Al Gore Launches the "Climate Reality Project"

By Chris Mooney | July 12, 2011 2:12 pm

Here’s the description, and note the Enlightenment language:

Climate change is not your fault for the car you drive, the lights you turn on, or the food you eat. The climate crisis is our problem. Real solutions, systemic solutions, innovative solutions, can only come when we address it together. That’s what The Climate Reality Project will do. Without doubt. Without delay. And with your help.

The Climate Reality Project is bringing the facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream and engaging the public in conversation about how to solve it. We help citizens around the world reject the lies and take meaningful steps to bring about change.

Founded and chaired by Al Gore, Nobel Laureate and former Vice President of the United States, The Climate Reality Project has more than 5 million members and supporters worldwide. It is guided by one simple truth: The climate crisis is real and we know how to solve it.

The problem is, what if we don’t all agree upon the same “reality”? If so, calling for an embrace of the “facts” and an end to “doubt” won’t work, because we lack a consensus about what the facts are–and everybody has an argument that he/she thinks is right and convincing (even if it’s just the result of motivated reasoning).

In my view, Gore has been pretty much right about the science of climate all along. But sad to say, everything I’ve learned about this issue convinces me that there is little he can say or do to get conservative climate “skeptics” to accept that.

Yes, they need to renounce their counter-reality and come back to this one. But paradoxically, having Al Gore tell them that may just drive them farther away. Let’s hope he can appeal to the middle, anyway…

Comments (35)

  1. I have heard this exact viewpoint from some very enlightened folks: that as long as Al Gore – sworn GOP nemesis – is the one touting the message, it will never, EVER be acceptable, no matter how rock solid the science. Shame, really, since the future for all of us is at stake.

  2. Chris Mooney

    I’ve heard this from conservatives, too. And on this, I really believe them.

  3. Nullius in Verba

    This appears to be a trailer for Al’s latest hour-long PowerPoint, which they’re apparently trying to hype up. (Sales must be falling off.) Sceptics will no doubt be bringing the popcorn.

    “Each hour people living with the reality of climate change will connect the dots between recent extreme weather events — including floods, droughts and storms — and the manmade pollution that is changing our climate.”

    Mmm. Do you think he got that particular bit of science right?

  4. Michael Berry

    @Nullius in Verba:

    Are you disputing the statement that manmade pollution is having an effect on climate change, or that people will connect the dots? If it’s the latter, I agree. I certainly hope it isn’t the former.

    Relatedly (but not directed toward you, Nullius), I have to admit that I get very tired of hearing people claim that human culture is not having a negative effect on this planet. It seems that people would rather bury their heads in the sand than admit to any wrongdoing on our part.

    We are all contributing the problem. Why not start contributing to the solution, too? Start with baby steps. Stop getting bags from the grocery store and start bringing your own from home. Drive less, walk more. Leave lights off during the day. Turn off your AC. There are literally hundreds of things you can do throughout your day to do your part.

  5. Daniel

    “[..] there is little he can say or do to get conservative climate ‘skeptics’ to accept that”

    The problem with conservative deniers is not at all that prominent outside the U.S. I think this project aims at ordinary people all over the globe. Gore probably doesn’t believe he can change the hardcore republican deniers either.

  6. TerryEmberson

    Michael Berry Says:

    I have to admit that I get very tired of hearing people claim that human culture is not having a negative effect on this planet.

    How can one have a negative effect on a planet? I’m not burying my head in the sand, I’m pointing out that life has reshaped this planet since the very beginning of life. Heck, the early anaerobic bacteria poisoned themselves by making lots and lots of air as a by-product. The carbon-cycle has had a negative effect on the planet if you happen to side with anaerobic bacteria. Human life just happens to be the best competitor on earth, who can compete with pretty much every creature on earth. We are just trying to make the world safe for our ancient ancestors…

    Human activity has no inherent value unless you happen to take a side, at which point I would suggest you take the ‘human’ side of this question and try to figure out how best to help humans. If you feel that our energy expenditures have hurt humans, please do me a favor and take a look at modern expected lifespans and compare them to even the most advanced ages of antiquity and you’ll find that spending lots of energy is good for humanity. Eventually, we may upset a major balance and collapse the ecosystem (which will quickly establish a new balance because that’s what equilibrium is all about) and at that point, humanity will have to learn how to survive in a different context. We probably will because intelligence seems to have been a game changer in terms of evolutionary adaptions, but I may be wrong.

