[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]
we can’t wait for someone else
to stop global warming”
The scare: Al Gore launched his $300 million “global warming” ad campaign on 30 March 2008. Lesley Stahl sycophantically described him as the “PR agent for the planet” during a CBS 60 Minutes interview in which he suggested that warmer weather was an urgent problem for the world.
“We all share the exact same interest in doing the right thing on this [“global warming”]. Who are we as human beings? Are we destined to destroy this place that we call home, planet Earth? I can’t believe that that’s our destiny. It is not our destiny. … This is about survival.”
His ads, cited on the program, will say:
“We didn’t wait for someone else to storm the beaches of Normandy. We can’t wait for someone else to stop global warming.”
The truth: Warmer weather caused by greenhouse-gas enrichment of the atmosphere does not threaten our “survival”. It probably doesn’t threaten any harm at all. And we don’t have to wait for someone else to stop global warming, because it has stopped already. For ten years it has not been getting warmer. In the past seven years it has actually been getting colder:
The trend that caught Al Gore by surprise: Since late 2001, the trend of global surface temperatures has been downward. “Global warming” stopped in 1998; and, though it may resume in future years, the rate of warming is self-evidently less than official forecasts had shown, and is very likely to be harmless.
The snows of Kilimanjaro
The scare: During the adulatory 15-minute segment, Gore is heard saying that, because of “global warming”, “within the decade there will be no more snows of Kilimanjaro.”
Kilimanjaro in 1993 and in 2000 (NASA)
The truth: modern glacier recession on Kilimanjaro began around 1880, during the Earth’s recovery from the several-hundred-year cold spell of the Little Ice Age. This view, however, is wrong –
“Glacierization in East Africa is limited to three massifs close to the equator: Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, Kenya), Mount Kenya (Kenya), and Rwenzori (Zaire, Uganda),”
all three of which sites experienced strong ice-field recession over the past century or more. In that part of the world, however –
“There is no evidence of a sudden change in temperature at the end of the 19th century … East African long-term temperature records of the 20th century show diverse trends and do not exhibit a uniform warming signal … Since February 2000 an automatic weather station has operated on a horizontal glacier surface at the summit’s Northern Icefield. … Monthly mean air temperatures only vary slightly around the annual mean of -7.1°C, and air temperatures [measured by ventilated sensors] never rise above the freezing point. … Changes in air humidity and atmospheric moisture content seem to play an underestimated key role in tropical high-mountain climate.”
There, then, are the facts. The temperature does not rise above freezing point at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. The temperature has not varied since the satellite records of temperature at the summit began a third of a century ago.
Therefore, artificial “global warming” cannot have caused or even contributed to the shrinking of the summit glacier over so long a period. Period.
The true reason for the vanishing snows of Kilimanjaro is a significant and well-researched drying of the climate of the region since as far back as 1880 that has nothing to do with “global warming”, exacerbated drying of the air around the mountain caused by imprudent post-colonial deforestation.
The decisive scientific paper in this debate was written recently by three climatologists from the Tropical Glaciology Group of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Innsbruck, two from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, and one from the Climate System Research Center of the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts.
They say –
“The retreat of glaciers on Kilimanjaro has in recent years attracted broad attention, with their disappearance sometimes linked to tropical warming. … All ice bodies on Kilimanjaro have retreated drastically between 1912-2003,”
but they add that the highest glacial recession rates on Kilimanjaro –
“occurred in the first part of the 20th century, with the most recent retreat rates (1989-2003) smaller than in any other interval.”
They conclude that the glaciers of Kilimanjaro –
“are merely remnants of a past climate rather than sensitive indicators of 20th century climate change”.
Gore’s $300 million ad campaign to neutralize the “flat-earthers”
The scare: During the interview, Gore announced he was going to be spending $300 million of the profits from his movie on his advertising campaign, because of the supposed “urgency” of the imagined “problem”. Asked about those who do not believe that “global warming” is a global crisis, he replied:
“I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view. They’re almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the earth is flat. That demeans them a little bit, but it’s not that far off.”
The truth: If the imagined threat from “global warming” is so obvious that only a “tiny, tiny minority” do not believe in it, why is it necessary to spend $300 million on an ad campaign? Besides, until Ptolemy and Copernicus, only a “tiny, tiny minority” believed the Earth was not flat. The scientific “consensus” was that the Earth was flat. That “consensus” – like the “global warming” consensus, turned out to be wrong. Therefore it is the “global warming” believers that are the true “flat-earthers”: possibly in the majority but certainly in the wrong.
The cost of mitigation
The scare: The relentlessly sycophantic Stahl asked: “It’s going to be so hard, so gigantically difficult to solve this problem. And expensive, no?” Gore replied: "It’s much more expensive not to solve it.”
The truth: The human influence on climate is so small that any measures we might take to try to alter the climate could not possibly be cost-effective. It is no more possible for us to alter global temperature by government diktat or by expenditure of taxpayers’ money than it was for King Canute to tell the tide not to come in and get the royal feet wet.
Argumentum ad verecundiam
The scare: CBS devoted 15 minutes of its flagship 60 Minutes program to interviewing Al Gore. The implication was that if a former Vice-President of the United States says there is a climate problem, then his stature is so great that the problem must indeed be real and pressing.
The truth: As the program mentioned, the present Vice-President of the United States, Dick Cheney, does not believe “global warming” is a problem. Yet CBS prefers Al Gore’s version of the science. In making this arbitrary choice, CBS perpetrates the informal fallacy of logic known as the argumentum ad verecundiam – an appeal to the reputation and authority of one who has no reputation and is no authority in the subject in question. Gore is not a scientist and has no qualifications in climatology or in any related field. Nor does he have any specialist knowledge of the subject. There is no reason whatsoever why his fantasies should be given a moment’s credence.
