Day Four – Al Gore

Al Gore was welcomed by a standing ovation from about 4,000 scientists from the AGU convention in the Salon 8 Ballroom at the Marriott San Francisco. He spoke for an hour and was a far more accomplished speaker than one remembers from Presidential debates, glancing only occasionally at notes. It was like a Southern Baptist orator had seamlessly changed texts. His speech was a type of sermon: a few well-practised jokes to start, a commentary on selected verses followed by a call to commit. Gore himself has gotten a little stout over the years (not that I can throw stones on this count) and a little jowly, so his presentation and appearance resulted in a type of secular avatar of Jerry Falwell. Update: the speech is online.

 

His speech, while fluid and polished, had many strange interludes. At one point, he reflected on how the brain processed signals, ruminating about the neocortex being hard-wired to the amygdala or something like that. Perhaps we were witnessing this phenomenon. Later he quoted Gandhi on the “Truth-force” a word which he said translated poorly. One felt that he wanted to say “my friend and mentor, Mahatma Gandhi”.

 

The speech began and ended with a call to arms about censorship of American scientists. In between there was a review over the development of Western scientific tradition, commencing with the fall of Rome and ending with the invention of television and the muzzling of Jim Hansen, all events of approximately equal weight – or maybe not. Maybe the earlier events were simply leading to Jim Hansen.

Gore opened with some anecdotes nicely told – polished stories of moving from Air Force Two to driving his own car and eating at a Shorney’s family restaurant in Tennessee, just like an ordinary person. Beverly Hillbillies in reverse, as it were. (Or was that Greenacres?) Then he quoted Albert Lord Whitehead about the two cultures (wasn’t this C.P. Snow?) Then Gore regretted the passing of the Enlightenment, which he described as a time when there was an easy flow from scientists to popular culture, mentioning the Founding Fathers, who, I guess, also made occasional visits to the Shorney’s Restaurant of their day. This began to change with reductionism, a “collision between scientific truths and popular ideologies” e.g. Galileo an inconvenient truth-teller of his day or John Scopes of Al’s home state of Tennessee. All this culminating in today’s efforts by the Bush administration to politicize science.

Then back to Gore’s friend and mentor, Roger Revelle, who introduced Gore to global warmer about 34 years ago. Coincidentally a new paper has shown that the North Polar Ice Cap will be gone in 34 years “this very day seemingly being the halfway benchmark between these two epochal events. In Australia, we were told, there is a drought and fires.

Then the question “how can we communicate more effectively?” If science can be explained to Al, then he can explain it to the masses.

However, the climate change crisis, it seems, is not itself the biggest problem, as it is merely a “symptom” of the “collision between our species and the planet” – a collision marked by population increase, by a scientific and technological revolution under which each person has a bigger footprint on the planet and, worst of all, a new way of thinking in which we are ruled by a short discount rate, overnight polls. Gore quoted someone Daley Herman Daley, who said that we were running the planet like a business in liquidation.

Then on to the brain. The neocortex is hard-wired to the amygdula or something like that. This seems to be part of the problem. I looked around the audience to see if I could discern symptoms of neocortex-amygdula hardwiring but couldn’t tell. Was this an episode of Invasion?

Then Gore peered soulfully into the sky. He continued, each paragraph in his speech skilfully punctuated by looking first at one end of the auditorium and then the other.

Civilization is marked by “long-wave patterns”. It took 1000 years from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance during which 99% of the people were oppressed under feudalism. (Gore stopped short of accusing people who think that there was a Medieval Warm Period of also supporting a return to feudalism.) Gore continued that people were then helpless from ignorance with knowledge controlled by intermediaries “monks and dead languages” (although I remember Leibniz once praising the translation of a scientific article from English into Latin, as making it more accessible.)

After the monks came Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press. Then Columbus discovered America. His account of his voyages had 11 editions and within 2 generations the rest of the world was explored. Then along came Al’s friend and mentor, Galileo.

Then the Reformation which introduced a new form of communicating “a meritocracy of ideas”, sort of like Google Search (of which Al is a senior adviser.) The rule of reason replaced the rule of king, queen and church. Individuals had direct access to knowledge. Then came the Founding Fathers.

The Age of Print ended with the coming of television in the early 1960s. The average American watches 4.5 hours day, with some people watching more (snicker, snicker) to bring up the average from Al and his new friends. 80% of expenditures in the last election were on 30-second TV ads. Television ended the meritocracy of ideas. Instead of a “well-informed citizenry, there was a well -entertained audience”. I wonder if he’s used that line before. 3 minute clip here from CNet

Gore said that the Internet will re-create the meritocracy of ideas (luckily Al was around to invent create it “take the initiative in supporting the basic research necessary to create the Internet as we know it today” – clarification due to http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_10/wiggins/ )

In the mean time, the meritocracy of ideas has given way to Bush administration attempts to censor scientists. Why just today, we were told, a USGS scientist, Jim Estes, reported that there was oppression within the USGS “that someone was looking over their shoulder at everything that they did”; it was as though they were trying to keep USGS under their thumb. Gore said that this problem ran much deeper than Bush-Cheney, it raised the problem of how we became so vulnerable? And why isn’t there outrage? 3 minute clip of this part of the speech here

Then Al turned his gaze to the closing of EPA libraries, complaining in passing about the closing of the Office of Technological Assessment a decade ago. The purpose of closing the EPA library was supposedly to make it electronic and more efficient, but Gore said that the EPA was purging records from their collection. He could give “hundreds” of similar examples. Gore said that it was up to scientists to protest the “outrageous nature” of the interference and “actively consider active communications” with the public. Then he turned to tobacco companies and their role in delaying knowledge of cancer.

Gore said that politics was a nonlinear system with tipping points. Courage was important. That there was an asymmetry between cognitive and emotional systems. That we have to find a way. As Gore’s friend and mentor, Abraham Lincoln said, we must disenthrall ourselves. As Gore’s friend and mentor, the Scottish mountain climber said, when one commits oneself, the problem changes as well. Then Gore quoted his friend and mentor, Mahatma Gandhi, about the “truth-force”, well, I guess it sounded better in the original Sanskrit.

Then Gore’s friend and mentor, Gore himself said, “Now is the time” before leaving to a standing ovation.

Another account from CNET is here with a partial videoclip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


260 Comments

  1. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Oh, snark, snark, snark. You just couldn’t bear to tell it straight.

  2. Lee
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

    oh, good frickin’ christ….

  3. Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    After watching some of Gore’s presentation on CNET video clips, I liked Steve M’s version better. Far more interesting. Thinking back to the video clips, this was spot in –“more suitable to lead a penguin army”

  4. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

    That’s very loyal of you, Russ. Actually the Cnet report (with linked clips) was pretty good.

  5. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Oh, and since Steve unblushingly repeated the “invented the Internet” canard that Republican operatives used to attack Gore in 2000, see here and especially here for the truth.

  6. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I didn’t research the comment, but Bloom’s links says that Gore claimed to have “created” the internet, as distinct to “inventing” the Internet. I will edit the above accordingly.

    “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet,” Gore said.

    http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh120302.shtml

  7. Lee
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    SteveM –

    I’ll note the kind of characterization and rhetorical style now apparently considered desirable on this blog, and will consider stooping to that level in my own writing here, hard as that might be for me to stomach.

  8. PHE
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Lee – I presume you meant that ironically.

    Its an entertaining story. Not having been there, but having seen his film, Gore, in my view, sets himself up for satire. What I find disconcerting and a little sinister is that so many ‘scientists’ give this non-scientist and politician a standing ovation – someone who is responsible (in my view) for misuing science in the very way he accuses others. I suspect that one factor is that Gore’s presence, as well as his whole campaign and film bring a certain ‘sexiness’ to the scientific profession – one that for many is seen as otherwise mundane and dull.

  9. Lee
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

    SteveM’s style has gotten a little arrogant over the years and a little flabby, as though he was subconsciously morphing into a shape more suitable to lead a sycophant army.

    Gee, that’s easy.

  10. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

    C’mon, Lee, try to be a little bit funny, not just juvenile. Gore’s a public figure and fair comment.  If he chooses to comment on this blog, we will treat him politely as we expect you to treat other participants here.

  11. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

    From the video, it looks like Gore has been attending classes at the William Shatner school of overacting for no apparent reason.

  12. Lee
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    SteveM – oh, I’m laughing. This new writing style promises to be quite fun.

    If willis responds to my pointing out his mischaracterization of what Hansen said and his continuing failure to back up his claims with valid statistics, perhaps I can include in my response a little zinger about how he is -oh, lets see – ‘desperately searching for someone, anyone, to accept him as friend and mentor…’

    Hey, its just satire, and therefore funny and not at all juvenile.

  13. Lee
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    From his writing, it looks like nanny has been taking lessons from the Ludwig von Mises school of unthinking analysis.

  14. Lee
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve, if you are going to edit your comment, at least indicate that you are doing so.

  15. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #14. Excuse me, I said in #6 that I was going to edit “invent” to “Create” and made the change indicated. I corrected a type of “os” to “of”, but really, Lee, I’m not going to spend time documenting such typos.  But I’ve made major changes to posts in the past and might do so again in the future.

  16. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #12. again,Lee, I expect you to be polite to fellow participants on this site. In the unlikely event that Gore becomes a participant on this site, I would expect all of us to be polite to him in his capacity as a participant. Gore discussed the hardwiring of the amygdula to the neocortex at a scientific conference and opened up the issue to scientific discussion.

  17. Ed Snack
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Exceptionally rich for a pair of lamebrains like Bloom and Lee to complain about writing style. Lee, your normal style is more like Ludwig von Drake, so don’t push the analogies too far OK ?

  18. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #6: Steve M., your edit doesn’t quite do it since it uses “create” without mentioning the Congressional context. Try “luckily Al was around to sponsor the law that created it.” Your existing phrase implies a technical role that Gore doesn’t claim (although note that in one of the links I provided the people who did play that role were very happy to give Gore full credit for what he did).

  19. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #17. Ed Snack, please stop criticizing fellow participants. Let’s get back to the fall of Rome and how this initiated the chain of events, that ultimately led to the censorship of Jim Hansen.

  20. Mark T.
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Coincidentally a new paper has shown that the North Polar Ice Cap will be gone in 34 years

    Apparently, based on the second record snow season in a row, it has moved to Colorado. Good thing, because I rather like skiing. :)

    Oh, three days at Copper Mountain pending. Snow abounds, and my legs will burn with glory.

    Mark

  21. EW
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Then Gore regretted the passing of the Enlightenment, which he described as a time when there was an easy flow from scientists to popular culture

    Was there? I don’t know for sure. But imo he should have been regretting more the coming of the postmodern thinking, considering all versions of explanation (from fairytale to a scientific analysis) on par.

  22. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:34 AM | Permalink | Reply

    No more sniping at other posters here. I’m not going to be online to enforce it but will delete any such posts when I get a chance. Lee, your post was as vile as you described and you’re right, I did delete it. Why don’t you call it quits for the night.

  23. Earle Williams
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his
    role. He said: “During my service in the United States Congress I took the
    initiative in creating the Internet.” from the link SteveB kindly provided.

    Steve B,

    You do know the difference between implication and inference, don’t you? Because from your statement in #18 you seem to have them confused. Please post if you need any further help.

    Regards,
    Earle

  24. EW
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

    And what about that amygdala hardwiring? I found a short explanation on a website dealing with call centers, which was rather funny in the context:

    Profound new research has conclusively determined that all information coming into our nervous system first goes to the amygdala, where it is checked for emotional content before being sent to the neocortex. Upshot: We feel before we think. This is important, because people make decisions based on this hardwiring. If they feel put off by someone in your call center, the impression will be embedded in their emotional center forever.

  25. concerned of berkely
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 3:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Odd coming from me. However, can I ask that we focus on the science. I am deeply concerned re AGW, but I am afraid that the efforts of the Hockey Team, Al Gore, and supporters Lee and Steve Bloom, are bringing the AGW discussion into disrepute. Guys. Just lets focus on the science. My concern re CA is that these parties are able to ask challenging questions that the AGW supporters seem not to be able to answer. The issues are too important to allow the discussion to descend into cheap ad hominems all round.

  26. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 4:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #23: I chose my words appropriately, Earl. Did you have a substantive point?

    Re #26: cob, the subject of this particular thread is Steve M.’s report, which didn’t really dwell on scientific points and contained a rather large number of cheap ad homs. Notwithstanding that you named only one set of offenders (I guess you think calling someone “lamebrain” constitutes reasoned discourse) and seem to have otherwise already made up your mind about the science that has been discussed in other threads here, what the heck: Name some scientific issues you’re concerned about from Gore’s speech and I’ll be happy to discuss them.

  27. Jim Edwards
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 4:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #26
    Concerned, can I ask you a serious question. You seem like a thoughtful person who doesn’t want to participate in the sniping between the AGW and anti-HS advocates. I grew up in the Bay Area, met Roger Revelle a few times, remember when Reagan clumsily politicized this issue, and believed in AGW myself until a couple of years ago when I saw the solar data for the first time and saw that the IPCC confidently claimed that the sun made almost no contribution to GW even though they described scientific understanding of the solar contribution as “Very Low.”

    Why do you think AGW is true ? I’m really curious. I believed before because there was some surface temperature data and the only hypothesis I heard for short term change involved CO2. I had heard about sunspots in connection with quackery. Does one of the statements below come close to your view ?

    a) I have read a lot of scientific papers about GW, including those by scientists who advocate solar causation, and I believe that the earth is definitely warming and people are definitely causing 80% or more of the warming.

    b) I heard Al Gore talk and all my liberal friends at Cal believe we’re destroying the earth, and all the really evil guys are on the other side [Dick Cheney, Saudi Royals, GM, Exxon, Enron, et Al.] so I believe in my heart of hearts that AGW has to be true.

    c) Physics tells us that CO2 must have some effect on the thermodynamics of the earth, and I don’t know if it’s 5% or 95%, but the stakes are so high that we should treat AGW as if it’s true – even though it may be that the total human contribution is almost zero

    d) I heard on NPR’s Science Friday that all the scientists agree that AGW is true and anybody who disagrees is a senile quack or a stooge of the oil companies, or a cousin of Karl Rove… All those scientists can’t be wrong.

  28. bender
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 5:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

    cob asks that we focus on the science. I’m ok with that. Is Al Gore ok with that?

  29. Greg F
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 6:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Gore video interview where he claims credit for “creating the internet”. (Real Player format)

  30. James Erlandson
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 7:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    From the C-NET article it appears that Gore presented a laundry list of what’s wrong …

    o Climate change presents an unusual, and dire, set of circumstances …
    o Television has crimped the attention span of the average person. Politicians now concentrate on overnight polls, and financial analysts look at shorter and shorter time horizons. The future doesn’t get a lot of attention.
    o He particularly criticized the role of TV … that old marketplace of ideas has given way to sitcoms
    o “The age of print that began with Gutenberg essentially ended.”
    o scientific research appears to be under attack.

    … but suggested no solutions beyond, “It is time for the scientific community to consider playing a more active communications role. We have to find a way to connect the dots and make clear and compelling the basis for dramatic change.” A weak call to action. Hardly worth a standing-O.

