Whorled View

May 9, 2007

An More Inconvenient Truth

Filed under: ecology,economics,energy,environment,Politics — lullabyman @ 12:58 pm

I watched Mr “used to be president” Al Gore (as he likes to call himself) last night, as he spent over 90 minutes proclaiming the woes of global warming.

Hear! Hear!

At least there is something he and I can agree on. Then again, I can say that for most politicians.

If you haven’t seen it, please do. At some points the documentary becomes too much about him (like when he wallows in sorrow over his lost presidential election – here’s an incovenient truth: we’re sick of him whining about that), but those moments only last a few minutes here and there, and are worth bearing through in order to get to the other stuff.

“… he did a diservice to himself by not
being more forthright with truths
which are inconvenient to the global
warming hypothesis.

Here’s some other warnings: far too often he throws up graphs without giving you the scale of the y-axis, and sometimes the x-axis does not appear to be linear. The validity of data sources are also often taken for granted. Also statistical noise and data ranges is only mentioned in one of the many graphs he gives. Then there were the projections that were based on what – linear interpolation of that last few data points (shudder)? Who knows, he didn’t say. Lastly his time frames are often way too short – but then this can be attributed to a lack of data – nevertheless the results should be considered in reference to the entire epoch of sapient life. In short if you know much about statistics you might find it painful.

That said, I think he did a diservice to himself by not being more forthright with truths which are inconvenient to the global warming hypothesis. He’s a politician and in politics it does well to overstate your case and conveniently ignore unsupporting data, assuming your opponent will cover those things. In science, however, that’s not a good practice – as it seems to indicate a bias in the mind of the scientist which makes the audience more skeptical. One of the last things you want to say is that you bought into a theory before there was even sufficient statistical data or before you were able to investigate it independently – but that is exactly what Gore said he did. Gore said he was an instant advocate the moment he saw just one graph covering just a handful of years that a professor showed a class. Lucky for Gore that the professors hypothesis was right, but it did Gore a diservice when he admitted he was sold on so little data, and it does little to endear the trust of his audience.

“The more inconvenient truth is that
alternative industry funds
are controlled by lobbyists.
That’s wrong, and it’s killing the planet.”

I’m a skeptic of everything though (which has been known to bug those around me to no end), and even being the skeptic that I am, and knowing the critics response, I have always felt that prudence is the best policy for the health of the planet.

And that’s where I think this film fails the audience: encouraging implementation of the best policies. Recently we’ve seen the scientific community plead with the world to curb greenhouse gases, and nothing good has resulted. On the contrary, we’ve seen every alternative energy enteprenuer / company vying for more and more money with little regard from the governments where the best, cheapest, and fastest implementations exist. I mentioned this in my last post, but I could go so much further. The alternative industry funds are controlled by lobbyists. That’s wrong, and it’s killing the world. The money is not going to the right places and merely implementing policies to force capitalism to fix the problem isn’t good enough or quick enough.

Gore also failed to tell people enough on how to conserve: Quit buying gas guzzlers. Carpool whever you can. Shop locally, or online. Take a vacation this summer closeby instead of far away. When you buy a house live close to work – I’m convinced that one thing could cut our emissions in half. If you’re driving an hour to work each way then you’re driving too far – carpool with 2-3 others, move, or get a different job.

“The most inconvenient truth though
is that massive restructuring of our
energy economy is needed to save
the environment.”

The most inconvenient truth though is that massive restructuring of our energy economy is needed to save the environment. And not just us, but all other nations must do the same (oh, they talk the talk, but UN talk is incredibly cheap). It means politicians making unpopular decisions while in office. It means serious and pain inflicting government mandates, not to just automakers, but to power companies, and that will disrupt the economy and will result in many lost jobs.

On the otherhand there will be lots of new jobs building efficient solar-thermal plants (not solar-PV) in Nevada and new jobs building windfarms across the country. Or we quite possibly experience hell on earth. Hmmmm … what will it be?

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