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Introduction Article for Review Comments Received


[May 3, 1998:] Global warming is not happening. So claim Arthur Robinson and others in a review of the published literature entitled "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide," which was mailed earlier this year to tens of thousands of U.S. scientists. Moreover, the article asserts, human use of coal, oil and natural gas will not significantly warm the atmosphere in the foreseeable future, but will accelerate photosynthesis and plant growth. The latter effect, the article concludes, "will help maintain and improve the health, longevity, prosperity, and productivity of all people."

The article was mailed with a letter from Frederick Seitz, past president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, inviting recipients to sign a petition urging lawmakers to reject the 1997 Kyoto climate treaty, which would require the United States, by 2010, to reduce carbon dioxide emission by 7% relative to emissions in 1990 (Advocacy Mailing Draws Fire: Science, April 10, 1998).

The authority of the article is open to question as it has not undergone peer review. Peer review is the process of evaluation (usually anonymous) by technical specialists whereby most scholarly journals judge the suitability of an article for publication. Because the article was distributed with the intent to influence public policy, we believe it important that the validity of its conclusions be scrutinized: a view that the authors share.

In particular, what is important so far as the debate about the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions is concerned, is whether the article presents a reasonable and balanced picture of what is known and can be predicted about the potential climatic consequences of raising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from the pre-industrial value of around 275 ppm to perhaps more than twice that concentration sometime during the next century.

Over the next several weeks, we will be inviting comment on the article from technically qualified specialists. But we cannot hope to communicate with the great majority of specialists who could contribute to this forum. Thus we will be glad to receive unsolicited comments, which should be directed to: For additional information for contributors, please see the Author Guide.


Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide


1 Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, 2251 Dick George Rd, Cave Junction, OR 97523, USA

2 George C. Marshall Institute, 1730 K Street, Suite 905, Washington, DC 20006, USA

Summary A review of the research literature concerning the environmental consequences of increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to the conclusion that increases during the 20th Century have produced no deleterious effects upon global weather, climate, or temperature. Increased carbon dioxide has, however, markedly increased plant growth rates. Predictions of harmful climatic effects due to future increases in minor greenhouse gases like CO2 are in error and do not conform to current experimental knowledge.


Op-ed Science A Myth: Global Warming Is Happening
A letter to The Wall Street Journal from Thomas R. Karl, Kevin Trenberth and James Hansen in response to a Wall Street Journal op-ed page article by Arthur B. Robinson and Zachary W. Robinson entitled "Global Warming is a Myth." The Wall Street Journal Article covers some, although by no means all, of the issues raised in the Robinson et al. article, which is the topic of this forum. Dr. Karl is Senior Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center; Dr. Trenberth is Head, Climate Analysis Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research; and Dr. Hansen is Director, National Aeronautics and Space Administration/Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Global Warming: A Letter From Sherwood Rowland, Nobel Laureate, And Others
This letter was mailed on April 16, 1998 to journalistic organizations together with the letter by Karl et al. (see item above) to the Wall Street Journal. Signatories to the letter are: Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland, Past President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,* University of California Irvine; Dr. John P. Holdren, President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology,* Harvard University; Dr. George M. Woodwell, 1996 Heinz Environmental Award Winner,* Woods Hole Research Center; Dr. Harold A. Mooney, Secretary General of the International Council of Scientific Unions,* Stanford University; Dr. Peter Raven, Co-Director of the National Biological Survey,* Missouri Botanical Garden; Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Past President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,* Oregon State University. (*Affiliation does not indicate endorsement by the institution.)

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