DENIEL OF GLOBAL WARMING #2
Two crucial developments during the presidential campaign year of 1988 changed climate science forever. The first was the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The second was the announcement by climate modeler James E. Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, that anthropogenic global warming had begun. An organized campaign of denial began the following year, and soon ensnared the entire climate science community.
In November 1987 Colorado senator Tim Wirth had sponsored a hearing on climate in winch Hansen had testified, but it had been widely ignored by the nation's media establishment.54 A drought was setting in across the United States, however, and by the following summer, the nation was in crisis. The year 1988 proved to be one of the hottest and driest in U.S. history. As 40 percent of the nation's counties were affected, and as crops failed, livestock died, and food prices rose, people were beginning to wonder if perhaps global warming was not so far off after all Popular and media interest in climate soared. In June, Wirth tried again. Senator J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana delivered the opening statement of the hearing:
Today, as we experience 101°[F] temperatures in Washington, DC, and the soft moisture across the midwest is mining the soybean crops, the corn crops, the cotton crops, when we're having emergency meetings of the Members of the Congress in order to figure out how to deal with this emergency, then the words of Dr. Manabe and other-witnesses who told us about the greenhouse effect are becoming not just concern, but alarm.55
Hansen was the star of the show. He testified about some new research at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, showing that there had been a warming of just about half a degree Celsius—or one degree Fahrenheit— relative to the 1950-1980 average. The probability that this could be ex plained by natural events was only 1 percent. "The global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship to the greenhouse effect," Hansen told the committee.56
His team had also modelled the increase of carbon dioxide and other trace gases according to three "emissions scenarios." The scenarios were not intended to be predictions of the actual course of human carbon emissions; they were what-if scenarios bracketing likely rates of future emissions and their consequences. One scenario imagined rapid reduction of fossil fuel use after 2000, which reduced future warming. The other two—more realistic scenarios—raised the Earth's global mean temperature rapidly. Within twenty years, it would be higher than at any time since the warmest previous interglacial period then known, which ended about 120,000 years ago.57
This time, major newspapers across the country covered the hearings. The New York Times put Hansen's testimony on the front page; suddenly he was the leading advocate for doing something about the global warming.58 Some colleagues, uncomfortable with all the media attention—and maybe a bit jealous, too—-attacked Hansen for going too far, thinking he had discounted the significant uncertainties that still remained. On the other hand, Hansen had captured attention as no one else had; Moreover, most of the scientific community did believe that one could not endlessly raise atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases without a climatic response. It was basic physics. Still, Hansen's claim of detection was unexpected, and seemed perhaps premature.59
During the five-year interregnum between the release of the Nierenberg report and Hansen's powerful testimony, atmospheric scientists had been busy with other things. They had discovered the Antarctic ozone hole, investigated it, and explained its cause. They had also demonstrated the existence of global ozone depletion through the work of the Ozone Trends Panel. Certain scientists, including NASA's Bob Watson, began to think that something like the Ozone Trends Panel was needed for global warming, too. This became the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Bert Bolin, the man who had first warned about acid rain in Europe, thought that Hansen's temperature data hadn't been "scrutinized well enough," and accepted the task.60 He divided the panel into three working groups. The first would produce a report reflecting the state of climate science. The second would assess the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts. The third would formulate a set of possible responses. The scientists set themselves a deadline of 1990 for their first assessment: a very short time given their intent to involve more than three hundred scientists from twenty-five nations. 61
The political pressure generated by the June hearings also caused presidential candidate, and sitting vice president, George H. W. Bush to promise to counter the "greenhouse effect with the White House effect" by bringing the power of the presidency to bear on the problem.62 After his inauguration as forty-first president of the United States in January 1989, he sent his secretary of state, James Baker, to the first IPCC meeting, and had the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology's Committee on Earth Sciences outline a proposed U.S. Global Climate Change Research initiative for the fiscal year 1990 budget.63 It was welcomed in the U.S. Senate, where the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation had prepared a bill proposing the same thing: the National Global Change Research Act of 1989.64 The United States, it seemed, was preparing to deal with anthropogemc climate change. As Gus Speth later recalled, "We thought we were on track to make real changes."65 He ander-estimated the challenge.