  7. Will

    How is it that we can be ‘failing’ and on the ‘brink of catastrophe’ for so long? Didn’t he tell us in Gore Wars Episode I we were already doomed?

    Mike Berry: Why can’t we just burn those plastic bags? It’s free oil!!

  8. Nullius in Verba

    #5,

    “Are you disputing the statement that manmade pollution is having an effect on climate change, or that people will connect the dots?”

    Neither. I’m pointing out the oft-repeated weather-is-climate meme – that even our hosts here have been persuaded is unscientific and extremely counter-productive.

    Weather varies from day-to-day, from month-to-month, from year-to-year over a very wide range. There are places where it is getting warmer, there are places where it is getting colder, and at a local level individual weather events are not significantly different from how they’ve always been. The difference is so small compared to the background noise that it is only by averaging over continental-sized areas, and taking trends over decades that changes can be detected. It’s like a biased coin that comes up heads 51% of the time – it’s detectable with enough data, but you can’t point to the coin coming up heads three times in a row and claim it as proof.

    The problem is that a barely detectable change buried in the data doesn’t get the general public excited, so there is a terrible temptation on the part of activists to go picking out isolated examples of dramatic weather and connecting them to climate change. Here’s three heads in a row here, and four of them there, and how this means we all ought to panic. And every time they do, sceptics point and laugh, and bring up all the examples of signs of cooling, and say if that’s you’re argument, then all this snow must prove that the world is cooling down now, right? With a 51% coin, there will be lots of runs of consecutive tails, too. It ends up as a massive own goal, as sceptics demonstrate that it is unscientific scaremongering, and chip away a little more of climate science’s credibility.

    As I said, our hosts here seem to have more or less accepted the argument, and stopped doing it. But it still goes on – and if Al Gore’s plan is to pick one day’s weather and try to connect it to climate change, sceptics are going to have fun getting yet another free kick in by pointing it out. I’m looking forward to it.

    Regarding contributions to the solution – I’d call those burying your head in the sand as to the magnitude of what it is you’re trying to do. Start by calculating the actual effect of your measures on the climate – the number of degrees Celsius or the number of metres of sea level rise averted by your actions. You should quickly see that even under the assumptions of mainstream climate science it will have no detectable effect. Even if we all did it – and I assure you, most of us won’t – it would have no detectable effect at all. So why are people going to all this virtuous effort when they’re getting nothing in return?

    They’re empty rituals, like sacrifices to the Gods, to make us feel better about ourselves – to make us feel less helpless and frightened. Climate change is and always has been a problem for humans. Ask the Mayans.

    But there really are things we can do about it. We are less vulnerable to it now than we have ever been previously in human history, and with further economic and technological development we can accumulate the resources to adapt and survive better still. Climate change – both warming and cooling – will happen anyway, whatever sacrifices you make. We had better be ready for it.

  9. Michael Berry

    Terry,

    I chose my words carefully with that sentence you quoted. There is a larger problem at play here than global warming. Humanity itself will adapt and survive, as will our culture, but in many cases we have direct control over the survival of other ecosystems.

    It isn’t so much that our carbon emissions specifically will have overwhelming devastating effects on the planet itself, it’s that our carbon emissions, combined with a myriad of other forms of pollution like garbage and refuse in the oceans (see the great pacific garbage patch), oil spills, deforestation and many other factors are affecting not only ourselves but thousands of other species on a daily basis.

    Whether or not you believe that we are the direct (or indirect) cause of global warming specifically, our species as a whole (globally, not just the United States) has had a greater effect on the planet in general than any other species in the known history. No other species produces the amount of waste we do, a significant portion of which will take hundreds to thousands of years to fully decompose. We are destroying habitats on a daily basis through deforestation and coal mining mountaintop removal to name a few. We are spewing out huge amounts of chemical byproducts from our manufacturing plants and our transportation systems. I could continue, but you get the idea.

