Monday, April 02, 2007

An Inconvenient UNtruth?


This is going to get me in trouble. I know that, but I’m going ahead. Never stopped me before, right? (Sigh.)

For years I have been a skeptic about the whole issue of global warming being the result of man’s activity. In fact, I’ve pooh-poohed the idea to whoever would listen (not many). My skepticism has been based more on what seemed to me to be inconsistencies within the “evidence” being presented, than on any alternative theory as to the cause. I would point to the hard evidence that the planet has gone through many dramatic climate changes over the eons with no help from man. Earth has seen long ice ages, and periods when the arctic regions were sub-tropical.

But as the weight of scientific opinion has moved further and further toward blaming man-produced CO2 as the culprit, I was wavering. What I lacked was a sound, science-based reason for the (clearly factual, albeit far from catastrophic!) temperature rise we’re seeing, other than man-produced “greenhouse gasses.”

Was it the sun? Was geothermal energy warming the ocean and the ocean warming the atmosphere, instead of the other way around?

Well, I now have my answer!

That answer is simple, meets the common sense test, and (more important to me, of course) it fits my view of mankind’s relative insignificance in affecting immense things; like the way our solar system works. It also explains why “everybody” has jumped on the man-made gasses bandwagon. Finally, it’s presented by credentialed scientific authorities using hard scientific data, not by a bunch of left-field crackpot theorists. Let's face it: the man-made-greemhouse-gasses bunch are not crackpots either! They include a bunch of credentialed scientific authorities.

If you’re comfortable in your view that Al Gore and the IPCC scientists are right, please ignore the links below. If you are willing to at lease consider an alternative view of things, then take a look.


Documentary Film (YouTube)

Yes, I know. This is not a particularly Romantic Rambling. I should stick to bird pictures and humor. If I could just find my meds, I might be all right again by tomorrow.


Kirsten said...

Trying to stir people up, John?


Here are some other links, in case you (or anyone else) is interested in the back and forth that ensued after Ch 4 first ran the documentary:

Examples of typical rebuttals. The last one is based on a rebuttal printed by The Independent.

And here is Durkin's (the director's) response to the rebutters:;jsessionid=KMV5GX2MEFHURQFIQMGSFFWAVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2007/03/18/ngreen218.xml

Carl Wunsch, one of the scientists filmed for the doc, wasn't happy with how his interview was edited -- he wrote about that here --

But I think that for the most part the points he claims he wanted to make are at least implied by the bits that were included. Granted, their context puts a different spin on them than he maybe liked.

We live in interesting times, don't we?


Duke_of_Earle said...


Yes, I knew I would generate some, shall we say, animated responses. Perhaps even visceral. I browsed through your links, and it seems to me that the key is whether or not CO2 levels do, in fact, lead or lag temperature change.

Plus, I believe the "follow the money" precept of solving mysteries and discerning motives. And a man-made global castrophe which we need to research and correct (read: spend money) will generate a LOT more interest, excitement, movies, grants, tax revenues and careers, than a natural phenomenon we have no control over at all. Hmmmmm.

Interesting times? Without a doubt.

Kirsten said...

The problem is that anyone with an agenda and a stack of statistics can lead lay people about by the nose if he wishes.

I have some friends so persuaded a climate catastrophe is coming they literally have trouble sleeping at night.

I have other friends who think it's all a huge crock.

My position is somewhere in the middle, but not because of GW arguments but because of a completely separate issue: I think we need to start weaning ourselves from oil. The U.S. is rich enough and talented enough that if we set our minds to it, we could solve the clean/alternative energy problem, which would not only defacto cut down carbon emissions, but also create another huge industry in which we were leaders in products/manufacturing/intellectual property, products which btw countries like China & India are going to be desperate for -- perhaps more desperate than us -- making them huge markets -- as remaining oil becomes more expensive to extract.

Seems like a no brainer to me!

And if we move to clean alternative energy, the human-generated carbon emission problem goes away by itself anyhow . . .

Duke_of_Earle said...


Damn, woman! I like the way you think. (And write, for that matter, but that's a different topic.)

To your first sentence about "anyone with an agenda," I would say that it's ALWAYS been that way, but today with instant global communications (internet) the "impact" has been multiplied.

To the rest, I agreee as well. Let's DO reduce our oil consumption and stop enriching the very countries who would love to see us all dead. How do we reduce it? Through technology, producing, as you point out, products the emerging world will desparately want (and pay for).

