December 1999

The global warming threat is the latest science fiction adventure. Senior citizens especially need to be diligent and concerned with the current efforts of politicans and bureaucrats seeking greater regulatory power by scare tactics over so-called global warming. The alarmists are using faulty science to reach untenable conclusions. If we allow the government to enact restrictive measures, whether by law or by a treaty agreed to by the U.S., we will face an energy crisis which will make the energy/oil crisis of the 1970s look like a minor league event.

Seniors would find regulations would affect the energy they use in heating their homes, would hamper their mobility, and would impose new tax burdens. American senior citizens will not buy any new schemes to increase their taxes and escalate federal regulations.

– James L. Martin, President, The 60 Plus Association

For more on the proposed treaty’s impact on seniors see the Impact on Consumers page.

Internet Saves Energy

by William Yeatman on December 28, 1999

in Blog

The idea that the Internet will be an energy saving panacea is not new. After all, the ability to telecommute, to shop and gather information on the Internet and other useful services, have allowed people to use less energy on these activities. The question is whether the overall use of energy has decreased.

According to a study by Joseph Romm, executive director of the Center for Energy and Climate Studies, the answer is yes. The study shows that even though U.S. economic growth increased by 9 percent during 1997 and 1998, energy consumption per dollar of GDP fell 3.2 percent in 1997 and 3.9 percent in 1998.

This sharp drop in energy intensity has occurred even though energy prices are very low. Romm says that the Internet is the reason. Romm also claims that economic forecasts of the costs of emission reductions have not taken this into account. “If the model is right, then it makes all the other economic modelsall wrong, and that has its own profound implications,” he said. “We anticipate that were in a position, for example, where far less effort will be needed for the United States to reduce greenhouse gasesthan we once thought.”

Romm errs in his assessment, however. Energy experts argue that the reason energy consumption fell by such a large amount in 1997 and 1998 was due to a mild winter that lowered home heating needs, not because of increased Internet use.

Moreover, in evaluating the energy appetite of the Internet (the essential first part of any two-part equation to determine a net energy benefit), the study concludes:

“The authors found that the Internet itself is not a major energy user, largely because it draws heavily on existing communications and computing infrastructure.”

Mark Mills, CEI Senior Fellow, and co-author of a seminal analysis of the Internets electric appetite (Forbes, May, 31 1999), wrote, “Let me be kind; their observation about Internet energy use is breathtakingly myopic. Just what exactly do the studys authors think the past half decade of hundreds of billions in new investment in telecommunications and computing equipment has been for and driven by, if not the Internet?

“The exponential growth in equipment (and related Wall Street valuation) constitutes the electric-intensive infrastructure of the Internet. None of it was existing. The Internet does improve efficiency, but at the cost of greater electric use. The jury is out on whether the net effect is more or less overall energy use.”

The internet may indeed lower energy intensity, but the history of energy use shows that decreasing energy intensity almost always leads to greater overall energy use.

Aviation and Global Warming

Aviation has come under attack in the global warming debate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released a report that airplanes are “polluting the skies and changing the weather,” reports the Earth Island Journal (December 22, 1999).

The report claims that planes account for 3.5 percent of the global warming experienced to date and could account for 15 percent by 2050. The IPCC report recommends that governments discourage air travel and encourage travel by train. The report also calls for higher taxes on fuel used in airplanes.

Global Warming Caused by Foreign Aid?

The one thing that both proponents and opponents of global warming policies can agree on is the need to end government subsidies for fossil fuels. The World Bank, for example, has promoted $13.9 billion worth of fossil fuel projects since 1992, according to the Earth Island Journal (December 22, 1999). These projects will produce 37.5 billion tons of CO2 in the next 20 to 50 years.

A report by Friends of the Earth and the Institute for Policy Studies shows that from 1992 to 1996 the U.S. Export-Import Bank and Overseas

Private Investment Corporation financed $23.2 billion in oil, gas and coal projects around the world.

