NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Global Warming Predictions of Flood Don't Pan Out

January 29, 1999

The American Geophysical Union has issued a position paper that has angered both skeptics and advocates of the theory of global warming. The 26 members of the AGU council who unanimously approved the statement seem to be straddling the middle of the political road -- saying that there is a basis for concern over global warming, but that there are "significant scientific uncertainties" over the issue.

  • The paper states that "present understanding of the earth climate system provides a compelling basis for legitimate public concern over future global- and regional-scale changes resulting from increased concentrations of greenhouse gases."
  • Then it goes on to caution that factors other than greenhouse gas emissions also may affect climate change -- factors such as extreme weather events, aerosols, changes in clouds, precipitation patterns and ocean circulation.
  • "AGU believes that the present level of scientific uncertainty does not justify inaction," the paper concludes.
  • Asked if that meant AGU is saying action to curb greenhouse gas emissions can be justified, a senior scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and one of the authors of the statement said, "We hesitate to justify action because we don't think we're in a position to recommend specific policies."

S. Fred Singer, president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project and a critic of the global warming theory, said he quibbled "with the politics, procedures and science" involved. "I say the science is faulty, misleading and incomplete," he commented.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute's Paul Georgia said it was "a shame that this distinguished science organization has succumbed to political correctness at the expense of scientific integrity."

Global warming adherents faulted AGU for not going far enough to recommend policies to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Source: Joyce Howard Price, "Both Sides Hit Report on Global Warming," Washington Times, January 29, 1999.


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