Don't Be Spooked Mr. Sulzberger
Jude Wanniski
October 31, 2000


Memo To: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., NYT Publisher
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Scary editorial on Global Warming

I bet when you got up Saturday morning and read the lead editorial in your newspaper, Arthur, you got the willies, and it wasn’t even Halloween. “A Sharper Warning on Warming” showed up just in time to give a boost to Vice President Gore’s decision to scare little children about getting fried by greenhouse gases long before Medicare runs out of money. Here is the lead paragraph, in case you forgot:

The international panel of climate scientists considered the most authoritative voice on global warming has now concluded that mankind’s contribution to the problem is greater than originally believed. In addition, the panel warns that warming over the next 100 years could increase more than originally estimated. Its worse case scenario calls for a truly unnerving rise of 11 degrees Fahrenheit over 1999 temperature levels.

Don’t be scared. It is all a bunch of baloney, cooked up specifically to help Gore. I’m informed the draft summary, which the Times reported Friday, was whipped together by a small group of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who got together at the headquarters of Environmental Defense Fund in your town, NYC. They could have waited a few weeks, but Gore needed it now. If you read the NYPost two weeks ago, Dick Morris wrote a column about how the only way Gore could win on November 7 was to scare people about global warming. Gore loves to do that anyway, so he could use the Morris column to overrule his campaign team, which does not see this hoax as a winning issue. (When Gore mentioned it in his acceptance speech, we could hear the sound of one hand clapping.)

Hoax is not too strong a term, Arthur. Once the greenies succeeded in getting the Democratic establishment to buy into it, your newspaper had no choice but to go along with it. I’ve been trying to get your editors for years to make a serious effort to consult physicists on this issue, as opposed to “climate scientists.” Do you realize how much money is poured down the drain on this nonsense, how many little children contribute their nickels and dimes to keep the earth safe from -- boogie, boogie -- CARBON DIOXIDE!! You may recall that it was James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who got Gore all excited about global warming with a study he did about 20 years ago. It was Hansen who figured that too much carbon dioxide would cloak Mother Earth with a shield that would trap the heat, like a greenhouse, and temperatures would rise inexorably until we were all fried -- or drowned when the icecaps melted.

You may have missed it, because the Times buried the story deep inside, but Hansen, an honest man, finally threw in the towel when the predictions he made based on his computer model just did not come to pass. Carbon dioxide isn’t so bad after all, Arthur, so you don’t have to hold your breath. Now if the Times had put the story on Page One, the Vice President might have seen it and announced that, based on this new information, he would change his mind. Or not. Maybe, like the UN’s “climate scientists,” he has too much invested in the hoax and has to see it through to the end. When the IPCC “draft” was leaked last week to your reporter, Andrew V. Revkin, we learned from the headline: “A Shift in Stance in Global Warming Theory; Scientists Now Acknowledge Role of Humans in Climate Change.” Nowhere in the story is Dr. Hansen mentioned, but Revkin did call Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, who had been debunking the Hansen hoax all these years. Alas, Mr. Revkin quoted Dr. Lindzen as one of the scientists “acknowledging” mankind’s cooking of the climate: “There has to be a human component to the change that’s underway,” he said.

Well, now, I’ve never met or spoken with Lindzen, but I could not believe what I was seeing in that quote. It had to be taken out of context in order to justify the headline, which is all Al Gore needs to proceed. So I contacted Dr. Lindzen, who already was pretty upset, saying he had complained to Revkin, who apologized, he said, saying what he had written had been edited. Now I don’t know what happened, Arthur, and I’m NOT saying your editors are part of a giant left-wing conspiracy. Forget that part and read what Lindzen actually believes, as he wrote in an e-mail to me:

It was definitely quoted out of context, and Revkin claims that his article was altered from what he had written. For starters, I have always said that there had to be a human component to climate change. I have also said that that is a trivial statement since the important question is whether the influence is practically significant or not... The models, in effect, argue that the earth is very poorly designed. Our work suggests that the models are missing a very strong negative feedback which would more than cancel the models’ positive feedbacks -- even if they were correct, which they almost certainly are not. Our paper will appear in the February issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Now what Lindzen is saying is that while yes, carbon dioxide could be a greenhouse gas if it did build up the way Gore thinks it does, it doesn’t (as Hansen found). This is because the “climate scientists” who build these computer models “are missing a very strong negative feedback.” Maybe Lindzen will leak Revkin the secret negative feedback, if asked, but the physicists I have been talking to about this for the last 20 years have made the argument that if there were not an offsetting negative feedback, we would have fried millions of years ago. In other words, if there is an extra carbon dioxide molecule that floats into the atmosphere, more than Mother Earth is comfortable with, there is a process by which she breaks up the molecule. Dr. Gordon Prather, a nuclear physicist I know who writes for WorldNetDaily, tells me there is a parallel in nuclear fission which helps us understand negative feedback. He reminds me that before the Manhattan Project detonated the first atomic bomb in Nevada in 1945, there were scientists who argued against the project because they said the chain reaction would not stop, it would continue until the whole earth blew up. Prather says those in charge understood that the chain reaction would reach a point where the explosion would “quench” itself, which is what actually happens. The “climate scientists” lauded by your editors and Mr. Gore do not see that whatever teeny bit of carbon dioxide mankind produces relative to natural carbon dioxide is “quenched” by Mother Nature.

Because so much of what Gore wants to do involves limiting the use of hydrocarbons, let me add my own little unscientific illustration: If we took all the petroleum consumed in the last century and a half and put it into a dry Lake Tahoe, it would only fill one-fifth of the space. My guess is that you have in your office a globe. Go to it and see if you can find Lake Tahoe on the globe. You will not. This should remind you how tiny mankind is compared to the planet, except when you sit at the top of the Times and imagine how big you are. Then please read through these two columns Gordon Prather wrote last summer.