Last fall’s blockbuster revelation that some of the leading global warming proponents had manipulated data, destroyed data files and suppressed research that refuted their findings added to the public’s declining belief that global warming is a major issue. In fact, poll data indicates that the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in the United States will not be as well received as in the past.
A Gallup Poll released in March found that Americans’ concern about environmental issues has hit a 20-year low. It seems Americans are more concerned about a cold economy than a warming planet. A record 53 percent of those surveyed now say that economic growth takes precedence, even if it hurts the environment. In fact, of the eight environmental issues listed in the survey, global warming was ranked last.
This ranking could be attributed to the fact that a majority of people know that global temperatures have actually declined over the last decade or they have paid attention to the last few years of extremely cold winters, record snowfalls and mild hurricane seasons. They may also have some well-founded distrust of the so-called scientific evidence for anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming.
For instance, a report from the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was seriously compromised by revelations of errors and misrepresentations that further diminished the public’s belief that global warming is a serious threat.
Critics of the UN report gave it an ‘F’ for having so many sources that were not from peer- reviewed scientific reports or publications. Donna Laframboise, director of the organization that audited the UN report, stated, “We’ve been told it’s 100 percent peer-reviewed science. But thousands of sources cited by this report have been nowhere near a scientific journal.” Lafromboise pointed out that many sources cited by the UN report were press releases, newspaper and magazine stories, theses by college students, newsletters, discussion papers, and literature published by environmental activists.
The report included many scary predictions unsupported by scientific studies including the assertion that there would be a 50 percent decline in crop production in Africa and that water resources would be depleted for over half the world’s population. Among the other errors and misrepresentations admitted to by the UN in their fourth assessment report of the IPCC was the prediction that up to 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest was endangered which came from an anti-smoking activist and had no scientific basis at all.
The report also predicted that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 which was based entirely on a pamphlet published by the World Wildlife Federation. Even though the head of the IPCC was informed the prediction was in error, he did nothing to correct it. Yet this is the report that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Department of State, and proponents of cap-and-trade legislation use as their excuse to radically constrain the American economy.
Britain’s Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, NASA and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have all been exposed for using data that misrepresents global climate change. Last December, the Institute of Economic Analysis based in Moscow published a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change at the headquarters for the British Meteorological office had probably tampered with Russian climate data. Given that Russia represents over 12 percent of the world’s land mass, misrepresenting an increase in Russian land temperatures would result in an erroneous increase in global temperatures.
Phil Jones, the former head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, was forced to resign as a result of the data scandal. Jones has now admitted that there has not been any significant warming since 1995. Moreover, he acknowledges that global temperatures may have been higher than current temperatures during the medieval warming period from 800-1300 AD which indicates a natural cycle of warming and cooling unrelated to human activity.
The climate data scandal forced the proponents of an international climate change treaty to admit that the science on global climate change is not as settled as they have insisted. But that won’t stop the hard-core liberals in Congress from trying to pass a cap-and-trade bill.
Perhaps the arrogance of this Congress helps explain why polls are now showing that almost 80 percent of all Americans say they don’t trust the federal government. It also further explains the cooling effect in terms of the public’s support of Earth Day and the rest of the environmental agenda.
About the author: Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.