Kyoto-by-Inches Is Just as Foolish

On Point No. 97

Full Document Available in PDF

All economic pain for no environmental gain! That’s what any fair-minded person will conclude who examines the Kyoto Protocol, the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, or Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s (D-NM) soon-to-be-introduced climate bill.

Unscientific. Science does not support the alarmist claims underpinning Kyoto and kindred schemes to curb industrial emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), chiefly carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil energy use.

The U.S. Government has spent billions of dollars over the past two decades on computer modeling studies of climate change. What do we have to show for that investment?

With one exception,[i] all climate models predict that, once global warming from GHG emissions starts, it continues at a constant—not an accelerating—rate (see Figure 1).[ii] Land- and sea-based instruments indicate that the surface of the planet has warmed by 0.17°C per decade since 1976.[iii] Satellites and weather balloons show that the middle atmosphere—where models say most warming should occur—has warmed by 0.08°C per decade since 1979.[iv] Even if we assume that all recent warming is due to GHG emissions, with no help from the heat effects of urbanization[v] or natural variability,[vi] the linear form of model projections implies that the world will warm between 0.8°C and 1.7°C during the 21st century.[vii]

[i] The Canadian Climate Center model is the only model to project accelerated warming from GHG emissions.  The Clinton-Gore administration relied heavily on the Canadian model to develop its “national assessment” of climate change. See Testimony of Patrick Michaels, The U.S. National Climate Change Assessment: Do the Climate Models Project a Useful Picture of Regional Climate? House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, July 25, 2002, 

[ii] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (hereafter IPCC), Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, p. 537.

[iii] IPCC, Climate Change 2001, p. 115.

[iv] Christy, J.R., et al. 2003. Error estimates of Version 5.0 of MSU-AMSU bulk atmospheric temperatures. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 20: 613-629; Angell, J.K. 2003. Global, hemispheric, and zonal temperature deviations derived from radiosonde records. Trends Online: A Compendium of Data on Global Change. Carbon Dioxide Analysis Center, Oak Ridge Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A.

[v] De Laat and Maurellis find “strong observational evidence that the degree of industrialization is correlated with surface temperature,” leading them to conclude that “the observed surface temperature changes might be a result of local surface heating processes and not related to radiative greenhouse gas forcing.” De Laat, A.T.J. and Maurellis, A.N. 2004. Industrial CO2 emissions as a proxy for anthropogenic influence on lower tropospheric temperature trends. Geophysical Research Letters 31:10.1029/2003GL019024.

[vi] Much of the observed warming during the past 50 years occurred in just two years: 1976-77. This step-like increase was due to a shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a natural climate cycle. Bratcher, A. T. and Giese, B.S. 2002. Tropical Pacific decadal variability and global warming. Geophysical Research Letters 29: 10.1029/2002GL015191.

[vii] Michaels et al. 2002. Revised 21st-century temperature projections. Climate Research 23:1-9.