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Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth movie review

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:02 PM GMT on June 19, 2006

Al Gore's global warming movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," aims to call attention to the dangers society faces from climate change, and suggests urgent actions that need to be taken immediately. It is based on a slide show on climate Gore has presented to audiences worldwide over 1000 times in the past 15 years, but it is not purely a documentary. Gore's movie is an advocacy piece that is part documentary, part biography, and part campaign ad. I'll discuss all three of these aspects below. In brief, Al Gore has the right idea--climate change is an urgent issue that requires immediate action, and his thoughtful movie is a welcome addition to the usual array of mindless Hollywood summer fare. However, the movie has flaws. The presentation of the science is good, but not great--I rate it B minus. The excessive details on Al Gore's life make the movie too long, and his insistence on using the movie as something of a campaign ad detracts from its message.

An Inconvenient Truth as a biography of Al Gore
The creators of the movie presumably thought that simply presenting Gore's slide show would be too dull, so they decided to give the movie some human interest by interweaving a biography of Al Gore's life. Al Gore has led an interesting life, but "interesting" and "Al Gore" are not words one can often put together. As my daughter noted in her movie review yesterday, Al Gore is boring, and the 20 minutes or so of biography presented in An Inconvenient Truth is too much for a movie that is 1 hour and 36 minutes long. For example, I didn't really need to see the road where Al Gore totaled his car when he was 14 years old, or a replay of his loss in the 2000 election. On the other hand, some details of his past were interesting and relevant, such as the fact that he took college courses in the late 1960s from Harvard's Dr. Roger Revelle. Revelle and Dr. Charles Keeling were the pioneers in measurements of atmospheric CO2, and thus Gore got a very early exposure to the now infamous "Keeling Curve" (Figure 1), showing the build-up of atmospheric CO2. This early exposure to the significant impact humans were having on the atmosphere deeply affected Gore, and in the movie he details efforts he made to call attention to the issue long before most people had heard of it, back in the 1970s and 80s. Gore's slide show appropriately displays many graphs of the Keeling Curve, as it is probably the most important and most famous finding in climate change science.

Figure 1. The Keeling Curve is a record of CO2 measurements taken at he top of Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii since 1958.

The science of An Inconvenient Truth
The science presented is mostly good, and at times compelling, but there are a few errors and one major distortion of the truth. Gore does an excellent job focusing on the most important issues, and usually presents them with a minimum of hype and distortion. The only exception to this comes in his treatment of global warming and extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

Basic global warming science
Gore begins the science part of his talk with a very easy to understand presentation on the basics of how the greenhouse effect works. His speech is clear, the graphics top notch, and he spices it up with a hilarious two-minute cartoon depicting roughneck global warming gases preventing poor Mr. Sunbeam from escaping Earth's atmosphere. Gore addresses the argument of skeptics who claim that the Earth is too big for humans to affect by showing Space Shuttle photos of how thin the atmosphere really is compared to the vast bulk of our planet. "The problem we now face is that this thin layer of atmosphere is being thickened by huge quantities of carbon dioxide," he asserts, which is not correct. The build-up of CO2 has virtually no effect on the density or thickness of Earth's atmosphere. The correct thing to say would have been, "The problem we now face is that this thin layer of atmosphere is being made more opaque to the transmission of infrared radiation (heat) by huge quantities of carbon dioxide."

Gore shows an impressive series of "then and now" images documenting the widespread retreat of many glaciers over the past century. Most dramatically, he shows Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro, whose 11,000 year-old glaciers are almost gone. While not all the world's glaciers have retreated in the past century, Gore's presentation is an effective and reasonable way to show how global warming has affected the majority of the world's glaciers. Greenhouse skeptics, including Michael Crichton in his State of Fear book, are fond of bashing those who use Mt. Kilimanjaro as a poster child for demonstrating global warming. They cite scientific research showing that the glacial retreat on Mt. Kilimanjaro is due to drying of the atmosphere, not global warming. However, as discussed at great length in a realclimate.org post, the research which supposedly supports the skeptics' claims has been widely misquoted and misinterpreted, and much of Kilimanjaro's melting can indeed be ascribed to warming of the atmosphere since 1960.

