Despite a decade of hype and hysteria about global warming, the
number of Americans who “worry a great deal” about it has declined from
35 percent in 1989 to 24 percent in 1997. These are the findings of
Public Agenda, a non-profit group that conducted a review of public
opinion surveys for the American Geophysical Union, a group of
The decline in public concern roughly parallels the decline in the
warming projections over the decade. The first estimates of
human-induced global warming, produced by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), predicted that the global mean
temperature would rise from 3.5 to 8 degrees C. by the year 2050.
This projection was based on computer models of what would happen if
the developed nations continued to pump carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere from the growing use of fossil fuels. It was the projection
that caused the United Nations to produce the Framework Convention on
Climate Change, a voluntary treaty that asked the developed nations to
reduce their greenhouse
gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.
When the first Conference of the Parties to the Convention assembled
in Berlin in 1995, they agreed that the developed nations would not meet
the target, and therefore, should be required to reduce their emissions
through a legally binding Protocol to the Convention to be adopted in
Kyoto, Japan, in 1997.
Almost unnoticed by the American press, and ignored by the treaty
makers, was a revised estimate of global warming which significantly
lowered the predicted temperature increase, to a range of about 2 to 5
degrees C. by the year 2100.
By the time the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, the U.N. scientists had
again revised downward, their projections of global warming, to a range
of about 1 to 2.5 degrees C. by the year 2100.
During the same period, more than 140 of the world’s most noted
climatologists and astrophysicists met in Leipzig, Germany and issued
the “http://sovereignty.net/p/clim/“>Leipzig Declaration”
which says, essentially, that there is insufficient scientific evidence
of a cause-effect relationship between human activity and global warming
to justify the policy requirements of the Kyoto Protocol.
In America, another group of more than 15,000 scientists signed a
public petition that said flatly that there is “no scientific evidence
that human activity is causing, or will in the foreseeable future, cause
The decline in public fear of global warming suggests that Americans
may be listening to the scientists, rather than to the bureaucrats and
special interest groups that are draining off billions of tax dollars to
seek a cure for a malady that may not exist.
Rather than confront the reality of scientific evidence and waning
public fear, these realities are ignored by the bureaucrats and special
interest groups assembled in Bonn, Germany. Instead of scaling back the
implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, and focusing on understanding the
climate system, and man’s relationship to it, they are plowing forward
as if their very jobs depended upon it.
Fluctuations of global mean temperature in excess of 2 degrees C.
have been noted throughout history. History refers to the last warming
period as the “Medieval Climate Optimum,” back when Greenland was green.
That period was followed by what history calls the “Little Ice Age,”
which bottomed out at about the same time America was getting settled.
The global temperature
increase that has been observed since the mid 1800s is seen by many
scientists as natural recovery from the “Little Ice Age.”
The last thousand years of rather dramatic global temperature
fluctuations was not caused by industrial pollution, carbon dioxide
emissions from automobile tail pipes, or from any other human activity.
Since similar fluctuations have been traced back through millennia, it
is reasonable to expect those fluctuations to continue.
If the American people fully understood the economic and behavioral
consequences of the Kyoto Protocol, they would have far more to fear
from the alleged cure, than from the perceived problem.