- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2001

It's always easy to know when a big international meeting on global warming is on the horizon, as gloom-and-doom stories mushroom onto the dailies and the airwaves. So, after reading the recent papers, it should be no surprise that this week saw the convening of a big United Nations meeting in Bonn to decide how to adopt the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

By now everyone knows this miscarriage of science policy won't do a thing about global warming, while costing the United States about 3 percent of its gross domestic product per year. This stark reality serves as the basis for the Bush administration's rejection of it. And, without us, Kyoto almost certainly dies.

So, the climate terror machine is in hyper drive. Let's see what news stories (we mean that precisely) have appeared in the last few days, and what they conveniently forgot to report.

On July 9, The Washington Post reported that global warming is destroying the glaciers of Andean Peru, and therefore the lives of Andean Peruvians. Scott Wilson's story featured Benjamin Morales, whom he described as the dean of Peru's glaciologists. Calling Peru's glaciers the worlds most sensitive thermometers, he said the temperature was rising very slowly until 1980 and then as described by Mr. Wilson he swept his arm up at a steep angle.

You (or The Post's reporter, for that matter) can download the temperature history of Andean Peru from the United Nations data base. Temperatures were in fact constant (not rising) from the beginning of the record, in 1900 to 1975. There's a sharp jump in 1975 (that's 25 years ago), and, since then, your eyes will see that temperatures have actually declined a bit. The jump in 1975 is ubiquitous and mysterious to climatologists, and is known in the profession as the Great Pacific Climate Shift. None of our climate models for greenhouse warming predict that human changes should have occurred in such a brief period, and so long ago. For that matter, none of them predict cooling in Peru in the last two decades, either.

Mr. Wilson went on to cite a claim that these glaciers will disappear in 15 years, but did allow that other scientists say this is implausibly fast. He didn't say how implausible. This would require the surface temperature of Peru to rise 15 degrees in the next 15 years. No climate model predicts more than about a half of a degree in this period for Peru, or about one-thirtieth of the warming required to melt the current glaciers.

On July 11, the Los Angeles Times reported that a "Warmer World Will Starve Many." As the world warmed in the 20th century, corn yields in the world's largest exporter, the United States, quintupled. Soybean yields doubled. Wheat tripled. And warming and industrial emissions directly had something to do with this. Greenhouse warming affects the coldest temperatures more than anything else, slightly lengthening the growing season. Carbon dioxide itself directly stimulates plant growth and yield. Carbon dioxide alone is now responsible for the feeding of 600 million additional people.

It is true that some nations produce insufficient food for domestic consumption, as the Times bemoans. This has been true since the dawn of history and is why we have things like commerce and markets. I confidently predict these will continue to exist for the foreseeable future.

On July 12, things went into the stratosphere. The BBC reported that the United Nations has given unqualified backing to the argument that global warming is happening, and much faster than expected. Their prediction based upon computer models is that temperatures could rise as much as 5.8C (10.4F) by the end of the century.

Fact: In its new report on climate change, the U.N. makes 245 separate forecasts. One of them predicts that amount of warming. The report makes no statement on the relative probability of any individual forecast, which means the U.N. report is meaningless. In reality, three-quarters of those 245 forecasts predict warming in the lower half of the total range of projections.

On the same day, Nature, in a remarkably ad hominem editorial, opined that those who disagree with the U.N. bring to mind the AIDS dissidents and that others resemble the tobacco-industry dissidents. Had they the courage to mention names, they would have been sued. The major scientific dissenters, including myself, Arizona State's Robert Balling, MIT's Richard Lindzen, Harvard's Sallie Baliunas, and the University of Alabama's John Christy have together published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers on climate change in the finest journals, including Nature.

Hopefully, this Bonn-fire of inanities is going to be the last salvo of concentrated climate tommyrot. I have to agree with Jan Pronk, who will chair the meeting. He says if Kyoto is delayed any longer, it really will become nothing more than a dead letter. Those who are interested in maintaining the credibility of science in the face of all this climate-change hype can only hope.

Patrick J. Michaels is professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute.

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