Al Gore Versus the Snows of Kilimanjaro

Published June 14, 2007

The Guardian reported that, in his May 21 lecture at UCSD, Al Gore blamed receding glaciers atop Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro on global warming. Gore either doesn’t know what he is talking about or he is deliberately misleading his audience.

In an article in the July-August American Scientist, scientists documented that global warming is not responsible for the decline of Kilimanjaro’s mountaintop glacier. Most of the glacier’s retreat since the end of the Little Ice Age occurred before significant global warming occurred. Moreover, the scientists showed the retreat that has occurred in recent decades is not due to global warming, but to fluctuating solar radiation and drier updrafts caused by local land-use practices. Indeed, temperatures atop Kilimanjaro rarely rise above freezing, regardless of any recent global warming, the scientists noted.

Still further, the American Scientist article confirms what scientists have known–and what Gore either knew or should have known–for years. As far back as November 23, 2003, Nature magazine reported, “Although it’s tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain’s foothills is the more likely culprit. Without the forests’ humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine.”

In his new book, The Assault on Reason, Gore claims, “We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science.” Gore should begin practicing what he preaches.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute.