Report #2 from the Global Warming Conference in New York City

Published March 3, 2008

Report #2 from the Global Warming Conference in New York City
By Joseph Bast, President, The Heartland Institute
Monday, March 3, 2008 (10:30 p.m. EST)

The first full day of the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, hosted by The Heartland Institute and more than 50 cosponsors, was by all accounts an extraordinary success, from the packed breakfast and lunch plenary sessions to the rapt attention given to panelists during the 20 concurrent sessions addressing nearly every aspect of paleoclimatology, climatology, and the economics and politics of climate change.

It became clear this was no ordinary conference on climate change from the opening presentations by Dr. Robert Balling, professor of climatology at Arizona State University, and Dr. Ross McKitrick, associate professor of economics at the University of Guelph (Ontario).

Both speakers vigorously critiqued the temperature records that purport to show unprecedented warming in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, documenting a dramatic drop in the number of temperature stations, changes in temperature recording technologies, and apparent bias in adjustments to the data made by proponents of global warming alarmism.

The breakfast speakers also began what would be a running debate over Dr. Patrick Michaels’ statements, in the opening address the evening before, that a warming trend, albeit a mild one, could be discerned from recent temperature data and that it was probably of anthropogenic origin. An expected theme of the conference–that there is no consensus on the extent or causes of global warming–was doubly confirmed: Not only do “skeptics” disagree with the so-called “consensus,” but they also disagree among themselves!

With some 60 speakers presenting papers over the course of the day, it would be unfair to single out only a few for praise, particularly since the author of this report wasn’t able to attend more than a few of the presentations. But people in the hallways buzzed about presentations by Christopher Monckton, a former policy advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Willie Soon of the Science and Public Policy Institute and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Dr. George Taylor, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists; and Roy Innis, chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality.

Lunch presentations by Dr. Tim Ball, former professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg, and Dr. S. Fred Singer, distinguished research professor at George Mason University, rocked the crowd. Singer announced the release of the Summary for Policymakers of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), a systematic and authoritative rebuttal of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report.

There was a moment of sadness when the death of Dr. Frederick Seitz, on Sunday, was announced at the end of lunch. Seitz, a former president of the National Academy of Sciences and president emeritus of Rockefeller University in New York, was one of the most distinguished scientists of his generation and a noted global warming skeptic. He had contributed a preface to Singer’s NIPCC report.

The newly formed International Climate Science Coalition used the conference to announce its formation and encourage the scientists and policy experts attending the conference to join it. Tom Harris, a Canadian engineer and executive director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project in Ottawa, Ontario, is the coalition’s new executive director and can be reached at [email protected].

The Business and Media Institute also used the conference to announce the release of “Greenhouse Censored,” a new report on media bias in reporting on the climate change controversy. According to the BMI report, only 20 percent of 205 network news stories about climate change between July 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007 even mentioned an alternative view to alarmism. CBS scored the worst of the three networks, allowing only one “skeptic” to appear for every 38 alarmists.

A steady stream of reporters and camera crews flowed through the registration and reception areas and utilized the three media suites set up for interviews. Media organizations represented at the day’s events included ABC, CBS, CNN, the BBC, The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, among many others.

By the end of the day, more than a few speakers were hoarse from their repeated encounters with reporters, but all were delighted that they were getting their messages out. There is no question but that the media took note of this meeting–the largest gathering of global warming skeptics ever held.

The truth was simply too big to remain hidden: There is no consensus on global warming!

By the end of the day, talk was already turning to follow-up activities to the conference. At least three books, several videos, a journal devoted to climate change, and a follow-up conference (possibly in London in early 2009) are being discussed. Parallels were being drawn between this conference and the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947–which led to the creation of an institution that played a key role in the resurrection of classical liberalism world-wide and the intellectual defeat of socialism.

“It’s difficult to imagine how this conference could have been more successful,” said Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, host of the conference. “The pure quality of speakers and presentations, and the excitement and passion of the audience, is almost overwhelming. We thought we were just bringing together some scientists and other experts to make a point; we may have ended up launching an intellectual movement.”

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

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