    To think that our actions don’t have an effect on this planet is naive and dangerous. In the grand scheme of things the planet will continue to survive, evolve and adapt, but what kind of environment are we engineering through our throw-away consumer culture? Reducing emissions for the sake of global warming is a great concept, and whether or not we will have any effect over the general temperature of our planet is unimportant. What is important is that by reducing emissions (in all forms), we are lessening one of the contributing factors to all the other problems we do have a direct relation to.

    I’m not suggesting that humanity should cease all production or stop driving entirely. Rash ideas like that are not only unlikely to be accepted, they are quite obviously impossible. What I do suggest is starting small. If half of the human race took an unnecessary car trip today, we would cut the emissions from privately-owned vehicles in half. Just a thought.

  10. Michael Berry

    #8,

    I agree with just about everything you mentioned there. Clearly I didn’t word my original reply as well as I could have because both yourself and Terry (#7) thought I was referring to the idea that we could change global warming. My apologies, the misinterpretation is my own fault due to lack of clarification.

    I do agree that we most likely have near zero control over the overall temperature of our planet and that any changes we make toward that end will be so insignificant as to be unnoticeable. But as I mentioned in my previous post, reducing emissions and changing our way of life will have a positive effect on the other problems that have direct correlation to our actions. (Somewhat convoluted sentence structure, but I think it still gets the point across. Apologies.)

    I also absolutely agree with your thoughts on weather-vs-climate and I didn’t catch that from your initial post. Unfortunately, I think that misconception is always going to a problem. There will always be the folks who say, on particularly cold winter days, “Where’s global warming when you need it?”

  11. Nullius in Verba

    #10,

    Pollution in general is an acknowledged problem – one we have already done a lot to address (the environment now is much cleaner than it used to be), but on which we have some way to go still. Yes, agreed. We can and we will.

    But we need to keep it in perspective, and not fall into the naturalistic fallacy of assuming that humans are the only organism to do it. Bacteria produce lethal waste products that can poison food and water, parasites and viruses cause disease, plants naturally generate tons of toxic chemical pesticides as part of their natural biological defences, minerals leach from rocks into rivers and lakes, volcanoes throw up millions of tons of dust and fumes, and bury whole ecosystems in burning ash. Damage to the environment happens.

    Humans can help, though. If you emphasise the positives – how well we’re doing and what we can do to make this an even nicer world to live in – and avoid casting blame or predicting doom so much, you’d get more support from those with the power to do something about it.

  12. TerryEmberson

    Michael,
    I do not dispute that humans have a tremendous effect on the Earth. I dispute that that effect has an inherent value of “good” or “bad”. Even what you refer to as waste isn’t waste to everything, many thousands of species thrive off of much of it, while others are killed by it. I was only disputing that there is a negative value associated with polluting the planet. The only negative value I care about is the negative value on humans. And maybe cats.

    That said, I want to be able to go out an enjoy the blessings of nature. I want the forests to grow, I want consumer disposables to deteriorate in time, or at least be buried in subduction zones where the planet will recycle them for us over thousands of years. Personally, I think reducing emissions is also great. Nothing in economics or my particular ideology says that we have to be wasteful in our packaging or energy concerns, but I won’t personally accept plans to reduce emissions that put nature before mankind, especially when all the incidentals haven’t been considered.

    As far as the rest of your points, doing small things to help, I’m all for that even though, I never addressed those in my original post, I was just critiquing the concept that something is “good” or “bad” for the planet. Heck, if we are just talking about biodiversity, the Chernobyl accident was great for that region, which has now essentially become a de facto wildlife preserve.

  13. 1985

    5. Michael Berry Says:
    July 12th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    We are all contributing the problem. Why not start contributing to the solution, too? Start with baby steps. Stop getting bags from the grocery store and start bringing your own from home. Drive less, walk more. Leave lights off during the day. Turn off your AC. There are literally hundreds of things you can do throughout your day to do your part.

    Unfortunately, none of the above is remotely close to being enough to make a meaningful difference.

