Global warming is back in the news this week with the Supreme Court consensus (5-4) opinion that the word "pollution" in the EPA Clean Air Act should be redefined to include C02, and the release of the IPCC Working Group II 2007 Summary for Policy Makers. Since the media seems fixated on keeping the global warming issues in the news every week, sooner or latter you are going to be required to offer up your opinion on the topic in the school classroom, around the workplace water cooler, or at the family dinner table. With that in mind, we've put together a global warming resource list to help you sort out the science from the politics.
Global warming is an indisputable fact. No one seems to disagree that global measurements of the temperature at the Earth's surface have indicated a warming trend of between 0.3 and 0.8 degrees C over the past century. What is disputed, however, is the primary cause of global warming and what we can reliably predict about future climate patterns based on past climate data. The debate has separated in to two opposing camps: 1) the global warming alarmists who claim global warming is primarily caused by human activity and unless we make immediate drastic changes in our behavior, natural disasters such as increased storms and global flooding will result in irreversible global catastrophe over the next 100 years; and 2) the global warming skeptics, who are generally not skeptical of global warming itself, but of the gloom and doom predictions of the alarmists, as well as the role that human activities actually play in the warming trend, pointing instead to historical climate cycles driven by natural causes.
Like the Darwin vs. Design debate, we think the public is best served by a fair and open debate of the evidence. In that spirit, here are some resources for you to consider from both camps. Since the media tends to report primarily on the more sensational alarmist camp, we will try to balance that out by offering more resources from the skeptics camp that are not usually mentioned in the media reports.
1. An Inconvenient Truth with Al Gore (2006, Davis Guggenheim, Director). Academy Award winning documentary. Director Davis Guggenheim eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Mr. Gore's personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change. An Inconvenient Truth is not a story of despair but rather a rallying cry to protect the one earth we all share. "It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly, and wisely," said Gore. Also available in book format by the same title with very similar content.
2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Recognizing the problem of potential global climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. It is open to all members of the UN and WMO. The IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) was released in 2001. The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) was released in 2007 (these are the policymaker summaries, the full reports can also be found at the IPCC website). The IPCC reports have been the source of many media alarmist stories.
3. US Global Change Research Program. Produced the US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. A detailed overview of the consequences of climate change and mechanisms for adaptation.
4. RealClimate. A commentary website on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. They aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. Their goal is to restrict discussion to scientific topics and not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science-but as you will find out that is very difficult to do in this debate.
5. Friends of the Earth International. The world's largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 71 diverse national member groups and some 5,000 local activist groups on every continent. With approximately 1.5 million members and supporters around the world, they actively campaign on the most urgent environmental and social issues. They challenge the current model of economic and corporate globalization and organize campaigns against any organization or project they perceive as contributing to climate change.
6. Greenpeace International. A global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behavior, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace by stopping climate change among other things.
7. The Kyoto Protocol. An agreement made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases, or engage in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these gases. The Kyoto Protocol covers more than 160 countries globally and over 55% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The United States has declined to ratify this protocol.
8. United States Supreme Court. (Jolly Green Justices, Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2007). The U.S. Supreme Court trumped the Executive Branch and the EPA when it ruled in April 2007 on the Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency case and redefined the word "pollutant" in the Clean Air Act to include CO2. To justify its global warming wisdom, the Justices simply asserted that the Massachusetts coastline faces imminent threat from rising seas. The WSJ editorial claimed this was a blatant case of judicial overreach, and places the Court squarely in the center of the alarmist camp.
The alarmists can sound pretty convincing on their own. But before you pull out your checkbook to pay your CO2 tax for exceeding your personal quota, we recommend you browse the following resources to get "the rest of the story" from the skeptics:
1. Gorey Truths: 25 Inconvenient Truths for Al Gore by Iain Murray (National Review, June 22, 2006). If you are looking for a quick summary of the top 25 objections to Al Gore's documentary, this is the best place to start.
