Buenos Aires Global Warming Summit Fact Sheet

Representatives of some 160 nations will be in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 2-13 to continue work on an international treaty designed to reduce world greenhouse gas emissions (ghgs), gases some scientists contend are accelerating the earth’s natural greenhouse effect and warming the planet beyond an acceptable level. The meeting, formally called the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP-4, will be used to add further details to a draft accord, the Kyoto Protocol, negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997. The Kyoto Protocol, if ratified by the U.S. Senate, would require the United States to reduce its ghgs to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012, a real reduction of over 30% once population and economic growth are factored in. The accord calls on other nations to meet different targets: European Union countries are required to cut their ghg emissions by 8%; the Russia by 0; and Canada and Japan by 6%. Some nations will be permitted to increase their ghgs: Australia is permitted an 8% increase, Norway a 1% increase, and Iceland a 10% increase. Still other countries — over 130 in all — are required to meet no emissions targets whatsoever.

Conference Vital Statistics

Estimated Number Countries to be Represented: 160

Estimated Number of Participants (press, diplomats, NGOs, etc.): 9,000

Estimated Jet Fuel to be Burned for Conference: >1.7 million gallons

Percentage of Participating Nations Without Binding Emissions Targets: >75%

Percentage of Nations Committed to 5% or More Emissions Cuts: 21%*

Source: Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and “Hypocrisy in Buenos Aires: Millions of Gallons of Fuel to be Burned by Those Seeking Curbs on Fuel Use,” National Center for Public Policy Research (Washington, D.C.), October 1998.

*Percentages assumes 160 nations represented, including all 39 nations with binding emission targets under Kyoto Protocol


Global Temperature DataThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 1995 Second Assessment Report — the basis for the ongoing global warming negotiations — estimated that the average global temperature would rise by 0.18° Celsius (0.32° Fahrenheit) per decade on the earth’s surface through 2100. The report also forecast that the deep layer measured by weather balloons and satellites would warm by 0.23° Celsius (0.41° Fahrenheit) per decade during the same period. Thus far, however, these forecasts have not been matched by actual temperature readings from satellites, weather balloons or even surface temperature gages. Both NASA satellites and weather balloons have shown a slight cooling trend since 1979 while surface temperature gages indicate a small warming trend that is 17% below the most recent projections of the IPCC.

 Projected vs. Actual Deep Layer Temperature Measurements

 IPCC Projection 0.23 degree C (0.41 degree F) per decade
 Satellite Trend -0.01 degree C (-0.018 degree F) per decade*
Weather Balloon Trend (National Oceanic & Space Administration) -0.07 degree C (-0.126 degree F) per decade
 Weather Balloon Trend (U.K. Met Office)

 -0.02 degree C (-0.036 degree F) per decade

Source: Dr. Roy Spencer, “Measuring the Temperature of Earth From Space,” NASA Space Science News, August 14, 1998
*Satellite figure includes correction for orbital decay

Projected vs. Actual Surface Measurements

 IPCC Projection 0.18 degree C (0.32 degree F) per decade
 Sea Surface and Land Surface Temperatures (U.K. Met Office)  0.15 degree C (0.27 degree F) per decade

Source: Dr. Roy Spencer, “Measuring the Temperature of Earth From Space,” NASA Space Science News, August 14, 1998
*Satellite figure includes correction for orbital decay

 Satellite temperature data are generally considered more reliable than ground-based temperature reading because they not only cover a greater portion of the planet but provide nearly continuous monitoring, taking some 40,000 readings every day. Ground-based temperature gages are also unevenly distributed, with most located in wealthier countries in the Northern Hemisphere. Ground-based readings also tend to be vulnerable to such distortions as the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHIE). The UHIE is an artificially high temperature reading linked to urban development. As the number of roads, cars, airports, airplanes and buildings grow in an urban areas, so too does the local temperature. Since most ground-based temperature gages are located in urban areas, most are vulnerable to UHIE.


Global Warming Treaty Compliance CostsSince the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in December 1997, a series of economic analyses have been released forecasting the economic costs of a 7% cut in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Some of these studies assume that the U.S. would take advantage of a fully-functioning emissions trading scheme, a system that would allow the U.S. to exceed its specified CO2 emissions limits by purchasing unused emissions credits from overseas, to meet the target. Others assume that carbon taxes would be necessary to meet the target. With the exception of the White House’s estimates, most economic analyses have concluded that the costs of complying with Kyoto Protocol would be quite high: Studies conducted by DRI, WEFA and Charles River Associates, three respected econometrics firms, have found that compliance with the treaty could result in a $100-$300 billion loss in U.S. Gross Domestic Product each year. Total job losses would run between one million and 2.4 million.