  14. 1985

    7. TerryEmberson Says:
    July 12th, 2011 at 4:19 pm
    Michael Berry Says:
    I have to admit that I get very tired of hearing people claim that human culture is not having a negative effect on this planet.
    How can one have a negative effect on a planet? I’m not burying my head in the sand, I’m pointing out that life has reshaped this planet since the very beginning of life. Heck, the early anaerobic bacteria poisoned themselves by making lots and lots of air as a by-product. The carbon-cycle has had a negative effect on the planet if you happen to side with anaerobic bacteria. Human life just happens to be the best competitor on earth, who can compete with pretty much every creature on earth. We are just trying to make the world safe for our ancient ancestors…
    Human activity has no inherent value unless you happen to take a side, at which point I would suggest you take the ‘human’ side of this question and try to figure out how best to help humans. If you feel that our energy expenditures have hurt humans, please do me a favor and take a look at modern expected lifespans and compare them to even the most advanced ages of antiquity and you’ll find that spending lots of energy is good for humanity. Eventually, we may upset a major balance and collapse the ecosystem (which will quickly establish a new balance because that’s what equilibrium is all about) and at that point, humanity will have to learn how to survive in a different context.

    That’s an extremely foolish attitude.

    When people say “negatively affecting the planet”, they mean, or at least, they should mean, “negatively affecting the habitability of the planet from human point of view”. There are no guarantees that humans can figure out how to adapt to the changing conditions. Individual humans are intelligent enough to solve simple to somewhat complex problems. Some humans are intelligent enough to solve very complex problems. But collectively, humanity is extremely stupid, to the point that even the simplest things that are crucial to human survival are often not even noticed. And not only are there no guarantees that humans can figure out how to adapt, there are no guarantees that it is even possible to do so. In fact, there are very good reasons to think that we will drive ourselves to extinction. So why take the chance?

    We probably will because intelligence seems to have been a game changer in terms of evolutionary adaptions, but I may be wrong.

    You’re wrong. We have become intelligent enough to outcompete all other organisms on the planet. We haven’t become intelligent enough to realize that this is not in our best interest.

  15. 1985

    9. Nullius in Verba Says:
    July 12th, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Regarding contributions to the solution – I’d call those burying your head in the sand as to the magnitude of what it is you’re trying to do. Start by calculating the actual effect of your measures on the climate – the number of degrees Celsius or the number of metres of sea level rise averted by your actions. You should quickly see that even under the assumptions of mainstream climate science it will have no detectable effect. Even if we all did it – and I assure you, most of us won’t – it would have no detectable effect at all. So why are people going to all this virtuous effort when they’re getting nothing in return?
    They’re empty rituals, like sacrifices to the Gods, to make us feel better about ourselves – to make us feel less helpless and frightened. Climate change is and always has been a problem for humans. Ask the Mayans.

    This is also goes under the “extremely stupid attitude towards things” category.

    So simply because the things people talk about are inadequate to deal with the problem, we should be doing nothing? Doesn’t it logically follow that problems get solved by doing ENOUGH to solve them and that if someone suggest doing not enough, what should be dismissed is doing not enough, not doing anything in principle.

    But there really are things we can do about it. We are less vulnerable to it now than we have ever been previously in human history, and with further economic and technological development we can accumulate the resources to adapt and survive better still. Climate change – both warming and cooling – will happen anyway, whatever sacrifices you make. We had better be ready for it.

    Actually we are more vulnerable than ever. We are entirely dependent on non-renewable resources that are fast approaching depletion, there are 7 billion of us and we’re a global civilization. When civilizations failed in the past, it was usually a local phenomenon, with other areas remaining stable and preserving at least some of the achievements. Rome collapsed and Dark Ages followed, but the knowledge (far from all of it, unfortunately, but it was something) was preserved in the Middle East and by the Arabs. There is nobody to pick up things now. On top of that, they didn’t have nuclear weapons when the wars that typically accompanied the collapse of civilizations were fought

  16. 1985

    11. Nullius in Verba Says:
    July 12th, 2011 at 5:31 pm
    #10,
    Pollution in general is an acknowledged problem – one we have already done a lot to address (the environment now is much cleaner than it used to be), but on which we have some way to go still. Yes, agreed. We can and we will.

