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 Inconvenient Truths 
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Inconvenient Truths
Novel science fiction on global warming.

By Patrick J. Michaels

This Sunday, Al Gore will probably win an Academy Award for his global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth, a riveting work of science fiction.

The main point of the movie is that, unless we do something very serious, very soon about carbon dioxide emissions, much of Greenland’s 630,000 cubic miles of ice is going to fall into the ocean, raising sea levels over twenty feet by the year 2100.

Where’s the scientific support for this claim? Certainly not in the recent Policymaker’s Summary from the United Nations’ much anticipated compendium on climate change. Under the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s medium-range emission scenario for greenhouse gases, a rise in sea level of between 8 and 17 inches is predicted by 2100. Gore’s film exaggerates the rise by about 2,000 percent.

Even 17 inches is likely to be high, because it assumes that the concentration of methane, an important greenhouse gas, is growing rapidly. Atmospheric methane concentration hasn’t changed appreciably for seven years, and Nobel Laureate Sherwood Rowland recently pronounced the IPCC’s methane emissions scenarios as “quite unlikely.”

Nonetheless, the top end of the U.N.’s new projection is about 30-percent lower than it was in its last report in 2001. “The projections include a contribution due to increased ice flow from Greenland and Antarctica for the rates observed since 1993,” according to the IPCC, “but these flow rates could increase or decrease in the future.”

According to satellite data published in Science in November 2005, Greenland was losing about 25 cubic miles of ice per year. Dividing that by 630,000 yields the annual percentage of ice loss, which, when multiplied by 100, shows that Greenland was shedding ice at 0.4 percent per century.

“Was” is the operative word. In early February, Science published another paper showing that the recent acceleration of Greenland’s ice loss from its huge glaciers has suddenly reversed.

Nowhere in the traditionally refereed scientific literature do we find any support for Gore’s hypothesis. Instead, there’s an unrefereed editorial by NASA climate firebrand James E. Hansen, in the journal Climate Change — edited by Steven Schneider, of Stanford University, who said in 1989 that scientists had to choose “the right balance between being effective and honest” about global warming — and a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that was only reviewed by one person, chosen by the author, again Dr. Hansen.

These are the sources for the notion that we have only ten years to “do” something immediately to prevent an institutionalized tsunami. And given that Gore only conceived of his movie about two years ago, the real clock must be down to eight years!

It would be nice if my colleagues would actually level with politicians about various “solutions” for climate change. The Kyoto Protocol, if fulfilled by every signatory, would reduce global warming by 0.07 degrees Celsius per half-century. That’s too small to measure, because the earth’s temperature varies by more than that from year to year.

The Bingaman-Domenici bill in the Senate does less than Kyoto — i.e., less than nothing — for decades, before mandating larger cuts, which themselves will have only a minor effect out past somewhere around 2075. (Imagine, as a thought experiment, if the Senate of 1925 were to dictate our energy policy for today).

Mendacity on global warming is bipartisan. President Bush proposes that we replace 20 percent of our current gasoline consumption with ethanol over the next decade. But it’s well-known that even if we turned every kernel of American corn into ethanol, it would displace only 12 percent of our annual gasoline consumption. The effect on global warming, like Kyoto, would be too small to measure, though the U.S. would become the first nation in history to burn up its food supply to please a political mob.

And even if we figured out how to process cellulose into ethanol efficiently, only one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Even the Pollyannish 20-percent displacement of gasoline would only reduce our total emissions by 7-percent below present levels — resulting in emissions about 20-percent higher than Kyoto allows.

And there’s other legislation out there, mandating, variously, emissions reductions of 50, 66, and 80 percent by 2050. How do we get there if we can’t even do Kyoto?

When it comes to global warming, apparently the truth is inconvenient. And it’s not just Gore’s movie that’s fiction. It’s the rhetoric of the Congress and the chief executive, too.

— Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.

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February 25th, 2007, 5:21 pm
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From http://www.sourcewatch.org

Michaels "co-operated with Ross McKitrick on another paper that managed to "prove" that global warming wasn't happening by mixing up degrees with radians]." [4]

He also claims that Kyoto is an EU conspiracy to hurt smaller countries, despite the fact that basically every developed country except Australia and the US has joined. [5]

Michaels has written papers claiming that satellite temperature data shows no global warming trend. But he got this result by cutting the data off after 1996. (Every year after 1996 the satellite measurement showed warming.) Another paper made the bizarre claim that the temperature increases were meaningless because they correlated closely to GDP, without explaining how the GDP caused the increase warming. (A more likely explanation is that high-GDP countries tend to be at higher lattitudes, where global warming has the most impact).