Are Humans Melting the Arctic?

The melting of sea ice has been a worry to global warming advocates for some time. There is little evidence to suggest that humans cause the melting, however. Recently, Science published an article claiming that manmade global warming is a major cause of decreases in arctic sea ice. Using a computer model the researchers found that when greenhouse gases are not factored into the equation there would be a much smaller decrease in arctic sea ice.

The World Climate Report (December 13, 1999) suggests a much simpler test, however. “Perhaps instead of comparing observed change in sea ice with the models change in sea ice, it might be better to see if reality is likely to be involved.” A weather balloon temperature record of arctic temperatures dating from 1958, compiled by James Angell, a scientist at the U.S. Department of Commerce, shows a problem with the conclusions in the Science article.

The record shows little correlation between melting sea ice and temperatures. For example, arctic sea ice melts only in the summer. Yet even though we see a decrease in arctic sea ice there is no corresponding increase in summer temperatures. WCR suggests that perhaps the warming takes place in the winter, lowering wintertime ice accumulation.

A look at yearly temperatures, however, shows this not to be the case. From 1958 to 1988 there was no statistically significant warming in the arctic. Yet the sea ice has been retreating for over 40 years, showing no causal connection between temperature and sea ice extent.

There is a lesson to be learned here: Computer models outcomes should not confused with the real world outcomes no matter how closely they mimic them. The causal variables that drive computer-generated outcomes should be checked against empirical data. Instead, climate modelers claim that their virtual variables explain the real world despite contrary evidence.

Warm Winters: Polar Vortex or Global Warming?

A new study on shifting wind patterns has partly attributed a series of warmer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere and declining sea-level pressures in the Arctic to changes in the “polar vortex.” The study, introduced at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union by David Thompson and John Wallace of the University of Washington, shows that the polar vortex has tightened since 1970 and that upper-atmospheric winds have been blowing in a smaller, more circular motion around the polar area.

This phenomenon may be responsible for the recent severe winter weather in the western United States and Europe, due to the interaction of high temperature fronts from the Northern Hemisphere with cold temperature fronts from the North Pole.

The researchers are still undecided as to whether global warming is to blame for part of this phenomenon. The report stated that if coming winters continue to experience higher pressures over the arctic and more wintry weather in the Northern Hemisphere, as they have the last couple of winters, it may be an indication that the earlier changes were due to a natural cycle that is now returning to its previous state.

However, if the coming winters shift toward warmer weather, the study suggests that it would convince most scientists that some human factors must be involved (Reuters, December 17, 1999).

Another Scientific Assessment

S. Fred Singer, President of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), has just released a book, Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate which evaluates the current state of knowledge surrounding the greenhouse debate.

Singer makes several important points: Regarding the purported peer review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Singer argues that “The IPCC chapters were never ‘peer-reviewed’ in the generally accepted sense . . .” Normal peer review is done by anonymous referees, but the IPCC reviewers were chosen by those who prepared the summaries. “There is no record available as to what comments from reviewers were ignored; nor is there a record of minority opinions,” states Singer.

The claimed “consensus” of approximately 2,000 scientists is also dubious. This figure includes about 80 lead authors who actually wrote the chapters, several hundred scientists who allowed their work to be quoted as well as hundreds of reviewers who may or may not have agreed with the report or whether their comments were used or not.

Though the IPCC admitted that there were minority views that it was “not able to accommodate” it did not reveal “the size of the minority nor the seriousness of their disagreements.” Several surveys have revealed that the consensus may be exaggerated.

Singer argues that the temperature record shows an unusual warming that began in the last century and continued until 1940. Many scientists believe that this is a recovery from the Little Ice Age. From 1940 to 1975 temperatures dropped substantially and then rose again through the 1980s. Studies which have carefully remove the urban heat island effect in the temperature record have confirmed that, contrary popular belief that the 1980s were the warmest decade on record, temperatures reached their peak in 1940.

