Washington Post Slams Bush Global Warming Policy, But There’s More to the Story

BACKGROUND: The Washington Post on January 1 ran a page one article questioning the usefulness of the Bush Administration’s reliance on voluntary programs to reduce emissions of so-called “greenhouse gases.”

The article, which ran in other newspapers nationwide, begins:

“Two years after President Bush declared he could combat global warming without mandatory controls, the administration has launched a broad array of initiatives and research, yet it has had little success in recruiting companies to voluntarily curb their greenhouse gas emissions, according to official documents, reports and interviews.

At the heart of the president’s strategy is ‘Climate Leaders,’ a program that recruits the nation’s industrial polluters to voluntarily devise ways to curb their emissions by 10 percent or more in the coming decade. Scientists believe these greenhouse gas emissions, which include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, are contributing to a troubling rise in the earth’s temperature that could disrupt weather patterns and cause flooding.”1

The article was crafted from the perspective that the theory that human actions are causing significant global warming has been proven true, or nearly so. The only acknowledgement to the contrary was the the briefest of nods to the extistence of theory skeptics on an inside page (the seven-word phrase “although controversy surrounds research on global warming” introduces a paragraph restating the article’s authors’ view that the theory is all but proven), an acknowledgement so slight, one would have to already be aware that skeptics exist to recognize the reference.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: The underlying thesis of the Post article is that voluntary restrictions don’t work. A question it doesn’t explore is: would mandatory restrictions work better? The European Union, home to the Kyoto Treaty’s most ardent supporters, agreed to Kyoto’s mandatory emissions reductions — and is well on its way to breaking its word and violating its treaty obligations.2

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: The Bush Administration is doing more about global warming than Post readers might realize: it is supporting a 15 percent increase in funding for climate change programs, which would bring the total to a whopping $4.3 billion. The Administration, however, believes we should not impose economically damaging regulations on our entire economy without reliable evidence that the global warming theory is correct. So far, most temperature records show no significant warming since about 1940.

DISCUSSION: Selected quotes on the current global warming debate:

“…There may not be a global warming problem. The climate history of the past century does not seem to be consistent with the greenhouse theory, throwing doubt on the predictions of appreciable future warming. And even if the climate were to warm, the consequences are more likely to be beneficial. With the estimated cost of the Kyoto Protocol ranging from high to huge to ruinous (depending on the analyst), the cost-benefit analysis becomes pretty simple. In any case, it is agreed by all that the Kyoto Protocol – even if punctiliously obeyed by all adherent (industrialized) nations – would have a negligible effect on reducing future warming. The reduction in calculated temperature by 2050 is only 0.02 C. If the United States were to participate, the reduction would rise to 0.05 C, which is also essentially unmeasurable. And of course, if adhering nations buy emission rights instead of reducing emissions, there would be no effect at all on the atmosphere and temperatures. Zilch. Even supporters agree that the Kyoto Protocol is only a “first step” and that much more drastic reductions are required by all nations, developed and developing, to keep greenhouse gas levels from rising much further. A 60 to 80 percent cut is required instead of the five percent called for by Kyoto.” – Dr. S. Fred Singer in his review of the 2003 book “Reconstructing Climate Policy: Beyond Kyoto.” Review available online at http://www.sepp.org/NewSEPP/Stewart-Wiener-Kyoto.html

“While all scientists have glibly assumed an exponential increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, that stopped, in the statistical sense, three decades ago. But an exponential increase is required to generate a constant rate of [global] warming.” – Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, “Is Science Behind the Times?,” Cato Institute Commentary, December 30, 2003, available at http://www.cato.org/dailys/12-30-03.html

“One of the most galling things about the whole climate change debate has been European duplicity. While lecturing everybody else, especially America, on the morality of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it has been abundantly clear from the start that most European countries didn’t have a snowflake in hell’s chance of meeting their own Kyoto targets.” – British Professor Phillip Stott, as quoted by Alex Kirby in “Europe Slips on Greenhouse Targets,” BBC News Online, May 6, 2003, available online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2996219.stm

“‘Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise.’ Thus begins the summary of the June 2001 National Academy of Sciences report “Climate Change Science,” which made headlines across the world for (supposedly) providing additional “proof” that mankind is causing global warming. But the headline writers didn’t read the fine print. This often quoted, categorical statement is not supported by the rest of the NAS report – or the scientific report of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body frequently cited as a key authority on global warming. – Gerald Marsh, “Climate Change Science? National Academy of Sciences Global Warming Report Fails to Live Up to Its Billing,” National Center for Public Policy Research, available at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA349.html

“Too many scientists have based their research, their reputations and their incomes on the greenhouse theory. So rather than debate the growing evidence that the greenhouse theory is fundamentally flawed, many greenhouse-believing scientists have begun viciously attacking those who question its conclusions and denouncing any agnostic as a heretic — especially ones presenting uncomfortably challenging proof. Witness Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Both are noted solar physicists. Earlier this year, they published an exhaustive study of the climate of the past 1,000 years or so in the journal Climate Research. They examined more studies on historic climate trends — 240 in all — than any previous researchers, and concluded the 20th century was not unusually warm. In the past millennium there had been at least one other period when, worldwide, temperatures were as much as 2 C to 3 C warmer than the 1990s. This was not a particularly startling conclusion. There have been dozens of papers written by geologists identifying a Medieval Warm Period running from about 800 to 1300 AD and a Little Ice Age spanning 1300 to about 1850. Soon and Baliunas merely confirmed that these earlier studies were right. But Soon and Baliunas were both vehemently attacked…. However, when an independent review was conducted of the Soon/Baliunas article, no misrepresentation was found nor any shortcomings with Climate Research’s peer-review process. (These latter facts are often left out of news stories on the controversy, though.)” – Edmonton Journal, November 12, 2003, available online at http://www.sepp.org/weekwas/2003/Nov22.htm (see article #3).


Guy Gugliotta and Eric Pianin, “Bush Plans On Global Warming Alter Little; Voluntary Programs Attract Few Firms,” Washington Post, January 1, 2004, page one, available online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46212-2003Dec31.html?referrer=emailarticle

“Climate Change Fact Sheet: The Bush Administration’s Actions on Global Climate Change,” The White House, September 2003, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/09/20030930-4.html

Patrick J. Michaels, “Is Science Behind the Times?,” Cato Institute Commentary, December 30, 2003, available at http://www.cato.org/dailys/12-30-03.html

Information Concerning Global Warming at http://www.cato.org/hottopics/globalwarming.html

Still Waiting for Greenhouse website at http://www.john-daly.com/

Global Warming Information Center at http://www.nationalcenter.org/Kyoto.html

by Amy Ridenour

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.