Michael Stuart Kelly

Inconvenient Truth versus Inconvenient Swindle

Recommended Posts

Inconvenient Truth versus Inconvenient Swindle

(Thoughts on both sides of the global warming issue.)

I have just seen

An Inconvenient Truth

and I immediately followed it with

The Great Global Warming Swindle.

The above are the links to the official sites. Here are some other links:

An Inconvenient Truth (Wikipedia)

and

The Great Global Warming Swindle (You Tube)

The Great Global Warming Swindle (Wikipedia)

I am probably going to disappoint some people, but I have mixed feelings on both films. Just because anti-environmentalism is the party-line for Objectivism, this does not mean that I will look the other way when I confront solid facts. And just because I came across some new facts I did not know before, this does not mean that I will look away from the threat of a boneheaded political movement like environmentalism that values whales over human beings. So here are some initial comments. Please do not consider any of these observations as completely formed views at this point. I am merely reporting on what I saw and my first conclusions on mulling all this over.

As regards An Inconvenient Truth, I was very, very surprised. I expected to see some kind of con job with a lot of rhetoric and a recently drawn-up leftish political agenda. Instead, I saw a man who was very passionate about what he believes in—one who has been that way ever since he talked to some scientists when he was a young man. This was one of the big surprises for me.

I actually admire Gore's dedication to his own values. After he lost the Presidency, instead of staying around the centers of power to keep involved, he took to the road to sell his global warning fears and he did it the hard way, city-by-city. He is a sincere man who is fighting for the truth as he sees it.

Another very pleasant surprise was the basic science lesson I received from this film. I have never been interested in ecology one way or another, so whenever I have seen the phrase, "global warming," I always assumed that it meant something like the earth getting hotter from the atmosphere all the way down to the core. I was pretty surprised to see that it was merely the weather and the atmosphere (and, to a smaller extent, the ocean). A much better term for me to have understood at my lack-of-interest distance would have been "warming of the earth's weather." I am sure that there are many people who are at the awareness level I was on this and they would be surprised to learn that all the shouting is not over our planet getting hotter. It isn't. Only the weather is.

This is a fight and crusade about the weather.

The very first thing I learned from Gore is that he is a marvelous teacher. There is one negative comment I first want to make about this, though. Both Kat and I tried to watch this DVD when we were dead tired and we both fell asleep after about 20 minutes. Gore is a marvelous teacher in the information he imparts, but he is not so good in his vocal delivery. As a lecturer, he is pretty bland. Er... actually, very bland. Add that to the soft lulling music score and you have some serious enticement to take a snooze if the facts don't grab you. When I was better rested, the facts did grab me. Still, even then, all that lulling music and Gore's soft delivery at times gave me a yawn or two on more than one occasion.

In terms of content, Gore managed to take the basic scientific issues involved and put them in a simple and structured format that was damn interesting to a layperson like myself. I might have issues with some of his figures and interpretations, but I cannot deny the facts I saw. It was like going back to high-school and taking a class with an exceptionally gifted teacher. I learned some really interesting things like how sun rays are trapped in a heavier atmosphere instead of being reflected back to outer space and that this is the major cause of global warming. Nobody can deny that it is at least an important factor, even when they disagree about what causes the heavier atmosphere. So to this extent, the science is solid.

I also learned some fascinating facts. For example, 90% of the rays are reflected off of ice, but the contrary is true for ocean water, where 90% of the rays are absorbed. There is a lot of talk about CO2 emissions, but if I remember correctly, 30% of the CO2 emissions come from forest fires (both accidental and those done for clearing land). Both South America and Africa were the major sources of forest fires. There were oodles of facts like that.

All in all, it was an excellent presentation. Even if one does not agree with Gore's conclusions, I see no harm at all in getting an outline of the issues and basic facts in such a clear and rational manner as he produced. There is a reason this film won an Oscar and there are so many top-notch scientists on board. It was not simply a left-wing conspiracy. This documentary is well worth seeing for informational purposes only and I intend to see it one more time before returning the DVD. I want to make sure I understood certain ideas and information correctly before jumping off into debates.

As regards The Great Global Warming Swindle, I was glad to see some different scientific interpretations of why our planet's atmosphere is heating up. There is a very common-sense idea presented in the film that the sun is the main influence on weather (including sun spots) and this should not be forgotten. Also, it was strange seeing a left-wing filmmaker defend the production of modern goods and capitalism in general, but I cannot say I was not pleased. Somebody has to say that if carbon fuels and other technology is denied to poor countries, like in Africa, the misery will continue there. And it was a joy to see the excesses and some of the more sinister intentions of the environmentalist movement blasted.

It is a good thing when data is challenged from one scientist to another like this film does. Since the case is going before laypeople like myself, this is extremely healthy. I don't like to be told what to think and seeing intelligent disagreement between experts actually makes me feel more secure. It makes me want to learn more so I can make a proper judgment.

Unfortunately, I did not find this film as didactic as Gore's film. The whole tone was to contest the findings of Gore's film, not necessarily to educate the viewer. This is in keeping with the director's (Martin Durkin's) sensationalist "oppose somebody as a target" general approach. But I did not find that he went completely overboard, although he was very, very clear in this tone.

There is a point I found amusing. Both films blamed personal economics as one of the main reasons that their own conclusions have not been adopted.

Gore presented and highlighted the following quote by Upton Sinclair: "It is hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." I think that is the proper quote as given in An Inconvenient Truth. I found it interesting that this quote is also given in a different manner on the Internet (from a Google search): "It is hard to get a man to understand something, if his living depends on him not understanding it." I came across this difference because I was looking up where the quote came from in Sinclair's works. I finally found it: I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (1935) (sourced here). I could not find a copy of this book online, so I don't know which version is accurate. I suspect Gore's version is because I imagine his opponents would scream bloody murder if he altered the text.

In the The Great Global Warming Swindle, one point got hammered home over and over: government research grants for scientists were conditional to the applicant adhering to the man-made global warming theory. This was developed from a rather flimsy premise in the film that Margaret Thatcher started the man-made global warming theory all by herself, but that still does not negate the truth that government research grants come with strings attached. As there is so much political controversy surrounding this issue, it is reasonable to assume that global warming would be one of the strings. The only real evidence Durkin presented for this, though, was the opinion of the scientists interviewed.

So both sides were hollering "money is the main problem," but neither produced anything more than speculation to prove it.

Another issue is the rhetoric. In Gore's film, it is to be expected that he would have some anti-Bush rhetoric and play on the the liberal heart-strings (like the scene of the lonely polar bear swimming and unable to find some ice to walk on). I was surprised, however, that there was not as much of this kind of distraction as I thought there would be.

In Durkin's film, the rhetoric was more ham-fisted in an "us against them" posture. Maybe fighting the environmentalist movement needs this kind of rhetoric to combat it, but essentially I think it impairs the film's real impact in combating Gore's film.

Gore comes off as reasonable, presenting a solid case through an excellent educational approach, and Durkin comes off as slightly hysterical, sometimes defending against positions that Gore never made. A good example is the correlation between CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperature. I really have to see Gore's film again, but I remember Gore stating that a correlation existed and this led scientists to suppose that one influences the other. Gore was very clear to emphasize that the issue of global warming was complex and multi-faceted, and CO2 in the atmosphere was just one component.

Durkin mostly ignored the correlation and multi-faceted argument and focused on CO2 in the atmosphere causing temperature rise as being Gore's basic case. And he went after that with a vengeance. He did offer an interesting theory, though, to explain the time lag between the CO2 level and the temperature (the ocean takes about 800 years to heat up or cool off).

