Gore: When Will These People in Congress Learn?

Published September 1, 1998

Vice President Al Gore is starting to lose his cool over Congress’ obstinacy on the global warming issue.

Citing the heat wave gripping the South and Southwest, Gore told White House news briefings in July and August that “the evidence of global warming keeps piling up, month after month, week after week.”

“How long is it going to take before these people in the Congress get the message?” Gore asked. “People are sweltering out there.”

The most recent source of frustration for Gore is Congress’ refusal to fund the White House’s five-year $6.3 billion Climate Change Initiative (CCI). House and Senate appropriations committees have slashed funding levels for the CCI, fearing that the money would be used to promote the as-yet-unratified Kyoto global warming treaty through tax breaks for favored businesses, research grants to friendly organizations, and grants to allied think tanks and eco-activist organizations.

While few would disagree with the Vice President’s reading of current temperatures across the country, many doubt whether human-induced global warming is to blame. Astrophysicist Dr. Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scoffed at the suggestion that temperatures have been the warmest in 600 years.

At an early August briefing for Congressional staffers, Baliunas explained that most scientists believe the climate is simply recovering from the “Little Ice Age,” a 450-year period of much colder temperatures that destroyed settlements in Greenland and led to crop failures and famine over much of Europe.

“It’s true that it’s warmer today than in the year 1400, but so what,” she said. “That was the beginning of the Little Ice Age.”