- About CEI
- Support CEI
Cooler Heads Vol VIII, No 5
Cooler Heads Vol VIII, No 5
March 02, 2004
Alarmists Allege Pentagon Worried by Global Cooling
Although the story broke in Fortune magazine on Jan. 26, it was not until London’s Observer publicized it (Feb. 22) that alarmists discovered that the Pentagon had commissioned a study about the possible effects of abrupt climate change.
The study, commissioned by the Office of Net Assessment, looked particularly at the possible effects of rapid cooling following the shutting down of the Gulf Stream because of global warming. The study admitted it was “imagining the unthinkable” and that its scenario was extreme in both its global reach and its magnitude. The Pentagon reacted that the $100,000 study did not meet its needs and took no action.
This did not stop alarmist sources from reacting as if the Joint Chiefs had become global warming catastrophists. The Observer’s story was titled (and subtitled), “Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us. Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war, Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years, Threat to the world is greater than terrorism.”
In fact the report had been made public by the Pentagon, made clear that it was a scenario, not a forecast, and made no mention of the threat being greater than terrorism (that being a reference to the statement by Sir David King – see recent issues).
The over-reaction was typified by Robert Watson, former head of the IPCC, who waxed lyrical to the Observer about what this could mean for the administration: “It’s hugely embarrassing.... If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then [the President] has to act.… There are two groups the Bush Administration tends to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon.”
The study was written by Peter Schwartz, former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.
EU Seeks to Paper over Kyoto Cracks
EU Commission President Romano Prodi had to intervene personally (Feb. 25) to reiterate the EU’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol in the event of Russian non-ratification. The Commission then released a document (Memo/04/43, Mar. 4) restating its public position.
Neither of these interventions seems to have stopped the flood of speculation on whether adherence to the protocol is wise. The influential UNICE business group said in a letter to the presidency that member state environment ministers should ask the European Commission to launch a review of climate change policies for 2008-2012.
Reuters added, “While urging the EU to redouble efforts to get the Protocol ratified so it can come into force, the letter added: “The review of the current EU climate-change policies should also be relevant as an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol in case it does not come into force.”
Reservations among member governments continued at the meeting of environment ministers on March 2. Environment Daily reported, “At a ministerial meeting in Brussels [Italian] environment minister Altero Matteoli made a prolonged attempt to force a declaration from his colleagues that future emission-cutting action should depend on the treaty being ratified by Russia and thus entering into force.… The move follows increasing unrest in Italian industry circles at the imminent prospect of the greenhouse gas curbs under the EU climate emissions trading system. The Italian government first reflected this last December when it tried to characterize Kyoto explicitly as a threat to business at a summit of EU leaders.…
“Mr. Matteoli claimed after the meeting he had been supported by Spain and to a lesser extent Finland, where doubts over EU climate policy have recently surfaced. Nevertheless, the final text was adopted unanimously.
“Irish environment minister and council president Martin Cullen insisted at a post-council press conference that ministers remained united in their absolutely determined commitment to the Kyoto protocol and that there had been no debate about alternatives to the global pact. But he implicitly acknowledged the reservations being expressed: some aspects of Kyoto seem insurmountable in the short-term time frame, he said, but the long-term economics benefits in prompting energy-efficiency were clear.”
Stacked Hearing Signals Start of McCain Campaign
Abandoning all pretence of objectivity, Sen. John McCain (R—AZ) used his tenuous connection to the climate change issue to hold a stacked hearing on the subject before the Senate Commerce Committee on March 3.
The committee heard only from the alarmist side of the debate, with witnesses such as Robert Correll of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, Lee Hannah of Conservation International, Jerry Mahlman and Marvin Gellar (two of the authors responsible for the junk science National Assessment on Climate Change), and Lara Hansen of the World Wildlife Fund. Dr. Mahlman stressed he was testifying as a private citizen, not as a representative of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
The witnesses were, however, mere support for the re-launch of the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act, which attempts to impose Kyoto-like policies on America. The bill was defeated 53-44 in the Senate last year, having reached the floor only as part of a failed compromise aimed at securing passage of the comprehensive energy bill.
Senator McCain said of his measure, “This is an issue of worldwide importance. We will get another vote and see if there is any temperature change in the Senate this spring.” McCain acknowledged that there is little, if any support for his bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Environmental News Service)
UK Scheme Criticized as Emissions Soar
The United Kingdom’s initial assessment of carbon emission allocations under the government’s scheme has been criticized for containing “basic errors.” According to the Independent (Feb. 29), “The oil industry's trade body, the UK Offshore Operators' Association (UKOOA), said officials had made basic errors in estimating oil companies' carbon emissions. Some onshore installations, such as National Grid Transco's transmission systems, had been incorrectly included in the offshore oil industry's allocation, a spokeswoman for the association said. Some refineries had been double counted, while others appear to have been forgotten altogether, she added.
“The Government indicated it could back down if companies could prove it got the figures wrong. A spokesman at the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) admitted: ‘This is a very complex programme. But the targets are flexible.’
“The Association of Electricity Producers (AEP) met officials from Defra about the targets last week. It is concerned that the Government has underestimated how many tons of carbon are emitted each year by power stations, which are responsible for most of the CO2 output in the UK. This means they would have to cut their emissions even more to meet their allocations.”
