- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2001

This weekend, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman will travel to Italy as the leader of the U.S. delegation to a meeting of G-8 environmental administrators.

As she does so, Mrs. Whitman would do well to rethink her recent remarks on global warming. According to Mrs. Whitman, "There's no question but that global warming is a real phenomenon, that is occurring. And while scientists can't predict where the droughts will occur, where the flooding will occur precisely or when, we know these things will occur."

On the later point, Mrs. Whitman is undoubtedly correct. Floods and droughts, and for that matter, tornadoes and hurricanes, will continue to occur at imprecise places and times just ask any weatherman. Yet whether the occurrence of any of these events has anything to do with global warming is a much more dubious proposition.

Scientists still do not know the identities of all of the players on the global climate stage, and they have only a limited understanding of the roles they play. Cato Institute Scholar Steven Milloy has noted that, "The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] explicitly admits a lack of knowledge about climate factors, stating there is 'low' or 'very low' scientific understanding for 9 of the 12 factors thought to affect global climate."

For that reason, dramatic predictions of global climate change, such as those enshrined in the IPCC's recent report, are of dubious value. One could undoubtedly receive auguries of equal value from psychic weather hotlines.

Beliefs are best left to one's conscience, but Mrs. Whitman may well be making decisions on emissions that affect the lives of millions of Americans. She should make such decisions on tangible scientific facts, rather than global warming phantoms.

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