2. A Skeptic's Guide to An Inconvenient Truth by Mario Lewis (Competitive Enterprise Institute, November 21, 2006). If you are looking for the meat behind the top 25 objections to Al Gore's movie, this is the place to dive in. 154 pages of "Gorey" detail with 324 references and now available in pdf format as a CEI Congressional Briefing Paper.
3. The Great Global Warming Swindle. If you are going to watch Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth", then you owe it to yourself to watch this 75-minute rebuttal by UK's Channel 4 which premiered on UK public television in March 2007. Through interviews with prize-winning climate experts and others, this documentary explains the origins of global warming alarmism; debunks claims of man-made global climate change; exposes the motivations of organizations, scientists and activists sounding the alarm; and explains why it's been extremely difficult, if not downright dangerous, for climate scientists to question global warming orthodoxy publicly. Proponents on both sides of the debate complain that both documentaries play loose and fast with the data and the viewer's emotions-but by watching both, you will have a more balance perspective on the issues. Unofficial copies of this program keep appearing and disappearing on the internet. Hopefully Channel 4 will release an official DVD edition in the near feature.
4. The Climate of Opinion, Editorial (Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2007). The WSJ chimes in on the IPCC WG1 AR4 summary: "While everyone concedes that the Earth is about a degree Celsius warmer than it was a century ago, the debate continues over the cause and consequences. We don't deny that carbon emissions may play a role, but we don't believe that the case is sufficiently proven to justify a revolution in global energy use. The economic dislocations of such an abrupt policy change could be far more severe than warming itself, especially if it reduces the growth and innovation that would help the world cope with, say, rising sea levels. There are also other problems--AIDS, malaria and clean drinking water, for example--whose claims on scarce resources are at least as urgent as climate change."
5. State of Fear by Michael Crichton (HarperCollins, 2004). If you are easily bored with charts and graphs we recommend this unique novel by Crichton that tells a fictional story using factual foot notes. You will learn a lot about the global warming issues while reading an engaging, suspenseful thriller typical of Crichton's style.
6. Global Warming is not a Crisis Debate Transcripts Public debate held on March 14, 2007 in New York City. If you thought Crichton could only deal with this topic in the fictional world, think again. Here is Iain Murray's comment about the debate the next day "Last night, NPR and Intelligence Squared hosted a debate in New York City on the motion 'Global Warming is not a Crisis.' The proposition, Michael Crichton, Richard Lindzen and Philip Stott, won by 46% to 42%. What makes the performance all the more impressive is that before the event the organizers found the motion would have been disapproved of 57% to 30%, so there was quite a swing as a result of the arguments deployed. A cynic (who, me?) might suggest that this sort of result illustrates just why 'alarmists' are trying to close down the debate on the issue."
7. States of Fear: Science or Politics? DVD with Michael Crichton and a panel of distinguished scientists, including Bruce Ames (University of California, Berkeley), Sallie Baliunas (Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), William Gray (Colorado State University), and George Taylor (Oregon State Climatologist)
8. Al Gore's Remission of Sin by Tony Blankley (Washington Times, March 7, 2007). While many global-warming alarmists would be offended if they were called pagan neo-animists, in fact, some leading religious scholars have written cogently on the point as summarized by Tony Blankley in this article.
9. Dissenting Scientists. Although global warming alarmist continue to claim a consensus of scientists, a growing number of scientists are going on recorded as disagreeing with alarmist conclusions: The UPDATED Leipzig Declaration; The Heidelberg Appeal; Statement by Atmospheric Scientists on Greenhouse Warming; Sixty Canadian Scientists; Global Warming Petition Project.
10. Natural Resources Stewardship Project, Junk Science, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Biology Cabinet, The Independent Institute, Global Warming Hyperbole. Several websites committed to offering counter opinions and data to global warming alarmism. This is a good page to start with if you want to understand the science behind global warming and the greenhouse effect.
11. Global Warming Lecture by Dr. Art Robinson (52 minute free online video). A review of the research literature concerning the environmental consequences of increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to the conclusion that increases during the 20th Century have produced no deleterious effects upon global weather, climate, or temperature.
12. Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery (Roman & Littlefield, 2007). If you only have time to read one book on global warming, this should be the one. Singer and Avery make a compelling scientific case for a 1500 year sun-driven climate cycle that has very little to do with human activity. It is both readable for the educated layman and well referenced to the scientific literature for the professional scientist.
13. The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World by Bjorn Lomborg (Cambridge University Press, 2001 Reprint). If you want a clear-headed assessment on the status of any environmental issue, including global warming, this is the book for you. Lomborg, a former member of Greenpeace, challenges widely held beliefs that the world environmental situation is getting worse and worse. Using statistical information from internationally recognized research institutes, Lomborg systematically examines a range of major environmental issues that feature prominently in headline news around the world, including pollution, biodiversity, fear of chemicals, and the greenhouse effect, and documents that the world has actually improved. He supports his arguments with over 2500 footnotes, allowing readers to check his sources. Lomborg criticizes the way many environmental organizations make selective and misleading use of scientific evidence and argues that we are making decisions about the use of our limited resources based on inaccurate or incomplete information. Concluding that there are more reasons for optimism than pessimism, he stresses the need for clear-headed prioritization of resources to tackle real, not imagined, problems. The Skeptical Environmentalist offers readers a non-partisan evaluation that serves as a useful corrective to the more alarmist accounts favored by campaign groups and the media.
14. Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming edited by Patrick J. Michaels (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005). A collection of ten papers by scientists who disagree with global warming alarmism. If you love graphs and data, this is the book for you. Again well referenced to the scientific literature.
15. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism by Christopher C. Horner (Regnery Publishing, 2007). In general we are big fans of the P.I.G. series of books (especially the ones on Science and Darwinism), but this one seems a little over the top as the author refers to global warming proponents as "the greens" throughout the book. If you can get past the author's tone (he's just trying a little too hard to be politically incorrect), the book is a useful expose on the political motivations behind environmentalism in general and global warming alarmism in particular. The book is a little light on contrary data graphs that we appreciated in some of the other books, but it is probably the most readable book for the average citizen and a real eye-opener regarding the political motivations of the global warming alarmists.
16. Is There a Basis for Global Warming Alarm? Report by Richard S. Lindzen. The author asks whether alarmism is good for science or likely to have an impact on global warming: "The global warming issue parts company with normative science at an early stage. A good indicator of this disconnect is widespread and rigorous scientific agreement that the Kyoto Agreement would have no discernible impact on climate. This clearly is of no importance to the thousands of negotiators, diplomats, regulators, general purpose bureaucrats and advocates whose livelihood is tied to climate alarmism."
17. New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn't Telling Us, Report by S. Fred Singer, John R. Christy, Robert E. Davis, David R. Legates, and Wendy M. Novicoff. This report reveals that critical portions of science in the IPCC 2001 TAR reports and the 2000 National Assessment of U.S. Climate Change report are misleading, inaccurate, unreliable, or simply wrong. However, that is not an indictment of the individuals involved, but is rather more symptomatic of the nature of science when funded by a government leviathan.
18. Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate, Book by S. Fred Singer. Are the often alarming claims about global warming based on science and justified by the facts? Is the human race really facing a major crisis due to emissions from fossil fuels? Would the proposed Climate Treaty solve a real environmental threat or would it create worldwide economic and social harm? S. Fred Singer is a distinguished astrophysicist who has taken a hard, scientific look at the evidence. In this book, Dr. Singer explores the inaccuracies in historical climate data, the limitations of attempting to model climate on computers, solar variability and its impact on climate, the effects of clouds, ocean currents, and sea levels on global climate, and factors that could mitigate any human impacts on world climate.