Blaming the Sun
In 1984 Bill Nierenberg retired as director of the Srcipps Institution of Oceanography, and joined the Board of Directors of the George C. Marshall Institute. As we saw earlier, Robert Jastrow had established the Institute to defend President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative against attack by other scientists. But by 1989, the enemy that justified SDI was rapidly disappearing. The Warsaw Pact had fallen apart, the Soviet Union itself was disintegrating, and the end of the Cold War was in sight. The Institute might have disbanded—its raison d'etre disappeared—bat instead, the old Cold Warriors decided to fight on. The new enemy? Environmental "alarmists." In 19851—the very year the Berlin Wall fell—the Marshall Institute issued its first report attacking climate science. Within a few years, they would be attacking climate scientists as well.
Their initial strategy wasn't to deny the fact of global warming, but to blame it on the Sun. They circulated an unpublished "white paper," generated by Jastrow, Seitz, and Nierenberg and published as a small book the following year, entitled "Global Warming: What Does the Science Tell Us?"66 Echoing the tobacco industry strategy, they claimed that the report would set the record straight on global warming. The Institute's Washington office staff contacted the White House to request the opportunity to present it. Nierenberg gave the briefing himself, to members of the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of Policy Development, the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Office of Management and Budget.67
The briefing had a big impact, stopping the positive momentum that had been budding in the Bush administration. "I was impressed with the report," said one member of the cabinet affairs office. "Everyone has read it. Everyone takes it seriously." Another ruminated, "It is well worth listening to. They are eminent scientists. I was impressed."68 White House chief of staff John Sununu—a nuclear erigineer by training—was particrdarly taken. Stanford University's Stephen Schneider lamented, "Sununu is holding the report up like a cross to a vampire, fending off greenhouse warming."69 Meanwhile, no one had invited Bert Bolin to the White House. Perhaps he hadn't known to ask to be invited.
The central claim of the Marshall Institute report was that the warming that Hansen and others had found didn't track the historical increase in CO2. The majority of the warming had been prior to 1940—prior to the majority of the carbon dioxide emissions. Then there was a cooling trend through 1975, and a return to warming. Since the warming didn't parallel the increase in CO2, it must have been caused, they claimed, by the Sun.70
Drawing on sunspot and carbon-14 data from tree rings, they argued that the Sun had entered a period of higher energy output during the nineteenth century, and that this solar output increase (of about 0.3 percent) was responsible for the climate warming to date. They also contended that the data showed a two-hundred-year cycle, so the warming trend was almost over, and things would soon begin to cool off. "If the correlation between solar activity and global temperatures also continues, a trend toward a cooler planet can also be expected in the 21st century as a result of natural forces of climate change."71
Had there been cooling between 1940 and 1975? Yes, but the Marshall report misrepresented it. The Institute's source for their diagram was an article by Hansen's team, so it looked eminently credible.72 It looked like they were relying on peer-reviewed science. But Jastrow, Nierenberg, and Seitz had cherry-picked the data—using only one diagram out of six that were relevant. They had shown their readers only the top piece of figure 5 (see next page). What Hansen and his group had done was to explore the role of various "forcings"—the different causes of climate change. One was greenhouse gases, a second was volcanoes, and the third was the Sun. Hansen's team had done what scientists are supposed to do—objectively considered all the known possible causes.
