Inhofe Calls 2009 The Year of the Skeptic
Says UN Cap and Trade Effort Dead, Urges New Path Forward
November 18, 2009
Matt Dempsey firstname.lastname@example.org 202-224-9797
David Lungren email@example.com 202-224-5462
Inhofe Calls 2009 "The Year of the Skeptic"
Says UN Cap and Trade Effort Dead, Urges New Path Forward
Part 1 of Inhofe Floor Speech
Mr. President -
Next month, thousands of UN delegates from over 190 nations, members of the press, and eco-activists from around the world will descend upon Copenhagen, Denmark as part of the United Nations Conference on Global Warming. Yet, even before it begins, the UN conference is being called a "disaster." Just this morning, the Telegraph, a UK newspaper, noted, "The worst kept secret in the world is finally out - the climate change summit in Copenhagen is going to be little more than a photo opportunity for world leaders."
Not too long ago, however, the Copenhagen meeting was hailed as the time when an international agreement with binding limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would finally be agreed to. Eco-activists believed a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress would finally push through mandatory cap and trade legislation and that the United States would finally be ready to succumb to the demands of the United Nations.
The reality, of course, is that Copenhagen will be a disaster. The failure comes at a high cost. Despite the millions of dollars spent by Al Gore, the Hollywood Elites, and the United Nations, climate alarmism has failed.
Perhaps the Wall Street Journal said it best in their editorial this morning titled, "Copenhagen's Collapse - The Climate Change Sequel is a Bust." The editorial states:
"'Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all,' President-elect Obama said of global warming last November. ‘Delay is no longer an option.' It turns out that delay really is an option-the only one that has world-wide support. Over the weekend Mr. Obama bowed to reality and admitted that little of substance will come of the climate-change summit in Copenhagen next month. For the last year the President has been promising a binding international carbon-regulation treaty a la the Kyoto Protocol, but instead negotiators from 192 countries now hope to reach a preliminary agreement that they'll sign such a treaty when they meet in Mexico City in 2010. No doubt. The environmental lobby is blaming Copenhagen's pre-emptive collapse on the Senate's failure to ram through a cap-and-trade scheme like the House did in June, arguing that ‘the world' won't make commitments until the U.S. does. But there will always be one excuse or another, given that developing countries like China and India will never be masochistic enough to subject their economies to the West's climate neuroses. Meanwhile, Europe has proved with Kyoto that the only emissions quotas it will accept are those that don't actually have to be met."
Mr. President, through my position as the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee since 2003, I have been the lead Senator standing up and exposing the science, the costs, and the hysteria behind global warming alarmism. And I will be travelling to Copenhagen, leading what I call the "Truth Squad" to say exactly what I said six years ago in Milan, Italy: The United States will not support a global warming treaty that will significantly damage the American economy, cost American jobs, and impose the largest tax increase in American history. Further, as I stated in 2003, unless developing nations are part of the binding agreement, the US will not go along. Given the unemployment rate of 10 percent, , and given all of the out of control spending in Washington, the last thing we need is another thousand-page bill that increases costs and ships jobs overseas, all with no impact on climate change.
I also said in Milan that the science is not settled. That was an unpopular view back then. But today, since Al Gore's science fiction movie, more and more scientists, reporters, and politicians are questioning global warming alarmism. I proudly declare 2009 as the "Year of the Skeptic"-the year in which scientists who question the so-called global warming consensus are being heard.
Rather than continue down a road that will harm the U.S. economy, the international community should forge a new path forward that builds on international trade, new and innovative technology, jobs, development, and economic growth.
Kyoto - Destined for Failure
If you follow the U.S. Senate, you will know that the Senate's position on global warming treaties couldn't be more clear. In 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 for the Byrd-Hagel resolution. Byrd-Hagel stated that, among other things, the U.S. should not sign any international climate change treaty that would:
1) mandate greenhouse gas reductions from the U.S. without also requiring new, specific commitments from developing countries over the same compliance period; and
2) result in serious economic harm to the United States.
I think Byrd-Hagel still commands strong support in the U.S. Senate. Therefore, any treaty President Obama submits must meet its criteria, or it will be easily defeated.