  31. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 7:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

    SteveM , I appreciate all the reports from the AGU.
    Thanks very much for this one. I know you don’t dislike Al Gore.
    and some people should really lighten up.

    “Was this an episode of Invasion?” LOL

  32. Kevin
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 7:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Not for a moment do I believe Al is seriously concerned about global warming. Al is a huckster and “the environment” has been his chief hussle for many years. What is truly alarming – and dangerous – is that so many do not seem to recognize this.

  33. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 7:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #33 Kevin, I agree with you. Al Gore can talk about the USGS employee being watched and science being censored -but the whole other end of the stick is someone as bizarre as he is under so much protection and given so much airtime, and admired politically-so there is no easy way, time or place to debate or question what he’s saying-and he’s not even a scientist. Can you imagine after a speech like this a young scientist getting access and politely trying to question something he said ? I can’t.

  34. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 8:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Well, I wondered (though only briefly), what had brought the trolls out in force. But then I realized that it was the start of the AGU confrence. Still I can see from the tenor of this thread that this is the “payoff”; the chance for SB & Lee to support their good friend and mentor, Al Gore. But enough of that.

    I have a little quiz question. Assuming Mr. Gore doesn’t still entertain dreams of becoming President, which is psychologically possible but probably not the case, what exactly is his imagined payoff? My guess is a senior position in a putative Democrat administration in 2009. What appointed position do the people here think VP Gore would like?

  35. Paul Linsay
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 8:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Did anyone ask Gore how much money his VC firm expects to make on carbon trading and other forms of CO2 “amelioration”?

  36. Stan Palmer
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 8:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Gore is concerned about the hardwiring of the neo-cortex to the amygdala and of the passing of the Enlightenment. This is interesting because the brain researcher Antonio Damassio used “Descarte’s Error” as the title for this popular book on his theory of brain functions. Similar accounts appear in the books by David Gelernter and in the many books by Noble laureate Gerald Edelman.

    A primary problem facing the brain is the difficulty in choosing proper behaviors in the face of noisy information in an uncertain and non-stationary environment. This is the same problem that faces anyone when trying to chose among competing theories in the science and is of course very appropriate to an issue such as AGW that mixes moral, political and scientific issues. The brain solves this problem by having capabilities to quickly sense the broad context of any situation. This allows it to focus on the salient issues that will drive the appropriate selection of behaviors. This is the role that amygdala and other structures in the brain play. The amygdala feeds the decision-making structures in the frontal cortex with an assessment of the current situation based on past experience.

    The engineering analog to this is called case-based or memory-based reasoning. It is the same sort of reasoning that is taught to lawyers, physicians etc who must reason in difficult real world situations. The brain is able to see the similarity between a current case and past cases and select solutions that have proven to be most successful in the past. It is the same sort of reasoning that can guide a mathematician to the correct result which he can then justify by formal deductive reasoning

    So Gore’s admiration of the Enlightenment is based on a lack of knowledge of modern results in brain science and a mistaken belief in the capabilities of rationalism. This is very odd for someone who, as he did in this speech, proclaims that science is being attacked by the forces of ignorance. Ignorance, of course, being unaware of the wisdom of Al Gore and the people who agree with him. Simple rationalism cannot handle real world complexity. Faith in simple models that explain all of the problems of the world cannot handle complexity either.

    However it is quite clear that this is not a simple mistake on Gore’s behalf. It is a common tactic that I see among political commentators of a certain stripe. Certain commentators privilege their own beliefs by appeals to “evidence-based’ science. Their beliefs are not their beliefs but incontrovertible scientific facts. People who disagree with them do not disagree with someone else’s personal beliefs but with the results of science. Their disagreement is an expression of ignorance and attack on enlightened science. Gore’s speech was just another statement in this vein.

  37. John Davis
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 8:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #35 – Al Gore does head up an investment company which seems to be backing “sustainability”. Nothing secret or underhand about it, but he has an obvious interest in promoting the general midset.

  38. Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 8:35 AM | Permalink | Reply

    In the enlightenment, people actively and simultaneously participated in science, politics and economics. Small cities had academies of science (for example Philadelphia in the US) where people met after work to discuss new discoveries. Towards the end of the period Ben Franklin is a well known US example. A wonderful example from the beginning was Newton, who in addition to inventing physics, was warden of the Royal Mint, member of Parliment, etc. Many of the people we associate as the founders of various sciences, did their studies in addition to holding other jobs, for example Leeuwenhoek who was a trader. So yep, Al pretty much had it right, and the snark about that point, as many others, reveals more about the ignorance of the writer, than that of the speaker.

  39. Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 8:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I fail to understand John Davis’ point. He literally puts the cart before the horse. Gore’s understanding that there is a serious threat from climate change came well before he established the investment firm. The motiviation for the investment firm is a way of actualizing the understanding. Shooting the messanger (or at least trying to beggar him) appears to be a favorite sport.

  40. Rod
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 8:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: 39

    Maybe here’s an idea for Gore:

    Newton was also a member of the Parliament of England from 1689 to 1690 and in 1701, but his only recorded comments were to complain about a cold draft in the chamber and request that the window be closed.

  41. Stan Palmer
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Reply

    re 39

    Gore made statements about brain science and the Enlightenment that showed that he had a superficial awareness of issues in science and philosophy but no real understanding of the issues. The interaction of the emotional processing in the amygdala and the decision making in the frontal cortex is not something to be regretted. It is a fundamental property of the brain that this sort of the connection is made and is key to intelligence and adaptability.

    The absolute faith in the power of rationalism collapsed in the early 20th century with the failure of efforts such as that of Russell and Whitehead (not C.P. Snow despite Gore) to reduce all mathematics to rationalism. Wittgenstein, Godel etc. showed that this effort was futile and counterproductive.

    It could be argued that it is Gore who is anti-science since he demonstrates no insight into how they really work.

  42. Paul Zrimsek
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 9:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Indeed, Gore’s understanding that there is a serious threat from climate change came well before most of the science which supposedly establishes that conclusion; he’s spent most of the succeeding years waiting for the dumb climatologists to catch up with the knowledege he acquired simply by consulting his amygdala. Tne willingness of the AGU to invite and applaud this charlatan is distressing, especially if you recall how much of the criticism of Lomborg took the form of “Why blame us for the exaggerations of politicians and popularizers?” There’s your answer.

  43. PHE
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 9:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It was recently reported that Al Gore has been taken on as a consultant on climate change by the British Government. Now, is that for his scientific expertise, or is it on ‘how to tell a good story’. The latter sounds more plausible, but I’m not quite sure why (my PM) Tony Blair would need help here. Its easy to be cynical, but Blair also seems to be a politician who finds ‘saving us from CO2 pollution’ as a way to boost his ethical credentials. But he doesn’t let it get in the way of flying to holidays in the Carribean.

  44. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 9:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Ok, thinking about it this morning, why was I snarky? I mentioned on an earlier occasion that I think that Al Gore is a decent guy. His book is interspersed with personal stories and anecdotes that I liked and have great resonance for me, not least because we’re almost exactly the same age (I’m about 5 months older) and came through the same history of the 1960s with its politics and music. If I were an American, I would have voted for him in 2000, as I would have voted for Clinton, who I admire. (Clinton seems to spend a lot of time in Toronto these days, celebrating his 60th birthday in Toronto.)

    As to the “science” in Al’s talk, there was virtually no mention of science pertaining to climate change. A mention of a prediction of the demise of the northern ice sheets and wildfires in Australia, but that was it. The only other science was the discussion of the neocortex and the amygdula, which doesn’t seem very relevant to climate change policy.

    Otherwise we heard about the supposed history of the relationship between scientists and the community. When I looked at my notes, this potted history was astonishingly banal. It’s not reasonable to expect a busy person like Gore, who’s got many other responsibilities and duties, to be able to present a coherent history of this topic. But neither did this juvenilia deserve rapturous applause.

    Gore was treated like a rock star. The room started filling up an hour and a half before the talk (I arrived over an hour early and many seats were already taken.)

  45. Michael J
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 9:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Personal attacks on here are not productive from either side. That said, most of the AGW’ers accuse everyone in the other side of being a dupe of industry, Big Oil, or having some other profit motive. When the accusation is reversed, people become indignant that anyone could possibly have an ulterior motive other than “saving the planet”. This only serves to illuminate the naive and simplistic take that some have on the actual science involved in this issue. There are good meaning people on both sides who genuinely want the facts to come out and take the necessary action accordingly to whatever we find. To think we are anywhere near that point however, is certainly premature and could well end up being hazardous to the worlds economy and environment. Mr Gore is the absolute worst example of a politician who thinks we need his help when, in actuality, we could use his non-interference in true scientific debate.

  46. beng
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 9:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

    RE 9:

    Yeah Lee, lighten up — Steve’s sentence made my day. Armies of marching penguins behind the Emperior…

  47. Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 10:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Good Lord – raptious applause for Mr. Gore from a group of scientist? Were these people hedging their
    bets for the post-08 election? Will they equally aplaud Hillary or any other potential sugar daddy
    or mommy. Someone earlier in this string made the point, i believe, that if Mr. Gore truely understands
    the climate change issue, he would have punctuated his speech with critical data/information. He didn’t
    for a reason, I’m sure. By the way, why do people like Mr. Gore and others always talk about catastrophic occuring beyond their life span. Why can’t these catastrophies ever occur within a more reaonsonble time period say 2012. . Hey, while on this line has anyone looked back to see if their were similar claims about catasthophic events occuring in the first
    years of 2000?

    always a great site SteveM -

  48. John Hekman
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 10:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I am surprised by Steve M’s expressions of fondness for Gore. I also went through the sixties and the antiwar movement, etc. But for God’s sake, you have to grow up at some point. Gore has that most annoying of characteristics of those on the Left, namely a fatuous belief that they are motivated by selfless regard for the planet, while everyone in business is motivated by a complete disregard for what is environmentally responsible.

    In an interview for his movie Gore was asked:

    “There’s a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What’s the right mix?”

    His answer was:

    “I think the answer to that depends on where your audience’s head is. In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don’t think there’s a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.”

    For me this perfectly encapsulates the attitude of self-righteous people who are convinced that the earth must be saved using their means. Given all the accusations that George Bush “lied” us into war or “twisted” the intelligence, the fact that Gore cannot see that he is admitting to just such a lie tells me that he is unfit to teach us anything.

  49. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Al Gore is very much the politician and like almost all other politicians in the US cannot be seriously considered an intellectual or a scientist. It is interesting that climatologists and scientists in related fields give him so much attention. Politicians in my view are normally an embarrassment when they attempt to defend a position in which one supports as they usually to it for all the wrong, and many times, emotional reasons.

    I take Steve M’s treatment of Al Gore as one of those up front and personal accounts that we get from him when he relates some personal things about conference attendees, but certainly not a serious technical accounting.

  50. MarkR
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 11:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    A very good piece of writing by SteveM, the style reminded me of the London Times Parliamentary Sketch at its best, when Frank Johnson (I think) did it.

  51. jae
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    However, the climate change crisis, it seems, is not itself the biggest problem, as it is merely a “symptom” of he “collision between our species and the planet” – a collision marked by population increase, by a scientific and technological revolution under which each person has a bigger footprint on the planet and, worst of all, a new way of thinking in which we are ruled by a short discount rate, overnight polls. Gore quoted someone Daley who said that we were running the planet like a business in liquidation.

    This statement reveals the heart of Al Gore. He’s an old hippie who never grew up.

  52. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 11:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I think Gore is attacking the Bush Administration and accusing them of censoring scientists because he wants
    to obfuscate the fact global temperatures were higher under the Clinton/Gore Administration than under
    Bush/Cheney. I believe 1998 is still the hottest year on record.

  53. UC
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #7

    I’ll note the kind of characterization and rhetorical style now apparently considered desirable on this blog, and will consider stooping to that level in my own writing here, hard as that might be for me to stomach.

    How scared should we be? Want some cheese with that whine?

  54. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 11:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Did you know that on Al Gore’s website is says:

    ” Mathematical models prove that Gore’s margin of victory in Florida would have been…” blah blah blah

    “Stop Global Whining-Ban Computer Models”
    on a t-shirt or bumber sticker would be something I’d buy.

  55. EP
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The Enlightenment was a period where some great thinkers ended up in politics rather than some hasbeen politicians cherry-picked some science.

  56. EP
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:08 PM | Permalink | Reply


    “It’s time for scientists to play a different role in asserting the value of scientific insight and defending the integrity of the scientific process, and becoming far more active in directly communicating to the American people about the meaning of the research you have underway…” he told his audience.

    That’s great, but who gets to be spokesperson?
    From the BBC report:

    “We now face a climate crisis without any precedent in all of history and it’s imperative that those who have the best evidence of what’s occurring spread the knowledge beyond the small discipline in which these studies are usually disseminated,” he told the BBC after his speech.

    Do all scientists believe it’s a crisis? Does Gore really believe science is like party politics where a single leader can put forward a manifesto?

  57. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    For the modern human, the atomized “last men” of Nietzsche, the Enlightenment stands as the crux of all human development. in contrast, the Middle Ages stand as a black mark. Such is our bias. But things are never that neat and clean. During a goodly portion of the Middle Ages, there were overtly illiberal supports protecting the emergent capitalism and rationalism. They had to be protected – to the East were seriously oppressive despots seeking to plunder and lay waste to Europe. Conversely, the Enlightenment also brought the rivers of blood rising from the killing stands of Paris and the beginning of the very societal anarchy culminating in TV soaked concentration impaired vidiots bemoaned by Gore. The rise of the bourgeosie and money power destroyed the moorings of Western Civilization and set us adrift into the Sea of Storms – rocks ho.

    In this, the last urgent clinging to the dying embers of what is clearly a nearly completed phase of Western history, we have now seen a Jacobin spirit arise from the turmoil wrought by two world wars, the East – West conflict and out of control materialism. In the US, that spirit emerged triumphant amongst the educated leadership class during the 1960s, and came to full fruition during the 1980s as the great youth earthquake’s waves reached the halls of both public and private power. As a result, now, even modest turns to conservatism elicit a nearly violent reaction. Any move to limit the clear liability (both legal and reputational) of a Jim Hansen uttering Jacobin conspiracy theories to the media is deemed “the death of free speech.” The anarchy therefore grows. Even the most well intended adminatrator will in the future shy away from stopping all but outright libel on his or her watch.

    Where will it end? I fear that the chaos and anarchy will only increase, reaching some destructive level. Then, either revolution or conquest from without will cap off this tumultuous era with blood.

  58. Earle Williams
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #27:

    Stev B

    Something substantiv in this discussion would be nic. Sinc you started it off with the first comment, what ar your substantiv issues with SeteveM’s articl?

    Regards,
    Earle

    P.S. You might check that ‘e’ key on your keyboard.

  59. Tim Ball
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #37, #42
    Congratulations on the erudition and scholarship evident in your comments. They are precisely what is missing in Gore’s speech and in his book. I have just completed a review of Gore’s book and found errors, distortions, misrepresentations and half truths on virtually every page. I will not question motive, but know his entire career has had a singular path.
    The pattern of attack following Steve’s report from the AGU is standard here and on other blogs asking legitimate questions about the science. Immediate attacks by the AGW shills draw attention away from the issues and the science. We then have a debate about the right and motive of Steve in providing his own personal views on his blog – amazing. I don’t agree with everything Steve said, but I appreciate the time and effort and read it with the full understanding it is his perspective.

