Earth Day Information Center: Three Things to Know About… Global Warming, Endangered Species, ANWR, Wetlands and Pollution

1.  There is no consensus among scientists that man is causing the Earth to get appreciably warmer.  In fact, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) received signatures from over 17,100 basic and applied American scientists — two-thirds with advanced degrees — to a document saying, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”1

The OISM notes that signatories “include 2,660 physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, and environmental scientists who are especially well qualified to evaluate the effects of carbon dioxide on the Earth’s atmosphere and climate.”

2.  Global warming does not affect the frequency and strength of hurricanes. According to Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center:  “Hurricanes, and especially major hurricanes, are cyclical.  We’ll have a few decades of really active hurricanes, and then inactive periods, followed by active periods again.  So I think that this activity that we’re in can be explained without invoking global warming.  And the bad news here is that we are in this active period, and the research meteorologists tell us that it may last another 10 or 20 years.”2

Christopher Landsea, a scientist with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association’s Hurricane Research Division, has also noted, “It is highly unlikely that global warming has (or will) contribute to a drastic change in the number and intensity of hurricanes.”

3.  Abiding by the Kyoto Protocol (a United Nations global warming treaty) would have devastating consequences for national economies.  An analysis commissioned by the International Council for Capital Formation (ICCF), a European think-tank based in Brussels, found that meeting Kyoto’s emissions targets would result in significant economic losses for Europe. The study looked at four European states and concluded that by 2010 their economic growth would be greatly reduced from what it would have been without meeting the Protocol’s targets. Spain would see a 3.1 percent reduction in economic growth, Italy 2.1 percent, Britain 1.1 percent and Germany 0.8 percent.3 

An aversion to adverse economic impact is likely the reason why 13 of the 15 original European Union nations, which have all ratified the Kyoto Protocol, have reported increased emissions since 1990.4

 Endangered Species Act1. The Endangered Species Act doesn’t recover endangered species.  In the 33 years the Endangered Species Act has been on the books, just 34 of the nearly 1,300 U.S. species given special protection have made their way off the “endangered” or “threatened” lists.  Of this number, nine species are now extinct, 14 appear to have been improperly listed in the first place, and just nine (0.6% of all the species listed) have recovered sufficiently to be de-listed.  This amounts to a recovery rate of less than one percent.5

2. The Endangered Species Act punishes landowners for good environmental stewardship.  Private property owners who care for their land, and maintain habitat for endangered species, find themselves subject to severe land use restrictions.6  This creates a perverse incentive for landowners to rid their property of species and habitat in an effort to avoid land use restrictions and potentially devastating losses in property value that accompany them.  This is detrimental to the recovery of rare plants and animals, considering 75 percent of threatened and endangered species occur on private land.7

3. The Endangered Species Act is very costly.  It is estimated that the Endangered Species Act costs Americans billions of dollars annually.8  Many social costs attributable to the ESA’s regulatory burden are ignored by government agencies when they account for the Act’s price tag.  Some of these include:  lost jobs and reduced business activities; increased public service costs; reduced tax revenues due to lost business income, lost personal income, and property devaluation; and increased public assistance costs to those individuals who lose their jobs.9


Drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge1.  Drilling for oil in ANWR would not harm the environment.  Oil drilling in ANWR would be confined to a small 2,000 acre footprint on the massive 19.6 million acre reserve.  That’s just 0.01% of ANWR’s total acreage.10 

President Clinton’s Department of Energy confirmed that current technology allows oil exploration in ANWR to be done in an environmentally-friendly manner.  Ice-based roads, bridges, drilling pads and airstrips have become the standard for drilling in the Alaskan North Slope.  Such structures leave virtually no marks on the tundra as the ice simply melts away in the spring.11  Modern directional drilling techniques also minimize the impact on ANWR’s surface.12

2.  America’s dependence on foreign oil has economic and national security implications. According to the U.S. Department of Energy:  “Our dependence upon oil, especially foreign oil, affects our economy and our national energy security.  Today, over half of the oil we use is imported… Most of the world’s oil reserves are concentrated in the Middle East, and over two-thirds are controlled by OPEC members.  Oil price shocks and price manipulation by OPEC have cost our economy dearly — about $7 trillion from 1979 to 2000… and each major price shock was followed by a recession. With growing U.S. imports and increasing world dependence on OPEC oil, future price shocks are possible…”13

3.  Alaskans overwhelmingly favor drilling for oil in ANWR.  Over 75 percent of Alaskans support oil exploration and production on ANWR’s coastal plain.14  In addition, general support among Americans for drilling in ANWR is on the rise, according to a September 2005 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.  A survey report released by Pew September 15 states: “The survey finds that the rise in energy prices also has had a perceptible impact on public views of the tradeoff between boosting the energy supply and protecting the environment. A solid majority (57%) now says it is more important to develop new energy sources than to protect the environment, up from 49% who expressed that view in March. Support for oil and gas drilling in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) also has gained, from 42% in March to 50% currently. Democrats, in particular, are much more receptive to drilling in the Alaska refuge.”15

Wetlands1.  The United States is gaining wetlands, not losing them.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, net wetland acreage grew at a rate of 26,000 acres per year between 1997 and 2001, and in 2002 and 2003, net wetland gains averaged 72,000 acres per year.16

2.  The rate of wetland loss began to decline before the federal government began intensively regulating wetlands under the Clean Water Act.  It is estimated that prior to World War II, net wetland losses totaled about 800,000 annually.  In the 1950s and 60s, net wetland losses declined to an estimated 458,000 acres per year.  In the 1970s, wetland losses plunged further to an estimated 290,000 acres per year.17

3.  Wetlands regulations are expansive and onerous.  111.5 million acres of land in the U.S is currently covered by federal wetland regulations.  This is equivalent to a landmass larger than the state of California.  Under current federal law, landowners are not compensated when they lose the right to use their property due to wetlands regulations.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this has resulted in approximately $162.6 billion dollars in lost development rights.18

 Pollution1. Air quality in the United States has markedly improved.  Between 1993 and 2002, aggregate emissions of the six principle pollutants (nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and lead) decreased 19 percent.19  During the same time period, United States gross domestic product grew at an average of 5.15 percent annually.20  Volatile organic compound emissions from cars and trucks have fallen 73.8 percent since 1970, and carbon monoxide emissions from cars have been reduced 64 percent.  This despite a more than doubling of the number of cars and trucks in the United States, and 181 percent increase in the total vehicle miles traveled.21

2. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Acid Rain Program has resulted in a 38 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions in the electric power industry from 1980 levels.22  Nitrogen oxide emissions for the entire power industry in 2003 were 37 percent below 1990 levels.23  Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are the main pollutants in the formation of acid rain.

3. The ozone layer is recovering. According to the United Nations, the ozone layer is expected to slowly recover over the next 50 years as a result of the elimination of ozone-depleting chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons.24  Additionally, the thinning of the ozone layer is not the primary cause of skin cancer. Factors such as increased life spans, increased sunbathing and the introduction of better medical screening techniques that detect more of these types of cancer are more likely causes for an increase in reported skin cancer cases.25


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.