Jun
20
2006

Have you seen Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth"?

I just saw Al Gore's movie about global warming called, "An Inconvenient Truth" and would love to hear from other people who have seen the film.

I think the film does a good job communicating complex information about global warming, and I enjoyed hearing how Gore got interested in the issue, and how he has struggled to articulate the threats global warming poses.

But most of all, the film convinced me that global warming is not just about science, or politics. It is a moral issue that each of us has a responsibility to do something about it. The film has inspired me to lobby lawmakers to write and support meaningful legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and invest in cleaner energy technologies. I will certainly do more to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide my family produces, but I’m determined to demand more leadership on this issue from politicians in office and future candidates, and convince friends and family members to ask the same of their elected officials at all levels of government.

Have you seen the film? How has it affected your opinion about how much of a threat global warming is (or isn’t)? What--if anything--do you want lawmakers to do to address carbon dioxide emissions and the need for cleaner energy? What do you think we as individuals should be doing to address global warming? Do you think this movie is the beginning of an Al Gore comeback and possible run for the presidency in 2008?





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Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Gene's picture
Gene says:

Iain Murray critiques Gore's book that is based on the movie, concluding that Al got major parts of his argument wrong.

posted on Thu, 06/22/2006 - 10:37am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I'll just get my information from the major Science journals and listen to members of the National Academy of Science. These are the smartest, least biased people who know the most about this issue. There are probably less than 5 scientific facts that have more worldwide consensus among the leading scientists than human-caused global warming. As a physician who reads these same journals to learn the newest disease mechanisms of action, diagnostics and treatments (things like MRI, chemotherapy, Blood pressure medications, cholesterol lower medications, new therapies for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, crohn's disease) I find the journals and these scientists to be the most reliable and accurate sources.

posted on Thu, 10/04/2007 - 10:25am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The National Academy of Sciences, after reviewing a broad body of scientific work, reported today that the Earth is hotter now than it's been anytime in the last 400 years, and that human activities are responsible for much of the temperature increase.

Congress requested the report. But will they act on it, or not?

posted on Thu, 06/22/2006 - 12:02pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Hottest temperatures in 400 years, eh? So, what kind of cars were people driving in 1605? ;-)

posted on Thu, 06/22/2006 - 4:33pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Could you elaborate on what your implying Gene? I don't follow you.

posted on Fri, 06/23/2006 - 2:48pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I didn't think I'd have to spell it out, but OK. The Global Warming argument as generally understood goes something like this:

1. Temperatures have risen since 1980. This is an irrefutable fact.

2. During this time, humans have pumped tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, through factories, automobiles, etc. Again, beyond dispute.

3. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. A bit of a simplification, but again, absolutely true.

So, the reasoning goes, human-generated carbon dioxide is responsible for most of the temperature increase we have seen in recent years.

Sounds logical, right? But now, Liza informs us, temperatures were actually higher 400 years ago. Before the Industrial Revolution. Before the automobile. Back when the worldwide human population was maybe 1/6th what it is today.

400 years ago, temperatures were higher, despite the fact that human-induced carbon was minimal compared to what it is today. This alone should cause us to ponder precisely what percentage of the recent temperature rise is in fact due to human activity.

posted on Sat, 06/24/2006 - 11:49am
Mike Williams's picture
Mike Williams says:

The 30's were much hotter than now. The beginning of this century was hotter than now. EPA data collected over 100 years demonstrate the total warming of temperatures in the U.S. has been about a half of a degree, which is considered statistically insignificant. There are many scientists that have stated Sun activity has increased and that is the major cause of the Earth warming. To back that up, scientists monitoring activity on Mars have stated it appears temperatures are rising there also. How could humans cause warming on Mars? Many supporters of "humans have caused global warming" only get funding if they support the "Humans as Cause" theory. While a majority of scientists agree the earth is currently warming, not all of them agree on what is causing it. Of the 2,000 scientists who endorse Gore's explanation only one of them is a climatologist and very few of them have physical or geological science backgrounds. Only 2 percent of carbon dioxide come from human induced pollution, the rest occurs naturally. If you don't want to take my word for it, then watch the current BBC documentary, "The Global Warming Swindle," where many scientists dispute Al Gore's movie. By supporting Gore, you are asking him to take our freedoms away to support a "Humans as cause" theory that has no more evidence than Astrology or Alchemy. The Kyoto treaty would cause the US economy to shrink, throwing many Americans out of work and into the poorhouse. Of course, Al Gore and his celebrity buddies would be exempt to jetset around the world because they're scamming people on global warming theory. While they're living the high life like Politburo members, people like you and me would struggle to survive, feed ourselves and stay warm because of all the restrictions that will be put on industry and the individual. Recently, Many countries in Europe have discarded the voluntary attempts to follow Kyoto (they never ratified Kyoto, but expected us to) saying despite their anemic economic growth, they can't follow Kyoto without throwing their societies in complete disarray. I have been to poor countries and do you think they worry about preserving the environment? No, they pollute the environment far more than industrialized countries because the people are too busy trying to survive. If we get poorer as a result of signing Kyoto, do you think people will be likely to follow environmental laws? No, they'll do what they have to do to survive. Also, societies only find solutions to major problems when they progress. I am very concerned about cleaning up the environment, but the only way to do it is through creating the wealth necessary to develop technologies that will solve these environmental problems. For example, I remember being a kid in the '60's and the environment was much dirtier then. We have developed a lot of technology and enacted common sense environmental laws that have helped clean up the environment. People should stop supporting things that will make them feel good but not really accomplish anything. Free people solve problems, not people who are regulated.

posted on Mon, 03/26/2007 - 12:14pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The 1930s were not hotter than today, nor was the beginning of the last century. Here you can see EPA temperature data from 1880-2005. Average temperature has warmed by 1.2°-1.4° F since 1900, and about 1° F since 1970.

Don't think that 1° F is a big deal? Think again. Over the last 100 years, melting glaciers and rising temperatures have caused sea level to rise six to eight inches worldwide. This could be catastrophic for low-lying countries such as Bangladesh and the Netherlands, and big cities on coastal plains or river deltas—Shanghai, Bangkok, Jakarta, Tokyo, New York, New Orleans—are also at risk.

According to this National Geographic article, 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor (now lost: see this Buzz post) and Odyssey missions showed that

"...the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row."

Habibulio Abdussamatov, of the Astronomical Observatory in Russia, thinks the Mars data is proof that an increase in solar irradiance is causing climate change on Earth, and that changes in the sun's heat output can explain the changes on both planets.

But the majority of climate scientists in many countries disagree, saying that the climate changes on Mars can be explained by wobbles in the planet's orbit and tilt. (Wobbles in Earth's orbit and tilt help to explain our Ice Ages.)

The US Department of Energy (National Energy Technology Laboratory) does not agree with you about the percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that can be attributed to human activity, either.

"...if you consider that the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration was stable at 288 ppm for a long time before the industrial revolution and has since increased 367 ppm, one might assume that all the difference between 288 ppm and 370 ppm is attributable to human activity. This would be a high end estimate of the human impact. Under that assumption human activity accounts for 22% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."

That's a far cry from 2%!

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in April 2007 that the earth is unequivocally warming, and that it is very likely that, overall, human activities since 1750 have contributed to that warming. Further, most of the increase in global temperature observed over the last 50 years is very likely due to human emissions of greenhouse gases, and natural variation is very unlikely to be the sole cause of such changes. (The IPCC is the leading body for the assessment of climate change, established by the United Nations to provide the world with a clear, balanced view of the present state of understanding of climate change. The IPCC does not conduct research on its own. Its core activity is to review and assess the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to the understanding of climate change.)

As for your statement that researchers only get funding if they follow the party line about human causation of global warming...well, three things:

  • Some US researchers and policy makers report feeling pressure to water down their findings in support of global warming; (need cite)
  • and certainly the current US administration has been less than eager to accept findings in support of global warming, or to implement regulations to reduce it. (need cite)
  • to have so many climate scientists in so many countries all coming to the same conclusion because of politics flies in the face of what science is and how it's done.

I'm not necessarily a full supporter of Kyoto; I think you might be able to achieve the same effects if you offered strong incentives to develop cleaner technology. But what "freedoms" would Kyoto have taken away? The freedom to emit more greenhouse gases than any nation on Earth, while suffering very few of the most devastating consequences of that pollution? The freedom to continue as is, letting a few profit by not implementing cleaner technology while everyone else picks up the tab for the clean-up? Am I missing something?

This Wikipedia article on the Kyoto treaty has a brief discussion of its costs. It's not cheap, that's true. But what's the cost of inaction? I think it's vastly greater.

All of the countries that appear in green on this map have signed and ratified the Kyoto treaty, including Europe. It's true that the EU hasn't met its goals, but they also announced in January an energy policy designed to reduce their emissions 20% by 2020.
From Wikipedia:

"The EU produces around 22% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and has agreed to a cut, on average, by 8% from 1990 emission levels. On 10 January 2007, the European Commission announced plans for a European Union energy policy that included a unilateral 20% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020.

The EU has consistently been one of the major nominal supporters of the Kyoto Protocol, negotiating hard to get wavering countries on board.

In December 2002, the EU created an emissions trading system in an effort to meet these tough targets. Quotas were introduced in six key industries: energy, steel, cement, glass, brick making, and paper/cardboard. There are also fines for member nations that fail to meet their obligations, starting at €40/ton of carbon dioxide in 2005, and rising to €100/ton in 2008. Current EU projections suggest that by 2008 the EU will be at 4.7% below 1990 levels.