  60. Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve M. portrayed Al Gore in the only possible way of comprehending the poor old sod’s gobbledygook. Gore really is more like a revival preacher than a serious person of modern times. For the people who respond to Gore’s type of appeal-to-amygdala Gore would be the perfect leader. A return to the middle ages type of yearning.

    But seeing Gore through the Steve M. lens actually clears up many issues that might confuse most observers. Well done, Steve.

  61. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #50: John H., please take a moment and consider what the phrase “over-representation of factual presentations” actually means as opposed to what you would like it to mean. Hint: “(O)ver-representation” modifies “presentations.”

    Re #59: Sure, Steve S., but what does all of that have to do with the weather on the West Coast?

  62. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #60: It must be a result of being mesmerized by the terminal “e” in your first name. Regarding Steve M.’s summary, I think he left the impression that Gore was rather less coherent than was actually the case. Note the contents of the several press acounts that are now available.

  63. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #64: Oh, Earle, *another* typo. Now I’ll never hear the end of it.

  64. moptop
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    For Concerned in Berkly,

    “I am deeply concerned re AGW, but I am afraid that the efforts of the Hockey Team, Al Gore, and supporters Lee and Steve Bloom, are bringing the AGW discussion into disrepute.”

    I think that you can find Al Gore’s reasons for distorting the science in his own words, or at least his ideas, namely “That there [is] an asymmetry between cognitive and emotional systems”

    He does not believe that the average person can understand the issue, therefore he is justified in using scare tactics, however thinly pretexted. For example, that sea levels will rise by 20 feet in the coming century.

    The net effect of this is that he, as the main spokesman for AGW, sounds to most scientically literate, or at least logically astute people like a flim-flam artist. My main reason for skepticism on the whole issue is the obvious cheerleading and prestidigitation that goes on in nearly every news article that appears in the media. I can, to paraphrase Gore, give examples all day long.

  65. moptop
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Press accounts were favorable? I guess that proves it then.

  66. moptop
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Here’s one for starters.Hottest year since 1659 spells global doom

    Doom? Based on temperatures from the Midlands of the UK? How could anybody read a headline like that and not accept the truth of it? I must be akin to a holocaust denier, since it raises more questions. Or maybe this story is a plant to discredit the movement? I don’t know. Hence, my continued skepticism

  67. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #68 – I no longer completely trust the UK Met. Since it would seem that about 70% of the people in the UK now suffer from severe AGW hysteria, the opportunity for bias is there even in government offices. The AGW religion has swept beyond the UK as well, all of Europe has fallen for it. The saddest thing is, at some point, the party (e.g. our current, relatively warm and benign climate, in place since the LIA) will at some point be over. While the world prepares for some sort of conversion to the tropics, there are seemingly no contingency plans for the far more likely future little (or maybe not quite so little) ice age. I’ll take a warm period / optimum over a little (or other) ice age any time. The latter means death, starvation and war.

  68. Lee
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re 46 – I have not accused anyone here of being a “dupe for industry.” Straw men bur well, but don’t illuminate much.

    re 60 – the substantive criticism of SteveM’s post is that it substitutes overt insult (about the man’s weight, for god’s sake) and snark for substance.

    I will say that I find it quite humorous that Tim Ball uses THIS post as opportunity to talk about SteveM “asking legitimate questions about the science.” And accusing me, it seems, of being a shill. Tim, you are aware that SteveM introduced this piece with an insult about Gore’s weight, aren’t you?

  69. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    So far Steve M’s report on Gore is the best of anything I have read on this thread. Why? a) Gore’s presentation was a disappointment with respect to sticking to the topic; b) there was no science in it; and c) we have seen a lot of whining here today which does not beat Steve M’s summary.
    I have not seen any press yet, but they would be hard pressed to beat Steve M as they do not comprehend the science part of GW.

  70. Rick Clark
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Mr. Gore is in serious need of fresh material for his show. His old act is tedious–not earning him many new converts and making it harder for his supporters to excuse his misstatements and obvious confusion. All that
    Gore can provide lately is comic relief.

  71. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 1:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #43 – If Gore did not personally read things like “The Monkey Wrench Gang” and “Ecotopia” in the day, I reckon he as heavily influenced by those who had read them. Most of the philosophical basis for books like these, which were published during the mid to late 1970s, had to have been hatched back during the 1960s and in some cases even the 1950s, in order to have made it into the books. Certainly, that was well before any claims of “the science being in” and in fact, during an era of ice age concerns dominating due to the 1940s – mid 1970s negative PDO phase / cold incidents of note in Eastern North America and Europe. Clearly, the underlying urges which led to “the ecology movement” starting up in the late 1960s were not based on any accepted science of the day, but instead were all wrapped up in the counterculture and the subsequent “back to the land” movement which attempted to establish utopian communes in communion with nature.

  72. Lee
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Update on the state of all this illuminating commentary on Gore’s speech:

    Was – ‘Gore is fat.’

    Now is – ‘Gore is a fat hippy.’

  73. Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The video with a previous speech by Al Gore is here:

    http://schwinger.harvard.edu/~motl/al-gore-speech.gif

    I hope that the penguin soldiers will remain the only ones who are directly controlled by this great orator. Thanks for your report, Steve!

  74. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ecotopia

    Monkey-Wrench-Gang

  75. Vasco
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    From a Bore into a Rockstar, quite an achaviement…

  76. Vasco
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 2:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    From a Bore into a Rockstar, quite an acheviement…

  77. PHE
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 3:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Yawn, yawn, yawn.
    Seeing something from Lee again makes me feel sleepy, and I have no idea what he’s going on about.
    Good night (well it is 10pm here in Europe)

  78. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 3:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Just to be clear, I was referring to “State of Fear.”

  79. Geoff Larsen
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 3:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I wonder why but Al Gore reminds me of the “snake oil salesman’ of Western movies.

    From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_oil
    “The snake oil peddler became a stock character in Western movies: a travelling “doctor” with dubious credentials, selling some medicine (such as snake oil) with boisterous marketing hype, often supported by pseudo-scientific evidence. To enhance sales, an accomplice in the crowd (a “shill”) would often “attest” the value of the product in an effort to provoke buying enthusiasm. The “doctor” would prudently leave town before his customers realized that they had been cheated. This practice is also called “grifting” and its practitioners “grifters”.”

  80. Geoff Larsen
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 3:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Penguin leader, rockstar, revivalist? I don’t know why but Al Gore reminds me of the archetypal “snake oil salesman’ of Western movies.

    From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_oil
    “The snake oil peddler became a stock character in Western movies: a travelling “doctor” with dubious credentials, selling some medicine (such as snake oil) with boisterous marketing hype, often supported by pseudo-scientific evidence. To enhance sales, an accomplice in the crowd (a “shill”) would often “attest” the value of the product in an effort to provoke buying enthusiasm. The “doctor” would prudently leave town before his customers realized that they had been cheated. This practice is also called “grifting” and its practitioners “grifters”.”

  81. Dave B
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 4:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    80…

    lee i’m not sure if this is what you intended…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_%28absurdism%29

    but your unrelated content comes off as total nonsense otherwise.

  82. Forbes
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 4:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I am torn between the subtle mocking of Al Gore, in the original post, and the thin-skinned, juvenile snarks made in retort in the comments. As a public figure, Al Gore is a legitimate target, especially as he has a well-known reputation as a scientifically-illiterate bore. It is especially rich with irony that a former politician who regularly relies upon exageration and over-heated rhetoric accuses others of “politicizing” science.

    The satire just writes itself: “Attention Shoppers! Self-parody on display! Al Gore delivers his ‘Friends and Mentors’ talk in aisle 8.”

    Cheers.

  83. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 5:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Elightenment doesn’t have an age.

  84. z
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 6:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    77 Vasco says:
    December 15th, 2006 at 2:20 pm
    From a Bore into a Rockstar, quite an achaviement…
    78 Vasco says:
    December 15th, 2006 at 2:20 pm
    From a Bore into a Rockstar, quite an acheviement

    So ya gonna take anudder whack at it, or just leave well enough alone?

  85. Lee
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 6:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Charters in the Northwest Canadian Archapeligo:

    http://www.adventurecenter.com/polar/frame_ppnp.htm

    The boats are the Arctic voyager, and the Arctic Mariner – both ice registered, of course, but not icebreakers.

    and
    http://www.infohub.com/vacation_packages/2273.html

  86. jae
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 6:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    90: Eli: LMAO.

  87. Doug
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 7:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I voted for Gore, still would vs. Bush. I loved “The Monkey Wrench Gang”, still do.

    That doesn’t mean I accept bad science, or don’t appreciate humour. Now that I have the penguin image in mind, I might be able to sit through Gore’s movie. Thanks Steve for the entertaining write up.

  88. Jeff Weffer
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 7:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It is interesting that Al Gore understands so well how the human brain works even though the real science has barely scratched the surface on how the brain works.

    It is a good analogy to how Al Gore understands the science of climate change so well but the real science hasn’t scratched the surface on how the climate really works as yet.

    He also understand so well how his policies developed the internet.

    Does anyone else see a pattern here?

  89. John Norris
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 7:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re 93:

    from Link #1:
    … 23 Aug – 5 Sep 2007 …
    … We’ll travel the northern coast of mainland Canada, challenging the vast expanses of sea ice as we sail through the Arctic Archipelago on the lookout for the plethora of wildlife that flourish in the region from polar bears to whales. …
    … Note: Weather, ice, or other conditions may necessitate changes to our itinerary and alteration to certain shore excursions. …

    from Link #2
    … Season: August – August …
    … If the ice permits, we’ll attempt a visit to Grise Fjord …
    …When the solid pack ice forces us to turn back, we’ll sail around the western side of Devon Island. Here we’ll explore the small bays and inlets, and sail near glaciers and summer waterfalls created by the melt-waters flowing off the ice. …

    more re 93: “… both ice registered, of course, ”

    Of course, otherwise you need an ice breaker.

    I think you have substantiated Jeff Weffer’s comments in #108. I read all your comments and your links. Every trip through the NWP that I saw falls more in the category of an expedition. Not a cruise, not a simple yachting trip, including the two yachts this past summer. All though you book a “cruise” on the two ships you identified, they are self proclaimed expedition vessels. The booking website, sells much more of an expedition than the umbrella drink type cruise.

    from: http://www.peregrineadventures.com/arctic/about_ship/
    ” … As working scientific research vessels, they form the ideal platforms from which to explore. …”

    Thanks for finding them though, I may have to book, before the warming proxies and GCM’s are overrun by mother natures whims!

  90. Ed Snack
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 7:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve, apologies for further lowering the tone. I read the gracious comments from your resident deniers and could not resist the obvious comparison. I shall in future restrain the impulse.

    It is odd though, that the denial group are apparently outraged at any negative portrayal what so ever of one of the “rock star” icons of the AGW world. It seems that sycophancy is the new “in” style.

  91. Roger Bell
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 7:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Well, I’ve worked my way through all the posts up to this point and it still isn’t clear to me what Al Gore did or didn’t do regarding the Internet.
    What is clear is that the really major contributions were made by Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web for global information sharing in 1989 and also wrote the first browser – editor in 1990. This was a fantastic help for any scientist- drafts of papers and copies of data could be readily shared with collaborators scattered over the globe.
    Roger Bell

  92. Spence_UK
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 7:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Newton was an early product of the Enlightenment, so it is no surprise that he could believe in alchemy and creationism.

    … and you miss the point entirely. Newton was a genius, but was just plain wrong on a number of things. Within the context of the period he lived in, some of these fields were very immature – but from his perspective, it was impossible to tell which of his work was right and which was wrong (I was taught at school that he considered his theological work to be more important than his work on mathematics and physics). If Newton was to apply his scientific knowledge to his political life, he would have been just as likely to push forward alchemy and creationism as other aspects. (Luckily, as noted above, he does not appear to have made any attempt to align his scientific views with political ends)

    One of the greatest concerns of sceptics are the false claims of great certainty, such as some of the claims highlighted by SteveM in the historical temperature reconstructions. By aggressively pushing AGW into politics, with false claims of certainty, are we promoting gravity or alchemy? From our perspective, it may be impossible to distinguish between the two.

    The overpromotion of poor quality science (in particular, newsworthy, alarmist articles, claiming certainty where there is little) can ultimately be a disaster in a policy context. Just look at the MMR scare in the UK as a great example.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m an advocate of the enlightenment, of the age of reason, but it was far more (IMHO) to do with the removal of superstition and religion from the role of politics, than overweighting a proportion of political views due to a self-styled scientific concensus.

  93. Roger Bell
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 8:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    While this has nothing to do with the Internet, I’d like to add this information on Al Gore’s environmental views to the discussion.
    Bjorn Lomborg, in the Skeptical Environmentalist (page 11), describes the problem of air pollution in London and other British cities from the 1930s onwards. Originally, about 64,000 people a year died from this pollution. In order to solve this problem, tall chimneys were built so that the particulate sulphur pollution rose high in the air and fell to earth over a large area hundreds of miles away. In a sense, London had not really fixed the problem, it had exported it to Scandinavia. Al Gore tells us the same story – “Some of what Londoners used to curse as smog now burns the leaves of Scandinavian trees.” Furthermore, when the sulphur is removed from the chimney emissions, it has to be deposited elsewhere, but this causes less than one cancer death every 50 years.
    In essence, as Lomborg notes, environmentalists believed that London had one original problem, whose solution created two others – the acid rain in Scandinavia and the disposal problem of the sulphur. However, this completely neglects the point that every year 64,000 people continue to live.

  94. Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 10:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    (Gore stopped short of accusing people who think that there was a Medieval Warm Period of also supporting a return to feudalism.)

    ROTFLMAO

  95. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 10:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve deleted some of the nastier posts (and inadvertently a couple of others). I didn’t bother preserving the numbering.

    rocks seems to be the only person that got the allusion to the Invasion episode. (It was a TV series last year.)

    Imagine if you had to listen to some guy at a cocktail party explaining science policy in terms of neocortex-amygdula hardwiring and species evolution from hunting to civilization. You’d find an excuse to get another drink as quickly as you could – you wouldn;t give him a standing ovation.

  96. Nicholas
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 11:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Well, I think the “emotional response” point is valid and real, and in fact is something that we “suppress” to become rational/civilized. However, it cuts both ways. Al Gore and friends take advantage of that emotional response as much as, or perhaps more than it works against them.

    In fact his speech itself seems to be an excellent demonstration of the “emotional via rational” type of arguments – lacking as it was in science content.

    I’ve never seen or heard of “Invasion” but I guessed it was some kind of body-snatching-pod-people type show, so I understood what you were getting at.

  97. W Robichaud
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 11:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Finalement!
    Thank you!

  98. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 11:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

    a meritocracy of ideas, sort of like Google Search

    Many of you probably assumed that this was a sarcastic comment of mine. It wasn’t. I was merely reporting a statement, unaccountably unnoticed by less diligent reporters. This comparison of the supposed Enlightenment meritocracy of ideas to Google Search was made by Google senior adviser Albert Gore.