Then they asked, What cause or combination of causes best explains the observations? The answer was all of the above. "CO3+volcanoes+Surf fit the observational record best The Sun did make a difference, but greenhouse gases did, too. The observed climate of the twentieth century was a product of all three forcings, but since Jastrow, Seitz, and Nierenberg had shown their readers only the top portion of Hansen's figure, they'd made it appear as if only the Sun mattered. The warming prior to 1940 probably was the effect of a nineteenth-century increase in solar output, but not the increase that had started in the mid-1970s. There hadn't been any solar output increase in the mid-twentieth century, so only C02 explained the recent warming.
There was an even larger problem with the Marshall analysis that climate modeler Steven Schneider pointed out. If Jastrow and company were right that the climate was extremely sensitive to small changes in solar
This set of charts was part of an article by James E. Hansen at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, showing (left side) model results for an "Earth" with only very shallow oceans exchanging heat with the atmosphere, and (right side) oceans with much deeper mixing of heat. Hanseris team argued that the bottom right image best reflected the behavior of the real Earth—with ocean mixing to 1,000 meter depth, solar irradiance, volcanic dust and aerosols, and C02 all playing roles. The Marshall Institute's version included only the top left portion of the diagram, leaving the impression that C02 mdrit matter. From J. Hansen et al., "Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide," Science (28 August 1981): 963. Reprinted with permission from AAAS.
output, then it meant that the climate would also be extremely sensitive to small changes in greenhouse gases. Schneider argued:
If only a few tenths of a percent change in solar energy were responsible for the [observed] .5 C long trend in climate over the past century, then this would suggest a planet that is relatively sensitive to small energy inputs. The Marshall Institute simply cant have it both ways: they cant argue on the one hand that small changes in solar energy output can cause large temperature changes, but that comparable changes in the energy input from greenhouse gases will not also produce comparable large signals. Either the system is sensitive to large scale radiative forcing or it is not.73
Sensitivity cuts both ways. And as physicists, Jastrow, Seitz, and Nierenberg would of course have known this.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its first assessment of the state of climate science in May 1990. It reiterated the result that was by now familiar to anyone who had been following the issue: unrestricted fossil fuel use would produce a "rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century of about -3°C per decade; this is greater than that seen over the past 10,000 years."74 Global warming from greenhouse gases would produce changes unlike what humans had ever seen before.
The IPCC explicitly addressed—and rejected—the Marshall Institute argument for blaming the Sun. The upper limits on solar variability, they explained, are "small compared with greenhouse forcing and even if such a change occurred over the next few decades, it would be swamped by the enhanced greenhouse effect."75
But the IPCC's refutation didn't matter to the Marshall Institute. In 1991, they reiterated their argument in a longer version, and in October 1992 Bill Nierenberg took it on the road to the World Petroleum Congress in Buenos Aires, where he launched a full frontal attack on the IPCC. Nierenberg insisted that global temperatures would increase at most by i°C by the end of the twenty-first century, based on a straight linear projection of twentieth-century warming. Bert Bolin confronted him directly, pointing out that greenhouse|gas emissions were increasing exponentially, not linearly. Add to this the time lag induced by the oceans—which Jule Charney had warned about a decade earlier—and warming would accelerate over time.
In his memoir, Bolin called Nierenberg's conclusion "simply wrong."76 A less polite man would have said something far worse. If Nierenberg had been a journalist, one might suppose he was just confuted. But Nierenberg was no journalist; one longtime associate at Scripps once said she never knew a man who was more careful in choosing what he worked on and how he worked on it.77 Meanwhile, the Cato Institute distributed an uncorrected version of the graph printed in the original Marshall Institute white paper—the one that showed only the top part of Hansen's graph.78 Given all the efforts the climate scientists had made to set the record straight, if s not plausible that this was simply a mistake.
Moreover, they were proud of the results. In a February 1991 letter to the vice president of the American Petroleum Institute, Robert Jastrow crowed, "It is generally considered in the scientific community that the Marshall report was responsible for the Administrators opposition to carbon taxes and restrictions on fossil fuel consumption." Quoting New Scientist magazine, he reported that the Marshall Institute "is still the controlling influence in the White House."79
Fred Singer would push their efforts one step further.
