Are You Eating Your Fox News ?
My Dad, mindful of my political health, wanted me to check on some things about Climate Change that Al Gore said. Specifically, that a British Court had ruled that Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ was incorrect in nine specific assertions and that Al Gore was a personal hypocrite on Carbon usage. In this way, Dad hoped to cleanse me of wrong-thinking on Climate.
Here’s an article I found in ‘The Times’ of London Internet Edition which talks about a court case in which a British judge was asked to rule on whether Al Gore’s film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ was ‘scientific’ and could be shown to school-children.
The judge found that:
1) What Al Gore said was “broadly accurate” in its presentation of the causes and likely effects of Climate Change.
In other words the judge agreed that Climate Change occurs through man-generated Carbon pollution (car exhaust, coal-fired Power Stations etc.)
2) But the judge also said that some of Gore’s claims were wrong and had arisen in “the context of alarmism and exaggeration in support of Al Gore’s political thesis”.
So, according to the judge, Al Gore is basically correct and anthropegenic Climate Change is real, though some of his specific claims were exaggerated. That means that the British judgement supports the climate change thesis in direct opposition to how my Dad heard the story which is that the British judgement contradicts the Climate Change thesis.
People Who Live In 20 Room Mansions Shouldn’t Fly Around In Private Jets
Dad also wanted me to look into claims that Al Gore was a hypocrite because he wantonly consumes Carbon as Boy George and Ultravox once consumed eyeliner.
I found that there is no evidence that Gore is a hypocrite in regard to his personal Carbon usage. Here’s an article that I found summarized below:
Al Gore’s home is a huge mansion. It used to use 12 times more energy than the average home in Nashville, where the Gore’s live, but it used no more energy than other houses of similar size in the same area.
However, the Gores purchase Carbon Offsets, i.e. pay people to plant trees to consume CO2. By doing this, the Gores’ nett carbon footprint is zero.
Since 2007, the Gores have remodelled their home, installing solar panels, rainwater tanks, geothermal heating and energy efficient light globes. They also pay a premium on the energy bill ($432 per month) to source some of their electrical power from renewable energy. This would equate to about one-sixth of their electricity bill if this bloke’s calculations can be believed.
Another specific claim is that Gore recklessly guzzles Carbon by flying around the world in a private jet (perhaps simultaneously bathing in a spa of bubbling petrochemicals and quaffing raw Diesel from Crystal Bowls).
First, Gore does not own a Private Jet. He flies on regular commercial flights most of the time. However, he is a former US Vice-President and thus receives occasional death threats. On these occasion, or when his schedule is so tight as to demand it, he flies in a private charter jet and for these flights purchases carbon offests.
Finally Dad claimed that Gore always leaves all the lights in his house on. The only thing I could find about this was that he did not turn ALL his mansion lights off during Earth Hour one year. OK he probably should have, but this is nitpicking. He did turn off his major lights. And at least he purchases Carbon Offsets.
Overall, given the above I would say Al Gore is not a hypocrite. If everyone did what the Gores did our homes would be more energy efficient, More use would be made of renewable energy and there would be more forests and trees due to extensive purchase of Carbon Offsets.
So once again, data bought to my attention by a Climate Change sceptic actually supports the climate change thesis.
The Power Of A Good Lie
I think the smears against Gore, guilelessly repeated by my Dad, are a good example of the power of propaganda. A few omissions here, a few Chinese Whispers there and by the time middle-class Australia hears about it, Al Gore is transformed from Patron Saint Of Climate Change into to pint-size planetary disaster, a kind of Godzilla-sized sentient chimney belching CO2 from behind the controls of a personal coal-fired 747. In short, a scarlet hypocrite, who must therefore have his own secret agenda for personal aggrandisement, power, money and/or fame.
Probably Gore did choose the worst case scenarios to deliberately alarm us into thinking about Climate Change. In doing so he has provided fodder for his enemies, but the additional and unrelenting smear campaign directed against him shows that someone, somewhere has a lot to lose by acknowledging, as the British Judge did, that anthropogenic Climate Change is real.
Is Gore Just A Bitter Old Loser ?
Getting back to Judge Burton, he commented that, in his opinion An Inconvenient Truth, while broadly accurrate, was also a vehicle for “alarmism and exaggeration in support of Al Gore’s political thesis”.
I decided to watch An Inconvenient Truth for myself and see. I was pleasantly surprised. I had been expecting an hysterical rant, but instead witnessed a brilliant and gently-paced presentation.
Judge Burton is partly correct. Gore’s bitterness at the Republican Party is certainly tangible, though not overstated. Gore makes it clear that he has spent his political career patiently advocating for the planet on the basis of sound and obvious science. Against him all the way have been the Idiots and Monsters (my characterisation) of the Republican Party.
Gore submits two soundbites as milestone markers of his struggle: Reagan opposing environmental regulation by stating that the bulk of air pollution is caused by trees (Reagan said: ”Approximately 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”
‘), and Bush Senior lampooning Gore for championing Spotted Owls over Jobs. It is plain in the film that Gore regards both comments imbecilic, as I concur.
Additionally, of course, Gore had the Presidency of the US denied him at the General Election of 2000 in controversial circumstances.
So yes, Gore’s bitterness at being thwarted and stalled by the GOP is quite apparrent in the film and Judge Burton has picked up on that. But the film makes its case well. Gore’s resentments do not dominate the film even though he makes it plain who the bad guys are.
In return I think that the intensity of the viciousness directed against Gore by Republicans reflects to some degree their misgivings at the way Gore was denied the Presidency. Republicans feel the need to denigrate Gore and portray him as a deluded moron in order to justify their Election Victory (though not on the popular vote) of 2000.