7.01.2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I saw An Inconvenient Truth today. I just left the theater, wishing I hadn't drove my car the six or so blocks from my house. This movie had me sitting there with tears streaming down my face, or laughing, or nodding profusely, or shaking my head back and forth in disbelief all in the course of about two hours.

EVERYONE SHOULD SEE IT.

But specifically, the haters should see it. And by that I mean the disbelievers like our Republican Congressional delegates in Utah and the vast majority of their constituents. My neighbors. My family. My long time friends. They should see it most of all people, but you should see it too. Even if you already know global warming is a fact. You should see it to reinforce your good habits, or help you create new ones, or to discover a new angle for convincing your mom, your neighbor, or your boss to implement some environmentally friendly policies into their lives.

You should see it to know where you shouldn't live if things don't change. Utah seems to be pretty safe from the rising seas...but what other horrors await us if we don't make a change?

Check it out at www.climatecrisis.net, calculate your carbon imprint, and read through the list of simple things you can do to reduce your impact now. Tonight, when I got home, I unpacked three boxes from our move and labeled them "Paper/Cardboard," "Plastic," and "Aluminum." Recycling is just one thing I can do. And next, I'm going out to the shed to pump up the tires on the new bike my partner bought me about a month ago that I have yet to ride.

My goal is to stop preaching something I don't live. Sure, I work for an environmental organization, and in my capacity I can order post-consumer recycled paper and plastic products, and be sure that most of our aluminum and plastic gets recycled. But I don't lead the exemplary life I know is necessary. Not only necessary, but rewarding. In many ways.

Also, check out:

www.newdream.org
www.stopglobalwarming.org
http://www.utahpower.net/Article/Article22009.html to purchase renewable energy for $1.95 a month

and let me know what other great websites you stumble on!

17 comments:

Green Jenni said...

I just started a climate crisis community on LiveJournal because of this film: http://community.livejournal.com/planetcooldown/

I hope it will generate a lot of great ideas and action.

Cameron said...

I admit I haven't seen the movie. I also admit to a certain amount of curiosity concerning it.

I wouldn't classify myself as a "hater" or as an "environmentalist". I think I fall somewhere in between. I get concerned with anything on either extreme. And it seems like the field is full of extremists on both sides.

I like recycling, but I've read it takes more energy to recycle than to just make more of what is being recycled.

I'd heard a lot about the Kyoto Protocol, so I did some research. I wrote about my findings here:

http://magicvalleymormon.blogspot.com/2006/05/kyoto-protocol.html

Reach Upward's blog recently linked to this article:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110008570

It seems as though it is not as clear cut as Mr. Gore is making it. But does that disprove his thesis? I don't know.

Jen said...

mvm-

Can you please provide me with a peer-reviewed article written by a scientist that says that there is no clearcut case for global warming? Thanks.

Cameron said...

Hi Jen,

Thanks for asking. I interpret your question a couple of ways:

1. Do scientists believe that the earth is warmer now than it has been for "x" years?

2. If so, are humans the cause?

My sentence, "It seems as though it is not as clear cut as Mr. Gore is making it", was based on an article that Reach Upward had linked to from the Wall Street Journal. However, I gave the wrong link above. Here it is.

This is written by Richard Lindzen, a professor and climatologist at MIT. I would appreciate any feedback or rebuttal you might offer.

Your question, and my interpretation thereof, sent me off to do some research.

My research is not finished.

However, I wanted to get back in a timely manner so I'll post what I've found so far.

First, my opinion of "consensus". It was my understanding that science is derived from asking questions and poking holes in existing thoeries. Not just for the sake of poking holes, but for the sake of understanding more. For someone to tell me there is a "consensus" on global warming seems a bit heavy handed. Do you mean to tell me there is not a single scientist in the world that has doubts? Or that is doing studies to check it out? Or that is speaking out about it? Not a single scientist? That's absurd. It makes me wonder what the agenda is. I would much rather be presented with both sides and decide for myself. If you want to tell me that a great majority of climatologists in the world are convinced through their and other's research that global warming is occuring and is caused by man, and then back that up with proof, fine. But don't tell me that there is no dissent.

While I was reading I began to copy and paste the names of scientists that were quoted as having some form of dissent. It is not an all encompassing list. But I post it here as a beginning:

Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama
William Gray of Colorado State University
Neil Frank, former director of the National Hurricane Center
Richard Lindzen of MIT
Prof Bob Carter geologist at James Cook University
Professor Philip Stott, from the University of London

Richard Lindzen wrote about the origins of the "consensus". It is an interesting read, and again I would welcome any feedback you have.

