Survey of State Climate Experts Casts Doubt on Link Between Human Activity and Global Warming

by William Yeatman on October 6, 1997

in Kyoto Negotiations, Science

(Washington, DC) — A majority of state climatologists say reducing man-made carbon dioxide emissions to1990 levels or lower would not prevent warmer temperatures on earth, according to a new survey commissioned by Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) Foundation. That’s because, according to those surveyed, most climatologists believe global warming “is a largely natural phenomenon.”

“In the debate over global warming, we’ve recently heard from a lot of so-called experts that global warming is for real and that we humans are to blame,” says Paul Beckner, president of CSE Foundation. “While President Clinton and others might think so, those who deal with climate issues day in and day out disagree, and we think it’s important that the American people know that there are in fact climate experts in this country who do disagree with the conventional wisdom on global warming.”

Fifty-eight percent of the state climatologists surveyed said they disagreed with President Clinton’s claim that “the overwhelming balance of evidence and scientific opinion is that it is no longer a theory, but now fact, that global warming is for real” and with the statement that “there is ample evidence that human activities are already disrupting the global climate*” Only 36 percent of the climatologists agreed with Clinton’s assertion.

By a 44 to 17 percent margin, climatologists say that “recent global warming is a largely natural phenomenon,” while nine out of 10 of the climatologists surveyed agreed that “scientific evidence indicates variations in global temperature are likely to be naturally-occurring and cyclical over very long periods of time.”

Six out of 10 of the climatologists disagreed that actions by developed nations to reduce man-made carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent below 1990 levels will prevent global temperatures from rising. An even higher number, 86 percent, disagreed that reducing emissions to 1990 levels will prevent rising temperatures. Interestingly, by a 39 to 33 percent margin, more state climatologists say that “evidence exists to suggest that the earth is headed for another glacial period.”

Eighty-nine percent of the climatologists said that “current science is unable to isolate and measure variations in global temperatures caused only by man-made factors.” Sixty-one percent of the state climate experts said historical data does not indicate “that fluctuations in global temperatures are attributable to human influences such as burning fossil fuels,” and nearly all said the earth “experienced large global temperature fluctuations with both warming and cooling periods prior to the beginning of the industrial age” and the advent of burning fossil fuels.

Countering claims by theorists that weather patterns have been changing due to global warming, 72 percent of state climatologists say weather events in their states in the past 25 years have not been more severe or frequent. Among the19 percent who said they were, less than a third attributed the changed weather patterns to global warming.

Among other findings in the survey, 72 percent say carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise, despite efforts to curb man-made sources. Eighty-six percent of the climatologists said that variations in solar output are a likely cause of long-term temperature fluctuations on earth, and an even higher 91percent said variations in the earth’s orbit are a likely cause of temperature fluctuations. The climatologists were unanimous in agreeing that “even if there were no human beings, the earth’s climate would constantly be changing.”

The survey was conducted by American Viewpoint of Alexandria, Virginia from September 23 to October 3, 1997. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percent. Forty-eight states have official climatologists. Of the 48, American Viewpoints was able to contact and survey 36 of them. Ninety-two percent of the climatologists said they did not receive direct funding from state or federal environmental protection agencies, and 86 percent said they did not receive direct funding from business or industry.

CSE Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan research and education organization established in 1984. It accepts no government funding.

[For more information or a complete copy of the survey questions and results, please call Peter Cleary at (202) 942-7608.]

To receive more information on CSE or CSE Foundation, or to comment on our publications, call, write, or E-mail:

Citizens for a Sound Economy
Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation
1250 H Street, NW, #700, Washington, D.C. 20005-3908
1-888-JOIN-CSE, (202) 783-3870, Fax (202) 783-4687

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