Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Convenience Of Truth

There's a crappy pseudo-scientific documentary about climate change floating around called "An Inconvenient Truth". Maybe you've seen it or at the very least you've heard about it. Former Vice President Al Gore spent a lot of time and money making this traveling slideshow (side show?), about the dangers of CO2 and it's effect upon the environment. It's even possible that he believes what he's saying, and that's rather frightening.

As I write this, I've just finished seeing this bell-rattling, chicken little-esque docu-drama and sob story, and I'm not impressed. And I'm unimpressed for several reasons.

First, Gore underestimates the intelligence of his audience and plays more on fear and emotion than common sense and reason. Nobody cares about how his son got hit by a car when he was a small tyke when the focus of the lecture was supposed to be on climate. Nobody cares about how his friend died of lung cancer because she smoked when we're supposed to be paying attention to the "science" he's supposedly presenting. Gore needs to at least stay on topic if he's not going to come up with good data. Pleas for sympathy and emotionalism aren't substitutes for logic and critical thinking. Just the opposite in fact. And let's not forget the three segments in which he whines like a little girl about not being elected president.

Now I'm not heartless. It's a crying shame that his boy was ran over by a car, and I wouldn't wish that on anybody. At least he survived and is healthy now. It's an even bigger shame that his friend died of lung cancer, and for what it's worth Plainly Ranting sends its sympathies. But that's not the fucking point! ...and I didn't vote for him.

Here's Gore's presentation in a nutshell:

  1. CO2 is the greenhouse gas responsible for the increased temperatures in the lower atmosphere.

  2. We are responsible for the CO2.

  3. As CO2 levels rise, the temperatures will immediately follow and the icecaps will melt.

  4. When the icecaps melt, the sea levels will rise by at least 20 feet.

  5. When the sea levels rise, our coastline will flood and millions of people will be displaced.

  6. And it's all your fault.

*sigh* Where to begin? How about we kick things off with the fact that CO2 is a trace atmospheric gas? Is that a good place to start? According to NASA, the Earth's atmosphere is made up of about 78% Nitrogen, around 21% Oxygen, 0.93% Argon, and finally in last place is CO2, carbon dioxide, at 0.04%. That's four one-hundredths of one percent. What's more, CO2 isn't a particularly good "greenhouse gas" in the first place.

Now on to the next item: Gore says we are responsible for the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Is that true? Well, not exactly. We do contribute to the total carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere, yes. But then again so does everything else on the entire planet. In fact, our contribution to atmospheric CO2 levels are in the single digit percentages when compared to volcanism, decomposing vegetation, and the granddaddy of them all, the oceans.

You may ask what is the major "greenhouse gas" if not CO2? Okay, you asked for it. I just hope you're sitting down.

It's water vapor.

That's right. Water vapor in the atmosphere is the major thing that traps heat from the sun, not CO2. Should we concentrate on banning water because it's an evil greenhouse gas? Damn the evil Dihydrogen Monoxide!

Okay, let's get serious. What percentage of the "greenhouse effect" is caused by humans? By the numbers, it's about 0.28% if water vapor is taken into account and about 5.53%, if it isn't. This is so crucial to the debate over global warming that it's inclusion or omission makes the difference between describing either a significant human contribution to the greenhouse effect, or a negligible one. Water vapor is responsible for about 95% of the "greenhouse effect, with CO2 owning up to just over 3.5%. Gore, naturally, decided to omit this little item. The U.S. Department of Energy actually conceded that it might be a "little misleading" to leave water vapor out of these calculations, but nonetheless defended the practice by stating that it is "customary" to do so.

In English, if you cherry pick the data, (as Gore and the D.O.E. are wont to do), humanity is killing itself and ruining the environment. If you include all the factors, (which the U.S. Department of Energy customarily didn't see fit to do), global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions is an embarrassingly gooey crock of fragrant bullshit. Gore's just there to stir it occasionally lest it form a crust and deprive us all of its delightful emanations.

So what about item 3 : "As CO2 levels rise, the temperatures will immediately follow and the icecaps will melt."?

Do we really need to do this one? Okay. For Science.

