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A Dose of “Truth” ?!?!?

Scott on December 14, 2006 at 12:24 pm

Though I hesitate to admit it, I occasionally watch Oprah with my wife. Even though she can be over the top at times (Oprah, not my wife) and can occasionally take herself way too seriously (again, Oprah not my wife), I also find some of her shows excellent television. Her interview with author Eli Weisel was great. Her health-related shows with Dr. Oz are fascinating. Some of her issues shows are relevant and extremely applicable. Even some of her “star” interviews (like a recent one she did with Denzel Washington) have been very interesting and engaging.

And then there was her recent interview with Al Gore. This was NOT one of her better shows, basically because she took everything that Mr. Gore said and swallowed it hook, line and sinker. She did give some guy from a think tank (Marlo Lewis, Jr., Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute) about two minutes in a video clip to try and rebuff some of Gore’s claims, but in then end the show was totally unbalanced and a HUGE puff piece for Gore and his video “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Truth. An interesting concept. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “truth” as:

Conformity to fact or actuality; a statement proven to be or accepted as true.

In short, though “truth” can be debated, it must be debated on the facts and in the light of an agreed upon criteria of how things are weighed and measured. Unfortunately, Gore’s “truth” is less about facts and actualities and more about slant and spin; it is less about proof and generally accepted, objective information and more about providing partial information and obfuscation of the entire picture.

Mr. Gore has called his presentation “truth,” but has carefully avoided almost everything that would lend itself to calling it truthful. He seems to believe that if he claims things are indisputable, then that must make it so. He also seems to believe that “fact” is defined as anything that he has written or said or anything that agrees with what he has written or said. Everything else should be doubted.

Contrary to what some may say, I am not anti-environment. I have a great love and appreciation for our world and I think it is a serious matter that we take care of it in a responsible manner. That said, I also believe that being good stewards of the planet doesn’t mean that we need to stop using its resources, or react irrationally at the first sign of something that we don’t understand. The nature of humanity is to grapple with the world around us and to try and understand its mysteries. I think that this natural desire to understand things is being thwarted by people like Gore who claim that they already understand everything and so we should stop our investigating and searching and just listen to them and trust their judgment.

I have been asked from time to time why I am against people being concerned about global warming. I’m not against people being concerned about global warming. What I AM against is people trying to manipulate the facts and thus manipulate people in order to achieve their own personal agenda. It isn’t about Republicans and Democrats, or liberals and conservatives. It is about honest and open analysis of the information (the facts) and coming to a logical consensus based on ALL of the information, not just the stuff that agrees with a pre-determined conclusion.

Do I believe that humanity can have a negative affect on the environment? Yes. I’ve seen those negative effects first hand. Do I believe that it is our duty to act reasonably and responsibly in relation to environmental matters? Absolutely. Do I believe that global warming is the looming, humanity-ending disaster that Al Gore claims it is? No.

Here are a few sources of information that lay out some of the reasons why I believe that Al Gore is attempting to mislead people about global warming. I summarize points of interest when I can, but even then there is a lot of information that I will leave out. If you have time, please hit each link and read the entirety of each piece.

Article #1: Inconvenient Truths for Al Gore

This isn’t an article so much as it is links to chapters of a book that spends a considerable amount of time dealing with the claims made by Al Gore. This site also provides video clips in which Al Gore is taken to task by others (mainly scientists) who seem to know more about climate change, global warming, etc than does Mr. Gore.

Of special note is a recent video clip featuring Marlo Lewis, Jr., Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute (the guy who’s two minute video-taped rebuttal to Al Gore gave Opera the chance to claim that she had been fair and balanced in her treatment of the subject matter). This video clip was filmed a few days ago and is a response/rebuttal to Al Gore’s comments that were made after Mr. Lewis’ 2 minute video clip was played on Opera.

Article #2: Science has Spoken – Global Warming is a Myth

Some of the articles more salient points:

The overall temperature of the planet may be on a slight upswing, but that is nothing new. Over the last 3,000 years, there have been five periods of time when it has been significantly warmer on average than it is now. There was also a time 300 years ago, called The Little Ice Age, when the temperature of the planet was significantly lower than it is now. The planet has been warming up from that time period ever since. Even now, the relative temperature of our planet is far below the 3,000 year average. The warming and cooling trends for the earth have been carefully (and conclusively) linked to solar activity, not levels of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The computer models that are used by Mr. Gore and others to support their claims about global warming are not at a level of being reliable as yet. The study of weather and conditions around the globe and how they influence climate is a relatively new field and the computer models being used and generated by this field of research are not anywhere near being able to handle the sophisticated data that is generated by one large storm front, let alone weather and climate from around the globe and how it all interacts together.

The computer models used by the global warming crowd were given as much weather and climate data as they could handle, culled from the records from the 1950′s, 60′s and 70′s. These models were then asked to predict the weather and global climate change for the next 20 years (1979-1999). The models’ predictions were completely off in their predictions. If they can’t predict the weather patterns and global climate patterns 20 years into the future, how are they supposed to predict significant global climate change hundreds and thousands of years into the future? The truth is they can’t.

Article #3: The REAL Inconvenient Truth

This article is REALLY technical in nature compared to the others, so I won’t even try to summarize the points it makes (partly ’cause I wouldn’t know how and partly because I’m not sure I understand some of the science they are explaining!).

Article #4: The Gods Are Laughing

CO2 (Carbon Dioxide): Gore labels CO2 as “global warming pollution” and presents the hypothesis that the human release of CO2 is a major contributor to global warming. Unfortunately, he says all of this with very little facts and evidence to back him up. CO2 is naturally occurring in the world and is essential for photosynthesis (how plants create their food). Without it, our planet would be a giant, lifeless, frozen, barren ice cube.

