Thursday, March 15, 2007

Review: An Inconvenient Truth

I have now seen "An Inconvenient Truth" -- I was wrong. I take everything I've said back.

Just kidding.

I have seen the movie, a few things struck me right off. One of them was the church-like atmosphere, a clergy-congregation look, Gore, of course, being the former, and the devout, respectful, somber -- dare I say sanctified looks on the congregation's faces. Then there were shots of adoring fans snapping pictures. Early in the movie, there is a Katrina footage -- the later suggestion made that "the choices we make" having huge impact cut right into Gore losing the 2000 election... clever. There's also a lot of snarkiness in this film, where the basic joke is always "duh! obviously! Why don't all those other stupid people get it?" -- all of the fans laugh in self-congratulatory knowingness.

Very interestingly, near the beginning of the movie, he uses the following Mark Twain quote:
"What gets us into trouble is now what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

He would do well to apply this to his own beliefs.

"But there is one relationship that is far more powerful than all the others, and it is this: When there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the temperature gets warmer. Because it traps more heat from the sun inside." - Al Gore, "An Inconvenient Truth"

This is something Al Gore "knows for sure". He sets up a snarky little "a sixth grader could figure this out" scenario, referring to an earlier anecdote by saying "did these two ever fit together?"

Well, here's another interesting fact: When people spend more time outside, the temperature gets warmer. However, as you might suspect, the cause-effect relationship is the other way around. (Now my sunbathing analogy might not be true in the tropics, but it certainly is in the subtropical zones and in the arctic, just stick with me here.) When the temperature gets warmer, people spend more time outside. Because it's warmer.

It's not quite as intuitive, especially looking at the chart Al presents, but the very ice core studies he cites showing the relationship between CO2 and temperature suggest quite strongly that Al's got it backward. If you look at the sentence Al tacked on to the end of the quote above, "Because it traps more heat from the sun inside" -- you can see the predisposition to interpret the data as a cause-effect, CO2 to Temperature, respectively -- relationship. And there is a good reason for this. There is a theory that it would hold true based on radiation/blackbody theory and relative transparency of the atmosphere to different wavelengths (visible vs infared). However, the theory applies to a highly simplified earth/atmosphere system with all kinds of assumptions.

An actual close look at the ice core data shows that increases in earth's mean temperature precede increases in CO2 by hundreds of years. In other words, when we juxtopose the two lines Al separates spatially on his graph we see that first the temperature goes up, the the CO2 levels follow. Presented with this information, I imagine even our sixth grader might come to the conclusion that it is mean global temperature increases that cause increases in CO2 content in the atmosphere.

When the earth's mean surface temperature increases, sea surface temperatures increase. Cold water holds more CO2 than does warm water, so the oceans release vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere when it warms up. Similarly, as the ocean cools, it absorbs more CO2 from the atmosphere, causing CO2 concentrations to go down.

Is the earth warming? Well it sure has been for the past 150 years or so. Is it hotter than ever? Probalby not. The "hockey stick" graph Al shows you in the film is tree ring data up to 1900 or so, then actual measured surface temperature data grafted to the end of it. You can't create a graph like this and draw meaningful conclusions when your measurement methods changed so radically.

Is there more CO2 in the atmosphere than ever? Again, we're talking about comparing actual, precise measurements with data inferred from gasses trapped in ice. The ice data is meaningful, but only when compared to data obtained by similar means. Our modern data, which starts to show a stark contrast to that proxy record is what is so alarming. But as Dr. Lindzen (who was on the IPCC) once said, it's like kids sitting in a closet in the dark with flashlights scaring each other to death with "what if" stories.

Later Al laments the alleged treatment of scientists who believe AGW is a fact. He says:

"I've seen scientists who were persecuted, ridculed, deprived of ... jobs, income -- simply because the facts they discovered led them to an inconvenient truth ... that they insisted on telling."

Never mind that scientists come to conclusions, not "truths". But would any of that ridiculing include calling them corporate stooges, as the Progressive movement is fond of calling skeptics? Or perhaps have people call for the pulling of their credentials as the Weather Channel's Dr. Heidi Cullen did recently? Or to compare them to Holocaust deniers as Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman recently did? Stuff like that?

Dr. Lindzen (MIT & IPCC):

... In 1992, [Al Gore] ran two congressional hearings during which he tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing our views and supporting his climate alarmism. Nor did the scientific community complain when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists--a request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. And they were mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the fossil-fuel industry. ...

In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions. ...

And then there are the peculiar standards in place in scientific journals for articles submitted by those who raise questions about accepted climate wisdom. At Science and Nature, such papers are commonly refused without review as being without interest.

Even further on, Al goes through a little "Secret Agent Al" bit where he shows that some (Evil, of course) Bush administration official edited something out of an EPA report, claiming it was speculation. I paused the movie and transcribed what he showed on the screen.

Warming will also cause reductions in mountain glaciers and advance the timing of the melt of mountain snow peaks in polar regions. In turn, runoff rates will change and flood potential will be altered in ways that are currently not well understood. There will be significant shifts in the seasonality of runoff that will have serious impacts on native populations that rely on fishing and hunting for their livlihood. These Changes will be further complicated by shifts in precipitation regimes and possible intensification and increased frequency of extreme hydrologic events. Reducing the uncertainties in current understanding of the relationship between climate change and Arctic hydrology is critical.