I read some articles on both of these films and the general consensus from nonpartisan observers is that An Inconvenient Truth presents a lot of solid science, but forces the conclusions and figures, and that The Great Global Warming Swindle presents a lot of solid science beside some doubtful science and even some incorrect information, and also forces the conclusions. After seeing both films, I think this is a fair appraisal.

There is much to think about with these films. I am glad I saw them both. As to how the issues fit my own values, I can say for sure that I do not agree with growth of the environmentalist movement in politics and the resulting expansion of the government's power and encroachment over individual liberty. On the other hand, I do not want to leave an impossible mess for the future generations if it is avoidable. It makes good sense to take care of the planet if there is a real threat involved.

I simply don't know enough about the science involved at this point to fully endorse or condemn the man-made global warming theory. I keep hearing and reading in the news that everybody now agrees that global warming exists and that man's activities contribute to it. The two sides are merely arguing about what the size of man's contribution is. I do not perceive this agreement in many arguments I have read, but I do find it reasonable to narrow down the issue like that.

Gore also presented a very interesting perspective on the population explosion. He was born near the time I was (around the middle of last century). At that time the world's population was a little over 2 billion. Now it is over 6 billion and this has happened within his and my own lifetimes. That is an enormous growth for that time span. It is an undeniable indication of the resounding success of technology-based capitalism throughout the world. But also, a fact of that dimension carries some specific considerations that need to be addressed. If rational thought is needed for man's survival, here is a case where it is crucial for the human species. With growth like that, it is a huge error to pretend that the context of 1950 is the same as for several billion more people later down the line because of some political agenda. It is also more than an error to make up facts.

This is a highly charged issue with emotions running full throttle on both sides. But reason is the only method of value here. I think the banner of using reason to examine global warming is the only fully responsible position to take. A mistake on either side, if widely adopted, will have disastrous consequences on a massive scale. Both totalitarianism and destruction of the planet need to be avoided.

On my level, I simply have to learn more. The door is now open in my head, but where it leads is still unclear. There is one thing I do not intend to do at this point. I do not intend to involve myself in a radical position on either side. I simply don't know enough to do so responsibly. Getting on a bandwagon just because others are on it is ultimately against my grain.

I urge everyone to see both films, analyze the information on both sides, and think hard about what all this means. There are some critically humongous important values at stake: starting with the world and/or society as we know it.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not going to see either film; that's not how I evaluate truth and falsity in scientific issues. My evaluation of Al Gore and his ilk is extremely negative, however, above and beyond this issue.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brant,

Just to let you know that I have not gone ga-ga, my experience on seeing the Gore's film was very similar to what Michael Shermer (of Skeptic Magazine) told in his article in Scientific American (June 2006): The Flipping Point. From the article:

Then I attended the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, Calif., where former vice president Al Gore delivered the single finest summation of the evidence for global warming I have ever heard, based on the recent documentary film about his work in this area, An Inconvenient Truth. The striking before-and-after photographs showing the disappearance of glaciers around the world shocked me out of my doubting stance.

You may not like Gore (I certainly am not a fan), but he did one hell of a good job with this documentary.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Brant,

Just to let you know that I have not gone ga-ga, my experience on seeing the Gore's film was very similar to what Michael Shermer (of Skeptic Magazine) told in his article in Scientific American (June 2006): The Flipping Point. From the article:

Then I attended the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, Calif., where former vice president Al Gore delivered the single finest summation of the evidence for global warming I have ever heard, based on the recent documentary film about his work in this area, An Inconvenient Truth. The striking before-and-after photographs showing the disappearance of glaciers around the world shocked me out of my doubting stance.

You may not like Gore (I certainly am not a fan), but he did one hell of a good job with this documentary.

Michael

I'm not impressed with Shermer, either, or The Scientific American and its editorial policies. The climate is always changing, getting hotter or colder. Generally it has been getting warmer since the Little Ice Age of several hundred years ago. The melting of glaciers is no good evidence of man-caused global warming as opposed to mere global warming. This Shermer fellow, in the quoted material--is he a convert to global warming or man-caused global warming? The advocates of the latter like to ride both horses to gain greater credibility. The implication is it's all man-caused and that man can/should stop it.

--Brant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[...] You may not like Gore (I certainly am not a fan), but he did one hell of a good job with this documentary.

So did Leni Riefenstahl, with Triumph of the Will. Why, that was so effective, I was about ready to raise my hand and yell Sieg heil after seeing it.

{/MildSarcasm} ... One irrelevant meme deserves another. {rueful smile}

"A hell of a good job"? That calls for some unpacking.

It was effective as agitprop. The lingering looks at an adoring audience, and the references to the 2000 presidential campaign, are merely two of the more egregious elements that belie one of its aims: to preposition Gore for running in either 2008 or 2012.

It had good use of PowerPoint. That's not difficult. Though it's sleep-inducing even when you're not in your living room, as I've endured for years.

It had a fairly decent song by Melissa Etheridge, which won an Oscar. (I'm surprised you dote on the film's Documentary Feature award, by the way. The same voters made other awards, such as — to be completely non-random — Original Screenplay. You didn't seem to agree with that one, as I recall. Is such a group possessing wisdom only on occasion ... such as when you're impressed? {g})

What it didn't have was anything beyond shoddy selectivity as to the science involved. Such as Gore's adoption of the "hockey stick" temperature history and projection graph, discredited since its inception by statisticians and climatologists (not on government payrolls). A vivid image that blithely discards such well-established climatic phenomena of recent centuries as the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, both lying outside any even measurable effect from human-generated CO2.

That's not the only such shortcoming, but it's one of the most important.

I find it interesting that this isn't filed under "Movies & Entertainment," frankly. A discussion of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which was far better documented as to its subject matter, wouldn't really belong under a political heading, either. Both films put agitprop and the evocation of emotion first, serious research and fact-checking second.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You may not like Gore (I certainly am not a fan), but he did one hell of a good job with this documentary.

Uh-huh...

RCR

______________________________________________________

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=8021

February 26, 2007

Inconvenient Truths

by Patrick J. Michaels Patrick Michaels is senior fellow and author of Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.

This Sunday, Al Gore will probably win an Academy Award for his global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth, a riveting work of science fiction.

The main point of the movie is that, unless we do something very serious, very soon about carbon dioxide emissions, much of Greenland's 630,000 cubic miles of ice is going to fall into the ocean, raising sea levels over twenty feet by the year 2100.

Where's the scientific support for this claim? Certainly not in the recent Policymaker's Summary from the United Nations' much anticipated compendium on climate change. Under the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's medium-range emission scenario for greenhouse gases, a rise in sea level of between 8 and 17 inches is predicted by 2100. Gore's film exaggerates the rise by about 2,000 percent.

Even 17 inches is likely to be high, because it assumes that the concentration of methane, an important greenhouse gas, is growing rapidly. Atmospheric methane concentration hasn't changed appreciably for seven years, and Nobel Laureate Sherwood Rowland recently pronounced the IPCC's methane emissions scenarios as "quite unlikely."

Nonetheless, the top end of the U.N.'s new projection is about 30-percent lower than it was in its last report in 2001. "The projections include a contribution due to increased ice flow from Greenland and Antarctica for the rates observed since 1993," according to the IPCC, "but these flow rates could increase or decrease in the future."

According to satellite data published in Science in November 2005, Greenland was losing about 25 cubic miles of ice per year. Dividing that by 630,000 yields the annual percentage of ice loss, which, when multiplied by 100, shows that Greenland was shedding ice at 0.4 percent per century.

"Was" is the operative word. In early February, Science published another paper showing that the recent acceleration of Greenland's ice loss from its huge glaciers has suddenly reversed.