The Attack on Roger Revelle
While Jastrow, Seitz, and Nierenberg were broadcasting their "blame the Sun" claim, Fred Singer was preparing to attack climate science in a different way: by claiming that Roger Revelle had changed his mind about global warming. In addition to his role in helping to launch the Keeling Curve, Revelle had played another crucial role in the history of climate science, as mentor to Al Gore. Gore had studied with Revelle in the 1960s at Harvard, and it was weD-known that Gore's concern about climate change stemmed from his tutelage under Revelle. If Revelle no longer considered global warming worrisome, this would be news indeed. It would also embarrass Gore, who was running his 1992 presidential campaign on environmental themes.
On. February 19,1990, the eighty-one-year-old Revelle had presented a paper entitled "What Can We Do About Climate Change?" at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in New Orleans. Research and observations over the next ten to twenty years "should give us a much better idea of the likely magnitude of atmospheric and oceanic warming during the twenty-first century," he noted.80 In the meantime, there were six approaches that could be taken to reduce future warming: emphasizing natural gas over coal and oil, conservation, substitution of non-fossil energy sources, carbon sequestration by stimulating phytoplankton production, increasing atmospheric reflection through artificial intervention, and expanding forests. Revelle had lately developed an interest in the possibility that high-latitude (or "boreal") forests might expand as the Earth warmed, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and preventing some of the warming. He thought this expansion might remove 2.7 billion tons of carbon per year, roughly half the total contributed by fossil fuel combustion each year.81 This would be negligible—it might even be the negative feedback that the Charney panel had looked for but never found—and he thought more research was needed.
Revelle's discussion of mitigation strategies—conservation, nuclear power, boreal forests, etc.—would have made no sense if he didn't think there was something to mitigate against Read in full, his talk clearly demonstrates that he believed the prudent step was to begin to switch to nuclear power and natural gas and improve energy conservation, while continuing research. Like all good scientists, Revelle was careful not to overstate his claims. He knew as well as anyone that there were still important uncertainties, and perhaps because he was intrigued by the prospect that boreal forests might delay warming significantly, he'd started his talk with this potentially ambiguous statement: "There is a good but by no means certain chance that the world's average climate will become significantly warmer during the next century."82
That gave Fred Singer the opening he needed. Singer approached Revelle after the talk about collaborating on an article for the Washington Post. The historical record doesn't tell us exactly what the article was supposed to be about, and had Revelle stayed healthy, he might have left a fuller record. But oft his way back to La Jolla, Revelle suffered a massive heart attack. He went straight from the airport to the hospital, where he underwent a triple-bypass operation.
Revelle didn’t recover quickly. After finally returning home in March, he was forced back to the hospital for an emergency hernia operation. Then he contracted a severe infection and spent another six weeks in the hospital. When he finally returned home in May, he was so weak that his personal secretary, Christa Beran, and Justin Lancaster, a graduate student with whom Revelle was "teaching, arranged to limit his appointments to under a half hour.83 Famous for his energy, Revelle was now falling asleep while dictating letters. He was not well.
The title of the paper that Singer would later publish, with Revelle as coauthor, was "What To Do about Greenhouse Warming: Look Before You Leap," but, given the state of his health, if s not clear how closely Revelle was able to look at the various drafts that Singer sent him, or how closely he checked that Singer had made the changes he suggested. Revelle had never been good at saying no to people; one of Revelle's closest colleagues, oceanographer Walter Munk, admits that "Roger often leapt before he looked."84
What we do know from Revelle's papers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography is that Singer sent three drafts of their proposed article during March, while Revelle was still in the hospital. We also know that something about the paper clearly bothered Revelle. Christa Beran later recalled that whenever Singer sent him a draft, Revelle buried it under piles of paper on his desk. When Singer called, Beran would dig up the draft and put it on top, and Revelle would bury it again. Beran wondered why, and Revelle, she recalled later in a legal affidavit, told her, "Some people don't think Fred Singer is a very good scientist."85
Singer had made himself an unpopular figure in the scientific mainstream by attacking fellow scientists over acid rain and ozone, so perhaps after having said yes to Singer at the AAAS meeting in New Orleans, Revelle was regretting it, hoping that if he ignored the paper, it would go away.But Singer was not one to go away.
