As leadership of Congress shifts, the discussion and push for legislation on climate change is also expected to change. During today's OnPoint, Dennis Avery and Fred Singer, co-authors of the new book, "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years," discuss why they think Democratic leadership will not produce much change on the climate front. Avery and Singer explain why they believe humans are not causing climate change and give their thoughts on the recent British government sponsored climate change report written by Nicholas Stern.
Monica Trauzzi: Welcome to OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Joining me today are Dennis Avery, an economist and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, and Fred Singer, a climate physicist. Dennis and Fred are also co-authors of the new book "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years." Gentlemen, thanks for joining me.
Dennis Avery: Our pleasure.
Monica Trauzzi: Fred, the Democrats have taken both the House and the Senate. And Senator Jim Inhofe is the chair, the current chair of the Senate EPW Committee. He's also one of the most vocal global warming skeptics in Congress. Now that the tides are turning and the Democrats are going to be in power and he's not going to have quite the same role at Senate EPW, what do you think that's going to mean for climate change legislation?
Fred Singer: I don't think there'll be very much difference. After all, don't forget that the Senate voted unanimously at one time against anything like the Kyoto Protocol. I think the vote was 95 to nothing. And many of the current senators, like Barbara Boxer, was there at the time.
Dennis Avery: None of the countries that signed Kyoto are living up to its terms, even with a 5 percent reduction.
Monica Trauzzi: OK, but Barbara Boxer actually just announced that she'd like to take Californian's lead and promote climate change legislation that takes some of the ideas that California has implemented. How do you respond to that?
Fred Singer: Good luck.
Dennis Avery: We're not politicians --
Monica Trauzzi: Is it not doable?
Fred Singer: Yes, if you want to institute high taxes on energy, on gasoline particularly. Let's see how far they get.
Dennis Avery: Well, let's focus on what the book says, in fact, on what the physical evidence around the world says. The alternative explanation for the modern warming is a natural cycle 1,500 years long. It goes back a million years. Modern man may have added a tenth of a degree Celsius, but we're only adding 3 percent to the natural carbon flow.
Monica Trauzzi: So should we not have climate change legislation at all?
Dennis Avery: We're going to have climate change whether we have legislation or not. We've had a constant warming and cooling of the planet for a million years. It's moderate --
Fred Singer: I mean the idea that legislation can control the climate, I think just makes no sense.
Monica Trauzzi: But what about fossil fuels? Don't they contribute to climate change?
Dennis Avery: We have no evidence that they do. What we have is a natural warming that began in 1850. It gave us 6 degrees Celsius by 1940 -- excuse me, six-tenths of a degree Celsius. We're now at eight-tenths. If we give human emitted CO2 half of the increase since 1940 that's one-tenth of a degree Celsius. Good luck on creating a scare scenario out of one-tenth of a degree warming in 65 years.
Monica Trauzzi: I want to focus on something you say in the book. You say that from 1979 to present time there has been "a large disparity between surface thermometers, which show a fairly strong warming and the independent temperature readings of satellites and balloons, which show little warming trend."
Fred Singer: That's correct.
Monica Trauzzi: But there is evidence then from these surface thermometers that are showing that there's fairly strong warming. So are you discounting what these surface thermometers are showing? Why shouldn't we be ...
Fred Singer: The question is what could be wrong with the situation here. And the answer is probably that the urban heat island effect is affecting the surface readings. In other words, most of these readings come from thermometers in cities or near cities at airports. And at one time they were way out in the countryside. Now they're surrounded by developments and roads and the air traffic has increased and all of this generates heat. So you have a local increase in temperature. That's not global warming.
Monica Trauzzi: But could that be due to the fact, like you said, these are in cities? There are more cars in cities, more CO2 emissions caused. Could that be caused ...
Dennis Avery: But that's local surface warming. That's not climate change. I'll give you another excellent example. John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville just did a restudy of all of the thermometer records in the Central Valley of California. And he found a 3 degree Celsius warming on the floor of the valley where we've irrigated another 2 million acres of farmland. Up in the Sierra Nevada, where the greenhouse theory says the warming should be greater, there's been almost no increase at all, in the 20th century.
Monica Trauzzi: I wanted to get your comments on a recent report written by Nicholas Stern. It was sponsored by the British government and he's calling for immediate action on climate change and he's also warning of economic repercussions. He says that there should be an international approach to climate change legislation and capping emissions. The global community is reacting to climate change. How do you react to the report and what he said?
Dennis Avery: The assumptions in the Stern report are not very valid. We had a study out of Yale University, their School of Forestry, several years ago, Dr. Mendelson, who said that a moderate warming would actually enhance the economy. And if we're looking at a tenth of a degree warming from human emitted CO2 over 65 years, what we're basically looking at is the medieval warming of the 11th century all over again. That's been called for many years, the Medieval Climate Optimum. It's the nicest weather that anybody can record.
