New Harvard Study Heats up 'Global Warming' Debate

Marc Morano | July 7, 2008 | 8:04pm EDT
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( - A new scientific review of climate history contends that the earth was warmer during the Middle Ages than it is today, supplying ammunition to one critic of the environmental movement who claims concern over "global warming" has been "sheer folly."

A team of Harvard University scientists examined 1,000 years of global temperatures and reviewed more than 240 scientific journals from the past 40 years and concluded that despite man's influence on our environment, current temperatures are not as warm as during the Middle Ages.

"This new study merely affirms the obvious: climate alarmism based on a few years' or even a century's data is sheer folly, reminding us again that geological cycles spanning millennia do not share the rush of agenda-driven scientists or activists," Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the free-market environmental think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, told

The Harvard study is set to be published this spring in the journal Energy and Environment. According to the study, a global medieval warming period lasting from about 800 to 1300 A.D. was followed by a Little Ice Age between the years 1300 to 1900. The study also states that the earth has been warming slightly since 1900.

The study is significant because it refutes the notion that current temperatures are the warmest ever and calls into question much of the warming effect caused by the so-called greenhouse gases from industrial plants and automobiles.

Green groups will be "devastated and panicked" by this new research, according to Horner, which he insists was not tainted by special interests or politics.

"The data analyzed here are not burdened by an advocacy role nor a financial or professional stake in ensconcing man-made calamity in public policy but are instead neutral in the debate. Hence the sober implications," Horner said.

According to Horner, environmental groups have been caught on both sides of the climate change debate.

"The 1980s saw panic about a looming man-made ice age quickly give way to panic about the precise opposite without the public appropriately disregarding such modern-day alchemy," Horner explained.

'Hottest Years on Record'

Brendan Bell of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program dismissed the importance of the Harvard study.

"We have indications that the science is there ,and we do have global warming resulting from increasing human activities that lead to carbon dioxide emissions and we have the solutions to address it," Bell told

"Eight of the last 10 years...have been the hottest years on record," Bell said, providing further proof that man has and continues to influence the climate.

"Looking at the record, the rise of global temperatures mirrors the increase in carbon dioxide emissions from human activities and cars," he said.

According to Bell, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also disagrees that the Middle Ages were warmer.

"The IPCC has looked at data from the Middle Ages and decided that is not indicative of general global warming trends," Bell said.

Horner cautioned against relying on the IPCC research, which he said relied on faulty science. "Beware anyone claiming that something is, or is not, ' the conclusion of the IPCC,'" Horner said.

"The IPCC's 'Summary for Policymakers' uniformly serves as the basis for such claims - not the underlying work itself - and it has been publicly discredited as misrepresenting the scientists' conclusions - by the very scientists who wrote the chapters upon which it is purportedly based," Horner explained.

Horner said he is not surprised that the environmental movement is unwilling to accept the results of the Harvard study. "It has been proven throughout the debate that facts don't matter," Horner said.

"It's typical that when pressed with facts that should generate debate, the other side falls back saying 'the debate is over, let's move on,'" he added.

Bell, however, is steadfast about the existence of "global warming" and the opportunity, to solve the problem.

"We have the solutions to curbing global warming. Making cars and trucks go further on a gallon of gas is the single biggest step we can do to curbing global warming," Bell said.

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