Fast facts on the Environment


Inhofe Challenges Colleagues to Understand Basic Facts About Climate Change Debate

 

DATE: July 29, 2003

BACKGROUND: Just as Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) are pushing a "Kyoto-Lite" anti-global warming amendment to put greenhouse gas emissions caps on every major sector of the U.S. economy, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, is upping the ante in the Senate by challenging his colleagues to consider a key possibility: that not only is the science not settled that human activities are causing global warming, "but the debate is shifting away from those who subscribe to global warming alarmism."

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: It is long past time for a serious debate on the scientific merits of the theory that human beings are causing the planet to warm. Senator Inhofe is to be commended for raising facts some elected officials are afraid to acknowledge.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: The McCain-Lieberman proposal, if it were to become law, would cost tens of billions of dollars, result in thousands of layoffs and dramatically slow economic growth. It would be morally wrong for anyone to support such a draconian proposal without first being certain the cure isn't worse than the disease -- or even if there is a disease, or that if there is, that the proposed cure would work.

DISCUSSION: Senator Inhofe's 12,000-word speech, delivered July 28 on the Senate floor, is too long to reproduce in full, but deserves to be widely read. Excerpts include:

Excerpt 1: I believe it is extremely important for the future of this country that the facts and the science get a fair hearing. Without proper knowledge and understanding, alarmists will scare the country into enacting its ultimate goal: making energy suppression, in the form of harmful mandatory restrictions on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions, the official policy of the United States. Such a policy would induce serious economic harm, especially for low-income and minority populations.

Excerpt 2: According to a recent study by the Center for Energy and Economic Development, sponsored by the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, if the U.S. ratifies Kyoto, or passes domestic climate policies effectively implementing the treaty, the result would "disproportionately harm America's minority communities, and place the economic advancement of millions of U.S. Blacks and Hispanics at risk." Among the study's key findings: Kyoto will cost 511,000 jobs held by Hispanic workers and 864,000 jobs held by Black workers; poverty rates for minority families will increase dramatically; and, because Kyoto will bring about higher energy prices, many minority businesses will be lost. It is interesting to note that the environmental left purports to advocate policies based on their alleged good for humanity, especially for the most vulnerable. Kyoto is no exception. Yet Kyoto, and Kyoto-like policies developed here in this body, would cause the greatest harm to the poorest among us.

Excerpt 3: Environmental alarmists, as an article of faith, peddle the notion that climate change is, as Greenpeace put it, "the biggest environmental threat facing...developing countries." For one, such thinking runs contrary to the public declaration of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development-a program sponsored by the United Nations-which found that poverty is the number one threat facing developing countries.

Excerpt 4: ...some parts of the IPCC [UN International Panel on Climate Change] process resembled a Soviet-style trial, in which the facts are predetermined, and ideological purity trumps technical and scientific rigor.

Excerpt 5: The extreme-case scenario of a 5.8-degree warming, for instance, rests on an assumption that the whole world will raise its level of economic activity and per capita energy use to that of the United States, and that energy use will be carbon intensive. This scenario is simply ludicrous. This essentially contradicts the experience of the industrialized world over the last 30 years. Yet the 5.8-degree figure featured prominently in news stories because it produced the biggest fear effect.

Excerpt 6: Extremists will tell you that warming is occurring, but if you look more closely you see that temperature in 1955 was higher than temperature in 2000.

Excerpt 7: The best data collected from satellites validated by balloons to test the hypothesis of a human-induced global warming from the release of C02 into the atmosphere shows no meaningful trend of increasing temperatures, even as the climate models exaggerated the warmth that ought to have occurred from a build-up in C02.

Excerpt 8: Even as we discuss whether temperatures will go up or down, we should ask whether global warming would actually produce the catastrophic effects its adherents so confidently predict. What gets obscured in the global warming debate is the fact that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is necessary for life. Numerous studies have shown that global warming can actually be beneficial to mankind. Most plants, especially wheat and rice, grow considerably better when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 works like a fertilizer and higher temperatures usually further enhance the CO2 fertilizer effect. In fact the average crop, according to Dr. John Reilly, of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, is 30 percent higher in a CO2 enhanced world.

Excerpt 9: Over 4,000 scientists, 70 of whom are Nobel Prize winners, signed the so-called Heidelberg Appeal, which says that no compelling evidence exists to justify controls of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. I also point to a 1998 recent survey of state climatologists, which reveals that a majority of respondents have serious doubts about whether anthropogenic [human-caused] emissions of greenhouse gases present a serious threat to climate stability.

Excerpt 10: Kyoto's objective has nothing to do with saving the globe. In fact it is purely political. A case in point: French President Jacques Chirac said during a speech at The Hague in November of 2000 that Kyoto represents "the first component of an authentic global governance." So, I wonder: are the French going to be dictating U.S. policy? Margot Wallstrom, the EU's Environment Commissioner, takes a slightly different view, but one that's instructive about the real motives of Kyoto proponents. She asserted that Kyoto is about "the economy, about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide."

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Energy Information Administration of the U. S. Department of Energy analysis last month of McCain-Lieberman's S.139, the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 at http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/ml/pdf/summary.pdf

Homepage of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committeee at http://www.senate.gov/~epw/

"McCain and Lieberman Push for New Anti-Global Warming Legislation," by Amy Ridenour, Ten Second Response, National Center for Public Policy Research, January 8, 2003, at http://www.nationalcenter.org/TSR1803.html

"Nation's Leading Global Warming Experts Unveil New Findings on Climate Change," Independence Institute press release, July 28, 2003, at http://independent.org/tii/content/press_rel/press_030728.html

"Killing Energy: Beware the 'Soft Kyoto' Strategy," by Marlo Lewis, Competitive Enterprise Institute, July 28, 2003 at http://www.cei.org/gencon/019,03575.cfm

Gerald Marsh, "Climate Change Science?: National Academy of Sciences Global Warming Report Fails to Live Up to Its Billing," National Policy Analysis #349, National Center for Public Policy Research at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA349.html

by Amy Ridenour
President
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Contact the author at: 202-543-4110 x110 or [email protected]

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