Senator James M. Inhofe (R-OK)
Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
"An Update on the Science of Climate Change"
January 4, 2005
Jan. 4, 2005
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, as I said on the Senate floor on July 28, 2003, much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear rather than science.
I am the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. In addition to its normal expected jurisdictions, the committee also has a lot to do with the Energy bill. We have probably as many provisions in the Energy bill as the Energy Committee does. It is one with which we have great concern.
We recognize we have an energy crisis in America. The House passed a very good Energy bill last year. We should have passed it in the Senate. We did not. I hope we will pass it this time. In the meantime, we need to do what I committed to do when I became chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee 2 years ago. We are going to encourage decisions that are made in Government to be made on sound science.
Many times that is not the case, and such a case is the hoax referred to as "global warming." I called the threat of catastrophic global warming the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people in a statement, to put it mildly, that was not viewed very kindly by the environmental extremists and their elitist organizations.
I also pointed out in a lengthy committee report that those same environmental extremists exploit the issue for fundraising purposes, raking in millions of dollars, even using Federal taxpayers' dollars to finance the campaigns.
For these groups, the issue of catastrophic global warming is not just a favored fundraising tool. In truth, it is more fundamental than that. Put simply, man-induced global warming is an article of religious faith to the radical far left alarmists. Therefore, contending that its central tenets are flawed to them is heresy and of the most despicable kind. Furthermore, scientists who challenge its tenets are attacked sometimes personally for blindly ignoring the so-called scientific consensus. That is not all. Because of their skeptical views, they are contemptuous, dismissed for being "out of the mainstream."
This seems to me highly ironic. Aren't scientists to be nonconforming and question consensus? Nevertheless, it is not hard to read between the lines. "Skeptic" and "out of mainstream" are their thinly veiled code phrases meaning anyone who doubts the alarmists' orthodoxy is, in short, a quack.
I have insisted all along that the climate change debate should be based on fundamental principles and science, not religion. Ultimately, I hope it will be decided by hard facts and data and by serious scientists committed to the principles of sound science instead of censoring skeptical viewpoints, as my alarmist friends favor.
These scientists must be heard, and I will do my part to make sure they are heard. I am sure the Presiding Officer from Rhode Island is very much concerned with the sound science with which we address this subject.
Since my detailed climate change speech in 2003, so-called skeptics continue to speak out. What they are saying is devastating to the alarmists. They amassed additional scientific evidence convincingly refuting the alarmists' most cherished assumptions and beliefs. New evidence has emerged that further undermines their conclusions, most notably those of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, one of the major pillars of the authorities cited by the extremists and climate alarmists.
I guess what I am saying is we are going to be looking at this new evidence. Just since we have adjourned and have come back in today to swear in our new Members, the scientists are almost entirely on the side that there is no sound science behind the idea that, No. 1, the climate is changing and, No. 2, if it is that it is the result of manmade gases. Evidence has come to light in very interesting times.
Just last month, the 10th Conference of the Parties --that is called the COP-10 --to the Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Buenos Aires to discuss Kyoto's implementation and measures to pursue beyond Kyoto.
As most of my colleagues know, Kyoto goes into effect on February 16. I think, with the exception of Russia, an exception I will explain later, the nations that ratified Kyoto and agreed to submit to its mandates are making a very serious mistake.
I went to this meeting, the conference, COP-9, last year in Milan, Italy. It was shocking to see what was actually going on there. I was involved in a mission in west Africa. I saw a person I deal with on a regular basis from a little country in west Africa who was there. It happens that his title in his country's government is Minister of the Environment. I said: What are you doing here? Do you really believe in this Kyoto stuff?
He said: Oh, no, this is the biggest party of the year.
These people are paid for by the United Nations and paid for by this country, in an inordinate amount, percentage, to come up with and have big parties for 3, 4, 5 days in some of the most exotic places in the world just to show support for Kyoto. It is outrageous.
In addition, last month, a popular author, Dr. Michael Crichton, who has questioned the wisdom of those who trumpet a scientific consensus, released a new book called "State of Fear." You all know who Dr. Michael Crichton is. He is a medical doctor as well as a scientist and best-selling author. This is all premised on the global warming debate.
