Former Vice President Al Gore and his entourage arrived at Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C., July 17 for his speech on global warming in a caravan consisting of two Lincoln Town Cars and a Chevrolet Suburban -- not the most fuel efficient vehicles Detroit ever made. "The driver of the Town Car that eventually whisked away Gore's wife and daughter left the engine idling and the AC cranking for 20 minutes before they finally left," noted Mark Block of Americans for Prosperity.
Al Gore wants you to do as he says, not as he does. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research reported last month that Mr. Gore used as much electricity last year at his mansion in Nashville -- one of four homes he owns -- as 19 average American homes do. Mr. Gore frequently travels between his homes and to speaking engagements by private jet -- which, on a per passenger basis, emits four times the greenhouse gases of a commercial jet.
In his speech at Constitution Hall, Mr. Gore called for a crash program to convert the entire U.S. electric grid to carbon-free sources of energy within 10 years. That's "ridiculous," said Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio.
To get an idea of how ridiculous, consider this data from the Energy Information Administration. In 2006 (the last year for which complete data is available), 49 percent of our electricity was generated by coal-fired plants; 20 percent from natural gas, and 1.5 percent from oil. That is, more than 70 percent of all the electricity we have now is generated by the fossil fuels Mr. Gore wants to get rid of.
Of the remainder, two thirds is generated by nuclear plants (19 percent). They do not emit greenhouse gases, but Mr. Gore doesn't want to increase our reliance on nuclear power. He wants to rely on "renewables" which currently account for just shy of 10 percent of electric power generation. But more than 70 percent of that is hydroelectric power, and there are only so many places where we can build dams. The "green" sources Mr. Gore prefers -- solar, wind, geothermal -- combined produced only 2.3 percent of our electricity. Mr. Gore didn't mention that he's invested heavily in companies which produce "green" energy. Neither did the journalists who covered his speech.
The power grid already is strained by the unwillingness of Democrats to construct electric power plants of any kind. On the day of Mr. Gore's speech, CNN reported electric power costs in Maryland and the District of Columbia have risen 46 percent in the last two years. Experts fear there could be widespread brownouts within three years as the demand for electricity exceeds the ability to supply it. And this is without the additional demands that would be imposed on the grid by all-electric or plug-in hybrid cars, which in the intermediate term offer the only way (other than a hair curling depression) to reduce significantly our use of gasoline.
As Mr. Gore was urging his audience at Constitution Hall to forego the electricity he uses so lavishly, the Physics & Society Forum, an arm of the American Physical Society, an organization which represents nearly 50,000 physicists, published a paper by a prestigious scientist that attacked Al Gore's thesis that man is responsible for global warming.
Lord Moncton of Brenchley, who was the science adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said the computer models the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change "grossly overstated" the sensitivity of climate to increases in carbon dioxide.
Mars, Jupiter and Pluto warmed at the same rate as Earth, Lord Moncton noted. Since they are not known to have factories or SUVs, he concluded the most recent warming was caused by the sun, not humans.
Lord Moncton's paper details numerous exaggerations and extensive errors by the IPCC, said Larry Gould, professor of physics at the University of Hartford.
APS Forum Editor Jeffrey Marque said he was opening his pages to global warming skeptics because of "the considerable presence within the scientific community" of people who don't accept the global warming thesis. Previously, leaders of APS had said the evidence was "incontrovertible."
Another scientist who's changed his mind is David Evans, who constructed climate models for the Australian Greenhouse Office.
"When I started that job in 1999, the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good," Mr. Evans said. But "by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role."