Senators Debate Global Warming Policy Despite Global Cooling Evidence
March 3, 2009 - 8:56 PMDemocratic senators said that despite a recent study that shows global temperatures have been dropping since 2001 and will continue to drop for the next 20 to 30 years, they think the U.S. should push forward with policies to apparently combat global warming.
Two Republicans, however, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned that while some action is necessary, lawmakers must act in a deliberate and fiscally responsible manner.
The study, released on Jan. 28 by Kyle L. Swanson and Anastasios A. Tsonis, who are professors in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, found that the Earth has been cooling since 2001 and projected that due to “global variation” the climate would continue to cool for the next 20 to 30 years.
Democratic senators told CNSNews.com that despite new studies and reports of variations in global temperatures, the federal government should move quickly to implement policies because they believe the debate over global warming is over.
“I think there is a bipartisan consensus in the Senate that the science is in,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told CSNews.com when asked if the government should implement new policies to apparently combat global warming despite the new study. “This is a very real problem. Now the debate is on the remedies -- but the science is in.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who participated in a “U.S. Climate Action” symposium -- hosted by The Peterson Institute for International Economics, the World Resources Institute, the Center for Global Development and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment on Tuesday -- also dismissed the study’s findings and said she thinks the debate is settled.
“I don’t know what to make of them,” said Stabenow when asked about the study’s findings. “But climate change is not just about temperatures going up. It’s also about volatility. So, I don’t know.”
“But, overwhelmingly, scientists agree that the climate is becoming more volatile and that climate change is real,” she said.
Tsonis, the co-author of the study -- which received national attention on Tuesday due to two large global warming rallies at the U.S. Capitol building -- told CNSNews.com that his work indicated that temperatures had flattened and slightly decreased since 2001 and that, due to natural cycles, temperature would continue to decrease for several decades.
“The temperature has flattened and is actually going down,” Tsonis told CNSNews.com. “We are seeing a new shift towards cooler temperatures that will last for probably about three decades.”
But Tsonis also said that neither he nor Swanson think their study undermines arguments for global warming caused by human activity.
“We are not saying there is not warming due to human activity,” Tsonis told CNSNews.com. ‘We are saying that there are natural shifts on top of that. But, for now, it looks like it is going to cool.”
Tsonis said that currently the natural cycles, which occur in part because of the way oceans interact, are stronger than the influence human activity has on the environment. But when the earth begins to warm again in several decades, he said, the globe could be in trouble because natural warming and man-made warming will occur simultaneously
“At this point it [natural variation] at least balances, or may be stronger, than the human influence,” said Tsonis. “But if temperatures shift again as we believe they will, then warming will be dramatic. It will be natural warming on top of human warming.”
DeMint, however, who is also a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told CNSNews.com that while he thinks that Man should care for the environment, he thinks this can be accomplished without sacrificing the further health of the economy or Americans’ standard of living.
“I think we should do everything we can to clean our air and water but it makes absolutely no sense to add to the cost of energy in this country in the process,” DeMint told CNSNews.com. “If we look at the facts, there is no suggestion that we need to panic and do something that is going to further hurt our economy and the standard of living in our country.”
McCain, also a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told CNSNews.com that while he “respectfully” disagrees with those who would look at such a study and claim that the federal government does not need to act on global warning, he thinks appropriate measures can be taken without costing American taxpayers too much.
“Certainly not President Obama’s cap and trade policy because I believe we should address climate change -- not trying to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue,” McCain told CNSNews.com when asked if he though the country should move forward with expensive climate change action in the light of such studies.
But Tsonis, and other scientists who research global warming often overstate its potential dangers, Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst in energy and the environment at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told CNSNews.com.
“If we have a cooling period before us, let's take some additional time to push ahead in studies and research,” said Lieberman. “Let’s use that time to find out what is really happening instead of rushing forward with policy decisions that could damage our economy more than they help our environment.”
One of the world’s leading experts on climate change, Dr. William Gray, emeritus professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, has lectured for several years that there has been some global warming over the last 100 years largely due to natural circulation changes in the oceans.
“But the world is not in a climate crisis as Vice President Gore would say,” Gray said a little over a year ago. “We have many other important problems in this world we have to work on. And this is a red herring item that we can’t do anything about anyways. If we vastly cut down on our fossil fuels it would be a drop in the bucket in terms of global temperature change. The Third World – India, China and so on – are going to keep burning these fossil fuels.”