I am happy to report Dr. Crichton's new book reached No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list. I highly recommend this book to the Presiding Officer. I will supply him with this book because I think it is imperative people see some of what is going on right now and how public opinion is catching on to this hoax that has permeated our country for so long. Dr. Crichton, as I said, is a medical doctor and scientist. He very cleverly weaved a very compelling presentation of the scientific facts of climate change -- with ample footnotes and documentation throughout, I might add --into a gripping plot. From what I can gather Dr. Crichton's book is designed to bring some sanity to the global warming debate. In the author's message at the end of his book, he refreshingly states what scientists have suspected for years. He says:
We are also in the midst of a natural warming trend that began about 1850 -- I do not know who will argue with that -- as we emerged from a 400 year cold spell known as the Little Ice Age. Dr. Crichton states that "nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be a natural phenomenon," and "Nobody knows how much of the present trend might be man-made."
For those who see impending disaster in the coming century, Dr. Crichton writes:
"I suspect that people of 2100 will be much richer than we are, consume much more energy, have a smaller global population, and enjoy more wilderness than we have today. I don't think we have to worry about them."
For those who do worry or induce such worries in others, "State of Fear" has a very simple message: Stop worrying and stop spreading fear. Throughout the book, fictional environmental organizations are more focused on raising money, principally by scaring potential contributors with bogus scientific claims and predictions of the global apocalypse, than they are with saving the environment.
As the saying goes, here we have art imitating life. As my colleagues will remember from a floor speech I gave last year, this is part and parcel of what these organizations peddle to the general public. Their fearmongering knows no bounds. Just consider the debate over mercury emissions. President Bush proposed the first ever cap to reduce mercury emissions from powerplants by 70 percent. True to form, these groups said he was allowing more mercury into the air. Now stop and think about it. Right now there is no cap on mercury. It is proposed by this President for the first time.
As I mentioned earlier, several nations, including the United States, met in Buenos Aires in December for the 10th round of the international climate change negotiations. I am happy to report that the U.S. delegation held firm both in its categorical rejection of Kyoto and the questionable science behind it.
Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs and the leader of the U.S. delegation, put it very well when she told the conference: "Science tells us that we cannot say with any certainty what constitutes a dangerous level of warming, and therefore what level must be avoided."
Ms. Dobriansky and her team also rebuffed attempts by the European Union to drag the United States into discussions concerning post-Kyoto climate change commitments. With the ink barely dry on Kyoto ratification, not to mention what the science of climate change is telling us, Ms. Dobriansky was right in dubbing post-2012 talks premature.
It was clear from discussions in Buenos Aires that Kyoto supporters desperately want the United States to impose on itself mandatory greenhouse emissions controls. Moreover, there was considerable discussion but no apparent resolution over how to address emissions from developing countries such as India and especially China, which over the coming decades will be the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases.
Developing nations, most notably China, remained adamant in Buenos Aires in opposing any mandatory greenhouse gas reductions now or any time in the future. Securing this commitment was a necessary component for the U.S. ratification of Kyoto.
Now, some may not have been here at the time, but 2 years ago we passed the Byrd-Hagel resolution that said that if Kyoto treats developing nations any different than developed nations, we will not ratify it. That passed 95 to 0. Every Senator voted that way, and it was very clear. So I think one can say with that commitment at least in the United States that Kyoto is dead.
Kyoto goes into force on February 16. According to the European Union Environmental Ministry, most EU member states will not meet their Kyoto targets. That is kind of interesting because the very people who are behind it and are so adamant that, yes, we must do this, are the ones who have not met their voluntary targets and have no real intention of doing so. They may do so only on paper due to Russia's ratification of the treaty.
Russia, of course, ratified Kyoto not because its government believes in catastrophic global warming -- it does not -- but because ratification was Russia's key to joining the World Trade Organization. Also, under Kyoto, Russia can profit from selling emission credits to the European Union and continue business as usual without undertaking economically harmful emissions reductions.
Just stop and think about this now. We are talking about the huge, massive country of Russia. I have been active in aviation for 48 years now, and I had occasion a few years ago to fly an airplane around the world, replicating the flight of Wiley Post. In doing so, I went all the way across Siberia. I can remember going not just hour after hour but time zone after time zone, seeing no signs of civilization, just great forests. Well, they ended up getting credits for all of that. When I talked to the Russian people last year in Milan, Italy, they were very straightforward, saying: No, there is no science to it, but we stand to make millions of dollars if we sign on to this thing.
