March 13, 2020
Joe Biden’s “confidants” are throwing out names for cabinet positions. Whether this is sophisticated political jockeying or the equivalent of a frat-house bull session is unknown, but the first name on the list at Axios makes us dearly hope it is the latter. The first bullet point on their list reads: “John Kerry would love to take a new Cabinet position devoted to climate change…”
This possibility is emblematic of sorry state of climate policy. John Kerry has proven he is totally ignorant of the basics of climate science. Nevertheless, while he ridicules those who know more, he is aided and abetted by the media.
In a widely covered speech in Jakarta in 2014, Kerry asserted that climate change is “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” He also went to some lengths to lay out the basics of climate science.
After invoking the requisite “97 percent of scientists” cliché, Kerry goes off script (or we can hope it was off script) to explain how simple it is to understand climate science: “But this is not tough. This is simple. Kids at the earliest age can understand this.” It is worth watching the video just to get a sense of the condescension and derision toward skeptics.
Here is his description of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas:
“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.”
Don’t bother going outside to look for it. Kerry’s is an absolutely cockamamie description of greenhouse gasses in general and CO2 in particular. CO2 is not “way up there at the edge.” It is all through the atmosphere. It is not a quarter or half an inch thick—it is part of the many-miles thick atmosphere. It seems he may have been using talking points from the twenty-years-earlier debate on ozone. Ozone is mostly “way up there” and if isolated and compressed to right-down-here pressures would form a layer 3 mm thick. If so, Kerry confused an abstract description of ozone (O3) for the reality of CO2. More notable than his confusion is his confidence in his ignorance. He asserted that those who did not have his level of understanding were flat-Earthers with less comprehension than small children.
After misinforming the audience about the thin layer, way up there, he immediately adds:
“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.”
Kerry’s implication that the Earth’s climate has been coddled by a steady 57-degree “Ideal, life-sustaining temperature” for “literally millions of years” is also cockamamie.