While Singer was trying to get Revelle to review the drafts, he published an article on his own in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, with essentially the same tide, "What To Do about Greenhouse Warming." Singer echoed the Marshall Institute's arguments, implying that scientists just didn't know what had caused the warming of the twentieth century. "There is major uncertainty and disagreement about whether this increase [in CO2] has caused a change in the climate during the past 100 years; observations simply don't fit the theory," he insisted. Of course there was disagreement—the Marshall Institute had generated it—but not among climate scientists. The IPCC had clearly stated that the unrestricted fossil fuel use would produce a "rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century of about .3 C per decade; this is greater than that seen over the past 10,000 years."86 Singer rejected this, asserting instead that "the scientific base for [greenhouse warming] includes some facts, lots of uncertainty, and just plain ignorance." He concluded emphatically,, "The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time."87 This, of course, was precisely what he had said about acid rain. And ozone depletion. It was easy to see why many working scientists didn't like Fred Singer. He routinely rejected their conclusions, suggesting that he knew better than they did.
In February 1991, Singer visited Scripps. In one multi-hour meeting, Singer and Revelle went over the paper, which was already set in galleys. There was at least one point of contention between the two, and it was a big one: what was the climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide? The galleys that Singer gave to Revelle to review asserted, "Assume what we regard as the most likely outcome: A modest average warming in the next century of less than one degree Celsius, well below the normal year to year variation."88
This was completely inconsistent with what the Jasons had said, what Charney's panel had said, and what the IPCC had said. No one in the climate community was asserting that the climate change from increased greenhouses gases would be no different from normal year-to-year variation. In fact, the IPCC had said just the opposite. Revelle apparently crossed out "less than one degree" and wrote in the margin next to it: "one to three degrees."89
This might not seem like a big difference, but it was. One to three degrees fell within the mainstream view, and clearly outside the range of the natural climate variability of the past few hundred years. This was the key point: would warming lead us into a new man-made climate regime, unlike anything we had seen before? Revelle (and thousands of climate scientists) said yes; Singer said no.
Singer finessed the disagreement by dropping numbers altogether. The sentence as published read, "Assume what we regard as the most likely outcome: A modest average warming in the next century well below the normal year to year variation."90 The paper contradicted what Revelle had written in the margin, and asserted that there was no likelihood of significant warming. What little change would occur would be not noticeably different from natural variation. Singer had prevailed, and it looked as if Revelle had agreed.
The paper was published later that year in Cosmos, the journal of the elite Washington Cosmos Club, founded in 1878 (and that only opened its doors to women in 1988 when forced to by the threat of an anti-discrimination suit). Revelle was listed as second author.91 There was also a third author Chauncey Starr, the physicist we met in chapter 3 casting doubt on the reality of acid rain, and in chapter 5 arguing for radiation hormesis— that radiation is good for you.92
Did Roger Revelle agree to this final version? We will never know for sure, because in July, Revelle suffered a fatal heart attack, but if s hard to believe that he would have—at least, not if he were in good health and clear of mind—and no one close to him did believe that he had.
Scientists already knew from paleoclimate data that the lowest possible climate sensitivity to doubled CO2 was i.5°C. We knew from the geological record that CO2 levels had varied in the past, and temperatures had varied in a manner consistent with an overall sensitivity of not less than 1.5°C for CO2 doubling. Revelle—a geologist by training—knew this very well. He had co-taught a course at Scripps with Justin Lancaster that included discussion of this natural climate variation.
