by Steve Miller

Every aspect of Nevada’s economy — and every facet of every Nevadan’s personal and economic freedom — will be affected. And all across America — under the controls the Clinton administration wants imposed — the story will be the same. The food that you will eat, the car you’ll drive and the way you’ll heat your home — all will be impacted.

Because ‘global warming’ is such a dire threat, says the administration, a vast new international treaty is needed to impose economically devastating and legally binding limits on "greenhouse gas emissions’ in the United States and western Europe — but not on American companies’ competitors in China, India, Latin America, and Africa, and not as stringently on formerly communist eastern Europe. The final draft of the treaty — the United Nations Treaty on Global Climate Change — is scheduled to be signed by President Clinton next month in Kyoto, Japan.

With so much at stake, clearly the bottom-line question is: "How serious is the ‘global warming’ problem?"

How solid is the data?

t Reno’s Truckee Meadows Community College in October, Clinton administration personnel came to town to host a "White House Conference on Climate Change." The main handout given participants at the TMCC conflab (and also at similar events that day all across the country) was a large, expensively printed color booklet entitled, "Climate Change: State of Knowledge."

Almost cheerfully, the glossy brochure repeatedly asserts that a major planetary heat crisis appears on its way. To support this claim, the tract relies almost entirely on the 1995 report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (as finally published in 1996). Not surprisingly, perhaps, neither the booklet nor any official from the credibility-impaired Clinton administration found occasion to mention the IPCC’s own, severe, credibility problems.

In July, 1996, IPCC co-chair and major Clinton Administration research-grant recipient Benjamin Santer, along with 12 other proponents of the theory that human fossil fuel usage will increase global temperatures, published in the British science journal Nature a paper titled "A Search For Human Influences On The Thermal Structure Of The Atmosphere."1 Actual weather balloon data [see chart a], it was suggested, has been found to validate earlier computer projections of increased planetary heat.

Largely on the basis of this article—and before its claims had undergone peer review by other scientists—Santer and the IPCC’s political administrators took the 1995 scientific report drafted by an international panel of scientists and, without authorization, rewrote the scientist’s conclusions. In a major scandal widely reported last year2, numerous references the drafting scientists had made to scientific uncertainty surrounding the greenhouse issue were deleted, while numerous pro-global-warming assertions the scientists had not considered justified by the evidence were inserted.

Among the additions made by the IPCC bureaucracy without authorization by the original scientific panel was the now-famous claim that "…the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate." It was this quotation that the Clinton administration deployed front and center in the introduction to its nationally distributed booklet.

What makes the use of the quote especially odious is that the supporting ‘proof’ of Santer et al had been demolished by other scientists almost a year ago, just five months after the original paper had been published, when Nature printed two peer-review letters.

The first, from two University of Virginia climatologists3, was especially devastating [see chart b]. The ‘trend’ identified by Santer et al was revealed to have been almost entirely a function of the time period Santer and his colleagues had selected. If weather-balloon measurements for years both before and after the original period were included, there was no overall warming trend.

In their ensuing response, Santer & Co. were forced to essentially acknowledge as much. After quibbling a bit over the propriety of the data set the Virginians had used, the Santer rejoinder allowed as how a "newly available" data set for the years 1958-1995 confirmed the "supposition" of the critics.

The second response to the original hypothesis that Santer et al had offered came from a German scientist4. While he did not entirely disagree with the global warming thesis, he noted that even the excerpted warming trend-line-line could largely be explained by entirely natural events — troposcopic cooling after the violent 1963 explosion of Mount Agung on the Indonesian island of Bali, followed by "several strong El Nino events"—without assuming a human cause.

Does the data say what they say it says?

The 1995 IPCC assessment has also come under severe criticisms from many other scientists. One particular episode was highlighted last year when Clinton administration officials testifying before Congress tried to assert that there was scientific evidence for a link between purported planetary warming and the increase in recent decades of human-produced CO2 emissions.

