Thongchai Thailand

History of the Global Warming Movement: Chapter 3: 1990-1995

Posted on: June 8, 2018

  1. 1990, SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS CONFIRMS GLOBAL WARMING (NYT) Global warming will cause serious environmental damage starting early in the next century long before the maximum predicted temperature is reached. We must set limits beyond which the global temperature and sea level should not be permitted to rise to avoid serious and ever increasing risks posed by the continued flow of heat trapping gases into the atmosphere at present rates. The IPCC report serves as a prelude to the Second World Climate Conference in Geneva later this year.
  2. 1990, BUSH ADMINISTRATION COOL ON GLOBAL WARMING. (NYT)The Bush administration’s global warming policy is tepid because of conflicting views within the White House where some are skeptical of the computer models on which forecasts of global climate warming are based because these models have a history of past failures. These models are not good enough to form the basis for policy, they say, but that is only an excuse for inaction. Even though the computer models may not be precise, their forecasts are so grim that we must take corrective action immediately as we do not have to luxury of waiting until all the bugs are worked out. These actions should include preserving tropical forests, banning greenhouse chemicals, and increasing energy efficiency. 
  3. 1990, EXPERTS WARN ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING COSTS. A UN panel of international climate experts came out to strongly support the global warming theory saying that the buildup of CO2 from fossil fuel consumption lead to rising temperatures worldwide, altered weather patterns, lower food production, and rising sea levels. In the long run the cost of inaction exceeds the cost of mitigation. The panel put political pressure on President Bush who is not inclined to take costly measures against CO2 as long as there are credible scientists who oppose the global warming theory and as long as there is no “scientific consensus” on the issue. 
  4. 1991, PROMPT ACTION TO CURB GLOBAL WARMING THREAT, The National Academy of Sciences says US should act quickly to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by developing new generation nuclear power plants and by implementing reforestation, mass transit, and higher fuel efficiency standards for cars. The plan represents a compromise between the more extreme positions of the EPA and the Bush administration. Despite great uncertainties,global warming poses a threat sufficient to merit a prompt response. 
  5. 1991, COST OF REVERSING GREENHOUSE EFFECT WILL BE HIGH. There is division in the scientific community as to the existence and the extent of the greenhouse effect. Environmentalists say that a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from the industrialized countries is needed. An energy saving program could reduce CO2 emissions by 35% over the next 25 years but it will be costly and it assumes technological breakthroughs. 
  6. 1991, COOLING IMPACT DISCLOSED. Burning fossil fuels produces aerosols that reflect sunlight and cool the earth. The resulting rise in temperature could more than offset the cooling achieved by reduction in CO2 emissions in the next 10 to 30 years according to an article in Nature by Prof Wigley, a climatologist at the University of East Anglia in England. The aerosol effect is a sleeping giant because it is something that has been missed and its effect is not trivial. It implies that reducing fossil fuel consumption will cause acceleration in global warming for 10 to 30 years before the gains from CO2 emission reduction kick in. 
  7. 1991, PANEL SAYS THE U.S. CAN ADAPT TO GLOBAL WARMING. (NYT), The National Academy of Sciences says that the cost of inaction is not high because the US can easily adapt to the effects of global warming due to the greenhouse effect of pollutants in the atmosphere. It is more costly to control the climate change than to adapt to it. Human adaptability has been grossly underestimated. A dissenting committee member said that indirect costs of global warming have not been adequately considered. The report said it might be harder for developing countries to adapt to global warming. It encouraged “efforts to advance regional mobility of people, capital and goods,” better preparations for disaster and famine relief and expansion of free-market economies, so that changing prices can serve as market signals that would encourage people to adapt to global warming. 
  8. 1992, TREATY TO CURB GLOBAL WARMING. Sixty nations sign an agreement at the Earth Summit in which they promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. The agreement is not binding and there is no time table. 
  9. 1992, WHITE HOUSE VOWS ACTION TO CUT GLOBAL WARMING GASESThe concentration of greenhouse gases is growing because of human activity and that could lead to catastrophic warming of the earth in the next century. On the eve of the Earth Summit in Rio, the US is seen as uncooperative by the Europeans who insist on a year 2000 deadline for stabilizing CO2 emissions. The US supports increasing energy efficiency and a budget of $75 million in aid to developing countries to do likewise although it does not target CO2 stabilization. Global warming advocates say that this move is positive and shows that the US has abandoned the flat earth society of global warming deniers. 
  10. 1992, GLOBAL WARMING ANOMALY. Critics of global warming point out that their computer models predict a temperature rise of 1C for the last 100 years whereas the actual rise has been 0.5C; and that most of the warming in the last 100 years occurred prior to 1940 whereas most of the CO2 was added after that. 
  11. 1992, GLOBAL SNUB ON GLOBAL WARMING. To control rising temperatures due to the greenhouse effect of CO2, the Europeans want industrialized countries to put a cap on CO2 emission but the Bush administration is wary. The USA is seen as a laggard and an impediment to global action to ward off the potentially dangerous effects of global warming. A cost effective way to check global warming is for the USA to give foreign aid to developing countries like China to implement clean burning coal technologies. The impasse is that the USA is opposed to imposed CO2 emission caps. As it is, there are countries endorsing emission caps but not implementing programs to achieve them. The real cost of emission caps could be sky high. 