Proponents of securing an international treaty are slowly acknowledging that the gulf is widening between what the United States and other industrialized nations are willing to do and what developing countries like China want them to do. The gulf has always been wide and will continue to widen.
And with Copenhagen a certain failure, it's safe to say that cap-and-trade is dead. Just look at the record: the Byrd/Hagel vote in 1997, the defeats in the Senate in 2003 of McCain-Lieberman, 2005 McCain-Lieberman, 2008 Warner-Lieberman, and no bill on the Senate floor in 2009.
The Economics of Cap and Trade
From my very first speech on the Senate floor as Chairman of the EPW Committee on July 28, 2003, I outlined the staggering costs of global warming "solutions" like Kyoto. In my speech, I said,
"The most widely cited and most definitive economic analysis of Kyoto came from Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates, or WEFA. According to WEFA economists, Kyoto would cost 2.4 million US jobs and reduce GDP by 3.2%, or about $300 billion annually, an amount greater than the total expenditure on primary and secondary education. Because of Kyoto, American consumers would face higher food, medical, and housing costs-for food, an increase of 11%, medicine, an increase of 14%, and housing, an increase of 7%. At the same time an average household of four would see its real income drop by $2,700 in 2010, and each year thereafter. Under Kyoto, energy and electricity prices would nearly double, and gasoline prices would go up an additional 65 cents per gallon."
I went on to note that CBO found that cap and tax is a regressive tax, arguing:
"As the CBO found, ‘The price increases resulting from a carbon cap would be regressive--that is, they would place a relatively greater burden on lower-income households than on higher-income ones.' As to the broader, macroeconomic effects of carbon cap and trade schemes, CBO said, ‘A cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions could impose significant costs on the economy in the form of welfare losses. Welfare losses are real costs to the economy in that they would not be recovered elsewhere in the form of higher income. Those losses would be borne by people in their roles as shareholders, consumers, and workers.' Now some might respond that government can simply redistribute income in the form of welfare programs to mitigate the impacts on the poor. But the CBO found otherwise: ‘The government could use the allowance value to partly redistribute the costs of a carbon cap-and-trade program, but it could not cover those costs entirely.' And further: ‘Available research indicates that providing compensation could actually raise the cost to the economy of a carbon cap.'"
That's what I said back in 2003. Yet, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. CBO, EPA, DOE, CRS, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, NAM-everyone now agrees that cap-and-trade will be extremely costly and destroy jobs. No matter how hard alarmists try to recast their cause-whether it's "green jobs" or "clean energy jobs" or "clean energy revolution" the facts remain: cap-and-trade is a loser for America.
All Pain, No Climate Gain
Mr. President, I have also pointed out the inconvenient fact that cap and trade "solutions" are all pain for no climate gain. In that first speech back in 2003, I noted that even Al Gore's own scientist admitted that Kyoto would do nothing to "solve" global warming. Here's what he said:
"Dr. Tom Wigley, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, found that if the Kyoto Protocol were fully implemented by all signatories- now I will note here that this next point assumes that the alarmists' science is correct, which of course it is not-if Kyoto were fully implemented, it would reduce temperatures by a mere 0.07 degrees Celsius by 2050, and 0.13 degrees Celsius by 2100. What does this mean? Such an amount is so small that ground-based thermometers cannot reliably measure it."
I also mentioned in the 2003 speech everyone's favorite alarmist, James Hansen:
"Similarly, Dr. James Hansen of NASA, considered the father of global warming theory, said that Kyoto Protocol ‘will have little effect' on global temperature in the 21st century. In a rather stunning follow-up, Hansen said it would take 30 Kyotos-let me repeat that-30 Kyotos to reduce warming to an acceptable level. If one Kyoto devastates the American economy, what would 30 do?"
Those following the climate debate closely know that James Hansen went on record this summer against Waxman-Markey-Kerry Boxer saying the following:
"Cap-and-trade is the temple of doom. It would lock in disasters for our children and grandchildren. Why do people continue to worship a disastrous approach? Its fecklessness was proven by the Kyoto Protocol."
