NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 26, 2004

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has repeatedly stated that we have reliable temperature records showing how much the planet has warmed in the last century. Computer projections of future climate, while not perfect, explains IPCC, simulate the observed behavior of the past so well that they serve as a reliable guide for the future.

Therefore, says the IPCC, we need to limit carbon dioxide emissions (i.e., energy use) right now, despite the expense and despite the fact that the cost of these restrictions will fall almost all on the United States, gravely harming the world's economic engine while exerting no detectable change on climate in the foreseeable future.

Researchers, however, say the planet isn't coming to an end. According to several new studies:

  • Surface temperature records from the United Nations indicate a warming rate of about .31 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1979; but satellites and weather balloons have shown no significant warming trends since 1979.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides an additional record which measures temperatures seven feet from the ground, which also mirrors the data from the satellites and weather balloons.
  • The UN models generally predict that warming occurs with height (outside of local polar regions), but neither the satellite nor the balloon records show this.

In fact, some scientists noted the disparity as early as 1990, but naysayers claimed that eleven years (1979 to 1990) was not enough time to produce accurate records. Twenty-five years later, however, the weather balloon data still does not reflect the UN's predictions.

Moreover, researchers discovered that about one-half of the warming in the UN and surface record and U.S. records was due to economic factors -- changes in land use, quality of instrumentation used for measurements and upkeep of records.

Source: Patrick J. Michaels, S. Fred Singer and David H. Douglass, "Settling Global Warming Science," Tech Central Station, August 12, 2004; and David H. Douglass, Benjamin D. Pearson, and S. Fred Singer, "Altitude Dependence of Atmospheric Temperature Trends: Climate Models vs. Observation," ArXiv, Cornell University, July 2004.

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