The above statement suggests that there is a direct link between CO2 and atmospheric temperatures. In fact, Gore says as much in his little crap-umentary. He also says that the link between them is "complicated". What he doesn't say is that the link is backwards. Atmospheric CO2 doesn't drive temperature, temperature drives atmospheric CO2 concentration!

What? How's that again? That's not what I was told!

That's because you've been listening to the media again. Shame on you.

The link that Gore alluded to, (and wisely didn't follow up on in an attempt to keep from shooting himself in the foot), is that there is an 800 year lag between the temperature going up or down and a corresponding rise or fall in CO2 concentration. But why?

Oceans again. Remember when I said that the oceans were the granddaddy of all carbon dioxide emitters? I was serious. The warmer the oceans, the more CO2 they surrender to the atmosphere. The colder the oceans, the more CO2 they sequester. The fact is that the oceans are huge. They're so huge in fact that it takes hundreds of years for them to cool off or warm up. Thus the enormous time lag.

So what about the icecaps? They're cyclic. They grow and contract every year. That's just the way it works. Permafrost melts, too. Want proof? There's green shit frozen inside it. Plants. Frozen. In the permafrost. There are nutrients in the soil for things to grow. Again, dead plants. It couldn't have been frozen since the beginning of time or the dead plants wouldn't be down there. And animals! Frozen steppe bison! Wooly mammoths! These things didn't live underground you know.

The icecaps are glaciers. They advance and retreat. Right now they're in a period of retreat and it's not the end of the world. They'll surge back.

As for the rise in ocean levels? Well, I guess a lot of people will have to move. Oh! That's right! I forgot... All this is based on anthropogenic (man-made) CO2 levels being responsible for the increase in global temperatures. It's not.

The other two points take care of themselves.

Gore says several times during "An Inconvenient Truth" that "This is a political issue..." when referring to one of the points he's pulled out of his ass. This is understandable. The man is a politician, and he's out politicking with this thing. I wouldn't be surprised to see him make another run on the White House in 2008. Those phrases alone are enough to make the whole enterprise suspect, but consider these others.

  • On Scientific Consensus:

    "Isn't there a disagreement among scientists as to whether the problem [of global warming] is real or not? Actually, not really..."

    Dear Mister Gore,
    I'm a scientist and I'd just like to say fuck you. I vehemently disagree with you because you have cherry picked your data, and then proceeded to interpret it however the hell you want.

    Have a nice day,

  • Lake Chad:

    This lake is shown to dry up in time lapse photography over a course of three decades. But wait... didn't it start drying up in the 60's when we were being told that we were headed toward another ice age because global temperatures were falling?

  • Ice in General:

    Gore claims to understand the physics of ice and glacial surges when no physicist claims to do so.

  • Theory vs. Fact:

    Gore further claims that dissenting scientists, (read: the ones that don't agree with his evangelism), are using the word "theory" to mean "guess", and that there was some "internal memo" between them to rewrite global warming as a "...theory rather than fact".

  • Everybody Knows Doctors Prefer Marlboros:

    Attempts to link global warming skeptics with 1950's Camel tobacco company ads promoting smoking as a perfectly safe and healthful activity. The Gore family grew and raised tobacco when former Vice President Gore was a little boy around this period. But he's learned his lesson now. Promise. My ass...

  • Our Reports Are Better Than Yours:

    Gore cites 928 peer reviewed articles concerning climate change in the previous ten years, claims that a consensus was reached that humans were the cause of global warming. If you listen closely he says that they "took a big sample of ten percent" of these, and that out of that sample, none disagreed. That's 93 articles that said we were the cause. He wants you to believe that all 928 articles agreed with his cause. However, this is NOT what he says.

  • What's Good For The Goose...:

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

    -- Upton Sinclair

    Gore used this quote that could just as easily apply to him and his constituents. If man wasn't responsible for global warming, then people like him wouldn't have a job. So instead of listening to the conflicting data, it's easier to make alarmist claims.

  • Debate? Oh Hell No!

    Since Al Gore was offered the opportunity (in person) by JunkScience writer Steven Milloy to set up a public debate on the underlying science of global climate change, 1 year, 2 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days have elapsed. He has yet to take the man up on his offer.

