As independent scientists researching atmospheric and climate problems, we -- along with many of our fellow citizens -– are apprehensive about the Climate Treaty conference scheduled for Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997. This gathering of politicians from some 160 signatory nations aims to impose -- on citizens of the industrialized nations, but not on others -- a system of global environmental regulations that include quotas and punitive taxes on energy fuels.
Fossil fuels provide today's principal energy source, and energy is essential for all economic growth. Stabilizing atmospheric carbon dioxide -- the announced goal of the Climate Treaty -- would require that fuel use be cut by as much as 60 to 80 percent -- worldwide!
In a world in which poverty is the greatest social pollutant, any restriction on energy use that inhibits economic growth should be viewed with caution. We understand the motivation to eliminate what are perceived to be the driving forces behind a potential climate change; but we believe the emerging Kyoto protocol -- to curtail carbon dioxide emissions from only part of the world community -- is dangerously simplistic, quite ineffective, and economically destructive to jobs and standards-of-living.
More to the point, we consider the scientific basis of the 1992 Global Climate Treaty to be flawed and its goal to be unrealistic. The policies to implement the Treaty are, as of now, based solely on unproven scientific theories, imperfect computer models -- and the unsupported assumptions that catastrophic global warming follows from the burning of fossil fuels and requires immediate action. We do not agree. We believe that the dire predictions of a future warming have not been validated by the existing climate record. These predictions are based on nothing more than theoretical models and cannot be relied on.
As the debate unfolds, it has become increasingly clear that –- contrary to the conventional wisdom -- there does not exist today a general scientific consensus about the importance of greenhouse warming from rising levels of carbon dioxide. In fact, many climate specialists now agree that actual observations from weather satellites show no global warming whatsoever--in direct contradiction to computer model results.
Historically, climate has always been a factor in human affairs -– with warmer periods, such as the medieval "climate optimum," playing an important role in economic expansion and in the welfare of nations that depend primarily on agriculture. Colder periods have caused crop failures, and led to famines, disease, and other documented human misery. We must, therefore, remain sensitive to any and all human activities that could affect future climate.
However, based on all the evidence available to us, we cannot subscribe to the politically inspired world view that envisages climate catastrophes and calls for hasty actions. For this reason, we consider the drastic emission control policies likely to be endorsed by the Kyoto conference -- lacking credible support from the underlying science -- to be ill-advised and premature.
This statement is based on the International Symposium on the Greenhouse Controversy, held in Leipzig, Germany on Nov. 9-10, 1995, and in Bonn, Germany on Nov. 10-11, 1997. For further information, contact the Europaeische Akademie fuer Umweltfragen (fax +49-7071-72939) or The Science and Environmental Policy Project in Fairfax, Virginia (fax +1-703-352-7535).
If you are in a climate science related field and would like to add your name to the list of signatories, print out and mail or fax the following form.
View current list of signatories.
Other scientists' petitions against the Global Climate Treaty include:
The 1992 "Statement by Atmospheric Scientists on Greenhouse Warming," signed by more than 100 U.S. climate scientists.
The 1992 "Heidelberg Appeal," circulated at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit and eventually signed by more than 4,000 scientists worldwide.
New: The 1998 Oregon Petition Against the Kyoto Accord, signed by some 17,000 U.S. scientists and counting.