Thursday, May 26, 2011

Class Clown

Sadly, disastrous weather has been very much in the news lately. And nearly as sadly, legions of mainstream media types have been using our nation's tornado deaths as "proof" of Al Gore's crackpot theories, despite the assertions of weather experts that the seeming increase in tornadic activity in the past 60 years is really due to better monitoring...meaning there aren't more tornadoes, but more identified tornadoes.

Despite this, Mr. Gore recently gave an impassioned college commencement speech in which he declared that the climate crisis "is the most serious challenge that our civilization has ever faced," despite clear scientific evidence that the most serious challenge is actually Happy Meal toys.

In his speech, Mr. Gore stated (entirely incorrectly) that there is virtually unanimous agreement among climate scientists that the climate crisis is real...but then undercut his own argument by saying (perhaps while having an anti-Bush Tourette's moment) that at the beginning of the Iraq War "more than three-quarters of the American people genuinely believed that the person primarily responsible for the attacks of September 11th, 2001, was Saddam Hussein" and "it is dangerous for a great nation to base important decisions on facts that are manifestly false."

In other words, the majority opinion can be dead wrong...but Gore is right because he agrees with the majority opinion.

But such difficulties with logic aren't exactly new to Al Gore. The World's Biggest Brained Climate Expert took a science course called "Man's Place In Nature" at Harvard and received a "D." Although a short two years later, the scrappy scholar took another natural science class and battled his way up to a "C."

But in fairness to Mr. Gore, we do have to concede that he eventually won a Nobel Prize. Suggesting that he knows as much about the climate as Barack Obama does about peace.



niteowl said...

"...a short two years later, the scrappy scholar took another natural science class and battled his way up to a 'C.'"

I suspect that that means, it took him two years to figure out he should sit next to someone smarter than he is.

Anonymous said...

When there was year after year of weather disproving climate change, the Warmers said, "Weather is not climate." Now that there's been a few weeks of weather related tragedies the Warmers are saying, "IT'S CLIMATE CHANGE!!" An excellent example of hypocrisy that Warmers need to be reminded of.

DavidD said...

I'm sure he has his facts wrong again when he claims that " 'more than three-quarters of the American people genuinely believed that the person primarily responsible for the attacks of September 11th, 2001, was Saddam Hussein' " too.

The justification for the Iraq war had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein being " 'primarily responsible for the attacks of September 11th, 2001' ".

Angry Hoosier Dad said...

And let us all conveniently forget that glowing ball of gas a scant 93 million miles away from us. It has nothing to do with changes in climate. Must be an outlier (as opposed to Algore, who is a stout liar). Yes, Stilton, that was lame, but I blame your influence.

Ricko-Tyler, Texas said...

Through all the misquoted science, the total B/S ing and rhetoric by Gore...we must remember ONE very important fact. Gore SELLS his B/S solutions...He has made millions of $'s on the Rubber chicken circuit selling himself and his whacked out theory. It all comes down to HIM making the most money he can in the short time alloted him...Being a fraud has always proven to be profitable in the short run.

Jim Hlavac said...

One can only hope that the most serious challenge Gore faces is an indictment for fraud.

Meanwhile, the residue of unprecedented and unexpected snow across the middle of the nation this past winter flows through my state, and it's quite a serious challenge, indeed.

CitizenH said...

Say what you will about Al Gore - he's a politician and human, so he says things he regrets and someone will always hold him to those mistakes. Pick any politician of the last 200 years and I bet you could make the same arguments. Almost all of them are so scattered by the various constituencies they must serve. It's wonder we don't just go all out and elect only people with diagnosed multiple personality disorders.

What about the premise that the climate of our planet may be changing and the human factor may have very little to do with it? Read "A Short History of Everything" by Bill Bryson. He goes into the debate armed with science: the Rise of Civilization has occurred during a 35,000 year period of extraordinary calm on the surface of the Earth. The climate of Earth has been extremely harsh towards life for most of its existence. The last 35,000 years, however, have been placid by comparison. Climate change is happening - it may not be just warming or cooling, but the extremes of weather, the idiocy of people who live in coastal areas and expect No Change, droughts, & floods - it is a dynamic system, not static. Maybe we do monitor it better, but things are different in a bunch of places in the world from years past. A big part of that is a changing climate - whether our input has anything to do with it or not. Change may be a fact of life. (Not sure how that plays out for Conservatives...)

