(CNSNews.com) - The record-breaking blizzard of 2003, which left more than two feet of snow in some areas of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, was "very much in line with the predictions of climate models" that predict human-caused "global warming," according to an environmentalist in Washington.
When asked whether predictions of "global warming" have been altered by the unusually cold and snowy winter, including the recent blizzard, Melissa Carey, a climate change policy specialist with the Environmental Defense Fund, said the climate change models actually predict this type of weather.
"It's very hard to link one event for sure, but certainly, increased extreme events like this are very, very much in line with the predictions of climate models, definitely," Carey told CNSNews.com.
"One thing climate change models predict is more increased precipitation and more extreme precipitation events like flooding or blizzards," she added.
Carey believes that the earth's climate is changing for the worse.
"Our system is becoming out of balance. That means we may have much, much hotter summers, and we may have much, much drier winters. We may have an increased frequency of extreme storms like hurricanes and tornados," she added.
Carey sees human activity as the cause of climate uncertainty. "It's not all about warming, it's really about the changes in our climate and our environment that go along with the increases of the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere," Carey explained.
The world is facing dire consequences if no policy action is taken, according to Carey.
"The CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions generated by the very first automobile that rolled off the assembly line here in the U.S. are still in the atmosphere. They accumulate over time," Carey said.
But Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the free-market environmental think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, accused Carey of "selling a lie" about "catastrophic man-made global warming" and the "myth of a stable climate."
Horner believes environmentalists will attribute any adverse weather event or patterns to man-made climate change in order to further their policy goals.
"It's always getting hotter or colder or wetter or drier. Whatever happens - and weather always happens - it's clearly evidence of global warming to them," Horner said.
"Climate is inherently unstable. It is always changing. This supposed 'balance' that man upsets is mythical," Horner explained.
"To insist otherwise is to view the entirety of man's presence not as part of the environment but as a pollutant," he added.
Horner believes the only consistent belief among environmentalists is that man is at the center of any weather-related changes.
"First, man caused cooling, then warming. The darned climate kept changing, but the insistence that man simply must be ruinous didn't," Horner said.
Greenhouse Gases Decline
This week's mammoth snowstorm coincided with the U.S. Energy Department's release of greenhouse gas emission figures for 2001 - showing that for the first time since 1991, the amount of emissions dropped. Greenhouse gas emissions are composed chiefly of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
The 1.2 percent decline was due to a 3.5 percent drop-off in economic growth, the mild winter and higher electricity costs, according to the Energy Information Administration, a statistical arm of the Energy Department.
But the concept that lower economic growth is the proven path to decreased emissions is a two-way street, illustrating the problems with international treaties like the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, according to Horner.
"The way to reduce CO2 emissions or greenhouse gas emissions is a poor economy and high electricity costs," Horner said.
The Kyoto Protocol calls for steep reductions in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, which some scientists believe could lead to global warming.
"We reduced [greenhouse gases] 1.2 percent, but we'd have to reduce them 17 percent under the 'first step' agreement that is Kyoto," Horner said.
Horner sees this latest government-released data as a warning to avoid what he sees as economically damaging climate change treaties.
"If you want to comply with Kyoto, you need to reduce economic growth and jack up electricity costs," Horner said.
"We need 15 times higher energy costs and an economic slowdown that is 15 times worse [than 2001's], and then, we will get down to the Kyoto prescribed emission levels. This is all you need to know," he added.
But Carey, who praised the Kyoto Protocol as "the best international framework that we have to deal with [emissions]," maintains economic growth and emission controls can coincide.
"When our economy is really growing, emissions tend to go up. When it's not growing so fast, emissions tend to lag accordingly," said Carey.
Carey believes the U.S. can achieve both economic growth and reductions in greenhouse gases with "market-based mechanisms."
"The solution would be for our Congress to enact a law, such as the McCain/Lieberman Cap-and-Trade plan, that's an economy-wide cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Carey said.
A "cap-and-trade" concept enables the government to set mandatory limits on total industry greenhouse gas output and lets companies earn and trade "pollution" credits.
But Horner dismissed the McCain/Lieberman cap-and-trade program.
"The Congressional Budget Office reports that a cap-and-trade program is the equivalent of an energy tax, raising the costs of energy to consumers and producers alike," Horner said. The McCain/Lieberman proposal would be five times as costly as an energy tax due to its inefficiencies, according to Horner.
"So let's be less mean to the seniors and the poor and just propose the energy tax," he said sarcastically.
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