Thursday, April 05, 2007

I have heard, yet I do not believe

I recently returned from the student affairs event of the decade - the 2007 Joint Meeting of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). This conference of higher education student affairs professionals is held every year by each organization, and jointly every decade. Nearly 10,000 college administrators and graduate students attended, and guess who they got as their keynote opening speaker? Al Gore. (The picture is about 10 years old, in case you were wondering).

Although I think I've had my fun debunking the myth of man-made "global warming" and have already tossed a few mockeries out about the Goracle himself, I always intended to watch An Inconvenient Truth myself and debunk it. With Al's speech at the Joint Conference, I've already seen and heard all I need to.

He essentially gave his Inconvenient Truth speech, which was about as silly as it was factually a joke. A few highlights:

Hurricanes: Amazingly, Al Gore has retained the hurricane section of his speech, even though linking hurricanes to global warming is something only he still believes in. Recently, the world's #1 expert on hurricanes was not asked to write the hurricane section of the U.N.'s climate change report, because for years he has seen no evidence linking the two. Gore claimed that while some scientists state that global warming has no effect on hurricane numbers, scientists do state that global warming affects hurricane strength. The problem with this is that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center knows and has stated on a number of occasions that hurricanes are controlled by a natural cycle - not global warming (if global warming even exists.)

Gore went on to claim that a hurricane last year was the strongest ever recorded. He's right if he meant by atmospheric pressure - wrong if by size or wind speeds. The hurricane winners in those categories were back in the 1960's and '70's. He also claimed that Wilma in 2005 made scientists question the need for a "Category 6" hurricane on the previously 5-point scale. I can find no record of such an inquiry in NOAA or the NHC's websites - only in the media.

Finally, Gore tossed up a graph of yearly hurricane damage dollar amounts showing a wild increase from year to year. He reminded the audience that although inflation and population growth fuels this upward trend, hurricane intensity is the main factor. This is a foolish assessment at best. Considering the exponential population growth the coast of the U.S. has seen in the past century, it is no wonder the damage numbers are now much higher. I'm sorry Al, but comparing the cost of the damage to Galveston, Texas in 1900 to Central Florida in 1992 isn't really indicative of anything other than inflation and population growth.

Antarctic Ice: Al tried to scare us with a variety of ice-melting pictures and disaster scenarios. Unfortunately his data on Antarctica was amazingly wrong. While he focused on one relatively small ice sheet that broke up a number of years ago, he failed to mention that ice and snow on the continent has grown exponentially in the past few years. Antarctic ice is not melting - it's growing!

CO2: My education in post-modernism has increased my attention to the regular failure and suspect nature of cause and affect relationships. Unfortunately for the Goracle, his "science" relies on the same false connections as does all "global warming" "science": the idea that carbon dioxide is the sole reason for global warming. The simplistic nature of this notion is hard to immediately dismiss alongside graphs showing corresponding temperature and CO2 increases (over 60 years? How old is the Earth again?) but in essence is a silly reductionist approach to science. Gore claimed as evidence for his theory that Venus is warmer than Mercury because of carbon dioxide. He, of course, forgot to mention that Mars is also warming on a planet-wide scale - without more CO2, humans, or $1100 monthly energy bills. Maybe solar radiation is involved?

Kyoto: The second most lie-infested part of the presentation was when Al mentioned Kyoto. He claimed, in the final moments of his speech, that "deniers" claim that the Earth is too far gone for us to save from the perils of global warming. He rejected that statement, and astonishingly claimed Kyoto as evidence of the ability to reverse course. The only problem with this, of course, is that Kyoto acknowledges global warming as unstoppable, and its mandated restrictions on CO2 are only 1/10th of what the treaty itself says is necessary (not to mention that 13 out of 15 European nations are ignoring their signatures). Saying Kyoto is the solution to global warming is shamelessly playing on our collective ignorance of the agreement, assuming that Al is not also ignorant of these facts.

Religion: The final and possibly most frightening part of Al's presentation was the literal religiosity of the entire affair. Pictures of melting glaciers were met with gasps, insulting phrases toward global warming "deniers" were met with laughs and snickers, and the final parts of his presentation - a call to "save the Earth" as he named states and cities combating global warming - were feverishly presented to ever-increasing roars from the crowd. Al doesn't want people to think, or he would have presented factually accurate information. Al wants you to believe. He wants you to believe in global warming. It is truly a religion - a religion with a prophet (Gore), a god (Earth), and a penance ("carbon neutrality").

Also sprinkled throughout his commentary were jokes concerning the 2000 election, and he was listed in the program as "winning the popular vote," which is kind of like matching 3 out of the 5 lottery numbers. It's been 7 years Al - get over it already.

Finally, I have great concerns over what this session means for higher education in general. Al made a number of requests that "global warming" not be a political issue. However, global warming is of course political, regardless of whether or not the prophet Goracle declares it to be. Hearing that Al was coming made a number of even my liberal colleagues wonder what on earth he would speak about that connected to higher education. However, Gore went ahead and gave his global warming speech anyway. Is this what the organizers intended? I have a feeling yes, and I'm sure Gore was happy to come. What more friendly of an audience can he get for his pseudo-science than a group of liberal academics?

In short, Al Gore, like global warming, is a joke.

1 comment:

The Big Ticket said...

If you'll allow me to serve up a blog cross reference, I'll note that three baseball games in three different cities have already been postponed due to "cold weather" or snow. Funny I don't remember that happening last season or the season before that or the season before that...
You can see where I'm going with this.