Tuesday, March 13, 2007

More Bwaaaaahahahaha!

I've been making changes since I first hit publish. If this is the first time you've seen this bit, read it again. Dang, now I've made a few more changes.

First I gave you this, and now for some related Algore goodness! The New York Times deflates the Algore hype machine just a little bit:

Hollywood has a thing for [Algore] and his three-alarm film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which won an Academy Award for best documentary. So do many environmentalists, who praise him as a visionary, and many scientists, who laud him for raising public awareness of climate change.

But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of [Algore]’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism.
Algore, shading the evidence to suit his point of view, and perhaps his political interests? Say it ain't so! No, really, say it. Say it!
[Algore], in an e-mail exchange about the critics, said his work made “the most important and salient points” about climate change, if not “some nuances and distinctions” scientists might want. “The degree of scientific consensus on global warming has never been stronger,” he said, adding, “I am trying to communicate the essence of it in the lay language that I understand.”
Okay, perhaps if Algore only understands it in 'lay language', his understanding of the literature may not be as good as claimed. Anyway...
Although Mr. Gore is not a scientist, he does rely heavily on the authority of science in “An Inconvenient Truth,” which is why scientists are sensitive to its details and claims.
Sure, NOW. Where the hell was this concern before Algore was appointed the Patron Saint of Mother Earth, Lord Protector of Gaia? Still, better late than never.

The article makes the point that it isn't only right-wingers and oil industry hacks who have concerns, but I'll actually let you read that for yourself. Still, there are a few things I would like to point out.

My favorite bit is this:
[Algore] clearly has supporters among leading scientists, who commend his popularizations and call his science basically sound. [emphasis added]
Geophysicist: "So, did you say the words correctly this time?"

Algore: "Yeah ... basically....."
[The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that studies global warming] estimated that the world’s seas in this century would rise a maximum of 23 inches — down from earlier estimates. [Algore], citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 20 feet and depicts parts of New York, Florida and other heavily populated areas as sinking beneath the waves, implying, at least visually, that inundation is imminent.
Stagehand: "Algore gave me a PowerPoint presentation that said 20 feet. Now, whether or not he knows the difference between feet and inches is not my problem. I do what I'm told."

Geophysicist: "But you're not as confused as him are you. I mean, it's not your job to be as confused as Algore."

Later in the story:
In his e-mail message, [Algore] defended his work as fundamentally accurate. “Of course,” he said, “there will always be questions around the edges of the science, and we have to rely upon the scientific community to continue to ask and to challenge and to answer those questions.”
Yes, and perhaps letting the scientists actually ask questions and conduct research without creating a witch hunt atmosphere would be a good thing.
Other critics have zeroed in on Mr. Gore’s claim that the energy industry ran a “disinformation campaign” that produced false discord on global warming. The truth, he said, was that virtually all unbiased scientists agreed that humans were the main culprits. But Benny J. Peiser, a social anthropologist in Britain who runs the Cambridge-Conference Network, or CCNet, an Internet newsletter on climate change and natural disasters, challenged the claim of scientific consensus with examples of pointed disagreement.

“Hardly a week goes by,” Dr. Peiser said, “without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory,” including some reports that offer alternatives to human activity for global warming....

Getting personal, [Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University] mocked [Algore]’s assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. “I’ve never been paid a nickel by an oil company,” Dr. Easterbrook told [hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America]. “And I’m not a Republican.”
Perhaps if Algore wants to help out with the scientific process, he can stop the ad hominem attacks on scientific dissenters and learn more than "the lay language that [he] understand[s]."


justkim said...

"...witch hunt atmosphere..."

That can't be good for global warming.

Icepick said...

Someday, when I film the movie of this post, I'm hoping to cast Bruce Campbell as the geophysicist. And hopefully I can get Plank to play Algore.