In August 2004, Michaels told Business Week "We know how much the planet is going to warm. It is a small amount, and we can't do anything about it." [6]

But Peter Gleick, a conservation analyst and president of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, said "Pat Michaels is not one of the nation's leading researchers on climate change. On the contrary, he is one of a very small minority of nay-sayers who continue to dispute the facts and science about climate change in the face of compelling, overwhelming, and growing evidence." [7]

Michaels responded by threatening to sue. (Michaels had gotten another scientist to withdraw similar remarks.)[8] But Gleick stood by his statement and others have joined him.

Dr. John Holdren of Harvard University told the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, "Michaels is another of the handful of US climate-change contrarians... He has published little if anything of distinction in the professional literature, being noted rather for his shrill op-ed pieces and indiscriminate denunciations of virtually every finding of mainstream climate science." [9]

Dr. Tom Wigley, lead author of parts of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and one of the world's leading climate scientists, was quoted in the book "The Heat is On" (Gelbspan, 1998, Perseus Publishing): "Michaels' statements on [the subject of computer models] are a catalog of misrepresentation and misinterpretation… Many of the supposedly factual statements made in Michaels' testimony are either inaccurate or are seriously misleading." [10]

And an article in the journal Social Epistemology concluded "...the observations upon which PM [Patrick Michaels] draws his case are not good enough to bear the weight of the argument he wishes to make."

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February 25th, 2007, 5:54 pm
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I wouldn't say that the Kyoto protocal is an EU "conspiracy" per se, but it does hurt "developing nations"... And, the fact that "developed nations" have taken party to it really means nothing... Virtually EVERY developing nation had some sort of "industrial revolution" whereby they raped and pillaged their natural resources to get on their feet... Now, nations have utilized those same practices are calling them "barbaric" and "illegal"... I have no problem with sanctioning other nations for gross waste, BUT... If you're going to act all high and mighty on some sort of moral high ground... Buck up, shell out some bucks, and help them get on their feet... Don't just hypocritically criticize their practices...

On the same note there are some VERY compelling arguments for dictatorships and even despots that commit human rights violaitons as being legitimate leaders on the grounds of them "acting in a manner in which they have to." We like to pretend that Democracy solves all problems, but in impoverished areas like Rawanda, Ecuador, ext. those people don't care about a right to vote, they care about what they're going to eat next. Crime is high, food is scarce, and sometimes a strong willed leader is needed to keep things in order. That doesn't mean every leader is legitimate, and some are certainly better than others, but Democracy isn't this big cure-all.


February 25th, 2007, 10:30 pm
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I wish we could cut through everyone agendas and get the truth. I don't know who to believe since everyone has "evidence". I personnaly think that we are just in a warming trend and no one can prove that wrong or right...

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February 26th, 2007, 10:08 am
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There is so much overwhelming evidence that global warming is a reality that even Bush in his last state of the union address brought it up and acknowledged it...if even neocons are willing to admit it then you have to believe there is something to it.

I guess I would say what do all these scientist have to gain from this? They have been claiming this for years and years now and have gained nothing to this point. The arguments against global warming are the same ones used years ago when there was no regulation against industrialization and the termination of wastes. Companys freely poured out chemicals into rivers, lakes, and oceans until we started to see the dramatic effects. Entire communities had to be evacuated because of these poisons and Billions of dollars had to be poured into the land to clean it up.

Now we are looking at the same sort of issue but on a more massive scale. It's easy to turn your head and say I don't see the damage but that doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Many people look at the economic cost of this in the imediate but long term the costs will be much more substantial and widespread. All they are saying is start being more responsible and stop just freely pouring out these gases. I don't think the request is unreasonable...and no matter what anyone says industry has proven that it must be regulated to make changes otherwise their is no incentive for them to change. The funny thing is that the push the last year or so for electric, hybrid, and ethanol based powered cars should have been done years ago and would have given us a lot more independence from the middle east and their tight hold on oil. There are many other implications for why this is the right thing to do and there are many many business opportunities and environmental gains as well.

btw...any of you who doubt global warming...would you be willing to use asbestos in your kids room and then put a nice fresh coat of lead paint on the walls? I doubt it...how about some mecury laced fished...sound delicious? These were things that were once ignored and doubted but now they are accepted ideas. In 20 years...global warming will be seen in much the same way.


This seems to be a trend for us :roll:
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For centuries, the primary white pigment in paints was white lead (basic lead carbonate, 2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2), one of the oldest pigments known. Red lead was once popular as a primer. Many countries banned lead in residential paint early in the 20th century. Despite mounting evidence of the effects of its use, lead was still used in paints in the United States until the danger became too widely known to be ignored. After the 1978 ban, paint manufacturers replaced lead with other ingredients, such as barium sulfate and titanium dioxide.


Asbestos claims started happening in the 1920's and massive proof that it was damaging happend in WWII as many of our soldiers suffered from exposure to it and it took until the 1970's for the US to react to it.

