Sunday, February 28, 2010

Framing Al Gore

Al Gore has long recognized our threats to the Earth and the necessity of intelligently modifying behavior to meet those challenges. He has been one of the most effective, if not the most effective person communicating these inconvenient truths to the world. Today he has a long commentary in the New York Times. Gore makes several important points. First,

It would be an enormous relief if the recent attacks on the science of global warming actually indicated that we do not face an unimaginable calamity requiring large-scale, preventive measures to protect human civilization as we know it. . .

But what a burden would be lifted! We would no longer have to worry that our grandchildren would one day look back on us as a criminal generation that had selfishly and blithely ignored clear warnings that their fate was in our hands. We could instead celebrate the naysayers who had doggedly persisted in proving that every major National Academy of Sciences report on climate change had simply made a huge mistake.
but, sadly no,
In fact, the crisis is still growing because we are continuing to dump 90 million tons of global-warming pollution every 24 hours into the atmosphere — as if it were an open sewer. . . .

Here is what scientists have found is happening to our climate: man-made global-warming pollution traps heat from the sun and increases atmospheric temperatures. These pollutants — especially carbon dioxide — have been increasing rapidly with the growth in the burning of coal, oil, natural gas and forests, and temperatures have increased over the same period. Almost all of the ice-covered regions of the Earth are melting — and seas are rising. Hurricanes are predicted to grow stronger and more destructive, though their number is expected to decrease. Droughts are getting longer and deeper in many mid-continent regions, even as the severity of flooding increases. The seasonal predictability of rainfall and temperatures is being disrupted, posing serious threats to agriculture. The rate of species extinction is accelerating to dangerous levels.
Gore makes an important point about why a US climate bill, although not perfect, is needed now
. . . .we should have no illusions about the difficulty and the time needed to convince the rest of the world to adopt a completely new approach. The lags in the global climate system, including the buildup of heat in the oceans from which it is slowly reintroduced into the atmosphere, means that we can create conditions that make large and destructive consequences inevitable long before their awful manifestations become apparent: the displacement of hundreds of millions of climate refugees, civil unrest, chaos and the collapse of governance in many developing countries, large-scale crop failures and the spread of deadly diseases.
Of course, this is also the reason why waiting for a technological miracle is ethically evil. When you are in a hole, stop digging, but also do what you can to get out, get started.

But, most importantly, Gore deals with the political situation
The decisive victory of democratic capitalism over communism in the 1990s led to a period of philosophical dominance for market economics worldwide and the illusion of a unipolar world. It also led, in the United States, to a hubristic “bubble” of market fundamentalism that encouraged opponents of regulatory constraints to mount an aggressive effort to shift the internal boundary between the democracy sphere and the market sphere.

This period of market triumphalism coincided with confirmation by scientists that earlier fears about global warming had been grossly understated. But by then, the political context in which this debate took form was tilted heavily toward the views of market fundamentalists, who fought to weaken existing constraints and scoffed at the possibility that global constraints would be needed to halt the dangerous dumping of global-warming pollution into the atmosphere.

Over the years, as the science has become clearer and clearer, some industries and companies whose business plans are dependent on unrestrained pollution of the atmospheric commons have become ever more entrenched. They are ferociously fighting against the mildest regulation — just as tobacco companies blocked constraints on the marketing of cigarettes for four decades after science confirmed the link of cigarettes to diseases of the lung and the heart. . .

From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption. After all has been said and so little done, the truth about the climate crisis — inconvenient as ever — must still be faced.

The pathway to success is still open, though it tracks the outer boundary of what we are capable of doing.
Eli has long regretted the attacks on Gore from those who share his concerns, and even worse the reluctance to defend him. Gore does not understand the science as well as the best scientists, he is perhaps not the best communicator, nor is he as willing to pander as many politicians, but the entire package is unique. As many climate scientists are learning, if you are not for those who support you, they will not be able to be for you. Much time has been wasted and the denialists have built strength by supporting each other because of the illusion on our side that perfection could be demanded of allies.

While the Earth may not yet be at a tipping point, our ability to deal with environmental challenges such as climate change is.
We have overcome existential threats before. Winston Churchill is widely quoted as having said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes, you must do what is required.”


Anonymous said...

Eli, what might it feel like to be an obsequious jocksniffer

Anonymous said...

Re: hurricanes

Does our honest broker have a point?

Adrian Cockcroft said...

