Study Says ‘Scientific Consensus’ on Global Warming Treaty Is Just Hot Air

Published December 1, 1997

The scientific community’s alleged widespread support for the administration’s global warming agenda is more a reflection of the White House’s public relations skills than real backing from the scientific community, according to a study released shortly before the opening of the Kyoto climate change conference.

An analysis carried out by Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) shows that fully 90 percent of the “scientists” who have signed a letter frequently cited by administration officials as evidence of scientific consensus on global warming are not qualified to be called experts on the issue. The letter, circulated by the environmental group Ozone Action, offers the names of some 2,600 alleged experts on climate change–only one of whom is, in fact, a climatologist.

“At the same time, we have found people whose expertise is in fields not even remotely related to climatology,” noted Patrick Burns, a global warming policy analyst at CSE. “Among these so-called experts on global warming are a plastic surgeon, two landscape architects, one hotel administrator, a gynecologist, seven linguists, and even one person whose academic background is in traditional Chinese medicine.”

Burns says CSE’s analysis of the list of signatories indicates that fewer than 10 percent of the people who have signed the letter have training or knowledge that would qualify them as experts on global warming. “Supporters of the global warming theory and the President’s agenda want us to believe that scientists are just about unanimous in agreeing that humans are causing global warming. What our research shows is that real scientists, those who know what they’re talking about, are far from agreement on this issue,” Burns added.

In addition to exposing the Ozone Action letter as a public relations scam, CSE has also surveyed state climatologists to see how these experts see the global warming debate. In early October, the administration invited over 100 television weather forecasters to the White House in an effort to get them to cite the threat posed by global warming in their local broadcasts. But a majority of the state climatologists see things quite differently.

According to a survey commissioned by the CSE Foundation, a majority of state climatologists say reducing man-made carbon dioxide emissions will not prevent warmer temperatures on Earth. By a 44-to-17-percent margin, climatologists say that “recent global warming is largely a natural phenomenon,” while nine out of ten agreed that “scientific evidence indicates variations in global temperature are likely to be naturally-occurring and cyclical over very long periods of time.”

Nine out of ten climatologists surveyed also said that current scientific technologies cannot isolate and measure variations in global temperatures caused by man-made factors. Countering claims by theorists that weather patterns have been changing due to global warming, 72 percent of state climatologists said weather events in their states over the past 25 years have not been more severe or frequent. Among the 19 percent who said they were, less than a third attributed the changed weather patterns to global warming.

Eighty-six percent of the climatologists said that variations in solar output are a likely cause of long-term temperature fluctuations on Earth; even more, 91 percent, said variations in the Earth’s orbit are a cause of temperature fluctuations. The climatologists unanimously agreed that “even if there were no human beings, the Earth’s climate would constantly be changing.”

According to CSE’s Burns, the survey demonstrates how important it is that the public understand what is at stake in the global warming debate. “If President Clinton refuses to allow a debate over the causes and consequences of climate change, we’ll all pay the price, since just about everything we do and use in life requires energy. The cost of heating and cooling our homes, driving to and from work, putting food on the table and clothing our children will all be more expensive if the President gets his way,” Burns observed.