Monday, March 26, 2007

A Global Warming Believer Critiques Gore's Excesses

People who know Gregg Easterbrook's writing tend to love him or hate him. You either think that he is a brilliant guy with a strong sense for dissecting everything from football to religion, or you think he's a self-important ass who thinks he knows twice as much as he actually does. I put myself in the former category.

Since there has been so much attention to Al and global warming, I thought it worthwhile to link Easterbrook's critique of An Inconvenient Truth - particularly since I have been accused on this blog of not taking climate change seriously. Easterbrook is a believer in the idea that man contributes significantly to global warming and that we ought to do something about it. This is what Easterbrook had to say about Gore:

As a motion picture, An Inconvenient Truth has a lot to say, but contains little imaginative cinematography that might have made global warming engaging at the suburban cineplex. The picture the movie paints is always worst-case scenario. Considering the multiple times Gore has given his greenhouse slide show (he says "thousands"), it's jarring that the movie was not scrubbed for factual precision. For instance, this 2005 joint statement by the science academies of the Western nations, including the National Academy of Sciences, warns of sea-level rise of four to 35 inches in the 21st century; this amount of possible sea-level rise is current consensus science.

Yet An Inconvenient Truth asserts that a sea-level rise of 20 feet is a realistic short-term prospect. Gore says the entire Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could melt rapidly; the film then jumps to animation of Manhattan flooded. Well, all that ice might melt really fast, and a UFO might land in London, too. The most recent major study of ice in the geologic past found that about 130,000 years ago the seas were "several meters above modern levels" and that polar temperatures sufficient to cause a several-meter sea-level rise may eventually result from artificial global warming. The latest major study of austral land ice detected a thawing rate that would add two to three inches to sea level during this century. Such findings are among the arguments that something serious is going on with Earth's climate. But the science-consensus forecast about sea-level rise is plenty bad enough. Why does An Inconvenient Truth use disaster-movie speculation?

Like Rauch's piece a few days ago, this one from Easterbrook (which is actually from last year) points up a big problem with the global warming crowd: for them, there is only a crisis. And rather than try to educate and build support for policy response, they endeavor to squelch debate by preaching panic.

On a minor point, Easterbrook's mention of the fact that sea levels were several meters higher 130,000 years ago also point up the fact that global warming and cooling has been going on for the entire history of the planet. How does that factor into current phenomena?

Hat Tip: Pop Conservative

And yes, I will read this piece from Easterbrook - referenced in the article.

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