CO2 Load: Humans contribute approximately 3 billion tons (3 gigatones) to the atmosphere’s CO2 load, and this sounds very significant in human terms. However, it is actually less than ½ of 1% of the atmosphere’s overall CO2 load of 750-850 gigatones. When you look at it this way, it becomes obvious that perhaps we aren’t as significant in this whole thing as we thought. Gore also conveniently ignores that human civilization’s CO2 emissions are quite small in comparison to the 210 gigatones per year of emissions that come from Earth’s oceans and land masses.

CO2 and Temperature:
Gore asserts without hesitation that rises in temperature go hand-in-hand with increased levels of CO2. However, according to Professor Jan Veizer at the University of Ottawa, the two are not linked at all. Over the intermediate time scales Gore focuses on, the ice cores show that CO2 increases don’t precede, and therefore don’t cause, warming. Rather, they follow temperature rise — by as much as 800 years. Even in the past century, the correlation is poor; the planet actually cooled between 1940 and 1980, when human emissions of CO2 were rising at the fastest rate in our history.

Human-Influenced Climate Change and Weather: According to Mr. Gore, climate changes caused by humanity are causing more hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, infectious diseases, insect plagues, the melting of polar ice caps and the resulting flooding of small island nations due to sea level rise, etc, etc, etc.

Gore claims that extreme weather will increase because of increased temperatures around the globe. However, computer models verify what climatologists and meteorologists already know weather is driven by climate variations (such as the difference between the coldness at the poles and the warmth around the Equator). This means that if Gore was right and the temperature of our planet were to increase and these increases were focused primarily at the North and South poles, extreme weather on our planet would probably decrease because of the lack of significant temperature variations around the world.

Gore claims that hurricanes are setting new records for strength and frequency. Again, the facts don’t seem to match with what he is saying. The North Atlantic is the ONLY ocean basin on the planet that has shown an increase in hurricane activity. All other regions on the planet show a flat trend or a decrease in storm activity.

Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, has stated that global warming has nothing to do with the recent increase in hurricane frequency in the North Atlantic. Murty concludes, “The feeling among many meteorologists is that it has to do with the North Atlantic oscillation, which is now in the positive phase and will continue for another decade or so.”

(On a side note, when Mr. Gore talks about Hurricane Katrina he claims that it became “stronger and stronger and stronger” as it came over the Gulf of Mexico until it slammed into New Orleans. In fact, though it was a category 5 over the ocean, by the time it made landfall it had been downgraded to category 3.)

Some Interesting Quotes:

About Rising Sea Levels:

“I can assure Mr. Gore that no one from the South Pacific islands has fled to New Zealand because of rising seas. In fact, if Gore consults the data, he will see it shows sea level falling in some parts of the Pacific.” — Dr. Chris de Freitas, climate scientist, associate professor, University of Auckland, N.Z.

“We find no alarming sea level rise going on, in the Maldives, Tovalu, Venice, the Persian Gulf and even satellite altimetry, if applied properly.” — Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, emeritus professor of paleogeophysics and geodynamics, Stockholm University, Sweden.

About Increased Disease Virulence and Number of New Diseases:

“Gore is completely wrong here — malaria has been documented at an altitude of 2,500 meters — Nairobi and Harare are at altitudes of about 1,500 meters. The new altitudes of malaria are lower than those recorded 100 years ago. None of the “30 so-called new diseases” Gore references are attributable to global warming, none.” — Dr. Paul Reiter, professor, Institut Pasteur, unit of insects and infectious diseases, Paris, comments on Gore’s belief that Nairobi and Harare were founded just above the mosquito line to avoid malaria and how the mosquitoes are now moving to higher altitudes.

About Polar Bears:

“Our information is that seven of 13 populations of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (more than half the world’s estimated total) are either stable or increasing….. Of the three that appear to be declining, only one has been shown to be affected by climate change. No one can say with certainty that climate change has not affected these other populations, but it is also true that we have no information to suggest that it has.” — Dr. Mitchell Taylor, manager, wildlife research section, Department of Environment, Igloolik, Nunavut.

About the Planet’s Ice Sheets/Ice Caps:

“Mr. Gore suggests that the Greenland melt area increased considerably between 1992 and 2005. But 1992 was exceptionally cold in Greenland and the melt area of ice sheet was exceptionally low due to the cooling caused by volcanic dust emitted from Mt. Pinatubo. If, instead of 1992, Gore had chosen for comparison the year 1991, one in which the melt area was 1% higher than in 2005, he would have to conclude that the ice sheet melt area is shrinking and that perhaps a new Ice Age is just around the corner.” — Dr. Petr Chylek, adjunct professor, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax.

“Both the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps are thickening. The temperature at the South Pole has declined by more than one degree C since 1950. And the area of sea ice around the continent has increased over the last 20 years.” — Dr. R.M. Carter, professor, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

“From data published by the Canadian Ice Service, there has been no precipitous drop-off in the amount or thickness of the ice cap since 1970 when reliable overall coverage became available for the Canadian Arctic.” — Dr./Cdr. M.R. Morgan, FRMS, formerly advisor to the World Meteorological Organization/climatology research scientist at University of Exeter, U.K.

About Mr. Gore’s Presumption:

“In their open letter to the Prime Minister in April, 61 of the world’s leading experts modestly expressed their understanding of the science: “The study of global climate change is an ‘emerging science,’ one that is perhaps the most complex ever tackled. It may be many years yet before we properly understand the Earth’s climate system.” It seems that liberal arts graduate Al Gore, political champion of the Kyoto Protocol, thinks he knows better.” Tom Harris, National Post

Poor Mr. Gore. First the Internet. Now Global Warming.

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