First Cooler Heads Lecture On Global Warming

Washington, DC, May 22, 1998 — The Cooler Heads Coalition, a working group chaired by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) within Consumer Alert’s broader National Consumer Coalition, today hosted the first lecture in its educational series on global warming. This lecture series is meant to dispel some of the myths and clarify the scientific issues connected with the 1997 Kyoto Treaty and the larger issue of climatic change. Today’s lecture is entitled “Climate Change: Insights from Oceanography.”

“The pro-treaty side would have us believe that the underlying science is clear, that the consensus of scientists has spoken, and all the rest of us need to do is get on with saving the planet,” explained Marlo Lewis, vice president for policy and coalitions at CEI. “But in science, [the discussion] isn’t over until a hypothesis has been validated, either by an experimental test or by observations about the real world.”

Roger Pocklington, of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research, presented various data inconsistent with the global warming hypothesis. Dr. Pocklington, an oceanographer with almost 30 years experience monitoring climatic trends in the North Atlantic, showed that the North Atlantic has been cooling since the late 1950s. He added that, “there is no evidence that this region has warmed dramatically during the ’90s, supposedly containing the warmest years in history.”

Pocklington raised serious questions about Dr. Wallace Broecker's “conveyor belt” theory. Broecker projects that global warming would increase rainfall and river water discharge into the North Atlantic. This would lower the density of oceanic surface water in the North Atlantic. This water would not sink, and so would not “pull” warm surface water from the Equator up towards Europe. The paradoxical result: global warming would plunge Europe into another Ice Age!

Pocklington noted that Broecker assumes first a 50% increase in precipitation and also that Central Asia and North America (where river flow into the North Atlantic originates) will get wetter. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), however, projects only a 5%-10% precipitation increase and predicts that the above regions will get drier. Pocklington cautioned that “we really don’t know enough about deep ocean circulation to express these ideas [such as Broecker’s] as certainties.”

CEI’s Lewis prefaced the lecture with a reminder that oceanography, like other scientific fields, casts doubts upon the rationale behind the Kyoto agreement. “There’s hardly anything about the treaty that is not hotly debated: the scientific underpinnings, the economic costs, its feasibility, the implications for American sovereignty and national security,” Lewis noted. “Today and in future lectures, we are considering scientific issues connected with the Kyoto Protocol and the larger global warming debate.”

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy institute dedicated to the principles of free markets and limited government. For more information, contact Emily McGee at 202-331-1010.