Economic Model Carbon Fee/Tax Assumed Projected Job Losses Projected GDP Loss

(without emissions trading system)

$150-$200 per metric ton  N/A $100 billion per year
WEFA Group

(without emissions trading system)

$265 per metric ton  2.4 million $300 billion per year
Charles River Associates

(without emissions trading system)

$295 per metric ton  N/A $128 billion

(with emissions trading system)

$100-$130 per metric ton  1 million N/A
 Charles River Associates

(with emissions trading system)

$171 per metric ton  N/A $111 billion per year
 Averages of Economic Forecasts

(where is data available)

$204.20 per metric ton  1.7 million  $169.75
Clinton Administration

(with emissions trading system)

$14-23 per metric ton  Near 0 $7-12 billion per year


Myths and Facts About Global Warming:

Myth: 2,500 of the world’s leading scientists agree that human-induced global warming is underway.

Fact: Contrary to numerous press reports, there has never been a group of 2,500 scientists claiming that human-induced global warming is underway. Several thousand people did endorse the findings of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 1995 report that found a “discernable” human influence on climate change. But most of these endorsers were not scientists, but social scientists, economists, public relations experts and government functionaries. In fact, no more than 100 climate scientists are listed among the IPCC report’s signers. Even fewer climate scientists would have been listed as endorsers of the report, however, if they had known their views were going to be misrepresented. Significant changes were made to the report after these scientists endorsed it.


Myth: The U.S. experienced its hottest summer ever in 1998, providing further evidence that global warming is underway.

Fact: Local weather events tell us little about the global climate. Because it is unusually warm in one area of the world does not mean the entire planet is warming. Further, this summer’s temperatures were not particularly unusual nor record breaking. During the 1930s, 25 states established their record highs. Fifteen states established their record highs in 1936 alone.


Myth: Wildfires are on the rise due to global warming.

Fact: Wildfires have declined since the 1920s, with the average number of acres burning each year dropping from 12.4 million in the 1920s to 2 million acres in the 1980s. Recent increases in fires are linked to the build-up of excessive amounts of timber and vegetation that provide fuel for fires. These build-ups are largely the result of past success in suppressing fires.


Myth: Tropical storms are increasing due to global warming.

Fact: A study by Christopher W. Landsea of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the number of intense hurricanes declined during the 1970s and 1980s and there was no significant change in the frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic basin between 1944 and 1995.


Myth: The scientific data is overwhelming that human-induced global warming is underway.

Fact: There is very little evidence that global warming is underway. Advocates of the global warming theory rest their arguments largely on climate models and surface temperature measurements. The climate models have been consistently wrong. In 1988, they projected the planet would warm by 0.8° C (1.44° F). In 1990, the forecast had to be revised down to warming of just 0.3° C (0.54° F) per decade. In 1995, the forecast was again revised down to warming of just 0.2° C (0.36 °F) per decade. To date, neither satellite nor surface temperature readings have met or surpassed this warming forecast. The surface temperature readings also lack credibility. Surface temperature measurements don’t cover enough of the planet to provide reliable temperature data. They are also vulnerable to the Urban Heat Island Effect, artificial warming that occurs in urban areas due to absorption of heat by buildings, concrete and asphalt.


Myth: All global warming is bad.

Fact: The greenhouse effect is a natural process that keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life. Without CO2, methane, water vapor and other greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere, the planet’s heat would escape into space and all life on the planet would cease to exist. Further, a modest increase in the planet’s temperature could be beneficial. Between the 10th and 12th centuries, when the planet was 0.5° C (0.9° F) warmer than today, agriculture in North America and Europe flourished and the southern regions of Greenland were free of ice, allowing farming.


Myth: The temperature of the planet has warmed as human emissions of CO2 have increased.

Fact: Precisely the opposite has occurred. Since the end of the Little Ice Age in the mid-19th Century, the temperature of the planet has increased by roughly 1.5° F. A full one degree of this warming occurred prior to 1940, when fossil fuels (which emit CO2) were used significantly less than they are today. As fossil fuel use has continued to increase, the warming trend started over 100 years ago has begun to reverse. Since 1979, the planet has cooled by 0.01° C (0.018°F).


Selected Quotes“We are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”

-Dr Stephen Schneider, Biological Sciences Professor at Stanford University, reiterating comments he made to Discover magazine in 1989, American Physical Society News Online, August/September 1996


“[T]he emissions reductions for all industrialized countries mandated by Kyoto translate into CO2 atmospheric concentrations by 2010 that are only 0.26-0.39 percent lower than if the North [Northern Hemisphere] actually increased its emissions by 20%.”

-Dr. Richard Benedick, Senior International Advisor at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and chief architect of the Montreal Protocol (which banned chlorofluorocarbons), Weathervane’s Perspectives on Policy, March 1998


“They insist on using everything to measure the temperature of the planet except a thermometer.”

-Dr. S. Fred Singer, atmospheric scientist with the Science and Environmental Policy Project, making the point that global warming theory advocates use butterfly migration patterns, glacial movement and other factors as evidence of global warming while ignoring satellite data showing a cooling trend, September 25, 1998

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.