There are matters in life which are inherently complex. Not all of the world’s problems have simple solutions and for some this is a cause for great consternation. One such matter is the whole debate over the degree to which man’s economic activities may or may not be contributing significantly to global warming and what, if anything, should be done by governments or other political entities. One of the sad truths in this matter is that it is becoming more likely with every passing day that group think has again paralyzed a good portion of the scientific community. This plays right into the hands of the environmental activists who simply have no intellectual resistence to accepting, actually putting the accelerator down, anthroprogenic catastrophic global warming (ACGW). To call it a sophisticated and incredible hoax purportrated on all of us (and many well meaning organizations) gives, I think, way too much credit to the activists. Clearly, they cannot help themselves but we can and should not fall victim to their pressure tactics.
As a lover of the great outdoors, athletic competitor in many wonderful and challenging outdoor events and, I might add, a conservationist at heart I am also one who believes in true scientific inquiry and rational thinking. I, as many of you, have read a tremendous amount regarding global warming over the last several years. I am not an atmospheric scientist, chemist or physicist but given my interests, education and passions I was, frankly, surprised when the American Birkebeiner Foundation recently sponsored the showing of Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” as an official activity during the week leading up to North America’s largest cross country ski race – one of Wisconsin’s most prized althletic events. A film that many consider to be a politically motivated propaganda film.
Certainly the showing of “An Inconvenient Truth” was not a violation of the IRS’s 501C3 regulations, but it was advocating a specific form of political activism on a very controversial subject; activism of the sort that is now running rough shod over true scientific inquiry and rational decision making. In my personal view after reviewing the mission statement of the ABF, I do not think it was consistent with that stated mission nor in the best interests of the ABF to run such an activist motivated film. I understand the emotions surrounding this issue and how climate variations (particularly warm years) impact those who live in the northwoods, but I would hope such organizations will reconsider such pandering in the future. I point this out as it is an example of the pressure that is being applied by environmental activists trying to present a simplified, activist oriented perspective to an inherently complex problem and using an event such as the American Birkebeiner as a venue. Never mind this is an issue which outstrips the abilities of even our brightest scientists. It is, again, a sad truth and a dangerous application of environmental activism run amok which now threatens the credibility of the ABF and its Board of Directors.
The showing of Gore’s docu-drama, and Mr. Gore’s continued activism, has been and continues to be controversial because it relies not on universally accepted science but rather accepted activist politics mixed with anecdotal science and computer model implications. Yes, there are many scientists and TV weather show hosts who agree to one degree or another with Gore’s view, but it is far from universally accepted as his film supporters would like you and I to believe. Gore’s film contains several rather incredible assumptions, treats certain data (such as ice core data and CO2 concentrations) as having settled implications, and reaches conclusions that are simply in dispute; interpretations and conclusions which do not wash completely with reality.
Moreover, there is no self-assessment within the film, nor is there any analysis of alternative scientific explanations for the observable warming we have experienced (seven-tenths of one degree Celsius rise in mean global temperatures over the last 100 years). Alternative explanations, incidentally, that are compelling and should have been examined in light of the film’s thesis and done so within its context. That’s why many (including myself) regard it simply as propaganda – it is not raising awareness, it is proselytizing. Be that as it may, this apparently will not stop many from buying in hook, line and sinker and acting, based on its drama, in some rather irrational ways. While it may be intellectually intoxicating to some, Gore’s environmental world-view is not shared universally either in the scientific community nor in the general public. As a matter of fact, it is highly controversial and getting more so by the day.
I for one am not writing here to engage in a debate over the various arguments regarding global warming, notwithstanding the substantial amount of self edification I have done over the last several years on the subject. Do I have my studied opinions? Of course, we all have opinions. But what is important is getting at the truth and in this case it is an incredibly complex matter which simply outpaces most scientists abilities, let alone politicians and the general public (of which I included myself). It’s a complex matter but not an impossible mission and I believe movies such as “An Inconvenient Truth” do a disservice in that so much of the science is simply not dealt with, and it provided no real critical analysis of its own thesis. Global atmospheric specialists such as Henrik Svensmark, Senior Scientist at the Danish National Space Center, challenge the simplistic assumptions made by Al Gore and about which he now proselytizes. Or Steven Milloy who has published an incredible amount of alternative view information and data including the very enlightening and educational article, “The Real Inconvenient Truth.” Or the eminent scholar and economist George Reisman and last, but certainly not exhaustive, Claude Allegre.
I point out Dr. Allegre because he became the director of the geochemistry and cosmochemistry program at the French National Scientific Research Centre in 1967 and in 1971, and he was appointed director of the University of Paris’s Department of Earth Sciences. Allegre, one of France’s leading socialists and among their most celebrated scientists, was one of the first to sound the alarm about the dangers of global warming implying that it was human contributions of CO2 to blame (one of the original 1500 scientists who rang the warning bell). That was then but now, with a wealth of new data to analyze, Dr. Allegre has recanted his views as noted just ten days ago in Canada’s National Post: “To his surprise, the many climate models and studies failed dismally in establishing a man-made cause of catastrophic global warming. Meanwhile, increasing evidence indicates that most of the warming comes of natural phenomena. Dr. Allegre now sees global warming as over-hyped and an environmental concern of second rank.” I could go on for several pages here with illustrations of highly qualified and noted scientists from all over the world whom Mr. Gore (or, The Weather Channel’s own Heidi Cullen) would simply dismiss out of hand as a “denier” of holocaust proportions – a truly sad and troubling truth which does nothing to get at the truth (the real victim in all of this).
In closing I would simply like to state that there are those of us out here who care deeply about the environment, about the future of skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and other winter sports. And although we may drive a Subaru, ski, ride bikes, and volunteer our time and energy to help promote these great activities and events we are not buying into the whole anthroprogenic global warming alarmism or the agenda of the environmental socialists. We are not believers in confiscatory redistribution of other people’s wealth to serve irrational purposes and are equally convinced that what is needed here is a far more balanced and studied view of a very complex topic. Real science understands that correlation does not imply causation, and until and unless we can get cause and effect properly analyzed it makes zero sense to engage in political deal making, irrational activism, restrictions upon our personal liberty, and economic restrictions that would threaten our economy by imposing, for example, carbon based taxation that could easily do far more harm than good.
Please see this presentation for an alternative perspective (C4’s The Great Global Warming Swindle).
Then we have this from the New York Times.
And this interview from one of the scientists who appeared in the C4 documentary.
And finally, in the great cause of balance, the revulsion by the human caused warming crowd (in fact, a retraction of sorts by one of the interviewees in the C4 documentary).