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February 26th, 2007, 11:23 am
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steensn wrote:
I wish we could cut through everyone agendas and get the truth. I don't know who to believe since everyone has "evidence". I personnaly think that we are just in a warming trend and no one can prove that wrong or right...


That rarely exists. The best you can do is try to figure out where the preponderance of evidence is and check your sources.

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February 26th, 2007, 12:22 pm
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Are we hurting our environment badly, yes. I'm all for all the changes we need to make to our output of... everything.

Is the Earth warming, obviously, no doubt about it. Why? no one can tell for sure. In the 1970's those scientist, who have been claiming global warming for the past 20 years, where claiming we were going into an ice age because of all their evidence.

We only have evidence of temperatures for the last 100 or so years... and the early ones are very questionable for a globale temperature. We are trying to make assumptions on data that we don't have enough of.

Can we really predict the next 100 years bast on the past 100 years? Even if we had data from the past 1000 yrs I'd be scheptical, but thefact that we are coming out of an ice age less than 16,000 yrs old makes it super clear that the earth is getting hotter and will get hotter faster as ice melts and land opens up.

The earth has been changing for a long time... and a 100 yrs of data isnt enough to clearly define who's fault it is completely.

Are we helping, yes, more carbon dioxide = more heat trapped. But how much heat is that going to be? No one can prove that. Facts are the earth is warming up, why, still no one can tell us why...

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February 26th, 2007, 1:51 pm
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The bottom line is we only have solid evidence over the last 150 years... That might seem like a long time, but in a planet that has cycles that last thousands of years that time period that we have data for is more or less worthless... There was a mini ice age in the 14th and 15th C... Who knows what happened before that... We're talking about a handful of degrees here, and extrapolating "devistating" consequences from those small degree changes... Certainly a slight warming period wasn't discussed in the 12th or 13th C... A change of 5 degrees per year wouldn't even likely be noticed... We have no way of knowing whether or not this change is man made or a life cycle of our plant...

That said... Who cares? IMO we shouldn't need a threat of some catestrophy to stop polluting our planet... Dogs are smart enough not to sh!t where they sleep, if only we could be that smart...


February 26th, 2007, 2:52 pm
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steensn wrote:
We only have evidence of temperatures for the last 100 or so years... and the early ones are very questionable for a globale temperature. We are trying to make assumptions on data that we don't have enough of.


That's really not true. There is evidence available through the geologic record, ice cores, ocean sediment, pollen remnants, etc.

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February 26th, 2007, 3:04 pm
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wjb21ndtown wrote:
The bottom line is we only have solid evidence over the last 150 years... That might seem like a long time, but in a planet that has cycles that last thousands of years that time period that we have data for is more or less worthless... There was a mini ice age in the 14th and 15th C... Who knows what happened before that... We're talking about a handful of degrees here, and extrapolating "devistating" consequences from those small degree changes... Certainly a slight warming period wasn't discussed in the 12th or 13th C... A change of 5 degrees per year wouldn't even likely be noticed... We have no way of knowing whether or not this change is man made or a life cycle of our plant...

That said... Who cares? IMO we shouldn't need a threat of some catestrophy to stop polluting our planet... Dogs are smart enough not to sh!t where they sleep, if only we could be that smart...


Agreed on your last point, to be sure.

On the "how much data do we have" point ... I'd arue that while we may only have first-hand data for ~ 150 years, we have thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of years of geological evidence available that gives us valuable environmental chemical composition information from before we were even here... we can tell if things are different now. The hard part is determining the cause(s)...


February 26th, 2007, 3:05 pm
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Heck, they can accurately predict climate conditions on tree rings from year to year.

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February 26th, 2007, 3:26 pm
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theAlphaMale wrote:
Heck, they can accurately predict climate conditions on tree rings from year to year.


In 5 degree incriments? I don't think so... I know that through rock formations, wear, and trees they have found evidence of the ice age and dramatic climate changes, but the reasons the trees grow so much differently during those periods is do the dramatic change... I don't think they could produce anything as accurate as needed to make that preduction, which is exactly why no one suggests we have evidence of that accuracy that goes back beyond 150 years...


February 26th, 2007, 3:41 pm
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Ice age - 50% coverage of ice(lots of light reflected away
1000 yrs later - 47%
1000 yrs later - 45%
.
.
.
.
.
3000 yrs ago 34%
2000 yrs. ago 30%
1000 yrs. ago 25%
now 19%

What is wrong with the scenario that as more land is not reflecting light back off the surface, more heat is captured warming the Earth? As more land is exposed, heating of the Earth rises quicker. This is a SIMPLE explination that figures into all the global warming data.

Simplistic, maybe, but doesn't it fit?

