During a discussion on climate change, 630 KHOW-AM host Dan Caplis asserted that "China, India, other parts of the world are a lot more responsible" for the warming of the Earth's atmosphere than the United States is and made other dubious and misleading statements about global warming. In fact, government figures show that the United States is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases even though other nations have larger populations.
Attributing mainstream understanding of climate change to former Vice President Al Gore, 630 KHOW-AM radio host Dan Caplis dubiously proposed on his April 23 show that "[e]ven if you accepted the whole Al Gore theory, [climate change] wouldn't be our fault because ... China, India, other parts of the world are a lot more responsible." In fact, the United States has been and remains the single largest global contributor of atmospheric greenhouse gases even though it has a smaller population than China and India.
In responding to a caller who said, "I don't really buy into the whole global warming thing," Caplis also suggested that "other respected scientists disagree with" the latest conclusion of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the phenomenon is, at least in part, "man-made." He then cited a debunked theory that "warming ... on Mars" somehow is analogous to rising temperatures on Earth, with the implication that humans are not a primary cause of global warming on this planet.
Caplis and co-host Craig Silverman discussed global warming with a caller critical of singer Sheryl Crow, who recently joined Laurie David, co-producer of Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth, on a Stop Global Warming College Tour. Referring to Crow, Gore, and a February 2 Time magazine article that stated, "The debate on global warming is over," Caplis countered that "the debate isn't over." He later added, "Even if you accepted the whole Al Gore theory, it wouldn't be our fault because, you know what, China, India, other parts of the world are a lot more responsible quote, unquote, under Al Gore's -- even if you applied Al Gore's theory -- than we are."
However, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), the United States tops the list in "CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring" even though it has a smaller population than India or China. The latter, with a population of approximately 1.3 billion, ranked second on the CDIAC list, while India, with a population of approximately 1.1 billion, ranked fourth. The United States, with a population of approximately 300 million, is responsible for the release of nearly 1.6 billion metric tons of carbon in 2003 compared with approximately 1.13 billion from China and 347.6 million from India.
Ranking of the world's countries by 2003 total CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring. Emissions (CO2 total) are expressed in thousand metric tons of carbon (not CO2):
|1.|| United States of America ||1,580,175 |
|2.||China (Mainland) ||1,131,175 |
|3.||Russian Federation ||407,593 |
Source: Gregg Marland, Tom Boden, and Bob Andres,
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Taking into account important variances in population totals, the CDIAC also breaks down annual carbon releases by country in terms of tonnage emitted per capita. In terms of annual releases per person, the United States ranks 11th, while China and India rank 101st and 136th respectively.
Ranking of the world's countries by 2003 per capita fossil-fuel CO2 emission rates. National per capita estimates (CO2 capita) are expressed in metric tons of carbon:
|1.||U.S. Virgin Islands||33.87 |
|2.||Qatar ||20.33 |
|3.||United Arab Emirates ||11.81 |
|5.||Bahrain ||8.67 |
|6.||Guam ||6.83 |
|7.||Netherland Antilles ||6.18 |
|9.||Luxembourg ||6.05 |
|10.||Trinidad and Tobago ||5.98 |
|11.||United States of America ||5.43 |
|101.||China (Mainland) ||0.86 |
|136.||India ||0.33 |
Source: Gregg Marland, Tom Boden, and Bob Andres,
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Moreover, insofar as global climate change is the product of a protracted period of human activity, any discussion of comparative "fault" must look at historic trends of industrialization among nations. As the IPCC found in summarizing its Fourth Assessment Report issued in February, "Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750."
