Over 17,000 scientists have signed a petition saying, in part, “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” [The names of persons who have signed the petition can be viewed at http://www.oism.org/pproject.]

The petition is being circulated by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, an independent research organization that receives no funding from industry.

Among the signers of the petition are over 2,100 physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, and environmental scientists who are especially well-qualified to evaluate the effects of carbon dioxide on the Earth’s atmosphere. Another 4,400 signers are scientists qualified to comment on carbon dioxide’s effects on plant and animal life. Nearly all of the signers have some sort of advanced technical training.

The qualifications of the signers of the Oregon Institute Petition are dramatically better than the qualifications of the 2,600 “scientists” who have signed a competing petition, circulated by Ozone Action, calling for immediate action to counter global warming. An investigation by Citizens for a Sound Economy found that more than 90 percent of the Ozone Action petition’s signers lacked credentials to speak with authority on the issue. [Citizens for a Sound Economy, “Analyses Finds Only 10% of Ozone Action 2600 are ‘Experts’ on Global Warming,” news release, October 29, 1997.] The entire list included just one climatologist.

Over one hundred climate scientists signed the 1996 Leipzig Declaration, which stated in part, “there does not exist today a general scientific consensus about the importance of greenhouse warming from rising levels of carbon dioxide. On the contrary, most scientists now accept the fact that actual observations from Earth satellites show no climate warming whatsoever.” [Dr. S. Fred Singer, Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate (Oakland, CA: The Independent Institute, 1997), pages 40-43.]

A survey of 36 state climatologists–scientists retained by state governments to monitor and research climate issues–conducted in September and October 1997 found that 58 percent disagreed with the statement, “global warming is for real,” while only 36 percent agreed.[ American Viewpoint, “Survey of State & Regional Climatologists, September-October 1997, Annotated Questionnaire,” October 1997] A remarkable 89 percent agreed that “current science is unable to isolate and measure variations in global temperatures caused only by man-made factors.”

The same survey found that none of the climatologists strongly agreed, and only 11 percent “somewhat agreed,” with the following statement: “Reducing anthropogenic or man-made carbon dioxide emissions among developed nations such as the United States to 1990 levels will prevent global temperatures from rising.” Eighty-six percent disagreed with the statement.

Global warming alarmists have sought to silence their critics by calling them a small group of industry-funded dissenters from the “scientific consensus.” [Ross Gelbspan, The Heat is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth’s Threatened Climate (New York, NY: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1997).] The Oregon Institute Petition, the Leipzig Declaration, and the survey of practicing climatologists prove these claims are false. We should keep in mind, however, that scientific truths are not found by polling scientists, but through rigorous debate recorded in peer-reviewed journals. As the following points show, global warming skeptics can win that debate, too.

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Joseph Bast

Joseph L. Bast (jbast@heartland.org) is president of The Heartland Institute.