(all percentages were made up, just an example)

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February 26th, 2007, 4:08 pm
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(2/27/07 - NASHVILLE, TN) - Back home in Tennessee, safely ensconced in his suburban Nashville home, Vice President Al Gore is no doubt basking in the Oscar awarded to "An Inconvenient Truth," the documentary he inspired and in which he starred. But a local free-market think tank is trying to make that very home emblematic of what it deems Gore's environmental hypocrisy.

Armed with Gore's utility bills for the last two years, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research charged Monday that the gas and electric bills for the former vice president's 20-room home and pool house devoured nearly 221,000 kilowatt-hours in 2006, more than 20 times the national average of 10,656 kilowatt-hours.

"If this were any other person with $30,000-a-year in utility bills, I wouldn't care," says the Center's 27-year-old president, Drew Johnson. "But he tells other people how to live and he's not following his own rules."

Scoffed a former Gore adviser in response: "I think what you're seeing here is the last gasp of the global warming skeptics. They've completely lost the debate on the issue so now they're just attacking their most effective opponent."

Kalee Kreider, a spokesperson for the Gores, did not dispute the Center's figures, taken as they were from public records. But she pointed out that both Al and Tipper Gore work out of their home and she argued that "the bottom line is that every family has a different carbon footprint. And what Vice President Gore has asked is for families to calculate that footprint and take steps to reduce and offset it."

A carbon footprint is a calculation of the CO2 fossil fuel emissions each person is responsible for, either directly because of his or her transportation and energy consumption or indirectly because of the manufacture and eventual breakdown of products he or she uses. (You can calculate your own carbon footprint on the website http://www.carbonfootprint.com/)

The vice president has done that, Kreider argues, and the family tries to offset that carbon footprint by purchasing their power through the local Green Power Switch program — electricity generated through renewable resources such as solar, wind, and methane gas, which create less waste and pollution. "In addition, they are in the midst of installing solar panels on their home, which will enable them to use less power," Kreider added. "They also use compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy efficiency measures and then they purchase offsets for their carbon emissions to bring their carbon footprint down to zero."

These efforts did little to impress Johnson. "I appreciate the solar panels," he said, "but he also has natural gas lanterns in his yard, a heated pool, and an electric gate. While I appreciate that he's switching out some light bulbs, he is not living the lifestyle that he advocates."

The Center claims that Nashville Electric Services records show the Gores in 2006 averaged a monthly electricity bill of $1,359 for using 18,414 kilowatt-hours, and $1,461 per month for using 16,200 kilowatt-hours in 2005. During that time, Nashville Gas Company billed the family an average of $536 a month for the main house and $544 for the pool house in 2006, and $640 for the main house and $525 for the pool house in 2005. That averages out to be $29,268 in gas and electric bills for the Gores in 2006, $31,512 in 2005.

The press release from Johnson's group, an obscure conservative think tank founded by Johnson in 2004 when he was 24, was given splashy attention on the highly-trafficked Drudge Report Monday evening, and former Gore aides saw it as part of a piece, along with an Fox News Channel investigation from earlier this month of Gore's use of private planes in 2000. Last year, a seemingly amateurish Youtube video mocking the "An Inconvenient Truth" turned out to have been produced by slick Republican public relations firm called DCI, which just happens to have oil giant Exxon as a client.

"Considering that he spends an overwhelming majority of his time advocating on behalf of and trying to affect change on this issue, it's not surprising that people who have a vested interest in protecting the status quo would go after him," said the former Gore aide.

Kreider says she's confident that the Gores' utility bills will decrease. "They bought an older home and they're in the process of upgrading the home," she said. "Unfortunately that means an increase in energy use in order to have an overall decrease in energy use down the road."

Gore is not the only environmentalist associated with "An Inconvenient Truth" who has come under fire for personal habits -- and not all the criticism has come from the Right.

Writing in The Atlantic Monthly in 2004, liberal writer Eric Alterman criticized producer Laurie David for her use of private Gulfstream jets. David, he wrote "reviles the owners of SUVs as terrorist enablers, yet gives herself a pass when it comes to chartering one of the most wasteful uses of fossil-based fuels imaginable." New Republic writer Gregg Easterbrook followed up, computing that "one cross-country flight in a Gulfstream is the same, in terms of Persian-Gulf dependence and greenhouse-gas emissions, as if she drove a Hummer for an entire year."

In an interview in 2006, David told ABC News that she was limiting her use of private planes and was flying commercial far more frequently.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

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February 27th, 2007, 11:18 pm
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Al Gore's gas & electric bills have absolutely no relationship to the truthfulness of his global warming positions/efforts. An attempt to discredit Gore somehow by pointing out that he is from a wealthy family & has been personally successful (and has a dwelling commensurate with that) misses the point entirely.

Has Gore ever said that nobody should consume energy? Does he advocate that people should all live in 1000 square foot houses & huddle together at night for warmth? What is his "platform"?


February 27th, 2007, 11:58 pm
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