The Wikipedia article also has a comparison of emissions vs targets by country.

posted on Fri, 04/20/2007 - 3:13pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

When you put it that way, you make it sound like a bad thing! ;-)

Seriously, though, in order to meet emissions reduction targets, the government will have to take some pretty drastic, even draconian, measures. It may ration gasoline. Your freedom to drive to work, to pick up the kids at school, to run to the grocery store, could be severely curtailed. They may ration air travel. Your freedom to travel across the country to be with your family at the holidays, or to fly to Europe for vacation, would be reduced. They may ration commodities. They may decide that building new cars creates too much pollution, so they will limit the number of cars being built. Not just gas-guzzlers – all cars. Your freedom to own a car will be limited.

(This is not far-fetched. All these restrictions were in place during World War II.)

What about electricity? That creates a lot of pollution. So power production could be curtailed, and/or consumption rationed. And computers use a lot of electricity – one of the most power-hungry things in your home. Perhaps those should be rationed. And how many millions of blogs are there? Those things take zillions of kilowatts to make, and to read. If we just outlawed blogs, we could save a tons of energy…

Now, let me assure you, I do not believe that any of these things will happen. Nor do I think they should happen. But, if we are really serious about meeting the strict carbon-emissions goals that have been talked about, things this serious would be called for.

“Freedom” may not be as good a word as “quality of life.” If America were to go cold turkey and start meeting Kyoto guidelines tomorrow, we would all still have the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as the Founding Fathers did in 1776. We would also have their same standard of living. The same access to gasoline and electricity (not much). The same mobility (very limited). The same health care (not great). The same economy (tiny).

OK, I exaggerate. But not by much. According to blogger Tim Blair:

Kevin Trenberth, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and one of the IPCC bigwigs, predicts that, unless we act on climate change, "one million people" will die by 2100 - from droughts, hurricanes, wildfires and the like. Which works out about 10,000 people a year. Or about 50 people in each country.

On the other hand, over two million people die of diarrhea each year, mainly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. If you clobber the global economy and slow down Third World development, they'll continue to die — 2.2 to 5 million per year, or a minimum of 204 million by the year 2100.

And that’s only one disease.

Meeting Kyoto or other carbon-emissions standards would cripple the world economy. And “economy” isn’t just a few fat cats getting rich exploiting the workers, man. “Economy” is your job, your bank account, your weekly trip to the grocery store.

Yes, we can all consume less, we can all conserve more, we can all cut down energy use and pollution. And these are good things, regardless of what is driving climate change. But the extreme measures called for will produce extreme, and extremely unwelcome, results.

You asked for citations on the difficulty scientist have getting funded if they don’t support the global warming consensus?

Reuters

British television

Not quite the same thing, but a report on publication bias.

And there have certainly been more.

posted on Fri, 04/27/2007 - 10:35am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Oh, and thanks for linking to that interesting article on global warming on Mars.

And, you didn’t ask for it, but here’s a cite for global warming on Pluto.

And, while I’m at it, here’s one for climate change on Jupiter.

And a suggestion that Neptune may be warming:

And somewhat better evidence for warming on Neptune’s moon, Triton.

And climate change on Saturn.

Those greenhouse gases sure do get around! ;-)

posted on Fri, 04/27/2007 - 10:39am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Ya, the earth's average temperature as increased by a whole degree. Man that's a lot.

posted on Thu, 07/13/2006 - 10:40pm
Cari's picture
Cari says:

The article Gene posted is by Iain Murray, a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group that advocates for limited government. Mr. Murray holds a BA and MA and an MBA.

The information I trust about global warming comes from real scientists. Here is another review of the film that does find some fault with Mr. Gore's arguments, but was written by someone with what I think are more relevant credentials, which was published on realclimate.org, a site described as "climate science from climate scientists."

The author is Eric Steig, a scientist with a PhD in geological sciences who has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in international journals. He is an isotope geochemist at the University of Washington in Seattle. His primary research interest is use of ice core records to document climate variability in the past.

It's time to stop arguing about whether or not global warming is a problem, and start finding solutions.

posted on Thu, 06/22/2006 - 12:09pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I think the comments posted on the Real Climate site under the Steig review of the movie are fascinating. Really worth reading through some of them..

I'm with you, Cari. I figure it this way: Even IF some of the effects we're seing are due to natural cycles, and even IF we've overstated the impact of human activities, what's the downside to trying to do something about it? You end up maybe slowing the change AND you get new technologies and a cleaner, healthier planet to boot.

posted on Thu, 06/22/2006 - 12:46pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

The downside depends on what that "something" is. If the solution is to cripple the global economy and thus condemn billions of Third World people to lives of hopeless poverty, you will have a difficult time convincing me that it's a good trade-off.

posted on Thu, 06/22/2006 - 4:32pm
Megan's picture
Megan says:

Actually there are many solutions to global warming that can help people in poverty. Check out the new exhibit at the science museum on the level 3 terrace to see how actions against global warming helped problems of health in India, development in South Africa, and much more.

posted on Sat, 06/24/2006 - 5:21pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Mr. Murray quotes real scientists, with all kinds of initials after their names. What degrees does Al Gore hold? ;-)

(And Murray doesn't even mention the 60 scientists who have petitioned the Canadian government to re-examine the premises behind the Kyoto treaty.)

Given the scientific studies Mr. Murray cites, and the doubts raised by others, I think it is far from certain whether global warming is a "problem," or simply a natural part of the Earth's cycles.

posted on Thu, 06/22/2006 - 4:30pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Well its fine and good for you to have that opinion. But just to be clear the vast majority of scientists who study climate issues completely disagree with you.

The 60 scientists Gene is pointing out here are part of a group called Friends of Science (website down right now, but is registered to ). Acording to Source Watch, Friends of Science, has signifigant ties to the oil industry and climate change denial.

posted on Fri, 06/23/2006 - 2:59pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I have to disagree. I've been following the story, and yes, it is clear that temperatures are rising. But why they are rising, and what it means, remains a matter for much debate.

This is a scientific debate. Opinions don't matter. Majorities don't matter. Even funding doesn't matter. (If it did, we'd be making a bigger stink over the fact that, during the Clinton years, the government consistently denied funding to climate researchers who weren't working on global warming.)

What does matter is facts. Mr. Murray points out 25 facts that were left out of the film, presumably because they didn't fit the story.

And that story is complicated. Temperatures are rising. But they have risen, and fallen, in the past. What role do humans play in this? What effect will the warming have? Can we do anything to reverse it? No one knows. Movies like An Inconvenient Truth oversimplify and exaggerate the issue, making it all the more difficult for science to be heard above the noise.

posted on Sat, 06/24/2006 - 12:04pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric science at MIT, argues that there is no scientific consensus on the causes of global warming. But he's writing for the Wall Stree Journal, the nation's second-largest newspaper, so we obviously can't trust him.

He also makes, rather eloquently, a point I have been struggling to articulate:

Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to [understand the science]. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists.... Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam.

In other words, while it is clear that the Earth has warmed, it is not at all clear that human activity is the direct cause. To claim absolutely that it is, when anybody can see there is evidence to the contrary, makes science look foolish. Worse, to then jump to "doomsday" scenarios, which never come true, leads to people rejecting science entirely. And I have too much respect for science to let that happen.

I may be at an advantage here. I'm in my mid-40s, and this is about the eighth "end-of-the-world" disaster I have lived through. Unless you want "global warming" to become a punchline like "Y2K," drop the rhetoric and debate the facts.

posted on Fri, 07/07/2006 - 12:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I agree with this statement.

posted on Fri, 07/07/2006 - 1:32pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I agree that all the discrediting the messenger may do a disservice to the science. And there is no substitute for doing some reading for yourself, instead of just accepting what someone else says.

That said, I *do* think it's useful to know sometimes that someone's research is funded by Mobil or by the Sierra Club. It's not that either of those two groups is incapable of good science. It's more of a filter we all should wear. For example, I bet many more people would sit up and take notice if Mobil came out with a big study that showed that burning fossil fuels HAS directly affected global warming. Right? Because it wouldn't be in the company's best financial interest to say it.

One other thought: maybe one reason there wasn't much fallout from the Y2K doomsday scenario is that a lot of people and companies took the possibility seriously. They weren't SURE that planes would fall from the sky and millions of people's personal data would be lost, etc., but they took the threat seriously enough that a lot of machines were reprogrammed. And I think that was Cari's original point: even if we're not sure that our activities are directly contributing to global warming, and it sure seems like a lot of the evidence is pointing that way, do we really want to sit back and continue business as usual now, while we might have a hope of checking the trend, in the hope that we're wrong? Especially when there are likely to be other benefits to changing the way we power things?

I believe in technological leaps. I'm betting that if someone comes up with a clean technology that's efficient and not prohibitively expensive, a LOT of countries will be clammoring to adopt that technology. I believe that some societies might even be willing to pay more, for a while, in light of the benefits such a technology could provide. And I believe that AMERICA should be the country out in the forefront, developing that technology. Don't you?

And in the meantime, I believe that societies that consume the most also have the biggest responsibility to conserve.

That's MY $0.02.

posted on Fri, 07/07/2006 - 2:51pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I'll agree to that. In fact, I'll go a step further -- if Mobil releases a study that just HAPPENS to coincide with their financial interests, or if the Republicans release a study that just HAPPENS to coincide with their political interests, then yes, our skepticism detectors should be on full alert.

But, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. And what's been twisting my shorts is that all this skepticism is only applied to one side. I don't want to pick on Cari, because she's a good person and a friend. But I notice she expresses skepticism over the Senate report because it was only backed by Republicans, but she expresses no similar skepticism over the movie which was made by a life-long, leading Democrat.

