- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2000

European legends abound with tales of "changelings" wherein trolls and other mythical beings secretly steal newborn human offspring, exchanging them for misshapen, mentally inferior creatures.

Now this ancient curse is afflicting our scientific and public policy processes, as political trolls replace careful analysis with grotesque, inferior substitutes. Four years ago, a single author secretly altered a peer-reviewed scientific summary by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He deleted important conclusions and added a baseless claim that there had been a "discernible human influence" on global climate.

This June, the White House global climate team turned government-funded scientific studies into a bogeyman that proclaimed U.S. temperatures could rise as much as 12 degrees over the next 100 years, triggering storms, droughts and ecological chaos. Scientists condemned the report as distorted, alarmist, a joke, and a classic case of how to abuse climate models.

Just in time for our elections and a major global warming meeting in Europe, an IPCC "Summary for Policymakers" was leaked to selected news media. It claimed "an international panel of climate scientists" had discovered even "stronger evidence" that greenhouse gases have "contributed substantially to the observed warming over the last 50 years." It predicted global temperatures could soar as much as 11 degrees over the next century.

Few analytical changelings have ever been so grotesque or politically driven.

The "international panel" was actually a few IPCC zealots who met in the New York offices of the Environmental Defense Fund, to turn a relatively evenhanded IPCC report into a headline-grabbing horror story that would scare voters half to death. Other IPCC scientists and reviewers never even knew the "summary" was being prepared, until the news media trumpeted it. The "observed warming over the last 50 years" has occurred mostly in a few regions near the earth's surface. Satellites, weather balloons and non-urban ground temperature stations have found little or no warming in the United States, Europe or other parts of the world outside of Alaska and Siberia.

As the full report recognizes, much of the warming during the 20th century occurred between 1900 and 1940, the result of natural forces. The 15 climate models evaluated in the full IPCC report predicted an 80-year temperature increase of only 2.5 to 4.5 degrees, according to Virginia state climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels. And those models have shown no ability to predict temperatures one or two years in advance, much less 100.

Even Dr. James Hansen, whose work 20 years ago helped touch off the global warming scare, recently acknowledged, "Empirical evidence does not lend much support to the notion that climate is headed precipitately toward more extreme heat and drought. In the U.S. there has been little temperature change in the past 50 years, the time of rapidly increasing greenhouse gases. In fact, there was a slight cooling throughout much of the country."

The New York Times quoted MIT meteorology professor Richard Lindzen as saying "there has to be a human component" to this limited ongoing climate change. But it ignored his key points. (1) "The important question is whether the human influence is significant or not." (2) Available climate models "are missing a very strong negative feedback," and fail to account for natural processes that absorb or break up excess carbon dioxide and pollutants.

In fact, the IPCC models say our atmosphere should have warmed 10 times more than it actually did the past quarter-century, Mr. Michaels points out. They even assume reductions in air pollution will somehow cause "greenhouse gas" emissions and temperatures to increase.

So the IPCC's self-anointed purveyors of fright turned to new, non-peer-reviewed climate "scenarios" that play Nintendo games based on illogical and unrealistic predictions about future energy use, emissions and other factors. Then (surprise, surprise) they chose the scenario that resulted in the worst of all the available worst-case predictions: a horrifying 11 degree monster. Finally, they "stripped out the vast majority of caveats and qualifiers" from the full report, notes IPCC examiner Dr. Kenneth Green, an analyst for the Reason Public Policy Institute creating a false impression that their predictions are valid.

To put it bluntly, this chicanery comes perilously close to outright fraud the kind that would land a corporate officer in jail, and spawn countless shareholder lawsuits.

At worst, it is an illegal, taxpayer-funded attempt to influence our elections and policies. At best, this compulsive exaggeration, distortion, misrepresentation and falsification can do little to enhance the reputation of the journalists, politicians, scientists and activists that traffic in such claims.

Malcolm Wallop, a former U.S. senator from Wyoming, is the founder and chairman of Frontiers of Freedom.

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