Part of the problem, as Al notes, is the skewed viewpoint shown on TV. Part of the solution would be for Al to be on TV every weekend in those Sunday morning chat shows, making the case. The republicans get too much air time, John McCain is on TV just about every week, I want to see that Al is on TV more often than McCain.

EliRabett said...

Well, didn't take long for the trolls to come out from under the bridge. Gore is admirable and smart, live with it.

Pielke is a self promoting clown. In a rational world the sin of trying to dominate the field belong to Roger the Dodger, Jr. If you look at his claims they apply to current and past losses, not to hurricane intensity, and even if you look at those claims he does not deal with the costs of damage adaptation (hurricane straps, etc) and the immense investment in hurricane observation and modeling which allows better preparation, smaller evacuations, and provides quicker and more effective responses to hurricane threats. In short, even on a current basis there has been a large increase in the costs of dealing with hurricanes.

OTOH, what Gore is pointing to is the physical science which predicts that in a warming world there will be more intense hurricanes although the number of weaker tropical cyclones will diminish.

It is indeed a joy to deal with the trollariat. Thank you for the opportunity

amoeba said...

The denialists and the trolls have no argument, so they frequently resort to attacking the messenger.

That shows that they cynically realise they have:

a) Zero Integrity
b) Zero Science
c) Zero conscience

OTOH, the mice knew that all along!

Anonymous said...

Gore, All this is a lie-v Betrug! If you know what I mean...

Anonymous said...

Hey, Buck-O's... I was just flying buy-buy-buy; as these folks kept saying anyway... Hey look, it's Al in shirt sleeves, he was really working then! Maybe these are the folks he buyes his Carbon-credits from?

gotta fly, Starling-by-by

Jim Bouldin said...

Great post Eli, and the 2nd to last paragraph is particularly exceptional.

Anonymous said...

It's very fortunate that a national figure speaks up for science and humanity (where are our other national figures?) but Gore is not enough. Too many are afflicted with GDS:

Pete Dunkelberg

Steve Bloom said...

Eli should be aware of these new results, which have been coming for a while (h/t KE). As it appears to be impossible to explain Pliocene climate without such enhanced TC activity, questioning ears tip in the direction of the near-term model results. BTW, the period studied averaged significantly cooler than peak Pliocene warmth (the Piacenzian), which note only got up to about 350 ppm (per Tripati), meaning that the 3 to 5 mya period studied probably averaged no more than 325 ppm or so. And where is it we are just how? Tipping point, shmipping point, what's a little reorganization of the ocean-atmosphere circulation between friends?

Steve Bloom said...

Erratum: "just now"

Anonymous said...

Juan Cole has some thoughts on the current swiftboating of science.

Pete Dunkelberg

Anonymous said...

Steve Bloom: The Pliocene with a world ocean (no land bridge between NA and SA) and no or little permanent ice is not a precise analog for the present.

This is not to say that the last 2 MY are reassuring or that 400 ppm is OK. The weather right now is screwy: the arctic oscillation is running negative off the chart, and Spenser has a fever that won't quit.

It might not mean a thing, but then again it might.

Pete Dunkelberg

EliRabett said...

Peter, that last sentence is the scary one

Anonymous said...

Al Gore is so smart he is the only one who knows that the inner-core of the Earth is "millions of degrees".

Whenever Al Gore speaks climate scientists should run as far away as possible.

Keep doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. The public thinks Al Gore is a buffoon and making money off of promotong AGW and nothing you say is going to change that perception.

Celery Eater

EliRabett said...

The Celery Stalks at midnight is trying. Very, and very wrong. Compared to the daily howlers from a bunch of other politicians, Gore is quite accurate. Yeah, there is the occasional fluffy, we all do it, esp. out of field, but it tells you what is going on when the idiots try and make a huge deal of it. Tells you who to listen to.

Anonymous said...

Hehe, the 'millions of degrees' attack has got to be one of the lamest, most childest smears of all time.

Horatio Algeranon said...

Eli has long regretted the attacks on Gore from those who share his concerns, and even worse the reluctance to defend him."

Horatio has a particularly vivid memory of a NY Times column entitled "Algorithms" written by Paul Krugman when Gore was running against Bush.

Krugman criticized Gore for what he termed "Pop Science", relating a "nightmare" he had of Gore taking advice from scientists at the Santa Fe institute (Though Physics laureate Murray Gell-Mann was not one of the scientists in Krugman's nightmare, he is a co-founder of Santa Fe Institute).