There is an article on npr.org that begins by saying, "There's a sharp difference of opinion among scientists about global warming and the risks it may pose." It is an interview from 2004 with three scientists with basically three differing views on global warming issues.

Petr Chylek, a professor of physics and atmospheric science at Dalhousie University in Halifax, wrote a paper called, "A Long Term Perspective on Climate Change" in which he takes on CO2 as the dominant force behind warming, as well as climate change being much more than natural changes in the earth's climate.

I still have not seen "An Inconvenient Truth", but some of the claims Mr. Gore makes in it have been disputed as well.

This article takes on a few of them, such as the "hockey stick" graph and Greenland melting.

Apparently in his movie Mr. Gore attributes recent hurricanes to global warming. This article quotes numerous scientists that disagree. These scientists are:

Dr. James O'Brien, professor of meteorology & oceanography at the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University;
Dr. Gary Sharp, scientific director at the Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study; Dr. Anthony Lupo, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Missouri - Columbia;
Dr. David Legates, associate professor of climatology at the University of Delaware;
George Taylor, Oregon State climatologist.

They are quoted thusly:

"Computer simulations suggest that in a warmer world most of the warming would occur in the Polar Regions. Atmospheric circulation, which crucially affects storms, is driven primarily by the temperature difference, or gradient, between the tropics and the poles," the experts wrote.

"Warmer polar regions would reduce this gradient and thus lessen the overall intensity or frequency or both of storms - not just tropical storms but mid-latitude winter storms as well (such as blizzards and northeasters),"

We suggest that natural variability of storminess is the cause of Florida's recent hurricane disasters. In such times there is an emotional tendency to pin blame somewhere," they wrote.

"But rather than blaming global warming - for which there is little supporting meteorological evidence - emphasis on emergency preparedness and further storm research would be a constructive response,"

It appears that some of the science that Mr. Gore used in his movie, and some of his assertions, are incorrect. At the very least, they are not the "consensus".

Cameron said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jen said...

Thanks for the info. I'll look into the links you sent.

Jen said...

Hi mvm,

I read some of the links you sent and did a bit of research of my own.

The problem with the first article you mention is that it is a media article and not a peer-reviewed scientific paper.

The sampling of media articles on climate change showed 53% of media stories "doubting" climate change while the near consensus of the scientific community not doubting -- I believe that info came from this tidbit:

"A database of published scientific articles is kept by the The Institute for Scientific Information. Naomi Oreskes led a research team in reading through the abstracts of the 928 articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals between the years of 1998 and 2003 that included the keywords "global climate change". Of these articles, 75% accepted the consensus view that global warming is occurring and is due to human activity. The other 25% did not reject the consensus. Rather, these 25% simply did not mention the question at all. Absolutely none of the peer-reviewed articles rejected the consensus that global warming is real and has been caused by humans."

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/306/5702/1686?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author1=oreskes&searchid=1103210845409_5389&stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0&fdate=10/1/1995&tdate=12/31/2004

Another glaring problem is that it was published in the Wall Street Journal, and in the opinion section.

The author who wrote the article is even more problematic. It seems that in 1995 he was reported to "charges oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services; his 1991 trip to testify before a Senate committee was paid for by Western Fuels, and a speech he wrote, entitled 'Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consenssus' was underwritten by OPEC."

That's enought to flush his creditability down the toilet as far as I'm concerned.

One of the quotes from the film applies here: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it."

I think this also can account for the small number of scientists claiming that climate change isn't happening or isn't worsened by human activity. There's likely to be good money made to make these claims by all the very rich and power industries that stand to lose A LOT of money if we were to all make the changes necessary to thwart a global disaster.

I think a good percentage of humans might also like to cling to such scientists, as it validates our wasteful lifestyles. We can go on as if nothing is happening and not make any inconvenient changes to our comfortable lives. All they have to do is just throw in enough doubt and those who stand lose money or cofortable lifestyle will eat it up. They are attempting to take keep the debate on whether global warming is real or not so that we never move to the debate on what we need to do RIGHT NOW.

So who benefits from prompting action that might reverse of the effects of global warming? Which very rich and powerful corporations are paying for all the evidence and promotion that climate change is real?

Cameron said...