  99. Greg F
    Posted Dec 15, 2006 at 11:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Well, I’ve worked my way through all the posts up to this point and it still isn’t clear to me what Al Gore did or didn’t do regarding the Internet.

    He championed the idea and sponsored legislation, to which he should be given due credit. The idea that he created it flies in the face of history. The internet, although primitive, existed before Al Gore was elected.

  100. Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 12:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #99 Yeah, well, anyone who thinks that a business that owns around 95% of search engine traffic and has a very lucrative advertising arm provides ideas based on ‘merit’ has, well, spent too long in academia.

  101. Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 12:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The moral of the story is back up anything you post here lest it fall victim to the efficient memory hole. Live and learn.

  102. rwnj
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 6:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Perhaps Al Gore and his scientists can develop some sort of brain surgery that can be systematically applied to the population in order to remedy the design flaws of the human mind.

  103. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 6:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: the internet

    Leonard Kleinrock was the first to publish a paper about the idea of packet switching, which is essential to the Internet. He did so in 1961.

    The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) developed by ARPA of the United States Department of Defense was the world’s first operational packet switching network, and the progenitor of the global Internet.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET

    Trivia tidbit: On 26 March 1976 Queen Elizabeth II sent out the first royal email, from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment.

    History of the internet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet

  104. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #104

    Rocksy,

    Yep, Gore has more right to claim that he created global warming than he had to claim he created the internet!

  105. Vasco
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 7:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    So ya gonna take anudder whack at it, or just leave well enough alone?

    From a Bore into a Rockstar, quite an achievement. Sometimes it’s not easy being dysclectic and not being able to edit, sorry.

    El Bore helped the Internet along, certainly did not invented or created it.

  106. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 7:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #102. Eli, when I was deleting a series of comments referring to or discussing sex or sex references, I inadvertently deleted one of your comments with which I had no problem. I’m sorry. In edit mode, there are delete keys above and below a comment, but the above key is the applicable one. I inadvertently punched the wrong one, it was late and I caught a comment of yours – I didn’t particularly agree with it, but it was thoughtful. I don’t know how to recover a deleted comment, although I can recover comments marked as spam.

  107. Greg F
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 8:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    A Brief History of the Internet

  108. Howard Wiseman
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 9:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Liberally edited from a column by the late, great, Michael Kelly, whose death in Iraq can now only be viewed as cruel irony.

    “Distasteful as it may be, some notice should be paid to the speech that the formerly important Al Gore delivered…….This speech……distinguished Gore, now and forever, as someone who cannot be considered a responsible aspirant to power. Politics are allowed in politics, but there are limits, and there is a pale, and Gore has now shown himself to be ignorant of those limits, and he has now placed himself beyond that pale.

    Gore’s speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts — bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.

    Probably the purest example of the Gore style — equal parts mendacity, viciousness and smarm — occurred when Gore expressed his concern (his deep, heartfelt concern) over “the doubts many have expressed about the role that politics might be playing in the calculations of some in the administration.” And then added: “I have not raised those doubts, but many have.”

    What a moment! What a speech! What a man! What a disgrace.”

  109. Boris
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 9:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It seems that sycophancy is the new “in” style.

    I agree.

  110. ponte
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 9:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for discrediting yourself, Steven McIntyre. I once gave you the benefit of the doubt, thinking that you might be sincerely interested in the science of climate change. Now I know that you’re just another immature pseudoconservative who can’t be bothered to get his facts right.

  111. PaulH
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 10:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    For someone claiming censorship, Jim Hansen sure seems to be getting a lot of publicity. ;->

  112. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #111 If you disagree with SteveM’s account of the Gore appearance at the AGU gathering, and his opinions on the speech, why don’ t you give us the version you experienced? If you didn’t experience it in person, why don’t you give us a link to another account and or examples of how you know now that “SteveM is just another immature pseudoconservative who can’t be bothered to get his facts right”. Otherwise what is your comment’s worth to me or anyone else besides just name calling and a immature diatribe?

  113. Mark
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Gentlemen, I’m new to the study of global climate change, but after canvassing the subject on the web this is my tentative conclusion: the measured warming is natural. Stepping into the fray at the eleventh hour, I’m surprised by the infancy of climate science and yet the conviction with with the global warming advocates nurse their policy commitments. In short, I see no turd in the punch bowl.

  114. Boris
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 11:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

    81:

    Actually, Pat Michaels and the Idso’s and Tim Ball don’t necessarily remind me of snakeoil salesman, but more of the cook (or “cookie”) character, you know, kind of along for the ride, irrelevant, talking in a kind of screechy voice. The typical “cookie” is older and, while experienced, is incapable of reacting to new and dynamic situations. They are often a source of information or ideas that lead the main characters in a wrong direction. These “cookies” are stubborn and at times irrational, but they are lovable in some strange way, even though not many take them seriously. But most of all the “cookies” were loud and did not allow themselves to be ignored.

  115. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I’m with rocks on this. Does anyone actually want to justify or defend Gore’s speech? Tim Ball and the Idsos and Pat Michaels have nothing to do with Al Gore’s speech. When I re-read the text, yeah, yeah, I’ve made a few sarcastic remarks, but, like it or not, I’ve followed Gore’s narrative pretty closely. I haven’t heard any comments from anyone who was there who has contradicted any of my exposition (and I’m quite prepared to amend my exposition if someone points out an inaccuracy.)

  116. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    snip

  117. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 11:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve – gore is getting fat. His speaking style is sometimes overly fulsome. I agree with those “criticisms” – although a polite observor would not have included them on a board ‘devoted to the science.’ After that, I’m not sure there’s much content left from your post to discuss.

  118. TAC
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    FWIW: I attended Gore’s talk at AGU, and I think SteveM has described it pretty accurately. Whether you like Gore or not, he has become a much better public speaker since 2000. Perhaps he cares more about this issue than he did about becoming president. He exhibited a fairly wide dynamic range, from self-effacing jokes about his loss of stature to fire-and-brimstone preaching on the “Climate Crisis.” I enjoyed it and was particularly pleased to hear a (former) U.S. government leader construct complete sentences and coherent paragraphs. Of course, I did not agree with many of his opinions, but that’s a different topic.

    A few things seemed off the mark. First, he seemed intent on lecturing the AGU membership on matters of science (selling air conditions to eskimos? ;-) ); I would have been more impressed if he had said that he wanted to learn what AGU members had to tell him about science. There were literally thousands of climate-related talks at this AGU meeting, and it is absurd to suggest that there is nothing left to learn. Unfortunately, it sounds as though Gore formed his opinions on the “Climate Crisis” early in life — during a 1960s class he took from Roger Revelle — and having received the “Truth Force” (that’s not quite fair), he has been on a mission to save the planet ever since.

    This brings up a question: If Gore has been committed to this mission since college (I take him at his word), why did he not make it a priority during his time in government? As a senator he talked about the environment, but his legislative priorities were elsewhere. Similarly, it is hard to point to anything he accomplished as Vice President, either, aside from Kyoto (which Clinton never even bothered to take to the Senate for ratification). The first President Bush was responsible for creating the climate science programs. It is hypocrisy for Gore to blame this Administration, which likely does not share his views, for inaction.

    He also expressed concern about government censorship of science. He mentioned a specific story which had appeared in that morning’s papers related to the USGS. While I agree with Gore’s general views on this topic, I could not help but recall that in 1996 the Clinton/Gore Administration was accused of interfering in the publication of a USGS report on oil reserves in order to influence a Senate debate on whether or not to open up ANWR to drilling.

    Plus àƒ⦡ change…

    Otherwise, I thought it was a fine speech.

  119. Richard deSousa
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 11:57 AM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #67:

    “For reasons that are not understood, the northern hemisphere has warmed more than the southern. Only days ago, another study “¢’‚¬? by the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research “¢’‚¬? predicted that the Arctic Ocean could become almost devoid of ice during summer as early as 2040.”

    Would someone please educate the Telegraph.co UK that the reason the southern hemisphere isn’t warming as much as the northern is because the southern hemisphere is mostly water. Which brings me to the claim by the global warmers that the Medieval Warming Period was regional not global – the same thing is happening today!

  120. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 12:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Penguins, indeed:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06215/710851-115.stm

    Where did that video spoofing Gore’s film come from?

    Thursday, August 03, 2006
    By Antonio Regalado and Dionne Searcey, The Wall Street Journal

    Everyone knows Al Gore stars in the global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” But who created “Al Gore’s Penguin Army,” a two-minute video now playing on YouTube.com?

    In the video, Mr. Gore appears as a sinister figure who brainwashes penguins and bores movie audiences by blaming the Mideast crisis and starlet Lindsay Lohan’s shrinking waist size on global warming. Like other videos on the popular YouTube site, it has a home-made, humorous quality. The video’s maker is listed as “Toutsmith,” a 29-year-old who identifies himself as being from Beverly Hills in an Internet profile.

    In an email exchange with The Wall Street Journal, Toutsmith didn’t answer when asked who he was or why he made the video, which has just over 59,000 views on YouTube. However, computer routing information contained in an email sent from Toutsmith’s Yahoo account indicate it didn’t come from an amateur working out of his basement.

    Instead, the email originated from a computer registered to DCI Group, a Washington, D.C., public relations and lobbying firm whose clients include oil company Exxon Mobil Corp.

  121. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 12:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Lee, please what ever is your point here? Is it that nobody anywhere anytime any place can make fun of anyone or anything or any issue anymore unless your types approve or you say it’s ok…all because of global warming? If so,that’s not the world I live in or is it reality nor is it enlightening, nor helpful to anybody-it’s just demanding controlling and boring.

  122. Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 12:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    snip

  123. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #119. TAC, when you think about it, Gore’s speech was not on science, but on the history of the relationship between scientists and government from the fall of Rome to today. As you say, Gore spoke in complete paragraphs with oratorical polish – I think that I gave him proper credit for this. The rhetorical form was like a secular sermon: a few jokes at the beginning; discussion of selected verses; then a call to commitment. My beef is with the banality of the content and the stereotypes. Gore characterized medieval science as “monks” and “dead languages”. Latin was used as a scientific lingua franca well into the 18th century. Newton’s Principia was in Latin. I remember (but can’t place) a comment from Leibniz about a work in a contemporary language being translated into Latin – which Leibniz praised as making the work more accessible. Latin was the scientific English of the day. Latin continued to be widely taught until quite recently. It was compulsory when I went to high school. Lots of things like that. Could one put any weight on neocortex-amygula hardwiring as an explanation for anything? I can’t imagine it. It’s possible that he’s right about AGW, but, after listening to him, one feels that, like W, if he’s right about something, it’s by sheer chance.

    #118. Gore didn’t really discuss science other than the few references which I noted. If the material reviewed sounds jumbled, blame the speaker not the reporter. Note that TAC was there and does not disagree with my narrative, though he gives more credit to Gore merely speaking in complete sentences.

  124. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 12:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Gore is not a scientist – he is an activist and politician. Duh. Perhaps those thousands of scientists gave Gore a standing ovation because, perhaps, they approve of the activist work he has been doing on this issue? Maybe?

  125. Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #21

    Lee, I just have looked at the video. Rather boring. If that was the work of professionals, they better look for another job. I know a lot of better items to make a joke of Gore’s film! I have seen his film too, the “science” there was far from scientific. I noticed some of the untruths, half truths and omissions in the other thread “Gore gored: Monckton replies, round 2″.

  126. James Erlandson
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 1:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re 121:
    Two paragraphs further …

    Dave Gardner, an Exxon spokesman, confirms that Exxon is a client of DCI. But he says Exxon had no role in creating the “Inconvenient Truth” spoof. “We, like everyone else on the planet, have seen it, but did not fund it, did not approve it, and did not know what its source was,” Mr. Gardner says.

  127. TAC
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 1:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #124 SteveM, I agree with your points. Gore gave us a sermon. Much like a preacher, he asked his audience — as a matter of faith — to go forth and spread “the message.” The audience responded with enthusiasm.

    Well, if this is where the debate is headed, perhaps we need another sermon on the topic of “false prophets” ;-)

  128. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 1:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #128. The more I think about it, the more Gore seems like W – in the sense of both having shallow knowledge and great certainty. A useful and relevant test would perhaps be a thought experiment on what Clinton would have said on the same occasion, I can’t imagine Clinton talking about the neocortex being hardwired to the amygdula – he’s too smart to rely on faux erudition. I cannot conceive of him saying something like that. If Clinton were to talk on the political history of science-society relationships, he’d probably read a couple of serious books by Oxford professors on the topic (he’s probably already read them) and would say something that rose above monks and dead languages. Bob Rae, a very smart guy and excellent speaker who just ran for the Liberal leadership in Canada, told a story about Clinton throwing away his notes after some obnoxious comments by an earlier speaker, and speaking off the cuff at a conference in Canada about federalism in riveting and insightful terms. On speaking, Bob Rae’s opinion is an expert opinion. Clinton just wouldn’t have ended up with what Gore said. Lots of people cheered for W too, but he didn’t have the polish or acumen of HW. Shallowness combined with certainty is a dangerous brew in politicians of any stripe.

  129. bee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 2:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Lee-

    I applaud the state of moral and social perfection you have achieved. Your ability to correctly identify the “right” way to do every thing is remarkable. I hope you can tolerate being around mere mortals like the rest of us.

    More seriously, the real issue is what are you trying to say to all of us? Your comments are vacuous.

    Al Gore sounds like a preacher not a scientist. That is not surprising given that he is NOT a scientist. As a scientist I can safely say that he tells a good story but that does not qualify as science. The one hour presentation was a sermon (his movie is also a sermon). Why would any scientist go to hear a scientific lecture from a Gore? They wouldn’t. They went to hear a sermon. I am not sure why, but I can guess. They need an injection of faith to keep promulgating a story so loosely based on facts. It is hard to continue insisting that we are headed for man-made destruction with such a slim array of facts. They need to believe.

    I end by saying that Steve M. has done a remarkably fine job with this thread.

  130. ponte
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 2:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Al Gore’s “certainty” is a reflection of the state of climate science as documented by the IPCC and the NAS, not his wishful thinking. Comparing Gore’s well-grounded understanding of the science to Bush’s messianic resource grabs in the Middle East is just plain silly. Cripes, Bush had to be briefed on the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites. That would be like briefing Gore on the difference between the Arctic vs. the Antarctic.

    Btw, Gore was quoting Herman Daly on the topic of earth as a business in liquidation. You’re obviously speaking outside of your field of expertise.

  131. ponte
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 2:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    bee wrote:

    Why would any scientist go to hear a scientific lecture from a Gore?

    Gee, do you think maybe because scientists would be interested in a lecture by a politician because they are concerned about public POLICY?

  132. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 2:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    So, I clearly state that Gore is not a scientist, and bee comes back lecturing me about how Gore is not a scientist? Uhhh… what?

  133. jae
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 2:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    DONTE: please don’t tell us that you believe the Artic ice cap will be gone in 40 years!