But now we're getting into politics, and that's not where this debate needs to be. This debate needs to focus on the science. Which is why I tend to downplay the funding -- skepticism on one side is cancelled out by skepticism on the other.

As for America leading the way, I thought we were. While CO2 emissions are up in the US, they are up much less than in other countries, including many Kyoto signatories.

posted on Mon, 07/10/2006 - 10:30am
smith_it's picture
smith_it says:

gene - you rock

posted on Sun, 09/02/2007 - 5:57pm
Megan's picture
Megan says:

I have not seen Al Gore's movie, so I am unable to speak for the validity of the film. But what I can say is that global warming is definitely a problem that deserves our attention. I can name an endless number of reputable scientists who have proven that this is so. I'm not going to bore everyone with a list of scientific articles, but at least check out the two cover stories that Time and National Geographic have done during the past year. Also, NASA has a lot of excellent research on global warming and climate change.

I really like what Cari said earlier, "It's time to stop arguing about whether or not global warming is a problem, and start finding a solution." I don't necessarily think that this solution is for the United States to join the Kyoto Protocol, but I do think we should take some legislative action to reduce our fossil fuel emissions.

What harm will be done by reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases? In some cases it is even more cost effective to use alternate methods and we would at least be reducing the harmful human health and environmental effects of air pollution.

So fine, you don't think global warming is a problem. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But why stand in the way of those who do and want to improve our environment? It's not like it would hurt you if we took action.

posted on Sat, 06/24/2006 - 5:42pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

That would depend on what action we took.

posted on Sun, 06/25/2006 - 5:55pm
Cari's picture
Cari says:

Here's one idea for action we could take: Stop giving subsidies, incentives or commitments to new coal-fired plants unless they produce zero emissions.

It's one of the many steps a group called Fresh Energy is advocating. Check out their site for more on climate protection legislation.

posted on Sun, 06/25/2006 - 8:57pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Here's another idea: build more nuclear power plants.

posted on Mon, 07/10/2006 - 9:59am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I'd be OK with building more nuclear power plants IF I felt like we were making any progress on what to do with spent fuel and other nuclear waste.

There's a lot of NIMBY ("not in MY backyard!") sentiment out there, though. And not just for nuclear power plants. Macalester College put a wind turbine on its property recently, and there were complaints.

I think there probably isn't a good "one-size-fits-all" solution. In some places, nuclear is our best bet. Some places can really use wind power, or solar power, or biomass. Some places are ideally suited for hydro or geothermal. I guess I'd like to see ALL the options evaluated, and decisions made on a best-for-the-long-term basis, instead of a cheapest-right-now basis.

That's the part that makes me mad: all of these things have costs, of one sort or another. Some costs are just harder to quantify than others. Remediation, cleanup of brownfields and Superfund sites, acid rain, health effects...all of those things are PART of the price of burning fossil fuels, just like bird kills seem to be part of the price of wind farms. We don't pay for it at the pump, or on our electricity bills, but we pay for it in Federal, State, and local taxes. And we pay for it in other, less tangible ways, too. Doesn't it make more sense to clean up up front, where it's easier and, in the end, cheaper? And to incorporate the costs of cleaning up into the cost of fuel?

Otherwise, it's easy to pretend that what we pay at the pump, for example, is the real cost of burning gasoline.

posted on Mon, 07/10/2006 - 10:31am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I agree -- there is no "silver bullet," a single big solution that will fix everything. Instead, it will take a lot of small solutions: a bit of ethanol and other new fuels; a bit of solar / wind / and yes, even nuclear; a bit of improved efficeincy in cars and even lightbulbs.

posted on Wed, 07/19/2006 - 12:23pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

This is rich. Back in the 1980s, President Regan claimed that trees were a major source of pollution. Every year, they drop billions of tons of leaves, which decay and let off an enormous amount of carbon dioxide -- more than all human sources combined.

Environmentalists howled in protest. This was a natural process, they said, and by definition not pollution. Today, many of those same groups are now insisting that CO2 is a pollutant, and must be regulated.

I guess that means deforestation is a good idea after all... ;-)

posted on Sat, 03/24/2007 - 9:26pm
Cari's picture
Cari says:

Check out the Safe Climate Act legislation introduced last week by Rep. Henry Waxman of California.

posted on Mon, 06/26/2006 - 3:34pm
shanai's picture
shanai says:

To change the subject:

I saw the Al Gore film this weekend. Did anyone else notice the product placement for the Mac PowerBook? I wasn't really freaked out by it until I sat down at my own laptop that night and was overcome by the feeling that my computer could help me save the world from environmental devastation...if only I had a Mac that was a little faster! Then I started thinking, well maybe I should buy a new computer?!? That's the answer, right? More new stuff? Maybe a hybrid car? What if we gave everyone hybrid cars and Mac Powerbooks? Then we could stay inside and talk to eachother on the internet, and it wouldn't matter how hot it was outside.

Feeling empowered is not a bad thing, except that in this case it kept me surfing the web (and yes, I googled the phrase "what is my ecological footprint" before realizing the irony of the situation) when I might have otherwise been doing something productive, like working on my garden. I have to admit that what worries me as much as climate change is the knee-jerk reaction that better technology will save us. That's not to say that we shouldn't strive for more environmentally sound technologies, but I'm not sure if what we need is more hybrid cars, or just a lot less stuff and a whole new way of imagining our relationship to the environment.

Just a thought.

posted on Tue, 06/27/2006 - 3:55pm
Cari's picture
Cari says:

Yes, it was hard to miss all the ads for Mac. We started counting at first, then lost track. But, nothing jumped out at us more than the Hummer we saw in the theater parking lot on our way out!

posted on Wed, 06/28/2006 - 1:55pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Associated Press checked with climate scientists to get their read on the former Vice President's new documentary on global warming "An Inconvenient Truth", the results are an overwhelming vote of approval and confirmation for the scientific content of the film...

From article Scientists OK Gore's movie for accuracy(AP via Yahoo News):

...The AP contacted more than 100 top climate researchers by e-mail and phone for their opinion. Among those contacted were vocal skeptics of climate change theory. Most scientists had not seen the movie...

But those who have seen it had the same general impression: Gore conveyed the science correctly; the world is getting hotter and it is a manmade catastrophe-in-the-making caused by the burning of fossil fuels...

Robert Corell, [said] "I sat there and I'm amazed at how thorough and accurate," ... "After the presentation I said, `Al, I'm absolutely blown away. There's a lot of details you could get wrong.' ... I could find no error."

Gore, in an interview with the AP, said he wasn't surprised "because I took a lot of care to try to make sure the science was right."...

Don't get your hopes up that this means we'll actually do something about it, though:

...While more than 1 million people have seen the movie since it opened in May, that does not include Washington's top science decision makers. President Bush said he won't see it. The heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA haven't seen it, and the president's science adviser said the movie is on his to-see list...

posted on Thu, 06/29/2006 - 3:00pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Yes, and the next day the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works disputed the AP article.

But don't believe them -- that's obviously a biased source. Unlike Al, who has never held a political agenda in his life. ;-)

posted on Sat, 07/01/2006 - 2:31pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

This press release via the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is chaired by global warming denialist James Inhofe (R - OK).

Tim Lambert of Deltoid takes it on point by point. His post is thorough and informative, so make sure you check it out.

posted on Thu, 07/06/2006 - 9:41pm
Cari's picture
Cari says:

This press release was only from the Majority Repbulican members of the committee...and did not include committee members from the other side of the aisle.

posted on Fri, 07/07/2006 - 11:32am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Meaning...what, exactly? Politicians from one party say one thing; politicians from another party say another. And this is relevant...how?

(Just in case anyone has forgotten, this thread began because a politician made a movie.)

For me, the most aggravating thing about this thread has been the way so many posts skirt the issue. Rather than debate the message, they try to discredit the messenger. This writer isn't a scientist, so we can't trust him. (Writers who agree with me, though -- they're OK.) This politician is from the wrong party; don't believe him. (Politicians from my party, of course, are unimpeachable.) These scientists were funded by energy companies; they are obviously biased. (Scientists funded by the guy who made the film, though, are the picture of objectivity.)

This is ad hominem, and it has no place in a scientific debate.

Posts that counter factual argument with factual argument are good, as they help us understand the complexity of the issue. Posts that attempt to dismiss factual argument on ideological grounds turn a scientific debate into a polarized political one. And that helps nobody.

posted on Fri, 07/07/2006 - 12:41pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The International Energy Agency says that, if everyone people at home switched from incandenscent to compact fluorescent lighting, and if businesses used the most efficient fluorescent tubes and ballasts, we could trim 10% from the world's electricity bill.

The BBC article includes some facts I found surprising:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions saved by making the switch would far outstrip cuts made so far by the adoption of wind or solar power.
  • 19% of the electricity produced worldwide goes to power lights. That's more than we produce by hydro or nuclear power, and about as much as we produce by burning natural gas.
  • The carbon dioxide produced as a byproduct of all that electricity generation equals 70% of the emissions produced by cars.

Seems like a no-brainer to me. Building codes should specify the use of highly-efficient lighting. Consumers should replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. Those two moves should bring the prices of the more efficient bulbs down. Governments can help police the industry, making sure that products really perform as claimed.

And in the meantime, turn out the lights if you're not in the room!

posted on Fri, 06/30/2006 - 12:52pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Not to get all up on my high horse, but I use these light bulbs throughout my house (okay, tiny apartment). It frustrates me to no end that many of my friends know they should use these lights, endlessly complain about the lack of alternative fuel sources (blah blah blah), yet refuse to use these light bulbs because of aesthetics.

