By: Ted Tripp – September, 2004
Since the 1960s, science has become increasingly politicized with large, well-organized groups using a particular scientific theory or research result to further their political agenda.
In many cases, scare tactics are used to stir up citizens and the groups bringing you this news have a solution to the problem. The solution usually involves money — lots of it. And these organizations of course want you to specifically send them your money so they can continue to warn the people of the dire consequences of inaction.
Following in the footsteps of nuclear energy and asbestos fears, global warming has perhaps become the most politicized scientific subject of all time. Much of the debate on man’s effect on global temperature has gone well beyond scientific studies and is now controlled by the politicians. That should concern everyone’s personal future. So, how did we get to this politically charged point?
Let’s review some history. In 1988, when the global warming alarmists started talking about catastrophe, there was precious little data to back up or refute their claims. As a result, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Association formed a new international organization to study the issue. It was called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC for short.
This organization, based in Geneva, Switzerland, does not conduct its own research but analyzes data from scientists around the world and presents consensus reports on the status of the science. Although this sounds like a straightforward approach to resolving a scientific issue, remember that the United Nations, the primary force behind the IPCC, is a political organization with an inclination to embrace as many nations as possible in achieving its end goals. Even when the world’s best climatologists are located in the U.S. and Europe, the United Nations strives to get scientists involved from all the world’s countries.
Zimbabwe rates just as highly as Belgium. This is clearly not the best approach to reaching scientific truth. In 1990, the IPCC issued its First Assessment Report which said that the burning of fossil fuels might be causing climate change. The Second Assessment Report, issued in 1995, reinforced this position and led to what we now refer to as the Kyoto Protocol or Kyoto Treaty.
Introduced in 1997 at a forum of 160 nations, the Kyoto Protocol basically calls on the world’s industrialized nations to reduce their CO2 emissions to an average of 5% below the world’s 1990 levels by the year 2012. The U.S. target was set at a 7% reduction, which by 2012 would be a cut of almost 40% of greenhouse gas emissions (or fossil fuel use!). This would have a huge and devastating impact on our economy. It prompted the U.S. Senate to pass, by 97 to 0, a 1997 resolution to oppose any such measures that would “…result in serious harm to the economy of the United States”.
Although President Clinton signed the Protocol in 1998, it has never been ratified by or even submitted to the Senate for approval. The major flaw in the Kyoto Protocol is that it is a political document not based on science. It does not include countries like China, India, Mexico or Brazil, which are destined to become some of the largest CO2 contributors by 2012. And Russia gets off easy because the base year of 1990 (when communism collapsed) means that Russia will not have to make any CO2 cuts by 2012. The Kyoto Protocol is currently in limbo unless either the U.S. or Russia signs it.
The U.S. is unlikely to and the Russian Academy of Sciences has recommended to President Putin that he not support ratification. Their scientists believe the Protocol would stifle crucial economic development with negligible change in global temperature. Finally, the most damning aspect of the Protocol is several recent, independent analyses that show that it would lower Earth’s temperature only a miniscule 0.1° F or less, while devastating economies around the world. The poor will get poorer, in both industrialized and developing countries. Much of the media reporting on global warming start their stories with “Most scientists agree that burning fossil fuels is warming our planet…”. Where do they get “Most scientists believe…”?
This generally dates back to 1989 when the radical activist group “Union of Concerned Scientists” circulated a petition on man-induced global warming which was signed by 700 scientists, many of whom were National Academy of Science members. The Press saw this as a consensus, although a careful analysis of the names showed that only 3 or 4 had any background in climatology.
What the Press doesn’t report, however, is the petition by Frederick Seitz, Past President of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. This petition has been signed by over 19,700 scientists, 17,800 of whose signatures have been independently verified.
Two-thirds have advanced degrees and 2660 are physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, oceanographers and environmental scientists. All these signers attest to “no convincing scientific evidence that…CO2… is causing or will…cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere…”. Why don’t you hear about this in the Press?
In spite of the one-sided media coverage, there are some signs that the people are starting to realize that doomsday is not imminent. In April of this year a Gallup poll showed that 38% of Americans now believe that news reports exaggerate the seriousness of global warming. This is up from 33% in 2003. Only 25% think that news reports are generally correct, down from 29% last year. A hardcore 33% still believe reports underestimate the seriousness of the problem. These are probably the same people who loved the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”. More good news.
In June of this year the Danish Government partially funded a project called the “Copenhagen Consensus”. It brought together eight of the world’s leading economists, including three Nobel laureates, and asked them to address and prioritize “10 of the world’s biggest challenges (as identified by the UN) with $50 billion in hypothetical funds”. First on their list was fighting AIDS and malnutrition, followed by eliminating subsidies and trade barriers. Dead last on their list was the Kyoto Protocol and climate modification. They rated these as “bad” projects where costs were likely to exceed benefits. This has been a major embarrassment to global warming alarmists and the UN.
Now let’s get back to some science. If the Earth is warming (most but not all scientists believe the Earth has warmed about 1° F over the past 100 years), what could be causing it? New research in the last several years is pointing increasingly to the sun as the likely culprit.
Yes, the sun! Jan Veizer of the University of Ottawa and Nir Shaviv of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in a 2003 paper in the Geological Society of America Today show that half to all of the warming since the Little Ice Age has been due to increased solar brightness and solar wind effects. In another paper presented this summer, Dr. Solanki of the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich reported that the sun is the most active it has been for the last 1000 years. Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Staff Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, has been reporting on increased sunspot activity for several years and how these may be connected to cosmic rays, cloud formation and global temperature regulation.
Could it be that simple? The Sun? Remember, the Earth has been warming and cooling for many thousands of years without man’s intervention. If the sun didn’t do it in the past, what did? After all this, shouldn’t we just sit back, relax and not worry, because “Mother Nature Has It Under Control!”