Volcano’s Emissions Do Not Equal A Millenium Of Industry’s

Volcano’s Emissions Do Not Equal A Millenium Of Industry’s

On the contrary. Princeton professor corrects Senator Lisa Murkowski

Haukur Már Helgason
Photos by
US Embassy

Published November 6, 2014

Celebrating victory in the US midterm elections, US Senator Lisa Murkowski gave a speech in which she claimed that the emissions from the eruption around Bárðarbunga “are a thousand years’ worth of emissions that would come from all of the vehicles, all of the manufacturing in Europe.” This is untrue. Vastly so, says Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer.

The Republican Senator, on behalf of the state of Alaska, is a board member of the Arctic Circle, a project led by Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, to “increase participation in Arctic dialogue and strengthen the international focus on the future of the Arctic”. The annual conference took place in Reykjavík a few days ago. Murkowski attended. Upon returning to the US, she celebrated the Republican’s midterm election victory, as well as her own personal achievement, as she became chairman of the Senate committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

In a speech the Senator gave at the occasion, she mentioned global warming, admitting its effects, already widely evident, she said, in Canada. But in terms of causes, she referred to Iceland’s ongoing eruption, around Bárðarbunga, and said: “The emissions that are being put in the air by that volcano are a thousand years’ worth of emissions that would come from all of the vehicles, all of the manufacturing in Europe.”

Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer, a leading expert on climate change, responded, seemingly baffled: “What can I say? It’s simply untrue. I don’t know where she gets that number from,” adding that the facts are the other way around: Annual emissions from Europe are ten times higher than the annual emissions of all the world’s volcanoes combined.

TV pundit Egill Helgason wrote that probably she heard “this groundless nonsense” in Iceland.



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