Al Gore Misrepresents the Emissions Challenge

AFP reported over the weekend that Al Gore wants to see more discussion of the challenge of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the U.S. presidential race. Thus, it was surprising to see Mr. Gore mischaracterize the policy challenge in two fundamental ways, making it look easy to address the emissions reduction challenge, when in fact, it is far, far more difficult. Gore is quoted as saying of the challenge:
"We have the technology. If we just had one week's worth of what we spend on the Iraq war we could be well on our way to solving this challenge."

This is misleading for two reasons.

1. We don't have the technology. I will be posting more on this in coming weeks.

2. The Iraq war, regardless of over what time period its substantial costs are accounted for (e.g., see this Congressional CRS report (PDF), made available by FAS), costs less than $2 billion per week.

To suggest that we could be "well on our way" to "solving this challenge" with a mere $2 billion of investment is to fundamentally misrepresent what it will take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The actual investment required is orders of magnitude higher.

The first step in confronting a large challenge to to accurately understand its magnitude. Al Gore's comments are simply wrong.