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Archive for March 22nd, 2007

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I have a few catch-up items for everyone today in honor of Al Gore’s appearance yesterday before the House Committee on Global Warming (hasn’t congress heard it’s called ‘Global Climate Change’ now? ‘Global Warming’ is so last year.)

The VP has been recently dubbed “The Goracle” by his army of the faithful. [Because let's be clear, despite varying evidence for and in opposition to global climate change/warming, it is a matter of faith. Just as Christians have faith that Jesus is God and he will return to judge the quick and the dead, and just like Buddhists have faith they can work to expunge all bad vibes in order to obtain enlightenment, and just as Muslims believe they can subjugate the entire world and establish sharia law throughout the land, the global climate change religionists believe man is primarily responsible for global warming and the fate of the planet due to our actions and/or inactions--science can often be another form of provable and improvable doctrinal creed.] The faithful seem to overlook The Goracle’s obvious and environmentally damaging hypocrisies, most recently evidenced in his egregiously wasteful personal energy policies at his own mansion in Tennessee, and including the plane zips from state to state, country to country in a private jet delivering his Academy Award winning slide show to the eco-zombies of the world, when he could just as easily travel commercially much of the time.

But oh, as he claimed in yesterday’s hearings, and as he’s previously self-extolled, he’s living a ‘carbon neutral’ lifestyle through the purchase of ‘carbon offsets,’ or credits, from an enviro-friendly company that specializes in that sort of nonsensical diddle.

But even an organization that specializes in carbon offsets has no clue how they actually function to reduce specific amounts of carbon dioxide (human only I assume despite that fact that humans are not the leading cause of CO2 production.) Dan Skopec, Undersecretary for California Environmental Protection Agency, is a man who represents the cheerleading effort behind carbon footprint reduction, while ensuring that Arnold Swarzenegger’s and Dianne Feinstein’s environmentally unfriendly lifestyles are made to look much less horrific than they actually. Recently interviewed for the John and Ken Show on KFI 640 in Los Angeles, Skopec confessed, after repeatedly dodging the question, that he, and the scientific community as a whole (at least the tree-hugger variety), have no idea how many trees it would take, and how long they would need to remain standing, in order to offset the billions of tons of C02 we produce. The concept of Swarzenegger and Feinstein and The Goracle spending $10 to buy the right for a single tree to offset the gobs of carbon dioxide they produce in just one private jet trip is comedy. The fact that they obviously spend more (probably) for multiple trees with no clue as to what is officially necessary in order to actually reduce their ‘carbon footprint’ is an absurdity to the point of tragedy.

So send me $10 and I’ll nail the bill right to the tree in my back yard (if I did in my front yard, someone might steal the money and you wouldn’t gain anything)–you’ve just purchased the right for my tree to reduce your CO2 emissions. How much? Like Mr. Skopec above, I have no clue. But it can’t hurt can it? Yet that’s how most scams seem to function, and stating that global warming is the major emergency of our time as Gore claimed yesterday lends more credence to those who do not question what they’re told and their willingness to buy into a scam without thinking for themselves.

But all this matters little to the mindless legions who follow The Goracle. Like an apoplectic discharge, they punish those who don’t exactly buy into the global warming theory, while choosing to ignore billions of years of undocumented, unrecorded evolutionary earth history–ice core samples, yeah–that has shown the earth transforming, evolving, metamorphosing, and arguably transmogrifying (yes, Mother Nature, you can be an ugly bitch sometimes) throughout the eons, warming and cooling.

Of course, what all of this really boils down to here are new taxe increases for everyone courtesy of the Al Gore global warming conspiracy and his next bid for President of the United States in 2008. Still, I’d vote for him over George W. Bush any day of the week (of course, I’m kidding.  I would simply abstain.)

Anyway, here’s a fantastic documentary produced by the UK Channel 4 titled The Great Global Warming Swindle. Proceed further down the page for more news stories.

 

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Here’s a NYTimes piece from a week ago. Though a little old, it’s interesting.

From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype

Hollywood has a thing for Al Gore and his three-alarm film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which won an Academy Award for best documentary. So do many environmentalists, who praise him as a visionary, and many scientists, who laud him for raising public awareness of climate change.

But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism.

“I don’t want to pick on Al Gore,” Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.”

