I’m an Al Gore Denier

He is proposing to privatize a big part of Social Security and he’s proposing to take $1 trillion, a million billion dollars out of the Social Security trust fund and give it as a tax incentive to young workers.” – Al Gore (in reference to George Bush’s Social Security privatization plan) [emphasis added … for humorous reasons]

I don’t think Al Gore exists. Is there anybody out there who can prove otherwise? I’ve never actually seen him. Oh, I’ve seen him on T.V. – but for all I know that could have been a stunt-double.

I really hadn’t intended to talk about climate change at all tonight (I honestly just don’t care that much), but I caught a couple of interesting stories that dovetailed nicely – so here we are. The first is from somebody called Lawrence Solomon, who is apparently and anti-man-made-global-warming guy. He references a paper showing the apparent relationship between cosmic radiation and climate fluctuation (or, at least the causes of climate fluctuation) – article here.

Mr. Solomon clearly has an axe to grind – which is his business – but take it for what it’s worth. He really goes after “Al Gore” though. Consider this: “CERN [European Organization for Nuclear Research … don’t ask how that spells CERN] is the organization that invented the World Wide Web, that built the multi-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider, and that has now built a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreated the Earth’s atmosphere.”

Hold it right there Mr. Solomon! Al Gore invented the World Wide Web. This quip is clearly a cheap shot at Gore … if he exists, that is.

Mr. Solomon goes on to lay out the standard case that those who propose non-man-made theories of global warmification are ostracized by the scientific community. The basis of this? FUNDING. It’s not so much that scientists care about the results matching the political dogma – but they do care about funding. Governments fund research into this climate change and they often have agendas (I know, that sounds totally unplausible, that a bureaucracy would have an agenda). Go the wrong way … and you may go hungry.

Now, I would love to get some feedback from “Al Gore” about how this absurd, and how the scientific community needs to have an open and vigorous debate to get to the bottom of all these issues. He went a different way though – consider “Gore: global warming skeptics are this generation’s racists.”

The article is telling. An excerpt: “Gore explained that in order for climate change alarmists to succeed, they must ‘win the conversation’ against those who deny there is a crisis.” I suppose that’s excusable. I mean, “win the conversation” could mean “win the argument” – which is a perfectly defensible approach to, well, winning the argument. Stake out your position, gather evidence to support it, and defeat the other guy’s argument. (It’s not science, necessarily, but it is fair argumentation.)

But this is not what he means at all. He goes on to talk about how society successfully “marginalized” the racists. This is what he hopes to do with anyone who goes against the dogma of man-made-climate-change. This is decidedly not science. It is decidedly not moralism. We can have open debates about moral issues without marginalizing the opposition, without “shaming” them for the sin of falling outside the mainstream. (As I’ve said a number of times, the morality of the majority is no morality at all.) The debate can be heated and still manage to be a fair debate. Shaming with the weight of the majority is what you do when you have nothing left. Ideas and ideals that have merit don’t need such nonsense.

I do think “Gore” is right that the racist argument was shamed, and shameful. But I don’t think we moved from the 60s (a pretty hot era of racial tension) to today (where racism as an ideology has little-to-no following) simply by changing the definition of cool. It took bold people to stand up and say “this is wrong – and I’m willing to lose my stature (or my life) to say so.” It started slowly and painfully, but eventually spread to a majority.

Is anybody in the climate debate taking such a stand? Is anybody facing ostracism to point to a “truth” (or theory) that is other-than-convenient? Yes – the “deniers” …

Let the debate rage. Let the facts be published. Let the theories be put forth and tested and thrown away when found wanting. The debate is a good thing. The search for the truth is a good thing. But fear-mongering for the sake of advancing a political cause, now that is shameful.

And what about me? Am I one of these deniers? I don’t know. I’d like to think I’m open minded – but I have leanings. Let’s try this out: I’m agnostic on anthropogenic climate change (it’s a cool word, isn’t it? anthropogenic). I find the evidence less than compelling. I find many of the theory’s supporters (though certainly not all) to be illogical, shrill, coarse, and downright self-righteous. I feel that they take a “holier than though” approach and they view my skepticism as a sign of moral weakness or moral failing … when all I have are doubts. Doubts about the truth and doubts about their intentions.

… There is a big, BIG, lesson in all of this for the Christian. Thomas was a disciple of Jesus, and yet he doubted the resurrection (the one Jesus himself foretold). He says in John 20:25, “unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Let me translate that: I doubt this theory you guys (the other disciples) have about the Lord’s resurrection, I doubt it in a big way, and here is the evidence it will take to convince me.

The Lord’s response when he caught up to Thomas eight days later? Was it “Thomas, you doubter! I shall smite thee”? NO. “You want evidence Thomas, here it is. I’m not afraid of your questions.”

Thomas wanted to know the truth, and Thomas even wanted to believe – if it was only true (which I and millions of others hold that it was and is). There are those out there who are intransigent in their opposition to the gospel. They don’t believe, they don’t want to believe, they don’t care about the truth – only that they hope it isn’t this. There are also those (quite a few) who really are open to the truth, but they have doubts. It is absolutely OK to debate the veracity of the gospel with them, but it would be a big mistake to give them illogical, shrill, coarse, and downright self-righteous arguments. It would be a big mistake to give them a “holier than though” attitude and point to their skepticism as a sign of moral weakness or moral failing. (I say this knowing with near certainty that I have fallen into that camp in times past myself.)

It’s funny, in many ways we’re not unlike the global warming crowd, and we certainly behave like they do at times. They believe in an imminent destruction of the earth based on their theory. They hold that it is necessary to change human behavior to stave off the destruction (or at least contain its damage). They feel the need, at times, to go above the freedom of men and force the necessary behavioral changes on the unwilling – for the good of everybody (sound familiar?). Boy do I wish we’d stop doing that.

As for Al Gore, well, I’ll try to keep an open mind. Maybe he really is out there, somewhere …


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One Response to I’m an Al Gore Denier

  1. I found this very interesting, and it took some time to read the referenced paper and commentary articles, so I am rather late in commenting here. In all cynicism I suspect that any past reader has already made up his/her mind, but here goes anyway…

    First, in the interest of objectivity, it is worth considering referencing the actual source scientific paper, as opposed to a clearly biased opinion piece from a financial news site. The Nature article can be found here (at least from work where we have a subscription). It is *not* an easy read, but it is worth reading, in its entirety, as opposed to a subset of carefully selected sound bites surrounded by biased commentary. I think you will find that there are significant and interesting results that hopefully will motivate further research, and I think you will also find that this is in no way the “nail in the coffin” of human influence on climate change that MMGW skeptics seem to want it to be.

    But if sound bites are all that readers want to stomach, then I at least recommend what I think are a couple of reasonably good ones: on one side of the debate, Nigel Calder (who wrote “Einstein’s Universe,” an excellent book even 32 years later) provides some interesting back story and additional data here. On the other side, the Bad Astronomy blog also tries to explain some actual physics here.

    In short, I think on this matter we agree, namely that more research is warranted. Science is a maximum likelihood game with no sure bets, and I certainly don’t see any sure things here. (However, for any readers, I hope that this will not be misinterpreted or extended to mean that all theories deserve equal time or consideration, because they don’t. Young earth creationism and intelligent design are a couple of specific examples that come to mind, both of which are scientifically untenable, although for two very different reasons. And if that sounds unscientific, particularly for a guy with a username “possiblywrong,” then the practice of science is rather sadly misunderstood.)

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