  134. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I;ve been chuckling at the stuff about the ‘amygdula’ too. Some of y’all might start here –

    “Derived from the Greek for almond, the amygdala sits in the brain’s medial temporal lobe, a few inches from either ear. Coursing through the amygdala are nerves connecting it to a number of important brain centers, including the neocortex and visual cortex. “More and more we’re beginning to believe, and the evidence is pointing to the idea, that it’s the circuits that are important, not just the structure per se,” says Ned Kalin, professor of psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison. “And in this particular case the circuitry between the frontal cortical regions of the brain may be critical in regulating emotion and in guiding emotion-related behaviors.”
    emphasis added
    http://www.biopsychiatry.com/amygdala.htm

    or here

    [SNIP long quote from Wikipedia - Lee stop spamming this comment thread]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala

  135. ponte
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve McIntyre wrote:

    I’m with rocks on this.

    Oh really? You mean, you actually want to talk substance instead of invoking ExxonMobil astroturf and resurrecting six year old partisan smears? I don’t think so. Your agenda is obvious.

  136. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

    136 – I agree. If SteveM had any real interest in a substantive discussion, he would not have begun his Gore piece with a fat joke, and suffused it with snark.

  137. bender
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #136 Impugining motive without reason is against blog rules. What is it that makes Steve M’s “agenda” “obvious”? Maybe you are just paranoid? AFAI can tell the obvious agenda is simply due diligence, data sharing, and an obligation to update data wherever you have uncertain science supporting trillion-dollar policy decisions. Is this unreasonable?

  138. ponte
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    jae wrote:

    DONTE: please don’t tell us that you believe the Artic ice cap will be gone in 40 years!

    OK, if it progresses at the current rate of decrease, it will be gone in about 60 years.

  139. ponte
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    bender wrote:

    Impugining motive without reason is against blog rules.

    I made my reasoning perfectly clear. Try reading and then clicking on the links that I provided.

    What is it that makes Steve M’s “agenda” “obvious”?

    Exactly what I specified: the invocation of those two partisan and unsubstantive character attacks on Gore. Click on the links.

  140. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #136, 137. You are quite welcome to pick one of hundreds of threads and comment on any one of them if you wish to discuss content. They are there for substantive discussion of which this blog is exemplary. Given that I was at the AGU convention and Gore was speaking, I felt that I had an obligation to go to the Gore lecture and report back. If the subsequent thread lacks scientific content, it was because there was no scientific content in the talk. If you feel that I left out some scientific utterance of Gore’s in my synopsis, please inform me and I will edit the headnotes accordingly. IF you are unable to provide any such example, then please acknowledge the possibility that my synopsis is pretty accurate (as TAC who was there has acknowledged.)

  141. Jeff Weffer
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    DONTE – OK, if it progresses at the current rate of decrease, it will be gone in about 60 years

    How is all the ice going to be “gone” if the North Pole has 6 months of darkness each year?

    It is -35C there right now. Are you saying the North Pole will warm by 40C in 60 years?

  142. Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Unfortunately there’s no point in trying for substantive discussion when Al Gore didn’t provide one. Al Gore’s speech was style over substance, which is not surprising for a politician I know.

    We’ve already seen that the ExxonMobil angle is a bust, but it will be repeated and amplified via the Internet like all good urban legends and conspiracy theories. “If its not true, then it should be true”.

    Like a lot of people, I was surprised that Al Gore didn’t become US President in 2000, and I’m sure that if he had, then the US and UK wouldn’t be in Iraq today (I offer no opinion on whether the events of 9/11/2001 would still have happened).

    But a slick presentation does not make Gore’s thesis on climate change any less evanescent and the proposed solution to this supposed crisis any more plausible or economically palatable to the US Congress now than it was when he was VeeP. His leaning on the solidly debunked Hockey Stick in “An Inconvenient Truth” does not help his case either.

  143. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

    SteveM, you apparently don’t know what the amygdala is (you cant even spell it) it DOES connect to the neocortex, and, probably at lest in part via those connections, it modulates emotional learning. I just made a post relevant to the discussion. That particular snark of yours has come up over and over in this thread – I just made ONE FRICKING POST injecting some real science on the topic, and you cut it out as spam?

  144. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #129 — “The more I think about it, the more Gore seems like W – in the sense of both having shallow knowledge and great certainty.

    And like GWB, Gore sees no problem with diverting Federal money into “faith-based initiatives.” That came out during his run for the US presidency. With regard to the pollution of politics with religion, Gore is as dangerous as Bush, and from your description of his speech and his other climataceous activities it seems that Gore also sees no problem in polluting science with faith-based initiatives, too.

  145. bender
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #140 Heard it all before. I think my alternative hypothesis in #138 is more compelling than your linkies.
    Re #144 Lee admonishing somone ovr splling. Tht’s frckng fnny!

  146. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    BTW, Steve, I AM discussing content in some of those other threads, as you know.

    Y’all might also note that I’m not defending Gore, and haven’t – I don’t get my science forom Al Gore, and hes a bit goy who can take care of himself. What I’ve been commenting on is the level of snark and juvenile attack (fat jokes, for gods sake…) on a blog that has posted rules about appropriate behavior perilously cllose to what waas posted here. Adn also, pointing out some relevant facts that seem to have been missed here and there.

  147. Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    No – I cut it out because a) you’d already supplied the link b) its unnecessary to post large chunks of it into the comment and c) its an irrelevance to what Gore was supposed to be talking about (or perhaps someone can supply the missing piece of logic that links climate to brain structure).

    That’s what I call spamming – posting large chunks of irrelevant information into a blog in order to stop discussion of substantive issues.

  148. bender
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #145 America’s love of megalomaniac posers is not a good thing.

  149. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    no bender, I’m admonishing him over making snark when he doesn’t know the subject. That wasn’t a typo – he repeated it several times. It was ignorance, and he was snarking from ignorance.

  150. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I went to the link labelled as six-year old partisan smears , which turned out to have an interesting and balanced account of Al Gore’s unfortunate remark about “creating the Internet”. The chronology in that account makes it clear that Gore had a relatively solid legislative record on the topic and stuck his foot in his mouth in an interview with Wolf Blitzer. But the link makes it completely clear that it wasn’t “partisan smears” that gave legs to the malapropism, but Leno and Letterman and the general public.

    The article linked above put Bill Clinton in the fray a week after the remark:

    Even President Bill Clinton joined the frivolity, joking to the Gridiron Club a week after the CNN interview:

    “Al Gore invented the Internet. For the record, I, too, am an inventor. I invented George Stephanopoulos.”
    (Source: Boston Globe, March 28, 1999.)

    The excuse provided in the link was this:

    Clearly, Blitzer is asking Gore to offer an explanation of how he differs as a politician from other politicians in general, and his rival at the time, Bill Bradley, in particular ….

    Here Gore appears to have been caught off guard a bit by the question, rambling a bit as he seeks to vocalize a responsive answer.

    I don’t understand why an experienced politician should have been “caught offguard” by such a routine question. That’s just as bad, if that’s the excuse. The link above gives some contemporary Letterman and Leno accounts:

    And indeed, Jay Leno and David Letterman had worked the story into their monologues – and other material. Letterman’s “Top Ten List” for June 16, 1999, was entitled the “Top Ten Things Starr Has Found Out About Al Gore.” Entry number 7 was:

    Although he didn’t invent the internet [sic], he did invent those annoying bits of punctuation that look like sideways faces :-)

    By December the joke hadn’t lost its appeal to Letterman and his writers. The December 3, 1999 Top Ten list demonstrates:

    Top Ten Other Achievements Claimed By Al Gore

    10. Was first human to grow an opposable thumb

    9. Only man in world to sleep with someone named “Tipper”

    8. Current Vice President – Moesha fan club

    7. He invented the dog

    6. While riding bicycle one day, accidentally invented the orgasm

    5. Pulled U.S. out of early 90’s recession by personally buying 6,000 T-shirts

    4. Starred in CBS situation comedy with Juan Valdez, “Juan for Al, Al for Juan”

    3. Was inspiration for Ozzy Osboune song “Crazy Train”

    2. Came up with popular catchphrase “Don’t go there, girlfriend”

    1. Gave mankind fire

    The public quickly chimed into the fray soon after the CNN interview, as well. Note, for instance, this letter from Lew Pritchett of Placentia, California printed on March 19, 1999 in the Los Angeles Times:

    Up until Gore’s announcement, all I knew of his inventions was global warming. And now, the Internet too? Wow, what a guy!

    The article goes on:

    This was not the first time Gore has overreached. A year ago Gore told reporters that he and his wife, Tipper, at the time when they were college sweethearts, were the inspiration for the novel “Love Story.” That came as news to the befuddled author, Erich Segal.

    Its take on the events:

    No doubt that record is what he sought to convey in his answer to Blitzer. If Al Gore had chosen a slightly different formulation for his extemporaneous statement, none of this discussion would have ensued. For instance, this statement might have avoided the repetition and ridicule:

    While I was serving in the Senate, I took the initiative in supporting the basic research necessary to create the Internet as we know it today.

    But Gore – and the nation – are stuck with the words he chose and the reaction that followed. Gore’s slight misstatement, and its subsequent magnification, distortion, and frequent repetition, stymie Gore in any attempt he might want to make to use his record on Internet issues during the current campaign. He simply can’t raise the subject in a serious way. He is reduced to joining in the joking himself.

    This wasn’t a “partisan smear” cooked by Karl Rove. Gore delivered himself into the hands of Leno and Letterman. Should he be allowed to get on with his life without this malapropism trailing him around? I doubt that I’d have mentioned it if he had delivered a sensible speech. But the neocortex-amygdula stuff, monks and dead languages, it was, in a sense, a continuation of the malapropisms. IF Gore is to get free of past silly comments, then best he stop making present silly comments.

  151. Hans Erren
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 3:54 PM | Permalink | Reply
  152. ponte
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steven McIntyre wrote:

    This wasn’t a “partisan smear” cooked by Karl Rove. Gore delivered himself into the hands of Leno and Letterman. Should he be allowed to get on with his life without this malapropism trailing him around? I doubt that I’d have mentioned it if he had delivered a sensible speech. But the neocortex-amygdula stuff, monks and dead languages, it was, in a sense, a continuation of the malapropisms. IF Gore is to get free of past silly comments, then best he stop making present silly comments.

    This remark betrays deliberate ignorance about how the “invented the Internet” myth made it into the media. Gore’s statement didn’t appear in the hands of the comedians overnight. As my cite explains and you ignored, Gore’s statement was first manipulated and the amplified by Republican politicians before becoming a nation-wide meme.

    Many reports linked Gore’s misstatement with previous Gore gaffes. For instance, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times editorialized in its March 24, 1999 edition:

    Gore’s recent statement that as a member of Congress he had taken the initiative in “creating the Internet” drew hoots of laughter, especially from Republicans. Gore has long been a promoter of the Internet, but he didn’t invent it. Trying to keep a straight face, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott quickly issued a news release claiming that he invented the paper clip.

    The editorialist saw the Internet statement as part of a pattern of hype, of Gore overstating his own accomplishments. Like Lott, other politicians saw Gore’s statement as fodder for ridicule. Dan Quayle took up the bait, quoted as saying, “If Gore invented the Internet, then I invented Spell-Check.”

    And indeed, Jay Leno and David Letterman had worked the story into their monologues – and other material. Letterman’s “Top Ten List” for June 16, 1999, was entitled the “Top Ten Things Starr Has Found Out About Al Gore.” Entry number 7 was:

    It took four months for the Republican attacks to metastasize into mainstream comedy programs. It didn’t start with Letterman and Leno. They were merely riffing on what the Republicans had brought into our national discourse. So, please don’t try to cite this as an example of Gore’s malapropisms. A quick review of the timeline shows that it is a quintessential example of how the partisan public relations industry shapes public discourse.

  153. Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    A quick review of the timeline shows that it is a quintessential example of how the partisan public relations industry shapes public discourse.

    Please spare us all the notion that Gore wasn’t being partisan, then or now.

  154. ponte
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    And, yes, Clinton also riffed on the meme. That doesn’t change the fact that it was initiated as a Republican smear. If Steve McIntyre was so concerned about superficial reasoning, he wouldn’t have recycled such hokum.

  155. ponte
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    John A wrote:

    Please spare us all the notion that Gore wasn’t being partisan, then or now.

    That’s a non sequitur. Where did I say he wasn’t partisan? He’s a politician. I’m talking about Steve McIntyre who claims to be a scientist without a partisan agenda.

  156. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #153. The same article involves Bill Clinton one week after the malapropism,

    Even President Bill Clinton joined the frivolity, joking to the Gridiron Club a week after the CNN interview:

    “Al Gore invented the Internet. For the record, I, too, am an inventor. I invented George Stephanopoulos.”
    (Source: Boston Globe, March 28, 1999.)

    The Top Tens from June 1999 may be some of the easily retrievable stuff, but if Bill Clinton was joking about it one week later, I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that Leno and Letterman were all over it before Clinton spoke to the Gridiron Club.

    I’m sure that the Republicans were piling on as well and doing whatever they could to stir the pot. Wasn’t this around the time that the execrable impeachment proceedings had just ended?

  157. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Thank goodness johnA is working so hard intis thread to eliminate “posting large chunks of irrelevant information into a blog in order to stop discussion of substantive issues.”.

    John A: Yep. Not everything you think of cutting and pasting into this blog is relevent. Just get over yourself.

  158. Jim Edwards
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #153, ponte

    Not everything that goes badly for whichever ‘team’ we support is a conspiracy of our team’s ‘enemies’.

    The IPCC ‘consensus’ reports could have flaws without a grand conspiracy existing, and Al Gore’s dumb comments can be highlighted in the public square without a vast, right-wing conspiracy.

    Human beings like to jump on the bandwagon. It may be that republicans took early pleasure at the apparent disconnect from reality evident in some of the Vice-President’s remarks – but if the joke has legs it will eventually run on its own. You don’t need a Karl Rove behind the curtain to make things happen. The marketplace of culture works just like the economic marketplace – people want to read the same books, tell the same jokes, and wear the same clothes as the Oprahs and football captains of our society.

    Our science and policy discourses could be less painful if people weren’t constantly assuming that everything that doesn’t go their way is an attack by the forces of darkness. [Apparently, Karl Rove and Nancy Pelosi each spend 6000 hrs a day directing the forces of Mordor...]

  159. Jean S
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    First, IMO, this has been the worst and most irrelevant discussion I’ve seen here for a while. Second, I just can not understand what motive a new (?) poster ponte has to come to this blog to talk about politics? Is that only thing you feel comfortable enough to discuss? Or are you paid by A. Gore/Dem. party?

  160. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Here’s Frank Bruni’s article from March 13, 1999. But folks, tell you what. I’ve struck out the created the Internet jibe which was re-cycled, and replaced it with a more balanced statement from the link kindly provided above referring to Gore’s legislative record as “took the initiative in supporting the basic research necessary to create the Internet as we know it today.”  I have tried to use a non-confrontational account of Gore’s legislative record – that make everyone happy?

  161. Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    That’s a non sequitur. Where did I say he wasn’t partisan? He’s a politician. I’m talking about Steve McIntyre who claims to be a scientist without a partisan agenda.

    I’m sorry I must have missed the point. Are you saying its off limits for Republican politicians to seek to make partisan statements about the then Vice-President? Now, THAT would be a non sequitur.

    My point is that Al Gore’s statements in “An Inconvenient Truth” were partisan and his speech to the AGU I would surmise was also partisan.

