Gore is just arriving at the Senate. The cameras are clicking! The crowd is buzzing! David is liveblogging! Join me below the fold.
Sen. Boxer is looking quite stylish, no?
Rules are being introduced. Hopefully it won’t take 15 minutes like in the House.
Uh oh. Inhofe’s going already. Whining about getting the testimony late. Whining about the record. Whining about how much time he gets.
Wow, it’s clear that Inhofe and Boxer loathe one another. And … now they’re bickering.
Lamar Alexander introduces Gore, and mentions he (Alexander) believes in anthropogenic global warming.
Now a second introduction, from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.). Lots of cheerleading. Gore’s been great on the environment. Lifelong advocacy. Blah blah.
Now a speech from Boxer. Pretty boilerplate. Global warming is real. The IPCC was in fact written by scientists (this is a preemptive rebuttal to Inhofe). “Some persist in disbelief and disregard for the facts.” Wow, it really sounds like she’s devoting her whole speech to rebutting Inhofe before he’s said a word. “… the inconvenient truths many would like to avoid.” Take that, Jimmy!
We can do this! We can work together! Rah rah! Enough with the speechifying. Let the man speak.
OK, here goes Inhofe. He’s glad to have Gore here. Mm-hm. Gore’s statements are misleading. Cherry-picked scientific studies contradict you. Specifically, two things. Hurricanes aren’t connected to global warming. And Antarctic ice isn’t melting.
Now he’s citing the hacktastic New York Times piece. Lordy. He’s also referencing the debate I wrote about last week. This is laughable — a public debate involving Crichton is evidence now? Citing random skeptical scientists.
Now he’s saying the costs are going to be enormous. Crippling! We can’t do it to the American people!
Finally, Gore’s turn.
Gore seems more tentative and stiff now. Weird. Hope he hits a groove.
Really stiff and tentative. WTF?
“It’s the CO2! That is well-understood and well-established.”
Again, “this is not a normal time.” People have great hope in this Congress. Planetary emergency — sounds shrill, but it’s accurate. Our relationship to the planet has altered. Basically the same speech he gave to the House, only much less smoothly presented.
It’s like his House speech, only scrambled.
Scientific community is unanimous. They said the evidence is “unequivocal … unequivocal.” He’s really bashing away on the consensus point. I’m not sure how well that plays.
Public opinion is building. I brought 516,000 post cards. We’ve been getting new names at 100 per second. This shouldn’t be seen as partisan.
Frack, he’s citing the movie 300 again. I just don’t get that. Then the Greatest Generation shtick again.
Lots of sighing and pausing. I must say, this speech is not Gore’s finest moment.
UK is on board. Future generations. Blah blah. He’s attempting to get rousing and dramatic — that never serves him well.
Now on to recommendations. Same ten recommendations as in the House, but again, much less smoothly delivered.
Boxer: I looove you! Every Dem on this committee is here today. I’ll skip my question time and give it to others.
Here goes Inhofe. Already I’m cringing. He says he’s going to ask “yes or no” questions. This is sure to be fair, and honest.
Oh, Jesus, you’ve got to be kidding me! He’s going to ask about Gore’s house! What a tiny, tiny man. What a small, pathetic, silly little man. Even I can’t believe this.
He’s offering Gore a pledge: in a year, will Gore pledge to use no more energy than the average American in his house? And oh yeah, he’s not allowed to used offsets. This is … unbelievable. Truly, truly pathetic. He coming in under even my low expectations.
Gore: I purchase green energy. But wait, is that a gimmick? Inhofe’s trying to cut in. Boxer smacks him down. Gore: I’m also in the process of renovating our home. Inhofe rudely interrupts again. Now he’s telling Gore he’ll only accept “brief responses.” I might puke.
Boxer is cutting in to talk go Inhofe. “Will you just let him answer?” Inhofe: “I’ll give him time at the end.” Boxer: “No, you don’t make the rules any more.”
Jesus, I can’t believe that anybody watching this could feel anything but disgust.
Inhofe: you mention fires and heat waves. But what about when it gets cold? [Dumbest question ever? Wait, he's not done.]
Inhofe: debate last week, “five scientists and a doctor.” Now Crichton’s a doctor. But wait, what does this have to do with the evidence for global warming?
Inhofe: This random scientist and that random scientist has changed their minds about warming. Now, here’s a big list of scientists who disagree with you. Then the cheeseball “60 scientists in Canada” list. Now quoting Lindzen attacking Gore.
Doesn’t this guy ever get any new talking points?
Inhofe: all these scientists disagree with you. Are they all wrong, and you’re right? [Uh, isn't that what "disagree" means.]
Gore: I’m trying to think about a way to reach out to you. I’d love to sit down for breakfast with you and Doug Cowe (sp?) and just explain, away from the cameras and lights.
But anyway, national academies of science in every country that has one has expressed agreement with the consensus. The IPCC has its fourth unanimous …
Inhofe is cutting in again, whining about getting all his time. “You got 30 minutes! I only get 15!” My God. This is astonishing.
