The Press Corps Covers Global Warming
Jude Wanniski
June 20, 2001


Memo To: Howard Kurtz, CNN’s “Reliable Sources”
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Can You Explain the Gap?

When President George W. Bush was in Europe last week, “global warming” again was in the news. Europe’s political leaders supposedly believe Bush is prepared to ignore the “conclusive” scientific evidence that mankind is cooking the planet with an enormous output of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide – that he prefers more economic growth at the expense of Mother Nature. As far as I can tell, Howard, the major media fell right in line with this baloney, your newspaper, The Washington Post, included. I’ll grant you that Bush has not helped much, by switching gears back and forth, expressing concern, then questioning the science, then opposing the Kyoto Treaty on the grounds that India and China are exempt from its provisions. From my missives, you know I’ve believed for years and years that GW is a hoax perpetrated on the political world by Malthusian Greenies whose hidden agenda is a smaller world population and falling standards of living. In a memo yesterday to your colleague at the Post, Ceci Connally, I ran the numbers again. If you had seen the McLaughlin Group Sunday, you would have seen Eleanor Clift reaching the conclusion that now EVERYONE KNOWS global warming is caused by mankind, just as EVERYONE HAS ALWAYS KNOWN that cigarette smoke causes cancer. Do you see how far things have gone?

It was clear to me last week that the NYTimes, which has taken possession of this hoax from the beginning, was in the Eleanor Clift camp, when it made the National Academy of Sciences report its lead story on Page One and spun it so that there could be no doubt Bush was in the wrong. Where was the NYT the following day when Frederick Seitz, the former president of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a press statement denouncing the report of the NAS “panel.” Here is the statement of Dr. Seitz, who is also president emeritus of Rockefeller University and chairman of the Washington-based Marshall Institute and of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. When you finish reading it, I will append comments by Vice President Dick Cheney, made the following day at the National Press Club, which also went unreported by the NYTimes or any of the primary press corps!!! They must have been sleeping.



Last month, the White House requested the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to prepare an evaluation of climate science to better develop policy options for the control of greenhouse gases. The NAS panel’s disappointing 24-page report, issued on June 6, does not do justice to the science and even less to the underlying observations. The report will cause great damage -- to sensible policies, to the U.S. economy, and ultimately to science itself. It is a black mark for the National Academy. The NAS report’s Summary is highly selective of the facts. It ignores valid data. It distorts evidence. It uses artful language to dissemble. And it states -- in its leading sentence no less -- that human activities are warming the climate and have done so for 50 years while the bulk of data indicates just the opposite. Conspicuous by its absence is any discussion of solar variability, the most likely cause of climate change.

The Academy report stands or falls principally on whether the climate warmed in the past 50 years, and especially since 1980. The overwhelming bulk of data from different independent sources shows no such warming trends. A full-scale open debate is in order to settle this evidentiary matter conclusively, once and for all.

We maintain that the overwhelming balance of evidence shows NO appreciable warming trend in the past 60 years; hence it is unlikely to be significant in future. Support comes primarily from weather satellites, which provide the only truly global data, independently confirmed by balloon sondes, and endorsed in a report by the NAS just last year. Also, surface data from well-controlled U.S. stations (after removing urban “heat-island” effects) show the warmest years as being around 1940 and no upward trend since then.

The post-1940 global warming claimed by the NAS report comes mainly from distant surface stations and from tropical sea-surface readings, with both data sets poorly controlled (in both quality and location). Furthermore, there are no "fingerprints," such as a characteristic geographic distribution, that might link such a claimed warming to increasing greenhouse-gas emissions. In addition, climate models all predict a faster warming for the atmosphere than for the Earth’s surface. This throws further doubt on the reality of the reported surface warming and lowers our confidence in model-predicted future changes.

Independent evidence against current climate models and the IPCC surface record comes from a variety of non-thermometer “proxy” data. While showing temperatures rising up to about 1940, they do not show a warming trend thereafter. The recent shrinking of glaciers and of Arctic sea ice, while real, is most likely a delayed consequence of the pre-1940 warming; so is the warming of the deep ocean. Finally, sea-level rise has been ongoing since the peak of the last Ice Age, and will doubtless continue at the present rate (of about 18 cm per century) for several more millennia as Antarctic ice continues to melt slowly -- independent of any human actions.

The NAS was also asked to comment on the fact that the UN-IPCC Summary, a political document, uses the IPCC report selectively and exaggerates disasters while downplaying uncertainties. As the NAS report puts it artfully: “The [IPCC] Summary for Policymakers reflects less emphasis on communicating the basis for uncertainty and a stronger emphasis on areas of major concern …This change in emphasis appears to be the result of a summary process in which scientists work with policymakers on the document.” Yes indeed!



I would like to talk about the Kyoto protocol. Thank you for asking. (Laughter, applause.)

Kyoto, of course, is an effort signed in '97 to try to deal with the problem of global warming by putting a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, specifically carbon dioxide emissions, on a worldwide basis. Unfortunately, we believe it's flawed, as the President's said many times, because it leaves out a significant part of the world. The number two emitter, China, is not covered. India, which I think is the number five emitter, not covered. And that's over half of the world's population right there. The burden fell basically on the United States and on a few other developed countries. We think that's an unwise way to go and an unreasonable way to go.

We also think there's still an awful lot of doubt about exactly how the whole system works. We've spent a lot of time now with the National Academy of Sciences reviewing with our various scientists for the cabinet committee to look at exactly what the science tells us is the case. We do know some things. We know there has been an overall upward trend in the temperature of the planet at the surface over the last hundred years, but it's not a straight line. It rose from 1880 to 1940 by about six-tenths of a degree Centigrade. It declined two-tenths of a degree Centigrade between 1940 and 1980, went up by two-tenths of a degree Centigrade between 1980 and 2000.

So over that hundred years you've got an increase of about six-tenths of a degree Centigrade, but it's not a straight line. There have been periods of cooling in there as well. We do know...also that...most of the models predict the upper atmosphere should warm too, and it hasn't. We've got a big difference between what's happening on the surface of the Earth and what's happening in the upper atmosphere -- unexplained. We don't know how much of the variation is a result of cycles -- the normal, natural cycles that happen over the centuries between the Ice Age and non-Ice Age that we can trace back for hundreds of years. We're unable to allocate exact cause, how much of it's man-made and how much of it isn't. The reasonable supposition is some of it probably is man-made. For that reason, the President has agreed to go forward aggressively with a lot more research to try to pin down and understand as much of this as possible and to work with our friends around the world to find ways to in fact reduce the amount of emissions going into the atmosphere. But we don't know what the safe concentration is. We don't know what all the consequences are as a result of these cycles and how much of it is man-made as well.

Final point...if you look at the Kyoto Treaty, it hits especially the United States and would have devastating economic consequences for us. And the President is not prepared to proceed, with as much question as currently exists, to go now to put the hammer down and, for example, ban the use of fossil fuels and do some of those other things that a lot have advocated. We do think you can deal with this. One of the reasons we're advocates of nuclear power; if you're really concerned about global warming and carbon dioxide emissions, then we need to come over here and aggressively pursue the use of nuclear power, which we can do safely and sanely, but for 20-some-years now has been a big no-no politically. Some of the same people who yell loudest about global warming and carbon dioxide emissions are also the first ones to scream when somebody says, "Gee, we ought to use nuclear power."