Thursday, February 05, 2009
Former Vice President Al Gore testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on global climate change. (AP)
Al Gore has a new argument for why carbon dioxide is the global warming boogeyman – and it’s simply out of this world.
Testifying last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with yet another one of his infamous slide shows, Al Gore observed that the carbon dioxide (CO2) in Venus’ atmosphere supercharges the second-planet-from-the-sun’s greenhouse effect resulting in surface temperatures of about 870 degrees Fahrenheit. Gore added that it’s not Venus’ proximity to the Sun that makes the planet much warmer than the Earth because Mercury, which is even closer to the Sun, is cooler than Venus. Based on this rationale, then, Gore warned that we need to stop emitting CO2 into our own atmosphere.
Incredibly, not a Senator on the Committee questioned -- much less burst into outright laughter at -- Gore’s absurd point. In fact, each Senator who spoke at the hearing, including Republicans, offered little but fawning praise for Al Gore. It’s hard to know whether the hearing’s lovefest was simply an example of the Senate’s exaggerated sense of collegiality, appalling ignorance and gullibility about environmental science, or fear of appearing to be less green than Gore.
It is true that atmospheric CO2 warms both Venus and the Earth, but that’s about where the CO2 commonality between the two planets ends. While the Venusian atmosphere is 97 percent CO2 (970,000 parts per million), the Earth’s atmosphere is only 0.038 percent CO2 (380 parts per million). So the Venusian atmosphere’s CO2 level is more than 2,557 times greater than the Earth’s. And since the CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere is increasing by only about 2 parts per million annually, our planet is hardly being Venus-ized.
Gore’s incorporation of Mercury in his argument is equally specious because Mercury doesn’t really have any greenhouse gases in its atmosphere that would capture the radiation it gets from the Sun. As a result, the daily temperature on Mercury varies from about 840 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to about -275 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Mercury’s daily temperature swing actually belies Gore’s unqualified demonization of greenhouse gases whose heat trapping characteristics tend to stabilize climate and prevent wild temperature fluctuations.
The significance of Gore’s testimony is that the Venus scenario seems to be his new basis for claiming that CO2 drives the Earth’s climate and, hence, his call that we must stop emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. At no time did he refer to his two An Inconvenient Truth-era arguments concerning the relationship between CO2 and global temperature – that is, the Antarctic ice core record that goes back 650,000 years and the 20th century temperature/CO2 record. There’s good reason for his apparent abandonment of these arguments -- presented fairly, both actually debunk global warming alarmism. (Note: This YouTube video that I produced explains this point.)
Gore seemed to “wow” the Senate Committee with images and projections of environmental and even political upheaval allegedly already caused and to be caused in the future by climate change, such as melting glaciers and the 2007 fires in Greece that, Gore says, almost brought down the government. Gore repeatedly said that global warming threatens the “future of human civilization” and could bring it to a “screeching halt” in this century. Gore said that we are on a fossil fuel “rollercoaster” that is headed for a “crash.” We are near a “tipping point,” he said, beyond which human civilization isn’t possible on this planet.
Such melodrama, of course, is necessary to conceal and distract from the fact that there is no scientific evidence indicating that manmade emissions of CO2 are having any detectable impact, much less any harm, on the Earth’s climate or its population. During his testimony, Gore invoked the specter of James Hansen, NASA’s global warming alarmist-in-chief, to bolster his climate claims. But like the ice core and 20th century temperature records, Hansen may soon have to be dropped from Gore’s presentations.
Hansen’s former NASA supervisor -- atmospheric scientist Dr. John S. Theon who recently announced that he is skeptical of global warming alarmism -- recently wrote to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staffer Marc Morano that, “Hansen…violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it)… [and] thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress,” Theon wrote.
Commenting on another key deficiency in the manmade catastrophic global warming hypothesis, Theon also observed that “[climate] models do not realistically simulate the climate system… some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results… This is clearly contrary to how science should be done… Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy.” The same could be said for Al Gore and his slide shows.
Finally, it should be noted that the Senate Committee gave Al Gore a free pass on his glaring conflicts of interest. Gore is a partner in the U.S. venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins and the U.K.-based investment outfit of Generation Investment Management -- both of which looking to make billions of dollars off global warming hysteria. Gore did not disclose these conflicts at the hearing and no senator questioned him about them. This is, of course, the same Senate Commitee that essentially virtually gave Hillary Clinton a free pass during her confirmation hearing despite the obvious potential conflict-of-interest between Hillary's position as Secretary of State and the Clinton Foundation which soaks up the largesse of foreign donors under dubious circumstances. Venus envy? Yeah, why not? There’s no Al Gore or Senate cronyism up there.
Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of the forthcoming book, “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Ruin Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.”