Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Other Voices

Here are a a few dissenting voices on the Global Warming/Inconvenient Truth front. If you dig, you will find some. They aren't prominently featured on the front page of my Los Angeles Times.

"We're brainwashing our children".

Promotes 'partisan political views'.

"Subjective and one sided"

"Activists and zealots constantly shrilling over atmospheric carbon dioxide are misdirecting attention and effort from real and potentially addressable local, regional and planetary problems."

Might there be legitimate points made in this film? Sure? Is it in fact "truth", or is the title and overall content merely the clever use of propaganda techniques?

If you can pardon my use of 'name calling', Michael Moore hucksterism packaged with a patina of respectability is still propaganda. Calling this advocacy "Truth" is shameful. Awarding it the Nobel Arafat Prize is ludicrous."


Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Dear Stewdog,

I am unsurprised by your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it. I hope for all our sakes that very few people share it.

October 14, 2007 8:20 AM  
Blogger stewdog said...

Madman, your hopes are granted. Most people will accept the premise, lessons, and science of this film as "truth" without digging deeper and questioning, researching, or thinking.
The mantra of the Bush Bashers is that "he lied and people died". Isn't that message to think beyond what are leaders tell us? Shouldn't healthy skepticism with a dash of dissent on BOTH sides be encouraged? Just askin'!

October 14, 2007 9:00 AM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...


I don't know why you would be confused about whether I favor dissent and skepticism on all sides of an issue. If you really need clarification on that score, I do. I don't see you doing much "digging deeper and questioning" in your links here, nothing you have presented here is very deep or argues at all persuasively against the urgency of global warming as a problem. I can only hope that when people encounter the kind of misinformation you have posted here they will question, research, and think.

October 14, 2007 10:08 AM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

PS- My mantra is not "Bush lied and people died." I'm willing to grant that the vats of blood dripping from his hands are there from negligence rather than malice aforethought.

October 14, 2007 10:29 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Oh, for goodness sake:

Lomborg has a couple of books you can check out, too (try "The Skeptical Environmentalist"). The paranoia with which the rather moderate *environmentalist* Lomborg has been attacked and denounced in some quarters ought at least give pause to those who are inclined to take Gore's truth claims at face value.

P.S. Is "Clinton and (Nobel Peace Prize winner) Annan turned a blind eye and a million people died" any less fair a mantra than "Bush lied. .." or "Bush was negligent..."? If "vats of blood" are dripping from Bush's hands, I'm assuming Clinton's and Annan's nightmares are haunted by a million slaughtered Rwandans screaming for help that never comes.

October 14, 2007 12:01 PM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Dear Kate Marie,

I have read and respect Lomborg, he is a much more credible "dissenting" voice than anything Stewdog linked to. I enclose "dissenting" in quotes because he doesn't deny what I take to be the crux of the matter- that global warming is happening, that it is a serious problem, that human beings are causing it, and that human beings have to act to stop it. This is the message that Gore has been laboring so hard to bring into public consciousness, and in this respect Gore has been fighting on the side of the angels. Lomborg may feel that Gore's efforts don't merit a Peace Prize, but in my view as a scientist he is a poor politician. The fact is that scientists don't really know how urgent a crisis we face in global warming, the only thing one can ascertain for certain right now is that there is a broad consensus that a problem exists. The kind of scientists Stewdog linked to (those who deny that global warming is happening or is of human cause) are left at the lunatic fringe far outside the variable mainstream of scientific opinion.

Gore may be stumping the worst-case scenarios from among the broad range of scientific opinion ("cherry picking," if you will), but given the glacial rate at which political change happens in international politics I would contend that there is real wisdom in his method. I would much rather plan for the worst case scenario than count on the best. Doing the opposite has resulted in catastrophe in Iraq, the outcome could potentially be even more devastating on a global ecological scale.

PS- I don't really have a mantra about George W. Bush, I was just trying to register for Stewdog that all us "Bush Bashers" are not alike. If repeating that mantra about Clinton and Kofi Annan makes you feel good, go ahead. I don't spend a great deal of time mulling about George W. Bush's guilt. I made the "vat of blood" comment because I thought that Stewdog was actually suggesting that Bush be given a Nobel Peace Prize, the image of which I found more offensive than vats of blood dripping from his hands. Perhaps on account of Rwanda you feel Clinton's Peace Prize was equally offensive. If so, I disagree.

