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July 03, 2006


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Tres chic. If they come in baseball cap style, we're a long way there.

Jeff Wild


You are not far off -- Below is a link to an article from the NY Times that talks about this issue. The first paragraph reads:

"In the past few decades, a handful of scientists have come up with big, futuristic ways to fight global warming: Build sunshades in orbit to cool the planet. Tinker with clouds to make them reflect more sunlight back into space. Trick oceans into soaking up more heat-trapping greenhouse gases."

The article is entitled "How to Cool a Planet (Maybe)"



Jeff--that's really depressing.

Lynn--during the holiday season, foil hats are also available in blue, red, and green.


While I'm not feeling quite ready to fashion my own, I was fascinated by the long lineage and (apparent) multitasking qualities of the tin-foil hat:



Thanks for the link, John. I'm glad to know that there are important additional benefits (protection from electronic rays, from mind controllers, from aliens) that accompany the benefit the hats provide the environment. So, really, being enviromentally responsible need not require any self-sacrifice at all. We can't afford not to wear tinfoil hats, I mean, reflective head gear.


I haven't seen the Al Gore film but from your remarks it seems as though the fundraising for his personal wealth is going to be significant. If you haven't heard Gore has recently started his own asset management firm centered around socially responsible investing. I have nothing against socially responsible investing, in fact I would love to work for a socially responsible firm myself, but I think that one should be mindful of the objectives of this movie knowing that it will support Gore's firm and help make him extremely wealthy.


Ryan--are you saying that the goal of the movie, the reason it was made, was to make Al Gore rich? Do you think that was also the goal of the slide show? And, his work on environmental matters for the last 30 years? And, if you do think it was all for his own enrichment, do you think this is a problem? Why?


Not to be too cynical, but Al Gore is part of the ruling elite, just like the Kennedy's and the Clinton's and the Bush's. Whatever his motivation seems largely irrelevant. What difference does it make? Bush lowered taxes on capital gains and dividends to 15%- does it matter whether his motives were altruistic (to help the economy) or selfish (to give a big fat tax break to his friends and family)? The consequences are still the same.


Completely right, Alain. It's not like anyone thinks Gore is anything like a socialist, for crying out loud. Shoot, he was part of an administration that dealt a fatal blow to welfare.


Why is this a problem? Umm maybe that he would be more likely to sensationalize the things in the movie? Was that a serious question?


Sure it was a serious question--few investors will have confidence in an asset management firm that massages the data.

And, you didn't answer the rest of the question: are you saying that his entire 30 year effort in raising awareness of global warming was a plot for his own self-enrichment?


If Al Gore was truly concerned with global warming he'd allow scientist the right to disagree aspects of his movie, rather than calling them cronies of the Bush Adminstration. Open discourse through competitive debate may open the door for a solution.
The fact is that there is not enough historical data to determine whether or not human's are to blame for global warming. Al Gore has found a win-win issue that will divert attention from his otherwise weak platform.... I can't post a link to the following b/c it require a subscription, I'm sure rwilson has one...it's from the Wall Street Journal.

There Is No 'Consensus'
On Global Warming

June 26, 2006; Page A14

According to Al Gore's new film "An Inconvenient Truth," we're in for "a planetary emergency": melting ice sheets, huge increases in sea levels, more and stronger hurricanes and invasions of tropical disease, among other cataclysms -- unless we change the way we live now.

Bill Clinton has become the latest evangelist for Mr. Gore's gospel, proclaiming that current weather events show that he and Mr. Gore were right about global warming, and we are all suffering the consequences of President Bush's obtuseness on the matter. And why not? Mr. Gore assures us that "the debate in the scientific community is over."

That statement, which Mr. Gore made in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, ought to have been followed by an asterisk. What exactly is this debate that Mr. Gore is referring to? Is there really a scientific community that is debating all these issues and then somehow agreeing in unison? Far from such a thing being over, it has never been clear to me what this "debate" actually is in the first place.

The media rarely help, of course. When Newsweek featured global warming in a 1988 issue, it was claimed that all scientists agreed. Periodically thereafter it was revealed that although there had been lingering doubts beforehand, now all scientists did indeed agree. Even Mr. Gore qualified his statement on ABC only a few minutes after he made it, clarifying things in an important way. When Mr. Stephanopoulos confronted Mr. Gore with the fact that the best estimates of rising sea levels are far less dire than he suggests in his movie, Mr. Gore defended his claims by noting that scientists "don't have any models that give them a high level of confidence" one way or the other and went on to claim -- in his defense -- that scientists "don't know… They just don't know."

So, presumably, those scientists do not belong to the "consensus." Yet their research is forced, whether the evidence supports it or not, into Mr. Gore's preferred global-warming template -- namely, shrill alarmism. To believe it requires that one ignore the truly inconvenient facts. To take the issue of rising sea levels, these include: that the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940; that icebergs have been known since time immemorial; that the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average. A likely result of all this is increased pressure pushing ice off the coastal perimeter of that country, which is depicted so ominously in Mr. Gore's movie. In the absence of factual context, these images are perhaps dire or alarming.

They are less so otherwise. Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why.

