Heartland Institute Debunks Alarmist PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Warming Report

December 11, 2012

A new Policy Brief published by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute – which The Economist magazine calls “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change” – offers a detailed critique of a November PricewaterhouseCoopers report titled “Too Late for Two Degrees, Low Carbon Economy Index 2012.”

The Heartland Policy Brief, “PricewaterhouseCoopers’ ‘Too Late’ Report: Poor Science, No Practical Solutions”, was written by Senior Fellow James M. Taylor and Policy Analyst Taylor Smith. The authors note the PWC report is “incomplete, inaccurate, and certainly not a reliable guide to either the science or the economics of climate change.”

To book an interview with Mr. Taylor or Mr. Smith, please contact Tammy Nash at tnash@heartland.org and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/731-9364.

Among the brief’s findings about the PWC report:

  • It presents no scientific research to support its claims, predicts more warming than is forecast even by alarmist United Nations models, and ignores current temperature trends.
  • It fails to acknowledge that the United States and other Western democracies can do little to slow the continuing rise in global carbon dioxide emissions given the ongoing dramatic increase in carbon dioxide emissions in rapidly industrializing nations such as China.
  • It dismisses the rise of natural gas and the role it is playing in reducing emissions, and it minimizes the economic costs of continuing the fruitless quest to control the world’s inherently chaotic climate by regulating human emissions.

The PWC report repeatedly references a goal of capping global warming at 2 degrees Celsius above “pre-industrial levels.” Heartland’s Policy Brief notes that goal “is arbitrary and imprecise” and was “plucked from thin air by environmental advocates, not scientists, to lend a purpose and goal to international negotiations for a global treaty.”

In rebuttal, the Heartland Policy Brief notes, “for hundreds of years during the Medieval Warm Period, which lasted from approximately 1000 to 1300 AD, global temperatures were approximately a half-degree Celsius warmer than today.” And from approximately 6000 to 2000 BC, global temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees warmer than today. Human civilization has always thrived in the warmer climates.

The PWC report says the world needs to plan for likely warming of 4 to 6 degrees Celsius in the near future.

In rebuttal, the Heartland Policy Brief notes that even if one accepts NASA’s 34-year temperature trend – which began from an abnormally low point – “global warming of 4 degrees or 6 degrees Celsius would be at least 325 to 525 years away.”

The Heartland Policy Brief also points out the PWC report discourages the development of energy derived from natural gas – which is abundant and clean-burning – so as to “ensure that incentives are not diverted away from renewable energy” such as wind and solar. Yet this substitution of natural gas for coal has led the United States to reduce its carbon emissions by 1.9 percent from 2010 to 2011 while global carbon emissions rose by 3 percent.

According to the Heartland Policy Brief: “Carbon dioxide restrictions in the United States and other Western democracies will merely punish our economies while providing little or no real-world impact on global carbon dioxide emissions or global temperatures. PWC is simply mute on this all-important point.”

To download and read a free copy of the Heartland Policy Brief, “PricewaterhouseCoopers’ ‘Too Late Report: Poor Science, No Practical Solutions” in PDF form, click this link.

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.