Surviving Global Warming Alarmism in Florida

Published June 19, 2008

In May, the Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition (FCOC) released “Preparing For a Sea Change In Florida” intended as a “survival guide” for Florida’s environment. FCOC urges state and federal legislators to implement regulations intended at reducing global warming. Without these regulations, the FCOC claims, increasing global temperatures will bring about several harmful consequences. Their claims include:

CLAIM: Humans are the cause of global warming, and temperatures will dramatically increase because of human actions.

Without significant reduction in global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases over the next few decades, average temperatures in Florida will continue to increase in the coming decades, with average low temperatures in winter increasing 3 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and average high temperatures in summer increasing 3 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. (PFSCF 9)

COUNTERCLAIM: According to more than 31,000 scientists who signed the Global Warming Petition circulated by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine:

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases 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.

According to the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC):

Increasing carbon dioxide is not responsible for current warming. Policies adopted and called for in the name of ‘fighting global warming’ are unnecessary.

CLAIM: Global warming will cause rising sea levels and more extreme weather events.

This has the potential to yield a sea-level rise on the order of 5 meters this century. (PFSCF 13)

Global warming is disrupting the planet’s climate system, causing widespread changes in regional temperatures, precipitation, and wind patterns. In particular, these changes are manifesting themselves as an increase in the frequency and intensity of “extreme” weather events like heat waves, droughts, floods, and severe storms. (PFSCF 22)

COUNTERCLAIM: Even the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reduced its sea-level rise estimates.

Successive IPCC reports have reduced their estimates of projected sea-level rise, and are coming closer to a value of 18 cm per century. Since this is also close to the ongoing rate of rise, this is equivalent to saying there will be no acceleration by AGW, i.e., no additional sea-level rise due to warming. (NIPCC 17)

Further, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have stated that “no individual tropical cyclone can be directly attributed to climate change.”

CLAIM: Emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses will have a catastrophic effect on all life forms.

The projected impacts (of CO2 and other greenhouse gases) are likely to be catastrophic for people and wildlife alike. (PFSCF 12)

COUNTERCLAIM: CO2 is an essential chemical compound. It is at the root of photosynthesis, and thus at the root of the creation of oxygen. Without it, life on this planet could not exist. Moreover:

Lush as the planet may now be, it is as nothing compared to earlier times, when levels of CO2 and Earth temperatures were far higher. In the age of the dinosaur, for example, CO2 levels may have been five to 10 times higher than today, spurring a luxuriantly fertile planet whose plant life sated the immense animals of that era.

CLAIM: Global warming will have devastating consequences on the state’s economy, whereas a low-carbon economy will have a positive economic impact on Florida.

The projected impacts on the state’s coastal and marine systems alone would have devastating consequences for the state’s economy and quality of life. As many studies have shown, moving toward a low-carbon economy not only will significantly reduce the impacts of global warming and their costs to society, but it will actually create new jobs and stimulate economic growth. (PFSCF 12)

COUNTERCLAIM: A “low-carbon economy” — most likely to be brought about by a carbon cap-and-trade scheme — would increase the costs of energy by rationing energy. Not only would such a plan hurt Florida’s economy, it would devastate developing nations by keeping them out of the energy loop altogether. According to a study done by the National Association of Manufacturers and American Council for Capital Formation:

  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) losses of $151 billion to $210 billion in 2020 and $631 billion to $669 billion per year in 2030
  • Employment losses of 1.2 million to 1.8 million jobs in 2020 and 3 million to 4 million jobs in 2030
  • Household income losses of $739 to $2,927 per year in 2020 and $4,022 to $6,752 per year in 2030
  • Electricity price increases of 28% to 33% by 2020 and 101% to 129% by 2030

While the Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalitions’ intention may be to cause fear in Floridians and propel them into action, most reliable data indicate global warming is not the threat FCOC claims it to be. For example, a recent study by Tom Knutson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found there is no correlation between global warming and hurricanes.

Scientific “half-truths” shouldn’t be used to scare Floridians. Instead, taking a “hands-off” approach and waiting for a scientific consensus would be more beneficial to Florida economically and environmentally.

Nothing in this document is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. For further information on this and other environment topics, visit The Heartland Institute’s Web site at and PolicyBot, Heartland’s free online research database.

If you have any questions about this issue or The Heartland Institute, you may contact Legislative Specialist Zonia Pino at 312/377-4000 or [email protected].