Thursday, November 15, 2007

Convenient Lacks

I had meant to post this a good two weeks ago, but I got distracted halfway through composing, then decided I wanted to answer the Global Warming Debate with my response, then I realized that I just wanted a quick sketch of my reactions to this article. So here's the post, at long last.

Via Holly Lisle, I read this interesting article about inaccuracies in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Given that this article comes from an organization "dedicated to sound public policy based on sound science" that strives to separate reality from rhetoric, I found the following three things very interesting.

1) The author chastises Gore's rep for saying "[Global Warming is] a complex issue" but not referencing all of the scientific papers on which they based their 90-minute video on the movie's website on the page devoted to the science behind the movie. The author of the article then proceeds to only reference one of the two articles the site referenced and doesn't bother to back up its refutations that cannot be found in that one source. If you're going to accuse someone of sloppy scientific arguments, it's best not to make their same mistake. Especially for this loaded topic, it makes you look really bad.

2) Many times the article explains that the environmental impacts the movie attributes to global warming are actually caused by some other way in which humans have destroyed a part of the local environment. The fact that the article mentions those impacts at all is a mark in the author's favor, but the fact that those impacts are left to stand as refutations of Gore rather than exhortations (or even just links, dammit) for policies (or even just their opinions on policies) that can stop such damage makes me wonder about what I'm reading.

3) Several of the inaccuracies listed after the first nine that were upheld by a British court are just repeats. For example, Error #7 is that the movie claims Hurricane Katrina is manmade, and Error #11 is that the movie claims that Hurricane Caterina is manmade. (By the way, for an institute that claims to eschew politics and rhetoric, the explanation of Error #7 is remarkably political, and also wrong. Wrong in the sense that the Democrats didn't cause Hurricane Katrina. The author is clearly trying to say that the Democrats were responsible for the levees breaking and inflates the rhetoric severely in doing so.) Also, Error #28 is that the movie blames global warming for the spread of tropical diseases and Error #29 is that the movie blames global warming for the spread of West Nile. Conflating the number of errors with cheap word tricks or refuting a point in such a way that all similar points of that nature are clearly covered by that refutation (i.e. if someone consistently misspelled words that a spell-check would have caught, I wouldn't say, "I found 22 misspelled words in this document." I would say "This document was not spellchecked." I think the latter is more damning, actually.) again makes me think you have an axe to grind rather than a cogent scientific argument to make.

It's too bad, really. I get so steamed with all this talk about global warming because, looking at the matter from a geological perspective, I think we've got a lot more data to collect before we go blaming anyone other than nature for causing it. In the meantime, science has already shown without a doubt how much damage we our doing to our environment on a more micro scale that may or may not stretch to a macro scale in the future if left unchecked. Why is it OK to dismiss smog and acid rain and local water pollution in favor of fear-mongering over water world? We've got enough environmental problems that we know for sure we've brought upon the world ourselves. Let's get back to those, please, and start where we can actually prove we can make a difference. Seriously, I'm beginning to suspect that global warming was a concept invented by Big Oil and such specifically because it distracts from the reality of the problems in our backyards that they've already been shown to be causing.

By the way, I'm getting really sick of these car commercials from, IIRC, Mercedes and Lexus that show these super environmentally friendly, alternative fueled cars, with the voiceover something along the lines of "Ready for the world, when the world is ready." Idiots, we're clearly ready for it, unless by "ready" you mean that you need a certain demographic willing to drop 1,000,000 for that car so as to make the car profitable. But I have a feeling "ready" means something more along the lines of "when Big Oil isn't going to crush us for daring to mass produce cars that don't require their product."

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