Minn. Legislators Hear Latest Global Warming Science

Published May 1, 2007

Minnesota state legislators set aside March 8 to hear firsthand the latest scientific developments regarding global warming. State Sens. Mike Jungbauer (R-East Bethel) and David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), along with Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Delano) and Mike Beard (R-Shakopee), sponsored a symposium at the State Capitol on “What Scientists Are Really Saying about Global Warming.”

Latest Science Presented

The Earth has been warming at a steady rate for the past three decades, reported the symposium’s first speaker, Dr. Patrick Michaels, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and a visiting professor at Virginia Tech University.

Michaels emphasized temperatures have been rising by 0.18 degrees Celsius per decade since a recent cooling spell ended in the late 1970s. The rate of warming is likely to remain steady for the foreseeable future, Michaels noted.

Michaels presented data from numerous computer models and showed real-world temperatures have failed to match most of the computer projections. Only the computer models predicting minimal future warming have accurately forecast recent temperatures, Michaels reported.

Computer models predicting more dramatic warming rely on unrealistic projections of Third World economic growth, resulting in a dramatic rise in greenhouse gas emissions in those regions, Michaels explained.

While a rise in global carbon dioxide emissions will likely result in warmer temperatures, Michaels said, realistic projections of future economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions will result in a mild planetary warming no less gradual than is currently occurring.

Evangelical Alliance Refuted

The symposium’s second speaker, Dr. Calvin Beisner, national spokesman for the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, challenged recent media reports of an emerging alliance between evangelical Christians and global warming alarmists.

Beisner observed that while global warming alarmists have launched a public relations initiative based on the recent conversion of a few prominent evangelicals, evangelicals as a whole are far more skeptical of alarmists’ warming claims.

Beisner noted the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) issued a 2006 letter explicitly refusing to take a position regarding global warming. He also pointed out that groups such as the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance and the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty have gone even farther, taking an active role in questioning the wisdom of diverting precious economic resources to very speculative warming predictions.

Christians who seek to improve the global environment and the plight of the world’s most destitute people can have a more positive impact by directing their resources to fighting malaria and providing running water and affordable electricity to the poorest of Third World communities, Beisner said.

Beisner noted some of the most prominent and respected scientists who challenge global warming alarmism are themselves evangelicals.

Myths Debunked

The symposium’s final speaker, James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News, gave a point-by-point refutation of the most commonly asserted global warming catastrophes.

Taylor reported scientists are deeply divided on the causes and extent of global warming, and that no scientific consensus exists on the issue. Taylor noted more than 17,000 scientists have signed a petition challenging alarmist global warming theory, and that recent surveys of climate scientists show a significant skepticism toward the alleged “scientific consensus.”

Citing refereed scientific literature to support each of his statements, Taylor noted

  • Himalayan alpine glaciers are growing rather than shrinking;
  • global warming is not affecting the ice cap on East Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro, as local temperatures are cooling and the ice cap is shrinking due to local deforestation rather than warming temperatures;
  • global warming is not leading to an increase in tornado activity;
  • global warming is having little or no impact on hurricanes; and
  • the Sahara desert is shrinking–not expanding–due to increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Taylor also pointed out:

  • Greenland’s ice sheet is in rough equilibrium;
  • the Gulf Stream is in no danger of a shutdown that could trigger an ice age;
  • Antarctic temperatures are falling and the continent is gaining rather than losing ice;
  • polar bears are in little danger from warming temperatures; and
  • the planet’s moderate warming is unremarkable by historic standards.

Future Symposia Expected

“This was a very worthwhile event,” Jungbauer said in an interview for this story. “Not only did we present to legislators the latest sound science regarding global warming, but we also have generated a good deal of media interest in covering all sides of the global warming debate.

“We would like to build on the success of this event for future, similar symposia,” Jungbauer added.

James Hoare ([email protected]) is an attorney practicing in Rochester, New York.

For more information …

Pat Michaels, “Inconvenient Truths,” National Review Online, February 23, 2007, http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=8021

James M. Taylor, “Science and Global Warming: What Do We Know?” Remarks to the Minnesota State Legislature, March 8, 2007, http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=20779

M. Vu, “Group: Evangelicals Misrepresented on Global Warming Issue,” The Christian Post, January 19, 2007, http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070119/25286_Group:_Evangelicals_Misrepresented_on_Global_Warming_Issue.htm