Lancaster later recalled that Revelle was embarrassed when the Cosmos paper was published.93 But Cosmos wasn't a scientific journal—it wasn't peer reviewed—and it didn't have a very high circulation. Few scientists would have seen the article, much less paid much attention to it, so even had he been in good health, Revelle might well have just let it drop: Perhaps he would have thought it was "garbage" and just ignored it.
But as the 1992 election campaign got under way, the Cosmos article was not ignored. It was used to attack Senator Al Gore. The first salvo seems to have fired by Gregg Easterbrook in the July issue of the New Republic, and reiterated in August in the Independent. Criticizing Gore's new book, Earth in the Balance, Easterbrook sniffed indignantly that Gore had failed to mention that "before his death last year, Revelle published a paper that concludes, 'the scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time.' 94
Those were Singer’s words, not Revelle's. Singer had used them in his stand-alone 1990 paper, and again in 1991, in a book chapter questioning the existence of global warming and attacking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.95 Revelle had said nothing like that in his AAAS talk. Moreover, if s customary in both academic and journalistic circles to credit the lead author of a paper. That, of course, was Fred Singer. Easter brook might just as well have said he was quoting Chauncey Starr. Either Easterbrook was being sloppy or he was exploiting the Revelle connection for political purposes. After all, it was Revelle, not Singer or Starr, who was Gore's mentor.
Easterbrooks attack was picked up by conservative columnist George Will, who repeated it almost verbatim in a September 1992 column. "Gore knows that his former mentor at Harvard, Roger Revelle, who died last year, concluded: 'The scientific base for greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time. There is little risk in delaying policy responses.'"% From there, it became part of the only vice-presidential debate of the campaign. Retired admiral James B. Stockdale, the running mate of Ross Perot, attacked Gore with the claim, again using the statement that had originated in Singer's 1990 article.97
The use of Revelle's name to attack Al Gore irrfuriated the Revelle family, as well as his colleagues at, Scripps. Revelle's daughter, Carolyn Hufbauer, protested WilTs attack in an op-ed published just before the vice-presidential debate, September 13.98 Two of Revelle's closest colleagues at Scripps, oceanographer Walter Munk and physicist Edward Frieman, agreed with Hufbauer that Revelle's views were being misrepresented. They wrote a letter to Cosmos, but the journal declined to publish it, so they published it in the journal Oceanography, along with the text of Revelle's AAAS paper.99 (Yet again, unscientific claims were being circulated broadly, but the scientists' refutation of them was published where only fellow scientists would see it.)
Munk and Frieman explained that the Cosmos paper hadn't been written by Revelle at all. "S. Fred Singer wrote the paper," they explained, suggesting that "as a courtesy, [Singer] added Roger as a co-author based upon his willingness to review the manuscript and advise on aspects relating to sea-level rise."100
More than a decade later, Munk was still angry about what he referred to as "Singer's betrayal of Roger."101 But the person who fought longest and hardest to defend Revelle's legacy—-and paid the highest price—was Justin Lancaster. In that last year of Revelle's life, Lancaster had seen him on nearly a daily basis. The two had taught a class together, and they shared a commitment to addressing policy questions. (This was something that most of the scientists at Scripps weren't actually interested in; they just wanted to do pure science.) Lancaster felt he knew Revelle's views as well as anyone.
Lancaster and his thesis advisor, Dave Keeling, wrote a letter to the New Republic challenging the Easterbrook article, but it was never published. For a second time, scientists close to Revelle were attempting to refute the misrepresentation, but their attempts to set the record straight were rejected by the journals that had published the misrepresentation in the first place. So Lancaster did what Munk and Frieman had done. He turned to the scientific community, who he figured did care about the truth. At the time, Lancaster was serving on the editorial board for a volume titled A Global Warming Forum, and finger intended to republish the Cosmos piece there. Lancaster tried to get Singer to remove Revelle's name from it, but Singer refused. A struggle among Singer, Lancaster, and the volume's editorial staff ensued as Lancaster fried to remove Revelle's name from the article; when the volume was finally published in 1993, it contained a footnote on die first page pointing readers to Revelle's AAAS paper, now published in Oceanography.101
In October, Harvard held a memorial symposium for Revelle, the same month that the vice-presidential debate placed the Cosmos dispute in the national light. Originally the organizers had planned to have Singer present the now-infamous paper, but they'd also invited Walter Munk and the Revelle family. Given their objections to the piece, the organizers removed Singer from the program, hoping to prevent a confrontation. But it didn't work. Singer went anyway.