Gore does an excellent job discussing the ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica. Again, Gore's graphics are superb, and he does a nice job narrating. He shows animations of what a 20-foot rise in sea level would do to Manhattan, Florida, India, and China. A 20-foot sea level rise is what we expect if all of Greenland or all of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt. Such a 20-foot rise is not expected by 2100, and it would have been appropriate for Gore to acknowledge that the consensus of climate scientists--as published in the most recent report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)--is that sea level is likely to rise between 4 and 35 inches, with a central value of 19 inches, by 2100. He should have also mentioned that temperatures in Greenland in the 1930s were about as warm as today's temperatures, so the current melting of Greenland's glaciers does have historical precedent. Nevertheless, the risk of a catastrophic melting and break-up of the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets is very real, when we consider that sea level before the most recent ice age was 15 feet higher than it is now. Gore is right to draw attention to what might happen if sea level rose 20 feet.

Drought and heat waves
An excellent discussion of the most serious climate change issue our generation is likely to face, the threat of increased drought and reduced water supplies, is presented. Gore makes reference to the extreme heat wave that affected Europe during the summer of 2004, and I was glad to see that he didn't blame the heat wave on global warming--he merely said that more events of this nature will be likely in the future.

Hurricanes and severe weather
The biggest failure in the movie's presentation of science comes in the discussion hurricanes and severe weather events. The devastation wrought by Katrina is used to very dramatic effect to warn of the dangers climate change presents. We are told that Katrina grew "stronger and stronger and stronger" as it passed over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico that were heated up by global warming. We are told that global warming is increasing the intensity of hurricanes, but not provided information on the great amount of uncertainty and vigorous scientific debate on this issue. Graphs showing recent record insurance losses from natural disasters are presented, but no mention is made of how increasing population and insistence on building in vulnerable areas are the predominant factors causing recent high insurance claims from disasters such as Katrina. Gore points to some unprecedented events in 2004 as evidence of increasing severe weather events worldwide--the record 10 typhoons in Japan, the most tornadoes ever in the U.S., and the appearance of Brazil's first hurricane ever. However, examples of this kind are meaningless. No single weather event, or unconnected series of severe weather events such as Gore presents, are indicative of climate change. In particular, the IPCC has not found any evidence that climate change has increased tornado frequency, or is likely to. Gore doesn't mention the unusually quiet tornado season of 2005, when for the first time ever, no tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma in the month of May.

Other science
Gore presents many other important aspects of climate change, including the threat of abrupt climate change leading to a shut-off of the Gulf Stream current, the increase in damaging insect infestations and tropical diseases, loss of coral reefs, loss of ice in the polar ice cap, and melting of permafrost in the Arctic. With the possible exception of his treatment of the spread of tropical diseases, all of these issues were presented with sound science.

An Inconvenient Truth as a campaign ad
Gore has repeatedly said that he has no intention of running for president again, and that this movie was created as part of his life-long passion to protect the environment. Gore undoubtedly does care very deeply about the planet, but this movie very much looks like a campaign ad. We are shown many scenes of Gore being applauded, Gore traveling the globe to present his slide show, and Gore working to uncover evidence of Republican shenanigans to alter or suppress climate change science. Gore is portrayed as a humble and tireless crusader for good, and if the movie is not intended to promote his political ambitions, it is certainly intended to benefit the Democratic Party. All this gets in the way of the movie's central message.

At the end of the movie, we are presented with the same image that Gore started the movie with, that of a beautiful river in the wilderness. Throughout the movie, Gore emphasizes how beautiful and special our planet is, and he does an effective job conveying this. He also makes a powerful case that something can and should be done to protect the planet, and it is worth hearing his message, even if the science is flawed and the messenger does get in the way of the message. Overall, the movie rates 2.5 stars--worth seeing, but you might want to wait until the DVD comes out.

At the end of the movie, Gore presents some tips on how everyone can contribute, and points people to his web site, www.climatecrisis.net. However, I would recommend that people who want to get educated about climate change get their information from web sites not associated with a politician; perhaps the least politicized source of information is the latest scientific summary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), a group of over 2000 scientists from 100 countries working under a mandate from the United Nations in the largest peer-reviewed scientific collaboration in history.

Jeff Masters

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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228. Trouper415
6:33 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
We, at our current societal standpoint, are far from solving Global Warming and many other issues that face our nation today. Communities must be formed as the various aspects in solving these issues can be spread and learned much easier when this is done.

We should feel blessed to have the means in first recognizing Global Warming, and secondly, having the ability to solve it. We are, or should be in an energy transitional period right now anyways, and the days of cheap oil are over. We must look for new ways to power our homes, cars and economy, not having to rely on expensive fossil fuels anymore to do the work.

