Sunday, December 09, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth, A Movie Review And A Little More

I read in the newspaper the other day that Al Gore took the train from the airport to the hotel where he was staying before picking up his Nobel Prize.
OSLO, Norway (AP) — Former Vice President Al Gore skipped the traditional airport motorcade and took public transportation when he arrived Friday in Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize he shared for his campaign against global warming.

Before his arrival with his wife, Tipper, Gore told his hosts that he would not need the traditional motorcade from the airport, preferring to take the high-speed and environmentally friendly airport train, and then walking to his downtown Oslo hotel.
"I use public transport when I can. It isn't always possible," Gore told The Associated Press while walking to his hotel. He said the train was much faster than a limousine, but that it was also a symbol of efforts to reduce pollution in hopes of slowing climate change.

"It is a gesture. It is also one of the changes we are all going to have to be doing anyway," Gore said about the need to change travel habits.

Later that same day I got a call from a relative who was borrowing a copy of An Inconvenient Truth. I asked if I could come over and watch it with her. She said yes and so I did.

Now I promise not to give away the ending where we all drown but here are a couple of observations about what the movie included versus what I expected.

I was expecting more science. More scientists explaining the scientific facts. Al Gore in not a scientist.
In 1965, Gore enrolled at Harvard College, the only university to which he applied. He scored in the lower fifth of the class for two years in a row[11] and, after finding himself bored with his classes in his declared English major, Gore switched majors, found a passion for government, and graduated with honors from Harvard in June 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government.[10] After returning from the military he took religious studies courses at Vanderbilt and then entered the university's law school. He left Vanderbilt without a degree to run for an open seat in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District in 1976.
There are almost no scientist talking about the science of global warming in this film. Al talks about them, “his good friend Carl Sagen” or “his good friend Roger Revelle” Al Gore has a lot of good friends. Lots more cartoons and animation than I expected. Lot of video of Al growing up or when he was in the Senate. Seemed like a lot of the footage was recycled from his planned run for the 2008 Presidency. Much of it just seemed like a campaign ad. The other part that seemed to come up lots and lots and lots were scenes of Al Gore riding in an airplane or in the back of a limousine. Al Gore burns a lot of fuel. Seemed like an odd choice of footage considering the subject.

So here is what the movie wants us to believe, man made carbon, CO2, is increasing the temperature of the earth. That is it.

Here is the problem with that argument. Increases in carbon does not appear to cause an increase in temperature. But there is another problem, even if increases in carbon could cause an increase in temperature, is man capable of increasing carbon enough to make a difference in the temperature. I will get back to those topics shortly.

First lets discuss if the temperature of the earth is increasing or not. Of course it is! Really? Contrary to what Al Gore says in the movie, 2005 was not the hottest year on record. James Hanson of NASA, a John Kerry Supporter who received a $250,000 Heinz Environment Award from the Heinz Foundation, run by Kerry's wife, in 2001, stated 2005 was the hottest year on record but that was found to be inaccurate by Stephen McIntyre. Did Mr. McIntyre find the error by going over the NASA data and methodologies? Well no, Mr. Hansen did not follow that time honored tradition of peer review by refusing to release the data and source code, which were paid for by United States taxpayers.
McIntyre expressed his hope that the acknowledgment of this error will make it much more difficult for what he asserted was the denial by GISS to allow researchers access to the source code and methodologies GISS uses to construct its U.S. and global temperature anomalies.

So is the earth warming or not? It depends, start watching the following @ 2:40.

So now on to the question of does CO2 cause temperature to rise or not?

The money quote of the film was “When there is more carbon dioxide, it gets warmer“ Al can be seen delivering that line here @ 3:32.

But stop the video @ 3:37 and take a good long look at the graph. There are two lines on the graph, temperature and carbon. Which of the two appears to be leading the other? They both seem to move up and down in a similar manner but isn’t the bottom line, the temperature line appear to move up or down first, just barely but doesn’t that appear to be the case? Remember that those lines represent 650,000 years in time. I made an educated guess as to the length of the graph being about 50 feet based on the number of steps it take Al Gore to walk from one side of the graph to the other. A 50 foot graph that represents 650,000 years would mean that 1 inch of that graph is slightly more than 1000 years.

Now fast forward to 6:35. Temperature leads carbon by about 800 years, or a little less than an inch on Al’s graph. Kind of matches what you see in the chart.

Here is a video showing same thing but with the temperature and carbon lines of Al’s graph overlayed, starting @ 3:21

Now let’s look at carbon as a percentage of all greenhouse gases and man made carbon as a percentage. Surely carbon must be a significant percentage of all greenhouse gases if it is capable of changing the temperature and surely man has made a significant increase in carbon is man made carbon is the cause of the temperature increase. Well not exactly.

