Thursday, January 15, 2004

Former Vice President Al Gore delivered a speech on the theory of global warming yesterday, the coldest day in New York City in decades, calling President Bush a “moral coward” for adhering to policies that put the planet in catastrophic peril of overheating.

The speech, sponsored by the liberal advocacy group, came when the mercury was expected to dip to minus 1 in New York City, shattering a record low temperature that has stood for 47 years, and notching just a few degrees higher than the coldest day ever recorded there.

Mr. Gore asserted, “I don’t think there is any longer a credible basis for doubting that the Earth’s atmosphere is heating up because of global warming,” and accused the Bush administration of ignoring the threat at the behest of the energy industry and “wealthy right-wing ideologues” that contribute heavily to the president’s re-election campaign.

“While President Bush likes to project an image of strength and courage, the truth is that in the presence of his large financial contributors, he is a moral coward,” Mr. Gore said. “[Mr. Bush] is so weak that he seldom, if ever, says ‘no’ to them on anything — no matter what the public interest might mandate.”

Chris Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, mocked Mr. Gore’s speech, saying, “There is not a part per million of truth in his talk.”

Mr. Horner said the former vice president erred in saying the atmosphere is warming, citing evidence collected by satellites and weather balloons that show the atmospheric temperature actually is falling.

“The theory says that the atmosphere will warm, then the earth will warm,” Mr. Horner said. “That is demonstrably false.”

Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, said, “Time constraints forbid one from commenting on all the speech’s inaccuracies.”

“From a scientific and environmental perspective, Al Gore’s speech today should be ignored,” she said. “No serious policy person could give the speech Al Gore gave today.”

Mr. Horner noted that Earth was three degrees warmer than it is now when Viking explorer Eric the Red was discovering inhabitable land in Greenland in the 11th century.

“This is obviously just a political speech,” Mr. Horner said, “because [global warming] is a meritless claim.”

Mr. Gore charged the Bush administration with having “gutted the protections of the Clean Air Act,” and “saying that mercury shouldn’t be treated as a hazardous air pollutant.”

The Clinton administration did not assign a classification to mercury until days before relinquishing power to Mr. Bush, when it declared it a “hazardous pollutant.”

Mr. Horner said the administration actually is taking concrete steps to regulate mercury emissions by reclassifying it a “criteria pollutant,” which imposes caps on the amount of mercury a power plant can emit, but allows them to trade mercury “credits” with other plants if they stay below their caps.

This is the same pollutant-trading scheme that is at the heart of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, a treaty that the Clinton-Gore administration championed but never submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

“The Greens loved the idea as long as it wasn’t proposed by someone named Bush,” Mr. Horner said. “There’s not a cap-and-trade program in the world that the Greens have had a problem with, until now.”

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said it was “fitting that Mr. Gore chose one of the coldest days of the year to spread false information about the Bush administration’s record on global warming.”

“Mother Nature didn’t agree with his message, and neither do I,” the congressman said. “Al, it’s cold outside.”

Mr. Gore has adhered to the theory of global warming for years. His 1992 book, “Earth in the Balance,” was a best seller that declared a “kind of global civil war between those who refuse to consider the consequences of civilization’s relentless advance and those who refuse to be silent partners in the destruction.”

Mr. Gore roundly was criticized for trusting in faulty science after the book’s publication, yet during the 2000 presidential campaign, he said he wore such jibes as “a badge of honor.”

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