Now we have top Obama Administration officials making these same points. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson explained to me before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing in July that US action alone would do nothing to address climate change. As she said: "I believe the central parts of the [EPA] chart are that U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels."
Of course, I am encouraged that Administrator Jackson agrees that unilateral action by the U.S. would effectively do nothing to affect climate change.
Logically, any unilateral action by the US would increase emissions as industry would be forced to relocate overseas where nations have lower emissions restrictions.
Bipartisan Concern Over Cap-and Trade
Mr. President, over the last several years, we've seen a growing number of Democrats-yes, Democrats-agreeing with my position. Today, with a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President, some may be surprised by the number of Democrats who want nothing to do with cap and trade.
Politico reported on Monday that, "lawmakers from coal and manufacturing-heavy states aren't happy that more liberal Democrats are using the Copenhagen negotiations to ratchet up pressure to move the bill forward. ‘I'm totally unconcerned about Copenhagen,' said Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). ‘I'm concerned about West Virginia.'"
They also reported, "Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb said on Monday he would not back the cap-and-trade legislation sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer, (D-Calif.), another blow to the troubled Senate climate change bill. "In its present form I would not vote for it," he said. "I have some real questions about the real complexities on cap and trade." Webb is the latest in a series of Democratic moderates to raise significant concerns with the climate bill, which has floundered since passing the House in late June."
Or Consider Democratic Senator Ben Nelson from Nebraska. The Hill recently reported on a CNBC interview with Sen. Nelson, writing,
"A cap-and-trade bill to address climate change cannot pass the Congress this session, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) claimed Friday. Nelson, a centrist Democrat whose vote is key to leaders wielding its 60-vote majority in the Senate, said he and his constituents had not been sold on the cap-and-trade system proposed in House and Senate bills to address global warming. ‘No,' Nelson simply responded when asked if those cap-and-trade bills can pass through this Congress during an interview on CNBC. ‘I haven't been able to sell that argument to my farmers, and I don't think they're going to buy it from anybody else,' Nelson said. ‘I think at the end of the day, the people who turn the switch on at home will be disadvantaged.' The pessimistic assessment makes Nelson a thorn in the side of his party's leaders on climate change legislation, one of their top priorities, as they assiduously court his vote on another key proposal, healthcare reform."
Perhaps the biggest blow to any Senate climate bill came last week from 14 Senate Democrats, primarily from the Midwest, who, in a letter, challenged the allocation formula of Kerry-Boxer and Waxman-Markey. The letter was signed by Senators Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, Robert Byrd, Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow, and Sherrod Brown.
And what about the prospects for 2010? As Lisa Lerer with Politico reported last week:
"An aggressive White House push on jobs and deficit reduction in 2010 may be yet another sign that climate-change legislation will stay on the back burner next year. ‘There is a growing chorus in the party that thinks we should be doing more to spur job creation and not necessarily tackle cap and trade right now,' said a moderate Democratic Senate aide. White House officials told POLITICO on Friday that President Barack Obama plans curb new domestic spending beyond jobs programs and focus on cutting the federal deficit next year. In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has hinted that Democrats plan to take up a job-creation bill, in the wake of the announcement of a 10.2 percent unemployment rate. In the House, some lawmakers are beginning to push a major highway bill for next year to focus on job creation. None of this is promising for a major climate change bill."
Also, Darren Samuelsohn with E&E News reports this week that:
"Next November's midterm elections loom large, leaving the climate bill sponsors until about the end of March to notch the 60 votes necessary to pass their bill off the floor and into a conference with the House that would best be finished before the summer. ‘Conventional wisdom is that you have until the spring to get controversial issues moving,' said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a lead co-author of the climate bill that the Environment and Public Works Committee passed earlier this month. "If not, it's difficult to see getting through closer to the elections."
In an interesting side note, Mr. Samuelsohn reported that the Democrats fear a repeat of the disastrous 1992 BTU Tax vote. He quotes Al Gore as saying, "‘Yes, I think the Btu PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] is a factor in this debate.'"