I don't like the light, its too harsh

Couldn't we all just buy some lampshades and help out the energy crisis a little bit.

posted on Fri, 06/30/2006 - 1:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I keep getting Al Gore's film mixed up with the new Superman movie. The former vice-president and the Man of Steel both appear in new films about a square-jawed, usually mild-mannered underdog who makes a return to the public spotlight to save the Earth from global distruction. Plus, they have the same haircut.

posted on Fri, 06/30/2006 - 9:54pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Ha, that's a great observation.

posted on Thu, 07/06/2006 - 5:12pm
Cari's picture
Cari says:

This is the best comment this discussion has generated so far! Who ARE you?

posted on Fri, 07/07/2006 - 11:42am
James Satter's picture

I'm entering this discussion relatively late in the game—I just saw An Inconvenient Truth earlier today. To give everyone a common frame of reference, here's the site listed in the closing credits with more information about the film.

posted on Mon, 07/03/2006 - 8:34pm
James Satter's picture

About the closing credits: If you're like me, you may have noticed the Science Museum of Minnesota listed along with several other organizations at the end of the film. Here are links to a news blurb from the Pioneer Press and an article from the Star Tribune that explain the museum's involvement in the making of An Inconvenient Truth.

I was impressed with the film on many levels and glad to see the Science Museum affiliated with Al Gore's lectures on global warming. While watching An Inconvenient Truth, I also noticed that Gore and I use the same iBook; his laptop basically plays a supporting role in the film. (The Apple company appears in the closing credits as well.)

posted on Fri, 07/07/2006 - 6:29pm
Cari's picture
Cari says:

J. Drake Hamilton, the Science Policy Director for Fresh Energy, a nonprofit organization leading the transition to a clean, efficient and fair energy system, sent an e-mail promoting a program about global warming that will air this Sunday, July 16, from 8:00-10:00 PM Central Time on the Discovery Channel. The promos says, "This two-hour program moves beyond the debate to present the facts about global warming. Tom Brokaw joins leading scientists on the front lines of global warming research around the world to reveal the realities of climate change and the future of the planet. Viewers learn what is fact and what is fiction, how the average person contributes to global warming, and what our future world may look like if we do not act to reduce global warming pollution now. Finally, viewers will go away armed with the knowledge to take action."

posted on Thu, 07/13/2006 - 3:58pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Here's the Discovery Channel feature that accompanies the show.

It includes a pretty cool slideshow of global warming hot spots, a quiz, some suggestions about what to do to minimize your contribution to global warming, and links.

There's also a forum. You can post to the message board(s) at any time, but on Sunday, July 16, after the airing of Global Warming: What You Need To Know, Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University, will be answering questions. Here's the description of his expertise:

"Scientists, politicians and even actors are discussing global warming, so why shouldn’t you?

Also, we are sure that you have a lot of questions about Earth’s increasing temperature, so we enlisted a world-renowned scientist to help answer your questions.

Dr. Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University and one of the world's leading scientists studying the potential effects of global warming. His research on the effects of warming on atmospheric chemistry, ecosystems and the nitrogen cycle, ocean circulation and the ice sheets helped inform the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Dr. Oppenheimer is one of the scientists featured in Discovery Channel’s two-hour special, Global Warming: What You Need to Know With Tom Brokaw, airing Sunday, July 16, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Dr. Oppenheimer will answer your questions in our message boards, live, on Sunday, July 16, at 11 p.m. ET/PT, after the show."

There's also a podcast you can listen to online or download to listen to later.

posted on Fri, 07/14/2006 - 8:43am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Sometimes it's not easy being green...so you can pay someone else to make you "carbon-neutral."

posted on Thu, 07/13/2006 - 4:00pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Blogger Ed Morrissey points out a problem with that: rich folks can continue to waste energy and just buy carbon offsets; poor folks are stuck making all of the sacrifices.

posted on Tue, 02/27/2007 - 7:47am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Yeah, I'm not an advocate for carbon trading. I just wanted to put the link up there.

A lot of it just seems like marketing, with no way to check whether or not your dollar has any real impact.

And, as you say, it's not really fair.

But many people in the power production industry seem to like the idea....

posted on Tue, 02/27/2007 - 9:58am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

cool

posted on Thu, 07/13/2006 - 8:00pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Cow power? Would you pay a little extra for renewable energy that uses cow manure and a fuel cell to produce energy? I think I would. There aren't any large scale projects to do this in Minnesota--yet--but if consumers ASKED for it, the market would react...

posted on Fri, 07/14/2006 - 9:29am
Bobbrew's picture
Bobbrew says:

I appreciate the civil discussion on this site and would like to contribute. As background, I was an atmospheric chemist and worked for 10 years with Professor Emeritus Issac Kaplan in Earth and Space Sciences at UCLA. I also built the first stand alone Acid Fog sampler for environmental studies and was Co Principal Investigator with Thomas Gold (Carl Sagen's Dept. Chair) at Cornell where we collected gases from all over the world. My graduate work was in air sea gas exchange using radioactive isotopes and a large portion of my course work was in nuclear chemistry.

I saw Inconvenient Truth last night with the mindset that I should "consider the source". The movie seemed a political tool to gather support for another presidential attempt by Al Gore. His charts, photos and graphics are unsurpassed. His description of the problem profound.

However, I found his solutions anemic. Given the exponential growth of our world's population, there is no way the small percentage reductions provided by the technologies he suggests can reduce CO2 emissions below their current levels. The only technology that can, he failed to mention, because he is not strong enough to buck the politics of his base.

He's afraid to even utter the word nuclear because his quasi-environmental supporters would dump him faster than his frog in the boiling pot of water. Given our current environmental conditions and technological options, nuclear is our only chance to sustain our current of energy use. France produces 75% of it's power radioactively and we haven't heard of anyone dying because of it. No one in the US has ever died from a nuclear accident. How many have died in coal mines, refinery explosions or just by just breathing Southern California air?

When I was studying air pollution at UCLA from 1976 to 1986, scientific studies showed the average life expectancy in the LA basin was 5 years less than for populations in clean air environments. Assuming a population of 35 million and a life expectancy of 75 years the 5 year loss of life expectancy is equivalent to losing 2.5 million people over a normal lifetime.

How much mishandled radioactive waste would it take to kill 2.5 million people in 70 years? Radioactive waste is not being mishandled - it's probably the most regulated waste known to mankind.

Consider Salt Domes - Salt domes are hundreds of thousands of years old. Those in Texas and Lousiana are seismically and hydrologically stable. One of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve's salt domes is West Hackberry off the coast of Louisana and it contained oil for hundreds of millenia before we pumped the oil out of it and then decided to pump oil back into it again. It holds nominally 44 million tons of oil. If we used this one salt dome to store our radioactive waste, it would last us for 22,000 years at our current rate of waste generation of 2,000 tons per year. If it's good enough to store oil (or gas) why isn't it good enough to store radioactive waste encapsulated in ceramic and concrete?

Other salt mines are more visible. Consider the Morton's salt mine in Grand Saline, Texas. It could easily hold hundreds of years of radioactive waste and we could go down there and look at it.

If we have to choose between dying from air pollution, hurricanes, coastal flooding or more tornadoes caused by global warming, isn't it more prudent to generate CO2 free nuclear power and store the waste remotely offshore in a salt dome that's contained oil for hundred's of thousands of years?

posted on Mon, 07/17/2006 - 11:55pm
AndyUK's picture
AndyUK says:

Bobbrew's contribution is interesting and well argued. But I think there is a point being missed. Whether or not nuclear power returns (I'm in the UK, and Mr Blair seems to love the idea) I don't think we can reduce our collective impact on the environment and maintain current levels of energy use. At least for those of us in the G7 and similarly rich nations. This is only going to be a problem for our generation, as we will experience the changes. Wherever we end up, that will be "normal" for future generations. For me, the really interesting discussion around climate change is to discuss what "normal" will be in 50 or 100 years' time.

posted on Tue, 07/18/2006 - 11:18am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

This article from The Australian notes that there is still a great deal of scientific debate over global warming:

"In fact it has become quite fashionable of late to assert the global warming debate is over and an overwhelming scientific consensus prevails. This is simply untrue."

And this article from The Albuquerque Journal (free registration required) notes:

Most of the 140 scientists participating in this week's second International Conference on Global Warming remain neutral on the politically charged issue of global climate change, according to Petr Chylek, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist who helped organize the event.

Bill Gray is not one of them.

The Colorado State University hurricane expert thinks global warming— the idea that fossil fuel-burning humans are causing damaging climate change— is "foolishness."

Clearly, there is a diversity of opinion in the scientific community, making it important that research -- and debate -- continue.

posted on Wed, 07/19/2006 - 12:29pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Well, I'll counter your article with one of my own. :)

This one, titled "One can quibble about climate change details, but the overall picture is clear," was written by Naomi Oreskes, a history of science professor at the Univeristy of California (San Diego). It appeared in the August 1 issue of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but was written for the Los Angeles Times.

It begins,

"An op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal a month ago claimed that a published study affirming the existence of a scientific consensus on the reality of global warming had been refuted. This charge was repeated again in July, in a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

I am the author of that study, which appeared two years ago in the journal Science, and I'm here to tell you that the consensus stands. The argument put forward in the Wall Street Journal was based on an Internet posting; it has not appeared in a peer-reviewed journal — the normal way to challenge an academic finding. (The Wall Street Journal didn't even get my name right!)

