Institute Blasts Global Warming Misinformation

Washington, D.C., May 25, 2000 – The claims that global warming would harm agricultural productivity are contradicted by a wealth of scientific and economic information on the potential effects of global warming, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  Experts now generally believe that the net economic effects of global warming, were it to occur, would be positive for the United States.  In particular, agriculture would definitely benefit.<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O />

“Alarmist claims about agricultural losses are just so many pebbles in the avalanche of global warming misinformation foisted on the public,” said CEI’s Paul Georgia, a research associate and managing editor of Cooler Heads, a newsletter covering global warming issues.  “The claim that agriculture would suffer from various human-induced weather and pest-related plagues has little support in the scientific literature.”

A major 5-year effort to understand the potential economic effects of global warming in the U.S. recently culminated in the publication of a report, The Impact of Climate Change on the United States Economy, by Cambridge University Press.  The 26 experts concluded that global warming would have a positive net effect on the U.S. economy, including net benefits for agriculture and forestry for a temperature rise of 2.5 degrees Celsius, a 7 percent increase in precipitation and a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide by the year 2060.

Claims about increasing torrential rainfall, floods and drought are also refuted by the evidence.    In 1999 the Geophysical Research Letters published a study by Drs. Harry Lins and James Slack, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey.  Long-term records of streambed flows in the U.S. show that there has been a slight increase in streambed flows with no corresponding frequency in flooding and a slight decrease in drought frequency, resulting in more favorable agricultural conditions.

Finally, extensive reviews of the scientific literature by Dr. Keith Idso at the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, has revealed hundreds of articles confirming the fact that increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide enhance plant growth under a wide variety of environmental conditions.  Numerous scientific experiments confirm that higher carbon dioxide levels lead to higher food, fiber, and timber production. 

“The greatest danger to U.S. economic well being are the crash energy diets proposed by environmental pressure groups,” said Georgia.  “As long as the U.S. avoids embarking on Kyoto-style energy reductions, U.S. farmers will be just fine.”

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209.