I don't know. Unless you hold that all of it is true, I think he is justified in calling a lot of it speculation. Note the sentence he did leave in, though. Doesn't look like a sinister edit. Maybe it should, and maybe it shouldn't have been made. It certainly doesn't change the meaning of the document.

Now, how about these points that the IPCC Scientists made in 1995 that the UN's political editors deleted?

"Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced."

"No study to date has positively attributed all or part of observed climate changes to anthropogenic causes."

They were replaced with the following statement:

"The balance of evidence suggests a discernable human influence on climate."

Where is the horror and outrage of AGW activists on this editing? On top of that, it completely changed the meaning of what was being said.

Since then, the pressure for stronger and stronger language has only grown, and there has been a concerted effort to silence skeptics.

He goes to a Winston Churchill quote:

The Era of Procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to it's close. In its place we are entering a Period of Consequences.- Sir Winston Churchill, Nov 12, 1936

Of course, Winston was talking about the rise and spread of Facism and Nazism and the need to go to war against it.

Oddly, this could easily be applied to the Clinton Administration's treatment of Al Queda, one consequence being 9/11... and of allowing Saddam Hussein to ignore his cease fire agreements from 1991, and resolution after resolution .... 17 of them, in the 11 years that followed. But... I do digress, don't I?

Next Al says:

Making mistakes, in centuries and generations past would have consequences that we could overcome. We don't have that luxury ... anymore.

And then cuts to a gratuitous montage recalling his Election 2000 loss in the Electoral College. Subtle, eh? With the time in this film spent on the 2000 election and Gore's "fighting the good fight" -- that's GORE fighting the good fight, lest we lose the importance of that.... then showing Bush getting out of his car at the White House and Gore staring out the window of ... somewhere, apparently looking down on it all. The implication being "opportunity lost. Y'all coulda had me." Is this a campaign movie?


Anonymous said...

Lol, it only rakes intelligence to make an argument that's wrong sound right. Your a fucking idiot man. Yea right, it's all a conspiracy, humans dint burn fossil fuels anyways, how could we have anything to do with the CO2 levels? The earth just started going crazy doing humans times. All just a coincidence my friend. I have some ocean front property in Arizona I would like to to look at. Great prices. I'm sure you think the earth is 6000 years old right? Lol can't take life or this world too serious knowing that you are actually one of the smarter people living in it. That's not a compliment to you it's a sad state of affairs for how stupid the over all human IQ is. For example, average republican has an 8th grade education level, and not the big city science 8th grade but the redneck creationism 8th grade. You think it is a coincidence that all the diverse higher education level states vote dem all the time, and the hick backwoods redneck (racist, non diverse) states vote rep. Lol gotta love it man. Your happy to right shit, but you don't let others post. I see 0 cause you can't take this inconvenient truth. Ass clown. Hope god(lol) sees fit to take you soon.

philmon said...

So your argument is a combination of the "I laugh, therefore it is untrue" argument, along with the "you're a fucking idiot" argument, and then a repetition of what you've been taught to believe but is simply untrue ("The Earth just started going crazy during human times") -- shows such depth of climatological and geological history.

"I'm sure you think the earth is only 6,000 years old, right?" Ah yes, since I disagree with the Gore (your god's) premise, I must be a knuckle-dragging luddite. I seriously doubt you read much past the title of my post before you had decided that and you probably didn't bother to read the rest of it -- none of which suggest I do or do not believe in a God or how long I think the planet or the Universe has been around. Of course, why would I bother to talk about what the temperature/CO2 charts Gore showed over tens of thousands of years really showed if I only thought the Earth was 6,000 years old?

Ah, and what liberal tirade would be complete without calling your opponent a racist. Yes, that's right. Because I disagree with the conclusions of the alarmist Anthropogenic Global Warming theory followers, I'm clearly a racist. I mean, how can you argue with logic like that?

Like most liberals you like to think you're smarter than everyone else, and it makes you feel good to throw about cliched insults and narrative beliefs about the demographics of "other" in your "us" vs "them" world. You repeat what people you think are smart say so that people will think you're smart, but you have done no thinking for yourself, let alone investigation.

I have to laugh at the "you're stupid because you believe what people with only an 8th grade education believe" argument - because you're talking to a guy with a degree in Atmospheric Science and 3 years of graduate work in the same -- who is very familiar with the assumptions made and then and has actually worked the black body equations that CO2 warming is based upon.

Go ahead. Look up "black body". No, it doesn't have anything to do with racism. It's Plank's Law.

I love the last part, too. You, being all about "diversity" yet you apparently exclude "ass clowns" from people you will tolerate, as well as religious people and people without advanced educations or people who live outside urban areas and perhaps live an agrarian lifestyle.

Yes, you're so tolerant.

And you want me dead. (Hope god(lol) sees fit to take you soon."

Nice touch. Small-minded, petty, indoctrinated Liberal self-exposure complete.

Have a nice day.

philmon said...

You, being all about "diversity" yet you apparently exclude "ass clowns" from people you will tolerate, as well as religious people and people without advanced educations or people who live outside urban areas and perhaps live an agrarian lifestyle.

You do realize, don't you, that these conditions exclude the vast majority of the human race, do you not?

Of course you do. How else could you see yourself as one of the elite?