This column from today’s Wall Street Journal is a razor sharp and many layered look at Al Gore and his movie about global warming.
Here is an excerpt.
Al Gore's new movie is the feel-good hit of the summer--but not much more.
BY HOLMAN W. JENKINS JR.Wednesday, May 31, 2006 12:01 a.m.
It's only been out a week, but audiences seem not to have poured forth from Al Gore's movie and, in an unprecedented reversal of political polarity, demanded higher gasoline prices.
This is bad news for Republicans, who will bear the burden of high gas prices to the polls in November. Not that Mr. Gore's movie advocates higher gasoline prices. It reportedly doesn't advocate any policy that would actually relieve the fears of climate worriers. When he last sought the White House in 2000, recall, it was Mr. Gore who persuaded President Clinton to open up the strategic reserve to provide consumers with cheaper gas, harm to the climate be darned.
Here's a test. What if science showed conclusively that global warming is produced by natural forces, with all the same theorized ill effects for humanity, but that human action could forestall natural change? Or what if man-made warming were real, but offsetting the arrival of a natural ice age? Would Mr. Gore tell us meekly to submit to whatever nature metes out because it's "natural"?
Mr. Gore's next movie should be about the urge to propitiate the gods with sacrifices, a ritual whose appeal did not go out with the Aztecs. Yes, Al, let us give billions to alternative energy bureaucrats and emissions regulators. This we do as a tribute to your shamanism, although it will make little appreciable difference to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
That said, a valid service is performed in satisfying the eternal human appetite for gloom and doom (and no virgins were sacrificed), distracting people from the reality of life, which is that we all are doomed, while the universe, the Earth and all that environmentalists hold dear will go remorselessly on and on without us.
In a million years, the time it takes the earth to sneeze, the planet will likely be shorn of any conspicuous sign we were ever here, let alone careless with our CO2, dioxins, etc. Talk about an inconvenient truth.
How much more securing, in a way, to believe we are ruining the planet than the planet just does not care about us, and will run rampant with life long after we are dust. And how pleasant to be able to transmute our fury over our fate into incoherent feelings of self-heroism against our present "enemies."
Thus Washington Post columnist, and future dust, Sebastian Mallaby: "By their contempt for expert opinion on everything from Iraqi reconstruction to the cost of their tax cuts, Republicans have turned [Al Gore] into a hero. By their serial dishonesty, Republicans have created a market for 'An Inconvenient Truth.' "
That felt good, didn't it? That satisfied a need.
But we digress. A remarkable and improbable thing is that, despite presumably devoting decades of study to the subject of global warming, nothing Al Gore has learned leads him to say anything that would strike the least informed, most dogmatic "green" as politically incorrect. He doesn't discover virtues in nuclear power. He doesn't note the cost-benefit advantages of strategies that would remove CO2 from the atmosphere, rather than those that would stop its creation.
Anybody who deeply searches into any subject of popular debate inevitably comes back with views and judgments to shock the casual thinker. Mr. Gore utterly fails to vouchsafe this reliable telltale of seriousness.
That man-made carbon dioxide has a net planetary warming effect is an important hypothesis, one that science can make stronger or weaker, but can't prove. It may be true, but a layperson only has to look into the antecedents of today's "consensus" to realize it wouldn't be too surprising if tomorrow's consensus were that CO2 is cooling, or neutral, or warming here and cooling there.
And evidence of warming is not evidence of carbon-driven warming. These are different things, at least until scientists can be reasonably certain they've eliminated other factors and interrelationships that contribute to climate variability. But scientists are not close to understanding or even knowing all the factors that play into "climate change," a process that might as well be called "climate," since climate is always changing.
Finally, warming and what might cause warming are subjects entirely separable from the urge to gather up all the most dire and extreme speculation about what a warming earth would be like for humans and present it as scientific "truth."