Statement on the Cato Institute ADDENDUM Report


We, Donald Boesch, Lynne Carter, Nancy Grimm, Katherine Hayhoe, James McCarthy, Jonathan Overpeck, Benjamin Santer, John Stone, Gerry Schwartz, Bradley Udall, and Donald Wuebbles, are members of the Federal Advisory Committee that wrote the 2009 report Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.  As authors of that report, we are dismayed that the report of the Cato Institute, ADDENDUM: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, expropriates the title and style of our report in such a deceptive and misleading way.  The Cato report is in no way an addendum to our 2009 report.  It is not an update, explanation, or supplement by the authors of the original report.  Rather, it is a completely separate document lacking rigorous scientific analysis and review.

We would also like to note the following points:

  1. The authors of the Cato Institute report say that their report has more references than our report, but this is a meaningless distinction that does not reflect relative thoroughness.  Our 2009 report was intentionally written to be accessible to a general audience and, consequently, cited only the most authoritative and comprehensive sources.  The Cato Institute report includes numerous citations of marginal relevance and excludes or misrepresents key publications that, in fact, contradict its interpretations.

  2. Our Committee’s report Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States was subjected to rigorous scientific peer review. It also benefited from an extensive public comment period, and the Committee responded to all reviews and comments.  These reviews and comments provided important guidance for the Committee to improve the accuracy, documentation, and clarity of the report.  In contrast, there is no indication that the Cato Institute report underwent scientific peer-review or was open to public comment. 

  3. The authors of the Cato Institute report agree with our Committee’s conclusions that global warming is unequivocal and consistent with a change in greenhouse gas effects attributable to human activities.  They also conclude that climate change will continue to occur as greenhouse gas concentrations increase.  However, their conclusions that future climate change will be benign, if not beneficial, and easily adapted to, diverge markedly from our Committee’s view regarding the seriousness of the risks.  This is because the Cato Institute authors assume—based on their own analysis and contrary to peer-reviewed, contemporary science—that warming, intensification of weather extremes, polar ice cap melting, and sea-level rise will all be at the lowest end of the ranges projected in the Fourth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. 

  4. The peer-reviewed literature published since our Committee’s 2009 report overwhelmingly supports our conclusions and, in some cases, suggests the consequences of climate change may be greater and more rapidly developing than we originally projected.  Several assessments subsequently published by the U.S. National Academy of Science’s National Research Council on climate change science (Climate Stabilization Targets and America’s Climate Choices: Advancing the Science of Climate Change), sea-level rise (Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon and Washington), and ocean acidification (Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean) are consistent with the Committee’s findings and contradict many of those in the Cato Institute report. 

The next U.S. National Climate Assessment is underway under the auspices of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, with draft sections of its report to be released in December and completed in 2013.  We are confident that this new assessment will reinforce and extend the findings of Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States

National Research Council Reports

2013 U.S. National Climate Assessment