    Also, and you may have missed this point, Al Gore is not the Democratic Party and its perfectly possible to support the Democrats, for example, without necessarily supporting Al Gore – he represents a strand of opinion within that party. Its also not an attack to accuse Gore of being a politician.

    It IS a non sequitur to expect Steve McIntyre to not criticize Al Gore on scientific grounds (on the clear opinion that in a scientific conference he gave a non-scientific speech). If Gore is unconvincing then he’s unconvincing and it implies nothing about Steve McIntyre’s political belief system.

    If Al Gore does have a personality flaw (or more than a flaw) it is his tendency under pressure to make statements which can be viewed as exaggerations or conflations of the truth. For that reason, the “Gore invented the Internet” story has staying power not because of the Republicans but because of Al Gore’s own flaws known even to his political allies. I remember reading an article in a liberal-leaning journal begging Al Gore not to run again for President – and I’d have to say that I tended to agree with the sentiments of the article.

    That said, I can cite (although not on this blog because its not the place to do so) many. many statements and actions by Al Gore while in office or after that I personally support. But on the substance of his claims about past climate I’m afraid that Gore is flat-out wrong. He’s been misled.

  162. Lee
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 4:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    JeanS, when SteveM began his post with a fat joke about Al Gore, and then filled the rest of it with snark, he signalled what he was going to get in this thread. I’m really amused at JohnS censoring me for being non-substantive, in one of the few factual posts with relevant citations on the entire thread.

    But I will point out that in current ongoing threads where I am currently discussing substantive issues, we have Sadlov saying that a statement about the methodology of the GRACE gravitometry experiment shows that the radar people are lying. He made the flat-out bald claim, and is being defended by others who also clearly have no clue what the GRACE experiment actually is. And we have willis quote mining to get Hansen saying pretty much exactly the opposite of what Hansen actually said – so no, I’m not sure this is the worst discussion of late. And also saying that he gets trends different by 0.2CD, with significant figs to tenths, from data measured off a graph, and claiming that this shows taht Hansen was wrong about what Hansen actually didn’t say, with no statistical test of whether those figures are actually different – and in fact, arguing that one cant do such a test because of the data.

    So no, I’m not convinced that this is “the worst and most irrelevant discussion I’ve seen here for a while.”

  163. Chris O'Connell
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 5:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Interesting article by Al Gore: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/core/Content/displayPrintable.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/19/nclim19.xml&site=5&page=0

    I like where he states:
    The NAS stated that the late 20th-century warming in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the past 1,000 years and probably for much longer than that.

  164. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 5:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Lee, why don’ t you make your own blog? There’s even a link here to do so. Then you can write the commentary correctly. You seem to be an expert of how it all should be said and done. Go for it. I’d like to see what you’d come up with myself.

  165. ponte
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 5:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    John A wrote:

    I’m sorry I must have missed the point. Are you saying its off limits for Republican politicians to seek to make partisan statements about the then Vice-President? Now, THAT would be a non sequitur.

    Yes, it would be. That’s two for you.

    Steve McIntyre:
    The corrections have improved your synopsis but the inflammatory opening statement about Gore’s girth and the “penguin army” remains. I’m still not entirely convinced that you are interested in a good faith dialogue on the science and policy of climate change.

    Lee:
    Yes, it is disheartening to see so much misquoting of Hansen, Gore and others. That is what bothers me the most. I have no problem with sincere skeptical inquiry, but the deliberate misrepresentation is truly mendacious.

  166. bender
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 5:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Gore’s statement about “taking the initiative to create the internet” has legs not because of anything anyone made out of it, but because it is symptomatic of something larger about the guy. And this has nothing to do with right-wing republicans and media bias and everything to do with the public perception of who the guy really is. He wants to be the great savior – not out of a sense of public service, but out of an egomaniacal desire to be known and remembered as one of the World’s Great Men. He wants so badly to be recognized as a visionary leader (he envisioned the power of the internet long before most of the rest of us) that he will likely never achieve that status. People just aren’t convinced he’s all that visionary. Bandwagon Al has a vision alright; but it is not of a path for me and you. It is of a path for himself. A path of destiny. A path to power that is simple and easy, based on a New Religious Fervor, and not on the political art of rational compromise.

    Al ain’t no democrat.

    And the presidency is probably not a big enough prize for this man’s ego.

  167. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 5:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #166
    Who cares what you think ?
    Who cares what you are convinced of?

  168. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 6:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #156 — “That’s a non sequitur. Where did I say he wasn’t partisan? He’s a politician. I’m talking about Steve McIntyre who claims to be a scientist without a partisan agenda.

    Scientists, like everyone else, may have political opinions. That right extends to ex-mining enterpreneurs. If you have a point to make, show that Steve’s “agenda” infects his science and his statistical analyses. That’s the only important issue.

    If you can’t do that then you’ll have to admit, either outright or by implication, that your griping here is itself no more than an agenda-inspired red herring.

    #149 — You’ve got that right, Bender. Our national flirtations with theocracy are an occasion of ever-raised hackles.

  169. TAC
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 6:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #129 The more I think about it, the more Gore seems like W

    A similar thought was going through my mind during Gore’s talk: The 2000 U.S. election did not offer great choices. Instead of thinking critically and sharply — like Clinton, for example — Gore and W seem to rely instead on strongly held opinions (including their commendable “personal values”), and a large dose of bluster. It is not clear that either knows how to ask tough questions, to truly understand an issue from multiple perspectives, to command facts, or even to recognize ignorance in himself or in others.

  170. Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 6:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ponte:

    perhaps you’d like to explain the two non-sequiturs, because I can’t see any except yours. You quote Steve thus:

    This wasn’t a “partisan smear” cooked by Karl Rove. Gore delivered himself into the hands of Leno and Letterman. Should he be allowed to get on with his life without this malapropism trailing him around? I doubt that I’d have mentioned it if he had delivered a sensible speech. But the neocortex-amygdula stuff, monks and dead languages, it was, in a sense, a continuation of the malapropisms. IF Gore is to get free of past silly comments, then best he stop making present silly comments.

    and your reply is the non-sequitur:

    This remark betrays deliberate ignorance about how the “invented the Internet” myth made it into the media. Gore’s statement didn’t appear in the hands of the comedians overnight. As my cite explains and you ignored, Gore’s statement was first manipulated and the amplified by Republican politicians before becoming a nation-wide meme.

    That isn’t an answer to what Steve actually said. The notion that Steve made reference to Al Gore’s repeated malapropisms is nothing more than a statement of broad truth that any rational person could agree with. It is not partisan to criticise Al Gore for something that both parties admit is a Gore trait, nor even for Bill Clinton to make a joke at his VP’s expense, because Clinton recognizes a political gaffe when he sees one.

    It is YOU who makes Steve’s words into a partisan statement. This is the same flawed logic that alleges that because Steve has demonstrated that one of the key pieces of evidence used to promote global warming and economic vices like the Kyoto Protocol turns out to be fake somehow means that Steve has aligned himself with right-wing republicans or neo-cons or ExxonMobil or [insert rightwing hate figure here]. THAT’s the partisan statement.

    I repeat: to criticize Gore for vagueness and meaningless oratory at a scientific conference is not partisan, but may certainly be intellectually defensible, regardless of one’s personal political beliefs. Gore’s penchant for exaggeration has been noted by liberal commentators as well as conservative.

  171. Geoff Larsen
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 6:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    131: Ponte wrote:-

    “Al Gore’s “certainty” is a reflection of the state of climate science as documented by the IPCC and the NAS, not his wishful thinking”.

    IMO Al Gore’s “certainty” goes far beyond being “a reflection of the state of climate science as documented by the IPCC and the NAS”.

    I admire Al’s zeal and the way he has freed himself from the ghost of Bill Clinton and the ridiculous specter of his own “hanging-chad” defeat and become his own man. He obviously thinks deeply about the health of our planet.

    However I have a major problem with the content of what he preaches and his unacceptable politicization of the science behind climate change.

    See for example Prometheus, Nov 20, 2006
    “In yesterday’s Telegraph (UK) Al Gore has a lengthy article on climate change science and policy. In the piece Mr. Gore includes an egregious and unquestionable misrepresentation of the science of disasters and climate change. This is unfortunate, because it detracts from a compelling argument for action in the same piece”.
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/000993al_gore_at_his_best.html

  172. jae
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 7:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    167: brilliant analysis, IMHO.

  173. jae
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 7:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    139: donte: ROFLAMO. Please give some citations that show any possible mechanism for such a thing to happen.

  174. David Smith
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 8:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t care for the political angles in all of this, but I do have a question: If Al Gore has been misinterpreted about the “creating the internet”, has he issued a clarification?

  175. Mencius
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 8:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve,

    Just for the record – from a lurker and general huge fan – it’s “amygdala,” not “amygdula.”

  176. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 9:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #153. The same article involves Bill Clinton one week after the malapropism

    I guess somehow “the Republicans” and their “smear” must have been so intense in that seven days so as to brainwash Clinton into making that joke.

  177. Tim Ball
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 9:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think if you check you will find the Canadian researcher said the summer ice will be all gone in 40 years. As happens so often this was transformed, usually because of misleading headlines, to all the ice being gone in that time. I don’t believe it even of the summer ice. At present there is about 5 million square kilometers of summer ice pack. The estimated 9% decrease since 1954 is an aberration and almost all a result of a change in measuring techniques. Extrapolate that false figure forward and you cannot remove all the summer ice in 34 years. Even allowing for a small decrease in summer ice extent since 1980 when satelite data was stabilized as the standard, you are even further removed from the ice loss estimate. I am not aware of any research showing the extent of the summer melt during the MWP or the 1940s both of which the warmer than today, but I doubt if the summer ice was completely gone at either time.

  178. EP
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 9:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

    If a politician makes an extraordinary claim, such as Gore during that CNN interview, then he either needs to substantiate it or retract it. Gore did neither. The myth grew because he didn’t have the sense to nip it in the bud.

  179. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 10:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #166. Ponte and others feel that the following reference to Gore’s girth and penguin army are still inappropriate.

    Gore has gotten a little stout over the years and a little jowly, as though he was subconsciously morphing into a shape more suitable to lead a penguin army.

    As someone who is the same age as Gore, my girth unfortunately is also such that I am merely observing something that is a problem for men in their 50s. I have amended the comment to include myself in girth deprecation. I also don’t wish to rely on re-cycled material and have accordingly deleted the comment about “penguin army” and replaced it with the following comment that neither Lee nor ponte can criticize as being re-cycled (and hopefully can endorse).

    His speech was a type of sermon: a few well-practised jokes to start, a commentary on selected verses followed by a call to commit. Gore himself has gotten a little stout over the years (not that I can throw stones on this count) and a little jowly, so his presentation and appearance resulted in a type of secular avatar of Jerry Falwell.

  180. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 10:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Going back to how Gore got tagged with the internet invention thing. It looks it was all over the Sunday news shows the week following his claim. See this report from Monday March 15, 1999. Trent Lott and Dick Armey seem to have been very quick on the draw in teasing Gore, but it obviously resonated. It would be interesting to know how long it took before Leno and Letterman got into the act; I’m sure that they would have been on it before June 1999.

    Sunday’s This Week on ABC and Late Edition on CNN played the clip of Vice President Al Gore claiming on Tuesday’s Late Edition/Prime Time: “During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Panelists on both shows noted how Trent Lott has now claimed in jest to have created the paper clip while Dick Armey says he created the interstate highway system.

    The entire exchange with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, in RealPlayer format, can be viewed by going to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html

    Time’s Margaret Carlson made it her Outrage of the Week on CNN’s Capital Gang, wondering: “Is being a heartbeat away from the Whopper-in-Chief rubbing off on Gore?”

  181. MarkR
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 11:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I still like the Penguin image idea.

  182. Tim Lambert
    Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 11:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bob Somerby has a detailed account of how the Republican party created the fake story about how Gore and the Internet.

  183. Posted Dec 16, 2006 at 11:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The creating the internet thing was taken a symptomatic of a ‘Walter Mitty’ complex which is still part of his character as Steve characterized throughout his post. The claim itself wasn’t really the point.

  184. McCall
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 12:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

    re: 181
    Waaayyy to PC for me — fat guys lecturing/preaching in dark or especially black tux’s or suits resemble penguins — it’s why they’re often characterized as “penguin suits.” The symbolic association with GW and penguins is secondary, and apologies or modifications are unnecessary.

    The scientifically/mathematically challenged devotees of AGW, trolling this board should disconnect their NG-tubes from RC, and their enemas from wikipedia — their lack of technical background to discern just shows them to be the medical equivalent of “full of it!” Get a life — one would no more get their climate science from an AGW policy wonk like VP Gore (or anti-AGW policy wonk like Sen. Imhofe), as they would get their Physics or Therm’s from CA’s resident AGW-tube connected pretenders. They teach one little, and actually submits one to risks of becoming dumber from the listening/reading experience. Mann-Bear-Pigs just aren’t to be take seriously.

  185. MarkR
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 12:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #183 Hi Tim. Seen this?

    Linky

  186. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 1:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Here are two interesting articles from wired.com. The author claims that his article of March 11, 1999 was the first article to call Gore on his March 9, 1999 malapropism. It’s interesting that an online source (wired.com) seems to have taken the lead.

    http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,18390,00.html

    http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,39301,00.html

  187. MarkR
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 1:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The Cable Guy?
    03/09/1996
    Installing computer cables with President Bill Clinton on NetDay at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord, CA.

  188. MJW
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 3:57 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Bob Somerby has a detailed account of how the Republican party created the fake story about how Gore and the Internet.

    When someone says he “took the initiative to create the internet,” it doesn’t require a whole lot of spinning to make people think he claimed he created the internet.

  189. Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 6:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #139

    The Northpole did melt during the MWP more than today. From a recent publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research (14 April 2006):
    “The degree of summer melt was significantly larger during the period 1130-1300 than in the 1990s”.
    They used d18O, sodium/magnesium and potassium/chloride ion pairs in a Svalbard ice core as proxy for summer melt and sea ice extension.

  190. Jeff Weffer
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 7:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I thought Steve’s post was creative, humorous, entertaining, accurately descriptive and it was to the point.

    Al Gore is spreading urban myth and misrepresenting the facts which is the enemy of true science.

    Those of you who didn’t like it (need to get over your false righteous indignation first and learn to be less sensitive) but you are also the ones who like Al Gore’s message (urban myth and mispresentation of fact that is.)

  191. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 8:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    thought Steve’s post was creative, humorous, entertaining, accurately descriptive and it was to the point.

    We thought so as well-husband and I. We wish SteveM wouldn’t change his commentary to satisfy only a few thin skinned complainers.

    Turns out, according to a Nature News Blog post, Gore trailed off about the ambydubul-la-la because he has a book coming out:

    But he also tested the waters on a new topic – the loss of reason as a driving force in America. There are reports he will have a book out early next year, The Assault on Reason.

    So his, [according to Lee] stately scientific sidebar about the brain and how we reason may have been a book promotion.

    They say everything happens for a reason. We are glad he did not become our President.

  192. L Nettles
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 8:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Laughing Out Loud. So this contentious thread is an example of how we got to be the Time Magazine’s Person of the Year With all due credit to Al for making it possible of course.

