Wednesday, March 14, 2007

2007: The High-Water Mark of Global Warming

Could 2007 be the last year we are bombarded with articles on the coming Global Warming Apocalypse? Prominent scientists have questioned the man made global warming “consensus” for some time now. This year seems to have changed in that these scientists are beginning to be heard in main stream media, and no one is threatening to burn them at the stake.

Vice President Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” was released last year to praise and accolades by many in the press. It seemed impossible to find a media personality who didn’t think the movie was the most important work of our time. The media reported that the Vice President was more popular now than he was as Vice President. Mr. Gore seemed set to take in awards, and maybe even a Presidential nomination. In February, the Boston Globe compared global warming deniers with holocaust deniers. Since them, it would appear that the climate is changing, but not as Mr. Gore or the Boston Globe might have predicted.

Channel 4 in the UK recently aired a special entitled, “The Great Global Warming Swindle.” In it, Channel 4 shows a group of prominent scientist condemning the Global Warming theories. The program features nine scientists that are prominent experts in the fields of climatology, oceanography, meteorology, biogeography, and paleoclimatology. To the best of my knowledge, the program has not aired in the US yet, but with the talk it has generated, it probably won’t be long before it is available outside of the UK.

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article quoting many of Al Gore’s critics and their complaints with “An Inconvenient Truth”. For Example, Don Easterbrook specifically pointed out that Mr. Gore’s movie has some inaccuracies. The emeritus professor said, “…there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.” Mr. Gore’s response to his critics for the Times article stated that while some of the “nuances and distinctions” were missing from his movie, it conveyed the “…most important points”.

As the New York Times and other media outlets began showcasing respected critics of man made global warming, the current “consensus” will change. While a debate on the points of global warming has been long overdue, I believe 2007 will show just how little we as humans really understand about the Earth and its climate.


VirginiaDissentator said...

I am nearly past the point of even considering the idea that our actions are not affecting the environment. If someone could show me equally persuasive data that supported the idea I could be convinced, but my strong inclination is that we do have an effect.

What I don't fully understand, though, is the backlash against the global warming argument. I'm not an expert on the subject, but it seems like taking action to reduce carbon emissions and the use of fossil fuels would be beneficial, even if global warming is just a massive spike in average temperatures caused naturally.

CapeTownDissentator said...

VA Dissentator beat me to the punch, but I also read the article in the times and I think that it has been slightly overblown and taken out of context here. Some of the inaccuracies criticized were concerning some of the more cinematic parts of the film, such as those linking Hurricane Katrina to Climate Change.
I fail to see the point in all of this. Of course we should all work towards a more comprehensive and exact study on the potential and consequences of global warming, but the proliferation of even mild doubt and skepticism only affords those who oppose the notion of Global Warming a platform to stand on. I think the ship has sailed on whether or not we are affecting our planet deleteriously. The only debate remaining is to figure out how to efficiently reduce our negative impact and reverse the course. If we get bogged down in more partisan debate then we're going nowhere.

Andy D said...

There are an assortment of scientists, books, and articles available that question the “consensus” theory of global warming. Another one appeared today on the Cybercast News Service. Cape Town Dissentator, if you truly believe I have misquoted the article, please let me know where. I am basing my analysis of the Time piece on the scientists shown in the second part of the article that are much more critical of Mr. Gore and his film. For example, Dr. Easterbrook is quoted later in the article as, “…hotly disput[ing] Mr. Gore’s claim that ‘our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this’”. The article also states that Dr. Easterbrook provided a slide at a recent conference showing 10 large swings in the past 15,000 years. I don’t think I am misquoting the article when I cite this as evidence of scientist going on the record disputing Vice President Gore in the media. I also believe this is a challenge to Mr. Gore’s science and not his cinematography.

The danger with accepting a “consensus” opinion as science is that it can lead to harmful repercussions. There are some very real questions that must be answered. First, to what extent is mankind influencing global warming? Second, if we are influencing our climate, is there anything we can really do about it? Third, if we can change the climate, should we? And finally, what is the cost to changing the environment? And I don’t mean just a financial cost. If the UN limits carbon emissions on a global level, what does that do to developing nations? Could limitations on developing nations actually cost lives? If so, is it worth those lives to affect global warming?

The main point I want to convey is that legitimate scientists disagree with the popular global warming theory. Global warming is always billed as a “consensus”. Science isn’t about consensus. Science is about what can be observed and proven on a repeatable basis. So far, global warming has not met that standard.

Anonymous said...

To the dissenters: The debate is not about whether activities of man influence climate - for they surly do - but rather whether the results of those activities are significant compared to other factors. Uncertainties remain high in comparing modern multispectral multisensor data with historic ( even decades old) data; magnitude, nature and period of natural cycles; solar cycles and influence; relative importance of methane, particulates, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide; and, above all else modelling. Current climate models are so inaccurate that they would be thrown out in any other industry. Surprises await. Science is suposed to be established by demonstrated, verifible facts, not be consensus.

Brandon said...

I personally lean towards global warming, but even if it is proven to be false, I don't see any negatives to developing new fuel technology that would enable us to run our cars on low-emission and Middle East-free energy sources.

Andy D said...

I lean the other way Brandon. However, I agree with you. I think we should look for new fuels for cars, and ways to make cars more efficient. The Global Warming believers will tell you that isn’t enough. We need to reduce emissions from manufacturing plants, autos, planes, everything. When you start regulating any of these, you have the potential to create a worse problem than you started off with.

I have seen articles that ethanol fuels have driven the price of corn up in Latin America. That would be an unforeseen consequence of ethanol fuel based cars. If we limit emissions on manufacturing, how will that impact developing nations?

I believe we owe it to everyone to be good stewards of the planet. I also believe we shouldn’t call policy science unless it really is science.

Brandon said...

Andy, I was under the impression that South America made its ethanol from sugar cane, but that could be limited to only Brazil. I did several speeches on ethanol this summer, at best it's a stop-gap measure between fossil fuel and hydrogen fuel.

Andy D said...


This is a result of Ethanol production here in the United States. According to MIT, Mexico imports a large part of its corn from the US. The increased Ethanol production is driving the price of corn up. From the same MIT article, the increased US Ethanol production has driven corn prices up 70% and the cost of poultry production (which uses corn feed) has increased by 18 to 20%. The article predicts things will get worse until Politicians realize that ethanol is not helping our energy independence. Real the entire article (about a page and a half) here.