Nowhere in the traditionally refereed scientific literature do we find any support for Gore's hypothesis. Instead, there's an unrefereed editorial by NASA climate firebrand James E. Hansen, in the journal Climate Change — edited by Steven Schneider, of Stanford University, who said in 1989 that scientists had to choose "the right balance between being effective and honest" about global warming — and a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that was only reviewed by one person, chosen by the author, again Dr. Hansen.

These are the sources for the notion that we have only ten years to "do" something immediately to prevent an institutionalized tsunami. And given that Gore only conceived of his movie about two years ago, the real clock must be down to eight years!

It would be nice if my colleagues would actually level with politicians about various "solutions" for climate change. The Kyoto Protocol, if fulfilled by every signatory, would reduce global warming by 0.07 degrees Celsius per half-century. That's too small to measure, because the earth's temperature varies by more than that from year to year.

The Bingaman-Domenici bill in the Senate does less than Kyoto — i.e., less than nothing — for decades, before mandating larger cuts, which themselves will have only a minor effect out past somewhere around 2075. (Imagine, as a thought experiment, if the Senate of 1925 were to dictate our energy policy for today).

Mendacity on global warming is bipartisan. President Bush proposes that we replace 20 percent of our current gasoline consumption with ethanol over the next decade. But it's well-known that even if we turned every kernel of American corn into ethanol, it would displace only 12 percent of our annual gasoline consumption. The effect on global warming, like Kyoto, would be too small to measure, though the U.S. would become the first nation in history to burn up its food supply to please a political mob.

And even if we figured out how to process cellulose into ethanol efficiently, only one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Even the Pollyannish 20-percent displacement of gasoline would only reduce our total emissions by 7-percent below present levels — resulting in emissions about 20-percent higher than Kyoto allows.

And there's other legislation out there, mandating, variously, emissions reductions of 50, 66, and 80 percent by 2050. How do we get there if we can't even do Kyoto?

When it comes to global warming, apparently the truth is inconvenient. And it's not just Gore's movie that's fiction. It's the rhetoric of the Congress and the chief executive, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=052506C

Questions for Al Gore

By Roy Spencer : BIO| 25 May 2006

Dear Mr. Gore:

I have just seen your new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," about the threat that global warming presents to humanity. I think you did a very good job of explaining global warming theory, and your presentation was effective. Please convey my compliments to your good friend, Laurie David, for a job well done.

As a climate scientist myself -- you might remember me...I'm the one you mistook for your "good friend," UK scientist Phil Jones during my congressional testimony some years back -- I have a few questions that occurred to me while watching the movie.

1) Why did you make it look like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and ice calving off of glaciers and falling into the ocean, are only recent phenomena associated with global warming? You surely know that hurricane experts have been warning congress for many years that the natural cycle in hurricanes would return some day, and that our built-up coastlines were ripe for a disaster (like Katrina, which you highlighted in the movie). And as long as snow continues to fall on glaciers, they will continue to flow downhill toward the sea. Yet you made it look like these things wouldn't happen if it weren't for global warming. Also, since there are virtually no measures of severe weather showing a recent increase, I assume those graphs you showed actually represented damage increases, which are well known to be simply due to greater population and wealth. Is that right?

2) Why did you make it sound like all scientists agree that climate change is manmade and not natural? You mentioned a recent literature review study that supposedly found no peer-reviewed articles that attributed climate change to natural causes (a non-repeatable study which has since been refuted....I have a number of such articles in my office!) You also mentioned how important it is to listen to scientists when they warn us, yet surely you know that almost all past scientific predictions of gloom and doom have been wrong. How can we trust scientists' predictions now?

3) I know you still must feel bad about the last presidential election being stolen from you, but why did you have to make fun of Republican presidents (Reagan; both Bushes) for their views on global warming? The points you made in the movie might have had wider appeal if you did not alienate so many moviegoers in this manner.

4) Your presentation showing the past 650,000 years of atmospheric temperature and carbon dioxide reconstructions from ice cores was very effective. But I assume you know that some scientists view the CO2 increases as the result of, rather than the cause of, past temperature increases. It seems unlikely that CO2 variations have been the dominant cause of climate change for hundreds of thousands of years. And now that there is a new source of carbon dioxide emissions (people), those old relationships are probably not valid anymore. Why did you give no hint of these alternative views?

5) When you recounted your 6-year-old son's tragic accident that nearly killed him, I thought that you were going to make the point that, if you had lived in a poor country like China or India, your son would have probably died. But then you later held up these countries as model examples for their low greenhouse gas emissions, without mentioning that the only reason their emissions were so low was because people in those countries are so poor. I'm confused...do you really want us to live like the poor people in India and China?

6) There seems to be a lot of recent concern that more polar bears are drowning these days because of disappearing sea ice. I assume you know that polar bears have always migrated to land in late summer when sea ice naturally melts back, and then return to the ice when it re-freezes. Also, if this was really happening, why did the movie have to use a computer generated animation of the poor polar bear swimming around looking for ice? Haven't there been any actual observations of this happening? Also, temperature measurements in the arctic suggest that it was just as warm there in the 1930's...before most greenhouse gas emissions. Don't you ever wonder whether sea ice concentrations back then were low, too?

7) Why did you make it sound like simply signing on to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions would be such a big step forward, when we already know it will have no measurable effect on global temperatures anyway? And even though it represents such a small emission reduction, the economic pain Kyoto causes means that almost no developed country will be meeting its emission reductions commitments under that treaty, as we are now witnessing in Europe.

8) At the end of the movie, you made it sound like we can mostly fix the global warming problem by conserving energy... you even claimed we can reduce our carbon emissions to zero. But I'm sure you know that this will only be possible with major technological advancements, including a probable return to nuclear power as an energy source. Why did you not mention this need for technological advancement and nuclear power? It is because that would support the current (Republican) Administration's view?

Mr. Gore, I think we can both agree that if it was relatively easy for mankind to stop emitting so much carbon dioxide, that we should do so. You are a very smart person, so I can't understand why you left so many important points unmentioned, and you made it sound so easy.

I wish you well in these efforts, and I hope that humanity will make the right choices based upon all of the information we have on the subject of global warming. I agree with you that global warming is indeed a "moral issue," and if we are to avoid doing more harm than good with misguided governmental policies, we will need more politicians to be educated on the issue.

Your "Good Friend,"

Dr. Roy W. Spencer

(aka 'Phil Jones')

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=052406F

Inconvenient Truths Indeed

By Robert C. Balling Jr.

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" opens around the country this week. In the film Gore pulls together evidence from every corner of the globe to convince us that climate change is happening fast, we are to blame, and if we don't act immediately, our Earth will be all but ruined. However, as you sit through the film, consider the following inconvenient truths:

(1) Near the beginning of the film, Gore pays respects to his Harvard mentor and inspiration, Dr. Roger Revelle. Gore praises Revelle for his discovery that atmospheric CO2 levels were rising and could potentially contribute to higher temperatures at a global scale. There is no mention of Revelle's article published in the early 1990s concluding that the science is "too uncertain to justify drastic action." (S.F. Singer, C. Starr, and R. Revelle, "What to do about Greenhouse Warming: Look Before You Leap. Cosmos 1 (1993) 28-33.)

(2) Gore discusses glacial and snowpack retreats atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, implying that human induced global warming is to blame. But Gore fails to mention that the snows of Kilimanjaro have been retreating for more than 100 years, largely due to declining atmospheric moisture, not global warming. Gore does not acknowledge the two major articles on the subject published in 2004 in the International Journal of Climatology and the Journal of Geophysical Research showing that modern glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro was initiated by a reduction in precipitation at the end of the nineteenth century and not by local or global warming.

