The Day The Earth Cooled
Environment: The solar wind is slowing, but Al Gore is still spewing hot air. The Oscar winner is promoting civil disobedience to stop energy and economic growth as the first U.S. emissions cap-and-trade program begins.
Speaking before Bill Clinton's Global Initiative, junk science advocate Gore called on young people to take the law into their own hands because the climate, he claims, is a-changin'. He told the gathering in New York City that "the world has lost ground to the climate crisis" and the time for action is now.
"If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore said to loud applause.
His comments come two weeks after a British jury acquitted six Greenpeace activists accused of causing property damage at a power plant. The jury felt the "protest" was acceptable because the "protesters" feared the plant would contribute to global warming.
Luddites of the world, unite!
On the same day Gore spoke, scientists involved in NASA's Ulysses project reported that the intensity of the sun's solar wind was at its lowest point since the beginning of the space age — one more indication that the sun, the biggest source of energy affecting the Earth, is getting quiet.
The weaker solar wind appears to be due to changes in the sun's magnetic field, but the cause is unknown. Sunspots, which normally fluctuate in 11-year cycles, are at a virtual standstill. In August, the sun created no visible spots. The last time that happened: June 1913.
The results of the Ulysses spacecraft's mission, according to Jet Propulsion Laboratory project scientist Ed Smith, show that "we are in a period of minimal activity that has stretched on longer than anyone anticipated."
The consequences for Earth are enormous. The lack of increased activity could signal the start of what is known as a Maunder Minimum, an event that occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century. It leads to extended periods of severe cooling such as what happened during the Little Ice Age.
It may already be happening. The four major agencies tracking Earth's temperature, including NASA's Goddard Institute, report that the Earth cooled 0.7 degree Celsius in 2007, the fastest decline in the age of instrumentation, putting us back to where the Earth was in 1930.
The climate is changing, but not in the direction Al Gore thinks. As the Earth demonstrably cools under a weakening sun, a 10-state coalition on Thursday held the nation's first carbon allowance auction to deal with a warming trend that may have ended a decade ago.
They will impose a minor league version of the Lieberman-Warner economy-killing cap-and-trade rationing system in which emissions are limited by a progressively lowered cap. Emission permits are auctioned off by government, making it a cap-and-tax system. Permits can be traded or sold between companies like baseball cards.
The Lieberman-Warner bill would mandate emission cuts of 44% below 2007 levels. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that it would cost as much as $3 trillion a year in lost GDP in an economy of roughly $14 trillion. It dwarfs the current financial crisis. But then, it's for a good cause — right, Al?
The New York-based Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, launched Thursday, strives to freeze CO2 emissions through 2014 and then gradually reduce them to 10% below current levels by 2018. The states participating are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Like its bigger cousin, it's a job- and growth-killing plan in a time of economic crisis. As the sun slows and the Earth cools, it'll mean higher energy prices during colder and snowier winters.
Al Gore's hippie legions may have to wear their winter coats.
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