Krugman was basically playing a version of the ever-popular "Rib Gore for [supposedly] claiming to have 'invented' the internet" game.

So, Krugman was terrified of Gore taking advice from a few "Complexity Theorists" and Bush ended up taking "scientific" advice on environmental issues from whom? Oil company execs.

Horatio actually wrote to Krugman about the column (though at the time, Horatio was merely a sty in his own eye)

amoeba said...

It seems the Hootervile Gazette People are all such nice people!
They really like Monckton; the OISM; Glenn Beck; Heartland Institute & etc.

It's all tied-in to an outfit called the 'Conservative Consumer Coalition'.

It appears their Chief Scientist is either Glenn Beck, or Monckton. It's hard to tell. ;-)

Martin Vermeer said...

Mark E Gillar,

planning to invade Norway?

There's nothing you can do mate.

guthrie said...

From my own experience, we can discount the lunatics who slag off Gore at every opportubnity. They soon shut up when I point out I've never read anything written by Gore and ignore his existence.

Entertainingly part of their hatred seems to bethat Gore is also positioning himself to do well out of green energy. Yet most of them claim to be right wing, against taxes and for markets, but somehow don't like it when someone actually tries to boost something they have investments in. (Occaisionally onedoes point this out, and you can counter by talking science)

But what I have met once or twice is someone who is genuinely interested but turned off by Gore himself, partly because he is a politician. Again, they can be answered by talking science and ignoring Gore. I do however think that Gore has probably had enough exposure and its time for more people to do the work.

Neven said...

I have to admit I also mostly agree with what Gore says, but at the same time I just don't trust him.

Anonymous said...

So the guys who have been hollering about how fat Al Gore is now want to strip him?


Anonymous said...

Sorry Eli you are wrong on this one. It does not matter how you personally feel about Gore it is how the general public feels.

If Palin had said the core of the earth was "millions of degrees" we would never hear the end of it. I could understand if Gore was a little off, but that statement just shows he either exaggerates to make his points or he does not know what he is talking about. We can have debate on that. You cannot debate about Gore's public image; it has very high negatives and lacks public trust.

Again my point is on Public perception, something that eludes you every time.

Celery Eater

Steve Bloom said...

Pete, the Central American Seaway was likely already closed by the Piacenzian, and in any case doesn't seem to have been a major climate factor. Ice was certainly different, the point being that ice isn't very persistent in the face of heightened CO2.

While it's hard to know for sure until way after the fact, the AO behavior could well be an early sign of the pending reorganization.

seamus said...

If Al Gore has a negative public image, it points to the effectiveness of the smear campaign that's been waged against him. He's the poster boy for Ad Hominem Climate Denial: put it all on Al Gore, then demonize him. Crude, barbaric, and effective.

Mark said...

"If Palin had said the core of the earth was 'millions of degrees' we would never hear the end of it." Palin thinks the earth is 6000 years old. Gore was off by about three orders of magnitude. Palin is off by about six.

Plus, Gore said "millions of degrees", and we aren't hearing the end of it. Go cry somewhere else about media bias.

Getting to the only substantive point of your post, you are indeed correct that public perception is supremely important.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you're right. Thanks for the wake up.

Pete Dunkelberg

Phil Hays said...

Pete Dunkelberg: "The Pliocene with a world ocean (no land bridge between NA and SA) and no or little permanent ice is not a precise analog for the present."

Yes, but it might well be an analog for the future. After melting the ice sheets, and warming the oceans, which would take thousands of years, the total sea level increase would be more than 80 meters. This would break the land bridge between North America and South America in Nicaragua.

Anonymous said...

Winston Churchill is widely quoted as having said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes, you must do what is required.”

Can someone send that to Barak Obama. What is politically achievable is no where near good enough. To make what is neccesary achievable, the public must be informed how bad it could get. Make some noise about the real worst case scenario.

The paleo evidence is scary, but that has been averaged. Averaging hides the chunky changes.

Little Mouse

Anonymous said...

Mark said...
1)Palin thinks the earth is 6000 years old. Gore was off by about three orders of magnitude. Palin is off by about six.

Plus, Gore said "millions of degrees", and we aren't hearing the end of it. 2) Go cry somewhere else about media bias.

1) no she doesn't (and no I am not a Palin supporter now nor would I support her in the future for any public office).

2) Where in my post did I claim media bias?