Gore: Oreskes study. This is a well-established and strong consensus.
Inhofe: but what about my token skeptical scientists! Uh oh … and here comes the “global cooling in the ’70s” shtick.
Wow, Inhofe is coming off terrible. He’s actually prompting open laughter in the chamber. Open laughter! I have never seen anything this petty and childish in national politics.
Boxer: have a minute. Inhofe: I wanted three minutes. I kid you not.
Inhofe: the real issue is, is it man-made gases driving warming? Those who say it is are just doing it for money. Geroge Soros, Michael Moore. [Seriously.] You wouldn’t take my pledge. Will you change the way you live?
Gore: I live a carbon neutral life. Both my businesses are carbon neutral. I buy green energy. We’re installing solar panels. We should have a federal law that makes solar possible in every community. I’m making just the changes more and more Americans are changing. Americans are ready to help. But we need legislation that puts a price on carbon.
Finally, off Inhofe and on to Klobuchar.
Klobuchar: this is bipartisan. You’re a pragmatist. Let’s talk about solutions. But there is opposition in some quarters. What needs to be done to get legislation passed quickly? What are first steps?
Gore: I think the first step should be a cap-and-trade system that starts with a freeze. I also support the Sanders-Boxer bill. I think my recommendations are ambitious but pragmatic.
Gore: I’m for it. Look at how Toyota’s spanking our auto companies. Pricing carbon will spur technology.
Warner: you’ve earned the respect of this institution. I shall try to give you that respect. Blah blah. I’m learning. Trust but verify. Is there in existence today the technology to make the corrections you advocate?
Gore: we have the tech we need to begin tackling the problem. References Socolow and Pacala “wedges” notion. We can start reducing now, even while we keep researching new tech that will make future solutions easier. We can start with first-gen, and in many place second-gen is right over the horizon.
Warner: international marketplace. Jobs. China and India. How do we persuade them?
Gore: it’s a global problem that requires a global solution. Every international deal has the same structure: rich countries have to go first. On China: first, if we go first, they’ll follow. Second, they’re saying all the right things. They get it.
Sanders: thanks not only for focusing the world on this, but for giving the young generation the hope that they can become a great generation. “The hearts of many young people are beating a little faster because of you.” [Who ever would have said that about Gore a decade ago?]
Sanders: if we’re aggressive on efficiency and new industries, we can create millions of new, good jobs. Speak on the economic advantages.
Gore: yeah, young people are all about this. Cites Bill McKibben. Talks about Amory Lovins again, using the exact same language as in the House. Plenty of plus signs. Some minus signs. We need to choose carefully.
Bond: you talk a lot about problems in your movie and book, but not about solutions. [Were you listening 10 minutes ago, you dimwit?] Now he’s literally counting pages on proposals that will “cost families and workers hundreds of thousands of dollars.” [Gore just answered this, jackass.]
Hey! Hey! He just cited Grist magazine! That horrifically misinterpreted quote from the Gore interview. More on that here.
Carbon cap legislation will force this poor, freezing little girl to wear a coat inside! Jeeesus.
Me, I love solutions! Hybrids! Nuclear! Etc.! Your carbon cap will “stop economic growth.” It will raise heating bills by 80%. Are you going to make families pay this price?
Gore: sunspots? WTF? No. Again reviews the basic science. [But Al, what about the poor girl you're going to freeze to death?!]
Boxer: respond about the poor little girl. [laughter in the chamber]
Gore: I’m pro-heating for poor people.
Lautenberg: Inhofe’s a tool [in so many words]. Science is settled. Also, I love my ten grandchildren. How’s the morale among scientists facing these attacks?
Gore: Hansen is gutsy, but yeah, a lot of them are stressed.
Lautenberg: skeptics are “hard to fathom.” Thanks for keeping at it.
Gore: This interference with science should not be a partisan issue. Stand up for the damn scientists.
Isakson: nuclear, nuclear, nuclear!
Gore: same nuclear shtick he gave in the House.
Isakson: but I love nuclear!
Gore: yes, but still.
Lieberman (!): this work your doing will be your greatest service. You have intellectual rigor. I think we’ve reached the tipping point. Everybody’s getting on board. We have a chance to do something about it, sooner than I thought we would. Let me shill my bill with McCain. And finally, a question: what’s the role of coal? Lots of Senators are from coal states. We have a lot of it. Business is scared of a rush to natural gas. Talk to us about the practical prospects for coal.
Gore: thanks for your leadership. [Wow, Gore even obliquely references their presidential run!] I don’t think we’re over the tipping point yet. Religious blah blah, earth is God’s, blah blah.
On coal: look at TXU. As soon as there’s a price on emissions, you’ll see an unleashing of investment in carbon capture and sequestration, and that will open up a future for coal that doesn’t destroy the environment [except for, um, mining]. Cites Norway again.