No brainer indeed! I just deplore feeling like I'm being duped. P.T. Barnum's famous quote echoes...

Monica said...

I just don't know that much about global warming...either there's math involved or it's the blonde in me.

Candace said...

Dang! I don't keep up with my blogroll for a few days, and I miss this! John, you know I'm an advocate of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. I do have an open mind, though, so I'll have to look at this (the documentary on YouTube is no longer available, btw- I just clicked on it and it said there was a copyright dispute going on), and I want to check the links that Kristen provided (thanks!) and also find out who's behind the Creators Syndicate, Inc., Walter Williams, etc.

Thanks for such a provocative post!

Candace said...

Okay, I've done some checking, and I'm sorry, John, but this just doesn't wash.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Durkin:

"Martin Durkin is a television producer and director, most notably of television documentaries for Channel 4 in Britain. He has caused consistent controversy over the alleged bias found in many of his documentaries. He is understood to have once been closely involved with the Revolutionary Communist Party and its later offshoots Living Marxism and Spiked, a magazine and associated political network which promotes libertarian views, and is highly critical of environmentalism."

They have a list of his films which includes the bias, criticisms, and in some cases apologies from Ch. 4. Here's just the first one:

"In 1997, Channel 4 broadcast Durkin's Against Nature, a documentary series which criticized the environmental movement for being a threat to personal freedom and for crippling economic development. Against Nature was subsequently investigated by the Independent Television Commission of the UK, following a number of complaints from viewers and from some of the interviewees featured in the program. The Commission did not uphold most of the claims, concluding that it was entirely legitimate to open up debate about environmentalist policies and ideologies. It also pointed that environmentalists had been permitted a fair chance to air their side of the story in the televised debates that followed the broadcast. However the Commission also concluded that Durkin had misled his interviewees about the nature and purpose of the documentary, and that he had misrepresented and distorted their views by editing the interview footage in a misleading way. For these reasons, Channel 4 later issued a public apology on prime time TV. According to The Independent, Durkin "accepts the charge of misleading contributors, but describes the verdict of distortion as 'complete tosh'."

As to Williams, well I just about stopped reading when I saw that he is a frequent guest on Rush Limbaugh's radio show - gak! Talk about bias! Plus, Williams is apparently an advocate of The Free State Project, a plan to have 20,000+ Libertarians move to a single state to pool their numbers to gain political clout. Moreover, according to Wikipedia,

"Conservative comic strip Mallard Fillmore has launched a campaign to draft Williams for the Republican nominiation in the 2008 United States presidential election. Williams has stated that he is inundated with emails, but won't run, although he won't completely rule out the possibility."

John, at no time has Al Gore nor any of the hundreds of scientists who have studied this problem said that the earth did not have cooling and warming cycles before man came along. It's obvious that global warming is due to a combination of natural cycles we know little or nothing about and the effects of man's influence on the planet. The point is that we are accelerating the process.

Just last night Tomcat and I were watching the Science Channel about oceans. 80-something percent of fish caught in the world now are caught with gigantic nets that drag the bottom of the oceans. If I remember the details correctly, the dragging scours the bottom, wiping out flora and fauna needed to devour CO2 and produce oxygen. Each net is larger than three aircraft carriers, and every year, an area twice the size of the United States is scoured. More oxygen is produced by stuff that lives in the oceans than all the trees on earth combined many times over.

We've got to de-politicize this and start looking for solutions to stupid practices that are harming our environment. Note that I say "our environment." The Earth itself will survive; the question is, will we be able to survive as a species if we keep mucking up the things WE need to live, like, you know, oxygen.

And yes, Al Gore is a politician (or was.) But he's devoted the greater portion of his life to getting the word out about what we're doing to OUR environment, and was doing that long before he got to be Veep or ran for the White House, and at a time when he was visciosly ridiculed.

Karen,thanks for the links - I read all of those, too, and then some hyperlinks, and then other links from those, and then ... whew ... well, thanks. :)

Candace said...

Kirsten, not Karen.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Gee, Candace; you’ve been busy. But yours is one of the “animated” responses I expected, and I know you are one of the many who are convinced that the warming is 1) man-exacerbated, and 2) threatening to mankind’s existence.

I don’t think either of us is going to change the other’s opinion just yet, but I’ll address a few of your concerns.