So, it may be of little consequence, what we do here on this planet of ours in the long run, but what if it really is the only one we've got? It seems like a small price to pay to change our behavior in the short term in case we only get this one shot. Seems like a small price to pay now to leave things better than we found them.

(BTW, it's Anonymous from the "Dark, Stout & Bitter" comments - trying again to offer my perspective, more politely this time...)

Pete(Detroit) said...

Howdy, CitizenH!
Glad you found a 'handle'...
Al Gore is not merely a politician, he's opportunistic scum who is heavily invested in getting others to buy into his 'carbon exchange' scam. He is either a bald faced liar sellilng snake oil, or he actually believes the moronic drivel he spiels.
Also, the argument of "Pick any politician" is logically flawed - I don't CARE how may others are ALSO lying scumbags, the point is that HE is a lying scumbag.

Agreed, climate changes. It has been changing continuously since before the dinosaurs, much less before humans. The current ice age began some 400,000 years ago, what we think of as 'normal' climate (the temperate climes we enjoy) are actually only 15 - 20% of the time, the 'interglacial' stages - most, by a LARGE factor, of that time has been spent in glaciation.

We've all heard of the 'greenhouse effect' - where CO2 (or something) traps heat, and melts all the ice caps, flooding the coasts, etc, etc... how many have heard of the 'ice house effect'? As winters get snowier, more light is reflected, causing increases in snow / ice cover, reflecting more light in summer as well, summers are cooler, less ice melts, winters are colder, more snow / ice collects, lasts longer, etc, etc.. the end stage of this runaway is known as 'snowball earth' - pole to pole glacial coverage. Paleo-climatologists say it has happened at least once...

Yes, leaving things 'better' than we found them is certainly a nice idea. I don't think anyone feels the 'plastic island' in the Pacific is a cool thing. However, I don't know that it's worth wrecking our whole society, either... and considering that CO2 may be the only thing staving off the next glaciation... just sayin'.

As for "what if it's the only one we've got", the obvious answer is to get more! Orbital habitats, lunar colonies, settlements on Mars, in the asteroid belt, moons of Jupiter and/or Saturn.. all "should" be feasible. But they don't fit NASA's mission of 'Muslim Outreach' so we won't see them any time soon...

Thanks, again, for sticking it out, hanging out, and sharing - it's kind of the point, ya know?

CitizenH said...

@Pete - Wait, you don't care if politicians are "lying scumbags" unless they are on the opposite side of your views? That seems disingenuous to me. No one should tolerate politicians lying to them at any point. I agree with calling them on it, but we should call them all on it equally, not just the ones we don't like.

I do work in Political Advertising for all sides from time-to-time. I've worked on some Gore campaign-related videos. I will say that he strikes me as a genuine believer in what he says. Arrogant, yes. Maybe a little "used car salesman" like. He's also very down to earth. Very smart when speaking about issues that matter to him. He's also got the biggest collection of Al Gore jokes of anybody, so he has a human side that can be self-deprecating. He's just like anyone with an agenda. He's no more or less sleazy than any of them. Maybe it's just a matter of finding the assholes you can tolerate versus the assholes you can't stand.

Yeah, the Earth's climate is this massive system. As with many things humans do, its either too little, too late or such heavy-handed meddling that we mess it up. However, I'm not sure that its such a black and white issue as many want it too be. Sure the Earth Firsters would turn our modern society on its ear to solve things from their perspective. And the Fatcats of Industry would scrape the surface of the earth clean if it could make them a buck. However, there are small things that everyone can do to make a change for the greater good. The problem comes when everyone gets stuck arguing about whether there is a problem or not instead of doing something about it. In the meantime, miners die because of corporate negligence, rivers are diverted and dry up, farm land turns to dust, agricultural runoff kills off huge populations of fish which in turn destroys entire industries or communities that can no longer earn a living. Sticking your head in the sand and saying, "we aren't gonna change 'cause that guy's a liar," isn't helping solve the real problems. I just don't like the shell game and misplaced anger about stuff that is going to affect our future and my kids' lives. Get angry about pollution or clean water. Don't take the lazy route and sit there fuming at the TV.

I agree with you about finding off-planet solutions, but, c'mon how would any of those things get funding these days? Honestly? Funding would run into the Trillions of Dollars to build those kinds of things. It'll happen, eventually, but it will take some time for industry to get around to it - the cash value of minerals in a single asteroid could be staggering. But, by then, it won't be being done for the sake of saving a planet - it will be to make a pile of cash or to find somewhere else to go because this planet is uninhabitable.

Chuck said...