The revelation came shortly after Friends of the Earth revealed that new figures showed that UK carbon emissions soared during 2003. The environmental organization issued a press release February 26 claiming, “Approximately 4.5 million tonnes of carbon (MtC) more were emitted from burning fossil fuels last year than in 2002. To put this in context, the renewables obligation, which will deliver 10 per cent of UK electricity from renewable sources by 2010, is predicted to save only 2.5 MtC per annum. The UK Government's entire climate change programme, published in 2000, is intended to deliver a reduction of 18 MtC. This would equal a 19 percent cut in 1990 carbon dioxide emission levels by 2010.
“The reasons for the increase are a two per cent rise in total demand for energy compared to the previous year and a switching from gas to coal, which produces between two and three times more carbon dioxide.” This last statement is incorrect: coal produces less than twice as much CO2 per Btu than natural gas.
Illarionov Compares Kyoto to Gosplan
Russia’s representative at the G8 and chief economic adviser to President Vladimir Putin, Andrei Illarionov, attacked “Kyotism” in a speech in Moscow on February 19. According to the Moscow Times, Illarionov said, “I have called my speech 'The Return of Gosplan,’” [in a reference to the Soviet agency that set production quotas]. He went on, “But the proposed mechanism would decrease quotas year by year.... So it may be more correct to call it the return of the gulag.”
The Times added, “Illarionov on Thursday accused the EU of putting ‘unprecedented pressure’ on Russia to ratify the treaty and embrace the ideology of what he called ‘Kyotism.’ ‘ Attempts to pressure Russia into taking a decision can only be seen as an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation,’ he said.”
“‘During the 20th century, Russia seriously suffered from another ideology that came from Europe.... Not only Russia, but the whole world suffered,’ he said, referring to Marxism.”
Warming Link to New Ice Age Shaky
While alarmist scientists and the journalists who write for them, Pentagon “futurists,” and Hollywood disaster moviemakers are all happy to present the possibility of global warming triggering another ice age, the science behind the assertion is less than solid.
The possibility is based on the idea that global warming will cause a freshening of the waters in the North Atlantic, so causing the Gulf Stream to weaken or even shut down. This would mean warmer waters would not be present in the North Atlantic, causing a drastic lowering of temperatures in the areas that rely on the Gulf Stream to maintain a temperate climate (temperate Great Britain is on the same latitudes as inhospitable Labrador in Canada).
Yet the models on which climate alarmists rely for their catastrophic scenarios do not agree on the effects of global temperature rise on the Gulf Stream. Researchers R. Bleck and S. Sun, writing in the journal Global and Planetary Change, tell how they revisited their model of the ‘meridional overturning circulation’ (MOC). “In view of evidence presented in IPCC (2001),” the researchers “had expected the Atlantic MOC to weaken in response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2.” They found that “the Atlantic overturning stream function appears to be stable,” concluding that, “It is insensitive to global warming resulting from gradual CO2 doubling.”
News for the alarmists is worse from their favorite model, that from the UK’s Hadley Centre, which proved no more capable of predicting past climate than a table of random numbers when used for the flawed National Assessment on Climate Change. Wu et al. report in Geophysical Research Letters that their examination of thermohaline circulation (THC) was expected to show a weakening of the stream. “However,” as they write, they “do not find a decreasing trend of the North Atlantic THC.” Instead, “Accompanying the freshening trend, the THC unexpectedly shows an upward trend, rather than a downward trend.” In other words, according to the Hadley Centre model, global warming may well strengthen the Gulf Stream.
Lindzen Summarizes Current State of Climate Science
Writing in Ottawa’s Hill Times (Feb. 23), Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, summarizes the current state of global warming science and cautions against incorrect interpretations of what reviews such as that from the National Academy of Sciences (2001) were trying to do.
He writes, “[I]t is quite wrong to say that our NAS study endorsed the credibility of the IPCC assessment report. We were asked to evaluate the IPCC "Summary for Policymakers" (SPM), the only part of the IPCC reports that is ever read or quoted by the media and politicians. The SPM, which is seen as endorsing Kyoto, is commonly presented as the consensus of thousands of the world's foremost climate scientists. In fact, it is no such thing. Largely for that reason, the NAS panel concluded that the SPM does not provide suitable guidance for the U.S. government.…
“The full IPCC report, most of which is written by scientists about specific scientific topics in their areas of expertise, is an admirable description of research activities in climate science. It is not, however, directed at policy. The SPM is, of course, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives, rather than of scientists. As a consequence, the SPM has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.
“Similarly, in the case of our NAS report, far too much attention was paid to the hastily prepared summary rather than to the body of the report. The summary claimed that greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere because of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Yet, the full text noted that 20 years was too short a period for estimating long term trends, a crucial point that the summary neglected to mention. Our primary conclusion was that despite some knowledge and agreement, the science is by no means settled.”
THE COOLER HEADS COALITION
Alexis de Tocqueville Institution
Americans for Tax Reform
American Legislative Exchange Council
American Policy Center
Association of Concerned Taxpayers
Center for Security Policy
Citizens for a Sound Economy
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Defenders of Property Rights
Frontiers of Freedom
George C. Marshall Institute
National Center for Policy Analysis
National Center for Public Policy Research
Pacific Research Institute
60 Plus Association
Small Business Survival Committee