For those of you who know the possible situation we are getting ourselves into, I cannot stress more gravely, the importance of education. I meet people everyday who know nothing about Global Warming and its affects on our daily living. We must rise ourselves out from this era of passive activism, and ensure a stable future for our children. Whether your cause be solving Global Warming or not, we find ourselves crossroads. Crossroads that will determine if our generation will carry the torch into the future, shedding the light of prosperity for generations to come, or we simply continue this passive nature, shoving the evergrowing burden on the next generation to set forth on this great land.

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227. Levi32
10:57 PM AKDT on June 19, 2006
LOL Alec! You're worse off then I thought tonight lol!
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226. Fshhead
6:51 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
LOL I have not heard about the circus in the loop current!!!!!!!!!!
luv dem seahorses......
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225. Fshhead
6:50 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
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224. Fshhead
6:47 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
LOL talk about giving it a rest!!!!
Hope your right this time though, slow season would be really good thing.
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223. Alec
2:43 AM EDT on June 20, 2006
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222. Levi32
10:44 PM AKDT on June 19, 2006
STORMTOP what happened to a storm on May 23 or after? lol! That's what you said in May, then you said mid-june, then late-June, and now July?!?!?!? LOL! Gosh make up your mind son!

Good night all!
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6:33 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
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220. Pieman2
6:27 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Just for the record, Mt. Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania, just south of border with Kenya. Tanzanians are sensitive to this as a pretty large proportion of tourists access Mt. Kilimanjaro from Kenya thus affecting where the income is generated.
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219. guygee
6:12 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
I think it is much more likely that the effects of global warming have been underestimated, and that there are positive feedback loops not yet fully recognized, such as carbon and methane release from permafrost regions, massive deforestation, and possible methane hydrate release from the oceans. The release of greenhouse gases by human activities may well affect the Earth for hundreds of thousands of years or more, possibly throwing us out of the geologically recent cycle of ice ages. Humans may be able to adapt and survive, but there will be great disruption, and civilization as we know it today will be irrevocably altered for the generations to come.
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218. WhatHurricane
6:01 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Every civilization has to learn. If we survive the disruption of earth's natural ballance, We'll figure out what not to do... And then in a few hundred years C02 will begin to cycle out.. and the oceans will begin to cool, Everyone's preasous Ice caps will come back. I just don't see why everyone is bickering. History shows that Humanity will either kill itself or learn from its mistakes, and it often takes deaths to teach our semi-inteligent race whats wrong and right.

If you think global warming is going to cause mass destruction, Take cover... If you Don't think it will destroy anything, then don't. But what we can all do is use cleaner fuels and efficient machinery. Because even if you don't think global warming is happening It's still economically benificial to use such technologies.
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217. guygee
5:53 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Snowboy, your last few posts are right on the mark. I've given up trying to convince the skeptics; it is like a religion for them.

The problem, as I see it, is that there is so much "inertia" in our fossil fuel-based economy, that we will surely miss the short window for action needed to avoid a large change in the Earth's climate. The issue has been politicized, not by Al Gore, but by the sold-out establishment politicians and their corporate masters. All we can hope to do is to keep pressing our point until the damage becomes so obvious that even the corporations and their holocaust-denying apologists are suffering the effects of their folly. The real frontier in global warming research is in risk mitigation and adaptation. There will be a battle of the elites that is already beginning, as large corporations such as banks and insurance companies are beginning to realize the large losses and damages they face if human society cannot adapt to a more sustainable economy in the long run. Until then, much damage will be done.
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216. snowboy
5:59 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
um Savannah, this was actually Dr. Masters' topic... and it is THE topic of discussion these days in the atmospheric science fields of meteorology, climatology. Probably ok for an occasional excursion for this blog (especially when our host leads us there), at least until we have a tropical system to focus on.
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215. WhatHurricane
5:43 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Can anyone link me a few Models?
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214. SavannahStorm
5:48 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Say, Dr. Masters... How's about opening a seperate blog about global warming so that we can stay on topic about hurricane season? I'm getting sick of these global warming rants and counter-rants and it seems like they would be best channeled into a sperate thread...
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213. Fshhead
5:45 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
"Our descendants will look back in wonder at our short-sightedness, and we will never live down the shame of having spoiled a great planet."

