WASHINGTON -- Prominent climate change skeptics gathered at the Heartland Institute's sixth international conference on climate change on Friday to take on the body of scientific evidence showing that human emissions are contributing to global warming.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, a famous climate change denier, was set to headline the event's kickoff on Thursday, but canceled when he came down with a cold. Instead the Oklahoma Republican, who has long called climate change a hoax, insisting "we're in a cold spell," sent a statement alleging that while President Obama may have scaled back his speechifying on energy and the environment, he has not given up trying to push forward a green agenda in creative ways.
"He understands that the green agenda is not popular but that doesn't mean he has given up trying to implement it,” Inhofe said in a written statement. "Take a good close look at the President's administration. With sky high unemployment and a weak economy, who does he ask to head the Department of Commerce? The founder of the Natural Resource Defense Council, John Bryson. That's right, a committed green activist who supported legislation that would have imposed huge costs on consumers and shipped American jobs overseas."
Heartland’s conference, held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel, featured presentations from scientists skeptical of climate change, including Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, who argued humans are either having a limited impact on climate change or no impact at all.
Michaels said that public figures are overestimating the extent to which climate change can be attributed to humans, which in turn is leading to costly, ineffective polices that will not help reverse the warming trend. (Michaels, a self-described "luke-warmer," had his research called into question earlier this year, when Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce committee, asked fellow Republicans to investigate how much of his research funding was coming from the oil industry.)
But if there was only a tiny sliver of the scientific perspective on climate change in attendance, it wasn't for lack on an invitation. Heartland Institute communications director Jim Lakely said it's a “myth” that only skeptics are invited to the conference.
President of the Pacific Institute Peter Gleick, a scientist who supports the findings behind man-induced climate change, said he wouldn't consider attending.
"I go to many meetings as it is, and the interesting science is being done elsewhere," he said on a "pre-buttal" conference call hosted by the Center For American Progress. "This is not a science conference, it's a political conference. It's a way for a small community -- and I would argue a diminishing community -- to get together in a self-support kind of way. There is no science that's going to be discussed there that's new or that's interesting ... it's just not worth a real scientist's time."