At least you acknowledge the importance of "public perception", so far you are the only one (besideds me) who understands that point the rest are in "denial" :-)

Off to my surgery tomorrow be back in a week (though I may post tonight...)

Celery Eater

Mark said...

I don't care whether you are a Palin supporter or not. She is on record as supporting the teaching of creationism in public schools, and she's also on record as saying she has "spoken in tongues." She has been a little cagey in her public statements, but these and other pieces of evidence point strongly toward young-earth creationism. Stop playing daft.

You implied media bias by saying that Palin would have received worse treatment than Gore. Again, stop playing daft.

I hope your surgery isn't for anything serious and that it goes well.

Anonymous said...

Mark said...

I have no further interest in discussing Palin it was just a point that people who are currently defending Gore, no matter what stupid thing he says, would have brought up Palin if she had said the same thing on National TV. I was not thinking media at all when I made theorginal staement.

Thank you for your thoughts on my surgery..

Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says: I'm so sorry for you Lefty Warmers. You believe all Gore's garbage? I think you appear to have the symptoms of brain damage.

David B. Benson said...

Phil Hays --- Even 80 meters SLR would not produce enough of a break to affect the global climate patterns that would otherwise exist in such a future.

EliRabett said...

Yeah, induced by the wonderful years of peace and prosperity when folk like Marky decided that George Bush was a fine guy to have a beer with.

Gore's fate is to be right and ridiculed by those who are wrong.

Steve Bloom said...

Of course those aren't separable things, David.

Anonymous said...

MarkyMouse says: So Gores points about polar bears, sea ice, hurricane, flooding, crop failure etc were all wrong, but now he says snowstorms are due to Global Warming? The man is a laughing stock.

And Eli, you are so hung up by your commitment to leftist policies, that when someone puts a "left wing approved" badge on something faulty, you can't see past the badge. Shame. You're obviously a very clever man, but your heart has ruled your head.

Douglas Watts said...

Since Gore first ran as VP in 1992 he has been a consistent and reliable public spokesperson for science in the public interest and natural resource conservation.

I can't think of anyone with as high a public profile since the 1980s who has as persistently made the age-old conservationist case of Leopold, Thoreau, Cousteau and Rachel Carson. Few others have stepped so forcefully up to the plate, taken all the brush-backs and high-heaters and come right back for more.

As my brother Tim says, somebody has to do it.

Anonymous said...

Have you no shame. You and Gore are part of Marxist post- normal science charlatan cabal and you have the temerity to quote Winston Churchill. We must do something to prevent him from rolling in his glorious grave.

Jim Bouldin said...

Krugman was dead on: Gore Derangement Syndrome has the deniers foaming at the mouth again. Their assault on reason continues unabated.

EliRabett said...

But the point is when they put their crazy uncle act on to keep on pointing out how right Gore has been in the past. Basically their act is to try and shut everyone up.

Mark said...

MarkeyMouse is a birther and HIV denier who doesn't know what a DOI is. He is the one who is a laughingstock.

Anonymous said...

MarkyMouse says:

0bamas’ hidden records: Why are these off limits?
1 Certified copy of original birth certificate
2 Columbia University transcripts
3 Columbia thesis paper
4 Campaign donor analysis requested by 7 major watchdog groups
5 Harvard University transcripts
6 Illinois State Senate records
7 Illinois State Senate schedule
8 Law practice client list and billing records/summary
9 Locations and names of all half-siblings and step-mother
10 Medical records (only the one page summary released so far)
11 Occidental College Transcripts
12 Parent’s marriage Certificate
13 Record of baptism
14 Selective Service registration records
(Did Obama Actually Register for Selective Service? This supposed revelation of 0’s SS records has been debunked. Check with tigerseye who showed me this list.)
15 Schedules for trips outside of the United States before 2007
16 Passport records for all passports
17 Scholarly articles
18 SAT and LSAT test scores
19 Access to his grandmother in Kenya
20 List of all campaign workers that are lobbyists
21 Punahou grade school records
22 Noelani Kindergarten records are oddly missing from the the State of Hawaii Department of Education.
23 Page 11 of Stanley Ann Dunham’s divorce decree.
24 Why did Barack Obama resign from the Illinois bar and where are all of the relevant documents?
25 Why did Michelle Obama resign from the Illinois bar after only about four years of practice and where are all of the relevant documents?

[Compare this with someone’s background check to visit the White House or to work in a missile plant.]

Seen a certified photo of HIV?