How true,How true!
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212. snowboy
5:18 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Daveg, please have a read through the section of mechanical engineer Harris' "Canadian Free Press" article dealing with the melting of the Arctic ice cap, and let me know if agree with his "don't worry, be happy" conclusions. And maybe while your at it, do some research about what is actually happening in the Arctic.

Notwithstanding all the propaganda that you can dig up from any number of mechanical engineers and other dubious sources, the arctic ice IS melting and is now projected by our northern scientists to be GONE (in the summer months) within as little as 15 years. We are looking at a summer-time ice-free Arctic within a generation, with all that that implies for weather, ecosystems, northern communities, shipping, naval warfare and more.

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211. Skyepony (Mod)
5:16 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
DaveG~ How about digging out a peer approved scientific article for us?

For those that would like a baseline on what something to worry about would look like on the 850vort models check out the last few frames on today's 00Zcmc run, north of the leewards (Texas wouldn't really want that possible TD either). That's the 1st run showing anything like that & it's toward the end of the 144hr run...so don't freak out yet!!!
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210. snowboy
4:58 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
no sleepy, the numbers are coming in from all sides and pointing ever more clearly at a spike in global temperatures:
- the warmest year on record globally (since we started keeping records) was 2005;
- 20 of the 21 warmest years experienced by this planet (since we started keeping records of land, atmosphere and water temperatures) occurred in the last 25 years;
- the mountain glaciers and the arctic sea ice are melting;
- record high temps are being set everywhere you look (if you look), very few record lows...

But by the time the last of the "anti-warming" camp have opened their eyes to what is happening around them, there may not be anyone left to apologize to..
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209. Daveg
5:01 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Wow...snowboy, the author of the article I posted is a mechanical engineer, but the climate scientists quoted in the article are actual scientists.

Just because you don't like some of the info in the article, doesn't automatically make me or the scientists quoted in it "Right-wing nut jobs". Guess it makes you feel better to call names, etc....

I guess that makes all the alarmests "Left wing Socialist Quacks"?

I can dig up dozens more scientifically based articles, and not the non-science based dribble presented in Al Gore's "movie".

In any case, the best approach is steady work in the reduction in human CO2 emmisions (and other pollutants) through conservation, alternative fuels, etc. Not some mass panic based on inconclusive data ... and I mean inconclusive on BOTH SIDES of the argument.

However, it's late, and work tomorrow. Have fun freakin' out ...
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208. sleepy
5:02 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
do i smell bourbon?
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207. weatherwannabe
4:42 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Any corpratist shills want to start the ant Dr. masters rants? Oh come on, Hannity and Limbaugh - ddi you already forget your pathetic marching orders, neocon pawns?
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206. sleepy
4:44 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
hmmm... so, basically, by the time we have the the numbers for the charts, there really won't be anyone around to say 'we told you so'.
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205. snowboy
4:07 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Hey sleepy, good question re the spike in CO2 levels and the lack (as yet) of a similar spike in temperatures..

The Earth, as a planetary system, is in dynamic equilibrium (largely due to the effects of the biota, which in their interactions maintain the planet in a condition which is suitable for life). A sudden disturbance to the system (eg. in the form of a sudden upwards spike in the greenhouse gas CO2), will move the system but only slowly at first. There is a lag time.

There is the inertia of such a massive system (the oceans can absorb a tremendous amount of heat before they start to appreciably warm), and there are negative feedback loops (eg. plants will actually grow faster and better when there is more CO2 in the air, and that CO2 is taken up into the plant structure and not released again). There were also earlier in this century a number of short-term effects which were countering the effects of the increasing CO2:
- above ground nuclear explosions throwing up clouds of dust and fall out;
- humankind's dirty industrial development throwing up clouds of pollutants.

But we have stopped above ground nuclear testing and reduced our emissions of pollutants (for compelling reasons), so these short-term balances to the increasing CO2 levels have fallen away. What we are now starting to see is the temperature spike. It lags the CO2 spike, but it is building.

Particularly worrisome are the positive feedback loops which are coming into play. Two examples:
- the year-round Arctic sea ice is melting, so albedo across the Acrtic is increasing dramatically;
- the permafrost in northern regions is melting, liberating ever more methane (another greenhouse gas) from the depths of frozen wetlands.

At the same time, we are undermining the great planetary safety net - the biota. We are clearcutting forests, draining wetlands, polluting oceans and other surface waters, drying lakes and seas, and generally mismanaging things everywhere you would care to look. As a result, the natural ecosystems of the planet (which have in the past through natural selection helped drive the planet back toward the mdeian from excesses of heat or cold) are no longer able to perform that job as easily or efficiently as they were in the past.