(3) Many of Gore's conclusions are based on the "Hockey Stick" that shows near constant global temperatures for 1,000 years with a sharp increase in temperature from 1900 onward. The record Gore chooses in the film completely wipes out the Medieval Warm Period of 1,000 years ago and Little Ice Age that started 500 years ago and ended just over 100 years ago. There is evidence from throughout the world that these climate episodes existed, but on Gore's Hockey Stick, they become nothing more than insignificant fluctuations (Gore even jokes at one point about the Medieval Warm period).

(4) You will certainly not be surprised to see Katrina, other hurricanes, tornadoes, flash floods, and many types of severe weather events linked by Gore to global warming. However, if one took the time to read the downloadable "Summary for Policymakers" in the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), one would learn that "No systematic changes in the frequency of tornadoes, thunder days, or hail events are evident in the limited areas analysed" and that "Changes globally in tropical and extra-tropical storm intensity and frequency are dominated by inter-decadal and multi-decadal variations, with no significant trends evident over the 20th century."

(5) Gore claims that sea level rise could drown the Pacific islands, Florida, major cities the world over, and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. No mention is made of the fact that sea level has been rising at a rate of 1.8 mm per year for the past 8,000 years; the IPCC notes that "No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected."

(6) Near the end of the film, we learn of ways the United States could reduce emissions of greenhouse gases back to the levels of 1970. OK. Assume the United States accomplishes this lofty goal, would we see any impact on climate? The well-known answer is no. China, India and many other countries are significantly increasing their emission levels, and global concentrations of CO2 may double this century no matter what we decide to do in the United States. Even if the Kyoto Protocol could be fully implemented to honor the opening of this movie, the globe would be spared no more than a few hundredths of a degree of warming.

Throughout the film Gore displays his passion for the global warming issue, and it is obvious that he has dedicated a substantial amount of time to learning about climate change and the greenhouse effect. This leads to an obvious question. The Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in December of 1997 giving the Clinton-Gore administration more than three years to present the Protocol to the United States Senate for ratification. Given Gore's position in the senate and his knowledge and passion for global warming, one must wonder why then Vice President Gore did not seize on what appears to have been an opportunity of a lifetime?

"An Inconvenient Truth" is billed as the scariest movie you'll ever see. It may well be, but that's in part because it is not the most accurate depiction of the state of global warming science. The enormous uncertainties surrounding the global warming issue are conveniently missing in "An Inconvenient Truth."

Dr. Robert C. Balling Jr. is a professor in the climatology program at Arizona State University, specializing in climate change and the greenhouse effect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/novem...6suvjupiter.htm

SUV's On Jupiter?

Are humans responsible for climate change on the outer reaches of the solar system, or is it the sun?

Paul Joseph Watson

Prison Planet

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Kofi Annan today slammed global warming skeptics as being "out of step" and "out of time," but how will altering human activity halt climate change when the evidence clearly indicates that the sun itself and not SUV's is heating up the entire solar system?

"The U.N. chief lamented "a frightening lack of leadership" in fashioning next steps to reduce global emissions. "Let us start being more politically courageous," he urged the hundreds of delegates from some 180 member nations of the 1992 U.N. climate treaty," reports Forbes.

But how do we square the fact that almost every planet in our solar system is simultaneously undergoing temperature change and volatile weather patterns. Does this not suggest that global warming is a natural cycle as a result of the evolving nature of the sun? Can Al Gore fill me in on this one?

Edited by R. Christian Ross

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to see the debunking of Gore's movie. Michael; Sleep is the best thing to do with Al Gore. Sleep maybe nature's way of telling Al making stuff up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gore also presented a very interesting perspective on the population explosion. He was born near the time I was (around the middle of last century). At that time the world's population was a little over 2 billion. Now it is over 6 billion and this has happened within his and my own lifetimes. That is an enormous growth for that time span. It is an undeniable indication of the resounding success of technology-based capitalism throughout the world. But also, a fact of that dimension carries some specific considerations that need to be addressed. If rational thought is needed for man's survival, here is a case where it is crucial for the human species. With growth like that, it is a huge error to pretend that the context of 1950 is the same as for several billion more people later down the line because of some political agenda. It is also more than an error to make up facts.

Uh-huh.

http://gsociology.icaap.org/report/demsum.html

The world population growth has been decelerating since 1970. This decline occurred for the world as a whole, for the group of less developed countries and for the group of more developed countries.

http://www.manufacturingcenter.com/tooling...0400/0400fu.asp

The collapsing birthrate

The most important new certainty--if only because there is no precedent for it in all of history--is the collapsing birthrate in the developed world. In Western and Central Europe and in Japan, the birthrate has already fallen well below the rate needed to reproduce the population.

In the United States the birthrate is now below 2% and going down steadily. Population will still grow for another 20 to 25 years, though the entire growth after the year 2015 will be in people fifty-five years and older.

More important than absolute numbers is the age distribution within the population. In the United States, the young population is already growing much more slowly than the older population, past traditional retirement. Still, up to the year 2015 or so, the number of young people will still be growing in absolute numbers in the United States. But then it is likely to go down and quite rapidly.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3560433.stm

World population growth 'falling'

The growth rate of the world population has slowed down, according to the US Census Bureau.

Its report says there were 74 million more people in 2002 - well below the 87 million added in 1989-90.

The rate of growth peaked 40 years ago, when it stood at about 2.2% a year. The bureau partly attributes the drop to women having fewer children.

It also projects a population decline in Africa because of the lower life expectancy due to HIV-Aids.

In 1990 women around the world gave birth to 3.3 children on average, the report says.

By 2002, the average had dropped to 2.6 children - slightly above the level needed to assure replacement of the population.

The bureau's projections show the level of fertility for the world as a whole descending below replacement level by 2050.

It forecasts there will be nearly 9.1bn people by 2050, just under a 50% increase from the 6.2bn in 2002.

RCR

Edited by R. Christian Ross

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nicely done Christian!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In terms of content, Gore managed to take the basic scientific issues involved and put them in a simple and structured format that was damn interesting to a layperson like myself. I might have issues with some of his figures and interpretations, but I cannot deny the facts I saw. It was like going back to high-school and taking a class with an exceptionally gifted teacher. I learned some really interesting things like how sun rays are trapped in a heavier atmosphere instead of being reflected back to outer space and that this is the major cause of global warming. Nobody can deny that it is at least an important factor, even when they disagree about what causes the heavier atmosphere. So to this extent, the science is solid.

I also learned some fascinating facts. For example, 90% of the rays are reflected off of ice, but the contrary is true for ocean water, where 90% of the rays are absorbed.

One final point before I leave to start my weekend..

I suppose Gore neglected to mention the reflective properties of CLOUDS, which are arguably the largest and most important reflectors of solar heat within the Earth's climate system (not ice)... How clouds and more generally percipitation systems influence the Earth's climate is one of the least understood aspects of climate theory, and their impact on the Earth's climate is largely, if not completely, missing from the physics used by climate models today. This simple fact alone, to me, makes any "consenus" about how the Earth's climate actually works little more than a consenual fantasy.

More:

http://aoss.engin.umich.edu/class/aoss605/...em_20060119.pdf

http://www.weatherquestions.com/Roy-Spence...bal-warming.htm

http://www.nypost.com/seven/02262007/posto...ncer.htm?page=0

RCR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Christian,

I actually read (or skimmed) most of that stuff before I wrote my review. There was even another list I read somewhere of 25 contentious points that was highly critical of Gore's movie.