There are a number of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide being one of them. Carbon Dioxide makes up 3.6% of all greenhouse gases. Carbon Dioxide is a naturally occurring gas. Sources of carbon dioxide are decaying plants, animals, volcanoes humans and the ocean.

Now here is the important part, humans are the cause of about 1/30th of all carbon dioxide. So if you do the math, human caused carbon dioxide accounts for about 0.117% of all greenhouse gases. Now humans produce other greenhouse gases as well and all human produced greenhouse gases amount to about .28% of all greenhouse gases, but like I said, carbon dioxide is what is being targeted. Nobody talks about methane offsets or your nitrous oxide footprint. So the greenhouse gases that are not human caused carbon dioxide make up 99.883% of all greenhouse gases.

Let me put that into perspective. If all of the greenhouse gases were represented by a mile long string, the length of the string from man made CO2 would be slightly over 6 feet. CO2, 6.18 feet, all other greenhouse gases 5273.82 feet. So what we are suppose to believe is that if we could just cut our CO2 emissions by 20% or 30% of 50%, that will save Mother Earth. If we could get that .117% down to .0585%, that will do it. If you get tired from running a mile, would it help if you stopped 6.18 feet short of a mile?

Another issue I had with the film was the excessive mentions of hurricane Katrina. Al says that we will see bigger storms more often as a result of global warming. But what has happened in the 2+ years since Katrina. Here are the number of storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes from 2005 through 2007 plus the current prediction for 2008.
2005: 28 storms, 15 hurricanes, 7 major hurricanes
2006, 10 storms, 5 hurricanes, 2 major hurricanes
2007 14 storms, 6 hurricanes, 2 major hurricanes
2008 prediction 13 storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes

There is not one year since 2005 where the number of storms is more than half the number of 2005. There is not one year where the number of hurricanes or major hurricanes are even half the number of 2005. How can that be? If global warming is always increasing and global warming is causing these storms, how come they have dropped in half.

OK, so what do I think is the cause of any temperature increase? It’s the sun stupid.
Based on many different indicators from widely varying sources, it has been found that our sun, a variable star, is a major and controlling influence on the extent and rate of long- and short-term climate changes affecting Earth. In a January 17, 2003 article, Science@NASA describes the extent of the fluctuations in solar radiation over time, how they are being measured, the instruments that are being used to measure them, how those instruments are being calibrated and what has been found by using them.

In his report, Solar Activity: A Dominant Factor in Climate Dynamics, Dr. Theodor Landscheidt discusses that the distance of the nucleus of the Sun from the center of the mass of the solar system varies in an eleven-year cycle. The centre of the mass of the solar system is a function of the distribution of the mass of the Sun and the planets, and as that distribution changes as the planets orbit around the Sun, the distance between the nucleus of the Sun and the center of the mass of the solar system is not constant and varies from one cycle to the next. That causes variations in the rotational speed of the Sun. In turn, that causes disturbances in the internal circulation of the Sun.

Those disturbances manifest themselves in the form of sunspots and solar flares. It is primarily the intensity of solar flares and eruptions, not so much the 11-year sunspot cycle, that is of concern. Massive solar flares can be triggered and occur even during or near the minimum of the 11-year sunspot cycle, and it can happen that none or few of the sunspots detected during the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle are associated with very intense increases of solar radiation brought about by massive solar flares or eruptions.

Of course some people have know this for a long time. From the Farmers Almanac
We derive out weather forecasts from a secret formula that was devised by the founder of this Almanac, Robert B. Thomas, in 1792. Thomas believed that weather on Earth was influenced by sunspots, which are magnetic storms on the surface of the Sun.

Over the years, we have refined and enhanced that formula with state-of-the-art technology and modern scientific calculations. We employ three scientific disciplines to make our long-range predictions: solar science, the study of sunspots and other solar activity; climatology, the study of prevailing weather patterns; and meteorology, the study of the atmosphere. We predict weather trends and events by comparing solar patterns and historical weather conditions with current solar activity.

But here is my question, this whole global warming scare, why is it that we are suppose to think the current temperature is the optimal temperature? Who made that decision? Al Gore shows picture after picture of glaciers, years ago covered with snow and ice but now they are not. Who is to say that the “natural state” of those places are snow and ice covered? At one time all of North America was covered in ice. Why is that not considered the norm? The earth is constantly changing, there is no normal as to what the weather should be. For example, close to a thousand years ago, it was known to be warmer than it is now.
The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) or Medieval Climate Optimum was a time of unusually warm climate in the North Atlantic region, lasting from about the tenth century to about the fourteenth century.

