- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2003

The U.S. Senate the "greatest deliberative body in the world" needs to get its act together. In July 1997, it voted 95-0 for the Byrd-Hagel Resolution that turned down any treaty that would ration energy use and damage the economy of the United States. No wonder Clinton-Gore never submitted the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for ratification.

But this earlier unanimity seems to be fading largely because of the spread of scientific misinformation by environmental pressure groups with little active opposition by the White House.

On the one hand, the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee has just eliminated from its energy bill any language dealing with climate change, thanks to the initiative and leadership of its chairman, Pete Domenici. New Mexico Republican. If this title had been left in the bill and survived a White House veto, it would have burdened U.S. consumers with higher energy prices with the money going to fat cats who had acquired what amounts to ration coupons for energy fuels. Of course, there may still be innocuous-sounding amendments slipped in during the upcoming debate to commit the nation to some of the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol.

While Mr. Domenici scored a victory for the consumer, the Foreign Relations Committee under Sen. Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican, passed a Sense-of-Congress Resolution, attached to the State Department authorization bill, which endorsed all the worst features of the climate-change scare. Offered originally by Sen. Joseph Biden, Delaware Democrat, it is likely to be adopted by the Senate as a whole unless enough Democrats vote against it.

The Resolution accepts global-warming alarmism, heavily qualifies the unanimous 1997 vote on Byrd-Hagel, urges the U.S. to negotiate another, bigger global-warming treaty, and calls for lots of domestic actions in the meantime. It offers findings that seem to support the Resolution but they are contradicted by climate science. Numbering them in the order listed, let's take a closer look:

(1) While there have been increases in atmospheric concentrations of man-made greenhouse gases, there is no direct evidence whatsoever that they are contributing to global climate change. It is a claim based purely on theoretical speculations nothing more.

(2) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded there is "new and stronger evidence" that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. However, the best data we have show no such warming. In other words, the available evidence does not support the claim that temperature will rise appreciably in this century.

(3) A hastily prepared June 2001 report by the National Academy of Sciences appears to accept the IPCC conclusion. But a more balanced NAS report of January 2000 accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community that there is a disparity in the temperature observations and no scientific agreement about reported warming. In any case, the NAS also noted "because there is considerable uncertainty in current understanding of how the climate system varies naturally and reacts to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, current estimates of the magnitude of future warming should be regarded as tentative and subject to future adjustments upward or downward."

(4) The IPCC has stated that global sea levels have risen in the last 40 years, implying a human cause. But it ignores the fact that this rise is ongoing and has amounted to 400 feet since the end of the last ice age some 18,000 years ago.

(5) While an October-2000 federal report found that future climate change might harm the United States, this politically inspired conclusion is clearly discredited by internal contradictions. The Clinton-Gore White House, which sponsored the study, made a strategic error that doomed the report's credibility. To make predictions, one needs to use a regional climate model; the report relied on two such models. But they disagree often violently. For many of the 18 U.S. regions studied, they even give opposite results: For example, one model predicts North Dakota would become a swamp while the other turns it into a desert.

(6) True, in 1992, the United States did ratify the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the ultimate objective of which is the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." But no one has yet figured out what this level should be or even whether it should be lower or higher than the present one.

The remainder of the 13 findings deals with nonscientific topics that make sense only if we persist with particular interpretations of the Climate Convention. Clearly, however, adherence to the UNFCCC will continue to create mischief: The Senate should consider withdrawing from the treaty. It certainly would never ratify the treaty's misbegotten offspring, the infamous Kyoto Protocol that mandates what amounts to energy rationing and higher fuel costs.

There be no better time for the Senate to act and to leave the Climate Treaty than now since President Bush has termed the Kyoto Protocol to be "fatally flawed" and contrary to American interests.


S Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. He is the author of "Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate" (The Independent Institute, Oakland, Calif., 1999).


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