implemented by all signatories—now, I will note this next point assumes that the alarmist science is correct, which, of course, it is not—if the Kyoto protocol were fully implemented, it would reduce temperatures by a mere .07 degrees Celsius by 2050 and .13 degrees Celsius by 2100.

    What does this mean? Such an amount is so small that ground-based thermometers cannot even measure it. If you look at this chart, this shows the difference all the way from 2000 to 2050. You can see, while we have ups and downs, it is not measurable. We do not have equipment that could measure that precisely.

    Dr. Richard Lindzen, an MIT scientist and member of the National Academy of Sciences, who has specialized in climate issues for over 30 years, told the Committee on Environment and Public Works—the committee I chair—on May 2, 2001, that there is a "definitive disconnect between Kyoto and science. Should a catastrophic scenario prove correct, Kyoto would not prevent it."

    Similarly, Dr. James Hansen of NASA, considered the father of global warming—he is the guy who thought of all this stuff—said the Kyoto protocol—keep in mind, he is the father of this concept—"will have little effect" on global temperature in the 21st century. In a rather stunning followup, Hansen said it would take 30 Kyotos—let me repeat that—30 Kyotos to reduce warming to an acceptable level. If 1 Kyoto devastates the American economy, what would 30 Kyotos do?

    So this leads to another question: If the provisions in the protocol do little or nothing measurable to influence global temperatures, what does this tell us about the scientific basis for Kyoto?

    Answering that question requires a thorough examination of the scientific work conducted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I am going to refer to this as the IPCC. It is the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which provides the scientific basis for Kyoto. In other words, that is what everything is based on. So I want to talk about that for a few minutes. The international climate negotiations and substance of claims were made by alarmists.

    In 1992, several nations from around the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This meeting was premised on the concern that global warming was becoming a problem. The United States, along with many other countries, signed the Framework Convention, committing them to making voluntary reductions in greenhouse gases. OK. That was 11 years ago.

    Over time, it became clear that signatories were not going to reach their reduction targets as stipulated under Rio. This realization led to the Kyoto protocol of 1997, which was an amendment to the Framework Convention and which prescribed mandatory reductions only for developed nations; that is, the United States. Of course, you know that is another violation of Byrd-Hagel, that it would just affect the developed nations, not the developing nations.

    The science of Kyoto is based on the assessment reports conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. Over the last 13 years, the IPCC has published three assessments, with each one, over time, growing more and more alarmist.

    The first IPCC assessment report, in 1990, found that the climate record of the past century was "broadly consistent" with the changes in the Earth's surface temperature, as calculated by climate models that incorporated the observed increase in greenhouse gases.

    This conclusion is absurd, considering the climate cooled between 1940 and 1975, just as industrial activity grew rapidly after World War II. It has been difficult to reconcile this cooling with the observed increases in greenhouse gases.

    Let's be sure we understand what is happening. In 1940, and then after the war, is when we had the huge increase in CO2 and the greenhouse gases. Yet that precipitated a cooling period, not a warming period, totally contradicting the science.

    After its initial publication, the IPCC's second assessment report, in 1995, attracted widespread international attention, particularly among scientists who believed that human activities were causing global warming. In their view, the report provided the proverbial smoking gun.

    The most widely cited phrase from that report—which actually came from the report summary, as few in the media actually read the entire report—was that "the balance of the evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." This, of course, is so vague that it is essentially meaningless.

    What do they mean by "suggests"? For that matter, what do they mean by "discernible"? How much human influence is discernible? Is it a positive or negative influence? Where is the precise scientific quantification?

    Unfortunately, the media created the impression that man-induced global warming was fact. On August 10, 1995, the New York Times published an article titled "Experts Confirm Human Role in Global Warming"—not just inaccurate but just an outrageous lie. According to the Times account, the IPCC showed that global warming "is unlikely to be entirely due to natural causes." That is what they said.

    Of course, when parsed, this account means fairly little. Not entirely due to natural causes? Well, how much then? One percent? Twenty percent? Eighty-five percent?

    The IPCC report was replete with caveats and qualifications, providing little evidence to support anthropogenic theories—and "anthropogenic" means manmade—of global warming. The preceding paragraph in which the "balance of evidence" appears makes exactly that point. It reads:

    Our ability to quantify the human influence on global climate is currently limited because the expected signal is still emerging from the noise of natural variability, and because there are uncertainties in key factors.

    That is the IPCC. Those are their words which totally refute the case they are trying to make. Moreover, the IPCC report was quite explicit about the uncertainties surrounding the link between human actions and global warming.

    Although these global mean results suggest that there is some anthropogenic component in the observed temperature record, they cannot be considered compelling evidence of a clear cause-and-effect link between anthropogenic forcing and changes in the Earth's surface temperature.

    Remember the IPCC provides the scientific basis for the alarmists' conclusion about global warming. But even the IPCC is saying their own science cannot be considered compelling evidence.

    Dr. John Christy, professor of Atmospheric Science and director of the Earth Systems Science Center at the University of Alabama, a key contributor to the 1995 IPCC report, participated with the lead authors in drafting the sections in the detailed review of the scientific text. He wrote—this isn't the IPCC; this is Dr. John Christy—in the Montgomery Advertiser, February 22, 1998, that much of what passes for common knowledge in the press regarding climate change is "inaccurate, incomplete, or viewed out of context."

    Many of the misconceptions about climate change originated from the IPCC's six-page executive summary. It was the most widely read and quoted of the three documents published by the IPCC working group but—and this point is crucial—it had the least input from scientists and the greatest input from nonscientists.

    Let me go to the third assessment. Five years later, the IPCC was back again, this time with the Third Assessment Report on Climate Change. In October of 2000, the IPCC "Summary for Policymakers"—that is not what the scientists said; that is what the politicians said—was leaked to the media which, once again, accepted the IPCC's conclusions as fact. Based on the summary, the Washington Post wrote on October 30:

    The consensus on global warming keeps strengthening.

    In a similar vein, the New York Times competently declared on October 28:

    The international panel of climate scientists, considered the most authoritative voice on global warming, is now concluding that mankind's contribution to the problem is greater than originally believed.

    Look at how these accounts are couched. They are worded to maximize the fear factor. But upon closer inspection, it is clear that such statements have no compelling intellectual content. "Greater than originally believed," what is the baseline from which the Times makes that judgment? Is it .01 percent or 25 percent? And how much greater? Double? Triple? An order of magnitude greater?

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top