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June 14, 2006

In the Glare of the Spotlight

Here are some interesting excerpts from an article about some reprecussions resulting from the movie An Inconvenient Truth, and coming from the scientific community:

Scientists Respond to Gore's Warning about Global Catastrophe

"Scientists have an independent obligation to respect and present the truth as they see it," Al Gore sensibly asserts in his film "An Inconvenient Truth", showing at Cumberland 4 Cinemas in Toronto since Jun 2. With that outlook in mind, what do world climate experts actually think about the science of his movie?

Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

But surely Carter is merely part of what most people regard as a tiny cadre of "climate change skeptics" who disagree with the "vast majority of scientists" Gore cites?

No; Carter is one of hundreds of highly qualified non-governmental, non-industry, non-lobby group climate experts who contest the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing significant global climate change. "Climate experts" is the operative term here. Why? Because what Gore's "majority of scientists" think is immaterial when only a very small fraction of them actually work in the climate field.

Even among that fraction, many focus their studies on the impacts of climate change; biologists, for example, who study everything from insects to polar bears to poison ivy. "While many are highly skilled researchers, they generally do not have special knowledge about the causes of global climate change," explains former University of Winnipeg climatology professor Dr. Tim Ball. "They usually can tell us only about the effects of changes in the local environment where they conduct their studies."

This is highly valuable knowledge, but doesn't make them climate change cause experts, only climate impact experts.

So we have a smaller fraction.

But it becomes smaller still. Among experts who actually examine the causes of change on a global scale, many concentrate their research on designing and enhancing computer models of hypothetical futures. "These models have been consistently wrong in all their scenarios," asserts Ball. "Since modelers concede computer outputs are not "predictions" but are in fact merely scenarios, they are negligent in letting policy-makers and the public think they are actually making forecasts."

We should listen most to scientists who use real data to try to understand what nature is actually telling us about the causes and extent of global climate change. In this relatively small community, there is no consensus, despite what Gore and others would suggest.

Here is a small sample of the side of the debate we almost never hear:

Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years." Patterson asked the committee, "On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?"

Patterson concluded his testimony by explaining what his research and "hundreds of other studies" reveal: on all time scales, there is very good correlation between Earth's temperature and natural celestial phenomena such changes in the brightness of the Sun.

There is much more there and it is very worth reading: whole article.

Since the movie came out, I've been thinking that it is good to have movies like "An Inconvenient Truth" because, if it's popular, it opens itself up to wide discussion which, if false, will destroy it under the light of truth.

When it's somewhat buried underground and is coming at us a tiny bit at a time, seeping into our unconsciousness under reason's radar, the dissenters can be quietly suppressed one at a time by the perpetrators of the lie. But when the lie hits big, the dissenters (independently) come out in droves, each now in their own spotlight and able to see, and support, other dissenters from the lie.

That's what happened with, for example, Fahrenheit 9/11. Of course there's definitely some "true believers" who stand behind it. They'll never go away. Even the truth can't overcome the combination of ignorance, stupidity, and a completely closed mind. (Nature will get'em, though.)

One interesting note: All of this is very much in line with the characterization of the "global warming" political movement outlined withing Michael Crichton's State of Fear:

Michael Crichton: State of Fear
Buy the Book Now

Posted by Jeff at June 14, 2006 10:05 AM


While there is a strong correlation between solar activity and the earth's temperature, this is apparently not the cause of the current warming we are experiencing on earth. Here is a link to the abstract of a paper from the Max Planck institute which talks about solar variation and climate forcing:


And here is a link to a press release from the NASA housed GISS, which basically said the same thing a few years earlier.


Posted by: Nik Sydor at January 9, 2007 09:35 AM

So Patterson tells us that there's a correlation between earth's temperature and the sun's brightness over millions of years does he?
Hmm. Tell me... How exactly did you measure the suns brightness all those 3, 2, 1.5 million years ago? By directly gauging it to the earth's temperature perchance? LOL.
Umhhh...Seems we need a little sit-down to discuss what exactly is meant by "the scientific method".
And BTW. Tim Ball is a notorius academic harlot who has, would and will continue to sell his CV to the highest bidder. Check him out.

Posted by: Gary Williams at July 16, 2009 12:57 PM

Oh. And I'll reccomend this page to others interested in authoritarian personality traits. You've done a remarkable job of denying the faults in your own argument by projecting them back onto your detractors...who are, of course, the overwhelming majority of the worlds geophysicists. Doesn't it bother you that the only people who agree with you atre the ones who routinely sell their testimony to Big Tobacco, Asbestos, Coal and Gas, etc., or work out of pseudo-academic creation "science" seminaries while journals like Nature et al can find very, very few (if any) papers worth publishing that come from the same side of the debate as you?

Posted by: Gary Williams at July 16, 2009 03:36 PM

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