    Outright, shameless lie.

    Pollution has decreased in the West. For the simple and only reasons that it has been exported to other countries, together with manufacturing. The total amount of pollution has increased

    But we need to keep it in perspective, and not fall into the naturalistic fallacy of assuming that humans are the only organism to do it. Bacteria produce lethal waste products that can poison food and water, parasites and viruses cause disease, plants naturally generate tons of toxic chemical pesticides as part of their natural biological defences, minerals leach from rocks into rivers and lakes, volcanoes throw up millions of tons of dust and fumes, and bury whole ecosystems in burning ash. Damage to the environment happens.

    Once again, yeast in culture produce waste products that eventually kill them for the only reason that they are not capable of doing anything else. We do have the knowledge to understand why it is hurting us to pollute and destroy the environment, why it is suicidal let our population grow uncontrollably and to have an economy based on the assumption of infinite growth. But we do not understand it. Which does not mean that we should just carry on with BAU.

  17. Nullius in Verba

    #13,

    “Outright, shameless lie.”

    As usual, you get your statistics wrong. It might help if you paid more attention to less partisan sources.

    “…to have an economy based on the assumption of infinite growth…”

    There are infinitely many chickens… :-)

  18. Sundance

    Mr. Gore has too many negatives to be an effective force in a climate discussion anymore. If you carefully listen to his words his approach is that of a divider and not a uniter and it is a shortcoming that he is seemingly unaware of. His COI issues hurt him too, he does not connect to the common man and he is not persuasive. As an example he couldn’t even persuade President Obama to support global warming concerns, and that does not bode well for hope that he will somehow appeal to the middle.

    Though you’ll never admit it I sense that you have at least considered what it will take to convince Al Gore that he has become a liability and needs to step aside. It’s hard not to view him as an asset for the skeptics.

  19. TA

    @Sundance

    I completely agree. He has veered into Cindy Sheehan, PETA territory. While they have (or had) good intentions, all their extra baggage has accumulated to a point where it obfuscates their message.

    The Rolling Stone article is a prime example. He had thousands of words to really land home a message and the big takeaway was that he was disappointed in Obama. Which is a bandwagon that 90% of liberals had already beaten to death in 2011.

    Oh, I guess he also tried to make the case for event attribution. The new science that Trenberth has been peddling for years. Which only seems to make the layman doubt the claims even more.

  20. bad Jim

    This is a matter of physics and you are treating it as entertainment. Do you want me to make a guess at your mental ages?

    There is a real world out there that doesn’t care what you think. Sooner or later we’re going to have to deal with it, and sooner would be better.

  21. moptop

    “This is a matter of physics and you are treating it as entertainment.” – bad Jim

    Really? Really? So all we have to do is hit the physics textbooks, same as we might for an understanding of general relativity, and if we apply ourselves, we will be able to connect the dots between Katrina and increases in anthropogenic CO2? I guess we will be able to use that same math to rule out CO2 as a factor in the Galveston Hurricane that killed thousands early in the last century?

    So far, at a high level, this is the case I have seen. You can tell me if there is more physics to overcome these fundamental objections:

    Attributions are done using models. These models cannot prove themselves. One of your own, before she got all political, Naomi Oreskes, made this point in a paper she wrote in the early ’90s. Here is the abstract:

    “Verification and validation of numerical models of natural systems is impossible. This is because natural systems are never closed and because model results are always nonunique. Models can be confirmed by the demonstration of agreement between observation and prediction, but confirmation is inherently partial. Complete confirmation is logically precluded by the fallacy of affirming the consequent and by incomplete access to natural phenomena. Models can only be evaluated in relative terms, and their predictive value is always open to question. The primary value of models is heuristic.”

