Global Warming Skeptics Gather in NYC

Published April 1, 2009

The world’s largest-ever gathering of global warming skeptics was scheduled to assemble in New York City in March to confront the issue, “Global warming: Was it ever really a crisis?”

As this issue of Environment & Climate News went to press, about 800 scientists, economists, legislators, policy activists, and media representatives were expected to register at the second International Conference on Climate Change, opening Sunday, March 8 and concluding Tuesday, March 10 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel.

Produced by The Heartland Institute and 59 co-sponsoring organizations, the conference was devoted to answering questions overlooked by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That panel concluded global temperatures may already have reached crisis proportions, and that human activity was a key driver in rising temperatures, primarily because of the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Dissenting View

But the 80 presenters scheduled to speak at the Heartland conference said they would present a substantially different viewpoint.

“The number of people registered for this event was nearly twice as many as attended the 2008 conference,” noted Heartland President Joseph Bast before the conference opened. “And the presenters at this year’s conference are the elite in the world among climate scientists. We will be delighted to demonstrate once again the breadth and high quality of support that the skeptical perspective on climate change enjoys.”

One of the presenters, Don Easterbrook, professor of geology at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, said before the conference, “The most recent global warming that began in 1977 is over, and the Earth has entered a new phase of global cooling.”

Based on data he was scheduled to present in New York, Easterbrook said a switch in Pacific Ocean currents “assures about three decades of global cooling. New solar data showing unusual absence of sun spots and changes in the sun’s magnetic field suggest … the present episode of global cooling may be more severe than the cooling of 1945 to 1977.”

Another climatologist, Joe D’Aleo of the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project, said before the conference that new data “show that in five of the last seven decades since World War II, including this one, global temperatures have cooled while carbon dioxide has continued to rise.”

D’Aleo was expected to demonstrate how cycles in the ocean currents and sun activity fit the cyclical changes in the temperature data and each other.

“The data suggest cooling not warming in Earth’s future,” D’Aleo said.

Prominent Keynoters

Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic and of the European Union, was expected to keynote the opening session, building on comments he made in February at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. That’s where he declared, “I don’t think that there is any global warming. I don’t see the statistical data for that.”

Klaus has been an outspoken opponent of legislation and regulation to contain global warming, because he sees such unnecessary efforts as “challenging our freedom. I’m afraid that the current crisis will be misused for radically constraining the functioning of the markets and market economy all around the world.

“I’m more afraid of the consequences of the crisis than the crisis itself,” Klaus said.

Another keynoter, Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said before the conference he would remind his fellow skeptics that “being skeptical about global warming does not make one a good scientist; nor does endorsing global warming make one a poor scientist.”

He criticized “the often fiery debate about global warming that has done much to set back climate science as antagonists trade broadsides.”

In particular, Lindzen was expected to argue, “The notion that climate is one-dimensional—which is to say that it is totally described by some fictitious global mean temperature and some single gross forcing a la increased CO2—is grotesque in its oversimplification. I must reluctantly add that this error is perpetuated by those attempting to ‘explain’ climate with solar variability.”

American astronaut Jack Schmitt, the last living man to have walked on the moon, contended before the conference that scientists “are being intimidated” if they disagree with the idea that burning fossil fuels has increased carbon dioxide levels, temperatures, and sea levels.

Schmitt explained, “They’ve seen too many of their colleagues lose grant funding when they haven’t gone along with the so-called political consensus that we’re in a human-caused global warming.”

Dan Miller ([email protected]) is executive vice president of The Heartland Institute.