Here we go again.
Now that summer is here and temperatures are rising, environmental scaremongers are, predictably, raising the rhetoric that man-made global warming is dangerously heating the planet and we must make economically-drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to halt it.
This summer's salvo comes from a report just released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) a federal program that coordinates climate science research among federal agencies. The report, "Climate Change Impacts on the United States," makes ominous predictions about how global warming will harm the U.S. over the next century. The report, often referred to as the national assessment, warns that a five to ten degree temperature rise will probably lead to increased incidence of drought, a menacing three-foot sea level rise and the spread of disease-bearing mosquitoes.1
These predictions have been made by proponents of the global warming theory for more than a decade and they are just as wrong now as they were ten years ago. In 1988, NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen predicted that global warming would cause the temperature to rise by about 0.8°F by 2000 and that this would have deleterious effects on the environment, such as an increase in drought.2 Neither of Dr. Hansen's predictions came true. NASA satellite data, the most reliable indicator of the earth's temperature, shows that there was no temperature increase at all. Indeed, the satellites show that the earth's temperature has slightly cooled by about 0.02°F since 1979. Nor are droughts becoming more common. According to a report prepared by the National Climactic Data Center, precipitation has remained above the 20th century mean since 1970.3
In 1998, Dr. Hansen candidly admitted that the forces "that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate change."4 But the national assessment purports to do just that despite the bizarre claims by USGCRP panelists that their predictions aren't predictions but "reasonable scenarios."5
There is little merit to the report's warning that sea levels could rise by as much as 35 inches by 2100, threatening coastal wetlands. Dr. Fred Singer, former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service, says that - at most - the sea level will rise seven inches in the next 100 years, and global warming will have nothing to do with it. The oceans have been rising, it turns out, for 18,000 years - ever since the planet started to warm after the peak of the last ice age. The natural melting of a key Antarctic ice sheet explains why the ocean has continued to rise at an average rate of about seven inches per century - through periods of both global warming and global cooling. This gradual sea level rise will continue for another 7,000 years or until another ice age reverses the trend.6
As for the warning about the spread of malarial mosquitoes, Dr. Paul Reiter, a chief entomologist at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says global warming theory proponents ignore the fact that "malaria is not a tropical disease" and is just as capable of breaking out in colder climates. The CDC records "thousands of cases of malaria every year" in the U.S. but, Dr. Reiter stresses, U.S. malarial outbreaks are usually due to infected travelers returning from abroad. Global warming is not a factor.7
So don't let the national assessment's unfounded warnings of
a global warming catastrophe put a damper on your summer holiday
season. It will be hot because of the sun, not because of man-made
1 Curt Suplee, "Drastic Climate Changes
Forecast," The Washington Post, June 12, 2000.
2 "NASA Scientist: Greening Biosphere Stunts Warming," World Climate Report, 1998.
3 David Ridenour, "Government Mismanagement, Not Drought, Responsible for Water Shortages," National Policy Analysis No. 279, The National Center For Public Policy Research, Washington, DC, February 2000.
4 Steven J. Milloy, "NASA's Hansen Recants on Warming," Electricity Daily, November 19, 1998.
6 Dr. Fred Singer, "Global Warming Will Lower Sea Level: But Will Politicians Listen?" Science and Environmental Policy Project, Fairfax, VA, May 20, 1999.
7 Dr. Paul Reiter, "Global Warming And Vector-Borne Disease: Is Warmer Sicker?" Science Briefing, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, July 28, 1998.
John K. Carlisle is director of The National Center for Public
Policy Research's Environmental Policy Task Force. He can be reached