Samuelsohn also writes that according to Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, ‘the ‘talk on the street' was that an election year cannot be good for passing the climate bill in the Senate, even though he did not agree with that opinion. ‘There's some possibility of people saying that it's too controversial a bill in an election year,' Rockefeller said. "Which is sort of the opposite of how a democracy ought to work. You go ahead and take your chances on that and you get re-elected. But people's business comes first.'"
By now the message should be clear: it's not just Republicans, but Democrats who are blocking passage of cap-and-trade in the United States Senate. The sooner we are honest with the international community of the impossibility of the Senate moving forward with cap and trade, the sooner we can begin work on an all-of-the-above energy bill to develop domestic energy resources, create jobs, and provide consumers with affordable, reliable energy.
The Tipping Point: Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth/Scientists Call To Action
Of course, from the most memorable tidbit from my two-hour global warming speech in July of 2003 were my comments about the science behind global warming. Now, six years later, and as I head to the next UN global warming conference, I am pleased by the vast and growing number of scientists, politicians, and reporters all over the world who are publicly rejecting climate alarmism. When I made those comments on the Senate Floor, few people were there to stand with me. Today, I have been vindicated and I am proud to share the stage with all those who now dare question Al Gore, Hollywood elites, and the United Nations.
Early in my 2003 speech I said, "Much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science. Global warming alarmists see a future plagued by catastrophic flooding, war, terrorism, economic dislocations, droughts, crop failures, mosquito-borne diseases, and harsh weather-all caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions." For the next two hours I presented arguments by a number of leading scientists who disputed that picture of the future and I argued that activists attempting to propagate fear would fail to convince the American public. I then concluded my remarks stating, "With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? It sure sounds like it."
My remarks were immediately ridiculed by alarmists and the main stream media. Alarmists then and ever since have used every name in the book trying to discredit me. Nevertheless, I continued to make my case in speech after speech on the Senate floor, highlighting arguments by numerous scientists that contradicted the notion that the science behind global warming was "settled."
In fact, the first time the McCain-Lieberman bill came to the Senate Floor in 2003, I stood alone on the Senate Floor for over fifty hours working to expose the bill as the largest tax increase in American history. Fortunately, the Senate defeated the bill. Fast forward to 2008 for the Warner-Lieberman bill, twenty three Senators joined me in speaking out against a bill that was all cost, for no climate gain.
What do I credit for the reversal? You might be surprised my answer: it's none other than the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar. It's AL Gore.
The media blitz of 2006, which included an avalanche of magazine covers, hour long global warming documentaries, celebrity rock concerts around the world, and of course, Al Gore's very own science fiction, caused an unprecedented response from scientists from around the world.
Later that year, I took to the Senate floor to give my next two hour long speech debunking much of Al Gore's movie and the media hype. I said then that:
"In May, our nation was exposed to perhaps one of the slickest science propaganda films of all time: former Vice President Gore's ‘An Inconvenient Truth.' In addition to having the backing of Paramount Pictures to market this film, Gore had the full backing of the media, and leading the cheerleading charge was none other than the Associated Press."
I noted a report that appeared on June 27, 2006 by Seth Borenstein of AP that boldly declared, "Scientists give two thumbs up to Gore's movie." I took issue with the Borenstein article, pointing out that,
"The article quoted only five scientists praising Gore's science, despite AP's having contacted over 100 scientists. The fact that over 80% of the scientists contacted by the AP had not even seen the movie or that many scientists have harshly criticized the science presented by Gore did not dissuade the news outlet one bit from its mission to promote Gore's brand of climate alarmism. I am almost at a loss as to how to begin to address the series of errors, misleading science and unfounded speculation that appear in the former Vice President's film. Here is what Richard Lindzen, a meteorologist from MIT has written about "An Inconvenient Truth": ‘A general characteristic of Mr. Gore's approach is to assiduously ignore the fact that the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing even without any external forcing. To treat all change as something to fear is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse.'"
In that same 2006 speech, I then proceeded to give a brief summary of the science that the former Vice President promoted in either an inaccurate or misleading way:
In each and every case, Gore was shown to be exaggerating, misleading or flat out wrong.