  193. Cliff Huston
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 8:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    RE#191 Welikerocks

    So the new solution to AGW deniers is to pity them, because their brains are damaged. Yeah, that will work. :)

  194. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 8:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Yes Cliff we must understand -they are smarter and have better brains then we do. Next they will cry Resistance is Futile!

    There is a raw video of his 52 min speech hosted at the ABC 7 San Fran/Oakland website. If you google there’s a couple of articles about his talk at the AGU, but none of them have any real thoughts or content. [You get the same idea as here reading them-no one is allowed to critique him] This comment about the book is the only one I’ve seen so far, and that is a blog entry.

  195. Welikerocks
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 8:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    In fact, the only article I can find is one written by “By ALICIA CHANG
    AP Science Writer” and no doubt its been approved and sent round the globe -it’s the only one that comes up on Google- hosted at different sites.

    Everything they accuse deniars of-is exactly what they do.

  196. Rick Clark
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 9:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

    That’s an amazing photo of networking technicians Clinton and Gore installing the internet! So not only did Gore invent the internet, but he INSTALLED it too!!!!! Really, my friends, this Al Gore is altogether too modest. Too, too modest indeed!

    Truly, why does he waste his time touring the country giving speeches, when he is such a talented inventor? There are so many things that need to be invented, after all. Mr. Gore, please have mercy on the earth, please invent something to save the earth.

  197. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 17, 2006 at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I think that we’ve pretty much exhausted this topic. There was no actual scientific discussion in Gore’s speech and I don’t want to discuss nuances of 1999 American politics on this forum, although it’s interesting and I got drawn into the discussion. I agree that Gore should not be judged on some past malapropism.

    As to monks and dead languages, I’m sure that the monks writing in Latin in the middle ages thought that it was a contemporary scientific language every bit as much as a modern programmer in Fortran believes that it is a contemporary language.

    To the extent that Gore commends an ideal of a well-informed citizenry, I also endorse that ideal. Two of the most persistent themes of this blog are full, true and plain disclosure and due diligence, themes consistent with Gore’s well-informed citizenry. So let’s build on this point of agreement. So after this intrusion of politics into the AGU convention and thus onto the blog, let’s go back to science.

  198. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 18, 2006 at 2:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The full Al Gore speech is online here .

    Tim Killeen, PResident of NCAR and AGU, said:

    “He’s so well read into our field that he has a credibility here in this community,” Killeen told LiveScience in an interview. Before the talk, Killeen, AGU president-elect Tim Grove and other members spoke with Gore about climate science. They said Gore weaved the information flawlessly into his speech.

  199. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Dec 18, 2006 at 3:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #199 – Science is an endangered species. Killeen utterly disgusts me.

  200. TAC
    Posted Dec 19, 2006 at 7:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #198

    To the extent that Gore commends an ideal of a well-informed citizenry, I also endorse that ideal. Two of the most persistent themes of this blog are full, true and plain disclosure and due diligence, themes consistent with Gore’s well-informed citizenry.

    Along these lines, the worrisome story about censorship at USGS, which appeared in a newswire story and was cited by Al Gore in his AGU talk, appears to have been based on little more than an unfounded concern expressed by a single USGS marine biologist. The recently released USGS document on “fundamental science practices” addressed peer review, but it introduced no changes to USGS’s longstanding policy (see here for discussion of the policy).

  201. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Dec 19, 2006 at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #201 – Every organization I have ever been in has had its contingent of cranks and detritus disturbers, who thrive on negative attention, and almost seem to invite corrective personnel action with their confrontational demeanor and poor social skills. Often times, such individuals are borderline paranoid and are easy prey for conspiracy theories and are quick to cry “fascism!” in response to boringly normal rules and regulations (not to mention simple etiquette). In today’s anarchic atmosphere, folks like these are in their element, and have learned well how to manipulate a radicalized mainstream media who themselves chafe under even the thin wisp of remaining order and authority within latter day Western society.

  202. Posted Dec 19, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve saved me a trip. I got the flavor of the talk. Thanks.

    Here’s my take on Al Gore.

    First, he IS a Baptist minister, except that something went wrong in this timeline. In this universe he dropped out of divinity school and went into his family business – politics. Al remains the record holder for having reached the highest political office of anyone who studied for the clergy. His fellow clerical-politicians Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Jerry Falwell never rose as far as Al.

    Second, he only supported the Internet by mistake. Read “Where Wizard Stay Up Late” (a history of the Internet). Al Gore was recruited to help get congressional funding for communications infrastructure – which he did. However it is clear he thought he was supporting centralization not decentralization and certainly not distributed computing. Al was a mainframe guy. The World Wide Web is a Libertarian kind of idea. That’s hardly Al Gore’s native political stance.

    Third, Al likes to latch onto a current scientific factoid and use it as a kind of illustration. In his book he acts as if Chaos theory and strange attractors support his world view. He knows the names of the phenomena but he completely misses the implications of Lorenz’s ideas. Similarly he has glommed onto the “hardwiring” of the amygdala to the neo-cortex as illustrating his view that his opponents are too emotional.

    Brain anatomy is a tricky topic. The amygdala is well known as the seat of rage. But other structures such as the hypothalmus also potentiate rage – the hyperphagic hypothalamus rage syndrome. The hypothalamus is “hardwired” to the neo-cortex too – as well as the optical cortex and temporals. Indeed every structure in the limbic system is “hardwired” to something else.

    What would be the alternative? Should sub-cortical structures be free floating, not connected with anything? It is tricky to draw conclusions from brain anatomy. The largest neural bundle in the brain is the Corpus Callosum. It is rather bigger in females, leading some to guess that that’s why women have a better integrated world view (don’t whisper this idea to AL). However years ago as a last ditch effort to combat gran mal epilepsy some surgeons cut this huge nerve bundle. What happened? Nothing as far as anyone could tell at the time. Some theorized that the corpus callosum’s purpose was mechanical – it kept the two brain halves from flopping apart.

    Years later subtle perceptual studies elucidated the role of the Corpus Callosum.

    If brain anatomy is relevant, do the brains of climate deniers differ from those of climate alarmists? Indeed are their wiring differences between Republicans and Democrats? If you think this question is absurd, please realize it is only so when stated so baldly. The purpose of the whole “hardwiring” anecdote is to plant a notion that there is some deeper reason than an honest difference of opinion to account for the current climate dispute.

  203. Loki on the run
    Posted Dec 19, 2006 at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Pat says:

    Indeed are their wiring differences between Republicans and Democrats? If you think this question is absurd, please realize it is only so when stated so baldly.

    Well, there is some evidence for the heritability of political orientation.

    The largest neural bundle in the brain is the Corpus Callosum. It is rather bigger in females, leading some to guess that that’s why women have a better integrated world view (don’t whisper this idea to AL).

    One would have to define what is meant by a better integrated world view. My take is that the fact that women mature, physically and emotionally, earlier than men, for very good (evolutionarily driven) life history reasons, biases most women’s views of the matter.

  204. John Hekman
    Posted Dec 19, 2006 at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Pat (#203) Very interesting.
    I hear Al Gore’s brain anatomy schtick as a variant of a very old elitist attitude that says that the masses are stupid and easily led. Hence, central government, led by wise graduates of elite institutions, should lead these dim-witted masses in the direction that is in their best interest. In the ’70s this resonated with me, as I voted with the Democrats for wise social policies.

    Today I go more with W.F.Buckley’s trenchant statement that he would rather be governed by the first 1000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the arts and sciences faculty of Harvard.

    The public is a lot smarter than Al Gore gives them credit for. In California, a heavily Democratic state, they voted down a proposal to tax the top 1% of taxpayers to fund free pre-school, a feel-good initiative if ever there was one. And they voted against an oil tax to fund “green” energy and a cigarette tax to fund hospital emergency rooms.

    They are also not as stupid as Gore on the “threat” of global warming.

  205. jae
    Posted Dec 19, 2006 at 4:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Gore has been miscast as a penguin. Chicken Little would be more appropriate.

  206. moptop
    Posted Dec 19, 2006 at 4:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Talk about denialists, take a look at comments saying that other than the fat joke the thread originally started with, the post was bereft of substance. There is denialism. How do you even exchange ideas with a person that cannot hear you?

  207. Posted Dec 22, 2006 at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    snip

  208. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2006 at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

    How wise is it to trust a politician who has studied the human brain to that degree? What would a politician do with that kind of knowledge anyway? Would he use it to serve his constituents? Or to subvert his constituents and serve himself?

  209. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Dec 22, 2006 at 11:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #208 – Ironically, it was the Enlightenment which led to the current general set of political practices seen in the West. Prior to it, the mob was controlled by the outright authority, for better or worse, held by the ruling class. Furthermore, that protective stratum also had in its favor an elaborate and time worn set of interlinking mechanisms – guild, church, tribe, nation, etc – which served to moderate if not snuff out completely that intrinsically human “shocked rat” response. The system was moderately liberal in terms of economic freedom and highly regressive and repressive in terms of individual liberty (especially via social and peer pressure to conform to the overarching order). With the Enlightenment, we traded certainty, stability and social order for individual liberty and money power. As the various revolutions bringing the new modern system into being played out, a few thoughtful commentators gave warnings regarding all the conditions of individual responsibility and absolute morality which would need to be in place for the new systems to avoid descending into eventual anarchy and mob rule. What we witness in the current times is frightening, in that clearly, neither individual responsibilty nor moral starkness have survived the vast social upheavals since the mid 1800s. Skillful politicians, and others good at manipulating crowds, continue to barely maintain the ever so slightest modicum of order. This order is increasingly fragile, and any major social or economic shock will terminate it, leading to a terribleness not witnessed for many centuries.

  210. Posted Dec 26, 2006 at 8:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #24 EW,

    Actually the memories in the amygdala are not forever in most people. They decay over time. The half life is dependent on genetics. Check out the CB1 link here:

    PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

  211. Posted Dec 26, 2006 at 9:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #96 Steve,

    Politics is all about the alpha male problem. So Gore is not completely off track. However, his understanding is too narrow for the scope of the problem.

    Rotating the alpha male according to vote instead of revolt is a better system than what biological evolution has provided. It disrupts business less.

  212. Posted Dec 26, 2006 at 9:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #44 Steve,

    Actually the ovation was a good example of the alpha male problem.

    If I were to guess I’d say that Gore exudes aplha male smells. In the sense that we can smell fear. The body is a chemical factory and the skin is a permiable membrane. Emotions generate chemicals. Those chemicals influence behavior in those near by.

    It is good to be able to smell fear. It is good to be able to smell anger. It might be helpful if those smells were as identifiable as lilacs. They aren’t. We just “get a feeling”.

    Example: I was at the anti-LBJ Century City riot in the 60s. I could smell the fear. I decided to leave just before something bad happened in the evening. A woman who I had talked to in the park before the demonstration was not so fortunate, despite my having warned her in the afternoon well before the cops started beating skulls in the evening.

    It may be that my amygdala is more tuned to that stuff than average. Or else I respond differently – avoidance vs confrontation.

  213. Posted Dec 26, 2006 at 9:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I wish I had more to say about the IPPC or climate change. However, I prefer to discuss stuff I have actually studied in depth.

    I do believe the Maunder Minimum, the Little Ice Age, the Medival Optimum, and other facts (the geologic record) confound the AGW believers.

  214. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 27, 2006 at 1:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The AGW believers… who seem to include most of those with expertise in such things as the Maunder Minimum, the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Optimum, and the geologic record. Funny, they don’t seem confounded.

  215. Posted Dec 27, 2006 at 3:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Those would be the same people who are consigning all of those events to the memory holes.

  216. bender
    Posted Dec 27, 2006 at 4:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #215
    To clarify, when Bloom uses the term “AGW believers” he’s talking about those who think the A in AGW is far in excess of 20% of current warming (a subsample of 20 CA skeptics puts A at ~20%). I’m not sure that proponents of A &gt 50% are any more educated on the historical climate record than proponents of A ~ 20%. Most educated people won’t go on record as to their estimate of A because there’s too much climate uncertainty and too much human ignorance to do so with any credibility or authority. i.e. They are conflicted – which is the opposite of what Bloom asserts.

    As long as they can remain anonymous, climate scientists will vote safe with the AGWers. But as soon as they must associate their name with a number to quantify their belief, they will vote with the skeptics. To do otherwise poses too much of a credibility risk.

  217. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 29, 2006 at 10:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In Jay Leno’s monologue tonight, he said that there was a new liposuction procedure that converted fat into biodegradable fuel. He added that Al Gore was going to save the planet all by himself.

  218. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 30, 2006 at 1:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #217: My response in 215 was an attempt to note that M. Simon was fantasizing. You make a different point, in response to which I would simply note that the AR4 (which I believe will have an assessment in the upper part of that range) has a very long and unanonymous author list. It does seem that scientists prefer to do this stuff in groups, though.

  219. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 30, 2006 at 2:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Just to add that even the TAR (2001) said “it is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.” I don’t recall how they quantified “most,” but well over 50% seems like a fair way to interpret it.

  220. Posted Dec 30, 2006 at 2:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #220: Can you cite exactly where in the TAR (2001) it says what you’ve just quoted?

  221. bender
    Posted Dec 30, 2006 at 2:41 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #219

    AR4 has a very long and unanonymous author list

    You say “very long”; however this list is surely a relatively small (possibly biased) sample of the anonymous community at large. It’s them I’m talking about, not AR4 authors.

  222. bender
    Posted Dec 30, 2006 at 2:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Oh, and Mr Bloom, please refute my #217 directly by providing us with a sample of A values as reckoned by “non-anonymous” AR4 authors. The author list is so “very long” it should take you no time at all to gather 20-50 independent observations, which you could post here for comparison. Good luck getting authors to go on record as to their personal “A”. (Wait, don’t tell me, the mean A is 1.0 and the standard deviation is 0.)

    If you get fewer than 1% response that will make my point. People are happy to sign their name onto some consensus statement as long as no one is going to ask them to state their A and to justify their assumptions.

  223. Posted Dec 30, 2006 at 3:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #220

    Just to add that even the TAR (2001) said “it is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.” I don’t recall how they quantified “most,” but well over 50% seems like a fair way to interpret it.

    They are 50 per cent certain that A is 50 per cent or more.

  224. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Dec 30, 2006 at 3:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #224

    Exactly. You have to be blinded by faith not to see the many exit doors contained in that statement. In all cases, it is always true, and as such it is unfalsifiable. I agree with bender that all will say they believe in AGW but few will commit to a number. Scientists are all cowards. They let the activists do the dirty work.

    Pesrsonally, I suspect A is smaller than 50%, but then what do I know? But having said that, I found that I could support that hypothesis with quite a few peer reviewed papers, so I feel entitled to believe in its plausibility.

  225. Steve Bloom
    Posted Dec 30, 2006 at 7:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #221: That was an exact quote of the characterization in last year’s national science academies’ statement. Do you think it’s inaccurate? But in any event here’s the exact language fropm the TAR Working Group 1 report (“The Scientific Basis”): “In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.”

    Re #223: As I implied above, one of the obvious reasons for these consensus statements is so that individual scientists don’t have to make their own estimates. I agree it would be more fun if more of them behaved differently.