Unintended consequences have a nasty habit of biting the hand that feeds them. How many times have mans well-intentioned actions had devastating outcomes. We meddle in things we know nothing about and are surprised when it backfires.

My problem with the whole Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming is that it is so obviously a con. They cook the data to achieve the desired results … that isn’t science. And the spokesman is getting rich off of it without knowing what he is talking about. He constantly references consensus where none exists and tries to pass off as fact that which is not proven.

There are a lot of serious challenges facing our civilization, but AGW doesn’t even make it onto my list.

John the Econ said...

I'm quite certain that Gore honestly believes his rhetoric. I even think he honestly believes that it's for the good of all mankind that US taxpayers have invested a half-billion of borrowed dollars so that he and Leo DiCaprio can cruise around in $100,000 electric hot-rods.

But he and others like him do not continue to do so just because any science has supported clinging to that conclusion, but because to now correct their misinterpretations of the science would destroy them much more so than the environment.

We now have "climate change" not because the climate may be "changing" (which it always has, and always will) but because the elite, political and crony-capitalist classes have gone "all in" on this statist gambit, and it's no longer possible to for them to back out with any status or credibility intact.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@DavidD- Since I was only quoting Big Al, I didn't have any way of sourcing his statistic about 3/4 of the American people thinking Saddam was behind 9/11, but I'm highly skeptical that any legitimate survey ever found anything of the sort.

@Ricko-Tyler- Despite my praise for Oprah's capitalism (if not politics) yesterday, I don't share similar enthusiasm for capitalism mixed with "science." Gore has tremendous economic incentive to keep the myth of man-caused global warming alive.

CitizenH- Welcome back! I agree with pretty much everything in your first post above; I think there's pretty clear evidence that there are climate changes taking place, but far less evidence that this is man-caused (as opposed to variations in solar activity). And unfortunately, buckets of grant money go to anyone who wants to prove global warming, but very little goes to researchers offering contrary opinions.

I'm a pro-environment kind of guy and do think we should do as much as we practically can to use our resources wisely. But I also feel that it would be tragic to cripple our economy and technologies (which could well be the best source of coping methodologies for Earth's population as climates change) without irrefutable evidence.

It's an important debate, and I'm not against the "man-caused climate change" crowd making their best scientific case...I'm just annoyed that dissenting voices are being stifled.

With regards to your second post, you've misconstrued Pete(Detroit). He wasn't excusing politicians who are lying scumbags (or saying he doesn't care)...he was saying that the number of lying scumbags can't be used to justify the behavior of a single lying scumbag. Which is officially the most times I've used the word "scumbag" in a sentence.

Your connection with Gore is interesting; he seems like he can be a jovial guy when he's not having tourette's and screeching about George Bush betraying America. And I think he probably believes his climate change message. But evangelical enthusiasm isn't science, and this is a national (indeed, international) decision which must be based on science.

All that being said, I think it's just common sense - and common decency - that humans wise up about clear-cutting rainforests, overfishing, recycling, changing the "buy it and toss it" consumer mindset, and get serious about alternative energies and conservation.

@Chuck- It's that "meddling without knowing the consequences" that worries me. Efforts to conserve and be "green friendly" make sense, but trading "carbon credits" (essentially a huge tax on industrialized nations) doesn't. As the climate changes, we'll need technologies to cope - so putting businesses out of business is a dangerous game.

@JohnTheEcon- I wince when I hear Obama pushing electric cars. Their actual power source is coal, converted to inefficiently transmitted electricity, then stored in batteries which are environmentally nightmarish.

As you point out, the left has already committed to the idea of man-caused climate change and can't gracefully back out of it. Moreover, through strategies like "cap and trade," the left sees a chance to give total control of our economy to the government.

robert said...

My problem with Gore is he won't debate the issues. He considers them "settled". His way or the highway. Plus the schools are brain washing our kids with this pseudo-religion. I have discussed the issue with my kids and my 12 y.o. son, at the time, brought up at least a half dozen challenges to his 6th grade teacher about AWG. After much hemming and hawing, each time, he just said, "Well, we'll discuss that later" and completely avoided my sons arguments. I believe it was because his teacher was not programmed to respond in those areas. You know, independent thought and careful consideration. One of the points was what about in every single computer model not one, this bears repeating, NOT ONE, climate model takes into account ANY solar activity. I think that ball of fire in the sky has more to do with our weather than man EVER could. Do we all want clean air and water, of course we do. Should we be careful about pollutants, of course! But mankind should not be so arrogant to presume we control the weather in any fashion. I believe this planet does what it does and could not care less that we are even here. We can't even control our lives let alone the freakin' weather. Everything we have comes from only two places, mining and farming. So either we mine and farm or we go back to living in caves. Take your pick.

