Melting Polar Ice Caps Most Likely Caused By Natural Changes

Washington, DC, February 28, 2000 – The U.S. Global Change Research Program is holding a public seminar today on Capitol Hill, “Climate Change in the Arctic and Antarctic: The Latest Observational Evidence on Changes in Sea Ice and Ice Shelves,” to discuss the purported link between global warming and melting ice caps. The Competitive Enterprise Institute urges caution in linking changes in sea ice and ice shelves to anthropogenic (manmade) global warming.

“Although it is clear that sea ice is retreating in some areas and that sea levels are rising, it is not at all clear that this is caused by increases in anthropogenic greenhouse gases,” said Paul Georgia, environmental research associate at CEI and managing editor of Cooler Heads, a newsletter covering global warming issues. “The evidence that changes in sea ice extent are due to natural causes is much more convincing.”

According to a study published in the October 8, 1999 issue of Science magazine, for example, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has retreated at the same rate over the last 7,500 years. The authors state, “We suggest that the modern grounding-line retreat is part of ongoing recession that has been underway since the early to mid-Holocene time. It is not a consequence of anthropogenic warming or recent sea level rise.”

“Sea level rise has been occurring for thousands of years and is explained by natural processes,” noted Dr. David Malmquist, an research scientist at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research, at a May 1999 briefing sponsored by the Cooler Heads Coalition. Claims that alleged human-induced global warming would cause sea level rise to accelerate are unfounded, he said. “Observations show that current accelerated rates of sea level rise date back to the early 19th century and preceded any substantial inputs of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from the Industrial Revolution.”

“Supporters of the Kyoto Protocol are desperate to link any negative environmental change to global warming. The polar ice caps are just the latest attempt to use junk science to support a political agenda,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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.