By David Kreutzer, Ph.D. ~
In an interview at the close of the recent Paris climate conference, Secretary of State John Kerry scolded Republican senators for saying out loud that the next president may not be a big supporter of President Barack Obama’s climate policies. Kerry asserted voters won’t allow a change, “I don’t think they’re going to accept as a genuine leader someone who doesn’t understand the science of climate change and isn’t willing to do something about it.”
But Kerry disproves his own theory. In a widely covered speech in Jakarta, Indonesia Kerry gave an absolutely cringe-worthy explanation of CO2 and global warming.
Of course the press totally ignored his bizarre CO2 science lesson:
“I know sometimes I can remember from when I was in high school and college, some aspects of science or physics can be tough – chemistry. But this is not tough. This is simple. Kids at the earliest age can understand this.
“Try and picture a very thin layer of gases – a quarter-inch, half an inch, somewhere in that vicinity – that’s how thick it is. It’s in our atmosphere. It’s way up there at the edge of the atmosphere. And for millions of years – literally millions of years – we know that layer has acted like a thermal blanket for the planet – trapping the sun’s heat and warming the surface of the Earth to the ideal, life-sustaining temperature. Average temperature of the Earth has been about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, which keeps life going.”
He probably should have stopped with “physics can be tough.” His “a quarter-inch way up there” absolutely does not describe CO2 in the atmosphere. It seems what Kerry had in mind is a very abstract representation of the ozone layer. This may have been relevant a long time ago in a debate far, far away, but it is not a description of CO2 in the atmosphere.
His notion that the Earth has had a steady temperature for “literally millions of years” is also way off base. This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration webpage shows temperatures have bounced around by 10-25 degrees Fahrenheit ten or so times in the last 800,000 years.
Kerry dismissively lecturing climate skeptics brings Emily Litella to mind. Emily was Gilda Radner’s “Saturday Night Live” character whose bad hearing led to impassioned, but hilariously misguided, editorial responses.
Who knows what Kerry’s aides were thinking as he recited his mixed-up ozone lecture in the carbon dioxide forum? You can almost imagine them trying to catch Kerry’s attention, “Psst! We are talking about CO2, not O3.”
David Kreutzer, Ph.D. is the senior research fellow in energy economics and climate change at The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/ Center for Data Analysis. In this position, Kreutzer researches how energy and climate change legislation will affect economic activity at the national, local, and industry levels.