CHICAGO–August 4, 2004: A study scheduled for release this morning by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) alleges residents in more than a dozen U.S. cities "will enjoy significantly fewer healthy air days in coming summers as hotter temperatures caused by global warming speed formation of the lung-damaging pollution commonly known as smog."
Experts contacted by The Heartland Institute disagree.
Joel Schwartz, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute:
"Global warming or not, no claim by environmental activists is more ridiculous than the claim that air pollution will increase in the future.
"Since 1975--a period during which climate alarmists argue the climate has already significantly warmed--the national average number of exceedances of the 1-hour ozone standard fell 95 percent (from 10 to 0.5 per year), while the number of 8-hour ozone exceedances fell more than 60 percent (from 14 to 6 per year). In other words, if the climate has warmed over the last 30 years, that warming hasn't prevented extraordinary improvements in air quality.
"These improvements will continue because already-adopted EPA requirements for automobiles, diesel trucks, off-road diesel equipment, power plants, and industry will progressively eliminate almost all remaining smog-forming pollution during the next 20 years. Starting in May 2004, for example, EPA's NOx SIP Call regulation required a 60 percent reduction in NOx emissions from coal-fired power plants and industrial boilers during the May-September 'ozone season' when compared with previous levels.
"NRDC's claim that Chicago's air will worsen is particularly ridiculous. One hundred percent of Chicago's monitoring sites comply with EPA's 1-hour ozone standard and 82 percent comply with EPA's much more stringent 8-hour ozone standard. All of Chicago complied with the 1-hour ozone standard even in the early 1990s when automobile emissions were more than twice current levels. Chicago has some of the cleanest urban air in the United States and it will only continue to improve as emissions continue to decline."
Ben Lieberman, director of air quality for the Washington, DC-based Competitive Enterprise Institute:
"This study has no basis in reality. Air quality in the U.S. has markedly improved in recent decades, and measures already in place will ensure that this trend will continue. New motor vehicle emissions standards starting with the 2004 model year and new control requirements for power plants mean emissions of smog-forming compounds will continue to decline."
James M. Taylor, managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a monthly magazine published by The Heartland Institute:
"This is just more global warming alarmism from an advocacy group known for making exaggerated and unsupported claims.
"Temperatures in Illinois, outside the 'urban heat island' created by Chicago's expressways, airports, and dense buildings, are not rising, according to the temperature record from weather stations at Quincy, Illinois and neighboring Hannibal, Missouri. Check the data yourself by going to http://www.john-daly.com/stations/hannibal.gif.
"Any future temperature change caused by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases will be moderate and mostly at night and during the winter. It is extremely unlikely that people with asthma and other respiratory problems who jog or exercise outdoors will be adversely effected by such a change, and in fact will probably benefit from it.
"NRDC refuses to acknowledge that the scientific community has rejected its alarmist forecasts. Research conducted for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by scientists at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and University of Maryland, published in the Journal of Science in March, for example, suggests computer models exaggerate future warming.
"A study published in Climate Research in January 2004 (25:185-190) documents climate models' notorious inability even to simulate current climate, much less predict future climate; the researchers urged 'great caution when applying the simulations to future climate predictions and to impact assessments.'
"It's time to stop crying wolf about global warming, and turn our attention to environmental problems that are real."
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Editors and reporters: Please consider contacting the following experts and analysts to comment on the NRDC report:
Mr. Joel Schwartz, Visiting Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, 916/203-6309.
Dr. Jay Lehr, Science Director, The Heartland Institute, 740/368-9393.
Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Senior Scientist, George C. Marshall Institute, 617/495-7415.
Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 434-924-0549.
Dr. Robert Balling, Director, Office of Climatology, Arizona State University, 480/965-6265 .
The Heartland Institute is a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago. Founded in 1984, its goal is to help build social movements in support of ideas that empower people. It is supported by approximately 1,500 donors and Members. No corporate donor gives more than 5 percent of its annual budget. For more information, call Kevin Fitzgerald at 312/377-4000 or visit http://www.heartland.org.