We are just starting up what is in our lifetimes going to be an ominously steep upward spike in global temperatures, and no one knows where it is going to end.

The net result will be a planet much less liveable than what we have enjoyed in that brief period (130 or so years) in which modern first-world civilization has flourished. We will suffer the consequences, our descendants even more so.

The truly annoying thing is that we have a brief window of opportunity within which to act (using all the resources of our 1st world civilization), before our civilization is undermined and begins an inexorable decline. And what are we doing in this time of opportunity, in which the global warming problem has been identified and solutions are at hand? We are frittering it away, as the multinationals which profit from the status quo (and the governments they control) exert their influence and chant their ever-catchy mantra which can be boiled down to "Don't worry, be happy."

Our descendants will look back in wonder at our short-sightedness, and we will never live down the shame of having spoiled a great planet.
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204. ProgressivePulse
4:11 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
GFS was hinting one a very shallow system as it should be, and in my opinion, will be.
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203. ProgressivePulse
4:10 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Hecto, Shear should see this through South FLA with some late week rain is all.
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202. rwwhot
11:04 PM CDT on June 19, 2006
sleepy - its kinda like a car's accelerator, just slower. You push the pedal, then a few moments later your speed starts to increase. As to scientific evidence, I think its pretty settled, but its also fair to say that this stuff is pretty recent in the big scheme of things; so in Gore's defense, he may simply be making an effort not to exceed what the actual facts are showing so far.

I won't see the movie till it comes on cable, so I have to defer to what you recall from the movie otherwise.
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201. Hectorivan
3:46 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
sudden activity tonight on 72w 23w any thougths. Was not the GFS forcasting something like this?
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200. sleepy
3:45 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
please forgive me if someone has already addressed this... but i have a question about the al gore movie - there is a graph that he shows depicting the relationship between temperature and CO2 - which is all well and good (ice age, blah blah blah, ice age etc) until he gets to present day on the graph - there, he shows the dramatic increase in CO2, but the temperature, according to the chart, has not reacted in the same dramatic fashion - it has increased, but not in direct proportion (or even nominal proportion - if there is such a thing) to the CO2 - did anyone else notice this? and, if so, what's the explanation? i'm not disagreeing with the premise of the argument, but he just didn't seem to have sound scientific evidence to show...
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199. snowboy
3:10 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
I checked out the article referenced by lahcuts and posted by Daveg:

It is an article from the "Canadian Free Press", a web-based publication that I've never heard of and I've lived in Canada all my life and consider myself well read. Checking out their web-site, they are clearly a bunch of right-wing ranters (not that I have anything against conservatives in the conservative sense of the word) - the author of the article in question (on Gore's movie and global climate change) is a mechanical engineer.

So thanks for the propaganda in the article lahcuts and Daveg , but atmospheric science or science based it is NOT.

The tip off that this is not a science based article is the section where the "article" challenges the well-established fact that the arctic ice cap is melting. We are having to live and deal with the reality of the melting arctic ice cap in northern Canada (it is affecting communities, ecosystems, hunting patterns, navigation and more), and it is irritating to have some right-wing nutbars trying to pretend that what is happening before our eyes isn't in fact happening..
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198. StormThug
10:24 PM CDT on June 19, 2006
yeah i agree levi
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197. newt3d
2:30 AM GMT on June 20, 2006

I'm having trouble following your argument, for a lot of reasons.

1. There is an indisputable 35% increase in man-made CO2 in the atmosphere.

Since when? What are the relative ratios of man-made CO2 and naturally occuring CO2?

2. The physics are inescapable. There is an indisputable 35% increase in man-made CO2 in the atmosphere. No weather event can duck, bob and weave to avoid this 35% increase. The results are in EVERY weather event on Earth.

Disregarding my qualms with the 35% statement, I grant you this point, the CO2 does exist, and it is in the atmosphere. I'll ask you though, how does a 35% increase in man-made CO2 manifest itself? Quantitatively?

3. "Is the impact of 35% known increase in total CO2 having an impact on weather that can be proven by specific weather events?" The answer is YES. There is a major impact, very destructive severe events which can be demonstrated with evidence beyond reproach.

This is a bold statement to make. One cannot just show pretty pictures of events that they say support their claim -- you need more than that! Where's the actual science behind your argument? How does an increase in CO2 relate to ocean hot spots? How does CO2 relate to Tropical Depression 2E? How do you know the effects, if any, are statistically relevant?