1. Durkin. Of COURSE he’s an intentional distorter, and he’s trying to be controversial. No question. That’s how he makes his money. He’s only trying to make a name for himself and sell advertising. But that’s like attacking Davis Guggenheim (Producer-Director of “An Inconvenient Truth”) simply because he’s in the entertainment business and not an environmental scientist! Who cares about Durkin? It’s what the accredited scientists say that matter.

2) Maybe you shouldn’t have stopped reading about Williams when you got to “Rush Limbaugh.” Just as you get to know Senator Obama by reading his book, you should read some of Williams’ writings. His syndicated column appears every Saturday in our local paper, and we’ve been reading him for years. He is a very logical, reasoned thinker. From the column I scanned and linked, I gathered his main objection to the man-caused-global-warming theory was “the effort by environmentalists to suppress disagreement with their view.” That’s what he devotes most of the column to. Walter Williams is NOT a scientist; he’s an economist. Well, here’s what he is:

“Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Walter E. Williams holds a B.A. in economics from California State University, Los Angeles, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from UCLA. He also holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from Virginia Union University and Grove City College, Doctor of Laws from Washington and Jefferson College and Doctor Honoris Causa en Ciencias Sociales from Universidad Francisco Marroquin, in Guatemala, where he is also Professor Honorario.

Dr. Williams has served on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, since 1980; from 1995 to 2001, he served as department chairman. He has also served on the faculties of Los Angeles City College, California State University Los Angeles, and Temple University in Philadelphia, and Grove City College, Grove City, Pa.

Dr. Williams is the author of over 150 publications which have appeared in scholarly journals such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review, Georgia Law Review, Journal of Labor Economics, Social Science Quarterly, and Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy and popular publications such as Newsweek, Ideas on Liberty, National Review, Reader's Digest, Cato Journal, and Policy Review. He has authored six books: America: A Minority Viewpoint, The State Against Blacks, which was later made into the PBS documentary "Good Intentions," All It Takes Is Guts, South Africa's War Against Capitalism, which was later revised for South African publication, Do the Right Thing: The People's Economist Speaks, and More Liberty Means Less Government.”

Is he also political? Maybe. Not in the past, but maybe in the future.

3) Of COURSE the scientists are not saying that the earth hasn’t gone through warming and cooling periods before man came along. That can’t be denied. But saying that “We are accelerating the process” is theory.

As I said in my reply to Kirsten’s first comment, “ seems to me that the key is whether or not CO2 levels do, in fact, lead or lag temperature change.” Most say CO2 causes the warming. The scientists in the documentary say that careful study of the ice core samples show a 10-20 year time lag: but historically the temperatures rose first, and then the CO2 followed! Likewise in cooling-off periods the temperature change occurred, followed 10-20 years later by CO2 levels declining. Thus the cause-effect relationship claimed by the man-caused theorists cannot be true.

Now, is all of that just bunk? Quite possibly!

But until we KNOW, I deplore throwing billions of dollars at a problem we really don’t understand.

4) You say, “We've got to de-politicize this and start looking for solutions to stupid practices that are harming our environment.”

HOORAY!! I couldn’t agree more!!

Unfortunately the issue IS political. And because of all the money it generates, it will likely STAY political. In fact, I imagine it will only get MORE political.

And I have no answer to that.

Candace said...

No, attacking Durkin was not like attacking the producer of An Inconvenient Truth because Guggenheim, unlike Durkin, isn't known for making movies that intentionally distort the truth. I only gave one example in my earlier comment. IMO, his work can hardly be considered a "documentary."

Yes, I had read all of that about Williams before I posted. No, I didn't stop reading when I discovered he is a frequent guest on Rush Limbaugh's show - I believe I said that I *almost* stopped reading. (And when I was reading about Williams, I realized I had read and heard of him before, btw, and was still underwhelmed. Anyway, frequent guests of that show, like Pat Robertson, tend to, you know, turn my stomach, so that's why I said I almost stopped reading right there.)

My points were: consider the source.

I'm certainly not a scientist. But I happen to have more respect for the comprehensive reports based on the hundreds of scientists' work which the IPCC has studied for many years.

I have no answer to the political issue here, either. The current Republican party (which ain't what it used to be, sadly) got itself in bed with the so-called Christian Right who follow the likes of Pat Robertson, who has publicly stated that he doesn't "believe in" global warming. Plus, we can't forget the impact of the influential oil lobby and other members of "Big Business" on the party. Since it is that party which runs the country, the issue has become hugely political. The rest of the (sane) world doesn't seem to have politicized this.

Candace said...

P.S.: Not that the Democrats are all that great, either. I'm just sayin.