Monica Trauzzi: There are a lot of people, in the science community and legislators, who are watching this show right now and they're thinking that what you're saying is irresponsible because there's so much science out there that points to humans causing climate change.
Fred Singer: There's no ...
Dennis Avery: How did we forget ...
Monica Trauzzi: But how do you respond to these people that are on the other side?
Dennis Avery: How did we forget the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores that were dug up in the 1980s, 400,000 years of the Earth's temperature history, and we had expected to find the big ice ages and the warmings and we did. We had not expected to find a little moderate natural, solar linked, 2 degrees up, 2 degrees down at the latitude of Washington every 1,500 years back through time. And there's no reason to believe that's been edited out of the picture today.
Monica Trauzzi: Fred, why are there so many people on the other side then?
Fred Singer: I don't think they've looked at the evidence. There really is no good evidence that supports man-made global warming. When you look at the evidence, for example that Al Gore presents, I mean melting glaciers. What he's really saying, this is the consequence of warming. This is not the cause of warming. He makes a logical error and so do many other people.
Monica Trauzzi: But has there been an accelerated pace in recent years?
Dennis Avery: Most -- three-quarters of our warming occurred before 1940. There was no significant human emitted CO2 then. How does CO2 explain the warming before 1940?
Fred Singer: And how does it explain the cooling between 1940 and 1975 when people were worried about a coming ice age?
Dennis Avery: And CO2 emissions were soaring.
Monica Trauzzi: OK. So right now there's a big push throughout the country to reduce fossil fuels in order to reduce emissions. There's a push for conservation methods. Should we abandon all this? Is it not necessary? Can we just go along driving our SUVs and, you know, living the way we do?
Dennis Avery: Guilt is such a wonderfully powerful motivation.
Monica Trauzzi: Should we do that? Can we do that?
Dennis Avery: We all feel guilty for ruining the planet. We aren't powerful enough. We're talking about a star a million times bigger than the Earth with a fiery surface 10,000 degrees Celsius in many parts of it much of the time. And you're talking about a few SUVs. It doesn't add up.
Monica Trauzzi: Is it just a few SUVs though? I mean there are millions of people who are ...
Dennis Avery: You're overestimating human power enormously.
Monica Trauzzi: I wanted to just ask you for a moment, there's been widespread reporting that you are funded by the Exxon Mobil Company. And I wanted to give you a chance to respond to that.
Fred Singer: Sure.
Monica Trauzzi: Do they fund you? Do they fund your research?
Fred Singer: No. It's not true.
Monica Trauzzi: Not at all? So all the reporting and speculation ...
Fred Singer: Well, what you'd read on my Web site is that they once made a one-time donation. It came in over the transom. It was not solicited and I gladly accepted it, of course.
Monica Trauzzi: OK.
Fred Singer: It was a very small amount.
Dennis Avery: In the book we cite more than a hundred peer-reviewed studies citing physical evidence of the 1,500 year cycle. We could've cited 300 studies, but the book would have been too thick. None of this research was funded by a coal company or an oil company. It was done by Uppsala University in Sweden, the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, a guy at James Madison University who studies Great Lakes levels in the past. It's all solid peer-reviewed research. It all documents that we've had this 1,500 year cycle. And we have no physical evidence to demonstrate that human CO2 has made a significant difference.
Monica Trauzzi: You both mentioned "An Inconvenient Truth" before. And climate change does seem to be hitting the mainstream. We also had the movie "The Great Warming," which came out. A lot of celebrities are coming out and talking about climate change and how humans are contributing to that. Are you at all fearful that the push in that direction is deterring people from reading a book like yours and believing the science that you're showing in the book?
Fred Singer: Well, there are celebrities like Barbra Streisand and others who will tell you about global warming. I don't know where they get their information from. I like to listen to them, but I don't take them seriously. How can you ...
Monica Trauzzi: But the American people do.
Fred Singer: How can you take them seriously?
Monica Trauzzi: The American people do.
Dennis Avery: Just as an example, Monica. Mr. Gore shows us, in his movie, temperature and CO2 in the Antarctic ice core moving right together for 400,000 years. And they do. What he doesn't tell us is that the temperature changes 800 years before the CO2 levels. In other words, warmer weather causes more CO2 in the atmosphere, rather than the other way around.
Fred Singer: Nor does he tell us that many glaciers are growing right now. Right now.
Monica Trauzzi: But many are also melting.
Fred Singer: And many are melting, because it is warmer now than it was a hundred years ago.
Dennis Avery: He says the Antarctic may suddenly melt. It never has. The Antarctic doesn't melt. It flows downhill slowly. And if you look at it from an airplane you see these great, huge blocks of ice. And you can see the indications of their past motion. And when they reach the edge of the water they still haven't melted and so big blocks fall into the water.
Fred Singer: The temperature is 30 degrees below zero. You don't melt ice at that temperature.
Monica Trauzzi: All right. This is certainly a debate that could go on for hours. We're going to have to end it on that note. Thanks for joining me. This is OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Thanks for watching.
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