    Verification, Validation, and Confirmation of Numerical Models in the Earth Sciences
    Naomi Oreskes, Kristin Shrader-Frechette and Kenneth Belitz

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/263/5147/641.short

    If you think that the paper gets any better for models as proof, here is the whole thing:
    http://www.likbez.com/AV/CS/Pre01-oreskes.pdf

    So the models don’t prove anything, and their value is the exploration of ideas… I know that Ms Oreskes later on decided that such matters could be decided by popular vote, but I don’t know when the above paper, with its 1400+ citations was proven to be faulty.

    Next we have the assertion that today’s weather and temps are unprecidented in thousands of years. How do we arrive at this? The Hockey Stick. Anybody want to talk about the hockey stick, I am glad to oblige, in detail, but for right now, since nobody ever does want to discuss it, I am going to simply say that it assumes what it is trying to prove, same as the models above.

    Now I am told that I am the equivalent of a cult http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney because I want the above questions reasonably addressed before I throw away an otherwise good economy based on carbon (Oh yeah, don’t tell me you are worried about the mercury in coal when you force mercury into my home in the form of those twisty bulbs.)

    Well, that article looks to me to be a better description of the believers in CAGW than the skeptics. At least the skeptics can, as a rule, articulate the basis of their point of view. I have yet to run into the warmie who can explain how the “matter of physics” holds together.

  22. moptop

    NIV,
    Give it up. 1985 lives in a Manichean world of good and evil, black and white, and absolute conviction of his own infallibility. Surely by now you have gotten bored of his rants.

  23. SLP

    Up front I’m a global warming caused by humans skeptic. There are many problems with how this is being presented IMHO.
    1) Al Gore. Flies in a private jet. House uses more energy in a month than 12 average homes in a year. Okay maybe some hyperbole but ‘nough said.
    2) The average person who sees temperature fluctions in a day that exceed the most dire forecasts have a hard time believing that warming is a problem in the first place and that people can control it. And they’re treated like idiots when they ask what is for them reasonable questions. Also the average person see Big Al and his lifestyle and realize that no matter what happens to them if he gets his way Al Gore will not have to sacrifice a thing.
    3) The treatment is worse than the problem. Carbon credits? Reduction in the standard of living?
    4) Explanations for the fact that the Continental US has cooler temperatures over the past decade than predicted boggle the mind. The current reason is the pollution – including green house gases – China pumped into the atmosphere over the past several years caused the drop in temperatures. Really? If you want to prove global warming is caused by humans and that humans can make a difference then maybe, just maybe, the cooler temperatures are caused by the much lower green house gases being emitted by the United States in the past few years.
    5) How many times in the past 5 years has the nomenclature for global warming changed? The more you change the message the more it comes across as a carnival barker or a used car lot.

    I like clear air, moderate temperatures, and think Polar Bears are really cool. I like walking in forests, eating good, healthy food. (Want to get me on your side for something? Start talking about megafarms, food additives, and the like.) But from the beginning global warming proponents have had a certain religious fervor – the comming ‘hell’ if things don’t change, the promised ‘heaven’ if we follow the ‘scriptures’ of the scientists, give our ‘tithes’ and ‘offerings’ of a reduced life stype, and the fact that skeptics are treated like ‘heretics’ and ‘infidels’. If this is scientific fact then act like scientists and teach in a way that everyman can understand.

  24. TerryEmberson

    15. 1985 Says:

    That’s an extremely foolish attitude.

    Okay. Sorry, I’ll be more serious when people be more clear in their language. We are talking about scientific and political concerns, both of which are seriously affected by language. So to keep from getting into an extremely negative attitude when people use unclear language, unclear understandings of politics or science, and unclear logic in their arguments based on those understandings and language, I will be foolish.

    When people say “negatively affecting the planet”, they mean, or at least, they should mean, “negatively affecting the habitability of the planet from human point of view”. There are no guarantees that humans can figure out how to adapt to the changing conditions.

    Yes, there are. We just can’t guarantee that we can do it without significant loss of human life, which is bad. We have adapted to changing conditions before. We can adapt to changing conditions again if they happen slowly and without sudden spikes of extremely violent shift. Even with extremely violent shift, humans, as a species, were BORN out of climate change, forcing our ancestors out of the savanna into a coastal region of Africa where possibly as few as a thousand of us remained alive. Yet we survived, adapted, evolved, and came back better than ever. We were weaker than our cousins, the Neanderthal, but faster and smarter. We were smaller and weaker than the megafauna of North America, but still able to kill more of them then they could kill of us.