I think we're done here.

For further investigation:
Last week, the UK's Channel 4 premiered a 75 minute film entitled "The Great Global Warming Swindle" located below. Double click on the movie to play. (Runtime 01:15:58)

What do you want to bet that this asshole runs for office in 2008?

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Anonymous Jeremy said...


As always another good article. I like how you break it all down in layman's terms so people like me can understand it.

I have not seen the movie yet, but I plan too.


11:08 AM  
Anonymous Andy Glatiotis said...

Global warming is a political issue for good reason. It gives governments power to coerce, manipulate and control corporations, organizations and individuals like never before. This will become the single greatest tool of tyranny in all of human history. Will the rich, privileged elites become richer? Will the poor become poorer? Will the middle class disappear? Count on it! Any political agenda that is based upon a lie is all about, and only about, POWER. The fact is that CO2 has very little to do with global warming. That truth, however, will be 'inconvenient' for those who desire a radical shift in the global power base.

With grave misgivings: Andy

5:55 PM  
Blogger Wrathchild said...

Thank you very much. I just discovered this page today and I plan on circulating it tomorrow to the morons at my High School who took to Gore's shit-tastic movie. I've been arguing with my idiot classmates/teachers (Yes more than one) since the movie came out (Apparently to them before it was a movie it wasn't an issue) trying to convince them that we're not going to drown in some reenactment of The Day After Tomorrow.

I can only hope that they can stop being proud long enough to realize that they were wrong. The next thing I have to look foreward to is trying to explain that Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden aren't the same person. Anyways, awesome job.

By the way:

You TOTALLY called Gore on running for the presidency. It's fucking amazing how predictable these people are.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous troy from todc said...

The most interesting thing to me is that Mars is going through the same warming as here on earth. Maybe they need to stop driving their SUV's on Mars and stop burning the rubber tires!

9:31 AM  
Blogger SafeTinspector said...

Do you honestly believe there is no consensus? Even those who agree with you would be hard pressed to honestly state that they are even a significant minority opinion. Couple that with the fact that most in that minority have fractured and often conflicting ideas of why the majority opinion is incorrect and its hard to give them much countenance.

In any case, if those sounding the warning bell about climate change are intentionally misleading, what is their motivation? If it were profit then they would be better served elsewise, if it were notoriety they'd be better off standing apart from the mainstream.

5:41 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Yes, I do believe that there is no such consensus, as several of my colleagues and I vehemently disagree.

Keep in mind that we are not saying the globe is not warming. Global warming IS occurring, it's just not our fault, The motivation behind pushing anthropogenic CO2 as a prime mover for climate change is the (very political) IPCC. We're trying to wean ourselves off oil. That's the long and short of it. Common people don't do real research into the problem, they just buy whatever they're told by the media as they really don't have much choice in the matter.

Worse yet, climate change has begun translating into votes for politicians. That's the real sticky end of the lollipop.

I wrote a parallel article over at The Observationist ( that shows my research and data which clearly indicate that CO2 is NOT correlated with temperature. Give it a read.

9:45 AM  
Blogger SafeTinspector said...

"Common people don't do real research into the problem, they just buy whatever they're told by the media as they really don't have much choice in the matter."

More importantly, common people don't have the capability of understanding the research well enough to make informed opinions. I'm a fairly bright fellow, but I'm not a climatologist.

But I can read through articles stating the case for CO2 and methane causing climate change and nod my head as they seem to make sense.

I can then read an article stating the case against CO2 as a cause and nod my head as that seems to make sense as well.

Then I'll read an article refuting the refutation and IT seems to make sense.

And then theres an article defending the original refutation and refuting the refutation of the refutation and it seems to make sense as well.

So we're left trusting that scientists will come to a consensus and that we should go along with it. And then we join it with anecdotal observations of our local environments as best we can.

Earnest and honest and skillful scientists come to conflicting conclusions sometimes.

However, as I said, when the people stating that climate change is not human caused have fractured and conflicting arguments while those stating climate change IS human caused have a unified voice, it becomes harder for an open minded third party (me) to hop on that bandwagon.

Anyway, I'll muddle along and see what happens, eh?

10:53 AM  

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