Monday, March 26, 2007

Al Gore's big whacky powerpoint slideshow

I started watching the first half hour of "An Inconvenient Truth" yesterday, and was not terribly impressed. It consisted of Al Gore preaching (lecturing) university students with whiz-bang slides and graphs. He talked about his entire career and history in the environmental movement in very self-righteous and certain terms.

He really is divisive on the issue, praising the work of certain scientists as gospel. He introduces himself thus "I used to be the next US president", to which the adoring students laugh approvingly.

Early on, he tries to display a pretence of balance by mentioning the following to the students (cant remember the exact quote)

"Some critics say that the earth is so massive, that man cannot possibly affect it. But this is no longer the case..."

Al Gore uses all the multimedia and editing tricks in the book. There is black and white footage of a scientist with hard hitting ominous background music, as Al Gore explains how he was inspired by the work of this scientist who researched CO2 emissions in the Pacific ocean in the 1970s, and found rising annual C02 levels. Al Gore then puts on his best Michael Moore impersonation as he tells in a soft spoken and innocent voice, that he tried to warn Congress in the late 1970s, and never gave up, but they refused to listen. This reminds me of how fatso propagandist Michael Moore would tell viewers how he tried oh so hard to get the boss of Nike or Walmart to talk to him but they wouldn't listen.

All in all, both Al Gore and Michael Moore use a very childish and condescending tone, pretending that people won't pay attention to evidence of suffering and disaster, and told in a way which deliberately omits the possibility that the other parties actually may have paid attention to their arguments and then considered them to be incorrect or misguided.

Al Gore then goes through a photo slideshow of different icy locations where the ice coverage is shown to be receding, from Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa to South America to Canada. Not one student applies critical thought and interjects to ask a question. So what if there are photographs, how do we know they were taken in the same season, and that they genuinely indicate a global trend of warming ? How do we know they were not cherry picked to show a 1970s photo of lots of ice and a modern photo with less ice ? Perhaps there are (actually we know there are) locations where ice cover has increased ?

The other evidence Al Gore uses is core samples of ice which can be used to produce historical data on C02 levels, which is the same data used in the IPCC analysis. He creates a historical graph which shows temperature correlating very closely with the measured C02 levels, and not once mentions the possibility that global temperatures are linked to other factors. From then on, its simply a discussion of C02 and temperature, a very one dimensional realm of exploration. And C02 is treated as simply a man made pollutant from then on.

But other scientists have a very different set of data to the IPCC data, which shows a very different picture of recent C02 levels.

During the late 20th century, the hypothesis that the ongoing rise of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is a result of fossil fuel burning became the dominant paradigm. To establish this paradigm, and increasingly since then, historical measurements indicating fluctuating CO2 levels between 300 and more than 400 ppmv have been neglected. A re-evaluation has been undertaken of the historical literature on atmospheric CO2 levels since the introduction of reliable chemical measuring techniques in the early to middle 19th century. More than 90,000 individual determinations of CO2 levels are reported between 1812 and 1961. The great majority of these determinations were made by skilled investigators using well established laboratory analytical techniques. Data from 138 sources and locations have been combined to produce a yearly average atmospheric CO2 curve for the northern hemisphere.
Modern greenhouse hypothesis is based on the work of G.S. Callendar and C.D. Keeling, following S. Arrhenius, as latterly popularized by the IPCC. Review of available literature raise the question if these authors have systematically discarded a large number of valid technical papers and older atmospheric CO2 determinations because they did not fit their hypothesis? Obviously they use only a few carefully selected values from the older literature, invariably choosing results that are consistent with the hypothesis of an induced rise of CO2 in air caused by the burning of fossil fuel. Evidence for lacking evaluation of methods results from the finding that as accurate selected results show systematic errors in the order of at least 20 ppm. Most authors and sources have summarised the historical CO2 determinations by chemical methods incorrectly and promulgated the unjustifiable view that historical methods of analysis were unreliable and produced poor quality results

I will post more as I watch the rest of the film.

Here is a list of 25 problems with Al Gore's film. Points 2 and 3 explain why receding ice is a natural phenomenon and not linked to human C02 emissions.