Washington, D.C. 9/4/2008 2:56:12 AM
News / Politics

Brookings Institute Trips over Climate Science, Says SPPI

In the most recent edition of its influential ScareWatch series, the Science and Public Policy Institute questions whether the Brookings Institute is familiar with basic geography, to say nothing of climate science.

Says SPPI President, Robert Ferguson, “In an April 28 Washington Post opinion editorial worthy of a London tabloid, the President of Brookings and a resident policy wonk blamed Americans for the approaching reputed climate cataclysm, and listed out specific camp-fire apocalyptics – including the fanciful notion that the land-locked African nation of Mali will sink beneath the seas unless the American economy is shut down within the next seven years.”

The co-authors, who are currently working with Stanford University on a “global governance” project, whatever that may be, recite a well-worn litany about the “momentous political challenge” faced by the next US President because of warmer weather.

They say greenhouse gases are warming the Earth; that it will warm by more than 4.5 F by as soon as 2050, causing “vast regions” to “slide towards being uninhabitable”; that arable land will turn into desert; that the sea will rise to flood coastal areas from Manhattan and Florida to Bangladesh, St. Petersburg, and Mali; that the Gulf Stream will be altered; that Nevada will have no water at all; that cap-‘n’-trade, windmills, solar panels, biofuels, and carbon-capture are the answer to this “existential threat to civilization”; and that Americans are guilty because the United States emits four times as much carbon per head as the Chinese and 12 times as much as the Indians.

SPPI examines each scare in turn.  A few examples include:

“The planet will warm by 4.5 F by mid-century”:  “Here, the authors are predicting that temperatures over the next 40 years will rise by 0.1 F per year. Temperature has been falling throughout the past seven years, so this forecast is already looking over-ambitious.  In fact, temperature rose by only 1 F between 1907 and 2007, a rate of just 0.01 F per year. There is no credible scientific evidence to the effect that this long-run warming rate, which began 300 years ago and shows absolutely no sign of increasing despite the extra carbon dioxide in the air, will suddenly accelerate tenfold. Forecasts of this kind are scaremongering plain and simple, and are no longer credible in the least degree.

 “Arable land will turn into desert”: “It will do no such thing. By the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, of which the Brookings Institute has perhaps not yet heard, in warmer weather the space occupied by the atmosphere is capable of carrying near-exponentially more water vapor than in colder weather. This relation establishes scientifically what has long been observed: that, in general, warmer weather is wetter weather.”

“Cap-‘n’-trade will Save The Planet”: “Not that the planet needs saving: carbon dioxide concentrations were 20 times today’s level back in the Cambrian era, and temperatures were only 12 F above today’s. The planet survived just fine. The notion that emissions trading will make the slightest useful contribution to the future evolution of the Earth’s climate is as absurd scientifically as it is economically. Transferring Western jobs and carbon emissions to China and India, which will be the direct result of any emissions-trading program, will actually increase the planet’s carbon footprint. Also, carbon trading, which arbitrarily favors some industries at others’ expense, is nothing more than a system of Socialist rationing under the pietistic guise of Saving The Planet.”

The entire paper can be accessed at http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/scarewatch/climate_catastrophe_scarewatch.html


Robert Ferguson, Science and Public Policy Institute              http://www.scienceandpublicpolicy.org/

202-288-5699                                                                                  bferguson@sppinstitute.org