Rep.Peterson's "Dear Colleague" Letter on
Global Warming

March 6, 1998

Dear Colleague:

It has come to my attention that an as yet unpublished, unpeer-reviewed scientific paper claiming to have found an error in the global satellite temperature measurements has been circulated to the Administration--and possibly leaked to the press--for the purpose of putting pressure on Congress to endorse provisions of the Global Climate Treaty. You should know that according to satellite remote sensing experts now examining this research paper, the effect claimed, which would result in a slight warming temperature trend, appears to be nullified by two countervailing effects. In short, the weather satellite data is likely unchanged and still shows a slight cooling.

It is a serious indictment of the ways in which we set environmental policy that scientific research is being used for blatantly political purposes. This paper, "On the discrepancy between observed in situ surface warming and the cooling trend in MSU tropospheric temperatures," was submitted for publication to the journal Nature on February 23, 1998. With the apparent knowledge of the Nature editor, the paper's lead author Dr. Frank Wentz, head of Remote Sensing Systems of Santa Rosa, CA, e-mailed copies of this paper to a lengthy list of government and government-funded scientists, many of them engaged in global climate modeling, as well as to UN-IPCC Chairman Robert Watson. It was also forwarded to Vice President Albert Gore.

The Wentz paper--and I stress again that this has not yet been published or peer-reviewed, or even seen outside of a largely pro-global warming circle--claims that orbital decay has resulted in a false cooling trend in the satellite temperature data since readings began in 1979. However, remote sensing experts with the Earth System Science Laboratory (ESSL), University of Alabama-Huntsville, who have seen Dr. Wentz's paper, say that in their preliminary investigation they have found two countervailing effects--orbital procession and a calibration drift on radiometers--that create a false warming.

These false cooling and false warming effects appear to zero each other out. ESSL scientists are still completing their calculations, but strong support for their conclusions can be found in the weather balloon data. From the beginning, satellite temperature readings have closely matched readings taken from hundreds of weather balloons around the world. The above-mentioned effects have no impact on weather balloon temperature data. And, like the satellites, weather balloon radiosondes show global temperatures going slightly down.

Interestingly, when Dr. Wentz was informed of the ESSL findings and asked to hold off publishing his paper until ESSL scientists could complete their calculations, he categorically refused.

I would remind my colleagues that just over six years ago, early February 1992, then-Senator Albert Gore stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate and waved around NASA data that he said clearly showed that the opening up of an Arctic ozone hole was imminent. Senator Gore made headlines all over the country (the infamous "ozone hole over Kennebunkport"), and within days of his speech the Senate and President Bush were stampeded into approving a bill phasing out U.S. production of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) five years ahead of schedule.

What you may not remember--because it didn't make headlines--is that two weeks after Gore's floor speech, NASA had firm evidence that the Arctic atmospheric conditions Gore had trumpeted had dissipated (as they had in 1989) without coming anywhere close to creating an ozone "hole." Yet NASA administrators withheld that information from the press and the public until April 30, 1992, long after the votes were in advancing the unilateral ban on CFC production.

There's a old saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

The Global Climate Treaty, and particularly the agreement reached at Kyoto, carry extraordinary risks if implemented, including: the risk that Kyoto's energy-suppression mandates will devastate employment in major U.S. industries; the risk that rising fuel and electricity prices will depress the living standards of American families; the risk that new tax and regulatory policies will handicap small business, enrich special interests, and expand bureaucracy; the risk that U.S. job and export losses caused by the developing country exemption will provoke a protectionist backlash ("carbon tariffs" to offset "carbon leakage"); and the risk that the United Nations will gain undue influence over U.S. economic, trade, and national security policies.

Therefore, is critical that we not again allow ourselves rushed to judgment on the basis of incomplete science and deliberate deception.


Member of Congress

Material presented on this home page constitutes opinion of the author.
Copyright © 1998 Steven J. Milloy. All rights reserved. Site developed and hosted by WestLake Solutions, Inc.