by Caleb S. Rossiter, March 2010
(1) The slogan is somewhat illogical, since it says nothing about what happens after the question is satisfactorily answered. It seems to imply that the questioner should then agree with the authority, but also that the questioning should continue indefinitely. It is certainly more logical than another favored leftist bumper sticker, “Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History,” a phrase coined by Harvard professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Women and men alike rarely make history, so their behavior is irrelevant to that task unless someone were to argue that well-behaved women perform more poorly in that regard than poorly-behaved ones. In addition, the slogan implies that women should be impolite in their daily lives, when making history is a matter for the public arena.
(2) Low-cost energy production is a crucial component of economic growth, particularly in countries that are only now industrializing. In those countries one can observe a clear, causal connection between wealth and life expectancy. Increased wealth for poor people and countries permits cleaner water, consistent energy, better education, and better nutrition, all of which combine to reduce mortality rates, especially for infants. Economic growth doesn’t necessarily have this effect; it can be stolen or hoarded by dictators and a tiny upper class. However, without economic growth, there will be lower life expectancy. There is a precautionary principle that says the world should reduce the use of fossil fuel on the chance that global warming threatens a climate catastrophe. However, the impact of such a reduction on life expectancy reveals another precautionary principle, which demands that solutions to the problem of emissions retard economic growth as little as possible.
(3) The claim by African leaders that recent droughts are due to warming from industrial emissions by developed countries is a close second in fantasy to the claim that rising seas are threatening their existence of island nations. Dramatic under-water cabinet meetings notwithstanding, neither Tuvalu and the Maldives have experienced a meaningful rise in sea level, which is itself affected by numerous variables unrelated to changes in global seas, including the actual rising of land and overuse of sea shore. The existence of lengthy regional droughts in Africa over thousands of years makes it particularly difficult to attribute any recent one to greenhouse gasses. The IPCC records a two degree rise in mean temperature for Africa that matches the rises recorded for the northern hemisphere’s land masses, but this rise is probably the least credible of the IPCC’s measurements. Warming has been observed primarily in the northern hemisphere, mostly on land and ice, and particularly in the higher latitudes where heat, and snow-melting black soot, is transported from warmer regions. Only about half of the African continent is even covered by a station that measures temperature, and satellite data for Africa usually show lower temperatures than those estimated by the IPCC from the land stations.
(6) Emission studies found no reductions caused by the Kyoto protocol by 2012, despite a pledged 5.2 percent target. Any reductions were “due largely to the collapse of former communist economies, including East Germany, and the restructuring of the energy sector in Great Britain. There had been little deliberately accepted pain in the name of climate change policy.” See “Impact of the Kyoto Protocol on Stabilization of Carbon Dioxide Concentration,” Niklas Höhne, ECOFYS energy & environment, Cologne, Germany, 2005, available on: http://www.stabilisation2005.com/posters/Hohne_Niklas.pdf. For the way countries created their targets, see International Environmental Policy: Interests and the Failure of the Kyoto Process, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen and Aynsley John Kellow, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2002, p. 56, available on: http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/europe/italy/03/29/environment.kyoto/ and Chapter 6, “The Kyoto Process,” pp. 53-84, generally. Even leading Kyoto advocate Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, acknowledged that “the greatest value is symbolic.” See “Kyoto Treaty Takes Effect Today: Impact on Global Warming May Be Largely Symbolic,” by Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post, Wednesday, February 16, 2005, Page A4.
(8) F.W. Taylor, Elementary Climate Physics, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005, chapter nine. This text by the Halley professor is a superb and balanced presentation of the science and statistics of climate change.
(10) Singer and Lindzen continue to be harassed by environmental lobbyists, who have joined the State of California in asking a federal court to require the surrender of any communications between these scientists and auto companies who are challenging the state’s emission controls.
(11) This is all very tricky ground for Gore. He wants to hold the tobacco scientists responsible for his sister’s death from cancer, but his family farmed tobacco, and he voted for tax breaks and price supports for tobacco even after her death. He wants to blame global warming skeptics for some unspecified but clearly harmful changes he claims to see happening “quickly” on the river near his home in Tennessee after what he says, incorrectly, has been ten thousand years of stability, but for 30 years he leased a zinc mine next to that river in a deal made in 1973 with famed energy mogul Armand Hammer, creating flow-off pollution that at times exceeded permitted levels. Neither supporting constituents who are tobacco farmers nor making trade-offs in mineral extraction between profit levels and pollution controls is evil, but bitterly attacking others for the same sorts of actions is a bit strange, particularly given the weaker fit of theory with reality in the realm of climate change.
(12) Gore tries to downplay this concern, jumping non sequitur to a discussion of how American manufacturers of cleaner technology could prosper from increased demand. They certainly won’t be prospering if they can’t get any energy to do all that manufacturing.
(13) This particular quote is from the section of the 2007 report of the IPCC’s Working Group on Physical Science Basis that the IPCC’s summaries refer readers to for evidence. This section also states, more broadly: “The fact that climate models are only able to reproduce observed global mean temperature changes over the 20th century when they include anthropogenic forcings, and that they fail to do so when they exclude anthropogenic forcings, is evidence for the influence of humans on global climate.”
(14) F.W. Taylor provides a general description of the models in his Elementary Climate Physics, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005. For their detailed operations, see A. Henderson-Sellers and K. McGuffie, A Climate Modelling Primer, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1987, and for the history of the models, see David Randall, editor, General Circulation Model Development, Academic Press, New York, 2000, and Spencer Weart, The Discovery of Global Warming, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2003.
(15) David Randall, editor, General Circulation Model Development, Academic Press, New York, 2000, p. 136. See also Spencer Weart, The Discovery of Global Warming, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2003.
(17) Gore of all people should be sensitive to the role of chance, whether in creating weather in the short-term and then climate in the long-term, or in politics. The famous truism that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can lead to a hurricane elsewhere appears to have found its political expression in the decision by Palm Beach county in the 2000 presidential election to use a “butterfly” ballot, which places in the middle of the page all the punch choices for two separate columns. This decision was not extended to the absentee ballot. The fact that election-day voters in Palm Beach supported Buchanan, whose punch hole appeared quite close to Gore’s, at four times the rate of absentee voters, an aberration not even remotely approached in other counties once their size is accounted for, offers strong support for the hypothesis that the butterfly siphoned off about 2,000 Gore voters to Buchanan, and gave Florida and the White House to Bush. The hurricane from this butterfly has since been felt in Iraq, since it is unlikely that Gore’s response to the Al Qaeda attacks on American soil in 2001 would have been to invade a country with no hand in the attacks. Of course, an even stranger case of chance kept Gore out of the presidency as well: the person counting the votes in the contested state was his opponent’s brother!
(18) The politicization of the scientific component of the climate debate adds another layer of weakness to the modeling effort. The complex calculation of the actual global mean temperatures that the models try to replicate is conducted by the very IPCC characters who run the models and make and advocate for policy prescriptions. If another difficult but important variable, the consumer price index, was calculated each year by the modelers in Congress and the administration who try to predict it into the future to make their proposed budgets meet artificial deficit targets there would be an understandable outcry from the millions of retirees whose income is determined by the calculation. Instead, to preserve credibility, the Labor department isolates away from all political pressures an economic unit of career employees that manages the methodology and calculates this particular rate of inflation.