Senator Refutes Global Warming Hypothesis: Part 1 in a Series

Published October 1, 2003

Managing Editor’s note: Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, delivered a detailed critique of global warming theory on July 28, launching what promise to be contentious Senate hearings on the topic this Fall.

The following is the first in a series excerpting Inhofe’s remarks. Subheads have been added for the reader’s convenience.

The Science of Climate Change
Senate Floor Statement by
U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Oklahoma)
Chairman, Committee on Environment and Public Works

July 28, 2003

As chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, I have a profound responsibility, because the decisions of the committee have wide-reaching impacts, influencing the health and security of every American.

That’s why I established three guiding principles for all committee work: It should rely on the most objective science; it should consider costs on businesses and consumers; and the bureaucracy should serve, not rule, the people.

Without these principles, we cannot make effective public policy decisions. They are necessary to both improve the environment and encourage economic growth and prosperity.

But if the relationship between public policy and science is distorted for political ends, the result is flawed policy that hurts the environment, the economy, and the people we serve.

The issue of catastrophic global warming, which I would like to speak about today, fits perfectly into this mold. Much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science. Global warming alarmists see a future plagued by catastrophic flooding, war, terrorism, economic dislocations, droughts, crop failures, mosquito-borne diseases, and harsh weather–all caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

Hans Blix, chief U.N. weapons inspector, sounded both ridiculous and alarmist when he said in March, “I’m more worried about global warming than I am of any major military conflict.”

Science writer David Appell, who has written for such publications as the New Scientist and Scientific American, parroted Blix when he said “[Global warming] would be chaos by any measure, far greater even than the sum total of chaos of the global wars of the 20th century, and so in this sense Blix is right to be concerned. Sounds like a weapon of mass destruction to me.”

No wonder the late political scientist Aaron Wildavsky called global warming alarmism the “mother of all environmental scares.”

Unsettled Science

Appell and Blix sound very much like those who warned us in the 1970s that the planet was headed for a catastrophic global cooling. On April 28, 1975, Newsweek printed an article titled, “The Cooling World,” in which the magazine warned:

“There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production–with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth.”

In a similar refrain, Time magazine for June 24, 1974 declared: “However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades.”

In 1974 the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation, stated: “During the last 20 to 30 years, world temperature has fallen, irregularly at first but more sharply over the last decade.” Two years earlier, the board had observed: “Judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high temperatures should be drawing to an end … leading into the next glacial age.”

How quickly things change. Fear of the coming ice age is old hat, but fear that man-made greenhouse gases are causing temperatures to rise to harmful levels is in vogue. Alarmists brazenly assert that this phenomenon is fact, and that the science of climate change is “settled.”

But in fact the issue is far from settled, and indeed is seriously disputed. I would submit, furthermore, that not only is there a debate, but the debate is shifting away from those who subscribe to global warming alarmism. After studying the issue over the last several years, I believe that the balance of the evidence offers strong proof that natural variability is the overwhelming factor influencing climate.

Little Impact on Climate

It’s also important to question whether global warming is even a problem for human existence. Thus far no one has seriously demonstrated any scientific proof that increased global temperatures would lead to the catastrophes predicted by alarmists. In fact, it appears that just the opposite is true: that increases in global temperatures may have a beneficial effect on how we live our lives.

For these reasons I would like to discuss an important body of scientific research that refutes the anthropogenic theory of catastrophic global warming. I believe this research offers compelling proof that human activities have little impact on climate.

This research, well documented in the scientific literature, directly challenges the environmental worldview of the media, so it typically doesn’t receive proper attention and discussion.

I believe it is extremely important for the future of this country that the facts and the science get a fair hearing. Without proper knowledge and understanding, alarmists will scare the country into enacting their ultimate goal: making energy suppression, in the form of harmful mandatory restrictions on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions, the official policy of the United States.

Such a policy would induce serious economic harm, especially for low-income and minority populations. Energy suppression, as official government and non-partisan private analyses have amply confirmed, means higher prices for food, medical care, and electricity, as well as massive job losses and drastic reductions in gross domestic product, all the while providing virtually no environmental benefit. In other words: a raw deal for the American people and a crisis for the poor.