    Re #224: It was bit stronger than that, I think. “Likely” is defined by the TAR to be 66%-90% certain, BTW. I don’t think they define “most,” but in context I think “nearly all” is more accurate than just “greater than 50%.” Had they meant the latter, “majority” would have been a better word to use. In any case, since the AR4 is just weeks away at this point I think it makes sense to continue this discussion until then. Pending that, you might want to familiarize yourself with the term “very likely” as used by the IPCC.

  226. Posted Dec 31, 2006 at 5:00 AM | Permalink | Reply

    No, I asked you to cite exactly where in that report your quotation was pulled from. And when I look for myself, I find that that quote comes from not the scientific text, but from the Summary For Policymakers, the spin doctored and sexed-up hyperventilation tacked onto the front by just three people.

    That quote comes immediately after a laundry list of claims, which begins:

    The SAR concluded: “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate”. That report also noted that the anthropogenic signal was still emerging from the background of natural climate variability. Since the SAR, progress has been made in reducing uncertainty, particularly with respect to distinguishing and quantifying the magnitude of responses to different external influences. Although many of the sources of uncertainty identified in the SAR still remain to some degree, new evidence and improved understanding support an updated conclusion.

    * There is a longer and more closely scrutinised temperature record and new model estimates of variability. The warming over the past 100 years is very unlikely7 to be due to internal variability alone, as estimated by current models. Reconstructions of climate data for the past 1,000 years (Figure 1b) also indicate that this warming was unusual and is unlikely to be entirely natural in origin.

    Of course the reference to Figure 1b is to the notorious fake known as the Mann Hockey Stick.

    So once again Bloom, despite a thorough debunking of the said scientific disgrace, you still make reference to a political statement that rests wholly upon the veracity the Hockey Stick. But then of course, no-one here would accuse you of having any shame.

    Certainly not me.

  227. Posted Dec 31, 2006 at 8:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #226

    Thanks for clarification.

    So,

    0.66 is less than P(A is greater than 50 %) is less than 0.9

  228. Steve Bloom
    Posted Jan 2, 2007 at 9:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #227: The identical phrase appears in the technical summary (E8).

  229. Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 3:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    That isn’t an answer is it? The claim at (E8) is made also as a summary to a longer list of claims which rest upon the veracity of the Hockey Stick, which you’ll find again at http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/012.htm#surface this time as Figure 5.

    The characterization is not valid because it rests upon a key study now known to be false.

    I know that the stable climate myth is a key belief for you, but try to give it up. It’s false and its been known to be false for a long time.

  230. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Anyone see this over at the other place?:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/12/2006-year-in-review/

  231. Steve Bloom
    Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 12:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #230: Not an answer? You specifically said “I asked you to cite exactly where in that report your quotation was pulled from” and then complained that you had been able to find it only in the SPM. Then I told you where to find it in the scientific document. You responded by saying that you don’t like what the contents say. I think I and everyone else here already knew that. In any case your question was answered, thoroughly.

    The irony, John A., is that you’re the one who thinks the present climate (the Pleistocene glaciation) is stable. It looks pretty wobbly to me.

  232. jae
    Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 12:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    231, Steve S: Here’s an alternative to RCs hype.

  233. Stan Palmer
    Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 5:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re 232

    The irony, John A., is that you’re the one who thinks the present climate (the Pleistocene glaciation) is stable. It looks pretty wobbly to me.

    Isn’t the entire point of the Hockey Stick that the recent climate was stable until perturbed by anthropogenic emissions of CO2. This is consistent with the denial of the Little Ice Age, Medieval Warm Period, Holocene Optimum etc. as global events. So it would seem that AGW proponents are the ones who think that the current climate is wobbly while skeptics regard its as “pretty wobbly.”

  234. Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 6:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bloom:

    The irony, John A., is that you’re the one who thinks the present climate (the Pleistocene glaciation) is stable. It looks pretty wobbly to me.

    Have you now resorted to just flat out lies to justify yourself? You make repeated reference to “pre-industrial climate” and then claim that I believe that climate is stable?

    Get over yourself.

    The Pleistocene glaciation (with permanent ice caps, a rarity in the history of Earth) is more than 2 million years long with no signs that its going to come to an end soon. On a much smaller timescales Antarctica is cooling and the major ice sheets are growing. Even if we harnessed all of the earth’s electrical power to heat generation, it would take thousands of years to melt the Antarctic ice sheets.

    It is you Bloom who believe that the natural climate is stable and the current scale is massive and a result of greenhouse warming, which means that once again you articulate the claims of the Hockey Stick without having the moral fiber to admit your attachment to such a fake.

    I don’t fear climate warming at all, but I certainly fear cooling which will put all societies under considerable economic and political stress, as growing seasons decrease and deserts expand, especially in poorer countries.

    The Earth’s climate clearly has metastabilities on many timescales but it also has experienced far more serious climate change in the past than anything we’ve experienced in the last 1000 years. Climate changes on all timescales and the notion of a stable climate is simply a myth concocted on some computers and believed by people who want to believe them.

  235. bender
    Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 6:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The irony, John A., is that you’re the one who thinks the present climate (the Pleistocene glaciation) is stable. It looks pretty wobbly to me.

    Children, please, does “multistable” mean nothing to you?

  236. bender
    Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 6:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The Earth’s climate clearly has metastabilities on many timescales

    Whoops – jumped the gun. Apologies, John A!

  237. Hans Erren
    Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 6:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re 231:

    “Biggest increase in uncertainty as a function of more research:
    Anything to do with aerosols.”

    Which means that the huge aerosol cooling that is needed for a climate sensitivity of 3K/2xCO2 less likely, Rasool and Schneider won’t like this.

    And it’s good news!

  238. Steve Bloom
    Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 7:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #235: “The Pleistocene glaciation (with permanent ice caps, a rarity in the history of Earth) is more than 2 million years long with no signs that its going to come to an end soon.” What I said in #232 second paragraph.

    Re #238: Not unless something happened to make the upper part of the range less likely.

  239. Stan Palmer
    Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 7:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re 239

    Re #235: “The Pleistocene glaciation (with permanent ice caps, a rarity in the history of Earth) is more than 2 million years long with no signs that its going to come to an end soon.” What I said in #232 second paragraph

    So you diasagree with Mann, Hansen … in that the climate is stable.

  240. bender
    Posted Jan 3, 2007 at 11:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think what Bloom is trying to say is that (1) the climate is naturally wobbly between multiple stable states, but that (2) humans are a new destabilizing force leading to (i) a warmer sub-state than has been realized in the past, but (ii) not so runaway unstable as to make Venusian warming scenarios likely (he stated this last part in an old post).

    I am putting words in his mouth, and so apologize if I’ve gotten that wrong.

    i.e. I don’t think he’s arguing that climate is dynamically “stable”, just that, statistically speaking, it’s been wobbling within limited bounds. You have to be careful with loaded terms like “stability”. They mean different things to different types of modelers (statistical vs. dynamical).

    If that is what he’s saying, I suggest we debate that, rather than try to pin him for something he isn’t saying.

  241. Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 2:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Surely the net effect of an increased greenhouse effect would be to damp down climate variability? If the poles warm relative to the tropics, then the major weather-generating temperature gradient would be reduced, leading to less weather variability and fewer extreme weather events. If you want an extreme example of that, try Venus: lots and lots of heat energy, massive greenhouse effect, no weather of any kind.

    Basic meteorology in other words.

    So is Bloom going to back down for accusing me of something that he himself is a fundamentalist believer in? Will he give up the Hockey Stick cold turkey or is he doomed to repeat the claims of the Hockey Stick’s false climate history over and over?

  242. bender
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 2:57 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Surely the net effect of an increased greenhouse effect would be to damp down climate variability?

    You sound so confident. Are you suggesting you are able to out-reason the supercomputer-based GCMs? Or are you arguing that less variable weather is what the GCMs actually predict? (Or maybe this is an honest question?)

    Basic meteorology in other words

    I don’t think Bloom was saying anything here about the amount of chaos-related high-frequency variability to be expected about the new AGwarmer substate. (Although I think he has in the past argued for increased frequency of extreme weather. But that’s quite different from what he’s talking about here.) You aren’t trying to change the topic on him just to win an argument, are you? Because “basic meteorology” says nothing about geologic-scale variability related to state-switching in response to periodic Milankovitch forcings, or changes in attracting substates in response to GHGs.

    I’ll wait until he replies before speculating or arguing any further.

  243. bender
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 3:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    the net effect of an increased greenhouse effect would be to damp down climate variability

    If hot planets have no weather (à?Æ’=0) because of the lack of a polar-equatorial temperature gradient (àŽ”T=0), and cold planets are the same, then somewhere in the middle of that curve (à?Æ’ vs àŽ”T) lies an inflection point, where the temperature gradient and weather variability are maximal. In the case of a warm planet (e.g. Earth) you do not have enough information in your scenario to decide whether increased warming will lead to increased or decreased weather variability. It depends whether you are warming up to or beyond the inflection point. Do we know where Earth sits along that curve? Are we already warmed up past that inflection point? Seems to me your scenario assumes that is the case.

  244. Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 5:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    If hot planets have no weather (à?Æ’=0) because of the lack of a polar-equatorial temperature gradient (àŽ”T=0), and cold planets are the same, then somewhere in the middle of that curve (à?Æ’ vs àŽ”T) lies an inflection point, where the temperature gradient and weather variability are maximal.

    There’s your problem. Cold planets behave the same as hot planets just so long as the difference between temperatures is the same. It doesn’t matter what T is, just what àŽ”T is. So the real answer is if you were to plot (à?Æ’ vs àŽ”T) on a hypothetical planet to which you had god-like powers to change the temperature gradients and as well as the T_equator and T_poles, then you’d get a bunch of curves bunched tightly together and no inflexion points.

    In a real atmosphere, metastable states can happen with resonances between different forcings (like the Milankovic cycles or the c1500 yr solar cycle), but on the Earth, those metastable states contain large amounts of (gasp!) natural variability that alarmists are desperate to remove from the record lest they show up Mount Global Warming Panic to be the molehill it really is.

    There are other variables which affect weather variability on the atmospheres of the planets, like the rotation speed and the amount of internal heat generated, but since no-one (yet! the century is young) is suggesting that man-made global warming is affecting the length of the terrestrial day, then its academic.

    My guess is that the metastable regimes of planet Earth have more variability within them than the transition regimes, but that’s just a guess.

    Trivia question: Which planet has the highest recorded wind speeds?

  245. Stan Palmer
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    re 241

    I think what Bloom is trying to say is that (1) the climate is naturally wobbly between multiple stable states, but that (2) humans are a new destabilizing force leading to (i) a warmer sub-state than has been realized in the past, but (ii) not so runaway unstable as to make Venusian warming scenarios likely (he stated this last part in an old post).

    So is this the reason why hockey stick proponents try to dismiss any possibility of climate variability. That climate moves through a state space and is attracted to regions of local stability unless perturbed by an outside forcing such as anthropogenic CO2. Wouldn’t this suggest the variability as seen in relatively warm and cold periods as the climate is perturbed away from its locally stable state? Why then are they opposed to the idea of the LIA, MWP, HO, etc?

  246. welikerocks
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #245 Is it Jupiter John A? I know Jupiter acts like the vaccumm cleaner of the solar system. If Jupiter didn’t suck in all the space rock and junk floating around, Earth might be pounded with that stuff and it would be bad (we might not be here). I am probably wrong because it sounds like a trick question. :)

    BTW here’s more facts regarding wobbly Earth :

    New Spin on Earth’s Rotation: link Quote: “Climate and weather may not be the only phenomena related to rotation. There are indications that changes in the interior of the Earth may alter the spinning speed, as well as the position of the poles.”

    Weather Makes Earth Wobble: forces of nature

    Earth’s Days Get Longer, Humans Responsible (hmm hmm) :link

    Why Has Date Changed for Start of Spring? (just some trivia) : link

    complicated place earth is!

  247. welikerocks
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 8:35 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #247 sheesh forgot to fix “vacuum”

  248. Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 9:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

    welikerocks: Wrong!

  249. welikerocks
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 9:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    JohnA : yep I looked it up after I guessed!

  250. Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 9:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Interesting isn’t it?

  251. welikerocks
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 10:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    JohnA: yes! My second and third guess would have been wrong too.

  252. Boris
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 10:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

    As long as they can remain anonymous, climate scientists will vote safe with the AGWers. But as soon as they must associate their name with a number to quantify their belief, they will vote with the skeptics. To do otherwise poses too much of a credibility risk.

    This is a rather absurd, no-evidence statement. And it supposes that climate scientists are weak, unprincipled and inconsistent. It is not so far from a conspiracy theory really.

  253. welikerocks
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “The cost of fraud is enormous. Estimated at thirty billion dollar annually, probably three times that. Fraud in science is not rare, and it’s not limited to fringe players. The most respected researchers and institutions have been caught with faked data. Even Francis Collins, that head of NIH’s Geonome Project, was listed as co-author on five faked papers that had to be withdrawn. link added by me

    “The ultimate lesson is that science isn’t special at least not anymore. Maybe back when Einstein talked to Niels Bohr, and there were only a few dozen important workers in every field. But there are now three million researchers in America. It’s no longer a calling, it’s a career. Science is as corruptible a human activity as any other. Its practioners aren’t saints, they’re human beings, and they do what human beings do-lie, cheat, steal from one another, sue, hide data, fake data, overstate their own importance, and denigrate opposing views unfairly. That’s human nature. It isn’t going to change”

    -copied from Michael Crichton’s book, “Next”
    Forward of the book says: “this novel is fiction except for the parts that aren’t”
    (the typos would be mine if any! And I am not shouting fraud here-just a POV on human nature/modern science)

  254. Slartibartfast
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 12:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Comparing Jupiter’s winds to those of Earth is pretty meaningless without also comparing Coriolis and likely some other factors like density.

  255. bender
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 3:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

    John A says:

    There’s your problem. Cold planets behave the same as hot planets just so long as the difference between temperatures is the same. It doesn’t matter what T is, just what àŽ”T is.

    No, that’s not my problem. Because I stated that as a presumption myself in #244.

  256. welikerocks
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 5:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #256 Bender, I think that’s a figure of speech. “Problem” is the fun part here. I think John is from England, right? My English friends have a different inflection. I didn’t read it as if you have a problem. I read it as if you -got- the problem. -as in you understood where he was guiding us in the discussion. (??)

    #255 Not when you are talking about hot and cold all the time and hurricanes. It is kind of interesting. But good point because Earth is also complicated. Jupiter was the wrong answer to the question about recorded wind speed anyway.

  257. bender
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 6:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #256 I realize that, but thanks anyways. Fact is there is a problem in the scenario I presented, but John A’s not got it.

  258. welikerocks
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 6:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #258 Oh ok. gotcha!

  259. Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 6:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    That’s OK bender. There was me thinking I was perfect….

    Can you elaborate a little for us lesser mortals?

  260. bender
    Posted Jan 4, 2007 at 6:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #260
    I’m working it out. Meanwhile, any references to back up the statement that polar-equatorial àŽ”T should “surely” increase with GHGW? [I understand your reasoning. I'm just not convinced that your homogeneity assumptions are met on the real Earth, where ocean and land are not distributed equally among polar and equatorial regions, and GHG forcings interact non-independently with other non-homogeneous forcings and feedbacks.]

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