4. What do politicians and conspiracy theories and corporations and tobacco companies have to do with scientifically proving your original point? What do they know about CO2 and global warming that the general scientific community does not?

For having the name ScienceCop, you really do not argue scientifically. Quite often, your statements contain many truths, but usually digress from there with fautly logic. I'm sorry if this sounds a bit harsh, but I really felt that it had to be said.
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196. Levi32
7:20 PM AKDT on June 19, 2006
The GFS has a low developing tomorrow. A trough to the north is supposed to pull the whole mess slightly north, but it is not forecast to pick the system up. Rather it misses it, and allows it to drift back south and west.
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195. Levi32
7:18 PM AKDT on June 19, 2006
I'd say 20% at this point. Once a surface reflection shows itself, then we will be able to better analize the situation.
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194. StormThug
10:16 PM CDT on June 19, 2006
what do you think the chances of it becoming a deppresion are
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193. Levi32
7:14 PM AKDT on June 19, 2006
You know, that low in the Bahamas looks meaner then the Caribbean wave right now. I wonder what will happen tonight during the diurnal max.
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192. StormThug
10:14 PM CDT on June 19, 2006
oh i read that wrong its 85 degree sea temperatures
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191. StormThug
10:11 PM CDT on June 19, 2006
wow theres a pocket of 90 degree temperatures off the louisiana coast thats scary too see at this time of the year
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190. rwwhot
9:49 PM CDT on June 19, 2006
We should be honest enough with ourselves to accept that Global Warming is happening and will continue to advance through the next couple centuries.

I don't much care for the blame game; what I do care for is that we develop some comprehensive strategies for dealing with its inevitable impacts.
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189. Weather456
10:34 PM AST on June 19, 2006

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188. bappit
1:59 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
I don't expect politicians to do anything about CO2 until people are dying in droves. There are too many conflicting interests for anything to happen. -- Does anyone disagree with that?

It is like smoking cigarettes. Common sense says it cannot be good. -- Does anyone disagree with that? I don't want angels-dancing-on-a-head-of-a-pin arguments about who says what. What is the common sense point of view?

We should be debating interests, i.e., priorities, not science. Of course, that is a much more difficult task than doing science-speak. We can do science-speak until the cows come home and it will not change a thing. -- Any disagreement?

Of course, one may need to turn to science to resolve priority issues, but if the priority questions are not asked then the scientific questions are almost certainly a long term investment with no political significance.
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187. weatherguru
2:08 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
katrina formed where this low is in the bahamas. Where they think that this has a shot later this week
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186. jrstew
12:47 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
As to the question of global warming and CO2, actually methane gas is 20 times more potent gas then CO2 as a greenhouse gas. And plants, are the largest producers of methane. So that blows the CO2 opinion for global warming out the water. Also if, as per Gore, Greenland's icesheet where to melt it would shut off the Atlantic's Gulf stream coveyor belt which some scientist would cause another ice age. So are we going to make it hotter this century for another ice age next? :P It's a matter of conjection on either side.
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185. ScienceCop
12:20 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
I have posted graphics intensive blog entries on my wunderblog:

It is incorrect to say that "No single weather event, or unconnected series of severe weather events such as Gore presents, are indicative of climate change."

The physics are inescapable. There is an indisputable 35% increase in man-made CO2 in the atmosphere. No weather event can duck, bob and weave to avoid this 35% increase. The results are in EVERY weather event on Earth.

That is a true fact beyond debate.

An issue related to that is still being debated: "Is the impact of 35% known increase in total CO2 having an impact on weather that can be proven by specific weather events?" The answer is YES. There is a major impact, very destructive severe events which can be demonstrated with evidence beyond reproach.

I am hosting an online seminar on this subject on my blog, and have already published several entries in the series over this past week or so.

Tropical Storm Nursery Hot Spots

12 Hours in the life of Tropical Depression Two-E

The Seas are Boiling at the Acapulco Hot Spot.

Teleconnections from the Tropics to Your Doorsteps.

Overview of Teleconnections of the Acapulco Hot Spot to US Severe Weather Events.

I have 140 megabytes of satellite pictures of the WATL Rainbow alone, other going past 100 MBs, the least ones over 50 MBs. The half-hour by half-hour movement from Tropical Hot Spots which never fully cooled down over winter, even in a La Nina year, are conclusive scientific evidence of the damages that 35% extra CO2 is causing.

