Out of Control Policy Blog

Global Warming News Roundup, Part II

Last week I posted a roundup of global warming news, which seemed to spike as (1) Tony Blair visited the White House to lobby the Bush administration to sign on to a new global warming action plan at the upcoming G8 summit; and (2) the national science academies of all the G8 countries issued a statement urging immediate action to fight global warming. Here are a few more timely articles of interest:

(1) Blair: US set for new climate change treaty (The Scotsman)

Politics is always a fascinating sport, particularly when world leaders can herald a multilateral agreement in which the signitories basically agree to disagree. Kyoto advocates won't be happy with this one:

    Tony Blair is negotiating a "Gleneagles Declaration" on climate change that would sign the United States up to a new world plan of action on global warming.

    The statement would accept that the US will never sign the Kyoto Treaty, which commits signatories to reducing greenhouse gases. Instead, it would recognise US efforts to fight global warming in its own way, with extensive investment in new fuel technology.

(2) Forget global warming. Let's make a real difference (Telegraph)

Skeptical Environmentalist author and Copenhagen Consensus organizer Bjorn Lomborg urges world leaders to get their priorities straight:

    Surely we can all agree that the G8 meeting should do the most good possible, but we already know that this does not mean dealing with just climate change. The national academies must stop playing politics and start providing their part of the necessary input to tackle the most urgent issues first.

    The urgent problem of the poor majority of this world is not climate change. Their problems are truly very basic: not dying from easily preventable diseases; not being malnourished from lack of simple nutrients; not being prevented from exploiting opportunities in the global economy by lack of free trade.

    So please, let us do the right things first.

(3) The Pickett's Charge of Climate Alarmism (Tech Central Station)

CEI's Iain Murray takes a dim view of the joint national academies' statement:

    The statement, co-signed by the national academies of the G8 nations plus China, Brazil and India, not only lays out uncontroversial scientific findings such the increase in carbon dioxide levels since 1750 and the warming of the earth by 0.6?C over the last century, but goes beyond that to demand urgent policy action. This is an unfortunate development. By urging political action the scientists are either attempting to assert that their knowledge of this issue trumps other political considerations and dictates that certain actions must be taken -- a view that is incompatible with democracy -- or are knowingly engaging in the democratic political process as policy advocates. Either view speaks badly of the academies' judgment.

(4) Global warming cyclical, says climate expert (The Age)

Some wisdom from Down Under:

    Carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas and has helped produce the "green" world agricultural revolution, according to [Australian climate expert Rob Carter].

    . . . .

    He said the Kyoto Protocol would cost billions, even trillions, of dollars and would have a devastating effect on the economies of countries that signed it. "It will deliver no significant cooling - less than 0.02 degrees Celsius by 2050," he said.

    "The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been the main scaremonger for the global warming lobby . . . Fatally, the IPCC is a political, not a scientific body."

    Carbon dioxide was a minor greenhouse gas, responsible for 3.6 per cent of the total greenhouse effect, he said. Of this, only 0.12 per cent, or 0.036 degrees Celsius, could be attributed to human activity.

    Climate had always changed and "always will", he said. "The only sensible thing to do about climate change is to prepare for it."

(5) Warmer, wetter and better (or the good news that the climate change lobby doesn't want you to hear) (Telegraph)

    Yet, just as the clamour for action grows in anticipation of next month's G8 meeting in Scotland, another group of academics has begun fighting to have its voice heard. It includes experts in fields ranging from agriculture to medicine, and most of them agree that something strange is happening to the Earth's climate.

    Where they part company with [British scientist] Lord May is in their assessment of the threat it poses. After studying the likely consequences for everything from crop yields to human health, their results are anything but apocalyptic. They have found that a hotter planet brings with it many benefits, and that humans can adapt perfectly well to it.

    Indeed, far from joining the calls for action, some now warn that trying to prevent climate change could prove far more catastrophic than learning to live with it. Nor is this cheery vision based solely on questionable computer models. Analysis of past episodes of dramatic - but entirely natural - climate change repeatedly shows the benefits of a warmer world.

(6) Betting on Climate Change (Reason Online)

Reason's own Ron Bailey suggests an Erlich/Simon-esque bet among climate scientists:

    [...] it would be far more interesting and valuable to the climate debate if major figures in the climate change debate would negotiate a bet about the future of global temperature trends. James Hansen or Stephen Schneider could represent those worried about dangerous global warming, and John Christy or Patrick Michaels could pony up for the skeptics. It's time to put up or shut up.

(7) Space measurements of carbon offer clearer view of Earth's climate future (European Space Agency)

With the constant bombardment of talk about the 'urgent' need to limit carbon dioxide emissions, you'd think that the science was pretty solid. Not so fast, according to the European Space Agency:

    The fact that human activities are pumping extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, by burning carbon that has been locked up in the Earth, is well known – the overall concentration of this leading greenhouse gas has increased by a third since the Industrial Revolution.

    However, only around half of the extra carbon dioxide human activity sends into the atmosphere stays there, unidentified 'sinks' on the land or ocean surface absorb the rest. The rate of climate change would be much greater without this absorption, but as long as its distribution, strength and variability remains uncertain, the continuation of this effect cannot be taken for granted. In future, global warming may shut it off, or even throw it into reverse.

    Scientists create intricate numerical models to try and improve their understanding of various segments of the carbon cycle within the Earth system, but significant knowledge gaps remain, especially concerning the exchange of carbon or 'flux' between the land surface and atmosphere.

(hat tip: JunkScience.com)

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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