That was my first indication that they were going to do so.
So as the talks in Buenos Aires revealed, if alarmists cannot get what they want at the negotiating table, they will try other means. I was told by reliable sources that some delegation members of the European Union suddenly hinted that America's rejection of Kyoto could be grounds for a challenge under WTO. I surely hope this was just a hypothetical suggestion and not something our European friends are actively and seriously considering. I predict such a move would be devastating to the United States and the United States-European Union relations, not to mention the WTO itself.
I suspect it is not just hypothetical. The lawsuit is the stock and trade of environmental activists. We are witnessing a new crop of global warming lawsuits now being leveled at individual U.S. companies and at the United States itself.
In Buenos Aires, Earth Justice, a San Francisco-based environmental group, and the Center for International Law announced plans to seek a ruling from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that the U.S., because of its supposed contribution to global warming, is causing environmental degradation in the Arctic and therefore violating the human rights of Alaska's Inuits, or Eskimos.
As the New York Times wrote: "The commission, an investigative arm of the Organization of American States, has no enforcement powers. But a declaration that the United States has violated the Inuits' rights could create the foundation for an eventual lawsuit, either against the United States in an international court or against American companies in a U.S. court, said a number of legal experts, including some aligned with industry."
The Times did not mention that such lawsuits already have been filed with the U.S.
Eliot Spitzer, New York's State attorney general, along with eight other State attorneys general, mainly from the Northeast, last year sued five coal burning electric utilities in the Midwest. The reason: "Given that these are among the largest carbon dioxide polluters in the world," Mr. Spitzer wrote, "it is essential that the court direct them to reduce their emissions."
To me, this is a clear-cut sign of desperation by the alarmists, but I am not surprised. President Bush has rejected Kyoto. The Senate has rejected Kyoto 95 to 0. The Senate rejected the McCain-Lieberman bill by 55 to 43, and there is little hope that Congress will pass mandatory greenhouse gas reduction, at least not in the near future. So resorting to the courts is their last hope. I hope the courts have enough sense in moderation to reject these lawsuits out of hand.
I am interested, for one, to see how Mr. Spitzer quantifies with scientific precision just how these particular companies have contributed to climate change. How is it, one might ask, that emissions, specifically from American Electric Power, are causing rising sea levels, droughts, or hurricanes? Such efforts fly in the face of compelling new scientific evidence that makes a mockery of these lawsuits.
By now most everyone familiar with the climate change debate knows about the hockey stick graph constructed by Dr. Michael Mann and his colleagues which shows that temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere remained relatively stable over 900 years and then spiked upward in the 20th century. The hockey stick graph was featured prominently in IPCC's third assessment report published in 2001. The conclusion inferred from the hockey stick is that industrialization, which spawned widespread use of fossil fuels, is causing the planet to warm.
I spent considerable time examining this work in my 2003 speech because Dr. Michael Mann effectively erased the well-known phenomena of the medieval warming period. In other words, he never even recognized -- I wish we had the chart because I have a chart that shows this, and one can see the shaft of the hockey stick over 900 years go like this, but all of a sudden in the 20th century it starts up like this, and they failed to realize that there was another blade in the hockey stick that was the medieval warming period where the temperatures were warmer than they are today. This has been going on since creation. I think the fact that he did it -- I was challenged in a speech that I made in Italy on this subject. I said I believe Michael Mann must have intentionally left that off because that completely destroys the credibility of his findings.
But don't take my word for it. Just ask Dr. Hans Von Storch, a noted German climate researcher, who, along with colleagues, published a devastating finding in the Sept. 30, 2004 issue of Science magazine. As the authors wrote: "We were able to show in a publication in Science that this [hockey stick] graph contains assumptions that are not permissible. Methodologically it is wrong: Rubbish."
