Moving Beyond Kyoto By AL GORE


The New York Times – July 1, 2007

The US former Vice President, Mr. Al Gore, wrote an op-ed piece this weekend in timing with Live Earth.  Live Earth is the concert that will take place on 7 continents to create awareness of climate change. While Live Earth has had its share of criticisms, the concert does promise to be quite enjoyable for the fans of its musicians.

There is no real news in this op-ed.  Mr. Gore has been repeating this same message repeatedly for quite some time. It is an interesting read almost in what it does not say – it doesn’t foretell of the world ending.  There is no ominous warning in these words.  I find that interesting since Mr. Gore probably now has the biggest podium he has had since losing the US presidential race.  Why does he not talk of a mammoth rise in the ocean levels, famine across the world, and the elimination of many species.  Surely, he still thinks these are going to happen.

To give Mr. Gore credit, he does say that this will cause the end of our civilization so he is staying on that message.

I do think that Mr. Gore has made a serious mistake in drawing a comparison to Venus and Mercury.  While most of Venus’ atmosphere is CO2 and it does enjoy an extreme greenhouse effect, it is not wise to draw conclusions about a different planetary body because it likely will draw comparisons to Mars, Jupiter, and certain moons of Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune which (for different reasons) are experiencing a change in climate. Looking at Venus only starts the debate about how so much CO2 formed there to begin with and some planetary theorists think it may have started with H2O vapor – not CO2. Also, I can see the nay-sayers and the comedians saying the Venus should ban SUVs immediately.

As an interesting aside, the amount of carbon in Venus is quite similar to the amount of carbon on Earth, the difference is that we have huge oceans which do a wonderful job of sinking carbon dioxide. Once again, making corollaries between planetary bodies may not be relevant.  See this article to learn more.

It is unprecedented and even laughable for us to imagine that we could actually make a conscious choice as a species, but that is nevertheless the challenge that is before us.

Without realizing the consequences of our actions, we have begun to put so much carbon dioxide into the thin shell of air surrounding our world that we have literally changed the heat balance between Earth and the Sun. If we don?t stop doing this pretty quickly, the average temperature will increase to levels humans have never known and put an end to the favorable climate balance on which our civilization depends.

The concentrations of CO2 ? having never risen above 300 parts per million for at least a million years ? have been driven from 280 parts per million at the beginning of the coal boom to 383 parts per million this year.

On Sept. 21, 1987, President Ronald Reagan said, ?In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.?

We ? all of us ? now face a universal threat. Though it is not from outside this world, it is nevertheless cosmic in scale.

As a result, while the average temperature on Earth is a pleasant 59 degrees, the average temperature on Venus is 867 degrees. True, Venus is closer to the Sun than we are, but the fault is not in our star; Venus is three times hotter on average than Mercury, which is right next to the Sun. It?s the carbon dioxide.

Click here to read the entire opinion by Mr. Gore.

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