There is also a similar bunch of literature that I (or anyone) could post from experts concerning The Great Global Warming Swindle. At my present state of knowledge, the only thing this type of literature proves is that experts disagree in very loud voices. When that happens, all that does is make me smell money as the root of the problem. Apparently the government grant market is hotly disputed by both sides of the issue.

What worked best for me in looking at this issue from a broad perspective (and trying to keep objectivity) is reading the two Wikipedia articles I linked to in the opening post. They both give a pretty good overview of the pros and cons of both movies without all the shrillness.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=052406F

Inconvenient Truths Indeed

By Robert C. Balling Jr.

. . .

[From that article]: The enormous uncertainties surrounding the global warming issue are conveniently missing in "An Inconvenient Truth."

Christian,

I want to expand a bit on a thought. The above statement by Robert Balling that you quoted is probably the most reasonable criticism I have read on this side of the divide. But I also extend that observation to our side. The way this issue has been argued on both sides is through a huge amount of rhetoric and misleading insinuations. They both say they are 100% right and the other side is 100% wrong (or very near to that).

For example, out side is really loud in proclaiming the unreliability of the "hockey stick" graph in Gore's movie. The insinuation is that NONE of Gore's statistics or graphs are reliable. However, when you see the movie, there is data from NASA, all kinds of top scientists, etc. And there are oodles of graphs, one after another, from highly respectable men and organizations. If I were to read the literature only from our side, I would conclude that Gore had been making most of his facts up and is too dumb to use a normal Excel or Power Point program.

Is that the way our side wants to convince people?

That certainly is not the way I want to be convinced. Not about anything. Most every time I have suspended the use of my own independent mind and followed the enthusiasm of someone or some group, I have not been happy with the result and often I have been hurt. I tend to act when I believe. When I have acted strongly on incorrect information, this has led to unnecessary conflict, embarrassment, destruction and pain in my life.

I mentioned above that I have had little use for environmental issues up to now. This is simply a natural lack of interest due to the intensity of my other interests. But even from a distance, I cannot completely ignore the subject. So I have to rely on our intellectuals. I have to trust them. That actually is one of the proper roles of an intellectual: to summarize situations on complex issues for laypeople who are busy with other things in their lives. As we try to lead principled lives, part of that summary is philosophical evaluation. Rand wrote about this in For The New Intellectual (pp. 26-27):

The professional intellectual is the field agent of the army whose commander-in-chief is the philosopher. The intellectual carries the application of philosophical principles to every field of human endeavor. He sets a society's course by transmitting ideas from the "ivory tower" of the philosopher to the university professor—to the writer—to the artist—to the newspaperman—to the politician—to the movie maker—to the night-club singer—to the man in the street. The intellectual's specific professions are in the field of the sciences that study man, the so-called "humanities," but for that very reason his influence extends to all other professions. Those who deal with the sciences studying nature have to rely on the intellectual for philosophical guidance and information: for moral values, for social theories, for political premises, for psychological tenets and, above all, for the principles of epistemology, that crucial branch of philosophy which studies man's means of knowledge sad makes an other sciences possible, The intellectual is the eyes, ears and voice of a free society: it is his job to observe the events of the world, to evaluate their meaning and to inform the men in all the other fields. A free society has to be an informed society. In the stagnation of feudalism, with castes and guilds of serfs repeating the same motions generation after generation, the services of traveling minstrels chanting the same old legends were sufficient. But In the racing torrent of progress which is capitalism, where the free choices of individual men determine their own lives and the course of the entire economy, where opportunities are unlimited, where discoveries are constant, where the achievements of every profession affect all the others, men need a knowledge wider than their particular specialties, they need those who can point the way to the better mousetrap—or the better cyclotron, or the better symphony, or the better view of existence. The more specialized and diversified a society, the greater its need for the integrating power of knowledge; but the acquisition of knowledge on so wide a scale is a full-time profession. A free society has to count on the honor of its intellectuals: it has to expect them to be as efficient, reliable, precise and objective as the printing presses and the television sets that carry their voices.

What have I learned from our intellectuals about environmentalists? I have learned basically that they lack seriousness with the truth and facts, and they have an enormous hunger to rule and interfere in people's lives. OK. I can live with that. I see the news and the constant laws being proposed and passed. I don't know for sure but our intellectuals say they are people with an evil agenda. When I have thought about it, I have thought, "That sounds right from what I have seen. Now back to my life..."

I have skimmed several comments, articles, etc., over the last few months on Gore's movie. As I don't particularly like this subject, I have not really been interested in looking at the information coming from the other side. I trusted our intellectuals. They are the only ones I skimmed and read. Their constant bashes of Gore's movie for me were enough to know that I did not want to see it.

Then, when The Great Global Warming Swindle was released and was shrilly embraced by our side in a manner bordering on irrationality, a warning bell went off in my head. Something didn't sound right. I thought it would be a good idea to see for myself. So I decided to see one movie right after the other in chronological order.

Imagine my surprise when I popped in the DVD expecting to see a pack of lies and collectivist and environmentalist rhetoric, and I essentially received a correct and well presented science lesson from Al Gore in a manner that made that lesson enjoyable! Dayaamm!

Frankly, I felt betrayed by our own intellectuals. I felt set up. They are not trusting our independent rational minds to come to the proper conclusions. They find it necessary to omit, exaggerate, smear, and engage in most every kind of rhetorical device to sell the anti-environmental message—everything except to present a correct summary of the facts before they start bashing.

On the criticisms you quoted from other scientists (and even others I have read), let's say that these scientists deal with about 5-10% of the issues presented in Gore's film that they consider doubtful. Hell, let's give them the benefit of the doubt and raise that to 25%, although that is not true by a long shot. What about the rest of the film? Well, the other 75% of the film was of extreme high quality. Not just good. Excellent. Superlative. I know. I saw it.

How come our intellectuals didn't mention that? Not even as a trap to avoid so we know what to look for in separating the wheat from the chaff? They said the whole damn thing was chaff! But it isn't. They are so wound up in denouncing anything and everything dealing with environmentalism and USA liberalism that they have forgotten that our side is supposed to persuade by reason, not by rhetoric alone.

So I come to a hard question. If they cannot persuade me any longer now that I have looked, one who is on their side, how in hell are they going to persuade someone from the other side? And there is a corollary question to this. If rhetoric is raised to the level of fact and used as the main tool of persuasion, just what is the nature of the person they want to persuade? Certainly not the man or woman of sovereign intelligence. They want the cattle.

Rhetoric raised to the level of fact has another name: disinformation. Disinformation is a weapon used in wartime to mislead an enemy. And there is another name for disinformation: lying.

Our intellectuals make it clear that we are at war. They hammer this home day in and day out. I know why they feel this way. I too love freedom and individual rights and I see the signs. So maybe they feel justified in presenting disinformation in their writing and presentations. But I want to make it clear to them that I am not the enemy. I don't appreciate being lied to or intentionally misled by them. I know there are others like me out there who feel the way I do, too. I know it.

Just as with Islam, I am discovering that I cannot rely on our own intellectuals in general to provide correct summaries of information about global warming. So I have to investigate this damn issue by myself. I do perceive that there is an actual threat out there in the world from environmentalists. Yes, it exists. Environmentalism is growing and invading government policies and this needs to be combated. I have been complacent, I admit. But I am a reasonable man and once the danger is clear and present, I am just as willing to enter the battle-field to help protect individual rights as the most vocal of our intellectuals.

But how in hell can I help fight that threat when what I have learned from my own side is wrong and/or misleading? I saw it was with my own eyes!