Dr. Von Storch and colleagues discovered that the Mann hockey stick had severely underestimated past climate variability. In a commentary on Dr. von Storch's paper, T.J. Osborn and K.R. Briffa, prominent paleo clima tologists from the University of East Anglia, stressed the importance of the findings. As they wrote, "The message of the study by von Storch et al. is that existing reconstructions of the NH [northern hemisphere] temperature of recent centuries may systematically underestimate the true centennial variability of climate" . . . and, "If the true natural variability of NH [northern hemisphere] temperature is indeed greater than is currently accepted, the extent to which recent warming can be viewed as 'unusual' would need to be reassessed." In other words, in obliterating the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, Mann's hockey stick just doesn't pass muster.
Dr. Von Storch is one of many critics of Michael Mann's hockey stick. To recount just one example, three geophysicists from the University of Utah, in the April 7, 2004 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, concluded that Mann's methods used to create his temperature reconstruction were deeply flawed. In fact, their judgment is harsher than that. As they wrote, Mann's results are "based on using end points in computing changes in an oscillating series" and are "just bad science." I repeat: "just bad science."
As to the arctic climate assessment, these findings, alongside a spate of new reports, at least in the eyes of the media supposedly confirm the "consensus" on global warming. "The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment," released last fall, perfectly fits that mold. "Arctic Perils Seen in Warming," blared a headline by the New York Times. As the Times wrote: "The findings support the broad but politically controversial scientific consensus that global warming is caused mainly by rising atmosphere concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and that the Arctic is the first region to feel its effects."
What do we really know about temperatures in the Arctic? Let's take a closer look. As Oregon State University climatologist George Taylor has shown, Arctic temperatures are actually slightly cooler today than they were in the 1930s. As Dr. Taylor has explained, it's all relative -- in other words, it depends on the specific time period chosen in making temperature comparisons. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, Dr. Taylor wrote: "appears to be guilty of selective use of data. Many of the trends described in the document begin in the 1960s or 1970s -- cool decades in much of the world --and end in the warmer 1990s or early 2000s. So, for example, temperatures have warmed in the last 40 years, and the implication, -- if present trends continue, -- is that massive warming will occur in the next century."
Dr. Taylor concluded this way: "Yet data are readily available for the 1930s and early 1940s, when temperatures were comparable to (and probably higher than) those observed today. Why not start the trend there? Because there is no net warming over the last 65 years?
This is pretty convincing stuff. But, one might say, this is only one scientist, while nearly 300 scientists in several countries, including the United States, signed onto the Arctic report. I want to submit for the record a list of scientists, compiled by the Center For Science and Public Policy, from several countries, including the United States, whose published work shows current Arctic temperature is no higher than temperatures in 1930s and 1940s. For example, according to a group of 7 scientists in a 2003 issue of the Journal of Climate: "In contrast to the global and hemispheric temperature, the maritime Arctic temperature was higher in the late 1930s through the early 1940s than in the 1990s." Or how about this excerpt from the 2000 International Journal of Climatology, by Dr. Rajmund Przybylak, of Nicholas Copernicus University, in Torun, Poland: "The highest temperatures since the beginning of instrumental observation occcured clearly in the 1930s and can be attributed to changes in atmospheric circulation."
I ask unanimous consent the list of scientists be printed in the RECORD at the conclusion of my remarks.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. INHOFE. Despite this evidence, alarmism is live and well. As you can see behind me, the Washington Post today ran an editorial cartoon that, yes, actually blames the Sumatra tsunami on global warming. Are we to believe now that global warming is causing earthquakes? The tsunami, of course, was caused by an earthquake off Sumatra's coast deep beneath the sea floor, completely disconnected from whatever the climate was doing at the surface.
Regrettably, the tsunami-warming connection merely confirms the state of fear extremists are so eager to create. As Terence Corcoran of Canada's Financial Post wrote: "The urge to capitalize on the horror in Asia is just too great for some to resist if it might help their cause . . . Green Web sites are already filling up with references to tsunami risks associated with global warming."
There is something inhumane about that, that they would capitalize on the tragedy of a hundred thousand people to push a hoax like global warming. To address this, let's ask some simple questions: Is global warming causing more extreme weather events of greater intensity, and is it causing sea levels to rise? The answer to all of these is emphatically no. Just look at this chart behind me. It's titled "Climate Related Disasters in Asia: 1900 to 1990s." What does it show? It shows the number of such disasters in Asia, and the deaths attributed to them, declining fairly sharply over the last 30 years.