JustaJeepGuy said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: In 1968, I read an article somewhere that claimed that a New Ice Age was coming, and we were all going to freeze to death--unless world-government action (which, naturally, would be socialist in nature) was taken. Many of the same people pushing the "New Ice Age" then are the same people pushing the "New Greenhouse Era" now--with the same intent of world socialist government. There's a huge difference between those who just want to leave a cleaner planet to their grandchildren and those who want the power to force others to do so. Which one is Al? Does he really believe what he says? Does he think that anyone who gets the power to force people to stop "climate change" will limit themselves to just the climate? Does he believe that HE would limit himself? I seriously doubt Al's THAT "down-to-earth".

Andrew said...

Beware any belief system which demands absolute unblinking faith from its adherents, and especially when one or more individuals at the top are getting rich by selling the message.

My Dog Brewski said...

Americans are already "wised-up" about clear cutting forests and overfishing. We can only do so much to influence the rest of the world who don't share our way of life and don't have the national will and resources to clean up their own environments. Regarding recycling and the "buy it and toss it" mentality...doesn't one lead to the other? Alternative energies: We are serious. They just aren't ready yet to replace oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear. Wishing won't make it happen and government interference damned sure won't make it happen. And conservation? Please tell me who actually opposes conservation. Being for something nobody is against is awfully easy, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

To Andrew: Exactly, yet people get fooled time and time again. Its all manipulation of the masses to your cause or side. Al Gore, Michael Moore, Oprah, Donald Trump, Glenn Beck, Rush . . . they wouldn't keep doing it unlses they made buckets of cash & could keep up the charade long enough to laugh all the way to bank. Or were mentally deficient enough to buy their own line of BS. Hate 'em.

(Not that there's anything wrong with making money and enjoying what you do...)

PRY said...

Take a lesson from the Joplin amount of money,legislation or anything else can stop the forces of just have to learn to live with it, whatever comes your way. It is highly arrogant for puny man to think he can change nature (ice age, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc). Plus, this old planet is very resilient. Gore and others like him just found the pot of gold, and many believe.

Pete(Detroit) said...

Thanks, Stilt, that's pretty much exactly what I had in mind. And yes, CitizenH, I hate all scumbags when they're being scumbags - sad truth is, at times you have to choose the lesser scumbag. Piss me off.
You go on to say "No one should tolerate politicians lying to them at any point." - but as we found out, that doesn't work so well during a speech to both Houses of Congress, eh? Who was that, Joe Wilson? Yeah, that's the ticket..

I do agree that Mr Gore is a talented speaker, and puts on a heckuva demonstration - I merely have profound disagreements on a) his 'facts' and b) his conclusions.

Any while we're on the topic of "conservation" does anyone know why those cute little twisty fluorescent bulbs are only made in China? They are such an ecological nightmare to manufacture that NO ONE in the western hemi / Europe will permit them to be made there. If people cared abotuthe environment, they'd ban *those* bulbs, not the harmless incandescents...

Oh, and as for funding, I think we spend more $$ on school lunches than all of NASA...

But you're right, business / industry WILL go there, and pay for it, eventually - if the government leaves them anything to work with...

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@MyDogBrewski- I agree with your points, and think that Americans are largely in favor of smart conservation and bio-friendly behaviors. The idea that there are rabid anti-environmentalists on the Right is a myth. And as you say, we can't control what the rest of the world is doing.

That being said, I've frequently wished that an American president (from either party) would seriously ask people to cut back on their energy use voluntarily. I'm not talking about laws...just raising consciousness.

Back in the gas-rationing days of WWII, there were billboards asking "is this trip really necessary?" to remind people to consolidate their car trips. There was an awareness that everyone shared responsibility for stretching resources, and that it was an important form of patriotism. You know, back before "patriotism" was a dirty word.

Regarding alternative energies, you're right that there's no conceivable way that the technologies we're currently working on can significantly replace coal, oil, and nuclear. Wind and solar are useful in "spot" applications, but are a pipe dream for really supplying mass energy needs.

That doesn't mean we should slow developmental work on those (and other) technologies...but we also shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking that the age of fossil fuels will be behind us anytime soon. Unless we run out of them.

CitizenH said...

