NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Climate Change Report Too Dire, Say Scientists

May 26, 2000

Polls show average Americans haven't paid much attention to the issue of global warming. However, a draft overview of a soon-to-be-released federal report paints too dire picture of the effects of global warming, say scientists who worked on the 700-page underlying report.

The 118-page overview of the report, called "Climate Change and America," is still being revised, but using computer models, the overview predicts average temperatures could rise between five and 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, the water level in the Great Lakes could fall five feet, and tropical diseases could expand northward.

  • Two Environmental Protection Agency scientists who wrote the underlying health report, Mike Slimak and Joel Scheraga, argued that the descriptions "have a rather extremist/alarmist tone" which doesn't reflect the scientific papers the overview supposedly summarized.
  • Peter Sousounis, a University of Michigan meteorologist in Ann Arbor who contributed to the report, objected that the economic gloom and doom in the overview overlooks huge positive effects, such as warmer winter conditions in the Midwest.
  • Jae Edmonds, an economist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, complains that the overview "chronicles a series of possible calamities that the various authors have happened upon," with an occasional aside that the "problem might not be so bad."

Russell Jones, a senior economist for the American Petroleum Institute, complains the report relies too much on computer models. He says he and other volunteer reviewers could not get access to scientific reports reflected in the overview.

Source: John J. Fialka, "U.S. Study on Global Warming Paints a Dire Weather Portrait," Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2000.


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