"[T]he last decade is the warmest since 1400," declared Michael C. MacCracken, director of the administration’s Global Change Research Program, before the House Science Committee. When Chairman Robert Walker (RPA) asked whether people used thermometers back in the 15th Century, MacCracken explained that scientists have sought to reconstruct the history of temperature by consulting such biological indicators as the width of tree rings.

In its 1995 Assessment, the IPCC published the graph of such a record [see chart c]. However, if one looks closely at that graphic, even as published by the IPCC, it is apparent that the only large jump in this century’s temperature took place in the 1920s — significantly before the big increase in fossil fuel use of recent decades — and that there actually has been, according to the bio-historic indicators, a subsequent decline of temperature during the period when, by global warming theories, there should have been an increase.

Scientists before the congressional committee made clear that IPCC authorities had been explicitly alerted to all this when the 1995 assessment was still in draft form. Since the bio-historic record did not actually describe a warming related to an increased greenhouse effect, wrote one of the international panel’s official reviewers, the IPCC draft text suggesting the contrary was, he said, "profoundly misleading and will subject the report to public criticism.

"It conveys the impression that the composite temperature indicator is at its highest value," wrote the reviewer. "[I]t clearly is not, and the highest values were reached in the 1930s with the big rise between the 19-teens and the 20s....The text should read ‘Composite indicators of summer temperature show that a rapid rise occurred around 1920; this rise was prior to the major greenhouse emissions. Since then, composite temperatures have dropped slightly on a decadal scale.’"

Nevertheless, the agenda-driven UN body ignored the warning and never noted in its text that the illustration did not describe a warming related to the greenhouse effect — "leaving most readers with the impression," said University of Virginia climatologist Patrick Michaels, "that the trees of the Northern Hemisphere had changed their growth rates in response to man’s impact on the atmosphere."

Do the scientists agree?

In July, the United States Senate went on record as overwhelmingly (95-0) opposed to the United Nations draft treaty on climate change, which would include legally binding reductions in Americans’ use of fossil fuels. Nevertheless, the Clinton administration since then has continued a massive propaganda campaign in favor of such planetary-wide, internationally administered controls, with choreographed photo-ops and events like the Reno TMCC meeting. Fundamental to the entire campaign has been the effort to portray the "scientific community" as in full support of the administration’s point of view.

For example, "[I]n 1995," says another administration brochure given out at the Reno event, "2,500 scientists signed a historic document… that noted the ‘balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.’" But that ambiguous but crucial statement — as noted earlier — did not come from the "2,500 scientists," virtually none of whom approved it before it was inserted by the UN political appointee who administer IPCC. Scientific questions, of course, are not resolved by majority vote. But even if they were, the "2,500" figure is largely eyewash.

"If one were to add up all contributors and reviewers listed in the three IPCC reports published in 1996," wrote S. Fred Singer in the Wall Street Journal5, "one would count What do climate scientists think?about 2,100. The great majority of these are not conversant with the intricacies of atmospheric physics, although some may know a lot about forestry, fisheries or agriculture. Most are social scientists — or just policy experts and government functionaries."

Singer notes that just about "[e]very country in the world seems to be represented — from Albania to Zimbabwe — though many are not exactly at the forefront of research. The list even includes known skeptics of global warming — much to their personal and professional chagrin."

Singer also notes that even the IPCC report only lists some 80 authors for its 11 chapters, and then points out that "only a handful actually wrote the Policy-makers’ Summary; most of the several hundred listed "contributors" are simply specialists who allowed their work to be cited, without necessarily endorsing the other chapters or the summary."

Doomsters on the run

Notwithstanding the administration’s efforts, specialists in the climate sciences at issue appear to be fast retreating from catastrophic theories of global warming.

When Singer’s Science and Environmental Policy Project conducted a survey of IPCC scientific contributors and reviewers, it found that about half did not support the summary that the IPCC administrators had prepared for government policy-makers.