October 14, 2007 1:06 PM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

I don't see how cherry-picking, alarmism, and flat-out false claims are going to help. As Lomborg points out, fetishizing "change" with little regard for the likely consequences or efficacy of any particular changes could potentially end up doing as much harm as doing nothing. And I find it somewhat ironic that you are extolling the virtues of "cherry-picked" propaganda.

I'm still not sure how you thought Stewdog's joke was an actual call for Bush to receive the peace prize instead of Gore. If anything, the joke was on Bush, since it was a reference to Bush v. Gore, the 2000 election, etc.

As for the Clinton/Annan mantra, . . . yes, indulging in a little of my own self-righteous priggery *does* make me feel better. If Clinton had *won* a peace prize, it would have been offensive. As it is, I *do* find Kofi Annan's prize offensive, on account of Rwanda.

October 14, 2007 1:47 PM  
Blogger stewdog said...

Madman, I am no scientist, so I can't pass judgment on the bona fides of the debate. In a few minutes on google I found a few links of suggestions that Senator Gore might not be saint Gore. But there are many others who can't judge the authenticity of the scientific debate, but choose to do so anyway. Al Gore may be Joan of Arc, or he may be Chicken Little. Time will tell. But I don't buy into Gore = Sacrosanct Truth. . doubters = Lunatic fringe.

October 14, 2007 2:15 PM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Stewdog and Kate Marie,

There is cherry-picking going on all around in this debate, because there are so many different models of what might happen as a result of global warming. The scientific method is difficult to apply in this case, as the earth's climate is such a complex system that has undergone so many observable changes over past aeons, and there is no way to run "controlled" experiments to account for all the variables that might create a reliable predictive model. There are scientists like Lomborg who claim that alarm is unwarranted, there are others who predict catastrophe. I am most persuaded by those scientists who admit that we really can't know what will happen until it does, but that we had better not wait around to find out.

I admire Gore because he has not only done an incredible job as a layman to grasp the extraordinarily complex science underlying this problem, but he has (perhaps with help, I confess I don't know) created an accessible pedagogical tool for briefly explaining to broad popular audiences its dimensions and potential urgency. Moreover, he has invested an extraordinary amount of his own time, energy, and personal prestige into publicizing this issue. To my lights, you are both placing inordinate demands for comprehensiveness and complete "impartiality" on what is basically an infomercial on steroids.

In the end, whether you consider Gore's lecture "propaganda" or him an ideologue depends on your opinion of the issue of global warming. In my own layman's (but nonetheless educated) opinion this is a real threat, thus I am disposed to give anyone, whether they are Al Gore or Alfred E. Newman, a lot of slack in getting the message out and credit for doing it effectively. At the very least I would suggest that "Saint Gore" versus "Chicken Little" is a false dichotomy. This is not an issue that is going to admit to any saints- the science behind it is complicated and the politics of it is inevitably going to get messy. Warning against "fetishizing 'change' with little regard for the likely consequences or efficacy of any particular changes" is a very plausible caveat, but completely disregards the political dimensions of the problem. Simply working through what particular changes are necessary will require a massive commitment of institutional and material resources, so we are in the position of a collective substance addict. Nothing can help us until we admit we have a problem, and toward that end Al Gore has made Herculean efforts.

October 14, 2007 6:23 PM  
Blogger stewdog said...

Herculean efforts? I think not. If he moved out of his energy guzzling digs and bought a green condo, and quit flying around the world to promote himself. . er. . I mean his causes, maybe. But Gore is the classis "don't do as I do. . do as I tell you".

I follow the logic now. Since Gore MIGHT be right and the sky MIGHT be falling, lets gut the economy of the world just in case.
I guess I better not drive to work tomorrow because I MIGHT be in a fatal accident.

October 14, 2007 9:22 PM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Yes, Stewdog, keep telling yourself that- "It's all about Gore...It's all about Gore."

October 15, 2007 4:51 AM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

PS- You persist in trading in false dichotomies. The problem obviously has an economic dimension as well, but the idea that any move to address it will "gut the economy" is a ridiculous canard. There is no reason why, if the effort to confront global warming is done concertedly and seriously using all of the ingenuity at our disposal, that the new technologies thus created could not lead to massive economic growth and prosperity in the long term.

