- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2002

I have just returned from a few days in Canada where there has been a lively national debate on whether to ratify the Kyoto Accord. It looks like Parliament will do so under the urging of Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
If Russia also ratifies, this would be sufficient to activate Kyoto. Canadian consumers would then be forced to cut back their use of energy by more than 30 percent within a decade.
There is no such debate in the United States where public interest is focused on other issues, like terrorism, and where the average citizen has difficulty distinguishing between Kyoto Accord and Honda Accord.
Besides, President George Bush long ago decided that Kyoto is fatally flawed and that the science [backing Kyoto] is uncertain. He may have been influenced by a bipartisan, unanimous U.S. Senate vote in 1997 against a Kyotolike Treaty.
I went to Ottawa to attend a research discussion at the University of Ottawa and to deliver the F.K. North Lecture at Carleton University, where I explained why the world does not face a climate catastrophe from greenhouse warming. The atmosphere does not seem to be warming; so the climate effect of increased carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning must be a lot smaller than what theory predicts.
Most of us climate scientists would rather believe the real atmosphere than rely on theoretical models that pretend to describe the atmosphere. But even if there were to be a detectable future average warming globally, averages hide much information. The models indicate such warming would take place mainly at high latitudes, at night, and in the winter. Would that be so bad for Canada?
The high point of my visit in Ottawa was a press conference on Nov. 13 where nine scientists, mostly Canadians, spelled out the facts about climate science and pointed to the lack of any basis for the Kyoto Protocol. It's a message that needs to be heard again and again because politicians prefer to argue about economic impact but ignore the science.
I listened to a debate on CBC in which Environment Minister David Anderson tried to defend against well-reasoned statements by University of Alberta experts who discussed both the huge economic penalties of drastic cuts in energy use and the ineffectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol in slowing the buildup of atmospheric CO2.
Mr. Anderson had a hard time denying the cost since in a CBC interview last month with Leslie MacKinnon he stated: "We haven't decided how much of the burden should be placed on the shoulders of the consumer, and how much should be placed on the shoulders of industry." He pretended industry wouldn't pass along any cost increases to consumers. Does he really think the public can be so easily fooled?
The press briefing by our science group must have made an impact most notably on Andrew Weaver, a climate modeler from the University of Victoria, who would rather believe a computer printout than the actual readings of instruments.
In a long interview in the National Post (Nov. 14) he managed to ignore the universally accepted data from weather satellites that show no appreciable warming of the atmosphere in nearly 25 years. Maybe it's because this result is so strongly at variance with his models; but at least he tried to stick to science. Not so Greenpeace, which prefers ad hominem attacks, claiming that the scientist briefers were stooges in the pay of oil companies. Certainly not true in my case nor, as far as I know, for any of the others.
And Greenpeace not only has a problem with the truth but also with logic: Just how does Exxon manage to influence the satellite instruments so they show no warming? Clever devils, these oil people.
We don't presume to advise Canadians about Kyoto, but we did want to present the facts, especially about the science. It is sad that the environment minister does not care to listen. His attitude is best expressed in his MacKinnon interview: " Maybe we made a mistake in our approach to Kyoto. Maybe we should have ratified first and worked out the details later." Yeah, leap before you look.

S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and distinguished research professor at George Mason University. He earlier served as director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service and was first to calculate the human production of methane, an important greenhouse gas. His most recent book is "Hot Talk. Cold Science: Global Warmings Unfinished Debate" (Independent Institute, Oakland, Calif., 1999).



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