My son saw a DVD called “An Inconvenient Truth” starring Al Gore. It was about global warming and my son said it shows we could all be swamped by a sudden rise in sea level any day now. I asked him who Al Gore is and, when he said Al Gore is an American politician who failed to get elected as president, I got suspicious.
I don’t like politicians and I don’t trust them. Politicians, in my opinion, don’t do anything for the benefit of anyone but themselves!
I hadn’t seen the documentary so I looked for information on global warming and found a frequently asked questions page written by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration department of the National Climatic Data Center (link deleted as page has gone).
As I struggled to understand the contents of this page the words “Baffle them with bullsh*t” ran through my mind and I got annoyed. I decided to translate the page into plain English and put it on my site. I called the resulting article “Global Warming Translated” but I changed my mind about putting it up on the site after I got some pretty lukewarm responses to it. To stay true to the original I had to leave it as close as possible to the way I found it. That meant it was dull and boring and not, according to my two reviewers, what people want from me.
So I took the questions, wrote short-answer versions of their answers, and here they are.
Frequently Asked Questions About Global Warming And Climate Changes.
FAQ 1: What’s a greenhouse effect? Does it affect the climate?
SHORT ANSWER: The greenhouse effect keeps Earth warm enough to live on. The fear is human beings are adding too many extra greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and this will make Earth too hot for us to live on.
FAQ 2: Are the greenhouse gases really increasing?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes.
FAQ 3: Is Earth’s climate really warming?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes.
FAQ 4: Is global warming connected to El Ninos?
SHORT ANSWER: Maybe. Global warming does not cause El Ninos but it might be making them worse.
FAQ 5: Is the cycle of evaporation and precipitation (snow, sleet, hail and rainfall) changing?
SHORT ANSWER: We don’t know.
FAQ 6: Are the patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation changing?
SHORT ANSWER: We don’t know.
FAQ 7: Is there more variation or extremes in our climate?
SHORT ANSWER: Maybe. Not worldwide but we think disaster prone areas are getting more, and worse, episodes of their “usual” disasters. There is no change to maximum temperatures so hot weather is not getting hotter. In some places, however, minimum temperatures have changed so cold weather is getting warmer in those areas.
FAQ 8: How important, over the long term, are these changes?
SHORT ANSWER: We don’t know.
FAQ 9: Are our seas rising?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes but they always have. We think they are rising faster but we don’t have enough evidence to be sure.
FAQ 10: Is it possible the changes are caused by natural things?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes.
FAQ 11: What will happen in the future?
SHORT ANSWER: We don’t know. The IPCC special report, which is based on computer models that try to predict climate change in the future, suggests that things could get pretty bad.
The following quote is from a book called “Radiative Forcing of Climate Change: Expanding the Concept and Addressing Uncertainties.”
The IPCC special report appears to be the authority for the predictions in the film and the predictive speculations in the full version of the original FAQ on global warming. The authors of the book have this to say about that report:
“The greatest uncertainty is associated with the direct and indirect radiative effects of aerosols. If the actual negative forcing (cooling) from aerosols were at the high end (most negative) of the uncertainty range, then it would have offset essentially all of the positive forcing (warming) due to greenhouse gases.”
SHORT ANSWER: It is possible the cooling effects of aerosols in the ozone layer will totally offset the global warming effect of greenhouse gases.
I cruised around the internet checking out what people were saying about global warming and got a little bit worried. This movie, and the man promoting it, seem to be turning into a major social force. People seem to be “taking sides” about global warming and there is a certain amount of growing panic and even hysteria over the subject.
So I bit the bullet and rented the DVD which only made me more concerned.
Not about the climate. A thorough read of the information on that climate site showed me there is enough evidence to suggest I should be worried but not enough evidence to justify me getting into a panic.
The evidence suggests we would be wise to do something and sooner would be better than later. There is no evidence, only theories, to support claims we might have already left it too late.
My concern was more about the slick way this politician was playing on people’s emotions and his psychological “sleight of hand” presentation of material.
In one section he presents TWO “leaked reports” so seamlessly they appear to be one and the viewer is left with the impression a “leaked report” showed officials saying the best way to cover up the truth about global warming was to introduce doubts about the facts. That leaked document was NOT referring to global warming!
Anyone who thinks it WAS, however, is going to think I voted for George Bush and I am defending him when, as an Australian, I view George Bush as nothing more than the foreign man who pulls the strings of MY puppet president!
Al Gore is now inserting himself into the political awareness of MY country with his movie and that bothers me. He tugs at our heartstrings with a CARTOON of a polar bear swimming in an ocean that has no ice. He shows us how human, how vulnerable, how “like us” he is with self-disclosure of his personal tragedies. Tragedies which have nothing to do with global warming but will certainly have a positive influence on people’s opinion of HIM! He then hops into ozone destroying transport and jets, or drives, off to his next appointment.
He’s good. Very slick, very smooth, very appealing. He has some very good points in there too. I don’t care about American politicians. I am, however, mad as hell at John Howard for not signing the Kyoto agreement or whatever it’s name is now!
Mr Gore cleverly, subtly, attacks his political rivals without pointing a single finger of blame at quarters whose good will he relies on and I smell a rat right there and then.
So I asked myself the critical question.
“Where is the sting?”
If this whole thing is hype, melodrama, a clever politician weaving a web to sucker people there should be some money in it for him, someone who will reward him, or he will be seeking some other benefit for himself.
I did some more digging and I discovered all three might exist.
An election is about to happen soon. Predictions are that Mrs “I did not have sex with that woman” will win. I gather she will be up for re-election in five years but the word is that nobody gets kicked out without getting their two terms.
In five years time Al Gore should, if reactions to his campaign so far are anything to go by, be a household name all over the world! When he runs against Hilary, on a “SOP – Save Our Planet” platform he will, like Peter Garrett (Australia’s so called Green politician) beat his female opponent hands down!
Meanwhile – how much is he going to get from the massive amounts of money that are going to start pouring into the “Action” coffers that are linked to that films website?
How is it possible for people to think, for one second, money can buy them a clean conscience in this matter?
According to that website link – you can calculate how much damage, in dollars, you are personally doing to the earth. Once you work out how much money you owe the earth for your existence you can arrange a payment of that amount – PER MONTH – to the site owners!
They will use the money to invent eco-friendly things and build eco-friendly things.
Sounds good but, according to that site, only Americans can pay the earth “rent”. I can’t help wondering how long it will be before we will all be able to buy a clear conscience.
I would really, REALLY, like to know exactly WHO is going to pocket the money that will be left over after the wind farms and other things are invented, built, and are starting to make the owners (who didn’t pay a cent to build them) a profit?
It would be very interesting to have a peek into Al Gore’s investment portfolio too don’t you think? I suspect he will have a lot of money tied up in places that are going to become very profitable if people start pouring money into them in a frantic effort to “do their bit” to save the earth.
I’m fairly certain that, at the end of a five year global campaign, Al Gore will have more than enough money to BUY the presidency if he still wants it by then!
Mr Gore clearly knows human beings. He knows if he can whip up our concern and distress we will open our wallets and pay up because we are human. When we are confronted with a problem we want to DO something!
I don’t plan to put money in the pockets of any johnny-come-lately organization. We have many, MANY, established organisations fighting to save our planet. Once I have calculated how much “rent” I owe the earth I intend to pay my rent to the people who have been fighting this battle, tirelessly, and on shoestring budgets for YEARS!
I will be crossing off any organization who seems to be biased in favour of ANY political party. In my opinion any political bias automatically means less hope they will genuinely put the Earth first!