My study demonstrated that there is no significant disagreement within the scientific community that the Earth is warming and that human activities are the principal cause.

Papers that continue to rehash arguments that have already been addressed and questions that have already been answered will, of course, be rejected by scientific journals, and this explains my findings. Not a single paper in a large sample of peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 refuted the consensus position, summarized by the National Academy of Sciences, that 'most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.'"

And it ends,

"None of this is to say that there are no uncertainties left — there are always uncertainties in any live science. Agreeing about the reality and causes of current global warming is not the same as agreeing about what will happen in the future. There is continuing debate in the scientific community over the likely rate of future change: not "whether" but "how much" and "how soon." And this is precisely why we need to act today: because the longer we wait, the worse the problem will become, and the harder it will be to solve."

posted on Wed, 08/02/2006 - 10:30am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

22 major world cities, including Los Angeles, London, New York, and Seoul, have joined forces to try to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

They will pool their purchasing power to lower the price of energy-saving products (such as energy-efficient traffic lights and street lighting), and share technical assistance on other ways to cut greenhouse gasses (such as using biofuels to power city transport and reducing traffic congestion).

According to the Reuters article,

"Urban areas are responsible for more than 75 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, making reduced energy crucial in the effort to slow the pace of global warming."

posted on Wed, 08/02/2006 - 10:20am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

A fish, a barrel, a smoking gun: Australian jounralist Andrew Bolt lists 10 major scientific inaccuracies in An Inconvenient Truth.

posted on Sat, 10/28/2006 - 8:00am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Just in time for Christmas, the Competetive Enterprise Institute has released a book disputing many of the claims made in the film. The book, A Skeptics Guide to An Inconvenient Truth, is available for free on-line.

The Competetive Enterprise Institute is a public-policy organization with a conservative, pro-business slant. They no doubt have a political agenda, so take that into account if you read any of their work.

But, now that I think of it, Al Gore might just have a political agenda, too...

posted on Wed, 11/29/2006 - 8:48am
Suzy's picture
Suzy says:

My geography teacher is makeing us watch the Al Gore movie tomorow. After reading what cari wrote im looking forward to it.

posted on Tue, 12/12/2006 - 4:15pm
Chip's picture
Chip says:

I like the people who still dispute that this is a problem. I'm quite sure these people are trying to create doubt to protect their financial stakes in businesses that are not environmentally friendly. Anyway, I would like to hear these people's explanation of the pictures Al Gore shows in the DVD of various mountaintops around the world. In all of them, recent pictures compared to pictures taken a few decades ago show dramatic melting of the snowcaps. Unless Photoshop was involved, this evidence is hard to dispute or deny.

posted on Sat, 12/23/2006 - 10:54pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I just bought a house -- I no longer have a financial stake in anything! ;-)

I don't think anyone disputes or denies the fact that the Earth has gotten warmer lately -- the evidence, including melting glaciers, is pretty clear. What is disputed is why. Is the Earth getting warmer because of human activity, natural climate cycles, changes in the Sun, or some combination of factors?

Fossil evidence indicates that, in Eurpoe at least, glaciers were even smaller some 2,000 years ago. Since the Romans weren't driving gaz-guzzling cars or otherwise producing extraordinary amounts of greenhouse gasses, it would seem that glaciers can grow and shrink without human infuence.

posted on Wed, 01/03/2007 - 2:34pm
Desertmer's picture
Desertmer says:

No source is unbiased, no prediction is entirely accurate, and no human is without sarcasm. Whatever the Romans were doing, whether Atlantis sunk because of the same issues as we are sinking into now, or such things, I belive you've got to do SOMETHING. Just buying a hybrid car isn't enough. Plant a tree in your yard, tell the neighbors you don't care what they think and solar panel your roof, leave your society to its squabbles. Go on without thinking about what THEY think and assume that the people who love you won't think you're crazy.

posted on Mon, 02/12/2007 - 12:43pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My teachers made me watch the Inconveint truth 2 times! Al Gore really likes to over exaggerate. Of course it's going to be a problem when the world heats up(no more snowboarding).

posted on Mon, 02/12/2007 - 12:46pm
Confused...'s picture
Confused... says:

So let me get this straight:

Many scientists say Global Warming IS caused generally and even mainly by excess Green House Gases caused by destructive and polluting Human Industry (Western to be specific)...

...or...

Many scientists say Global Warming IS real but it's cause is undeterminable based on past temperature variants, glacier growth and other scienctific reasoning.

1. Which is true?!?! All I can seem to repeatedly find is 'It's true' and then 'It's not true'.
2. Is there a scientific consensus?
3. What are the *facts* of Global Warming - facts are facts - can they speak for themselves on this issue or is theorizing necessary to understand (perhaps explaining why there is debate - there can always be a Theory B, no matter how ludacris)
4. What is true about the Ice Caps? Are they meting? Are they growing? Are they warmer? Are they colder?
5. What about the water-tunneling? In An Inconvenient Truth, specifically within Greenland and it's ice-pooling. Is that happening?
6. Why does this have to be so flipping hard? I just want to protect our home and live in peace. Forget oil companies and politics.

I thought the picture Sagon had taken from space of Earth is telling - we're just a spec in a vast, uncaring Cosmos - we have to steward it, not rape it.

Still confused but less frustrated...

posted on Tue, 02/13/2007 - 2:28am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

The truth -- which is inconvenient for dogmatists of any stripe -- is that weather and climate are extremely complicated. There are lots of factors at play, and anyone who claims with utter certainty to have all the answers is deceiving themselves -- or trying to deceive you.

There are claims of a scientific consensus that human-produced greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming. (Even within that consensus, there is disagreement over whether they are the main factor or merely a contributing factor.) But "scientific consensus" is something of an oxymoron. Science is profoundly undemocratic. It doesn't matter how many people agree with a position; what matters is the facts. And the facts, as noted, paint a very complicated picture, which we only dimly understand, and which can be interpreted a number of different ways.

(I would hesitate to lay the entire blame for greenhouse gasses on the West. The growing industrial economies of China and India are rapidly becoming major contributors.)

The "facts" of global warming are far too numerous to list here. (The Science Museum has an on-line global warming exhibit which is a good place to start. ) To summarize:

  • The Earth's average temperature increased, from the late 1800s to about 1940, and from 1980 to 1999. The total increase was about 1 degree Fahrenheit.
  • During this time, human activity has pumped an enormous amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. CO2 is known to trap heat.
  • Many changes in animal behavior, glaciers, etc. seem to be responding to warmer temperatures.

But

  • The Earth has gone through many warming and cooling cycles in the past. Even within human history, there have been temperature swings greater than what we have seen recently (though usually not as rapid).
  • There is evidence that naturally-produced methane contributes more to global warming than human-produced CO2. There is evidence that above certain concentrations, CO2 stops having any additional effect on heating. There is evidence that fluctuations in the Sun, and even in cosmic rays, have a strong impact on global temperatures.
  • The anecdotal evidence is inconsistent. In both the Arctic and the Antarctic, some regions are getting warmer, while others are getting colder. World-wide sea temperatures have actually dipped recently.

In any scientific endeavor, facts are never enough. We must always theorize -- "theory" being just a fancy word for "explain." How do we explain all these facts? (And there are many, many more -- some supporting human-induced global warming, some contradicting it.) Any theory that explains this complicated set of facts is going to be fairly complicated itself. Neither a simple "it's true!" or "it's not true!" is going to be enough.

And that I hope answers your final question -- this issue is so hard because...well, because it is hard! Because climate systems are so complicated, and there are very few cut-and-dried answers.

The global-warming debate has indeed become highly politicized. Which is unfortunate, since politics often looks for simple answers which, in this case, science cannot provide. But whatever action the world takes in response to global warming will be arrived at through the political process. (this article offers one opinion on what the political options may be.)

(NOTE: I am the Science Museum's resident global warming skeptic. I have tried to write this in as fair and balanced a manner as possible, but I'm sure others will offer their own, different take on it.)

posted on Tue, 02/13/2007 - 11:17am
James Satter's picture

"An Inconvenient Truth" just won the Oscar for best documentary film of 2006. An Academy Award, of course, is a filmmaking honor—not a scientific achievement—but it should keep the discussion about the film's content alive for some time.

posted on Sun, 02/25/2007 - 10:41pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Indeed it will! Here's a climatologist who argues the film should have been nominated as "science fiction." ;-)

posted on Mon, 02/26/2007 - 8:18am
BD's picture
BD says:

In response to Gene's observation that something other than humans caused global warming 400 years ago. In my, unscientific opinion, the same thing that caused global warming from time to time in the Earth's history is the same thing that is causing it now. A solar event back in 1980 scrapped away part of our ozone layer. Without that protection, more of the sun's thermal radiation is reaching our planet. The ozone layer grows naturally over time do to plant activity. Every once in a while, the sun sheers some of it away. In my opinion, we are lucky the sun only openned a small whole in the ozone layer. A major event could have spelled doom for us all..... Just my thoughts...

posted on Fri, 03/02/2007 - 3:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

You're talking about a planet that has been spinning freely for at least four billion years. Thats' a 4 with this many zeroes: 000000000. Anyone who talks about climate change should preface their arguement with that fact. In four billion years the Earth has never even been in the same place twice! It (the Earth) is simultaneously rotating and orbiting around a spinning mass (the Sun) that is orbiting around the center of our galaxy (the Milky Way), which is orbiting around the center of our universe (?).