@Stilton - Thanks for the welcome. Glad to hear we agree on some stuff. You've got a real conundrum there. Science and politics, like oil and water, will never mix (unless you add a surfactant like some cash, ;-). Science is just as fraught with opinions and interpretation and error as politics.

Gore made errors and fudged the data. Durkin did the same thing in his rebuttal. The massive scale of the climatological system does not lend itself to the oversimplification and selective disclosure required to make a feature-length documentary. Its a by-product of the soundbite culture we now live in. We all need to get our info in one short sentence & then we can make a snap reaction based on it and go back to watching Oprah say goodbye. Wonder if this was what Rome was like before the fall?

And don't forget about the "decline effect" which makes it all that much more confusing. The basic premise of "decline effect" is that for some observed results, they will decline over time of observation -as if the very act of observing them changes the results acquired over time. Maybe we should just encourage more people to observe climate change issues and the whole matter will go away. (Schooler -

@PRY - Don't dismiss the idea that human activity can have an impact on nature in some pretty spectacular ways. Look at what's happening in the Yangtze this spring or the growing Dead Zone in the Gulf following these floods not to mention the long-term impact of all those millions of barrels that vented out of the sea floor under Deepwater Horizon or the removal of predators from most of North America thereby allowing the deer population to explode causing untold harm to the flora and fauna. The real question is whether those are good things or bad things & what we, as a Global Society, are going to do about them either way.

Suzy said...

One way we could cut back on energy use is to stop using tax dollars to pay for people who are not working to use energy. That way, at least people are putting human energy INTO they system while they are using it up.

Just sayin'.

It would seem like those who believe in evolution would not be so worried about climate change, seeing as they believe the world has been around for millions upon millions of years, supporting life of some sort or other. Earth is pretty resilient!

As a Creationist, I believe God began the story, and will end the story as well (NOT on Camping's schedule, that's for sure--what a weirdo...) not too fearful about the future...yet, we should always take good care of what we have been given, and that includes not being wasteful of energy or other supplies.

Suzy said...

I just wanted to amend my statement a tad...reading back over it, my paragraph about those who believe in evolution sounds snide...I do NOT mean it that way at all....please forgive me if I did sound that way.

I was simply pointing out the inconsistency in the fact that the scientists who have studied the theory of evolution should not be so worried about global warming, cooling, or etc. due to the fact they teach the earth has been around for such a long time.

Regardless of whether one believes in evolution or Creation, I'm pretty sure the weather is going to do what its going to do regardless of our efforts. Its going to warm, cool, storm, or shine however it likes.

pryorguy said...

@Suzy...did not sound snide to me! You are right! God IS gonna do what He will! Question is...are we with him or against him? It's one way or the other! I'm sure you agree!

pryorguy said...


if only...

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@CitizenH- Actually it sounds like we agree on a lot. Science, since it's conducted by humans, is indeed going to suffer from human frailties and tampering. Still, the most robust data should stand up...assuming that it's analyzed by experts who don't have an agenda. And in today's world of grants and games, they may be pretty hard to find.

And I additionally agree that people show an exasperating inability to focus on complex issues anymore, or hang onto a thought any longer than the protagonist in "Memento." As bad as the soundbite society was, I'm almost nostalgic for it compared to today's world of news tweets. "CO2 bad 4U" is not the sort of in-depth reporting that's going to help resolve anything.

And yet another area of agreement is that I share the opinion that humans can screw up portions of the Earth pretty spectacularly. Chernobyl springs to mind, and I'm not any too confident that things are going to turn out well at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Some sort of harmony with nature should at least be our aspiration - even if, by the very act of living and propagating, it remains somewhat out of reach.

@Suzy- Those who believe in Evolution (and I'd be in that number, although I've got unanswered questions) believe that life is marvelously adaptable to changing environmental conditions. So from that standpoint, you're right - they shouldn't worry about global warming or climate change if the goal is simply to sustain life.

But...I think it's safe to say that these very same people are quite partial to human life (particularly their own hides), and are worried that conditions will change enough that we won't be a good match for the new environment. In fact, in extreme conditions, it's possible that only cockroaches and Nancy Pelosi will survive.

@Pryorguy- Netanyahu made his wonderful speech at almost the same time Barack Obama was speaking in England, where he referred to our country as one that has had a hard road to freedom because of slavery, discrimination against women and immigrants, and religious persecution. So yes, I'd vote for Bibi in a heartbeat to replace the current complainer-in-chief.

Chuck said...

@Stilton: "... cockroaches and Nancy Pelosi ..."

You repeat yourself.