As Goes Venus, So Goes the Earth?


In his latest New York Times op/ed, climate warrior Al Gore ominously wonders if humanity is transforming Earth's atmosphere into that of Venus. He warns:

Consider this tale of two planets. Earth and Venus are almost exactly the same size, and have almost exactly the same amount of carbon. The difference is that most of the carbon on Earth is in the ground — having been deposited there by various forms of life over the last 600 million years — and most of the carbon on Venus is in the atmosphere.

As a result, while the average temperature on Earth is a pleasant 59 degrees, the average temperature on Venus is 867 degrees. True, Venus is closer to the Sun than we are, but the fault is not in our star; Venus is three times hotter on average than Mercury, which is right next to the Sun. It's the carbon dioxide.

Scientific critic-at-large, Russell Seitz suggests that the former Vice-President is exaggerating. To wit:

Sounds scary.  But is the prospect of Earth falling prey to a Venereal meltdown "cosmic in scale " atmospheric science, or popcorn movie hype ? His last performance left millions in terror of a  20 foot sea level rise within decades, unless Al's allowed to scare his way back into the White House.

The data suggest he's at it again. Having no kind of atmosphere, Mercury has no legitimate place in his analogy–It literally exists in a vacuum. Not Venus– its massive gas mantle exerts pressure enough to crush a submarine hull.

It's equal to 3000 feet of sea water, and presents a concentration  of CO2 over two thousand times higher than the  Earth's atmosphere contains. Little wonder the bottom of that alien abyss simmers above the melting point of lead. Yet even beneath the mother of all Greenhouse blankets, the temperature of Venus' clouds falls below human body temperature as the pressure approaches that on the surface of the Earth. …

If fuel reserves wereinfinite, it  would take two million years of todays conspicuous coal and oil consumption to realize Al's fears.

Whole Al Gore op/ed here. Seitz' complete acid critique of the Gore op/ed here. Seitz' review of An Inconvenient Truth here (subcription required, alas). My review of the movie here

Disclosure: The folks at Greenpeace's Exxonsecrets website have this to say about me. My views on man-made climate change have changed. It's been three years–perhaps Greenpeace could update it.