If you drop a ball from your outstretched hand 1000 times and it falls to the ground 1000 times then you would be insane to predict a different result were you to release that ball again. Yet in the face of imperical evidence there are many who "debate" the topic.

Let me make something fundamentally clear about the nature of the universe: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Also: we live in a universe that tends toward chaos, exists inside a vacumn, and is freezing.

The Earth IS warming.

In this universe, things that get warm, then get cold.

Now go enjoy the day, becuase another fundamental truth about our lives is that things which live, then die. You don't have much time left.

posted on Wed, 02/28/2007 - 1:21pm
RR's picture
RR says:

I have been researching this subject for a while now. I have read both sides of the story. I agree global temperatures have risen. Why? That is the problem no one has enough evidence or scientific observations of actual events to know for sure. There can be more than one or two or even three explanations for ice melt, drowing polar bears (four is considered massive??) Or for changes in flooding and deminishing lakes etc. I saw on the tv that what was attributed to global warming of shrinking lake takeneka, is actually from use of the water by people for irrigation and other uses. And fighting over it's use too.

And why does everyone who advocates this co2 thing so sure that warming will be bad? I would love a milder winter here. I am sure people in minnesota would love a milder winter. Fact scientis (al gores science fiction book) said that most of the warming would be in higher winter low temps and not summer highs.

And what of the hidden agendas? And I do not believe people in power to often since they so often exaggerate on purpose or deliberatly lie, especially when it comes to money or power or both. As far as I am concerned all this is to decrease our standard of living down to the levels of some third world countries while the rich get richer and have more control over us where we are the serfdoms them the masters.

And this making americans feel guilty is bogus. This country has spent billions of dollars on foreign aid for the poor and the problem is the governments keep the money and don't use it for the people, so the us and united nations too have to bring food to these very people whose government receieved tons of money. And they have to buy permits to bring relief to the poor there, how crummy is that? All the while the taxpayers foot the bill, including loans that other countries renig on too. That is why banks so readily give out loans to foreign governments knowing full well they many not pay it back.

Who should feel guilty are the wealthy elites who do not want competition so they pay governments so they won't develope their countries and allow their citizens to develope weatlh and get themselves permanantly out of poverty. all this starvation death and proxy wars are by design by the wealthy governments who do not want to share the wealth (except our wealth of course). Al gore is only a problem reaction solution paradigm.

google problem reaction solution and you will see what I mean.

RR

posted on Sun, 03/18/2007 - 4:55pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

An Inconvenient Truth was on cable last night, and blogger Ann Althouse recorded her reactions as she watched it for the first time. She notes how it uses propaganda techniques.

Meanwhile, British TV has produced a counter-documentary entitled The Great Global Warming Swindle. (Streaming video, one hour 13 minutes long.) It interviews many prominent scientists who dispute the idea that human-produced CO2 is causing climate change.

posted on Fri, 03/23/2007 - 9:21am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

A recent poll shows that only 24% of Americans consider Al Gore to be an authority on global warming. As blogger Roger Simon explains, people would rather hear from scientists themselves -- as in the video linked above. (Thought that film only interviews scientists who agree with the filmmakers' premise -- it's certainly not the whole story.)

posted on Mon, 03/26/2007 - 9:50am
Noah The Great's picture
Noah The Great says:

I do not believe in global warming. The "evidence" of global warming has never been verified. And Al Gore's home uses more electricity in a month then the average house does in a year. He's not one to talk about conserving on electricity.

posted on Fri, 04/20/2007 - 3:33pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

OK, Noah...Two things.

One: Global warming is a fact. Gravity's a fact, too: you don't have to believe it in, but you'll still fall if you walk off a cliff. Similarly, you don't have to believe it, but pretty much everybody in climate science, regardless of ideology or politics, agrees that global warming is happening. There is some debate about why it's happening (and there isn't even much of that, frankly), but there is general consensus that the Earth is heating up.

Two: Separate the message from the messenger. So Al Gore's not the poster boy for reducing your ecological footprint. So what? Does that mean you shouldn't think about how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle? You don't have to do it for the planet; you can just do it for your power bill. The effect's the same, either way.

posted on Fri, 04/20/2007 - 3:55pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

As Glenn Reynolds says, "I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who say it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis."

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 5:55am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think this is an excellent debate. I'm hoping someone can help me though. I'm noticing that the only scientists that dispute that humans are in fact the cause of global warming are not from the U.S. Studies and articles posted here of scientists that say that humans are undeniably the cause of global warming seem to all be American scientists. Am I just seeing things that are not there or is there something else fishy going on here in the global warming debate? Regardless of why the earth is warming I agree that humans should strive for more sustainable living and alternate technologies. Regardless of global warming the oil will run out and when it does we had better have a good handle on a better, renewable fuel source.

posted on Wed, 05/23/2007 - 9:53am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

US scientists who are skeptical that humans are the primary cause of global warming include:

As I compiled this list, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot more reports of skeptical scientists in Canada and Europe than in the US. Some have complained that it is hard to get funding -- especially US government funding -- for research that is inconsistent with the hypothesis of human-induced global warming.

posted on Fri, 05/25/2007 - 10:20am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

This article from Australian columnist Andrew Bolt lists a few more American scientists I had missed:

  • Prof John Christy, IPCC lead author and head of Alabama’s Earth System Science Center
  • Prof Charles Wax, Mississippi state climatologist
  • Prof emeritus Joel Kauffman, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
  • Dr Christopher Landsea, NOAA hurricane expert
  • Dr Frederick Seitz, US National Academy of Sciences past president
  • Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental science at Virginia University
  • And, ironically, the late Roger Revelle, UCSD, the professor whom Al Gore credits with first alerting him to global warming.
posted on Sat, 05/26/2007 - 11:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think u r totally correct. good luck in the future!!!!!

-Scientist Brit Cav

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 9:01am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Ten years ago, I was working on a PhD in molecular biology. I eventually quit, in part, because I realized that science is the pursuit of grant money. The real problem with the "global warming debate" is that it's impossible to test the theory.

If you actually wanted to apply the scientific method to the theory "humans cause global warming" then you'd have to take an identical earth, deliberately dump millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and see what happens relative to the earth as it is.

It's an untestable theory; thus it's perfect for getting funding. What people don't grasp (but Gene does) is that natural selection weeds out scientific work counter to the alarmist theory.

If you produce a paper that says "Humans cause global warming! We have to do something!" then you obviously need more funding to study the problem further. So you get more funding, and then you get to write more papers saying what a problem it is and how horrible humanity is for causing the problem.

If you produce a paper that says, "Humans are not causing global warming!" then aha! There's no problem (none that we can address anyway), so there's no need for any more funding. And so you never see any more papers challenging the global warming theory.

The earth is getting warmer, yes. But it's impossible to say WHY with the data that we have. You have to be very careful of "correlations" and assuming a cause-and-effect scenario.

For example, did you know that churches cause murders? Indeed, statistically there's a correlation. The more churches there are per square mile, the higher the number of murders in the same area. Of course, churches don't cause murders-- the higher number of churches and murders is caused by population density. Yet I could write a paper showing a valid statistical correlation between the two.

The hardest problem with evaluating global warming is that the political forces on the "humans are the problem" bandwagon inevitably assert that it's all the West's fault (and particularly the United States) and that we should cut our standard-of-living, etc. In other words, they have an ideological axe to grind. (Does it really surprise anyone that china and india think that Kyoto should be adopted by the united states, since it will cripple our industry while they do not have to abide by the treaty? There's an economic benefit here to them. Thus, they don't support the theory because of science, they support it for national advantage).

Pointing at china and saying that per capita that they produce less CO2 is true, but you could also point at gross national product versus CO2 production and say that the west produces far less. So if you want to produce products the most efficiently (in other words, maximize production versus CO2) then you would want to keep the industry in the west versus china or india. But no one ever argues this, because of their own political leanings. (It's akin to criticizing the West while ignoring problems in dictatorships. We report our problems... they don't. That doesn't mean that the West is somehow worse than other parts of the world, because we never hear about anything bad happening elsewhere).

Ah well, enough on my part. The real problem is that:
(1) climate is complex. We can't consistently predict whether it will rain tomorrow, yet we are positive that we know why global warming is occurring?

(2) the nature of science funding is such that if you assert that global warming isn't man-made, you won't get funded any more, because there isn't a problem. Only alarmists get funded, because the "crisis" obviously needs to be studied further.

A final point. Anyone remember that ridiculous "grand harmonic convergence" where a bunch of new agers went into the desert ten years ago to commune with the crystals to prevent the end of the world? The world didn't end, and so the participants declared their "intervention" a success! Global warming is the same. Suppose we act on the theory, humans cause global warming (because we can't afford to wait!), and cut CO2 emissions... and here's what happens:

(1) temperatures continue to rise.
RESPONSE: Oh, but they would have risen far more had we not acted. Thus, our intervention was a success!

(2) temperatures level off.
RESPONSE: Thank god we intervened and stopped global warming! We acted just in time!

(3) temperatures drop.
RESPONSE: We saved the day, and managed to reverse the effects of global warming!

(4) temperatures plunge into a new ice age.
RESPONSE: We need more funding to prevent the global cooling crisis, which is caused by the massive influx of pollution into the atmosphere, heightening cloud albedio. Quick, send us funding! Global warming? Oh, we addressed that problem, but there was another aspect that we hadn't considered which obviously needs more study. Climate is complex, you know.