One of the explanations given in the IPCC for the discrepancy between the predictions of Global Circulation Models (GCMs) and observations is the existence of manmade sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere which reflects incoming radiation. Recent studies, however, have found that the radiative forcing effects of aerosols are small.

Singer addresses several other problems with the global warming hypothesis, but the bottom line is that he sees little reason to go down the ruinous road that has been proposed in Kyoto. For information on how to obtain the book see SEPP’s webpage at

The Art of Myth-making

Recently Dr. Michael MacCracken of the Office of the United States Global Change Research Program made statements regarding climate change entitled “The Truth about Ten Leading Myths.”

The question is whether Dr. MacCracken was telling the truth or making his own myths. Dr. Sallie Baliunas and Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Mount Wilson Observatory attempt to answer this question in a pamphlet for the George C. Marshall Institute.

Dr. MacCracken states, “In the United States, average temperatures have remained high even in the presence of the increasing cooling influence of sulfate aerosols . . .” Dr.’s Baliunas and Soon reply, “The temperature of the U.S., which has a relatively good surface record taken from many stations, has shown no significant warming trend over the last 100 years. The aerosol cooling effect referred to is extremely complex and difficult to quantify, but seems too small to reduce the projected warming trends.”

In an endnote they quote a paper by James Hansen, et. al. which appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research 102, 6831-6854: “Our specific conclusion regarding anthropogenic aerosols is that their net ‘direct’ impact on global surface temperature . . . is probably small and even its sign is uncertain.”

In another statement MacCraken claims, “Climate models do well at representing large-scale features . . .” The IPCC, however, states, “. . . [L]arge model-model differences in estimates of the spectrum of natural variability, both in terms of variance levels and large-scale spatial patterns, imply considerable uncertainties in our ability to specify the spectrum of natural variability and subsequently to detect any greenhouse warming signal – even if the space time evolution of such signal were perfectly known.” The full critique can be downloaded from the George C. Marshall Insitute’s webpage at

Crystal Ball Science

It takes a certain amount of bravado to predict the future, and among some climate scientists bravado is in plentiful supply. J.D. Mahlman, however, seems to have cornered the market. Not only does he endorse predictions made 100 years into the future but he assigns actual magnitudes as to the likelihood that these predictions will come true.

He claims, for example, that there is a greater than 9 out of 10 chance that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over pre-industrial levels will warm the planet from 1.5 to 4.5 degrees C in the next century and that sea-levels will rise by 25-75 cm. He also claims that there is a greater than 2 out of 3 chance that there will be a marked decrease in soil moisture as a result of higher summer temperatures over northern midlatitude continents and that tropical storms, once formed, will become more intense.

Mahlman, however, disagrees with the projection that the number of tropical storms, hurricanes, and typhoons per year will increase. One wonders what crystal ball Mahlman might be looking into to get these precise probability estimates (Science, November 21, 1997).

Hurricane Activity

The December issue of the AMS Newsletter ( of the American Meteorological Society reports that 1997 tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic hurricane basin was well below normal. Seven tropical storms formed and just three reached hurricane strength. The long term average are 10 and 6 respectively. There were no tropical storms in the month of August for the first time since 1961 and there was only one named system during the August-September period which hasn’t happened since 1929.

There were eight tropical cyclones in the central Pacific, nearly twice as many as the 36-year average of 4.5, tying the record for the fourth highest since 1961. However, none of these reached hurricane strength in the central Pacific making it the third consecutive year without a hurricane. This has not happened since 1963-65.

Colorado State researcher William Gray and his colleagues have predicted that 1998 hurricane activity will be slightly below average. He explains that, “Even though El Nino negatively influenced our 1997 hurricane forecast, it is our belief that this event will die before or shortly after the 1998 hurricane season officially begins.” Residual effects of El Nino, argues Gray, will have a dampening effect on 1998 hurricane activity.


