The 2,118th Meeting of the Society

May 12, 2000 at 8:00 PM

Powell Auditorium at the Cosmos Club

The 69th Joseph Henry Lecture

Global Warming

Hot Talk, Cold Science

S. Fred Singer

President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

About the Lecture

Global warming has become a scientific and polical issue that may well surface in the coming elections. While most agree that atmospheric carbon dioxide is rising, there is a notable lack of consensus on other scientific issues:

How long will CO2 remain before being absorbed by the ocean? Is the climate currently warming? How to reconcile the conflicting measured trends from satellites (showing no warming of the atmosphere) and surface thermometers? Is there a “discernible human influence”?

And what of the consequences of a possible warming: Deep ocean warming; shrinking of Arctic ice and of glaciers; rise of sea level?

How did the Kyoto Protocol come about and how effective are its policy measures; are they politically feasible? We can compare its emission restrictions with a “no-regrets” policy of conservation and higher efficiency based on better technology. Finally, we discuss the precautionary principle in the light of costs and benefits of climate change.

About the Speaker

S. Fred Singer (Ph. D, physics, Princeton) is the President of the Science and Environmental Policy Project at George Mason University, Distinguished Research Professor at George Mason, and Professor Emeritus of environmental science of the University of Virginia. He was the first director of the National Weather Satellite Service. He has authored 17 books and monographs, more than 400 technical papers in scientific, economic, and public policy journals and 200 articles and editorials in major newspapers and similar publications. In recent years he has written extensively on global.