I don't know what makes me madder: empty environmentalist rhetoric or empty anti-environmentalist rhetoric.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nobody should blindly "follow the enthusiasm" for anything, as to coming to substantive conclusions. Yet you're seeing a slick piece of agitprop, despite a focused piece of debunking (which is itself far from comprehensive), as making an entire side of a debate suspect. What kinds of enthusiasms are now leading you around?

[...] For example, our side is really loud in proclaiming the unreliability of the "hockey stick" graph in Gore's movie. The insinuation is that NONE of Gore's statistics or graphs are reliable. However, when you see the movie, there is data from NASA, all kinds of top scientists, etc. And there are oodles of graphs, one after another, from highly respectable men and organizations.

When Gore so brazenly misrepresents, not just the scientific nuances of putting temperature data and limited computer models into context, but a well-attested historical record, his veracity is suspect more generally.

The Medieval Warm Period, which his graph and his discussion dismiss, is not just a statistical artifact. It's attested to by phenomena in archeology, anthropology, chemistry, oceanography, and history ranging from farm remains in Greenland to the Black Death. To discard that much context is not merely negligent, but deliberate. "Mistakes of this size are not made innocently," The Lady once said.

The "hockey stick" is not science, it is, in this setting, a meme. It is a vivid, overrepeated image that concentrates a tangential concern, and is not only not at the core of what's at issue, but leaves out considerations of what is relevant. You appear, Michael, in light of our recent discussion of an avowedly fictional story, to be notably swayed by such memes, when you seize upon them.

And as for the "highly respectable men and organizations," that in itself requires examination. Academic credentials are not enough. One has to be able to see whether such academics are speaking outside their fields of competence.

Or, more insidiously in an age of politicized science, whether others' competence is being dragged into making points to which they did not agree. Follow some of the discussion of how those who are protesting the misuse of their own research, here about hurricanes and warming, are being cut off with the worst kind of arbitrary ostracism. They are made pariahs for citing instances of highly questionable method, while their work is being misused to try to draw larger points to which they did not consent to have their names attached.

[...] Being linked to the "skeptics" is the same as having your "mainstream" membership revoked. Notice that this did not come about because Landsea, God forbid, said that global warming perhaps is not the problem that it is made out to be (that used to be the standard by which you were blacklisted to "skeptic"), but instead, simply made the point that IPCC representatives oughtn’t be going around saying stuff that is not backed by peer-reviewed science and that is in opposition to the material found in their own reports.

Landsea’s case is not an isolated example. This is the new wave of attack — you are either firmly behind The Cause, or you are eschewed by the "mainstream."

"Respectable men" are not enough to adduce for support. They have to show their independence, which is immediately suspect if their junkets to U.N. conferences are paid for by governments that expect a particular result if the room-service liquor bills are to be paid. They have to be scrupulous about knowing that consensus is not truth, and that statistical correlation is not causation. And they have to respect, to use one of the few items I agree with Peikoff about, how "a picture is not an argument."

[...] Imagine my surprise when I popped in the DVD expecting to see a pack of lies and collectivist and environmentalist rhetoric, and I essentially received a correct and well presented science lesson from Al Gore in a manner that made that lesson enjoyable! Dayaamm!

And how do you know that it's "correct"? What have you shown thus far for genuinely comparing his discussion against any other such presentations, as to scientific content?

You admit to not having known before viewing these films that this issue involved climate change, that it was an issue that didn't involve the mass of the whole Earth. With all due respect, that doesn't suggest on its face that you've gained enough of a general-science background in examining this issue to even be able to separate Gore's inadequate allusions to science from his agitprop and slick graphics.

Frankly, I felt betrayed by our own intellectuals. I felt set up. They are not trusting our independent rational minds to come to the proper conclusions. They find it necessary to omit, exaggerate, smear, and engage in most every kind of rhetorical device to sell the anti-environmental message — everything except to present a correct summary of the facts before they start bashing.

Have you actually followed any substantial part of the larger controversy before you saw these two films, and decided that they would be emblematic — for you — of the discussion, such as it is?

The exaggerations, smears, and distortions are not being done by the anti-environment-worshipers and the opponents of regimenting human beings under a new "warming" excuse. The skeptics are being tagged with the equivalent of being "Holocaust deniers," or deemed deserving of war-crimes trials and executions for standing against a politicized consensus.

Who's doing the actual "bashing"? Who ought to be immediately suspect? As The Lady also wrote, "Morality ends where a gun begins." The global-warming-promotion cartel, nearly entirely populated by government functionaries beholden to political winds, is showing its guns openly, or its members' desire to employ them. That is not the attitude of scientists who genuinely want to follow the facts, without fear or favor.

[...] I don't know what makes me madder: empty environmentalist rhetoric or empty anti-environmentalist rhetoric.

I know what makes me infinitely sadder: someone who knows better, from all public evidence, being led into misidentifying which side in this debate is truly playing fast and loose with the limits of science, the smearing of opponents, and the abuse of rhetoric. And all from a piece of earnest, hypocritical agitprop.

Edited by Greybird

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael, NASA has glommed onto environmental issues for a long time as a way of protecting its funding and expanding its mandated footprint.

--Brant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael, you should definitely read Bjørn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist. Lomborg is certainly not some rabid right-wing anti-environmentalist. As a former Greenpeace member his sympathies were definitely on the other side. He was at the time even so convinced of the correctness of his viewpoints that he started to study the scientific sources to be able to silence effectively the critics of the environment movement. Instead he discovered that those critics had a point and that much that he had accepted at face value wasn't true at all. The interesting aspect of his book is that he uses the same sources as the environmentalists and unequivocally shows how these data have been misrepresented by them. As a statistician he knows how to put his finger on the sore spot. He's also quite thorough: his book contains 183 graphs, 2930 notes and a bibliography that is 70 pages long. His objectivity hasn't made him popular in the environment movement. The scandalous way the Scientific American tried to silence him was for me reason to cancel my subscription, dating from 1969 (it was not the only reason, I was also dissatified by the way this magazine recently had turned into a rather superficial and sensational rag, but this was the straw that broke the camel's back). Oh, and this is also quite revealing: when Gore recently was invited to discuss his ideas with Lomborg, Gore declined. Now why should he do that? Hmmm....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.reason.com/news/show/116471.html

[large snip][empahsis mine]

In An Inconvenient Truth, Gore makes a big deal about how his Harvard professor, oceanographer Roger Revelle, influenced his views about the dangers of global warming. A genuinely gifted scientist, Revelle was responsible for the creation of the Mauna Loa Observatory that has been measuring the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1958. However, Professor Revelle co-authored an article in the house journal of the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC in 1991 which concluded, The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time. Professor Revelle died shortly after the article appeared. This conclusion apparently dismayed Gore whose staff worked behind the scenes to spread the rumor that Revelle's co-authors had taken advantage of a senile old man and that Revelle's name should be taken off the article. This sorry episode ended with a lawsuit in which another Harvard professor who had conferred with Gore's staff formally apologized for making his insinuations.

In any case few climate scientists now contest the idea that humanity is contributing to the current warming trend. All of the various data sets, surface thermometers, satellites and weather balloons, now show global average warming of about +0.16 degrees Celsius per decade since 1979. Whether or not this rate of warming would lead to catastrophe or not is still very much an open question. So what, if anything, should we do about any future warming?

Unfortunately, those who have been skeptical that global warming was happening at all will now have a credibility problem with the public when it comes to policy recommendations on how best to handle any future warming. The much of the public will likely conclude that if the skeptics were wrong on the science, then they will be wrong on policy. Of course that's not necessarily the case—being right on science doesn't mean that one is automatically also an expert on the proper policy response.