What is often left unarticulated in this debate (but your glib remarks have brought nearly to the surface) is that, especially for conservatives, it is as much about the role of government as it is about scientific fact. Given the apparent complexity of this problem it becomes increasingly apparent that free markets alone can not address it, thus it is going to require a massive collaboration between government and private enterprise akin to the Manhattan Project or the space program. There is no reason that an effort to counter global warming would be any more damaging to the economy than those latter projects, but much conservatives opposition hinges on an ideological objection to allowing the government to direct the flow of national capital. "Gutting the economy" is as much an economic Chicken Little scenario as "The Day After Tomorrow" is an ecological one. The only certain outcome of a serious effort to combat global warming is that the economy would ultimately be restructured to the potential detriment of some currently deeply entrenched interests (like big oil). If you are comfortable sticking your head in the sand over an ideological principle like this, that is your prerogative, but it belies your image of being a "skeptic" who is "questioning, researching, or thinking."

October 15, 2007 5:32 AM  
Blogger stewdog said...

Yes. It is about Al Gore. These threads had their genesis in your posting of Al's photo with a link about his prize. How is this not about Al Gore (he typed glibly)?

October 15, 2007 8:40 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

One question, Madman. Is that the understanding of the problem (which, by the way, involves more than the *domestic* economy, as I understand it) that people take away from Gore's informercial on steroids? That hasn't been my impression either from talking to man-on-the-street global warming evangelists or from listening to popular/celebrity environmentalists in the media.

Apparently -- at least to listen to the news coverage of the global warming crisis -- it *is* all about Gore. And that's an impression sustained in large part, not by conservatives, but by the celebrity-besotted culture, and to a certain extent by Gore himself.

Since I'm a big believer in the "hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue" philosophy, I try not to overemphasize accusations of hypocrisy, but since such accusations are a stock in trade of some factions on the left, it seems a bit thin-skinned to cry foul over the conservatives getting a little of their own back.

October 15, 2007 8:42 AM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Dear Stewdog,

My "it's all about Gore" comment was an exercise in the glibness your are so steeped in (though not nearly as offensive as my "vat of blood" remark), so I suppose I can play Mr. Kettle to your Mr. Pot. It's hard to keep the level of discussion serious, however, when one keeps getting answered by ad hominem attacks (not against me, but against the "rich pampered" Al Gore) and party-line talking points.

As for whether it is "all about Gore," I've explained repeatedly why I feel it is not. Like I said above- much of one's view of Gore hinges on one's view of global warming as a problem. You seem to believe that the issue is inconsequential enough that Gore may be dismissed as a hypocritical self-promoter. I strongly suspect that this image of him is a caricature that is, at least in part, a construct of interests that are threatened by his political efforts. There is enough gray area here, though, that I would concede this is the point at which we just have to agree to disagree.

Dear Kate Marie,

I don't know why you assume that I was talking exclusively about the domestic economy. For me one of the exciting potentials (though admittedly it goes hand in hand with congruent perils) of a serious effort to redress global warming is the possibility of producing economic benefits that would prosper the entire world.

It's been a long time since I watched the film, so I confess my memory of it is hazy. I seem to recall Gore did address the economic dimensions of the problem and included some (understandably, given the time constraints) brief discussion of the kinds of issues I raised above. As to what understanding of these dimensions of the problem people take away from his lecture I don't know- perhaps you have a better empirical sample than I. I would suggest, however, that to the extent people do have misconceptions about the problem of global warming, even if Al Gore somehow contributed to them, attacking Al Gore is a less effective tactic than engaging them in reasoned debate about the facts.

In this last paragraph of yours I do perceive an ad hominem attack on me, and one that is rather insubstantial. To my knowledge I haven't "cried foul" at any accusations against Gore of hypocrisy, my "it's all about Gore" comment was just a cry of the irrelevance of such accusations. The only thing I was thin-skinned about was your use of the death of a war hero to snipe at Gore, that was a different species of attack altogether.

October 15, 2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Dear Madman,

Gore's personal commitment to a cause that he describes as one of the most important moral issues of our time (as well as "our Thermopylae") is at least somewhat relevant, especially the more Gore allows himself to be used as the spokesprophet of the global warming crisis and the celebrity endorsement for the infomercial on steroids.

Finally, Madman, thank you for your gracious final paragraph.

October 15, 2007 10:24 AM  
Blogger stewdog said...

Global warming may be a great problem that is caused by man and can be tempered by man. Or it might be a natural and historic event. I don't know. I'll leave it to the scientists.

OK. I think we have beaten this one to death for now.

And for the record, I don't engage in Ad Hominum attacks. I believe in gay rights.

October 15, 2007 11:23 AM  

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