Report #1 from the Global Warming Conference in New York City

Published March 3, 2008

Joseph L. Bast
President, The Heartland Institute
Sunday, March 2, 2008 (Midnight)

The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, hosted by The Heartland Institute and more than 50 cosponsors, got off to a fast and successful start with a capacity crowd at the opening dinner, featuring opening remarks by Heartland President Joseph Bast, comedian Tim Slagle, and climatologist Patrick Michaels.

Registration for the event exceeded 550, well beyond the 300-400 we hoped for. The room for the opening dinner was packed with guests from at least 11 countries, including Australia, Canada England, France, New Zealand, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, and Sweden. Hon. Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, was a distinguished guest. (He’s scheduled to speak on Tuesday.)

During his opening comments, Bast cited a 2003 survey of 530 climate scientists in 27 countries, conducted by Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch at the GKSS Institute of Coastal Research in Germany, which found only 27 percent believed “the current state of scientific knowledge is able to provide reasonable predictions of climate variability on time scales of 100 years.”

“That’s a long ways from ‘consensus,'” Bast observed. He then named 29 universities and other academic institutions represented by the speakers on the program for the coming day-and-a-half conference, including Harvard University, the Institute Pasteur in Paris, the London School of Economics, and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

“If this is the fringe [of the scientific community], where’s the center?” Bast asked.

Climate “alarmists,” Bast said, had already lost the scientific debate. “Winners don’t exaggerate. Winners don’t lie. Winners don’t appeal to fear or resort to ad hominem attacks,” Bast said. “As George Will recently wrote, ‘people only insist that a debate stop when they are afraid of what might be learned if it continues.'”

In his conclusion, Bast said, “it is my hope, and the reason The Heartland Institute organized this conference, that public policies that impose enormous costs on millions of people, in the U.S. and also around the world, will not be passed into law before the fake ‘consensus’ on global warming collapses.

“Once passed, taxes and regulations are often hard to repeal,” said Bast. “Once lost, freedoms are often very difficult to retrieve.”

Comedian Tim Slagle then followed with a 20-minute monologue on global warming that had the audience roaring. Slagle compared Al Gore to a televangelist, skewered the tendency of the media to attribute everything from heat waves to winter storms and droughts to floods to “global warming,” and commented on the silliness of predictions of 23-foot floods.

The evening’s keynote speaker, Dr. Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute and the University of Virginia, began by warning the audience not to argue that recent cooler temperatures were proof global warming had ended, since other climatic factors could change resulting in resumed warming. (He was challenged by several audience members during the question-and-answer period following his talk.)

Michaels also dissected claims of “unprecedented” sea ice melting in the Arctic and warming in the Antarctic, showing evidence that temperatures were warmer in the Arctic during the 1930s and the vast majority of Antarctica is cooling. He also demonstrated that the most realistic forecast for future warming was a linear increase of about 0.17 degrees F per decade, well below even the most conservative estimates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The evening’s formal program ended by 8:45, but the room was still full at 10:00 p.m. as scientists, economists, and other experts socialized with colleagues from other parts of the world they had only known from emails and published work. More than a dozen reporters remained in the room filming and recording interviews with the speakers.

The conference resumes at 7:00 a.m. Monday morning with presentations by Dr. Robert Balling on temperature trends and Dr. Ross McKitrick on quantifying the influence of anthropogenic surface process on climate data. Five series of concurrent panels run all day Monday and Tuesday morning. A major scholarly response to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment will be released by Dr. S. Fred Singer and coauthors, and the creation of an International Climate Science Coalition will be announced by scientists from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus is scheduled to speak on Tuesday morning.

“The conference is off to a magnificent start,” said Heartland’s Bast. “The energy and excitement in the room is almost beyond belief. People are saying this event has already made history, that it is the beginning of a major change in the way climate change is debated world-wide. Future conferences, books, and a new journal on climate change are already being planned.

“It’s a genuine turning point in the global warming debate,” Bast said. “The world can hear us now. The global warming swindle is finally coming to a much-deserved end.”

Joseph L. Bast ([email protected]) is president of The Heartland Institute.