Report #3 from the Global Warming Conference in New York City

Published March 4, 2008

Report #3 from the Global Warming Conference in New York City
By Joseph Bast, President, The Heartland Institute
Tuesday, March 4, 2008 (6:00 p.m. EST)

The final day of the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, hosted by The Heartland Institute and more than 50 cosponsors, began with a keynote presentation by the Hon. Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, who received a thunderous standing ovation from an international audience of some 500 scientists, economists, and other experts on global warming. It ended with withering criticism of the mainstream media’s biased and alarmist coverage of the global warming issue by ABC News correspondent John Stossel.

President Klaus–who won reelection just two weeks ago–explained his strong opposition to claims that global warming is a “crisis” that requires rapid reductions in human greenhouse gas emissions. An economist by training and author of a new book on environmentalism, Dr. Klaus pointed out the impossibility of meeting the ambitious emission reduction goals being endorsed by European countries, saying they would require lowering populations or widespread poverty.

Dr. Klaus was followed by Dr. William Gray, one of the country’s preeminent hurricane forecasters and a pioneer in tropical meteorological research. Gray described what he called the huge errors in the treatment of water vapor by computer models used to forecast future weather conditions and pointed to evidence showing the warming predicted by the models was not occurring at the altitudes and latitudes predicted by the models.

Following Gray’s presentation, scientists were urged to come to the front of the room for a group photo to commemorate the event and drive home the fact that “real scientists” were willing to speak out against global warming alarmism. Some 60 scientists stood for pictures.

The audience then split up to attend concurrent sessions on climatology, the impacts of climate change, and the economics and politics of the global warming debate. Eight panels took place featuring such noted experts as Richard S. Courtney, technical advisor to several UK MPs and one of 15 scientists invited to brief the U.S. Congress on climate change in 2000; Andreas Prokoph, a professor of Earth sciences at the University of Ottawa; and Paul Waggoner, a distinguished scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven.

The group reconvened for a final lunch and plenary session featuring Dr. Roy Spencer, principal research scientists for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Science Team Leader on NASA’s Aqua satellite, and John Stossel, an ABC News correspondent and co-anchor of 20/20.

Spencer reported on his latest research documenting how background “noise” in climate systems creates temperature variations that are not random, the size of which exceed all of the warming attributed to human activity by the models. He further documented a major error in the way climate models attempt to deal with cloud cover and convection in the tropics.

Stossel delivered a withering critique of the way the news media cover science and health issues. While confessing to have been duped into covering alleged “crises” in the past, he said he now recognizes that advocacy groups take advantage of the scientific illiteracy of journalists and their natural interest in stories of lurking or invisible threats that only government can protect people from. He further decried the pervasive anti-capitalist bias of the media, represented by their attacks on The Heartland Institute and other organizations associated with the conference for accepting any corporate funding.

In his concluding remarks, Heartland President Joseph Bast observed that the audience, which had been quiet at the beginning of the opening dinner Sunday night, was now so loud it was difficult to bring to order. The willingness to speak out, it seemed, had grown in just the past day-and-a-half. Bast reported on the extensive press attention the conference had received, reporting interviews on CBS, ABC, BBC, CNN, PBS, Glenn Beck’s television program, Fox News, and a score of print publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.

Bast then laid out an agenda for future collaboration: expansion of the International Climate Science Coalition, completion and release of the report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, publication of books and a new journal on climate science, posting of videos of all the presentations online, creation of a speakers bureau, and planning for a conference in London in 2009. James Taylor, the Heartland senior fellow and managing editor of Environment & Climate News who recruited many of the speakers who attended, added his closing remarks urging continued communication and collaboration for global warming realism.

A postscript by Joseph Bast: I have never before attended a conference, much less helped organize and host one, where so many people in the audience were so energized, engaged in the debate, and so obviously happy to be there. I saw friendships being created that I expect will last for lifetimes. The level of intellectual engagement was apparent from lively question-and-answer sessions and dueling presentations on several panels, the kind of free-spirited debate that is virtually absent from the global warming alarmist camp.

The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change was a success by every measure: attendance, quality of presentations, media coverage, and as a catalyst for future programs. History may well note that the long and largely unimpeded march of error, exaggeration, and even lies in the campaign to turn climate change into a global “crisis” hit a bump in March 2008, when the advocates of sound science and common sense finally came together to expose and confront it.

It was the conference heard around the world. And its message was deceptively simple: Global warming is not a crisis.

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