Mr. Gore, in an e-mail exchange about the critics, said his work made “the most important and salient points” about climate change, if not “some nuances and distinctions” scientists might want. “The degree of scientific consensus on global warming has never been stronger,” he said, adding, “I am trying to communicate the essence of it in the lay language that I understand.”

Although Mr. Gore is not a scientist, he does rely heavily on the authority of science in “An Inconvenient Truth,” which is why scientists are sensitive to its details and claims.

Criticisms of Mr. Gore have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists like Dr. Easterbook, who told his peers that he had no political ax to grind. A few see natural variation as more central to global warming than heat-trapping gases. Many appear to occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, seeing human activity as a serious threat but challenging what they call the extremism of both skeptics and zealots.

Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration. While praising Mr. Gore for “getting the message out,” Dr. Vranes questioned whether his presentations were “overselling our certainty about knowing the future.”

Typically, the concern is not over the existence of climate change, or the idea that the human production of heat-trapping gases is partly or largely to blame for the globe’s recent warming. The question is whether Mr. Gore has gone beyond the scientific evidence.

“He’s a very polarizing figure in the science community,” said Roger A. Pielke Jr., an environmental scientist who is a colleague of Dr. Vranes at the University of Colorado center. “Very quickly, these discussions turn from the issue to the person, and become a referendum on Mr. Gore.”

“An Inconvenient Truth,” directed by Davis Guggenheim, was released last May and took in more than $46 million, making it one of the top-grossing documentaries ever. The companion book by Mr. Gore quickly became a best seller, reaching No. 1 on the New York Times list.

Mr. Gore depicted a future in which temperatures soar, ice sheets melt, seas rise, hurricanes batter the coasts and people die en masse. “Unless we act boldly,” he wrote, “our world will undergo a string of terrible catastrophes.”

He clearly has supporters among leading scientists, who commend his popularizations and call his science basically sound. In December, he spoke in San Francisco to the American Geophysical Union and got a reception fit for a rock star from thousands of attendees.

“He has credibility in this community,” said Tim Killeen, the group’s president and director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a top group studying climate change. “There’s no question he’s read a lot and is able to respond in a very effective way.”

Some backers concede minor inaccuracies but see them as reasonable for a politician. James E. Hansen, an environmental scientist, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a top adviser to Mr. Gore, said, “Al does an exceptionally good job of seeing the forest for the trees,” adding that Mr. Gore often did so “better than scientists.”

Still, Dr. Hansen said, the former vice president’s work may hold “imperfections” and “technical flaws.” He pointed to hurricanes, an icon for Mr. Gore, who highlights the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and cites research suggesting that global warming will cause both storm frequency and deadliness to rise. Yet this past Atlantic season produced fewer hurricanes than forecasters predicted (five versus nine), and none that hit the United States.

“We need to be more careful in describing the hurricane story than he is,” Dr. Hansen said of Mr. Gore. “On the other hand,” Dr. Hansen said, “he has the bottom line right: most storms, at least those driven by the latent heat of vaporization, will tend to be stronger, or have the potential to be stronger, in a warmer climate.”

In his e-mail message, Mr. Gore defended his work as fundamentally accurate. “Of course,” he said, “there will always be questions around the edges of the science, and we have to rely upon the scientific community to continue to ask and to challenge and to answer those questions.”

He said “not every single adviser” agreed with him on every point, “but we do agree on the fundamentals” — that warming is real and caused by humans.

Mr. Gore added that he perceived no general backlash among scientists against his work. “I have received a great deal of positive feedback,” he said. “I have also received comments about items that should be changed, and I have updated the book and slideshow to reflect these comments.” He gave no specifics on which points he had revised.

He said that after 30 years of trying to communicate the dangers of global warming, “I think that I’m finally getting a little better at it.”

While reviewers tended to praise the book and movie, vocal skeptics of global warming protested almost immediately. Richard S. Lindzen, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, who has long expressed skepticism about dire climate predictions, accused Mr. Gore in The Wall Street Journal of “shrill alarmism.”

Some of Mr. Gore’s centrist detractors point to a report last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that studies global warming. The panel went further than ever before in saying that humans were the main cause of the globe’s warming since 1950, part of Mr. Gore’s message that few scientists dispute. But it also portrayed climate change as a slow-motion process.