  12. 1993, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: “CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION PLAN”. Emissions of CO2, CH4, NO, and CFC have caused temperatures to rise by 0.5C in the last 100 years, and unchecked, global warming could cause melting glaciers and polar ice caps, rising sea level, flooded coastal areas,droughts, damaged ecosystems, and reduced agricultural production. The Clinton administration’s Action Plan proposes 44 action steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000 mainly by voluntary participation of business and industry. The plan is consistent with international efforts outlined by the Earth Summit in 1992. 
  13. 1993, SCIENTISTS CONFRONT RENEWED BACKLASH AGAINST GLOBAL WARMINGConservatives and industry groups attacked the Clinton Administration’s climate change action plan and the global warming scenario characterizing it as hysteria and a plan by socialists to control the economy. Two books, one by the Cato Institute and another by Dixy Lee Ray attacked the greenhouse effect hypothesis. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal published articles debunking global warming. A column by Jeffrey Salmon of the George C. Marshall Institute said that there was no scientific evidence that the earth is warming because of man-made greenhouse gases. Richard Lindzen of the MIT wrote that the heat trapping amplification through water vapor assumed by the global warming computer model is flawed and therefore that even a doubling of CO2 will have little effect on temperature. Other critics point out that the computer models can’t be right because they give incorrect and inconsistent results for known historical data. Although scientists disagree on global warming the political debate is more extreme than the scientific debate. 
  14. 1993, THE NEW YORK TIMES DEFENDS GLOBAL WARMING. There are two undisputed facts about global warming – carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels has been accumulating in the atmosphere for a hundred years, and carbon dioxide traps heat ?reflected? from the earth’s surface that would otherwise radiate out to space. It only remains to compute exactly how much the earth will heat up after an amount of CO2 is injected into the atmosphere. Since a real world experiment is not possible it must be carried out in mathematical models on supercomputers that simulate the earth’s climate although these models are far from perfect. Scientists have examined the results from the best computer models and advised the UN that CO2 will double by 2100 and cause a temperature rise of somewhere between 3C and 5C. These findings are supported by leading experts in the field at the UN and the National Academy of Sciences. Although the amount of heat trapped by the minute amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is small, it snowballs because it causes water to evaporate and water vapor is also a heat trapping gas. The ability of computer models to predict temperature will be greatly improved once the aerosol effect of fossil fuels is incorporated. 
  15. 1993, PRESIDENT CLINTON’S PLAN TO HALT GLOBAL WARMING. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in millions of tons annually: energy efficiency in home and appliance design = 16.3, non-industrial private forest management = 9.5, private sector investment in efficient electrical motors =8.8, increased efficiency of public transit and transportation = 6.6, better regulation of chemical industry = 5.0, recycling and pollution prevention =4.2, methane recovery from landfills = 4.2, natural gas star program to reduce methane emission = 3.0, promote natural gas = 2.2, promote hydroelectricity = 2.0. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). 
  16. 1993, RISING SEAS A PRECISE MEASURE OF GLOBAL WARMING. Using the most accurate system ever devised for measuring global sea levels,scientists have found a steady rise of 3 mm per year for the past two years. These data now establish beyond any doubt that the greenhouse effect is causing global warming. If this trend continues for another few years it will be solid evidence of a warming trend related to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Doubts about the reliability of older and less precise temperature data may now be put aside as the very accurate sea level data clearly establishes the scientific basis of global warming. The sea level measurement satellite of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory takes 500,000 sea level measurements per day. 
  17. 1994, GLOBAL WARMING MAY HELP U.S. AGRICULTURE,(NYT). Civilization is playing a high stakes game with mother nature by emitting heat trapping greenhouse gases that could forever alter our fragile ecosystem in catastrophic ways. The planet is going to get hotter with radically altered weather and rainfall patterns. Yet, a new study appears to show that its effect on American agriculture will not be the dust bowl catastrophe that was once predicted. In fact, global warming is now expected to benefit American agriculture by greatly increasing crop yields. It will be a lot harder in the wake of this study to motivate the American will to fight global warming. It was once predicted that although Canadian and Russian farmers would gain from longer growing seasons, American farmers would lose more than $20 billion per year with “corn blistering on the stalk”. These studies were based on the inability of U.S. farmers to adapt to changes. If farmers change the crops they grow as the climate changes, they will not lose but in fact may gain in the net. 
  18. 1994, HOT AIR ON GLOBAL WARMING. The Clinton Plan of Action against global warming is “so much hot air” because it is too vague and not practical. It is typically Clintonian window dressing to give the appearance of doing something. 

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