I'm a little disappointed. I was honestly hoping to be able to sift through all the rhetoric and break down the scientific jargon into so-called layman's terms. Instead, everyone who offers a dissenting view is labeled a sell-out hack.

Do you honestly believe there is only one "profitable" side to the global warming debate? There are entire organizations who's existance depends on global warming being mankind's fault. Governments send billions of dollars to scientists and researchers based on global climate change. This is a huge industry in and of itself.

No, I think there are big money influences on both sides. Which is why I voiced my concerns about extremists on either end of the spectrum. And why my BS detector goes off when people like Mr. Gore excitedly exclaim that no one disagrees with them.

As for Mr Lindzen, I kind of expected you to try to discredit his claims by casting doubt on his loyalties, and frankly on his ethics as a scientist. But I'm still disappointed. I think he brings up several interesting points, and not just in the WSJ, and I hoped you would have tackled the merits of those points. If he is such a hack, his results must be crap. However, if he were such a hack, then why does he work for a distinguished institution like MIT? If he were such a hack, why is he on the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? Frankly, someone directly involved in that panel seems like someone with a valid point of view. So, let's go over some of his views.

Mr Lindzen claims that when pressed on some factual issues regarding rising sea levels as presented in the movie, Mr. Gore replied that scientists "don't have any models that give them a high level of confidence" and that scientist "don't know, they just don't know."

Mr. Lindzen claims that:

"the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940."

and

"the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average."

He then claims that the "likely result of all this is increased pressure pushing ice off the coastal perimeter of that country."

Mr Lindzen claims that global mean temperatures rose significantly from about 1919 to 1940, decreased between 1940 and the early 70s, increased again until the 90s and are remaining essentially flat since 1998.

Mr Lindzen then claims that "if all else were kept equal, the increase in carbon dioxide should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed."

He attributes this discrepancy to the fact that "we do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change."

He then claims that the many reports that the media has pronounced as "unanimous decisions that global warming is real, is getting worse and is due to man" are misrepresentations of the text of these documents, specifically the IPCC findings. Both of these reports have a "summary for policy makers" that, according to Mr Lindzen, differ greatly from the actual text. Interestingly, these summaries are not written by the scientists who contributed to the reports.

I found it incredibly coincidental that Mr Lindzen ended his op-ed the same way you did yours; saying that listening to these scientists validates a certain lifestyle. He said, "Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to...understand the science."

I reiterate my desire to discuss the points made in the links I provided previously. There were others besides Mr Lindzen that expressed uncertainty with human-caused warming. There are countless more that I did not link to.

Cameron said...

Bueller, Bueller... :)

Cameron said...

Seriously, I'm interested in feedback. I'm reading all I can find on the subject, I've even tracked down the "Summary for Policy Makers" from the IPPC report. There is an interesting article that I linked to before called "A Long Term Perspective on Climate Change" by Petr Chylek. I'm trying to find out more about the things he wrote in this paper.

So feel free to chime in, even if it is "unfair" to me...

Juniper said...

MVM...but have you seen the movie yet? As far as I'm concerned, any comments you have about it are useless unless you've gone to the source. Get back to me when you really are as unbiased as you claim.

Cameron said...

Sooooo Al Gore is the source for all information concerning global warming?

I am currently reading the IPCC reports. It that close enough to the source?

I don't understand why you are running away from this "fantastic debate" that apparently I started. I was asked to provide information and I did so. As of yet, no one has responded to this information.

I find it chilling that someone who dares to question your ideas is dismissed so easily. If the question of global warming is as unquestionably answered as you assert, why is it so hard to answer my questions?

Jenni said...

I feel the need to appologize. I'm sorry.

I take full responsibility for starting this debate -- I should have known better. Debating this issue is a waste of valuable time that could be used debating the best ways to combat global warming.

The truth is, I lost heart in the fight as I found more and more evidence when researching that convinced me that no matter what evidence you bring to the table and how ever many thousands of scientific studies that back you up, there will always be a handful that contradict that can be used to cloud the certainty.

All the research I've done (for this and other climate crisis projects) has shown me that there will always be those who doubt, (even with overwhelming evidence)if the evidence points to something that's not convenient for them to believe (that's why the title of the film is so perfect for the subject). After all, if you acknowledge the human causes of global warming, you are morally obligated to do something about it. Much easier to find the few experts that allow one to continue one's comfortable existence in the way one has become accustomed.

Perhaps as we see the more and more destruction and death from climate related disasters some will acknowledge their contribution and make some changes -- or maybe they'll just claim that it's just signs of the appocolypse and wait with baited breath for the rapture.