It estimated that the world’s seas in this century would rise a maximum of 23 inches — down from earlier estimates. Mr. Gore, citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 20 feet and depicts parts of New York, Florida and other heavily populated areas as sinking beneath the waves, implying, at least visually, that inundation is imminent.

Bjorn Lomborg, a statistician and political scientist in Denmark long skeptical of catastrophic global warming, said in a syndicated article that the panel, unlike Mr. Gore, had refrained from scaremongering. “Climate change is a real and serious problem” that calls for careful analysis and sound policy, Dr. Lomborg said. “The cacophony of screaming,” he added, “does not help.”

So too, a report last June by the National Academies seemed to contradict Mr. Gore’s portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium. Instead, the report said, current highs appeared unrivaled since only 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.

Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said on a blog that Mr. Gore’s film did “indeed do a pretty good job of presenting the most dire scenarios.” But the June report, he added, shows “that all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400 years.”

Other critics have zeroed in on Mr. Gore’s claim that the energy industry ran a “disinformation campaign” that produced false discord on global warming. The truth, he said, was that virtually all unbiased scientists agreed that humans were the main culprits. But Benny J. Peiser, a social anthropologist in Britain who runs the Cambridge-Conference Network, or CCNet, an Internet newsletter on climate change and natural disasters, challenged the claim of scientific consensus with examples of pointed disagreement.

“Hardly a week goes by,” Dr. Peiser said, “without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory,” including some reports that offer alternatives to human activity for global warming.

Geologists have documented age upon age of climate swings, and some charge Mr. Gore with ignoring such rhythms.

“Nowhere does Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia, said in a September blog. “Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change.”

In October, Dr. Easterbrook made similar points at the geological society meeting in Philadelphia. He hotly disputed Mr. Gore’s claim that “our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this” threatened change.

Nonsense, Dr. Easterbrook told the crowded session. He flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to “20 times greater than the warming in the past century.”

Getting personal, he mocked Mr. Gore’s assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. “I’ve never been paid a nickel by an oil company,” Dr. Easterbrook told the group. “And I’m not a Republican.”

Biologists, too, have gotten into the act. In January, Paul Reiter, an active skeptic of global warming’s effects and director of the insects and infectious diseases unit of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, faulted Mr. Gore for his portrayal of global warming as spreading malaria.

“For 12 years, my colleagues and I have protested against the unsubstantiated claims,” Dr. Reiter wrote in The International Herald Tribune. “We have done the studies and challenged the alarmists, but they continue to ignore the facts.”

Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton who advised Mr. Gore on the book and movie, said that reasonable scientists disagreed on the malaria issue and other points that the critics had raised. In general, he said, Mr. Gore had distinguished himself for integrity.

“On balance, he did quite well — a credible and entertaining job on a difficult subject,” Dr. Oppenheimer said. “For that, he deserves a lot of credit. If you rake him over the coals, you’re going to find people who disagree. But in terms of the big picture, he got it right.”

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Returning as the ‘Goracle’

Gore brings his message on global warming — and a reincarnated image — to the Capitol.

By Faye Fiore and Richard Simon, Times Staff Writers
March 22, 2007
WASHINGTON — The doors swung open and he made his entrance with cameras clicking, the wooden politician denied the presidency and derided as “Ozone Man” was coming home to the Capitol. But this time they called him a movie star and likened him to a prophet.

Al Gore left Washington seven years ago bowed by the 2000 presidential election and a little disgraced in the eyes of his party — couldn’t he at least have won his home state?

 

But he returned Wednesday reincarnated: the subject of an Academy Award-winning film, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, a 58-year-old guy who, slightly grayed and a little puffy, can share a stage with Leonardo DiCaprio and still manage to be the center of attention.

The onetime congressman, senator and vice president was back, this time to testify about global warming. The Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth” — the documentary about his traveling slide show on the ravages of climate change — doesn’t even belong to him; it’s the director’s. But it has pushed Gore into another orbit in Washington’s universe. People started lining up as early as 7 a.m. to get a glimpse of him.

“This is the most dangerous crisis we have ever faced,” Gore told a joint meeting of two House panels in an impassioned appeal for bold action. (He later repeated his case on the Senate side.) “This problem is burning a hole in the top of the world…. We need to turn the thermostat back down before that melts.”

