The Week That Was
August 28, 1999


George Taylor, president of the American Association of State Climatologists, authored an op-ed that was carried by many of the nation's leading newspapers. It provides an authoritative antidote to global warming fears. [See story below]


Since the editor of Chemical & Engineering News has refused to publish any criticism from us in the past, we will put it on the Web - for all to see! We hope that the board of the American Chemical Society will take corrective action.

Dr. Joseph J. Jacobs is one of the nation's most distinguished chemical engineers. During World War II, he pioneered the mass production of both penicillin and DDT, saving countless lives. He then founded Jacobs Engineering, one of the world's largest engineering companies. We quote here from his Oct. 17, 1997 letter to the president of the ACS:

"It is with a great deal of regret that I submit my resignation from the ACS, after almost 60 years. I am resigning in protest because the ACS, through its publication C&EN, has taken an untenable, biased position on the political subject of 'Global Warming.'"

"It is not permissible for a magazine carrying the prestige of the ACS to repeatedly write articles advocating actions based upon assumptions that are highly questionable. The popular press can be excused, but not the ACS. Even the slanted IPCC report could do no more than say that 'anthropogenic gases (CO2 and others) have a discernible effect upon global temperatures.' Shouldn't a trained scientist ask whether "discernible" necessarily means that it is catastrophically harmful? All the evidence, even that in the IPCC report, refutes the doomsday scenario projected by [Under Secretary of State] Tim Wirth and, unfortunately, also by Chemical & Engineering News. Tim Wirth is singularly unqualified, but the ACS should know better."

"It's sad to see a proud scientific society such as the ACS being hoodwinked by Luddite propaganda decrying the great benefits scientists have brought to society. Painting us as evil 'despoilers of nature,' rather than gallant contributors to an enviable standard of living, is despicable and reprehensible. The ACS owes its members more than the mouthings of political slogans. It owes them the dignity of their science and accolades for their positive contribution to America."

To express your own personal view on this outrage, you can e-mail Madeleine Jacobs, editor of C&EN, <>, and Robert Bovenschulte, director of ACS publications <>, and/or any member of the ACS board. For general comments use <> and specify the addressee. Snail-mail to 1155 16th Street NW, Wash., DC 20036. Tel: 202-872-4600.

Open Letter to the Editor of C&EN

Chemical & Engineering News, the flagship publication of the American Chemical Society, is working hard to lose its credibility, with lots of help from its environmental reporter Bette Hileman. Her latest screed [C&EN August 9, 1999, pp.16-23] is a shameless piece of propaganda, promoting global warming scares. It does this by selective reporting, by disregarding published scientific data, and by interviewing well-known advocates of "concern" about global warming. Even these worthies choose to use weasel words, leading her to write that "few scientists…believe these [climate] changes are entirely due to natural fluctuations…" Her story cites none of the contrary evidence, nor are well-qualified skeptics given a hearing. There is not the slightest attempt to achieve balance. This is not journalism; it is pure advocacy.

Among the missing data:

Satellite temperature measurements, the only truly global data, have shown a consistent cooling trend -- except for the year 1998, which featured one of the strongest El Ninos in recent times. [Christy, Spencer, and Braswell, J. Atm. Oceanogr. Techn. 1999]. There is independent support for the satellite data from radiosonde data in weather balloons. Not surprisingly, these are not mentioned either.

Nor is there mention of temperature data from Greenland ice-core bore holes that clearly show a temperature maximum a 1000 years ago, greater than today's values. The authors explicitly state that temperatures fell between 1940 and 1995 [Dahl-Jensen et al. Past Temperatures Directly From the Greenland Ice Sheet, Science, 282, 268-279, 1998]. Instead, she writes about a "rapid temperature rise of the last 25 years…just as the models have predicted…" Not even the most committed scientific advocate of global warming has claimed this much.

Hileman glosses over the measurements which suggest that North America is absorbing more CO2 in forests and soils than it is emitting by fuel combustion [Fan et al Science 282, 442, 1998]. She misrepresents the situation on ice accumulation in Greenland. She cites selectively data about intense precipitation in the United States. While mentioning the fact that the frequency of tropical storms has decreased, she quotes an unsupported statement (more like a wishful thought?) by global warming promoter Kevin Trenberth (NCAR) that global warming increases the frequency and intensity of El Nino events. Later on, she does admit that there is no scientific consensus on this issue. (In fact, El Ninos fell off while global climate warmed strongly during 1900 to 1940.)

She cites another notorious global-warming promoter, Tom Wigley (NCAR). He still claims a "close correspondence between model-predicted and observed patterns of temperature changes," without mentioning that this work has been thoroughly discredited by publications in the scientific literature. [See full discussion in S.F. Singer, Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate, Independent Institute, Oakland CA, 1999] As a co-author of the original research papers, he should have the decency to withdraw them from the literature.

She grudgingly refers to the existence of uncertainties in climate models, citing the treatment of clouds, but forgets to mention the even greater uncertainty about the treatment of water vapor, the most important greenhouse gas. The treatment of aerosols may be even more important and more uncertain. According to global warming proponent James Hansen, the uncertainties in radiative forcing are so large as to make it impossible to predict future climate changes [Hansen et al. Climate Forcings in the Industrial Era, Proc. Natl. Academy of Sciences 95, 12753-12758, 1998].

Perhaps the worst item in her collection of horrors is the graph showing average global temperature over the last 1000 years, intended to prove that anthropogenic global warming is underway. Entirely unsupported by other data, it eliminates not only the well-accepted Little Ice Age (from about 1250 to 1850 AD) but does not show the Medieval Climate Optimum around 1000 AD. This compilation of proxy data (tree rings and sediments) is contradicted by many other proxy data, and also by direct bore hole measurements with thermometers. [See graph of historic temperatures cited by Dahl -Jensen et al ]

Finally, it needs to be mentioned that enactment of the Kyoto Protocol, even if punctiliously enforced, would lower calculated temperature increases by only 0.05C by the year 2050, according to IPCC results. All this noise for so little result. Moreover, it isn't even a gain; respected economists have revisited the IPCC report and now find that CO2 increases and warming produce substantial economic benefits [Mendelsohn and Neumann. The Impact of Climate Change on the United States Economy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1999]. Somehow, Hileman has managed to overlook this rather relevant conclusion.
Keep your eye on this story and spread the word. Till next week…


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