Al Gore's slick fiction, An Inconvenient Truth belongs right up there with Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 for its ability to dupe the viewer into believing fiction is fact. There are some inconvenient facts Al Gore will never mention in one of his (yawn) lectures on global warming.
Al Gore's recent attempt to outdo Michael Moore with his "An Inconvenient Truth" propaganda piece suffers from the same weaknesses that have permeated the debate on this topic for years.
Several major weaknesses commonly found in any discussion of the global warming issue are:
Evidence of natural climate change is often used to support a theory of significant anthropogenic global warming.
Information is presented without a proper framework of historical natural climate variability.
A proper framework of climate history would first have readers understand that Earth's natural climate has never been experienced by humans. That is because the entirety of human existence has been embedded within a global climate regime known as an Ice Era. Earth's normal climate (when it's not in an Ice Era) is so warm that no surface ice exists anywhere except on the highest mountain peaks. Dinosaurs roamed the Earth for over 200 million years during the last period of normal climate.
Here are some indisputable (and inconvenient for Mr. Gore) facts about climate history. Using 5,000 years as the extent of human history:
All of human history has existed within the most recent 0.0083% of the current Ice Era (which began 65 million years ago).
Embedded within the current Ice Era have been many Ice Epochs. All of human history has existed within the most recent 0.21% of the current Ice Epoch (which began 2.4 million years ago).
Embedded within the current Ice Epoch have been many Ice Age cycles. In the current 125,000 year Ice Age cycle (composed of Ice Ages and Interglacials) all of human history has occurred within the last 50% of the current Interglacial cycle.
Within the current 10,000 year Interglacial there have been three significant warm periods and three significant cold periods, plus the current emergent warm period (that began in the 17th Century, though some would date its beginning to the latter part of the 15th Century).
Based on these indisputable scientific facts of Earth's climate history:
We know we are emerging from a cold period (Little Ice Age) in what could be termed an emergent warm period.
Prior warm periods were typically about 4-5 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 1 degree C) warmer than our current climate.
We are "due" to experience the end to the current Ice Epoch (they rarely last longer than 2.5 million years ... so we're near the end of the current one).
We are "overdue" to experience the end to the current Ice Era (the six previous Ice Eras have averaged about 50 million years in length with very little deviation - our current Ice Era is about 65 million years in duration).
Humans have never known Earth's typical climate (when there is no surface ice anywhere except at the top of the highest mountains).
Given all this information about real climate history that tells us (1) we are in a warming period in an Ice Epoch that is about to end and (2) that Ice Epoch is embedded within an Ice Era that is overdue to end, by what rationale do we ignore this and succumb to claims of "unprecedented" warming and the presumed dangers that such warming will bring? The term "unprecedented" is clearly inappropriate. Though significant warming might be unprecedented by human experience (though we have a lot more warming to experience before that is true), it is certainly far from unprecedented in terms of Earth's normal climate fluctuations over the past 2.3 billion years (the time since living organisms first appeared).
When scientists in search of grants are in league with politicians in search of votes who are being given a platform by uninformed journalists seeking to sensationalize, the tendency to be skeptical of the merit of their "consensus" is well justified.
Evidence of warming is merely evidence of a natural process. To jump to the conclusion that humans are responsible for any such warming and can therefore "correct" what in all likelihood is a perfectly normal process, is a huge leap of faith.
Another weakness of the purveyors of doom and gloom "global warming" is the overly simplistic model of the anthropogenic global warming true believers: More CO2 -> Greater "Greenhouse" Effect -> "unprecedented" climate warming.
Just a few additional facts to ponder:
CO2 is neither the most efficient nor most abundant "greenhouse" gas.
CO2 levels have risen naturally in the past to levels far in excess of what we have today. The Earth recovered quite nicely from whatever was the cause of that increase.
The "Greenhouse Effect" is far more complicated a system than is being characterized by the "anthropogenic global warming will doom the planet" crusaders. Its effects are not simply related to an increase in any one contributor to our atmospheric blanket.
Before allowing yourself to be convinced of significant human impact on climate it would be prudent to have some assurance that sufficient data were available to make the case within the context of normal climate change. But using unverified and unvalidated computer models of incompletely understood climate science driven by inadequate data to predict future change is foolhardy at best.
Long term significant climate change cannot be detected over the short period we've had since the drums were beating about the dangers of the coming ice age in the 1970s! If a true climate change (as opposed to a persistent, though temporary, weather pattern) were detected, the first order of business would be to distinguish between natural global warming and anthropogenic global warming.
Al Gore treats all climate warming the same. According to Gore, it's all the fault of humans burning fossil fuel and its unprecedented. Gore provides no framework of natural climage change. Using slick graphics and cinematography, Gore's simplistic film will seem convincing to novices who know little about climate history or the complexity of the greenhouse effect.
Bob Webster, a 12th-generation descendent of both the Darte family (Connecticut, 1630s) and the Webster family (Massachusetts, 1630s) is a descendant of Daniel Webster's father, Revolutionary War patriot Ebenezer Webster, who served with General Washington. Bob has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for all high school students so they can appreciate the cost of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.
A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.