Gore, who arrived in a new hybrid Mercury, sat beside a stack of brown boxes filled with 516,000 messages — collected over the last few days on AlGore.com — urging “real action.”

“There is a sense of hope in the country that this United States Congress will rise to the occasion and present meaningful solutions to this crisis,” he said. “Congress is a repository of hopes and dreams of people all across this Earth.”

As the morning hearing convened on the House side, the repository of hopes and dreams spent several minutes bickering about where the committee members should sit and how much time they had to speak.

They appeared to divide pretty much along party lines. Democrats hailed the “Goracle,” who saw this coming 30 years ago, and Republicans dismissed him as an alarmist.

Among Gore’s ideas: a pollution tax, an immediate freeze on carbon dioxide emissions with sharp reductions in future years, stricter vehicle miles-per-gallon rules, a moratorium on construction of highly polluting coal-fired power plants, a strong global climate-change treaty and the creation of a federally operated “carbon-neutral” mortgage association that would serve as incentive for building energy-efficient homes.

“I listen to you sometimes in wonderment,” said Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), predicting that Gore’s proposals would cost “tens of thousands of jobs and more empty factories.”

Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-Texas) complained of an “all-out assault” on energy sources that are crucial to economic and national security.

In the confrontational camaraderie for which Washington is famous, Hall and Gore happily reminisced about the time they went to a meeting on Hall’s boat, then Hall accused Gore of “flirting with the death of the energy industry.”

Gore acknowledged his proposals faced serious obstacles.

In calling for a pollution tax, he said, “I fully understand this is considered politically impossible, but part of our challenge is to expand the limits of what’s possible.” He urged his former colleagues to “walk through that fire.”

The day will come, he said, when future generations either ask, “Did they think it was perfectly all right to keep dumping 70 million tons every single day of global-warming pollution into this Earth’s atmosphere?” or “How did they find the uncommon moral courage to rise above politics?”

Gore spoke mostly without notes and seemed more comfortable in his skin than when he was as a presidential candidate, even with a clot of photographers squatting in front of him. A notorious policy wonk, he touched on subjects such as light bulbs and the Arctic ice cap, which, he said, is melting even faster than previously thought and could “completely disappear in as little as 34 years.”

“If it goes, it won’t come back in any time scale relevant to the human condition,” he warned as his wife, Tipper, nodded in agreement behind him.

Members of both parties, who generally poke at their BlackBerrys during long committee hearings, appeared to pay attention.

The exchanges were sometimes confrontational, especially at the Senate hearing, where Gore dueled with one of the chief congressional skeptics on global warming, Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.).”It seems that everything is blamed on global warming,” Inhofe said. “Last summer we had a heat wave and everyone said, ‘Oh, that’s proof it’s global warming.’ Then we had a mild December. ‘Oh, that’s proof that global warming is taking place.’ … How come you guys never seem to notice it when it gets cold?”

But Gore held firm, noting that a manatee showed up off Memphis last summer.

“First time ever,” he said. “It got too hot in southern Florida. I’m not making this up. Another one showed up off of Cape Cod, first time ever. Nature is on the run.”

Later, Gore invited Inhofe to breakfast to discuss the issue “without the cameras, without the lights.”

Much as he did in “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore reduced the science to simple metaphors.

When asked whether the United States should be taking drastic action when China and India were greater polluters, Gore explained that the U.S. accounted for 23% of carbon emissions and “like a bucket with a hole in it, you can still use the bucket, but it’s a lot more efficient if the hole is plugged.”

Outside the House hearing room where Gore spoke, a crowd waited for him to emerge. Three high school girls from New Jersey snapped his picture for their school newspaper, saying that he looked taller, older and more confident than they expected.

Gore left through a side door, missing an impromptu ditty by what sounded like a Dixieland band and members of the antiwar group Code Pink, attired in boas and assorted hats. He was nonetheless mobbed by photographers and squeezed into an elevator to escape.

“Run for president!” somebody hollered, just as the doors closed.

At the end of the day, after Gore finished his testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairwoman, called Gore a “role model for us all.”

Gore thanked her and asked, “Now, you don’t give out any kind of statue or anything?”

Dan Skopec, Agency Undersecretary

Dan Skopec – California EPA

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