Also last year, nearly 100 climate scientists signed the Leipzig Declaration expressing doubts about the validity of computer-driven global warming forecasts. Given the fact that climatology is a field where the biggest source of research grants is the U.S. government, it was a significant demonstration of independence. Congress nowadays allocates about $2 billion annually, and those grants are administered by the executive branch of the U.S. government — i.e., the Clinton administration, which has amply demonstrated it wants nothing but agreement. In July, for example, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt went so far as to accuse scientists not toeing the government line of perjury.

Nevertheless, the tide in the scientific community seems to be clearly turning against those who wanted science to provide them a huge club with which to beat industrial civilization over the head. This year, there have been a number of signposts in the scientific journals:

May 16: America’s most prestigious scientific journal, Science, published an article titled "Greenhouse Forecasting Still Cloudy," pointing out that, "Many climate experts caution that it is not at all clear yet that human activities have begun to warm the planet — or how bad greenhouse warming will be when it arrives." The article also noted that when climate computer models are free of their by-now-notorious "fudge factors," they don’t predict any significant future warming. Finally, Dr. Benjamin Santer, author of that key chapter in the 1995 IPCC report, backed away from its use by the media and the Clinton administration. "It’s unfortunate that many people read the media hype before they read [that] chapter," he said. "I think the caveats are there. We say quite clearly that few scientists would say the attribution issue [i.e., the argument that global warming is caused by human industrial activity] was a done deal."

June 2: Bert Bolin, IPCC chairman, conceded in a debate with environmental scientist Fred Singer that "the climate issue is not ‘settled’; it is both uncertain and incomplete." Bolin further noted that the small amount of warming during the past century occurred mainly before 1940, is most likely a natural recovery from previous cooling, and not a manifestation of human-induced warming. He also publicly disagreed with claims by the Clinton Administration and many environmental activist groups that any floods, droughts, hurricanes, or other extreme weather patterns are the result of rising global temperatures. "There has been no effect on countries from any current change," said Bolin, adding that efforts by activists to establish such a link "is why I do not trust the Greens."

June: NASA scientist Roy Spencer published an article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that provided dramatic support for scientists who have argued that there are processes far above the earth’s surface that inhibit the global warming processes assumed by nearly all computer climate models.

July 18: Science magazine showcased an extensive analysis of global temperature trends by David Easterling and several other scientists that demonstrates a continued tendency for climate change to be primarily expressed as a warming of night temperature. For years, those who maintain that the effects of man on the atmosphere would be neutral (or perhaps even beneficial) have said that greenhouse effect changes should take place primarily at night and in the very cold winter air-masses.

January, 1997 -- Coldest EverJuly 19: The significant British journal New Scientist published a cover story titled "Greenhouse Wars: Why the Rebels Have a Cause." In a thorough review of the scientific evidence marshaled by both sides, the magazine acknowledged virtually everything Bruce Babbitt and other administration spear-carriers have sought to suppress. The skeptics are "among the world’s top scientists," said New Scientist. "They don’t believe in global warming, and they think their time has come." u

Steve Miller is a contributing editor for Nevada Journal.


1 Vol. 382, 4 July 1996, pp. 3946. Publication was timed, critics suggested, to stampede the UN environmental ministers’ meeting set for Geneva four days later. Nevertheless, a declaration calling for legally binding emission reductions was rejected by representatives of Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and the OPEC nations.

2 Wall Street Journal, June 12, 1996, Editorial Page, "A Major Deception On Global Warming," by Frederick Seitz, president emeritus of Rockefeller University and chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute.

3 Vol. 384, 12 Dec 1996, pp. 522523. Authors were Prof. Patrick Michaels and Dr. Paul Knappenberger, both of the University of Virginia.

4 Vol 384, 12 Dec 1996, pp. 523524. Gerd R. Weber, Gesamtverband des deutschen Steinkolenbause, Essen, Germany.

5 "A Treaty Built on Hot Air, Not Scientific Consensus," WSJ Editorial Page, July 25, 1997


Journal front | Search | Comment | Sponsors