NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 3, 2007

Even though Al Gore lives in a mansion that consumes 20 times as much energy as the average American house while telling the rest of us to limit our "carbon footprint," what matters is whether or not he is right, says Jonathan V. Last, editor of the Weekly Standard.

Contrary to many of Gore's assertions, here is what we know for certain about climate change, says Last:

  • Throughout history, the planet has gone through temperature cycles; there have been "warm periods" and ice ages.
  • To take just one example, Swiss climatologists believe that the glaciers in the Alps have melted into near nothingness 10 times in the last 10,000 years.
  • Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany note that the sun has seemed to be burning more brightly for the last 60 years, which may account for an increase of 1 degree.
  • The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently explained that its initial work on climate change overestimated man's impact by as much as 25 percent.

Nevertheless, Gore has remained apocalyptic, saying that "our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this." But Don Easterbrook, a geology professor from Western Washington University, notes that within the last 15,000 years there have been shifts up to "20 times greater than the warming in the past century."

What's more, some broad historical evidence, such as that presented by Thomas Gale Moore in his book Climate of Fear, suggests that Earth's "warming periods" have been accompanied by advances in human civilization. As the saying goes, past performance is not an indication of future gains, says Last. But if the climate were to warm gradually, it's not obvious why man wouldn't adapt and flourish again, as we have in the past.

Source: Jonathan V. Last, "Taking Gore Seriously,", March 26, 2007.


Browse more articles on Environment Issues