Whereas China and India are undergoing rapid industrialization, the environmental advocacy group WorldWatch Institute notes that "U.S. per-capita carbon dioxide emissions are six times the Chinese level and 20 times the Indian level." And as the DOE found, though developing nations such as China are contributing a rapidly increasing share of global emissions, the United States' unmatched contribution to the problem can be traced back more than 200 years:
The United States continues to be the largest single national source of fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions with emissions of 1580 million metric tons of carbon in 2003. The U.S. has emitted almost 86 billion metric tons of carbon since 1800 from fossil-fuel consumption and cement production. In fact, U.S. fossil-fuel emissions are 28% higher than those of the world's second largest emitter, the People's Republic of China. Emissions in 2003 were down slightly (0.1%) from 2002 but have doubled since the mid-1950s, although the U.S. share of global emissions declined from 44% to 23% over the same interval because of higher growth rates in other countries.
Additionally, in claiming that "other respected scientists disagree with" the IPCC's findings on climate change, Caplis advanced another global warming falsehood: "[T]hey say look at Mars, it's warming up on Mars."
Caplis apparently was referring to a theory advanced in a February 28 National Geographic News online article that reported, "Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun." Yet, as Media Matters for America noted, the article clarified that Abdussamatov's suggestion is "one scientist's controversial theory." The article further noted that "Abdussamatov's work ... has not been well received by other climate scientists" and that "the vast majority of climate scientists" attribute the Earth's "rapid warming ... to humans pumping huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."
From the April 23 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show:
CALLER: I think we need to look at the movie Demolition Man and figure out how that three-seashell thing works and then we won't have to worry about toilet paper any more.
SILVERMAN: Never saw the movie.
CALLER: Oh, OK; all right.
SILVERMAN: Do you recommend it?
CALLER: I don't know; I never figured it out. I think this is a perfect example of why people in Hollywood shouldn't use their platform to talk politics. But -- I'm -- I, I don't really buy into the whole global warming thing. I've, I've looked at too many scientific research from -- from select individuals that have actually studied it instead of trying to come to a consensus on it. And I just -- it contributes less than one percent; I don't, I don't buy into it. I do believe we need to work on renewable energy sources. The internal combustion engine is decades obsolete, and it's time it gets replaced with somethin' better, and -- I do believe that, but I'm not a whole big fan of the global warming thing, so --
SILVERMAN: Well, who is a fan of global warming? Do you have a scientific background?
CALLER: No, I do not. I do computer security for Lockheed-Martin.
SILVERMAN: See, I, I think it's really hard for a nonscientist to know for sure.
CALLER: Well, yeah, I know, I just -- I think, you know, she's talking about toilet paper, but we've got all these trucks about to roll into the country that are, you know, twenty years old and don't conform to any kind of emissions standards that pose a bigger threat than, you know, the number of squares you use --
CAPLIS: Well -- and bottled water. I mean, you just look at bottled water and you look at the amount of this and this and that and that and all the global warming it allegedly produces, but listen, Craig's broader point of you have to be a scientist to know, I, I disagree with that. And like anything else, you look at what the experts have to say, you apply your own intelligence and common sense, and one thing you can see here is a lot of very respected experts disagree on this.
CAPLIS: So for Al Gore, or Time magazine, or Sheryl Crow to pronounce that the debate's over -- the debate isn't over. I mean, the UN's own study -- and, and they concluded that it's man-made, which some other respected scientists disagree with; they say look at Mars, it's warming up on Mars. But bottom line is, the UN's own study said, hey, man can't affect it. You know, so -- anyway.
SILVERMAN: Yeah, but don't we have a real interest in America in, in hoping it comes out that way? And I include myself, because I want to use as much toilet paper as I care to, and I want America to have a better lifestyle, but we consume so much more than any other country. I -- I don't have a problem with it, 'cause I'm an American, but we have to acknowledge our own biases on the subject.
CAPLIS: What biases?
SILVERMAN: Our biases that we're on top. We use a lot, so we want global warming not be our fault so that we can continue with our lifestyle in America. I want it personally.
CAPLIS: It wouldn't be our fault. Even if you accepted the whole Al Gore theory, it wouldn't be our fault because, you know what, China, India, other parts of the world are a lot more responsible quote, unquote, under Al Gore's -- even if you applied Al Gore's theory -- than we are. So --
SILVERMAN: Well, they're catching up with us, but we were the big gas guzzlers for most of the last century.