At the end of that speech, I challenged those in the media to reverse course and report on the objective science of climate change, to stop ignoring legitimate voices in the scientific community questioning the so-called consensus, and to stop acting as a vehicle for unsubstantiated hype.
The reaction by the American public was so overwhelming that my Senate website crashed, as thousands of people came to my site to read and watch my speech. In fact, I was flooded with emails supporting my work.
I also noted in that 2006 speech that many scientists were just starting to speak out against the so called consensus on global warming. In April of that year, 60 prominent scientists who questioned the basis for climate alarmism sent a letter to the Canadian Prime Minister. They wrote: "If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary."
I soon discovered just how many prominent scientists were disputing the claims of global warming alarmism. In 2007, I released my first report detailing over 400 scientists who didn't buy the consensus. After that report, the list continued to grow and more and more scientists began publicly challenging global warming fears. In 2008, I updated the report with over 650 scientists, and today that list stands at well over 700 skeptical scientists. The chorus of skeptical scientific voices continues to grow louder every day as the "consensus" collapses.
This momentous shift has caused the mainstream media to take notice of the expanding number of scientists serving as "consensus busters."
A November 25, 2008, article in Politico noted that a "growing accumulation" of science is challenging warming fears, and that the "science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation."
Canada's National Post noted on October 20, 2008, that "the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly." New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin noted on March 6, 2008, "As we all know, climate science is not a numbers game (there are heaps of signed statements by folks with advanced degrees on all sides of this issue)."
In 2007, Washington Post Staff Writer Juliet Eilperin conceded the obvious, writing that climate skeptics "appear to be expanding rather than shrinking."
2009 - The Year of the Skeptic
Yet, it will be 2009 that is remembered as the "Year of the Skeptic."
Until this year, any scientist, reporter, or politician who dared raise even the slightest suspicion about the science behind global warming was dismissed and repeatedly mocked.
Who can forget, for example, Dr. Heidi Cullen with the Weather Channel, who in 2007 advocated that the American Meteorological Society (AMS) revoke their "Seal of Approval" for any television weatherman who expresses skepticism that human activity is creating a climate catastrophe.
"If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn't agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns," Cullen wrote in her December 21 blog on the Weather Channel Website.
Cullen continued, "It's like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise and tsunamis are caused by the weather. It's not a political statement...it's just an incorrect statement."
And of course, there was Robert Kennedy Jr., also in 2007, who called anyone who didn't agree with his views on global warming "traitors."
Speaking at a Live Earth Concert in July 2007, Kennedy stated:
"Get rid of all these rotten politicians that we have in Washington, who are nothing more than corporate toadies for companies like Exxon and Southern Company. These villainous companies that consistently put their private financial interest ahead of the interest of all of humanity. This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors."
Al Gore, of course, said anyone who dares question the science should be equated with those who question the moon landing.
Aside from the distasteful and derogatory ridicule by such alarmists, a major statement by a man-made global warming believer severely undercut their claims. Just this year, one UN IPCC climate scientist told more than 1500 climate scientists gathered at the UN's World Climate Conference in Geneva, Switzerland:
"People will say this is global warming disappearing. I am not one of the sceptics. However, we have to ask the nasty questions ourselves or other people will do it."
And remember, this quote comes from Mojib Latif, who Andrew Revkin of the New York Times describes as "a prize-winning climate and ocean scientist from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, in Germany."
This remarkable admission of the need to "ask nasty questions," comes nearly two years after I first pointed out these very facts on the Senate floor. In my October 26, 2007 Senate Floor speech, I noted:
"It is important to point out that the phase of global warming that started in 1979 has itself been halted since 1998. You can almost hear my critics skeptical of that assertion. Well, it turns out not to be an assertion, but an irrefutable fact, according to the temperature data the UN relies on. Paleoclimate scientist Dr. Bob Carter, who has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, noted on June 18 of this year: ‘The accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. Oddly, this eight-year-long temperature stability has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4 per cent) in atmospheric CO2. Second, lower atmosphere satellite-based temperature measurements, if corrected for non-greenhouse influences such as El Nino events and large volcanic eruptions, show little if any global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 parts per million (17 %)."
