Tuesday, July 04, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth, a pressing question

edited Wed a.m.

I saw An Inconvenient Truth tonight.

"the atmosphere is as thin as a coat of varnish on a globe ..."

"we probably have about 10 years left to do something"

"it's no longer a scientific issue, it's now a moral issue."

It shows the most compelling graphs I will ever see.

Everybody whose mind isn't locked needs to see this film.

Our community leaders need to see the film.

People who tend to see government as a team sport need to see the film.
How do we reach these people, and get them to see it?

We can't just agree to disagree and freely do what we want here, we only have the one planet among us. It's the ultimate externality; we have to pull together on this one.

Apologies for the trite sincerity here, but I really _am_ stumped on how to get through the ritual warfare. The war now is against an enemy of our own making.

(Starting tomorrow it's at Del Oro for at least a week.)

Michael - and other readers for whom global warming hasn't been high on the priority list - you've got a perspective that I lack, and we need your input here - what would encourage people who're skeptical to go and see the film?

and YES I realize I'm part of the problem. I'm sorry.
Added wed. eve, via Agricola over at Xark:

Robert Samuelson's The Real Inconvenient Truth:
The practical conclusion is that, if global warming is a potential calamity, the only salvation is new technology.... Only an aggressive research and development program might find ways of breaking our dependence on fossil fuels or dealing with it.

The trouble with the global warming debate is that it has become a moral crusade when it's really an engineering problem. The inconvenient truth is that if we don't solve the engineering problem, we're helpless.


michael r. kesti said...

> [anna] Michael - and other readers for whom global warming hasn't been high on the priority list -…

From where does this come, Anna? I don’t recall having said anything concerning global warming’s position on my priority list to anybody!

> [anna] …you've got a perspective that I lack, and we need your input here - what would encourage people who're skeptical to go and see the film?

It might help to be genuinely sincere. You obviously feel strongly about this issue. Expressing your feelings without appearing to first be motivated to insult will probably be far more effective.

> [anna] and YES I realize I'm part of the problem. I'm sorry.

To which problem is it that you refer? (I’m honestly not trying to be a smart-ass but do want to be certain I understand your intent and I didn’t get that from the context.)


Here are my views concerning global warming.

There can be little doubt that the planet has experienced cycles of warming and cooling over millions of years. For most of that time humans were not present and therefore had no influence on the forces that result in these cycles but those cycles did occur none the less. They are a part of Earth’s natural rhythm.

It seems obvious that the planet is currently experiencing a warm phase of these cycles. My favorite example of this is the glacial retreat that resulted in the formation of the Great Lakes. I suspect that the current warm phase is probably a large part of why we humans have thrived and achieved our current state of industry and technology. If most of the world were still covered with ice we, if there indeed were a “we” to discuss, would probably be too busy surviving the cold to have reached those states.

There seems to be agreement among those who have studied these climatic cycles that variations in the state of “greenhouse” gases are their primary drive mechanism. It seems fairly obvious that humans have contributed to redistributing these gases, primarily through the use of fossil fuels. To put it simply, burning those fuels has released the gases that had been stored underground back into the atmosphere.

If all of this is true, and it seems reasonable, then rather than debating whether global warming is occurring and whether humans have contributed to it we should be asking what, if anything, can and should be done about it. Debating whether and to what extent humans have contributed to this warming cycle is pointless if the goal is to eliminate an apparent threat to the survival of our species.

Note that I chose the words of that last sentence very carefully. I have no doubt that Earth will survive but I’m not as certain about the human race. One might think of climatic cycles as being similar to seasonal cycles. Just as winters’ cold storms reduce to near-elimination the insect populations that grow large during summers’ warmth, climatic cycles may very well be Earth’s way of eliminating larger pests, such as humans.

In any event, I am fairly certain that pointing out when one’s favorite target of derision doesn’t publish an AP story concerning the topic isn’t going to further anybody’s cause.


Have you asked Jeff Skoll and Davis Guggenheim, the executive producers of “An Inconvenient Truth,” to take the Dubner Oath? If not, why haven’t you?

Russ Steele said...


I am sorry that you were taken in by Al Gore and his Inconvenient Truth. So I have asked my readers to help you out by posting some facts here so you will not have to go to NRO, or The Week That Was. Here is #20.

"20. Sea Level Rise. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does not forecast sea-level rises of “18 to 20 feet.” Rather, it says, “We project a sea level rise of 0.09 to 0.88 m for 1990 to 2100, with a central value of 0.48 m. The central value gives an average rate of 2.2 to 4.4 times the rate over the 20th century...It is now widely agreed that major loss of grounded ice and accelerated sea level rise are very unlikely during the 21st century.” Al Gore’s suggestions of much more are therefore extremely alarmist."

I have put links at http://ncwatch.typepad.com to all twenty five truths at NRO and TWTW.

Anna said...

Michael and Russ, will you both please go and see the film, then come back and report your reactions? If you didn't feel it was worth the money, I'll reimburse you the cost of your tickets.

Don't pull a JA here, please.

michael r. kesti said...

> [anna] Michael and Russ, will you both please go and see the film...

I will probably see it when it is shown on cable or becomes available on DVD so that I can take notes while watching, rewind to ensure that I understood, etc.

>[anna] Don't pull a JA here, please.


Bob said...

Since I was born on the 27th here is number 25.

25. Economic Costs. Even if the study Gore cites is right (p. 280-281), the United States will still emit massive amounts of CO2 after all the measures it outlines have been realized. Getting emissions down to the paltry levels needed to stabilize CO2 in the atmosphere would require, in Gore’s own words, “a wrenching transformation” of our way of life. This cannot be done easily or without significant cost. The Kyoto Protocol, which Gore enthusiastically supports, would avert less than a tenth of a degree of warming in the next fifty years and would cost up to $400 billion a year to the U.S. All of the current proposals in Congress would cost the economy significant amounts, making us all poorer, with all that that entails for human health and welfare, while doing nothing to stop global warming.

Finally, Gore quotes Winston Churchill (p. 100) — but he should read what Churchill said when he was asked what qualities a politician requires: “The ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.”

Anna said...

Re Michael's "JA?" - JA (*). I think it crystallized a lot of people's opinions of him.

Bob, I'll extend the same plea (see the film) and offer (if you find it wasn't worthwhile, I'll pay for your ticket) to you. (I'm assuming that all of you are criticising it without having gone to see it; if I'm wrong, please set me straight.)

Russ Steele said...


I am waiting for the Al's film to be availalbe at netflix. I want to play on my computer and take notes. To rewind and play in slow motion, to watch is eyes. Is he talking to the ceiling, or the floor.


Anna said...

fyi to readers (and correct me if I'm wrong on this Russ) -
Russ's weblog does not have comment moderation, so you might want to move your more timely discussions over there.

(I might only moderate comments here once a day, which may impose quite a delay on the conversation.)

(Russ does require Typekey registration for commenters, but that's only a one-time inconvenience, and gets you in the "comment" door at many other weblogs.)