Is there any possible scenario where the alarmists will agree that they were wrong, and that there was no man-made global warming? Or better yet, that they don't need funding at all? Nope.

posted on Sat, 08/04/2007 - 7:06am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

The truth about denial.
Newsweek has a 6 page post detailing the financial backing attempting to influence the political debate about global warming. Interesting reading if you have the time. msnbc.com

posted on Mon, 08/06/2007 - 10:56am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Hmm...they don't seem to mention that during the Clinton / Gore years, the National Science Foundation began shoveling tons of money into research that supported global warming theories, and little if any into studies that contradicted them. Not that this could possibly influence political debate...

posted on Tue, 08/07/2007 - 8:26pm
mbbgournay's picture
mbbgournay says:

Well... Ethenol is a scam to provide our tax dollars to farmers so they can grow un-needed corn. And, since it takes more calories of energy burning natural gas to cook down the corn to alchohol than the calories the alchohol can generate... its a waste.. we'd do better to burn natural gas in our cars... We need solar help... The new nano technology will allow us to use Solar Cells in Window Blinds sometime in the future... and to include solar foil in the body of our cars.

Cant wait..

posted on Fri, 09/21/2007 - 3:26pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

A British judge has declared An Inconvenient Truth to be biased, and requires teachers in the UK to read a disclaimer before showing the film in class.

posted on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 7:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Wouldn't rely on Britsh judges for my scientific data.

posted on Thu, 10/04/2007 - 10:30am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

But you would rely on an American politician? ;-)

Anyway, it's not about science; it's about political bias.

posted on Thu, 10/04/2007 - 10:32am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

OK, would you believe a CNN meteorologist?

posted on Fri, 10/05/2007 - 9:00am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Al Gore's movie is a good one, but like some public television programs about the environment, it does not emphasize enough the need for worldwide population control, especially in those countries where population densities are high, and where land and water resources are scarce.

posted on Thu, 10/04/2007 - 2:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Wouldn't rely on cnn meteorolgists, politicians, british judges and many more. Ever worked in a tech field? Media, and many other very bright people not entrenched in that field are way off base. Check the position statements by the Geologic Society of America (http://www.geosociety.org/positions/index.htm) and the National Academy of Science http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ocga/testimony/Climate_Change_Evidence_and_Future_Projections.asp). These are the brightest scientists in the U.S. - you know, the folks who brought you nearly every antibiotic we have, all the very effective antiviral therapies for HIV the newest effective treatments for acute heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc. Sorry to inform you, but short of Newton's Laws of Physics, not many scientific theories have greater consensus among the experts.

posted on Fri, 10/05/2007 - 12:38pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Consensus? I think not. Have peer-reviewed journals published 500 articles refuting aspects of Newton's work recently?

(It is interesting to note that the chairman of the National Academy of Sciences is among those who refute some aspects of the global warming "consensus." And didn't some climatologists object to having their names associated with this report? A report which wasn't actually written by scientists?)

While I am grateful to the doctors and researchers who developed all of these great medical advances, that hardly makes them qualified to expound on climate science. I don't want a doctor giving me a weather forecast any more than I want a weatherman to perform gall bladder surgery.

Appeals to authority have no place in scientific debate. Facts are what matter. The facts are: the Earth's climate continues to change; climate is complicated; and the direct impact of human activity on global climate is far from understood.

Speaking of authority, is this the same National Academy of Sciences which once recommended evacuating 6 million people from parts of Africa because of global cooling? (NY Times, Dec. 29, 1974) Just curious...

posted on Sat, 10/06/2007 - 9:10am
bryan kennedy's picture

Argg! I am so tired of the global cooling argument. Its like saying that because I made a mistake when I was 16 I can't be trusted to do my job today. Science is based on acknowledging failures but also knowing that we have to move forward and make decisions in the present based on the knowledge we have at the time. We HAVE to make decisions on global warming and for the most part the evidence and a facts show that the decisions we make need to keep in mind that human does activity affect climate. We can't hold off time while we get every aspect of the enormously complex field of climate science correct.

posted on Sat, 10/06/2007 - 3:29pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Actually, it's more like saying I made a mistake when I was 16...then I made the opposite mistake when I was 25...then I made the first mistake again when I was 77...and now I'm 99 and going back to my second statement, but honest, you can trust me now. It's true:scientists have been alternating between global warming and global cooling since at least 1895.

That's all fine -- as you say, science advances as we learn more. But here's the problem: the "decisions" many scientists and activists support would cripple our society and wreck the global economy. Even if they had been right every single day for the past century, that would be an awful lot to swallow. Given their track record, I think we can be excused for expressing some skepticism.

I recall reading that, during the global cooling discussions of the 1970s, some scientists proposed that we increase our production of greenhouse gases, to keep the planet warm. Luckily, other scientists convinced President Nixon that deliberately polluting the atmosphere was probably a bad idea. This should serve as a reminder as we contemplate drastic measures today.

posted on Sat, 10/06/2007 - 10:38pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Yeah, it would really DESTROY our society to invest in alternative sources of energy that are cleaner, cheaper and could create new job sectors. Heck, look at the Japanese auto industry suffering from making all those efficient cars. Honda and Toyota are operating in the red and GM and Chrysler are doing great, right? Wallmart must be crazy to start building more energy efficient stores with natural lighting, too. Those wallmart folks just don't know how to make money. They don't know anything about profits. And the Japanese abandoning the work suit and ties and setting their office thermostats at 82 degrees, turning off their air conditioners have only saved millions of dollars each month. That would never work in the U.S., though. What with the obesity epidemic and all.

That's okay, the older generation doesn't have to admit that their excess corresponds to the highest levels of atmospheric CO2 in the last 600,000 years which also corresponds to the highest temperatures in the last 600,000 years. The new kids on the block will pay off the nearly 10 trillion dollar deficit, solve the obesity epidemic contributing to the 15% of GNP that goes to healthcare and we will solve the excess in carbon pollutants leading to global warming. The older generation can just keep on eating, spending, and driving their RV's across the country in their golden years.

What happened after the "Greatest Generation."

posted on Mon, 10/08/2007 - 8:32am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Inventing and adopting new energy sources will not destroy the economy. Forcing society to abandon current energy resources before the new ones are ready -- which is what many proposals amount to -- will.

posted on Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:40pm
Jay Alt's picture
Jay Alt says:

Stop kidding yourself Gene. The 'chairman of the NAS', Frederick Seitz, was chairman long ago. He is 96 years old now. He might be capable of picking a pudding flavor now and then. His name was used on a cover letter for a phony petition in the late 1980s (when he was already a former chairman). His forte was solid state physics, and that stuff has no relevance to the earth science reviewed by the IPCC.

In a document now available from the Tobacco Settlement, their counsel advised that Seitz wasn't 'with it' enough to be a witness even then! But he was on their payroll and advised tobacco firms how to confuse scientific issues and put off the day of reckoning. The man abused his position and distorted science to enrich himself. If he were younger, President Bush would surely find a spot for him.

posted on Wed, 10/10/2007 - 12:04pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Ah, an ad hominem attack! It's been a while. Well, if you can't refute the guy's statements, refute the guy.

(Let me get this straight -- the NAS is a credible authority on climate change, because it contains a lot of medical doctors, but it's chair is not a credible authority, because his expertise is in physics? Got it.)

(Hmm... I wonder if it would be considered ad hominem to point out that the IPCC reports aren't written by scientists, but by bureaucrats (tenth paragraph) and some scientists have fought to have their names removed from the report (point 25.)

posted on Thu, 10/11/2007 - 6:56am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Frederick Seitz, was chairman long ago. He is 96 years old now. He might be capable of picking a pudding flavor now and then.

I've had a chance to think about this a little more, and this is really pretty offensive. Just because someone is old doesn't mean they are senile. My Dad is getting up in years, and he's still sharp as a tack. I'd take his word over any young whipper-snapper.

If you think Seitz is not credible because he's incorrect, explain why. If you think Seitz is not credible just because he's old, save it.

posted on Thu, 10/18/2007 - 8:10pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

Here's more on the British judge's ruling about Gore's film (which I must admit I haven't seen yet).

posted on Thu, 10/11/2007 - 8:24am
kieth webb's picture
kieth webb says:

it open my eyes........mmmaaaaaaaaaannnnn. i wept for the eco system. gore is my god and he would lead us to a greener tommorow

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 10:10am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Is Gene really arguing that the scientific majority does not believe that human caused CO2 is responsible for climate change? If so, he is wrong. If not, then what is the point of "educating" us all that there are a few scientists who do not believe in the NAS and GSA position statements? Does a minor dissent from the scientific majority debunk a widely accepted theory? If so, the vast majority of science would be debunked?

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 1:39pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I haven't taken a census, but sure, I can accept that the majority of scientists believe that human-produced CO2 is causing global warming. However, 500 papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals refuting parts of the global warming hypothesis seems to me to be a bit more than "a few scientists" or "minor dissent."

Dissent does not debunk widely-accepted theory, but dissent backed with evidence does call the theory into doubt. It is how science works. Any theory that is beyond question or dispute is, by definition, not science.

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 6:08pm
Dave here's picture
Dave here says:

Gene you are clearly part of the "conservative" movement that seems to have a religios faith that global warming is not real. You are great at quoting sources that agree with you (generally non-scientists or oil company lacbush administration kies) but don't seem to give any credence to science and the scientific method. `like the you skip over actual science to the pseudo science stuff. Probably believe in intelligent design as well. Faith is fine but facts do get in the way. And by the way, the earth i s definitely getting warmer to the point where countries will be flooded and the point that US food production will be threatened. Even if that IS a natural phenomina, should we use science to conteract it? We either take control of our fate or we don't.

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 3:28pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

An ad hominem attack on me? Fabulous! I've been waiting so long. Thank you!

