David Ignatius ignores the fundamentals when he points to "early warning signs that global warming is starting to affect plants and animals around the world" [op-ed, May 30]. Temperature data produced by satellite microwave sounding units and radiosondes from weather balloons detect nothing akin to the warming hypothesized by computer modelers.

Ignatius ignores a vast body of research indicating that the increasing atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is making plant life more robust and water-use efficient. Because plants are the basis of earth's food chain, animals and humans benefit.

Ignatius attaches little importance to the fact that coal, oil and natural gas are the basis of world transportation, that they electrify industrial and commercial business, power the Information Age and sustain an increasingly healthier and wealthier population the world over.

Much of what Ignatius accepts on faith from the World Wildlife Fund is simply wrong. Our organization, the Greening Earth Society, last year provided a grant to Arizona State University to create a Climate Data Task Force. In February, the task force reported it found no warming in 37 years of records kept at manned sea-ice stations operated by the Soviet Union in the Arctic between 1954 and 1990. In fact, a plot of 12,884 daily observations showed slight, though statistically insignificant, cooling of annual mean temperatures.

Ignatius states that cloud-forest-dwelling Costa Rican golden toads are dying off because of warmer and drier conditions. Yet when climatologist Robert C. Balling Jr. read about this in the April 15 edition of Nature, he downloaded the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's temperature data for Costa Rica. While Balling spotted warming of 0.42 degrees Celsius from 1919 to 1998, he notes that all but 0.02 degrees occurred in the first half of the record.

All the climate-change hysteria is intended to pressure Congress into ceding U.S. energy policy and the vitality of our fossil-fuel-charged economy to economic competitors and international environmental lobbyists. The American economy and our society succeed because of fossil fuels, not in spite of them. Before we start down the path toward sackcloth and ashes, clear and convincing evidence of serious and costly environmental problems will be required.

-- Frederick D. Palmer

The writer is president of the

Greening Earth Society

and general manager of the

Western Fuels Association.