Walter Munk and Justin Lancaster complained about the Cosmos article, Munk apparently in his introductory remarks, and Lancaster in a statement that read in part: "Revelle did not write the Cosmos article and was reluctant to join it. Pressured rather unfairly at a very weak moment while recovering from heart surgery, Revelle finally gave in to the lead author." The chairman of the symposium allowed Singer to respond. Singer denied having pressured Revelle, insisting that the Cosmos paper was based on Revelle's AAAS paper, and he attacked Munk and Lancaster for their "politically inspired misrepresentations."103
Singer neglected to mention that the key sentence of the Cosmos paper, the one that had been loudly quoted in the press—came from his own 1990 paper. But Singer wasn't content with having made a scene at a symposium that was supposed to be celebrating Revelle's lfe and work. As Lancaster continued to publicly dispute Revelle's co-authorship of the paper, Singer filed a libel lawsuit against him. Lancaster had little money and fewer resources, but he tried to fight Singer, insisting that the facts were on his side. The only other person who could corroborate Lancaster's account, Revelle's secretary, Christa Beran, did. It wasn't enough. Singer's pockets were deeper than Lancaster's, and in 1994, Lancaster accepted a settlement that forced him to retract his claim that Revelle hadn't really been a coauthor, put him under a ten-year gag order, and sealed all the court documents.104 (In 2007, he spoke to us. He now also has a Web site.)105
What did Roger Revelle really believe about global warming in 1991? We have looked closely at the records in Revelle's papers at Scripps, and can find only one other statement of his thoughts at the time. If s a short, apparently unpublished, introduction to a November 1990 meeting on climate variability. Revelle wrote:
There is good reason to expect that because of the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere there will be a climate warming. How big that warming will be is .. .very difficult to say. Probably somewhere between 2 and 5 degrees centigrade at the latitudes of the United States, probably a greater change in average temperature at higher latitudes and a lesser change at lower latitudes …. Whatever climate change there is will have a profound effect on some aspects of water resources.106
The documentary record clearly shows that Roger Revelle did not change his mind. He believed mat global warming was coming and it would have serious impacts on water resources. This, of course, is precisely what his colleagues said then and continue to say today. He also believed that the best way to address it was to shift our energy sources. Nowhere did he ever suggest that he considered that a "drastic" action. It seems to us, in fact, that he considered it pretty dam obvious.
The rest of the world did too, as leaders of governments and NGOs made plans to convene in Riode de Janeiro for the U.N. Earth Summit. In June 1992, 108 heads of state, 2,400 representatives of nongovernmental organizations, and more than 10,000 on-site journalists converged in Rio, along with 17,000 other individuals who would convene in a parallel NGO forum, to address the problem of anthropogenic climate change. Yet it was unclear whether President Bush would even attend. At die last minute, President George H. W. Bush flew to Rio de Janeiro to sign the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which committed its signatories to preventing "dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system."107 President Bush then pledged to translate the written document into "concrete action to protect the planet"108 By March 1994,192 countries had signed on to the Framework Convention, and it came into force.
Like the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change had no real teeth: it set no binding limits on emissions. It was an agreement in principle. Real limits would be determined later, in a protocol that would be eventually signed in Kyoto, Japan. And with the threat that real limitations would soon be enforced, the merchants of doubt redoubled their efforts.
TO BE CONTINUED