Al Gore Issues Lawmakers Dire Warning On Climate Change
Washington (AFP) March 21, 2007
Former US vice president Al Gore, the politician-turned-environmentalist, issued a dire warning to Congress Wednesday insisting global warming was a "planetary emergency" and calling for action.
Fresh from winning an Oscar for his blockbuster documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," Gore warned climate change "threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth."
And underscoring a growing consensus across the United States about the need to protect the planet, Gore delivered to lawmakers hundreds of thousands of emails from concerned Americans supporting his call for action.
"Today I am here to deliver more than a half-million messages to Congress asking for real action on global warming," said Gore, who has reinvented himself from failed presidential candidate into the country's leading environmental gadfly.
"Global warming is real, and human activity is the main cause," Gore told a joint hearing of separate House committees governing energy and environmental matters, many of whom until recently had publicly taken the opposite view.
His visit to Capitol Hill was a homecoming for the former lawmaker from Tennessee, who served in both the House and Senate before being elected Bill Clinton's vice president in 1992.
The first president George Bush -- the father of the incumbent -- once mocked Gore as "ozone man" for what were deemed to be his far-out environmental views.
But in recent years, Gore's stock has risen as global warming has become a front-burner issue with growing numbers of Americans.
Gore noted that, ecologically speaking, America long has been out-of-step with other countries with the US government rejecting the Kyoto accord on global warming accepted by much of the rest of the world.
US consumers continue to squander energy, particularly with their penchant for oversized, gas-guzzling cars.
And Gore has also found himself on the receiving end of criticism accused of hypocrisy by conservatives who say his Tennessee mansion uses more electricity in one month than most American homes use in a year.
Taking up a prominent theme from his hit movie, Gore said Wednesday that it was time the United States finally assume a leadership position on climate change, and set an example for developing countries -- notably China and India -- whose energy use is poised to spike dramatically in coming years.
"The best way -- and the only way -- to get China and India on board is for the US to demonstrate real leadership," he said.
"As the world's largest economy and greatest superpower, we are uniquely situated to tackle a problem of this magnitude," he said.
Meanwhile, speculation continues to swirl about Gore's political future and whether he plans to run again for the White House he narrowly lost in 2000 to current US President George W. Bush.
Once derided as awkward and geeky, Gore drew standing-room only crowds in Congress for Wednesday's testimony, which was covered live by cable news channels.
Gore says he is happy with his role as the nation's environmental conscience, even though supporters have already launched websites such as like "draftgore2008.org" and "algore.org" to try to goad him into tossing his hat into the ring.
But so far, he has resisted calls to join the 2008 presidential fray, although the lifelong Democrat has not entirely ruled out another crack at the White House.
He has recently been involved in a number of high-profile events and honors -- including his Oscar victory and a Nobel Peace Prize nomination -- any of which would make a fine launch pad for a possible presidential bid.
And he is organizing a seven-continent musical series intended to be a fundraiser for environmental causes, including a blowout concert on the steps of the US Capitol in July.
Source: Agence France-Presse
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Pasadena CA (JPL) Mar 20, 2007
Long-term climate records are a key to understanding how Earth's climate changed in the past and how it may change in the future. Direct measurements of light energy emitted by the sun, taken by satellites and other modern scientific techniques, suggest variations in the sun's activity influence Earth's long-term climate. However, there were no measured climate records of this type until the relatively recent scientific past.
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