The very people that had long called the science settled, and those that went so far as to say the science behind global warming was "unequivocal," are now admitting that "nasty questions" must be raised.
Well, those questions are now being raised by the media. On October 8th, the BBC stunned the journalism community with an article by their climate correspondent Paul Hudson. The headline of that article asked "What happened to global warming?" Hudson wrote:
"this headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might the fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998. But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures. And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise." The article continues to note the lack of global warming recently and mentions the fact that many scientists are predicting a coming global cooling.
Following the BBC, other British news outlets have ran similar headlines. The UK Sunday Times wrote "why everything you think you know about global warming is wrong." The Daily Mail also had the headline "Whatever happened to global warming? How freezing temperatures are starting to shatter climate change theory."
Australia's Herald Sun has picked up on the trend as well. Columnist Andrew Bolt, noting the turning tide of media around the world, wrote, "this is like the moment in the Emperor's New Clothes, in which the boy calls out "but he's naked!"
But let's be clear: some in the media were already beginning to question the consensus even before this announcement.
Television personalities are even coming around as well. In April, Charles Osgood, the host of CBS News Sunday Morning and a noted environmentalist, questioned global warming projections. He asked, "Right now, global warming is a given to so many, it raises the question: Could another minimum activity period on the Sun counteract, in any way, the effects of global warming?" Osgood later scolded himself for even questioning global warming before stating "I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this solar dimming business, now that the story is out. Remember, you heard it here first..."
Lou Dobbs, formerly with CNN, has also joined the chorus questioning the alarmists consensus. In January, Dobbs compared the belief in man-made global warming to a religion. He stated "they bring this thing to a personal belief system. It's almost a religion, without any question..." Dobbs also criticized what he called "crowding out of facts and objective assessment of those facts...there's such selective choices of data as one discusses and tries to understand the reality of the issues that make up global warming."
In September, another dramatic announcement came from Houston Chronicle science reporter Eric Berger. He stated that, "Earth seems to have, at least, temporarily stopped warming. If we can't have confidence in short-term prognosis for climate change, how can we have full confidence in long-term?"
The bright light is also fading on the UN IPCC. In August, the New York Times ran the headline, "Nobel Halo Fades Fast for Climate Change Panel." The article notes that, "as the panel gears up for its next climate review, many specialists in climate science and policy, both inside and out of the network, are warning that it could quickly lose relevance unless it adjusts its methods and focus." Weeks later on September 23, the New York Times again acknowledged a shift in public moods and scientific evidence when it stated that the UN faced an "intricate challenge: building momentum for an international climate treaty at a time when global temperatures have been relatively stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years."
Given the media's track record, this is hardly surprising. As I noted in my 2006 speech, the media runs hot and cold in their coverage of climate change. As I said at the time:
"Since 1895, the media has alternated between global cooling and warming scares during four separate and sometimes overlapping time periods. From 1895 until the 1930's the media peddled a coming ice age. From the late 1920's until the 1960's they warned of global warming. From the 1950's until the 1970's they warned us again of a coming ice age. This makes modern global warming the fourth estate's fourth attempt to promote opposing climate change fears during the last 100 years. Recently, advocates of alarmism have grown increasingly desperate to try to convince the public that global warming is the greatest moral issue of our generation. Last year, the vice president of London's Royal Society sent a chilling letter to the media encouraging them to stifle the voices of scientists skeptical of climate alarmism. During the past year, the American people have been served up an unprecedented parade of environmental alarmism by the media and entertainment industry, which link every possible weather event to global warming. The year 2006 saw many major organs of the media dismiss any pretense of balance and objectivity on climate change coverage and instead crossed squarely into global warming advocacy."
Maybe one reason that the media is starting to come around is that the public is shifting as well. It is easy to sell magazines, books, and movie tickets when you have everyone eating out of your hand, believing that a climate catastrophe is right around the corner. But once the audience isn't buying that story anymore, it might be time to start acknowledging the other side.