What does Gore recommend? He focuses on policies the cut emissions, but largely ignores those that would enhance our ability to adapt to future temperature changes. So An Inconvenient Truth ends with suggestions for how viewers can personally cut back on their carbon emissions—install compact fluorescent light bulbs; take mass transit; adjust thermostats two degrees up in summer and two down in winter; use less hot water; and plant carbon-absorbing trees. He also urges viewers to push their Congressional representatives to vote for the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act which would set limits on U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. Gore advises consumers to switch to renewable fuels, but is strangely silent on climate friendly nuclear power. If we did everything Gore recommends, he claims that our emissions would drop to what they were in 1970—a cut of over 25 percent. However, some researchers argue that in order to stop the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that emissions must be reduced by 70 percent worldwide. A 70 percent cut would mean lowering U.S. emissions to 1928 levels.

Gore has won the global warming debate—the world is warming as a consequence of human activity, chiefly the loading up of the atmosphere with carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Yet he feels that he must exaggerate the dangers by propounding implausible scenarios in which sea levels rise 20 feet by 2100. He pretends that the science is settled with regard to the effect of global warming on hurricanes. And he pushes a scientifically tenuous connection between the spread of diseases and global warming. These are little inconvenient truths that cut against his belief that global warming constitutes a climate emergency. On balance Gore gets it more right than wrong on the science (we'll leave the policy stuff to another time), but he undercuts his message by becoming the opposite of a global warming denier. He's a global warming exaggerator.

I give An Inconvenient Truth a tepid 2 stars.

RCR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2007/03/21/...al-gore-debate/

Why Won't Al Gore Debate?

Former vice president and Oscar winner Al Gore is scheduled to testify to both House and Senate committees today about global warming. For the past few years Gore has traveled across America speaking to audiences that range from friendly to worshipful, from journalists in New York and Washington to actors in Hollywood. If he has ever faced skeptical questions, it hasn't been reported.

We have several times invited the former vice president to present his famous slide show at the Cato Institute, in conjunction with a slide show prepared by Patrick J. Michaels, who takes a more benign view of climate change. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. He is the state climatologist of Virginia, a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, and an author of the 2003 climate science "Paper of the Year" selected by the Association of American Geographers. His research has been published in major scientific journals, including Climate Research, Climatic Change, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Climate, Nature, and Science. He received his Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1979. His most recent book is Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media, which has been number one on Amazon's global warming bestseller list for months at a time and has been reprinted twice this year.

Gore's office has declined our invitations. If Vice President Gore is committed to public understanding of climate change, why will he not demonstrate to a Washington audience composed of both supporters and skeptics that his ideas can carry the day in a dialogue with a leading critic? He wiped the floor with Ross Perot; does he fear that the case for catastrophic climate change is not as strong as the case for NAFTA?

The invitation is still open. Mr. Vice President, please come to the Cato Institute and present your slide show to an audience of journalists and scholars with a knowledgeable climate scientist also on the dais.

posted by David Boaz on 03.21.07 @ 8:22 am Email

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's see if I understand correctly.

They are all wrong about everything and we are all right about everything. And we have to be careful because they are out to get us. And if I see something true or good in ANYTHING they say (anything at all), that means I am embracing the enemy's evil agenda and tricked by a slick presentation. And if I see some hole in the presentation of our side, that means that I am on the road to damnation.

That's the message I am getting.

Sorry, I don't buy it. I am going to see both films again and will report back. This time I will take notes.

I've got no interest in playing war about this. I am more interested in seeing what the substance is here. Yelling that they are all wrong definitely does not work with me.

I wonder why the Wikipedia particles are so objective about both... Wikipedia is getting government grants and is afraid to talk against Gore?

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Let's see if I understand correctly. They are all wrong about everything and we are all right about everything. And we have to be careful because they are out to get us. And if I see something true or good in ANYTHING they say (anything at all), that means I am embracing the enemy's evil agenda and tricked by a slick presentation. And if I see some hole in the presentation of our side, that means that I am on the road to damnation. That's the message I am getting.

You don't understand correctly, and that's not "the" message you're being given. You're getting several of them, but none resemble this extended caricature, and you're not choosing to discuss any of them.

Michael, I'm genuinely perplexed. If you don't want to discuss this issue directly, as to broader issues of competing claims and their proponents' veracity, then why did you even bring it up? If you don't intend to look into anything that's been linked in this thread, nor to go beyond the two films that you appear to have settled upon as the outer limits of your inquiry, then why did you throw this open to discussion?

[...] I've got no interest in playing war about this. I am more interested in seeing what the substance is here. Yelling that they are all wrong definitely does not work with me.

Is that what you're calling this discussion, as such, or the attempts of several of us to have one? "War"? Then why didn't you label your initial post as what it was — an artillery salvo wherein you neither expected nor, apparently, wanted a response?

As for "yelling," and "all wrong," those are yet more caricatures. Neither is true. More than one of us is trying to say to you, calmly and with support: One side of this broader front of arguments about warming issues tends to not respect independent, sound, non-politicized inquiry, to say the least.

You seem to accept that this lack of such respect can be persistent for one side of, say, PARC vs. PAR / MYWAR. Why not here?

I wonder why the Wikipedia articles are so objective about both ... Wikipedia is getting government grants and is afraid to talk against Gore?

Would you care to comment about what standards you're using to pronounce Wikipedia, of all infinitely malleable places, as being an "objective" in-depth resource? As against, at best, a merely useful quick reference?

... Ah. I forgot that this was a "war," and you were firing a warning shot from your coastal battery. I'll behave accordingly. When you do really want discussion, please tell the rest of us.

Edited by Greybird

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You don't understand correctly, and that's not "the" message you're being given.

Steve,

This kind of statement shows exactly the kind of thing that has ruffled my feathers. Instead of asking why I think I received that message, I am being told what I think and how I actually should think.

I looked at something that surprised the hell out of me because of the high quality (and I am not a stupid man, so I do have standards), and I believe you yourself told me I was duped. Essentially, I see this as an example of my caricature of they are all wrong about everything and we are all right about everything.

I don't deny you feel strongly about this and I don't deny you sincerely feel you are right. I respect that. But I do know this form of arguing the issue no longer convinces me of anything about it right now. I feel that I have been improperly induced (not by you) to think something and now I just have to see it for myself. I am very disappointed.

Would you care to comment about what standards you're using to pronounce Wikipedia, of all infinitely malleable places, as being an "objective" in-depth resource? As against, at best, a merely useful quick reference?

Sure. To start with, I didn't say it was an in-depth resource. Nor did I deny that it was a quick reference. Here are my exact words.

What worked best for me in looking at this issue from a broad perspective (and trying to keep objectivity) is reading the two Wikipedia articles I linked to in the opening post. They both give a pretty good overview of the pros and cons of both movies without all the shrillness.

Please don't take the following comment as hostile. It is not meant this way. But once again, you are telling me what I think, except in this case, my words were completely different so I can show you the error. There is an enormous difference between "pretty good overview of the pros and cons" (my words) and "'objective' in-depth resource" (your opinion of what I think).

I do admire the objectivity of Wikipedia on this particular issue because I have no doubt that partisans on both sides are trying to sabotage the information of the other side. So this issue is moderated for objectivity. What ends up staying has to meet certain criteria.

For instance, saying Scientist A must have falsified his data because he depends on funding, and then pretend the issue has been proven, does not fly. It is necessary to show what data was falsified and where the falsification is.

On Wikipedia, for an overview of the controversies, I can look at the issues knowing that this criteria has been met, then link to the different articles provided and read them, and then I can decide for myself. That is what I need right now.

All I know for sure at this point (and experts on both sides have agreed) is that global warming is happening and it goes up and down, but the general direction is up.