My religious, political and social beliefs are irrelevant to this debate, as are yours. Are we to ignore or dismiss a scientist because he votes Democratic, or because he got funding from Al Gore? No -- we only look at facts and evidence.

The sources I quote tend to be scientists who publish in peer-reviewed journals.

I feel I am defending the scientific method, insisting that we come up with a theory of global warming (which is indeed happening) that accounts for all the evidence.

Actually, there has been a fair amount of writing lately on how global warming advocacy resembles religion, with its closing off of debate and its persecution of the heretical and the non-believers.

The IPCC keeps revising its predictions of flooding downwards.

My position on evolution and intelligent design is amply demonstrated elsewhere on this blog.

posted on Sat, 10/13/2007 - 6:52am
Dave here's picture
Dave here says:

Gene just went to the link for you of your "climatologists". Led to a "Sr climate fellow) at the Cato Institute. Cato is a Libertarian group that doesn't think government. Is the soluiton to ANY problem. Also your souce does not give any scientific credentials to back up his "fellowness".
Only thing you've said I agree with is that we should make much more use of nuclear power if goverment (oh that dirty word!) can find someplace to store the waste for the next 10,000 years..

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 3:36pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Ah, another ad hominem argument! Such fun! If a person espouses political beliefs which I do not agree with, then obviously his scientific pronouncements are without merit. ;-)

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 6:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The problem with clinging to this one book published by a conservative think tank is that it is not peer reviewed. Clinge away, on your raft down that Egyptian river.

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 7:15pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I'm not sure what book you refer to. However, as noted elsewhere, there have been at least 500 peer-reviewed articles disupting various aspects of the global warming hypothesis.

And as for "de Nile," we have noted elsewhere how that phrase is used in an unscientific attempt to stifle debate.

posted on Sat, 10/13/2007 - 6:43am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Two hundred years ago, common remedies for a wide range of disorders included cutting open a vein to remove a pint of blood and giving various toxic substances to produce vomiting or diarrhea—all dangerous to a sick or injured person. A little over 100 years ago, The Merck Manual mentioned cocaine as a treatment for alcoholism, arsenic and tobacco smoke as treatments for asthma, and sulfuric acid nasal spray as a treatment for colds. Clearly these were inaccurate, and now we have overwhelming data no that shows these "treatments" were harmful. Does that mean we dismiss all current science on asthma, heart disease, cancers, colds? Does it mean that tobacco smoking is actually healthy? Of course not. But scientists in the 1970's warned of globalcooling? How can we ever believe anything they publish on climate change ever again? It would be immoral to abandon research on disease for which people could benefit. Current research on climate change is similar. Sure, there are problems with some studies, new and old, but that is why we rely on our experts to review the entire body of data and condense it into position statements. Ho arrogant it would be as a nonscientist to dismiss those consensus statements.

posted on Sat, 10/13/2007 - 8:20am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

A couple of points.

First of all, scientists have been vacillating back and forth between global warming and global cooling since at least 1895, and they haven't been right yet. I reserve the right to reserve judgment.

Second, skepticism against theories of human-induced global warming (and especially against disaster-movie scenarios stemming from it) comes from far more than fond memories of global cooling. It comes from hundreds and hundreds of scientific papers all questioning various parts of the global warming hypothesis. (Not questioning the warming itself; just questioning its cause and potential effects.)

Third, if global warming inspires us all to pollute less, to use less energy, to discover new, cleaner sources of energy, then that is all for the good. I am behind those efforts 100%. But, global warming seems to be inspiring some people to support drastic remedies (e.g. Kyoto-like treaties) which would cost trillions, would achieve almost nothing, and would plunge most of the world into poverty. It is concern over such drastic, disastrous, and ultimately unnecessary steps that animates the skeptics.

And finally, for the four-thousandth time, consensus is not science. I imagine many of the outdated theories you list were the consensus of their time. But new evidence came along to unseat them. Occam's Razor requires us to develop hypotheses which account for ALL fo the evidence. In the case of global warming, it would seem that this has not happened yet.

posted on Sat, 10/13/2007 - 4:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

That Egyptian river is the stifler of reason and debate, mi hombre.

posted on Sat, 10/13/2007 - 8:23am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

That is incorrect. First of all, almost nobody denies that the globe is warming. Skeptics merely question how much of it is due to human activity. Second, this very thread would seem to be evidence that nobody is being stifled, at least here. Third, in the wider world, it is the global warming skeptics who have a much harder time getting heard, who are often ignored or dismissed, who have received threats, who feel the pressure not to speak out.

Can't say I've seen much stifling of Al Gore.

posted on Sat, 10/13/2007 - 4:04pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

well then you just haven't listened to the most listened to talk radio show on planet Earth

posted on Sun, 10/14/2007 - 8:01am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

So, if consensus has no meaning in the science realm, then why does the FDA exist? Why do all major medical subspecialty societies publish position statements regarding the diagnostic and therapeutic approach to every major disease and why does the NAS and GSA publish and deliver position statements?

There are areas in science that Occam's razor does not apply. The best example is AIDS patients who acquire multiple different infections in different organs at once, with different manifestations, complaints and signs/symptoms. It is only because we understand the molecular biology (although there are dissentors) of the T cell and immunology that we know these patients are at risk for multiple different infections from different sources. In 1984 we did not know the intricacies of the HIV virus, T cell and immunology surrounding AIDS and could not acount for the simultaneous presentation of different cancers and infections in one patient.

posted on Sun, 10/14/2007 - 8:43am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

The FDA and GSA are not scientific bodies, but organizations within the federal government. They issue guidelines and policy recommendations, not scientific papers. Even NAS, though its members are scientists, is a political organization, promoting policies that they see as being in the best interest of science.

All of this is perfectly fine and important work. But it is politics, not science. Consensus is very important in politics, including developing policies which are based on scientific evidence. However, consensus is meaningless in scientific inquiry itself.

I'm afraid I do not understand your AIDS analogy. But if I may attempt to interpret: in 1984, AIDS patients came down with multiple diseases, and doctors assumed these had multiple causes. We now know that they all stem from the same cause. Occam's Razor holds that the simplest theory which accounts for all the evidence is most likely to be correct. In this case, a single cause would be a simpler theory than multiple causes. Of course, as you note, in 1984 the T cell was not as well understood, so the single cause couldn't even be a theory at that point.

posted on Sun, 10/14/2007 - 3:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

That is inaccurate. The GSA and NAS are NOT organizations within the federal government. They are independent organizations, and the NAS is composed of 2100 of the most prestigious scientists in the world and 200 of these scientists have won nobel prizes. It is the most prestigious organization of scientists anywhere. They elect their own leaders independently and serve pro bono as consultants to the congress and other governing bodies to educate and help politicians decide on future scientific direction. Dozens of other organizations such as the AGA, ACP, ASGE, ACCP, ACC, etc are all independent organizations of scientists and medical doctors and they all publish position statements on the accepted disease mechanisms, diagnostic workup and recommended therapeutic approach to hundreds of diseases. These are scientifically based and have the same intent as those position statements issued from the NAS and GSA. That is, to educate and offer their widely accepted scientific opinion regarding important issues such as global warming. The point here is that these brilliant experts are in mass agreement that there is overwhelming evidence for human driven climate change. Debate is fine, but why would one be so arrogant as to ignore the overwhelming scientific majority's opinion, warnings and other insights? Who would we be to disregard these consensus statements from the experts and decide the Hudson Institute is more accurate?

posted on Sun, 10/14/2007 - 9:50pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I never said the NAS was an organization within the federal government.

The GSA most certainly is an independent agency within the federal government. It is not a department of the executive branch, but rather created and authorized by Congress.

Scientific organization publish policy papers. Scientists publish scientific papers. It is important to keep these things separate.

Are you by any chance the same Anonymous person who is debating me in the consensus thread? (Nothing wrong with being Anonymous; I just don't want to repeat myself too much.) In case you are not -- and in case some readers of this thread don't make it over to the other one -- let me post a link to the article by Richard Lindzen, Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, who not only argues that there is no scientific consensus on global warming, but that the very notion of scientific consensus is dangerous.

posted on Sun, 10/14/2007 - 11:58pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The GSA I am referring to is the same one above in this very thread - that is The Geological Society of America. Perhaps you had confused that with The General Services Administration. I gather that means you did not bother to visit the position statement listed above from a nonprofit independent group of climatologists dedicated to the advancement of geosciences.

The notion of scientific consensus is popular among every scientific association in existence and the purpose is to educate the public and to guide future policy on scientific funding and direction.

posted on Mon, 10/15/2007 - 10:10am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

My mistake -- I was indeed thinking of the General Services Administration (which is the most common meaning of GSA, especially when lumped together with FDA). I did follow the URL, but that was 10 days ago, and there have been many comments from many people on many topics since then. I did not make the connection.

Again: consensus is crucial in establishing scientific policy. It is meaningless in establishing scientific fact. The organizations you mention issue position papers based on consensus. Their members, however, publish scientific papers based on evidence and experimentation.

The problem is that the two activities are being confused in the popular mind. And that some extreme policy solutions are being proposed before the facts have been thoroughly weighed and assessed.

posted on Mon, 10/15/2007 - 11:07am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

If the warming of the earth is part of a natural cycle, there is nothing that man can do about it. Nevertheless, the global pollution of the atmosphere, rivers and seas that man has carelessly caused needs to be corrected. It would be to man's benefit if attrention were paid to ceasing carbon emissions for that reason alone.

posted on Wed, 04/23/2008 - 9:35am

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