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Planetary emergency, Al Gore, your wallets

Al Gore's Congressional Lovefest

By Steven Milloy, www.junkscience.com

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Al Gore unabashedly announced in Congress this week that he's coming for our wallets.

In his over-the-top testimony about global warming being a "planetary emergency" and "the greatest crisis we've ever faced," Gore testified on behalf of energy taxes and other policies that would result in more expensive energy -- including a total ban on the incandescent light bulb.

For attentive listeners, Gore also contradicted his own prior statements and debunked his alarmism.

Testifying before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Wednesday, Gore drew mostly praise and softball -- if not sycophantic -- questions from congressional Democrats and even many Republicans.

Those few Republicans like Texas Rep. Joe Barton and Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe who tried to grill Gore operated at quite a disadvantage given that they were no longer the chairmen of their committees and had little control over the hearing process.

In the Senate, Committee Chair Barbara Boxer ran interference for Gore by disrupting Inhofe's questioning, and then added insult to injury by mocking the senator -- to audience applause -- for no longer heading up the committee.

Ultimately, Gore's exposure to tough questioning was extremely limited while the committee chairs allowed ample time for meaningless pleasantries and redundant fawning. Given what's at stake in the global warming debate, the hearings were an embarrassing abdication of congressional responsibility.

Nevertheless, there were several noteworthy instances reflecting poorly on Gore's credibility, concern for the public's welfare and scientific argument.

With respect to his credibility, Gore denied to the House committee that he ever said global warming would cause "more" hurricanes.

But all you need to do is look at the front matter of his own book, "An Inconvenient Truth," where he writes, "The voluminous evidence now strongly suggests that unless we act boldly and quickly to deal with the underlying causes of global warming, our world will undergo a string of terrible catastrophes, including more and stronger storms like Hurricane Katrina, in both the Atlantic and the Pacific."

Gore's testimony wasn't given under oath, however.

On the Senate side, Inhofe confronted Gore with the hypocrisy of his preaching to the rest of us about the need to use less energy -- by taking colder showers, hanging laundry outside to dry and keeping our homes colder in the winter and warmer in the summer, among other things -- while his own personal electric bill for his Nashville mansion is 20 times the national average.

Gore responded that he purchases so-called "green energy" -- electricity produced by wind turbines, solar panels or methane gas -- for his mansion.

What he failed to mention, however, is that he just began buying green energy in 2007, even though for years he's been telling anyone who will listen that they need to green up their energy use.

Moreover, the green energy he buys in Nashville is not entirely "green." The power produced with methane needs to be co-fired with coal, which produces carbon dioxide. Sure, less coal is used, but Gore testified in Congress that he purchases green energy that produces no carbon dioxide and that we should essentially have zero tolerance for electricity produced with coal.

Inhofe asked Gore to take a "personal energy ethics pledge" to consume no more energy than the average American household. Gore ignored the request.

Missouri Sen. Kit Bond showed Gore a picture of a young girl who, because her family can't afford to heat their home, has one coat to wear inside and another to wear outside.

Asked how higher energy prices that would result from global warming regulations would affect the little girl, Gore ducked the question and only uttered support for the federal low-income energy program known as LIHEAP -- the very plan that works so well, the little girl needs to wear a coat indoors.

And at the very end of the Senate hearing, Gore inadvertently debunked global warming alarmism.

Sen. Craig Thomas asked Gore the pivotal question of whether atmospheric carbon dioxide increases have historically preceded or followed increases in global temperature.

If temperature increases come before carbon dioxide increases, the notion that manmade greenhouse gas emissions are changing global temperatures would have the cause-and-effect relationship exactly backward.

Gore responded by describing how, depending on the Earth's tilt and wobble as it revolves around the sun, sometimes carbon dioxide increases precede temperature increases and other times temperature increases precede carbon dioxide increases.

That led attentive listeners to wonder, well, why worry about manmade global warming if it's the Earth's tilt and wobble that define the carbon dioxide-temperature relationship?

Apparently realizing his self-defeating statement, Gore then tried to backtrack by saying that currently, carbon dioxide increases are preceding temperature increases. It was a desperate and revealing effort to get back on message.

Fortunately for Gore, Thomas failed to pick up on the sleight of hand, his time for questioning ran out and the frustrating hearing essentially ended at that point.

Based on how the Democrats managed the hearings, Gore's warning that we have about 10 years to address global warming before "it's too late," his call for an immediate freeze on greenhouse gas emissions and Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announced desire to have legislation drawn up by July 4, you might think a global warming bill is imminent.

But Inhofe intimated to a group of bloggers this week that Boxer doesn't want legislation this year, preferring instead to have global warming as a campaign issue in 2008.

Gore has repeatedly said -- including at the hearings this week -- that global warming is a "moral issue," not a political one. If so, he apparently has yet to convince Boxer. Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and CSRWatch.com. He is a junk science expert, an advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He can be reached at Letters@canadafreepress.com.

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