High Cost of Kyoto

The issue of global warming has garnered significant international attention through the Kyoto Treaty, which requires signatories to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by considerable amounts below 1990 levels. The Clinton administration, led by former Vice President Al Gore, signed Kyoto on November 12, 1998 but never submitted it to the Senate for ratification.

The treaty explicitly acknowledges as true that man-made emissions, principally from the use of fossil fuels, are causing global temperatures to rise, eventually to catastrophic levels. Kyoto enthusiasts believe that if we dramatically cut back, or even eliminate, fossil fuels, the climate system will respond by sending global temperatures back to “normal” levels.

In 1997, the Senate sent a powerful signal that Kyoto was unacceptable. By a vote of 95 to 0, the Senate passed the Byrd-Hagel resolution, which stated that the Senate would not ratify Kyoto if it caused substantial economic harm and if developing countries were not required to participate on the same timetable.

The most widely cited and most definitive economic analysis of Kyoto came from Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates, or WEFA. According to WEFA economists, Kyoto would cost 2.4 million U.S. jobs and reduce GDP by 3.2 percent, or about $300 billion annually, an amount greater than the total expenditure on primary and secondary education.

Because of Kyoto, American consumers would face higher food, medical, and housing costs–for food, an increase of 11 percent; medicine, an increase of 14 percent; and housing, an increase of 7 percent. At the same time an average household of four would see its real income drop by $2,700 in 2010, and each year thereafter.

Under Kyoto, energy and electricity prices would nearly double, and gasoline prices would go up an additional 65 cents per gallon.

Some in the environmental community have dismissed the WEFA report as a tainted product of “industry.” I would point them to the 1998 analysis by the Clinton Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Department of Energy, which largely confirmed WEFA’s analysis.

Keep in mind, all of these disastrous results of Kyoto are predicted by Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates, a private consulting company founded by professors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School.

Despite these facts, groups such as Greenpeace blindly assert that Kyoto “will not impose significant costs” and “will not be an economic burden.”

Minorities Hit Hardest

According to a recent study by the Center for Energy and Economic Development, sponsored by the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, if the U.S. ratifies Kyoto, or passes domestic climate policies effectively implementing the treaty, the result would “disproportionately harm America’s minority communities, and place the economic advancement of millions of U.S. Blacks and Hispanics at risk.”

Among the study’s key findings: Kyoto will cost 511,000 jobs held by Hispanic workers and 864,000 jobs held by Black workers; poverty rates for minority families will increase dramatically; and, because Kyoto will bring about higher energy prices, many minority businesses will be lost.

It is interesting to note that the environmental left purports to advocate policies based on their alleged good for humanity, especially for the most vulnerable. Kyoto is no exception. Yet Kyoto, and Kyoto-like policies developed here in this body, would cause the greatest harm to the poorest among us.

Some in this body have introduced Kyoto-like legislation that would hurt low-income and minority populations. Last year, Tom Mullen, president of Cleveland Catholic Charities, testified against S. 556, the Clean Power Act, which would impose onerous, unrealistic restrictions, including a Kyoto-like cap on carbon dioxide emissions, on electric utilities. He noted that this regime would mean higher electricity prices for the poorest citizens of Cleveland.

For those on fixed incomes, as Mr. Mullen pointed out, higher electricity prices present a choice between eating and staying warm in winter or cool in summer. As Mr. Mullen said, “The overall impact on the economy in Northeast Ohio would be overwhelming, and the needs that we address at Catholic Charities in Ohio with the elderly and poor would be well beyond our capacity and that of our current partners in government and the private sector.”

In addition to its negative economic impacts, Kyoto still does not satisfy Byrd-Hagel’s concerns about developing countries. Though such countries as China, India, Brazil, South Korea, and Mexico are signatories to Kyoto, they are not required to reduce their emissions, even though they emit nearly 30 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. And within a generation they will be the world’s largest emitters of carbon, methane, and other such greenhouse gases.

Despite the fact that neither of Byrd-Hagel’s conditions has been met, environmentalists have bitterly criticized President Bush for abandoning Kyoto. But one wonders: Why don’t they assail the 95 senators, both Democrats and Republicans, who, according to Byrd-Hagel, oppose Kyoto as it stands today, and who would, presumably, oppose ratification if the treaty came up on the Senate floor?

For more information …

on the science of global warming and economics of measures proposed to address it, visit the ClimateSearch Web site at and The Heartland Institute’s Environment Issue Suite at