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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Al Gore, global warming and truth

I voted three times for Al Gore, twice for VP and once for President. I don't regret the first two votes...

The former Vice President spoke before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week. It was not his shining hour. Some of what he said was hyperbole. Some of what he said is just not true. And he, or one of his staff, should surely have known the limits he was transgressing.

For example, when speaking about Arctic ice, he said this:
"New research, which draws upon recently declassified data collected by U.S. nuclear submarines traveling under the Arctic ice cap for the last 50 years ... has told us that the entire Arctic ice cap may totally disappear in summer in as little as five years."
What he might have added was that Arctic ice has only been measured for 30 years, and that it is recovering at the fastest rate ever recorded (from an extreme melt over the past 18 months) and it is more or less (within a standard deviation) back to normal now.

And what is it with Al Gore and 20 feet of sea level rise? He's used it before, it was debunked before, he said it was an honest mistake before--and here it is again:
"A recent study in the journal Science has now confirmed that the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet is warming. Scientists have told us that if it were to collapse and slide into the sea, we would experience global sea level rise of another 20 feet worldwide."
What he didn't bother to tell the Committee was that the study was done by the same discredited scientist who produced the infamous hockey stick (and this study has the same methodological flaws), that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has always been understood to be melting due to the absolutely normal warming that happens during interglacial periods, and that it consists of only 5% of Antarctica, while the other 95% is increasing ice cover by a staggering 100,000 square kilometers per decade. The IPCC predicts a sea level rise of about 0.6 meters this century. Same as last century.

And in a staggering bit of true hypocrisy, Al Gore tries to tie a drought in the Southeast to climate change:
"The American West and the Southeast have been experiencing prolonged severe drought and historic water shortages. A study ... from the Scripps Institute estimated that 60 percent of the changes in the West's water cycle are due to increased atmospheric man-made greenhouse gases."
But what he fails to add is that temperatures in the Southeast have been falling--for 112 years at a rate of 0.12 degrees per decade. And he also fails to mention that drought in the West has been much worse and much worse more frequently in the past, before we began emitting those pesky greenhouse gases.

The statement that takes the cake, however, is this one:
"A number of new studies continue to show that climate change is increasing the intensity of hurricanes. Although we cannot attribute any particular storm to global warming, we can certainly look at the trend. Dr. Greg Holland from the National Center for Atmospheric Research says that we have experienced a 300 to 400 percent increase in category five storms in the past 10 years."
And this is the limit. Every study done in the past 2 years has shown that the energy frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms has fallen to an all time low, causing some respected proponents of the theory to change their minds in a hurry. Every study. There's no excuse for this, Mr. Vice President. At some point, we will have to use the 'L' word.

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