Comments On The Cato Report “ADDENDUM: Global Climate Change Impacts In The United States” By Michaels Et Al 2012

I have been alerted to an informative, much-needed detailed 2012 Cato Institute asssessment of the 2009 US government report “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. See also Judy Curry’s excellent post on the Cato report at

Cato’s Impact Assessment

The web page that links to this 2009 US government  report starts with the grandiose claims that [highlight added]

This web page will introduce and lead you through the content of the most comprehensive and authoritative report of its kind. The report summarizes the science and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future.


In addition to discussing the impacts of climate change in the U.S., the report also highlights the choices we face in response to human-induced climate change. It is clear that impacts in the United States are already occurring and are projected to increase in the future, particularly if the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues to rise. So, choices about how we manage greenhouse gas emissions will have far-reaching consequences for climate change impacts. Similarly, there are choices to be made about adaptation strategies that can help to reduce or avoid some of the undesirable impacts of climate change. This report provides many of the scientific underpinnings for effective decisions to be made – at the national and at the regional level.

The new report, to be published by Cato this fall, is titled

“ADDENDUM:Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”

with Patrick J. Michaels as Editor-in-Chief. I have been fortunate to know and respect Pat since we meet at the University of Virginia during my tenure there in the 1970s and early 1980s.  This Cato report is a very important new addition to providing policymakers with a more robust perspective of  climate science. It is refreshing to see a much more objective assessment than prepared by Tom Karl and others in the federal government.

As written in the draft cover letter by Edward H. Crane, President of the Cato Institute,

The Center for the Study of Public Science and Public Policy at the Cato Institute is pleased to transmit to you a major revision of the report, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”. The original document served as the principal source of information regarding the climate of the US for the Environmental Protection Agency’s December 7, 2009 Endangerment Finding from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This new document is titled “ADDENDUM: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”

This effort grew out of the recognition that the original document was sorely lacking in relevant scientific detail. A Cato review of a draft noted that it was among the worst summary documents on climate change ever written, and that literally every paragraph was missing critical information from the refereed scientific literature. While that review was extensive, the restricted timeframe for commentary necessarily limited any effort. The following document completes that effort.

The introduction of the report states that

This report summarizes the science that is missing from Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, a 2009 document produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) that was critical to the Environmental Protection Agency’s December, 2009 “finding of endangerment” from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. According to the 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, the EPA must regulate carbon dioxide under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments subsequent to finding that it endangers human health and welfare. Presumably this means that the Agency must then regulate carbon dioxide to the point at which it longer causes “endangerment”.

The conclusion of the Cato report reads

Climate change assessments such as the one produced by the USGCRP suffer from a systematic bias due to the fact that the experts involved in making the assessment have economic incentives to paint climate change as a dire problem requiring their services, and the services of their university, federal laboratory, or agency.

I have just a few comments and recommendations for the final Cato report.

1. The 2005 National Research Council report

National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties.             Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp

should be discussed. The  2009 US government report “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States focuses on greenhouse gases at the expense of other human climate forcings. The findings in the 2005 NRC report were ignored.  The need to broaden out the consideration of non-greenhouse gas climate forcings is summarized in the article by AGU Fellows in

Pielke Sr., R., K.  Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D.  Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E.  Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J.  Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases.   Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American   Geophysical Union.

I testified to a congressional subcommittee on the need for a broader view in

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2008: A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the   Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Effective Climate Policy. Written Testimony for the Subcommittee on Energy and   Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing “Climate Change:   Costs of Inaction” – Honorable Rick Boucher, Chairman. June 26, 2008, Washington, DC., 52 pp.

A major finding is the global warming is just a subset of “climate change”.  Climate also always has involved change, with or without the human influence. See my discussion on these subjects in my post

The Need For Precise Definitions In Climate Science – The Misuse Of The Terminology “Climate Change”

and in Shaun Lovejoy’s paper that I posted on in

Excellent New Paper “The Climate Is Not What You Expect” By Lovejoy and Schertzer 2012

2. The failure of the climate models to show any decadal and longer regional predictive skill should be highlighted. I recently summarized this failure in the post

CMIP5 Climate Model Runs – A Scientifically Flawed Approach

and in our articles

Pielke Sr., R.A., and R.L. Wilby, 2012: Regional climate downscaling – what’s the point? Eos Forum,  93, No. 5, 52-53, doi:10.1029/2012EO050008.

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: Dealing  with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based  vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and  Extreme Events in Geosciences, in press.

3. The role of land use change as a climate forcing should be discussed in detail. Examples of papers with this perspective include

Pielke Sr., R.A., A. Pitman, D. Niyogi, R. Mahmood, C. McAlpine, F. Hossain, K. Goldewijk, U. Nair, R. Betts, S. Fall, M. Reichstein, P. Kabat, and N. de Noblet-Ducoudré, 2011: Land  use/land cover changes and climate: Modeling analysis  and  observational evidence. WIREs Clim Change 2011, 2:828–850. doi: 10.1002/wcc.144.

Avila, F. B., A. J. Pitman, M. G. Donat, L. V. Alexander, and G. Abramowitz (2012), Climate model simulated changes in temperature extremes due to land cover change, J. Geophys. Res., 117, D04108, doi:10.1029/2011JD016382

4. The very significant problems with the land surface temperature data sets, as used to diagnose global warming, should be presented in detail in the report. Papers that document this issue include

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with   the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr.,  J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the  surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr.,  J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2010: Correction to: “An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the  surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841″, J. Geophys. Res.,  115, D1, doi:10.1029/2009JD013655.

Fall, S., A. Watts, J. Nielsen-Gammon, E. Jones, D. Niyogi, J. Christy, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2011: Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res.,  116, D14120, doi:10.1029/2010JD015146.Copyright (2011) American Geophysical Union.

McNider, R.T., G.J. Steeneveld, B. Holtslag, R. Pielke Sr, S.   Mackaro, A. Pour Biazar, J.T. Walters, U.S. Nair, and J.R. Christy, 2012: Response and sensitivity of the nocturnal boundary layer over  land to added longwave radiative forcing. J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2012JD017578, in press.

5. My experience with the arrogance of the writers of one of the earlier reports used to generate the  2009 report “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States have been documented in

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences“. 88 pp including appendices.

and in

My Comments For The InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC

Comments Off on Comments On The Cato Report “ADDENDUM: Global Climate Change Impacts In The United States” By Michaels Et Al 2012

Filed under Climate Science Reporting, Research Papers

Comments are closed.