Sorry Mark, you believe anything as long as it has the left wing agenda seal of approval. Try to use your brain.

KittyKat said...

Nice to see the room temperature IQ crowd check in.

So there is a secret cabal that is so smart they can elect a president, and so stupid as to pick one from outside the USA, and so powerful as to correct all surviving copies of birth announcements in newspapers to report the birth as being in Hawaii.


"Columbia thesis paper". Too bad, as he didn't write a thesis. Kinda hard to come up with a copy of a paper never written. Check Snopes.

Mark said...

Every time you type, you reveal how little you know. University transcripts are confidential information and can only be released by permission of the student. The same applies to the other school records you list.

You were provided with a DOI for a peer-reviewed article about the isolation of HIV, and you complained that the "link" didn't work. You don't know what a DOI is, so you telling me to use my brain is roll-on-the-floor hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Seen a certified photo of HIV?

Tell me you're not serious!

Cymraeg llygoden

Marco said...

@Cymraeg llygoden

Note the "certified". Give him a picture, and he just claims it isn't HIV, because there's "no certification". So, even if he figures the doi-issue out (I gave him a little puzzle, just to test him, and he failed miserably, surprisingly...), he still would not be able to accept what is shown. He's trapped in a circular argument.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says: You lot are funny. I am constantly surprised that grown men can believe the left wing propaganda they are fed. But they lap it up every time. Funny if it weren't so tragic.

Anonymous said...

Certification for MarkeyMouse.

Cymraeg llygoden

amoeba said...

MarkeyMouse said:
Seen a certified photo of HIV?

There are sound scientific reasons, why a 'certified photo of HIV', can never exist. All the scientists here will realise exactly why. Even I, a non-scientist with an interest in science, know why this isn't possible. The fact you don't, shows a severe knowledge deficiency on your part.

[Did you hear a wooshing sound as you read this?]

Mark said...

Great one, Cymraeg llygoden!

It is telling that MarkeyMouse is reduced to hurling baseless political insults.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says: Amoeba, well done, "There are sound scientific reasons, why a 'certified photo of HIV', can never exist."

The principal reason being HIV has never been isolated, so no-one knows what to take a picture of.

amoeba said...

MarkeyMouse displays his deep ignorance, yet again!

He still doesn't understand!
[Déjà vu - Dunning-Kruger meets groundhog day! Again and again and again........ & etc!]

An image of HIV:

Note to MarkeyMouse
No, HIV isn't green!

Mark said...

Great image, amoeba! Of course, it won't be good enough for MarkeyMouse, because it's not "certified" (whatever that means).

It's hilarious that MarkeyMouse continues to claim that HIV hasn't been isolated even after Marco gave him a DOI for a paper that reported isolating HIV.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says: Well my looney lefties, what do you make of the admission, tucked away in Wikipedia that, "In the cases cited by Duesberg where HIV "cannot be isolated", PCR or other techniques demonstrate the presence of the virus...."
Even WickedPedia isn't claiming that HIV has been isolated, so it's difficult to know how they can claim to have a picture of it. Seemples.

Anonymous said...

The Satanic Gorical says: "Throughout most of my life, I've raised tobacco...I want you to know that with my own hands, all of my life, I put it in the plant beds and transferred it. I've hoed it. I've chopped it. I've shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn and stripped it and sold it."

"The Gores fought on the side of the Confederate South against the Union North during the Civil War. Some were small slave-owners."

"Al Gore grew up in suite 809 on the top floor of the Fairfax Hotel, along Washington's Embassy Row."

From slaveowning stock, big Tobacco Gore turns into big Carbon Trading Warmocrat.

EliRabett said...

Gore's father owned a farm in Tennessee and they spent summers there (before A/C was in general use the Congress fled DC in the summer). During the summer Al's dad made him work the farm so what he said was true. Moreover, when the Gore's lived in the Fairfax it was not a fancy hotel. That renovation came later.

Thank you for the quote mining.

Anonymous said...

Gore is admirable and smart, live with it.

In addition to being a climate scientist entrepreneur.

You are shockingly naive, Mr Rabbit

EliRabett said...

Naw, Eli don't believe Chris Monckton and Roger Pielke whatever.

Antiquated Tory said...

Episode 103 of The Bugle (maybe 104?) compared internet discussions of climate science to "a discussion about golf between Jack Nicklaus and a wildebeest."
I may have mentioned this before, but this thread merits a repost.