* * *
The other elements of the global-warming scare scenario are predicated on similar oversights. Malaria, claimed as a byproduct of warming, was once common in Michigan and Siberia and remains common in Siberia -- mosquitoes don't require tropical warmth. Hurricanes, too, vary on multidecadal time scales; sea-surface temperature is likely to be an important factor. This temperature, itself, varies on multidecadal time scales. However, questions concerning the origin of the relevant sea-surface temperatures and the nature of trends in hurricane intensity are being hotly argued within the profession.

Even among those arguing, there is general agreement that we can't attribute any particular hurricane to global warming. To be sure, there is one exception, Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who argues that it must be global warming because he can't think of anything else. While arguments like these, based on lassitude, are becoming rather common in climate assessments, such claims, given the primitive state of weather and climate science, are hardly compelling.

A general characteristic of Mr. Gore's approach is to assiduously ignore the fact that the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing even without any external forcing. To treat all change as something to fear is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse. Regardless, these items are clearly not issues over which debate is ended -- at least not in terms of the actual science.

A clearer claim as to what debate has ended is provided by the environmental journalist Gregg Easterbrook. He concludes that the scientific community now agrees that significant warming is occurring, and that there is clear evidence of human influences on the climate system. This is still a most peculiar claim. At some level, it has never been widely contested. Most of the climate community has agreed since 1988 that global mean temperatures have increased on the order of one degree Fahrenheit over the past century, having risen significantly from about 1919 to 1940, decreased between 1940 and the early '70s, increased again until the '90s, and remaining essentially flat since 1998.

There is also little disagreement that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 ppmv (parts per million by volume) in the 19th century to about 387 ppmv today. Finally, there has been no question whatsoever that carbon dioxide is an infrared absorber (i.e., a greenhouse gas -- albeit a minor one), and its increase should theoretically contribute to warming. Indeed, if all else were kept equal, the increase in carbon dioxide should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed, assuming that the small observed increase was in fact due to increasing carbon dioxide rather than a natural fluctuation in the climate system. Although no cause for alarm rests on this issue, there has been an intense effort to claim that the theoretically expected contribution from additional carbon dioxide has actually been detected.

Given that we do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change, this task is currently impossible. Nevertheless there has been a persistent effort to suggest otherwise, and with surprising impact. Thus, although the conflicted state of the affair was accurately presented in the 1996 text of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the infamous "summary for policy makers" reported ambiguously that "The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." This sufficed as the smoking gun for Kyoto.

The next IPCC report again described the problems surrounding what has become known as the attribution issue: that is, to explain what mechanisms are responsible for observed changes in climate. Some deployed the lassitude argument -- e.g., we can't think of an alternative -- to support human attribution. But the "summary for policy makers" claimed in a manner largely unrelated to the actual text of the report that "In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."

In a similar vein, the National Academy of Sciences issued a brief (15-page) report responding to questions from the White House. It again enumerated the difficulties with attribution, but again the report was preceded by a front end that ambiguously claimed that "The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability." This was sufficient for CNN's Michelle Mitchell to presciently declare that the report represented a "unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse and is due to man. There is no wiggle room." Well, no.

More recently, a study in the journal Science by the social scientist Nancy Oreskes claimed that a search of the ISI Web of Knowledge Database for the years 1993 to 2003 under the key words "global climate change" produced 928 articles, all of whose abstracts supported what she referred to as the consensus view. A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all, and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus view. Several actually opposed it.

Even more recently, the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush administration's coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared it had found "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system." This, for Mr. Easterbrook, meant: "Case closed." What exactly was this evidence? The models imply that greenhouse warming should impact atmospheric temperatures more than surface temperatures, and yet satellite data showed no warming in the atmosphere since 1979. The report showed that selective corrections to the atmospheric data could lead to some warming, thus reducing the conflict between observations and models descriptions of what greenhouse warming should look like. That, to me, means the case is still very much open.

* * *
So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at least three points.

First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists -- especially those outside the area of climate dynamics. Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an inauspicious beginning to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a "moral" crusade.

Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have farce -- if we're lucky.

Mr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.


Hmm. Is the Wall street journal a scientific publication? Gore says in the movie that scientific journals recognize the truth of global warming.

Platform? What do you mean? he's not running for anything.

I actually don't get what's in it for right wing people to disagree with this? why the knee jerk opposition? it's not new stuff.


Scientists on both sides of the debate agree that global warming exists and the atmosphere is changing, the issue is whether or not global warming is caused by humans or if it is a product of a natural cycle that has existed long before humans. Who killed the dinasours? While the article was printed in the WSJ, the author of this Op-Ed is a professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT. The truth is that scientists don't have enough historical data to determine cyclical weather patterns. They've only been monitoring Atlantic sea temperatures since 1895. There's little or no data for the other 6 oceans.Only in the last 30 years has technology improved where scientists can now monitor the size and strengthen of hurricanes. Al Gore likes to cite the increase in hurricane activity as a product of global warming, yet he doesn't mention that hurricanes are no stronger today than they were 50-60 years ago.The problem today is not our dependence on oil, it's over-development in areas where structures were not meant to be built. Our desire to build wherever the hell we want is the problem. "Let's build in a flood plain and the tax-payer pick up the tab"....And people scratch there head and wonder why there's no affordable insurance?

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