Reporters, delegates, NGOs, and other climate conference participants experienced a preview of what life will be like on an energy starvation diet. In keeping with the fanaticism of the occasion, the thermostat of the Kyoto conference hall was turned WAY down.

Three penguin ice carvings placed outside by greens who planned for the ice birds to melt in the “warming” climate stood frozen until the sixth day of the conference. Mother Nature obviously didn’t cooperate for the television cameras. The politically-incorrect air in Kyoto was positively cold. Shivering conference-goers were walking around with coats, scarves, even gloves – indoors. Apparently nobody at the UN considered the human health effects of under-heated facilities. People of the world, this is your future if the global warming lobby gets its way.

According to Australian government officials, it would be very difficult to meet the goals set out in the Kyoto Protocol, even though Australia secured one of the least onerous targets among industrialized nations. Australias target is an emission level of 8 percent above 1990 levels. “Our abatement costs are high because we have built our economy around, a lot of our economy, around comparatively cheap carbon fuels,” Environment Minister Robert Hill said.

Hills main objection is that developing nations are not required to meet emissions reduction targets. “We accepted a commitment in Kyoto that’s challenging for Australia but nevertheless fair compared to that accepted by others. And we are in the process of implementing programs to meeting that commitment,” said Hill.

“If the result of the Kyoto Protocol is simply a transfer of resources emissions from a developed country to the developing, and you don’t get a better environmental outcome, then you may get a[n]economic loss. That’s why it’s a challenge to bring developing countries emitters within the loop in a meaningful way as soon as possible to avoid that” (AAP Newsfeed, December 2, 1999).

Ford Leaves GCC

In a terse statement dated December 3, the Ford Motor Company informed the Global Climate Coalition “that it will not renew its membership in that organization for the next year. We will continue to work with government, non-governmental and industry partners on technology-based voluntary approaches,” said Ford.

The group Ozone Action declared it a major victory for global warming activists. “This is one of the clearest signs to date that the debate over global warming is coming to a close,” said John Passacantando, the Executive Director of Ozone Action. Passacantando also said, “We have all suffered from a decade of lies on global warming from corporate America. Now we finally have Bill Ford, Jr., chairman of one of our countrys largest manufacturers, standing up saying that he wants to tell the truth about our most pressing environmental crisis. It makes for a promising century.”

According to one source, William Clay Ford, Jr. has been pushing this shift since becoming chairman last January, but has met resistance from the companys board of directors. A massive call-in and e-mail campaign organized by Ozone Action and other pressure groups to intimidate the company overloaded Fords phone e-mail system. This reportedly gave Mr. Ford the leverage he needed to convince the board to withdraw from the GCC.

The GCC released a statement claiming that Fords position on global warming, “opposing the Kyoto Protocol, while pursuing an aggressive policy of voluntary actions, research and development remain identical,” to the position of the Coalition. “What is most disappointing about Fords decision is that it seems to be driven by a campaign of misinformation by fringe environmental groups such as Ozone Action who disregard the serious nature of this debate with scare tactics, half-truths and outright distortions.”

Kyotos Nonexistent Mandate

The Kyoto Protocol has set a new standard in international negotiations. Prior to Kyoto, international agreements were hammered out and then submitted to the various countries for ratification. Once an agreement was reached and signed, no further action would be taken prior to completion of the ratification process.

The Kyoto Protocol, on the other hand, is a negotiated, signed, but unratified. Undaunted, global warming negotiators have carried on as if countries have agreed to abide by its requirements. Foul, cries Davik Wojick of the Electricity Daily (November 29, 1999). “The entire discussion at Bonn [the location of the fifth conference of the parties to the UNFCCC] was couched in terms of working out the details of a done deal,” said Wojick. “This illusion has implications. For one thing, it means that the negotiators are not looking ahead to formulating a plan that might actually be approved by the people. They are acting like social engineers, not politicians.”

