Thursday, January 18, 2007
Jyllands-Posten, manifestly the most courageous newspaper in Europe, invited Al Gore -- who was in Denmark on his anti-climate change campaign -- to participate in a joint interview ($WSJ) with climate-change "skeptic" Bjorn Lomborg. According to the paper's editor, Flemming Rose, Gore chickened out:
The interview had been scheduled for months. Mr. Gore's agent yesterday thought Gore-meets-Lomborg would be great. Yet an hour later, he came back to tell us that Bjorn Lomborg should be excluded from the interview because he's been very critical of Mr. Gore's message about global warming and has questioned Mr. Gore's evenhandedness. According to the agent, Mr. Gore only wanted to have questions about his book and documentary, and only asked by a reporter. These conditions were immediately accepted by Jyllands-Posten. Yet an hour later we received an email from the agent saying that the interview was now cancelled.
Apparently, no explanation was forthcoming.
Rose and Lomborg go on to point out that the enacting of Gore's program will be extraordinarily expensive in terms of economic growth foregone, and therefore it is important that it stand up to serious scrutiny. Fair use excerpt (and here's to hoping that the WSJ makes the piece available at a free link):
Clearly we need to ask hard questions. Is Mr. Gore's world a worthwhile sacrifice? But it seems that critical questions are out of the question. It would have been great to ask him why he only talks about a sea-level rise of 20 feet. In his movie he shows scary sequences of 20-feet flooding Florida, San Francisco, New York, Holland, Calcutta, Beijing and Shanghai. But were realistic levels not dramatic enough? The U.N. climate panel expects only a foot of sea-level rise over this century. Moreover, sea levels actually climbed that much over the past 150 years. Does Mr. Gore find it balanced to exaggerate the best scientific knowledge available by a factor of 20?
Mr. Gore says that global warming will increase malaria and highlights Nairobi as his key case. According to him, Nairobi was founded right where it was too cold for malaria to occur. However, with global warming advancing, he tells us that malaria is now appearing in the city. Yet this is quite contrary to the World Health Organization's finding. Today Nairobi is considered free of malaria, but in the 1920s and '30s, when temperatures were lower than today, malaria epidemics occurred regularly. Mr. Gore's is a convenient story, but isn't it against the facts?
He considers Antarctica the canary in the mine, but again doesn't tell the full story. He presents pictures from the 2% of Antarctica that is dramatically warming and ignores the 98% that has largely cooled over the past 35 years. The U.N. panel estimates that Antarctica will actually increase its snow mass this century. Similarly, Mr. Gore points to shrinking sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere, but don't mention that sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is increasing. Shouldn't we hear those facts? Mr. Gore talks about how the higher temperatures of global warming kill people. He specifically mentions how the European heat wave of 2003 killed 35,000. But he entirely leaves out how global warming also means less cold and saves lives. Moreover, the avoided cold deaths far outweigh the number of heat deaths. For the U.K. it is estimated that 2,000 more will die from global warming. But at the same time 20,000 fewer will die of cold. Why does Mr. Gore tell only one side of the story?
Regular readers know that I support reasonable policies that will diminish the dumping of carbon into the atmosphere. Whether or not the climate-change advocates are entirely correct, it does seem to me that there are collateral reasons to move in that direction. However, I am also a huge fan of economic growth and increasing the wealth of the world in every possible way. Any demand that we transform the world's economy by command and control -- which we know from the experience of communism will destroy staggering amounts of wealth -- should be able to stand up to cross-examination. The proclivity of the anti-carbon advocates to avoid debating people like Lomborg in formats that are accessible to popular audiences does not make it easier to support the radical policies that Gore and others demand.
Just to start splittin' hairs, actually Mr. Gore is not "anti-climate change", but would like the climate to change, i.e., to revert to the "statis" of a previous era. The present level of mean temperatures/climate are not "acceptable" to him.
Whether or not climate change is real (which I think is true-it is real) and how much of it we can affect (how much is anthropomorphic-a point hard to define at the moment), and how much it will actually COST (open to debate) is something that should be publicly discussed in the most number of venues.
Mr. Gore's unwillingness to debate/discuss with a skeptic, indicates, I think, his lack of a real grasp on this issue (and it is a really BIG issue), and his dismissive attitude is not consistent with a scientific approach; not that there aren't a lot of scientists who are just a dismissive when they should be more open to debate.
Blinding insight? What's that?
I'm betting that Gore didn't realize who these people were. First it was, "Oh that Bjorn Lomborg." Then it was, "Oh that Jyllands-Posten." Gore is not really technical enough to debate Lomborg without his science team. And, if he still wants to run for any office in the country as a Democrat, he can't have anything to do with Jyllands-Posten, which is a shame. J-P and the Danes in general represent the brightest hope for free speech in Old Europe.
The best way to control carbon is very easy. Tax it. You don't need any more central authority than we already exert. Tax can be legitimately used as leverage on anything you want to discourage, or at least cause it to be used more efficiently. I'm also in favor of taxing controlled drugs rather than forbidding them. In Henry George's system, land should be taxed rather than property, to discourage land speculation and reduce inappropriate uses of good land.
Short of taxing carbon, we should do everything we can to drive up the price and drive down Iranian oil production at the same time.
"Blinding Insight"...sounds like an oxymoron (which, to be clear, is *not* a zit cream for idiots).
To be fair (a courtesy I'm pulling all sorts of muscles in extending to Gore), Al is a spokesman and not an expert (his own pretensions notwithstanding); I could see him reasonably backing out of the likely drubbing he would definitely come off has getting from an expert like Lomborg.
That said, I still think that his 'discretion' comes across as lacking the courage of his convictions. And I would have heartily enjoyed the debate!
Two weeks ago in New Jersey it was 70 degrees. Today it is snowing. Do you really think I am concerned about global warming? I left Iowa for a reason (well, outside of the lack of jobs) and the winters there were no fun at all. I have no problem with global warming.
The downside to that is that global warming will actually bring on an Ice Age. That kind of blows, but Europe is much more at risk than the US is, because they are farther north. No wonder you hear so much about it from them.
Curtailing economic growth in an attempt to significantly reduce "greenhouse emissions" simply reduces the resources necessary to adequately address whatever problem there might be in a more positive way.
The WSJ article points out that reducing economic activity in order to obtain the result that Algore and his acolytes seek would impact the poor most severly; it would also impoverish some who are not now poor.
From my perspective, at age 67, I find nothing wrong with a little climate change on the warmer side. When I was a child, in the '40s and '50s it was common to have snow cover before Thanksgiving and to endure harsh cold until March. Some activities, particularly construction, came to a halt at the onset of cold weather so construction was seasonal employment and many workers went on "relief" in the cold months to get by until the construction season started again.
In recent years, economic activity tends to continue during the cold winter months where I live rather than being curtailed entirely. The infrastructure, especially roads, endure less wear and tear from the freeze-thaw cycles. My consuption of natural gas in noticeably lower than in colder years. The canada geese, a bane on the environment, really, hang around here rather than head for balmier climes. Our recent milder winters have made life easier for just about every living thing I can think of.
Algore's dire predictions are in all liklihood nonsense. The man has little formal training or background to justify advocating what he claims to be true. In spite of claims to the contrary, the scientific community still does not know whether or not our current warming trend is due to human activity or is simply the up side of a natural cycle.
If you want to hear expert v expert (with the evil climate change denier winning hands down) try the link from:
here to a BBC interview.