I also have posted information I found around the internet, some came from evidence used in federal court fraud trials, implicating the biggest names in DENIALISM with corporate paymasters and more than a decade track record of deceits. These are not MY statements, but exact quations from online websites with links so you can go there and see the exac same things I saw there when I went there.

Did you know, for example, that the Famous Fred Singer once tried to get Eisenhower to fund a mARS mission to check out the hollow moon alien bases he claimed were there? This is the quality of "science" the DENIERS produce.


"March 1960: The Martian moon Phobos, generally accepted as a celestial body, actually may be an artificial satellite launched long ago by an advanced Martian race, according to Dr. S. Fred Singer, special advisor to President Eisenhower on space developments. No mention was made of the other Mars moon, Deimos.

In his published opinion, Dr. Singer backed a claim first made by the Soviet astrophysicist Shklovsky. The Russian scientist's announcement that Phobos was a hollow, artificial satellite, proving the existence of a Martian civilization, set off heated arguments among astronomers. Shklovsky based his decision on a long study of Phobos' peculiar orbit, which other astronomers have noted. The Russian claim has calculations and those of earlier astronomers prove Phobos cannot possibly be an ordinary moon.

Though Dr. Singer said the figures still had to be proved, his Phobos statement in the February Astronautics, rejected other astronomers' objections.

"I would be very disappointed if it turns out to be solid," said the white House advisor. If the figures were correct, he stated, then Phobos undoubtedly is a hollow, artificial satellite. If it is, he said, its purpose would probably be to sweep up radiation in the Mars' atmosphere, so that Martians could safely operate around their planet. Dr. Singer also pointed out that Phobos would make an ideal space base, both for Martians and earthlings."

I have no way to prove Singer said that, but I can prove from court evidence that Fred Singer and crew negociated a $20,000 payment to create a science hoax report to help tobacco companies lobby congress to avoid regulations. I know the names of all the conspirators, the dates they met to discuss the deed, the request for payment date, the actual payment transfer date, the phoney "peer-review" process, the publication date of the fraud report, the date of the press conference on Capital Hill sponsored by two congressmen. All this passed by due process of law with lawyers objecting every chance they could to try to keep evidence out of the trials. Did I say trials (plural)? Yes. There was more than one trial where this evidence was presented to the courts, so we have duplicates from each court. We have even more duplicates because man copies of incriminating memos and evidence were filed in more than one executive's file cabinets confiscated as evidence.

Who was Singer's partners at the time? Fred Seitz on the board of SEPP took more than $660,000 of tobacco money to craft deceptions, Patrick J. Michaels works with just about every single Exxon-Funded front group there is, Michael Fumento now occupies the same office suite that Singer occupied during this fraud scam. Fumento and Seitz and Michaels have records in those tobacco file cabinets that trotted out in courts of law.

Sallie Baliunas was warming the Wesson Fellow seat at Hoover Institution at that time, went to work for Seitz at George C. Marshall Institute, while Singer went to Stanford latter to pocket the same Wesson Fellow monetary award. Singer claims Wesson salad oil is the only oil money he ever took -- said that in public in a congressional hearing. He doesn't count the more than ten years he took Koch Oil money at IHS, and shared offices with Charles G. Koch Summer Fellows Program, or the payments from Cato Institute (co-founded by Chas Koch, directed by David Koch) as oil money even though they have been publically fined about $60,000,000.00 for oil pollution acts since Singer started working for them.

Right next to the evidence memos of Singer's acts in those Tobacco file cabinets were other filed papers on Global Warming, attacking Senator Gore by name, attacking Global Warming science as far back as 1989, and now we know who funded part of that widescale coordinated attack. We know all that because we have better evidence that the deniers are corrupt than we do that CO2 affects Global Warming.

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184. bappit
1:54 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
The low is a serious flooding threat, but it is supposed to stay over land and I see no reason to doubt that. The circulation center is in north Houston or maybe over in Waller just north of me.

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183. OneDay
1:54 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Beat me to it, Michael! I just posted that NWS discussion in my blog. Are you from the Houston area by chance?
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182. Daveg
1:54 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe

"The Inconvenient Truth" is indeed inconvenient to alarmists
By Tom Harris
Monday, June 12, 2006

"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."

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.