19. Global Crises, Global Solutions edited by Bjorn Lomborg (Cambridge University Press, 2004). This book is an outcome of the Copenhagen Consensus 2004. Eight economists ranked 38 proposals for spending $50 billion to address ten problems - climate change, communicable diseases, conflicts, access to education, financial instability, government corruption, hunger, migration, sanitation and clean water, and subsidies and trade barriers. Leading economists evaluate the evidence for costs and benefits of various programs to help gauge how we can achieve the most good with our money. Each problem is introduced by a world-renowned expert analyzing the scale of the problem and describing the costs and benefits of a range of policy options to improve the situation. Shorter pieces from experts offering alternative positions are also included; all ten challenges are evaluated by a panel of economists from North America, Europe, and China who rank the most promising policy options. Global Crises, Global Solutions provides a serious, yet accessible, springboard for debate and discussion and will be required reading for government employees, NGOs, scholars and students of public policy and applied economics, and anyone with a serious professional or personal interest in global development issues. The need for safe drinking water and solutions to communicable diseases such as AIDS and malaria rank at the top of the world's priority list while spending limited research money on climate change solutions falls at the bottom of the cost/benefit list.
20. Aliens Cause Global Warming A lecture by Michael Crichton (California Institute of Technology, January 17, 2003). Here are Crichton's opening remarks: "My topic today sounds humorous but unfortunately I am serious. I am going to argue that extraterrestrials lie behind global warming. Or to speak more precisely, I will argue that a belief in extraterrestrials has paved the way, in a progression of steps, to a belief in global warming. Charting this progression of belief will be my task today. Let me say at once that I have no desire to discourage anyone from believing in either extraterrestrials or global warming. That would be quite impossible to do. Rather, I want to discuss the history of several widely-publicized beliefs and to point to what I consider an emerging crisis in the whole enterprise of science-namely the increasingly uneasy relationship between hard science and public policy."
21. The Reference Frame. A blog by Harvard Physics Professor Dr. Lubos Motl. There is nothing politically correct about this guy who likes to write about "the most important events in our and your superstringy Universe as seen from a reactionary physicist's viewpoint". Global warming is one of his favorite topics these days and if you want to know his thoughts about the IPCC, give him a gander.
22. I Was On the Global Warming Gravy Train. David Evans is a mathematician and engineer who spent six years doing global warming-related research for the Australian government. He jumped on the funding gravy train as a true believer, convinced by the early data that a strong link existed between carbon emissions and climate change, but in time became more skeptical, as new scientific evidence made the causal connection seem more tenuous. His "confession" reveals that the debate is no longer just about the evidence.
23. Scientific Consensus on Global Warming. The Heartland Institute has made available this survey of climate scientists that reveals a wide range of views on Global Warming data and issues. If you poke around on the Heartland website you will find a host of other resources on the topic.
24. What Would Jesus Drive? Global warming is heating up as a 2008 election issue. In this National Review article, Jay Richards takes a look at the varied positions of Evangelical Christians on global warming and explains that there are four distinct questions to be asked (and answered). He concludes by predicting that global warming will be a focus of Democratic candidates to woo the Evangelical vote in the upcoming elections.
25. What You Ought to Know about Global Warming. A hilarious five minute rebuttal of Al Gore and the Global Warming alarmists..."In junior high my science teacher said that the world would be out of fossil fuels by the year 2000."
26. Yellow Science. In this June 25, 2008 Wall Street Journal Online article James Kerian points out that when journalists ignored the standards of their profession, Yellow Journalism was born. Global warming proponents are falling into the same trap resulting in Yellow Science.
27. Climate Change Reconsidered. On June 2, 2009 as Congress debated global warming legislation that would raise energy costs to consumers by hundreds of billions of dollars, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released an 880-page book challenging the scientific basis of concerns that global warming is either man-made or would have harmful effects. In "Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC)," coauthors Dr. S. Fred Singer and Dr. Craig Idso and 35 contributors and reviewers present an authoritative and detailed rebuttal of the findings of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change. The full 880 page report can be downloaded for free at the link above. A free 48 page downloadable summary is also available and the recommended place to start for those who want a quick overview or the evidence and arguments.
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