Second Cooler Heads Lecture On Global Warming

Washington, DC, June 5, 1998 — The Cooler Heads Coalition, a working group within the broader National Consumer Coalition founded by Consumer Alert, today hosted the second 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 global warming debate. Today’s lecture was entitled “Is There Evidence of Anthropogenic Climate Change?”

“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 the Competitive Enterprise Institute and member of the Cooler Heads Coalition. “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.”

Climatologist Robert Davis, of the University of Virginia, discussed the economic costs and environmental benefits of the Kyoto Protocol. He first outlined the tremendous hardship that would be imposed on the United States, and on the world economy, in adhering to the strict CO2 emissions cutbacks. Davis noted that global temperatures even then would not fall significantly, that “the reduction from Kyoto would not really be detectable using current thermometer technology.”

“The billions of dollars that it’s going to cost the U.S. economy or individual citizens, for this tax to cool the planet, would reduce average global temperature by about one to two tenths of a degree Celsius,” Dr. Davis stated. He added that right from the start, the issue of global warming was overblown, that “many climatologists, perhaps the majority, do not expect cataclysmic climate changes to occur in the next century.”

Dr. David Legates, of Louisiana State University, discussed models of precipitation and other extreme climate changes, finding errors of various types with each of nine leading climate models. All the models both overestimate and underestimate rainfall over vast areas of the world, by as much as 5 inches per month. “But rainfall affects the energy balance, water balance, and mass balance [of the climate system]. If you can’t get rainfall right, you’re not likely to get anything right,” Legates concluded.

Both professors agreed that doomsday predictions of out-of-control temperature increases, melting icecaps, and the like, were unfounded. Both also warned against hasty actions in response to perceived climatic threats. Davis quoted Dr. Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in saying, “Scientifically, the Kyoto agreement falls flat. The cuts are too small to affect the world’s climate for a long time, a few tenths of a degree perhaps. Yet politically these same cuts might be too big because of economic progress that may hinder the path towards climate stability.”

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