Dr. Boris Winterhalter, former marine researcher at the Geological Survey of Finland and professor in marine geology, University of Helsinki, takes apart Gore's dramatic display of Antarctic glaciers collapsing into the sea. "The breaking glacier wall is a normally occurring phenomenon which is due to the normal advance of a glacier," says Winterhalter. "In Antarctica the temperature is low enough to prohibit melting of the ice front, so if the ice is grounded, it has to break off in beautiful ice cascades. If the water is deep enough icebergs will form."

Dr. Wibjrn Karln, emeritus professor, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden, admits, "Some small areas in the Antarctic Peninsula have broken up recently, just like it has done back in time. The temperature in this part of Antarctica has increased recently, probably because of a small change in the position of the low pressure systems."
But Karln clarifies that the 'mass balance' of Antarctica is positive - more snow is accumulating than melting off. As a result, Ball explains, there is an increase in the 'calving' of icebergs as the ice dome of Antarctica is growing and flowing to the oceans. When Greenland and Antarctica are assessed together, "their mass balance is considered to possibly increase the sea level by 0.03 mm/year - not much of an effect," Karln concludes.

The Antarctica has survived warm and cold events over millions of years. A meltdown is simply not a realistic scenario in the foreseeable future.

Gore tells us in the film, "Starting in 1970, there was a precipitous drop-off in the amount and extent and thickness of the Arctic ice cap." This is misleading, according to Ball: "The survey that Gore cites was a single transect across one part of the Arctic basin in the month of October during the 1960s when we were in the middle of the cooling period. The 1990 runs were done in the warmer month of September, using a wholly different technology."

Karln explains that a paper published in 2003 by University of Alaska professor Igor Polyakov shows that, the region of the Arctic where rising temperature is supposedly endangering polar bears showed fluctuations since 1940 but no overall temperature rise. "For several published records it is a decrease for the last 50 years," says Karln

Dr. Dick Morgan, former advisor to the World Meteorological Organization and climatology researcher at University of Exeter, U.K. gives the details, "There has been some decrease in ice thickness in the Canadian Arctic over the past 30 years but no melt down. The Canadian Ice Service records show that from 1971-1981 there was average, to above average, ice thickness. From 1981-1982 there was a sharp decrease of 15% but there was a quick recovery to average, to slightly above average, values from 1983-1995. A sharp drop of 30% occurred again 1996-1998 and since then there has been a steady increase to reach near normal conditions since 2001."

Concerning Gore's beliefs about worldwide warming, Morgan points out that, in addition to the cooling in the NW Atlantic, massive areas of cooling are found in the North and South Pacific Ocean; the whole of the Amazon Valley; the north coast of South America and the Caribbean; the eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caucasus and Red Sea; New Zealand and even the Ganges Valley in India. Morgan explains, "Had the IPCC used the standard parameter for climate change (the 30 year average) and used an equal area projection, instead of the Mercator (which doubled the area of warming in Alaska, Siberia and the Antarctic Ocean) warming and cooling would have been almost in balance."

Gore's point that 200 cities and towns in the American West set all time high temperature records is also misleading according to Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. "It is not unusual for some locations, out of the thousands of cities and towns in the U.S., to set all-time records," he says. "The actual data shows that overall, recent temperatures in the U.S. were not unusual."

Carter does not pull his punches about Gore's activism, "The man is an embarrassment to US science and its many fine practitioners, a lot of whom know (but feel unable to state publicly) that his propaganda crusade is mostly based on junk science."

In April sixty of the world's leading experts in the field asked Prime Minister Harper to order a thorough public review of the science of climate change, something that has never happened in Canada. Considering what's at stake - either the end of civilization, if you believe Gore, or a waste of billions of dollars, if you believe his opponents - it seems like a reasonable request.
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181. disneylogic
9:48 PM EDT on June 19, 2006
excellent contribution, Mysticdog. now that's scientific: it's quantitative.
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180. lahcuts
1:39 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Dr Masters,

I am a skeptic as to the cause of any global warming that may be occuring and even more skeptical of predictions years into the future. This skeptisism is based on more than a passing knowledge of modeling be it emperical from data mining/analysis or based on first principles using available theory. Cause and effect are many time difficult to come by. In any event, there is an interesting article which refutes Mr Gore's "science" at this website - http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm Where is the truth - or is it not possible to say at this stage of understanding of global climate changes? Any comments by you or your readers would be most welcome.

Thank you.
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179. ProgressivePulse
1:48 AM GMT on June 20, 2006
Have to agree with you guys, this is the first I have looked at the low @ Houston. Looks like a budding depression to me, outflow progressing.
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