Let's take hurricanes. Alarmists linked last year's hurricanes that devastated parts of Florida to global warming. But this is patently false. Credible meteorologists were quick to dismiss such claims. Hugh Willoughby, senior scientist at the International Hurricane Research Center of Florida International University stated Plainly: "This isn't a global-warming sort of thing. . . It's a natural cycle," A team led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Dr. Christopher Landsea concluded that the relationship of global temperatures to the number of intense land-falling hurricanes is either non-existent or very weak. In this chart you can see that the overall number of hurricanes and the number of the strongest hurricanes fluctuated greatly during the last century, with a great number in the 1940s. In fact, through the last decade, the intensity of these storms has declined somewhat.
What about sea level rise? Alarmists have claimed for years that sea level, because of anthropogenic warming, is rising rapidly. Based on modeling, the IPCC estimated that sea level will rise 1.8 millimeters annually, or about one-fourteenth of an inch.
But in a study published this year in Global and Planetary Change, Dr. Nils-Axel Morner of Sweden found that sea level rise hysteria was overblown. In his study, which relied not only on observational records, but also on satellites he concluded that: "there is a total absence of any recent 'acceleration in sea level rise' as often claimed by IPCC and related groups." Yet we still hear of a future world overwhelmed by floods due to global warming. Such claims are completely out of touch with science. As Sweden's Morner puts it, "there is no fear of massive future flooding as claimed in most global warming scenarios."
What I have outlined today will not appear in the New York Times. Instead you will read much about "consensus" and Kyoto and hand wringing by its editorial writers that unrestricted carbon dioxide emissions from the United States are harming the planet. You will read nothing, of course, about how Kyoto-like policies harm Americans, especially the poor and minorities, causing higher energy prices, reduced economic growth, and fewer jobs. After all, that is the real purpose behind Kyoto, as Morgot Wallstrom, the EU's environment minister, said in a moment of candor. To her, Kyoto is about "leveling the playing field" for businesses worldwide -- in other words, we can't compete, so let's use a feel-good treaty, based on shoddy science, fear, and alarmism, which will have no perceptible impact on the environment, to restrict America's economic growth and prosperity. Unfortunately for Ms. Wallstrom and Kyoto's staunchest advocates, America was wise to the scheme, and it has rejected Kyoto and similar policies convincingly. Whatever Kyoto is aboutto some, such as French President Jacques Chirac, it's about forming "an authentic global governance" --it's the wrong policy and it wont work, as many participants in Buenos Aires conceded.
I recommend -- and I will include at the end of my remarks -- the economic study which was done by the Wharton School of Economics talking about what would happen to America and the cost of global warming. If we should sign on to Kyoto, what would it cost? They go into detail. They talk about doubling the price of energy. They talk about the price of fuel more than doubling.
Keep in mind this is the economic survey. They talk about the cost to the average family of four in America being $2,715 a year by 2010. People have to understand that the economic destruction of our country is something that would inure to the benefit of the European Union and many others who are in competition with us. We have to understand that there is an economic motive behind it which one would have to seriously consider.
Despite the bias, omissions, and distortions by the media and extremist groups, the real story about global warming is being told and, judging by the success of Michael Crichton's "State of Fear," much to the dismay of certain groups, it is now being told to the American public.
I think one thing which we all have to understand in this body is we have to recognize the fact that we have an energy crisis in America today. Right now, there are a few people around the country who are now catching on that it is true. We need all forms of energy to run this great machine called America. Our forms of energy can be nuclear, they can be renewable, they can be fossil fuel, coal, oil, gas, all of the above. It is what we will have to have in order to be competitive.
Chairing the committee and being active in the upcoming energy bill, we anticipate being realistic in thinking about not just ourselves today -- not just my four kids or my 12 grandchildren and future generations --but you are going to have to run this most successful, highly industrialized machine ever conceived in the history of the world. And you can't do it sitting around closing the door on all opportunities that we have for energy. Certainly one is coal.
Certainly we need to look at this whole issue of global warming and what the real motives are of these people who are behind this.
I gave a speech on this floor the last session and talked about the amount of money -- I am also going to insert that for the record -- being paid to elect people, money that is being filtered through a lot of these organizations. There is a lot of money made out there by causing people to be fearful, by making people afraid, by making people feel that the world is coming to an end. It is not.