Senator Refutes Global Warming Hypothesis: Part 3 in a series

Published January 1, 2004

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, 2003. The following is the final installment in a series excerpting Inhofe’s remarks. Subheads have been added for the reader’s convenience.

Part 1 * Part 2

The Science of Climate Change
Senate Floor Statement by
U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe
Chairman, Committee on Environment and Public Works
July 28, 2003

Even as we discuss whether temperatures will go up or down, we should ask whether global warming would actually produce the catastrophic effects its adherents so confidently predict.

What gets obscured in the global warming debate is the fact that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is necessary for life. Numerous studies have shown that global warming can actually be beneficial to mankind.

Most plants, especially wheat and rice, grow considerably better when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 works like a fertilizer, and higher temperatures usually enhance the CO2 fertilizer effect.

The average crop, according to Dr. John Reilly, of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, is 30 percent higher in a CO2 enhanced world. I want to repeat that: Crop productivity is 30 percent higher in a CO2-enhanced world. This is not just a matter of opinion, but a well-established phenomenon.

More Scientists Reject Kyoto

Based in part on the data supporting the IPCC’s key reports, thousands of scientists have rejected the scientific basis of Kyoto. Recently, 46 leading climate experts wrote an open letter to Canada’s National Post on June 3 claiming the Kyoto Protocol “lacks credible science.”

In it, they wrote: “Many climate science experts from Canada and around the world, while still strongly supporting environmental protection, equally strongly disagree with the scientific rationale for the Kyoto Accord.”

Many other scientists share the same view. I mentioned several of the country’s leading climate scientists earlier in this speech. In addition, over 4,000 scientists, 70 of whom are Nobel Prize winners, signed the so-called Heidelberg Appeal, which says no compelling evidence exists to justify controls of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

I want to repeat that: More than 4,000 scientists, 70 of whom are Nobel Prize winners, signed the so-called Heidelberg Appeal, which says that no compelling evidence exists to justify controls of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

I also point to a 1998 survey of state climatologists, which revealed that a majority of respondents have serious doubts about whether anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases present a serious threat to climate stability.

Then there is Dr. Frederick Seitz, a past president of the National Academy of Sciences, and a professor emeritus at Rockefeller University, who compiled the Oregon Petition, which reads as follows:

“We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

Again, that was Dr. Frederick Seitz, a former past president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The petition has 17,800 independently verified signatures, and, for those signers holding the degree of PhD, 95 percent now have been independently verified.

Harvard-Smithsonian 1,000-Year Climate Study

Let me turn to an important new study by researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The study, titled “Proxy Climatic and Environmental Changes of the Past 1,000 Years,” draws on extensive evidence showing that major changes in global temperatures largely result not from man-made emissions but from natural causes.

Smithsonian scientists Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, with co-authors Craig Idso, Sherwood Idso, and David Legates, compiled and examined results from more than 240 peer-reviewed papers published by thousands of researchers over the past four decades.

Baliunas notes that, during the Medieval Warm Period, “the Vikings established colonies in Greenland at the beginning of the second millennium that died out several hundred years later when the climate turned colder.” And in England, she found, “vineyards had flourished during the medieval warmth.” In their study, the authors accumulated reams of objective data to back up these cultural indicators.

According to the authors, some of the warming during the twentieth century is attributable to the climate system recovering from the Little Ice Age.

This research begs an obvious question: If the Earth was warmer during the Middle Ages than during the age of coal-fired power plants and SUVs, what role do man-made emissions play in influencing climate? I think any person with a modicum of common sense would say, “Not much.”

How did the media report on the Harvard-Smithsonian study? The big dailies, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, basically ignored it. I was impressed by a fair and balanced piece in the Boston Globe.

Ice Ages

Before I move on, I would like to add another point about climate history. For the last several minutes I have been talking about natural climate variability over the past 1,000 years. But we can go back even further in history to see dramatic changes in climate that had nothing to do with SUVs or power plants.

During the past few hundred thousand years, the Earth has seen multiple and repeated periods of glaciation. Each of these “ice ages” has ended because of dramatic increases in global temperatures, which had nothing to do with fossil fuel emissions.

The last major glacial retreat, marking the end of the Wurm Glaciation, was only 12,000 years ago. At its end, the temperature was 14 degrees Celsius lower than today and climbed rapidly to present-day temperatures–and did so in as little as 50 years in some regions. Thus began our current “Holocene Age” of warm climates and glacial retreat.

These cycles of warming and cooling have been so frequent and are often so much more dramatic than the tiny fractional degree changes measured over the last century that one has to wonder if the alarmists are ignorant of geological and meteorological history or ignore it to advance an agenda.

Real Story Behind Kyoto

As I have pointed out, the science underlying the Kyoto Protocol has been thoroughly discredited. Yet for some reason the drive to implement Kyoto continues apace, both here in the United States and, most fervently, in Europe. What is going on here?

As it turns out, Kyoto’s objective has nothing to do with saving the globe. In fact it is purely political. A case in point: French President Jacques Chirac said during a speech at The Hague in November of 2000 that Kyoto represents “the first component of an authentic global governance.” So, I wonder: Are the French going to be dictating U.S. policy?

Margot Wallstrom, the EU’s Environment Commissioner, takes a slightly different view, but one that’s instructive about the real motives of Kyoto proponents. She asserted that Kyoto is about “the economy, about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide.”

To me, Chirac’s and Wallstrom’s comments mean two things: 1) Kyoto represents an attempt by certain elements within the international community to restrain U.S. interests; and 2) Kyoto is an economic weapon designed to undermine the global competitiveness and economic superiority of the United States.

The Next Steps

This leads to another question: Why would this body subject the United States to Kyoto-like measures that have no environmental benefits and cause serious harm to the economy? There are several pieces of legislation, including several that have been referred to my committee, that effectively implement Kyoto. From a cursory read of Senate politics, it is my understanding that some of these bills enjoy more than a modicum of support.

I urge my colleagues to reject them, and follow the science to the facts. Reject approaches designed not to solve an environmental problem, but to satisfy the ever-growing demand of environmental groups for money and power and other extremists who simply don’t like capitalism, free markets, and freedom.

Climate alarmists see an opportunity here to tax the American people. Consider a July 11 op-ed by J.W. Anderson in the Washington Post. In it, Anderson, a former editorial writer for the Post and now a journalist in residence with Resources for the Future, concedes that climate science still confronts uncertainties. But his solution is a fuel tax to prepare for a potentially catastrophic future. Based on the case I’ve outlined today, such a course of action fits a particular ideological agenda, yet is entirely unwarranted.

It is my fervent hope that Congress will reject prophets of doom who peddle propaganda masquerading as science in the name of saving the planet from catastrophic disaster. I urge my colleagues to put stock in scientists who rely on the best, most objective scientific data and reject fear as a motivating basis for making public policy decisions.

Let me be very clear: Alarmists are attempting to enact an agenda of energy suppression that is inconsistent with American values of freedom, prosperity, and environmental progress.

Over the past two hours, I have offered compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax. That conclusion is supported by the painstaking work of the nation’s top climate scientists.

What have those scientists concluded? The Kyoto Protocol has no environmental benefits; natural variability, not fossil fuel emissions, is the overwhelming factor influencing climate change; satellite data, confirmed by NOAA balloon measurements, confirm that no meaningful warming has occurred over the past century; and climate models predicting dramatic temperature increases over the next 100 years are flawed and highly imperfect.

With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? It sure sounds like it.