It was called the Medieval Climate Optimum. It was not called the Medieval Climate Everyone Drowned From Rising Sea Water Period or the Medieval The Weather Sucks Period. It was Medieval Climate Optimum. Side note, did you know that nurseries pump additional CO2 into greenhouses as plants prefer higher concentrations to what we currently have, about 380 parts per million.

So the next question is, why is there so much talk about global warming? Well, as a famous line from a movie said… “follow the money”.

OK, maybe not the case for everyone but for some on the global warming bandwagon, without global warming, they would be looking for work.

Al Gore joins top venture capital firm
Former vice president to guide investments that help fight global warming

But isn’t Al donating all of his salary to global warming charities? Sure he is, he is donating all of his SALARY to a global warming charity that he controls. He will not pay any tax, at the top tax rate, on that money, that he will still control. Now he is not donating any of the profits he will earn from being a partner.
Gore promised to donate 100 percent of his salary as a Kleiner Perkins partner to the Alliance for Climate Protection, the Palo Alto-based think tank he founded to focus on accelerating policy solutions to the climate crisis.
The donation does not include stock options. Typically, a tiny fraction of a venture capitalist's compensation is salary; the vast majority of wealth comes from sale of stock options when the companies the firm invests in are sold to the public.

This is referred to as carried interest earnings and are currently taxed at 15%. It will be interesting to see if Al Gore’s fellow Democrats raise that tax rate to 30% like they have promised or keep it at 15%, now that one of their own will be adversely affected.

Meanwhile, Kleiner Perkins is an outspoken opponent of legislation on Capitol Hill that would tax carried-interest earnings for investment partnerships at the 30% rate for ordinary income instead of the lower capital gains rate of 15%. That puts Gore's new employer at odds with many of his fellow Democrats.

Of course there are other ways to make money on global warming.
Al Gore has come under fire for making personal gain from his mission to save the planet – after charging £3,300 a minute to deliver a poorly received speech.

One of the arguments against global warming is the conflict of interest inherent in the scientific community. If a government is handing out cash to study something that may be a problem, what is in the best interest of the scientist, to report back there is no problem and no need to study the issue further or is it to report back that an impending catastrophe is just around the corner and we need more funding for more research?
OLYMPIA, Wash. - A faculty member at The Evergreen State College who is a nationally known expert on insects has been rewarded a $649,371, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, the college announced.

John Longino will lead a study to find new insect species and to explore possible effects of global warming on insect diversity.

"This work is trying to identify the scope of global warming," Longino said from a research station in Costa Rica. "This may give us all a little extra push to do something about it."

Now I realize he needs to finish the research in a hurry as I am sure the private sector is clamoring to line his pockets with mountains of cash to study ants in Costa Rica but shouldn't Professor Longino finish the study before he comes to the conclusion that the result will give us a little extra push to do something about global warming?

Examples abound of grant money going to study the effect of global warming on [insert your area of expertise here]
Researchers Study Effects of Global Warming on Air Quality
Pullman, WA – A group of researchers in the Laboratory for Atmospheric Research have received an EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant to look at the impacts of global climate change on regional air quality in the U.S.
The three-year, $900,000 grant builds on previous EPA-funded work, in which researchers looked at air quality 50 years into the future in the Pacific Northwest. From that initial study, they concluded that we can expect to see more days of poor air quality in future years. Several cities in the region can expect to see an increase in the number of days in which they have unhealthy levels of smog and most cities will see higher ozone levels on future summer days.

And one more.
Researchers from the University of Washington directed the Let’s Improve Transportation Challenge as part of a $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation and enlisted 135 residents of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties in an experimental project in online participatory democracy.
The UW researchers believe the process they developed and the results it produced can be used to restart public discussion about solving the region’s transportation woes. They think the process also can be used to support public evaluation of choices about such issues as regional climate change impacts and Puget Sound habitat restoration.

For more information, watch The Great Global Warming Swindle:

Now lets go back to where I started a long, long time ago, that Al Gore took a train to his hotel room. That same article ends with the following sentence:
On Wednesday, Gore and Pachauri will leave for Germany and then fly to the climate meeting in Bali.

I recently read a quote, I am not sure by who but I would guess it was George Will,
I will treat global warming like an emergency once those who are telling me it is an emergency treat it like an emergency.


Larry said...

I'm thinking the final quote is from Glenn Reynolds......

Larry said...

...And I missed where you said that while he took the train, his luggage took a car so it...I guess I don't remember why it went by car.

Must have been a good reason though.

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