Roy Spencer takes a break from his parody writing with a new column at Tech Central Station. He has some questions for Al Gore. I think he should have just used Google to find the answers, but what the hey, I’ll do it for him.
1) Why did you make it look like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and ice calving off of glaciers and falling into the ocean, are only recent phenomena associated with global warming? You surely know that hurricane experts have been warning congress for many years that the natural cycle in hurricanes would return some day, and that our built-up coastlines were ripe for a disaster (like Katrina, which you highlighted in the movie). And as long as snow continues to fall on glaciers, they will continue to flow downhill toward the sea. Yet you made it look like these things wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for global warming. Also, since there are virtually no measures of severe weather showing a recent increase, I assume those graphs you showed actually represented damage increases, which are well known to be simply due to greater population and wealth. Is that right?
No. Glaciers are receding and calving at record rates. And there has been a global rise in the most intense hurricanes over the last thirty years.
2) Why did you make it sound like all scientists agree that climate change is manmade and not natural? You mentioned a recent literature review study that supposedly found no peer-reviewed articles that attributed climate change to natural causes (a non-repeatable study which has since been refuted….I have a number of such articles in my office!) You also mentioned how important it is to listen to scientists when they warn us, yet surely you know that almost all past scientific predictions of gloom and doom have been wrong. How can we trust scientists’ predictions now?
No Oreskes’ study has not been refuted. Even the author of the purported refutation now admits he was wrong. And past scientific predictions of this kind have never had almost all scientists behind them.
3) I know you still must feel bad about the last presidential election being stolen from you, but why did you have to make fun of Republican presidents (Reagan; both Bushes) for their views on global warming? The points you made in the movie might have had wider appeal if you did not alienate so many moviegoers in this manner.
Past statements by Republican presidents about global warming were wrong. How can we trust the current Republican president on this issue? Recognize the argument? You used it in the previous question, except that this time it’s actually applicable.
4) Your presentation showing the past 650,000 years of atmospheric temperature and carbon dioxide reconstructions from ice cores was very effective. But I assume you know that some scientists view the CO2 increases as the result of, rather than the cause of, past temperature increases. It seems unlikely that CO2 variations have been the dominant cause of climate change for hundreds of thousands of years. And now that there is a new source of carbon dioxide emissions (people), those old relationships are probably not valid anymore. Why did you give no hint of these alternative views?
I don’t know, maybe because it’s likely those alternative views are wrong?
5) When you recounted your 6-year-old son’s tragic accident that nearly killed him, I thought that you were going to make the point that, if you had lived in a poor country like China or India, your son would have probably died. But then you later held up these countries as model examples for their low greenhouse gas emissions, without mentioning that the only reason their emissions were so low was because people in those countries are so poor. I’m confused…do you really want us to live like the poor people in India and China?
No. Did you watch all the way to the end of the movie?
6) There seems to be a lot of recent concern that more polar bears are drowning these days because of disappearing sea ice. I assume you know that polar bears have always migrated to land in late summer when sea ice naturally melts back, and then return to the ice when it re-freezes. Also, if this was really happening, why did the movie have to use a computer generated animation of the poor polar bear swimming around looking for ice? Haven’t there been any actual observations of this happening? Also, temperature measurements in the arctic suggest that it was just as warm there in the 1930’s…before most greenhouse gas emissions. Don’t you ever wonder whether sea ice concentrations back then were low, too?
Yes, there have been observations of it happening. It was in the Wall Street Journal and lots of other papers. Have you heard of this thing called Google? It’s a search engine. It lets you find things on the Internets. And temperature measurements don’t suggest that it was just as warm in the Arctic in the 30s. There were a few warm years then, but there were also some cold years. The moving average (green line in the graph) exceeded the peak from the 30s in 1990 and since then has kept on going up.
7) Why did you make it sound like simply signing on to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions would be such a big step forward, when we already know it will have no measurable effect on global temperatures anyway? And even though it represents such a small emission reduction, the economic pain Kyoto causes means that almost no developed country will be meeting its emission reductions commitments under that treaty, as we are now witnessing in Europe.
Because if Gore proposed an immediate 50% reduction in emissions, you’d be right on board? You have to start with a small reduction — it lets you see that it doesn’t destroy the economy like the anti-Kyoto people say and lets us learn how to further reduce emissions.
8) At the end of the movie, you made it sound like we can mostly fix the global warming problem by conserving energy… you even claimed we can reduce our carbon emissions to zero. But I’m sure you know that this will only be possible with major technological advancements, including a probable return to nuclear power as an energy source. Why did you not mention this need for technological advancement and nuclear power? It is because that would support the current (Republican) Administration’s view?
So you did watch all the way to the end. What was the point of question 5 then? And as for this question: maybe if you didn’t spend so much time trying to obfuscate the issue there would be more time for the rest of us to discuss possible solutions?