Here in this thread, I have not countered the articles Christian pasted with other articles that say the contrary because I do not want to allow myself to get pushed into defending something I am not sure about.

My whole beef is that I used to be sure. The intellectuals I trusted told me they were on top of it. Now, after the shock of seeing what I saw (the shock being that much of Gore's film actually was objective), I am not sure of anything anymore. The ham-fisted method of persuasion of my side stopped working on me the moment I identified it as ham-fisted.

Like I said, I will see both movies again, take notes and report back. What is correct will be presented as correct. What is opinion will be presented as opinion. What is doubtful or suspect will be presented as such. That is how I understand "objective."

If you (or anybody else) want to discuss this issue item by item, we can do that. But I have to go at my own pace of absorbing the facts. I can't trust the information I have been fed any longer, so I have to learn it from scratch. And I am starting with looking at the general context of both sides.

More later.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(Method note as to the software, preceding a post largely about method: The apparatus for quoting on multiple levels doesn't create something very readable. That's a minor weakness of IPB, but no message-board software really does this well. So it's easier to simply use something less ornate, as I do on Usenet.)

MSK:

> Greybird:

>> MSK:

>>> Let's see if I understand correctly. [... followed by what I described as a caricature

>>> of what several of us said]

>> You don't understand correctly, and that's not "the" message you're being given. [...]

> [...] This kind of statement shows exactly the kind of thing that has ruffled my feathers.

> Instead of asking why I think I received that message, I am being told what I think and

> how I actually should think.

No, you told us what you thought. Or so it appeared.

To me, your saying "let's see" puts it open to others' response, asking, in effect: "Did I correctly understand what was put forward by the rest of you?" I provided an answer: To me, based on what was noted openly and your own response — which was a caricature, not anything accurate — you did not.

Of course we don't know why you did not, that being inside your own head, and you would have to tell us why. I don't think that this situation has to be spelled out each time. You might've taken the reasonable shortcut and told us why, but you didn't choose to do so. I thus presumed that the reasons for why you believed others were saying one ("the") such message were not, to you, especially important.

If that last is the case, here we would happen to agree. I see it as more or less irrelevant about why you took this view as to what the rest of us said. It's sufficient to deal with what's actually said. And what you actually expressed as your view was, as you even admit yourself, a caricature.

More to the heart of things, this is a diversion from discussing any substantive points.

> [...] I believe you yourself told me I was duped.

That isn't precise. I said that the agitprop was expert enough in how it was done as to make it difficult to tell it apart from substantial issues of science. Especially, as you said in regard to yourself, with not having had much of a general-science background on this issue with which to do so. Saying that conditions are conducive to one's being duped isn't the same as saying that you were.

> Essentially, I see this as an example of my caricature of they are all wrong about

> everything and we are all right about everything.

The referents are getting fuzzy here as to "they" and "we." The debaters here aren't forming "united fronts" — such misrepresentations are the stock-in-trade of someone like Peter Schwartz. Several separable issues, each having their own controversies, are part of this. The most important, to me, being whether climate warming is yoked to human action, and whether all these controversies are being politicized.

Whether propaganda works in shutting off critical faculties is a separate issue from what may be "wrong" or "right" about what is expressed.

> [...] I do know this form of arguing the issue no longer convinces me of anything

> about it right now.

I'm curious, sincerely, about what you mean by "this form." Christian cited extensive and well-argued polemics from others (I've demurred with him in the past about whether that much quoting aids discussion, but that's a side issue). Dragonfly cited the quite different skeptical background of Lomberg. I noted and linked to examples of the warming-fervor partisans poisoning the well of debate, partly by their insisting that no principled opposition to it is even possible.

Those are just three "forms" of approaching this. If you're ruling all of them out, it comes back to the point I made in my last post: You don't appear to want discussion, period, and you were simply making salvos about your disgust with the state of rhetoric on all sides.

And I, in turn, say: Fine, if your purpose is to fire such artillery, go for it. But please don't give the impression that you are also open to being "convinced" one way or another, and that you want an open discussion.

> I feel that I have been improperly induced (not by you) to think something and

> now I just have to see it for myself. I am very disappointed.

"Induced"? No more than you chose to be, amigo. If you didn't want to examine what was being said against the warming-fervor types, as to whether it was consistent or accurate about the other side, that was your lookout.

You seem to be outraged — I can't quite discern your target — that your selected contra-Gore documentary was less than accurate or meticulous in taking apart his film. That's not unreasonable on its face (I can't judge until I see it whether you're right or not). Yet it says little about the broader state of these debates, and such broad generalizing gets us nowhere ... again, if you actually did want discussion.

I believe, from all that I've read, that it's the skeptics who have been consistent, rational, and reasonable about whether the debates have respected long-standing canons of scientific inquiry, and whether they've been improperly politicized or slanted. (As is often true with scientists, they're not very adept at polemics, and that's why they're losing the P.R. and political wars.)

Yet it appears that I've been among those doing much more extensive reading, for far longer, than you have about this. I've had to come to the conclusion, based on what you've told the rest of us, that you're taking two films as your prime exemplars, admitting little else as to evidence on the state of these debates. And that, in turn, doesn't suggest to me that you're being reasonable.

> [...] I do admire the objectivity of Wikipedia on this particular issue because I

> have no doubt that partisans on both sides are trying to sabotage the information

> of the other side.

Objectivity doesn't come from mutual, conflicting, overlapping, battling subjectivities. It takes a much more principled, conscientious approach to being clear about applying methods and standards. That was the point I made long ago on the Atlantis list (in response to, among others, Mike Hardy) about why Jimbo Wales' Wikipedia was flawed from its inception. In the sense, that is, of its pretending to be an objective reference work of any notable depth or complexity.

Do you edit articles at Wikipedia? I do, more out of a hobby and dealing with my hobbies — such as a favorite comics character and animated series — rather than any impulse about providing authoritative guidance. It's more to provide others with essential information that is in little, if any, dispute, and leads as to where more details and better sources can be found.

Yet there's no "objectivity" involved, and I don't expect it. That requires a guiding outlook, and apart from a few vague principles of method, Wikipedia has none. Edit wars are not editing. Mutual sabotage and multiple reversions are not approaches to accuracy. They're games. Multiple-level, iterated, intellectual roleplaying games. These can be entertaining, even informative, certainly involving, always passionate. Yet they are not objective.

> So this issue is moderated for objectivity. What ends up staying has to meet

> certain criteria.

... I'll answer my own question above: You don't edit articles at Wikipedia, or you'd know that no such "moderation" exists. And apart from "a neutral point of view" and other points of method, all quite vaguely expressed, there are no "criteria."

All this has a point, to the long-suffering readers who've gotten this far: Relying on Wikipedia for an overview of any issue has considerable hazards. No incentives exist to be comprehensive, neutral, or free of inappropriate biases, apart from some inadequate pressures from "the community." Nothing is moderated or edited by any substantive standards.

These factors all make it difficult, for me, to take seriously someone who frames an issue, in substantial part, based on what Wikipedia tells him about it. Whether it's dueling climate-change viewpoints or anything else. Use such a source if you want, I'm the last to say it's not useful ... but if you see it as being thorough, let alone objective, you risk having your bona fides as to conducting a discussion be suspect.

That is, once again: If you want a discussion. As I suspect you really rather would not.

Edited by Greybird

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve,

Let's do it this way because you seem to be resistant to my point and insist on attributing all kinds of things to me that I did not say and do not think. Maybe this different approach will go in a better direction.

Here is a simple question. We can go from there.

Do you see any redeeming value at all in Gore's film?

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...