The polls are showing an unprecedented shift in public opinion on the science of climate change, as well as cap-and-trade proposals in Congress. Only a few weeks ago, in October, as Politico reported,
"As the nation struggles to climb out of a recession, 45 percent rated the economy as the most important issue in deciding their vote if the congressional election were held today, followed by 21 percent who said government spending, 20 percent who chose health care reform and 9 percent who said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just 4 percent ranked climate change as the top issue. Economic worries also led a majority of Americans to place jump-starting the economy ahead of concerns about the environment. Even as the Obama administration is pushing for climate protection legislation, 62 percent of those polled agreed that "economic growth should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent." The remaining 38 percent believed that "protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth."
Further, Gallup earlier this year released a poll that found that 41% of people believe that global warming claims are exaggerated, which is the highest number yet.
What about the effect of Al Gore's climate scare campaign? Gallup Poll Editor Frank Newport says he sees no evidence that Gore's is winning. Newport said, "It's just not caught on, they have failed. Any measure that we look at shows Al Gore's losing at the moment. The public is just not that concerned. [...] Ask people to name their biggest concerns, and just 1 percent to 2 percent cite the environment. The environment doesn't show up at all, it's Al Gore's greatest frustration. We seem less concerned than more about global warming over the years...Despite the movies and publicity and all that, we're just not seeing it take off with the American public. And that was occurring even before the latest economic recession." He adds: "As Al Gore I think would say, the greatest challenge facing humanity . . . has failed to show up in our data."
Polls also show that when looking at environmental issues only, climate change continually ranks dead last among concerns. A Gallup poll in March found global warming ranked last in the U.S. among environmental issues. Air and water pollution, toxic waste, animal and plant extinction and loss of tropical rainforests all ranked as a greater concern than global warming. As Gallup stated, "Since more Americans express little to no worry about global warming than say this about extinction, global warming is clearly the environmental issue of least concern to them. In fact, global warming is the only issue for which more Americans say they have little to no concern than say they have a great deal of concern."
The public is also unwilling to accept legislation on climate change that would cost them money. Rasmussen found that 56% of Americans said they are not willing to pay any additional taxes or utility costs to fight global warming. And only 21% of Americans are willing to pay $100 or more per year.
New Talking Points
The clear rejection of fear and hysteria is leading many on Capitol Hill to change their tune on climate legislation. Turning away from using scare tactics, the left is now trying to sell cap-and-trade as "clean energy legislation."
Don't say "climate change" or "global warming," or even worse, "cap-and-trade," anymore; use "clean energy economy." As the New York Times and LA Times have recently reported, the White House, concerned by the lack of support for their cap-and-trade initiatives, is using poll-tested talking points to help push one of the President's biggest priorities.
The New York Times caught on to these new talking points earlier this year, reporting, "The problem with global warming, some environmentalists believe, is ‘global warming.' The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling and focus group sessions conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington."
The LA Times also reported, "Scratch 'cap and trade' and 'global warming,' Democratic pollsters tell Obama. They're ineffective...Control the language, politicians know, and you stand a better chance of controlling the debate. So the Obama administration, in its push to enact sweeping energy and healthcare policies, has begun refining the phrases it uses in an effort to shape public opinion. Words that have been vetted in focus groups and polls are seeping into the White House lexicon, while others considered too scary or confounding are falling away."
Despite his long time work on cap-and-trade, Senator John Kerry actually went so far as to say he didn't even know what cap and trade is, saying in September, "‘I don't know what 'cap and trade' means. I don't think the average American does,' adding, ‘This is not a cap-and-trade bill, it's a pollution reduction bill.'"
While Senator Kerry says he doesn't know what cap-and-trade is, the American public knows what it is: a massive new energy tax, plain and simple.
Mr. President, let me conclude by saying just how encouraged I am to say that the tide has turned. The skeptics' challenge has been heard, and I am glad to see that more and more journalists are no longer reporting the hyped fears that many want the American public to believe. Media outlets around the world are more skeptical today of man-made climate fears and they are also more aware of the enormous costs of climate legislation. And more importantly, polls are showing that the people are no longer buying the hype either. The bottom line is that efforts to pass the largest tax increase in American history have clearly failed, handing the American people a tremendous victory.
November 2009 Speeches
410 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510-6175
456 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510-6175