Craig from Idaho: I have no question. So let me talk for a while. Idaho is really clean! Nuclear is great! You and Clinton killed nuclear! [What a smug, lecturing tone this guy's got.] We’re doing everything you want us to do on energy and environment except carbon caps. [Huh?!] We’re doing great! We don’t need to be ashamed! We’re a leader in clean energy! Blah blah blah.
Gore: I didn’t kill nukes, and I never said it wasn’t part of the solution.
Baucus: blah blah …
While Baucus blabs, let me just observe that Inhofe’s pathetic theatrics seem, oddly enough, to put Gore at ease. He’s doing much, much better now — back in control, back at ease.
Baucus: … blah blah. Coal something something. CO2 tax is unrealistic.
Gore: I know it seems unrealistic. But taxing work has outlived its usefulness. We should give employees and employers a break. We should “sharply reduce or eliminate” payroll taxes. It sounds unrealistic. But it would help our economy.
Now, on coal: old-school pulverized coal plants could never be retrofit to do capture and sequestration. MIT raised some questions about IGCC. Others know better than me. But we should ban new coal-fired plants that can’t sequester — full stop. There’s going to be a de facto moratorium in many states anyway.
Price on carbon: “a tax is the best way, cap-and-trade next best” — not sure of actualy phrasing there, but that’s the spirit.
Alexaner in Tenn.: Nuclear, nuclear, nuclear. [Why are Republicans obsessed with this? It's mystifying. Don't they have anything else to talk about?] First, we should do conservation and efficiency. Next, nuclear. Next, coal. Nuke plants are getting cheaper. Once they’re running, they’re cheap. Despite proliferation and waste, nukes rule.
Gore: fourth, the biggest new source, widely distributed smart generation. [Yes! Yes! My third wonkgasm!]
Alexander: about cap-and-trade. Was the cost of sulfur cap-and-trade prohibitive? And why couldn’t we start a climate change effort by putting such a cap on electrical utilities?
Gore: Great question. Cap-and-trade was a Republican idea. I was for it. I had no idea how good it would turn out. It was wildly successful. A new proposal would auction credits off rather than giving them away — that would help with the expense. It’s a good idea.
A utility-only approach suffers from the same flaw as a CAFE-only approach. We need economy-wide. The cost is going to be far less than anyone imagines.
Clinton (!): further clarification on your proposals. If there were a carbon tax, would there be a need for an economy-wide cap-and-trade system.
Gore: they’re not either-or. I would favor both. You don’t have to pick one.
Clinton: the Connie Mae proposal — me likey. “I find it exciting.” Ooh! Clarify.
Gore: it would use instruments related only to those measures that relate to energy efficiency. Homeowners will rarely go as far as they can, because it raises the purchase price. Connie Mae could take an increment, where market has settled price, add what’s needed to make true efficiency, make a mortgage instrument and package it with other instruments.
Clinton: great idea! About the little girl with two coats — isn’t it true that efficiency could give her a warm house at present prices?
Clinton: come back some other time, y’hear?
Boxer: let’s hurry this up, we gotta go.
Thomas: another clean coal question. The exact same clean coal question.
Gore: the same clean coal answer.
Thomas: we can’t trust weather reports. How can we trust climate projections. [Lordy.]
Gore: climate models, dude.
Thomas: which came first, CO2 or rising temperature?
Gore: they rise and fall together. Technical stuff, same as in House.
Thomas: you pay for your carbon. Other people won’t. How will we pay for this?
Gore: costs will come down.
Whitehouse: my wife’s a scientist. She’s relieved this stuff finally coming out. Now, say something about national security, re: oil dependence and re: climate refugees.
Gore: the Pentagon did a study. They say it’s a threat. Oil dependence sux too. The internet began as a national security proposal. This electranet I’m proposing would increase our security too.
Cardin: what about public transit? Include a slide on it.
Gore: I couldn’t agree with you more. Public transit and restructuring community will help.
Cardin: Inhofe’s an ass, and if everyone in the nation had done what you’d done, we’d be way ahead. Also, we need an international agreement. I’m proud of you.
Carper (sp?): we want to reduce other pollutants from utilities too, via cap-and-trade. Something something input-based vs. output-based.
Gore: I favor a four-pollutant, auction-based system.
Boxer: this means a lot to all of us, even to those on the other side of the aisle. Inhofe’s been waiting to chat with you. Let me just say: you did good, Mr. VP. You’re a role model for us all — as elected leaders and as citizens.
Gore: “you don’t give out any kind of statue, do you?” [laughter]
Boxer: I want to make environmentalism bipartisan again. And I want to focus on global warming, to make up time. We’ll be having many more hearings. “We will get a bill out of here.” We’ll do the economy-wide bill as soon as we can, but until then, we can do plenty of other things. I’m going to give you a gift. We had a hearing a while back with an open mic. A third of the Senate came. We recorded it in a book. You can have the very first copy — I’ve signed it to you.
Awww … how sweet. Now Gore’s shaking hands. It’s all over.