    There can be a shift that would kill us off, you are right about that, but nothing like that has been predicted with any certainty as happening in the foreseeable future (with the exception of a couple of asteroids). There are still plenty of suggestions that we will outsmart any of those problems by diversification of thought, culture, ideology, and, ultimately, thought.

    Individual humans are intelligent enough to solve simple to somewhat complex problems. Some humans are intelligent enough to solve very complex problems. But collectively, humanity is extremely stupid, to the point that even the simplest things that are crucial to human survival are often not even noticed.

    There is nothing that makes humans stupider as a group. You are wrong about that. What they are is different. Different people have different opinions and only by learning to accept that there are different opinions will be create a truly free and cooperative world. One somewhat flippant definition of intelligence is the ability to hold multiple opinions at once. The joke goes that “if you get 3 (fill in the blank) experts, you will get 5 opinions/models/explanations/etc”. By that model, humans as a group are extremely intelligent. What we aren’t is herd or eusocial animals will work as a solid group toward a single goal except in single moments of extreme need or desire. Humans have made the most progress not during “sputnik moments” but during the rest of the time where a thousand ideas a second are pursued together.

    We will not solve global warming by collective action. We will probably not solve at all. What we will do is we will find workarounds that mitigate the threats, or not and people will suffer. We will find technology that doesn’t cause the excess inputs into the carbon cycle, but the damage will be done and will have effects (neither good nor bad) on Earth’s environment for centuries to come, just like agriculture has had for thousands of years. We will accomplish much not by trying to rein in human progress but pushing it forward. The pollution needs to be controlled to prevent harm to humans or valuable ecosystems (to humans). We need to mitigate the harm on all species because we don’t know what the loss of those species will mean to humans.

    And not only are there no guarantees that humans can figure out how to adapt, there are no guarantees that it is even possible to do so. In fact, there are very good reasons to think that we will drive ourselves to extinction. So why take the chance?

    No one ever said we should. I don’t think that there is any evidence that we may drive ourselves to extinction. We may be in a Golden Age of human progress today and tomorrow will change, but there is no evidence that the human biome is seriously threatened in any way. As for why take the chance, I drive a hybrid for environmental reasons only to find out its worse for the environment altogether. Can you guarantee that the plans that you have to help fix the problem won’t make it worse? What if just driving our economy forward a few more years will make the breakthrough that makes new chemical batteries that can provide a higher energy density than gasoline with a rapid charging time? What if by stifling energy use, we slow down the economy and suddenly government are having budget shortfalls and stop funding ITER and other energy research? Of course, there is the what if by letting energy use go whole hog, we never explore alternatives until its too late to make any transition without a significant loss of life due to economic collapses. We can’t predict it so I choose to rely on enlightenment ideals, such as the idea of progress (the march of science will make the world better) and the idea of liberalism (the government operates only by the will of the people and respect for individual rights to life, liberty, and property are the only way to preserve the people from tyranny)

    You’re wrong. We have become intelligent enough to outcompete all other organisms on the planet. We haven’t become intelligent enough to realize that this is not in our best interest.

    Glad you solved that puzzle for us. You seem to have become intelligent enough to realize it isn’t in our best interests, yes? Are you human? You seem to want all humans to operate like a single organism while evolutionary adaptability (what I was speaking about) relies only on breeding individuals from species surviving based on adaptions, not on the species acting in concert to achieve it. Who knows, maybe we are just getting ready to build the next stage in our evolution. By creating a massive equilibrium shift in the world’s environment, we kill off all but a handful of survivors who get by by their wits and ability to use technology toward their survival.

    It sounds like an excellent plot for a book. Old humans, away on a long, relativist journey come back to find that a new species has come to dominate the planet in the interim… wait, Pierre Boulle did that one, didn’t he?

  25. Johnny

    This is a marketing campaign for a book. This is not a political campaign for the environment.

