"Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere
as a result of human activities, causing mean surface air temperature
and subsurface ocean temperature to rise."1
That line and a few others in the Bush Administration's recent
rambling, confusing and often contradictory "Climate Action
Report 2002" set off a firestorm of criticism of what had
been the President's skillfully-crafted and scientifically-sound
position on climate change.
"We do not know how much our climate could or will change
in the future," President George W. Bush had said on June
11, 2001. "We do not know how fast change will occur, or
even how some of our actions could impact it."2
How did we get from the President's position to an Administration
report to the United Nations that stumbles, bumbles and fumbles
its way into statements that mankind is responsible for global
warming? After all, it was signed off on by several departments
of government, as well as the President's own Council on Environmental
Quality. The specific answer to that question may never be publicly
known. But it seems obvious that those involved with the report
may not have been as knowledgeable as the President on this issue
or may have been too naïve to understand the language of
the report. They might even be opposed to the President's view
on the matter.
In any case, President Bush was right when he quickly branded
the report as the work of the "bureaucracy," which it
certainly was, and restated his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol
on climate change. In addition to sticking with his position,
for the benefit of the American people - and some members of his
administration - it would be wise for the President to make clear
a few facts about climate change.
First, the President's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol is in
agreement with the U.S. Senate, which voted 95-0 on July 25, 1997
to reject any treaty that would harm the American economy or fail
to require developing nations to reduce emissions.3
It is also important to note that the burden of restricting
use of fossil fuels - necessary to meet the Kyoto Protocol's goals
- would fall most heavily on minorities. A study commissioned
by six African-American and Hispanic organizations found that
the increased costs that would be forced by the Kyoto Protocol
would cut minority incomes by ten percent and cost the jobs of
864,000 blacks and 511,000 Hispanics.4 This underscores
the fact that President Bush is right to oppose this treaty.
The President might also point out over 17,000 scientists,
including Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
who worked on both the National Research Council and United Nations
studies on climate change, have expressed serious doubts about
the link between global warming and made-made carbon dioxide from
burning fossil fuels.5
He could also allay the fears of some Americans concerning
global warming by pointing out that the only evidence of it exists
in computer models that have proven to be wrong.
The models say the part of the earth that should warm first under
the "greenhouse gas effect" is the lower portion of
the atmosphere, approximately one to five miles above the earth,
called the troposphere. However, highly-accurate, carefully-documented
NASA satellite and balloon monitoring has shown no warming of
the troposphere in over 25 years.6
There has been a rise in surface temperatures of about half
a degree Fahrenheit. Most of this occurred prior to 1940, followed
by slight cooling from 1940 to 1975 and some slight warming from
1975 until now - definitely not a pattern consistent with climate
change caused by increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the air.7
Presenting these and other facts about climate change would
reinforce the President's principled and consistent position on
the issue of climate change. It would overcome the scare rhetoric
of many in the media and the far left while countering those on
the right who are denouncing the administration for what is, admittedly,
a flawed report.
When it comes to the much-ballyhooed "Climate Action Report
2002" it is probably best to just forget about it and get
on with more important issues, such as the war on terror, conflict
in the Middle East and preventing a nuclear holocaust in Pakistan
Tom Randall is the Director of Environmental & Regulatory
Affairs of the John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and
Regulatory Affairs of The National Center for Public Policy Research
in Washington, DC. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
1 "U.S. Climate Action Report
2002," U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, May 2002.
2 President George W. Bush, remarks
in the Rose Garden, The White House, Washington, DC, June 11,
3 S. Res. 98, introduced by U.S.
Senators Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE), approved by
the U.S. Senate by a vote of 95-0, July 25, 1997.
4 "Study Says Global Warming
Treaty Will Hurt U.S. Minorities," Associated Press, July
6, 2000, as cited by John Carlisle, "Treaty to Combat Unproven
Global Warming Threat Would Hurt Americans' Standard of Living"
National Policy Analysis #309, September 2000, available
on the Internet at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA309.html.
5 Richard Lindzen, "Scientists'
Report Doesn't Support The Kyoto Treaty," The Wall Street
Journal, June 11, 2001.
6 James K. Glassman and Sallie Baliunas,
"Bush is Right on Global Warming," The Weekly Standard,
June 25, 2001.