Wojick points out that for the Kyoto Protocol to have legal force in the U.S. it must be ratified by the Senate, and that Congress must pass implementing legislation “empowering EPA, or some other agency, to make somebody do something.”

Wojick suggests an interesting experiment: “Suppose we require EPA to develop detailed air quality regulations before Congress passes the law that authorizes them. People have complained that EPA rules distort the will of Congress, but stay just within the technical discretion wiggle room afforded by judicial review. It might be a salutary experience all around if detailed proposed regulations had to be approved, by the representative branch of government, before they became final.”

Glaciers Melt Despite Cooler Temperatures

Flooding, mudslides and spillover from the Indus River in the Ladakh area along the Kashmiri and Tibetan border in the Himalayan Mountains were caused at least in part from glacier meltwater. One news story about the resulting damage to the famous thousand-year-old Hemis Buddhist Monastery mentioned that global warming may be the culprit.

Robert Balling, a climatologist at Arizona State University, decided to see if warmer temperatures were indeed the cause of melting glaciers in the Himalayas. When he analyzed the 123-year temperature record for the region, compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he found no trend. His analysis revealed a statistically insignificant 0.04 degrees C cooling trend.

“Obviously, heavy rains during this past summer could be responsible for difficulties in the Ladakh area,” Balling wrote. “However, any suggestion that the nearby glaciers are retreating because of warming during this century is inconsistent with the temperature data for the region. The simplistic notion that glacial retreat implies local warming once again melts away when available temperature records are examined” (

Heat Mortality and Adaptation

Predicted increases in heat-related mortality have been a staple of the global warming propaganda machine. The IPCC, for example, claims that, “[Based upon data from several North American cities,] the annual number of heat-related deaths would approximately double by 2020 and would increase several-fold by 2050.” But, according to a paper presented by Robert Davis, a climatologist with the University of Virginia, at the International Congress on Biometeorology in Sydney, Australia, these gloomy scenarios are incorrect.

The problem arises from plugging historic mortality data into future climate scenarios. If, for example, on average 50 people die as a result of a heat wave, then a tripling of the number of heat waves will triple the death rate. The paper found, however, that this simple extrapolation does not coincide with the data. By analyzing heat-related mortality in the New York City area, Davis and his four coauthors found that the weather/death link has weakened over the last few years (World Climate Report,

Hurricanes on the Rise

It sounds like the familiar global warming rhetoric weve all heard so often. According to William Gray, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Colorado State University, over the next 20 years “Well see hurricane damage like weve never seen before,” on the southeast coast of the U.S. (Denver Rocky Mountain News, November 27, 1999).

There is one difference in Dr. Grays predictions, however. Global warming is not the cause. “The global warming scenario is suspect as hell, I think,” said Gray. “Perhaps there has been a little bit of global warming, but its natural, cyclical, whether or not human-induced greenhouse gases are being put into the atmosphere,” said Gray (The Times-Picayune, November 30, 1999). Dr. Grays research has shown that hurricane activity follows a 20 to 40 year ocean circulation cycle that has occurred for thousands of years.

Dr. Grays predictions have been remarkably accurate. For this past hurricane season he predicted that there would be nine hurricanes there were eight. He predicted 14 named storms there were 12. And he predicted that there would be 75 hurricane days and there were 77. “He has made a tremendous contribution to tropical meteorology,” said Max Mayfield, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “Bill Gray gets all the credit for saying were heading back into a multidecadal period of intense hurricanes.”

In spite of his success, Dr. Gray has recently had difficulty finding funding to continue his research. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has ceased funding Dr. Grays work. Officials claim that similar work is now being done by the National Hurricane Center and that Dr. Grays work is no longer needed. Moreover, Grays work is no longer ground breaking.

Dr. Gray has a different take. “I think its partly a backlash due to my criticism of their theories of global warming, and Ive also been criticizing their methodology of climate prediction.” All thirteen of Dr. Grays grant requests since 1991 have been turned down.