    The book and/or movie has not been announced yet, but it will be soon. Right now we’re in the phase of the marketing campaign where naive media outlets report on it like its a political movement.

    After this initial news cycle winds down, expect the book to be announced.

  26. Johnny

    This is a marketing campaign for a book. This is not a political campaign for the environment.

    The book and/or movie has not been announced yet, but it will be soon. Right now we’re in the phase of the marketing campaign where naive media outlets report on it like its a political movement.

    After this initial news cycle winds down, expect the book to be announced..

  27. Gustav

    “Gore has been pretty much right about the science of climate all along?” You must be joking. Haven’t you read that the sea-level rise has been the same for the last 1000 years and there is no observable acceleration? Haven’t you read the reports that the polar bears population is larger and healthier today than at any other time in the last 50 years? Haven’t you read papers documenting that there’s been no increase in severe weather events–hurricanes and tornadoes–neither regarding their numbers nor severity? Haven’t you seen papers showing that there’s been no warming since 1998, in spite of CO2 concentration increasing steadily? Haven’t you read papers showing that the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today? Don’t you know that more people die of cold exposure than because of warm weather? Hundreds froze to death in Europe last winter. What is it exactly that “Gore has been right about?”

  28. TA

    “What is it exactly that “Gore has been right about?”

    Using political connections and manufactured consent can make you very, very rich in a short amount of time.

  29. Woody

    How about connecting these dots: Bristlecone pines, Greybill series, Yamal series, Tiljander upside-down sediment proxy, Mannian PC algorithm, mining for hockey sticks.

    Skeptics are skeptical because it’s easy to be skeptical once you examine the actual science.

  30. Former Skeptic

    Skeptics are falling for a trap. Do not label yourself as a Skeptic. You are an informed opponent of the alarmist global warmingclimated change positionmovement. The Alarmists push the line that skeptics are nay sayers. That they say no to everything, that they question everything that they don’t believe in gravity or the moon landings or whatever.

    Former Skeptics repeat after me: “I am an informed opponent of the Alarmist global warmingclimate change positionmovement” (Use which ever phrasing you feel is appropriate).

  31. I remember watching “An Inconvenient Truth” and then reading the book. I was astounded by the ice cores graph. I had the reaction I am sure he was trying for, “well, that proves it, doesn’t it.” I couldn’t believe that anyone could deny global warming after seeing that graph. The book had the references for the graph, so I looked them up and discovered that contrary to what Al Gore said, the change in temperature preceded the change in CO2. Looking at the graph in the presentation again, I realized that the thickness of the lines and their positions were exactly designed to obscure that fact. As far as I was concerned, Al Gore deliberately lied to me! I have never trusted another word he he has said.

    The result of this was that I was skeptical about the reality of anthropogenic climate change for years after that. I continued to read the actual studies rather than rely on headlines and discovered the headlines almost always got what the studies said wrong, not matter which way the study went. I quickly found out how and why the ice cores still indicated AntroCC, but the damage was done. I am now convinced, but the damage that things like that and climategate do is never-ending. They provide plausible deniability to those that do not wish to be convinced. This is just the same as the arguments against evolution. They are not designed to actually provide valid scientific arguments, they are designed to give those that do not wish to believe a loophole for their disbelief.

    No, I think Gore’s time has past.

  32. Jody

    So we all seem to agree that individual weather events are not climate. But climatologists all say that a warming climate will cause more extreme weather. So at what point are we allowed to look at an extreme weather event and say “Global Warming made that as bad as it was”. If Global Warming is real (setting aside here the AGW portion), there has to be a point where we are allowed to look at an individual weather anomaly and rightfully say “that wouldn’t have happened/been so bad without GW”. Is there some sort of statistical deviation from norm that would be acceptable?

  33. Hugo Schmidt

    This might be somewhat worth considering if it were not for the fact – as Brian Utterback has just noted – that Al Gore is fraud of Chaucerian proportions.

    Why is it that this empty, stuffed man is never challenged by the Skeptics community, and why is Bjorn Lomborg never given a hearing despite the fact that he has done his homework and his citations check out?

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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