During the interview, Lesley Stahl said that Gore had “won the popular vote” but had been denied the Presidency by the Supreme Court. Even on the unspeakable BBC, a politically partisan statement of this kind by a program presenter would not have been regarded as acceptable. The truth is that, when journalists sharing the political outlook of Stahl, CBS and Gore recounted the Florida ballots they found that George Bush had won Florida by a majority that was larger than the official result. George Bush, not Al Gore, “won the popular vote”.
The Indian monsoons
The scare: Part of the interview was filmed in India, where Gore was consecrating 100 apostles to spread his message of doom to their countrymen. He was shown telling them that “global warming” matters to India because of the monsoons. He did not say how or why warmer weather might affect the monsoons.
The truth: The warmer weather of the past half century has not had any effect on precipitation in south-east Asia:
No trend in land surface precipitation in South-East Asia for half a century
Likewise, 50 years of warmer weather – nearly all of the warming being caused by a natural recovery of temperatures from the Little Ice Age and by the Solar Grand Maximum during which for 70 years the Sun was more active (and for longer) than at almost any similar period over the past 11,400 years – have had no effect on monsoon rainfall in India:
No trend in monsoon precipitation at two Indian weather stations for half a century
Al Gore might also have mentioned tropical cyclones and typhoons. However, the trend in the incidence of severe cyclones and typhoons has actually been downward as the weather has warmed:
Downtrend in severe typhoons (upper curve) and in severe tropical cyclones (lower curve)
… and finally, some questions that 60 Minutes somehow failed to ask
The scare: Lesley Stahl, whom we may call “the PR agent for the PR agent for the planet”, failed to ask Gore any difficult or uncomfortable questions about whether there is any sound scientific basis for the assertion that “global warming” is a global crisis. She gave the impression that there was no scientific opposition to the theory, and that Gore’s point of view represented the scientific mainstream.
The truth: Here are just a few of the questions that a professional journalist might have asked. If Lesley Stahl had asked these questions, of course, Gore would have refused to be interviewed. But that would have been his problem.
-If you’re so confident we face a “climate crisis”, why do you only appear on shows like 60 Minutes, where tame journos lob you pre-agreed patsies? Why don’t you ever take unscripted questions from the audience when you appear in public? Why don’t you dare to debate Lord Monckton, who challenged you a year ago?
-In 2005, in your movie, you said sea level is about to rise 20 feet. Do you seriously believe your own prediction? If so, why, also in 2005, did you buy a $4 million condo just feet from the ocean at Fishermen’s Wharf, San Francisco? Why are you out of line with the UN consensus that sea level could only rise 20 feet after several millennia, and even then largely from natural causes?
-Why have you not corrected this and the other eight serious errors in your movie condemned by a UK High Court judge in the summer? He was right, wasn’t he, to rule that the “Armageddon scenario” you predict “is not based on any scientific view”? Your view is way beyond the scientific consensus, isn’t it?
-Why do you say “global warming” is getting worse when in fact it has stopped; for ten years, average temperatures on Earth have not risen; and for seven years, the trend has been downward?
-Do you agree with Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s climate panel, who says it had better find out where it got its sums wrong? Or with Lord Lawson, the former UK Treasury secretary, who says the panel should be scrapped?
-How much money have you made out of “global warming” since 2004? Doesn’t your “Armageddon scenario” constitute the criminal offense of racketeering by peddling a false prospectus for your “Green” investment management corporation and your many other financial interests?
The nine errors mentioned by the judge in his damning verdict on Gore’s movie were:
Scientists: Greenland and Antarctica will add 2.5in to sea-level rise in 100 years. Gore: 20ft.
Scientists: Pacific sea level has hardly changed. Gore: whole populations have been evacuated.
Scientists: the thermohaline circulation may slow. Gore: it will stop.
Scientists: in past climate, temperature rose before CO2. Gore: CO2 changed first.
Scientists: natural climate shifts are melting Kilimanjaro. Gore: “global warming”.
Scientists: over-extraction of water dried Lake Chad. Gore: “global warming”.
Scientists: Katrina cannot be attributed to “global warming”. Gore: “global warming”.
Scientists: high winds killed four polar bears. Gore: they died swimming to find ice.
Scientists: an exceptional El Nino bleached corals in 1998. Gore: “global warming”.
The judge did not mention the following 26 further errors . Gore’s movie falsely says or implies –
The effect of CO2 on temperature will be ten times the consensus value. “Global warming” caused a south Atlantic hurricane. And the 2003 European heatwave. And additional Thames Barrier closures. And weather-related insurance losses. And malaria. And other diseases. And West Nile virus in the US. And bigger weather-related insurance losses. And more Japanese typhoons. And tornadoes. And stronger hurricanes. And Mumbai floods. The sun heats the ocean directly. The Arctic is warmer than 50 years ago. Greenland may soon melt. And West Antarctica. Himalayan meltwaters are failing. Peruvian glaciers are unprecedentedly disappearing. And mountain glaciers worldwide. And Antarctic ice shelves. And Larsen B. The Sahara is drying. CO2 is “pollution”. Pied flycatchers cannot feed caterpillars to their young. Flycatchers are terns. Caterpillars are fish. Footage of an advancing glacier calving is evidence of “global warming”. CO2 concentration will reach 600 ppmv by 2050.