Juniper said...

Jenni,
It's cool. It's obvious that MVM is not as "unbiased" as he originally claimed to be. He'll go to every source but the one that the post was originally written about. That would leave all his research incomplete.
Really, it comes down to a question of morals. Whether you believe in global warming or not, you should care about your surroundings and how your actions affect other people. You should try and live as simply as possible, not only for your own health, but so that you do not take more than your share of what our little planet's limited resources have to offer.
Here's an analogy for you MVM: Take Lehi's dream of the tree of life: do you want to be in the group of people in the big white building, or one of the lonely ones below holding to the iron rod? After all, what kind of people are in the big building? The ones that have more than they need, that lord their possessions and positions over those of us who could care less what our car looks like. The people with big energy-sucking homes and Hummers. What would Jesus do?
And who partakes of the tree of life? Those that find those pursuits meaningless.
Will living simply get you to heaven? Maybe not. But it will at least take your mind off of those meaningless and useless pursuits that most Americans find so important and give you more time to focus on the goals that matter.
I digress. We're talking about global warming here. But the truth is that just like in the natural world, everything is related. When we talk about global warming and how (if it is in fact a real threat) we can prevent it, we're really talking about the overall problem of people just being plain selfish. It will take a catastrophe of some form or another to change people and the materialistic ways that keep us from caring about what really matters.
Thanks again, Jenni! Hope things are going well in your pursuit of happiness!

Cameron said...

In response to claims of my "biased motives" and the sources I have posted here; It was what I was asked to do. In my first comment I expressed my sort of "middling" opinion on global warming. While I had done some thought and research on the subject previously, my opinion was, and really still is, in its infancy. That comment elicited this response from Jen:

"Can you please provide me with a peer-reviewed article written by a scientist that says that there is no clearcut case for global warming? Thanks."

Now, Jen and Juniper and whoever else is here are firmly entrenched on the "global warming is mankind's fault" side, and would presumably have the data and research for their view. Jen's request, by its very nature, required me to research the "other side". So yes, that is what I began researching.

I posted my initial findings of scientists that opposed Jen and Juniper's global warming view. I also included a few factual complaints that some folks have regarding "An Inconvenient Truth". I have not added my opinion on the film, simply becuase I have not seen it and therefore do not and cannot have an opinion of it. However, my research on global warming as a whole intrigued me. I was very anxious to hear what Jen would have to say.

Unfortunately, that is where the discussion ended. There have been no rebuttals or refutations to any of the information I have collected at your request.

So, I've continued researching on my own. I made a couple more requests for factual feedback on the claims made by the numerous scientists I linked to. But they were met by silence. So I downloaded and began reading the Summary for Policy Makers of the 2001 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC was formed by the United Nations to study global warming. They have issued numerous reports and statements over the last decade or so. There is some controversy surrounding the summaries of these reports, however, so I will try to read the reports themselves. It is an arduous and cumbersome task. But as I am late to the global warming discussion, I figure I should start from the source.

Jen, I don't work for an oil company. I don't drive an SUV. Please do not attack my morality based on a few comments on someone's blog. At least not before you bother to give the same effort responding to me that I gave responding to you.

Juniper, I've already covered my so-called "bias". But your last comment puzzles me. You seem to have shifted the topic from global warming to use of resources. Does the US use more resources than other countries? Yes. Is conservation important? Yes. But global warming is more than just conservation. If Mr. Gore is correct in saying that we only have 10 years left, then it's going to take alot more than hybrid cars and energy efficient light bulbs. The costs and sacrifices will have to be great all over the world. So the reasons had better be solid. I suppose that is the purpose of Mr. Gore's and others' claims that the vote is unanimous. In fact, this comment string began with the assertion that not one scientist disagrees. At your request I found many that do. Interestingly, in my studies I found that in the early 70s the earth was cooling. Scientists were alarmed. Some called for immediate action to avert the coming crisis. They gave us 10 years to fix the problem. That was over 30 years ago. Now I am hearing the same mantra. Fool me once...

Anonymous said...

Regarding Lindzen.

I suggest you read the article published in Harper's Magazine.

At this link:

http://dieoff.org/page82.htm

Cameron said...

Uh-huh. I am accused of bias by people who use an article written by a self-professed environmental journalist posted on an environmentalist website called "dieoff.org". Nice.

Again, no facts, no substantiaion, no refutation. No debate.