An Inconvenient Truth (6/10)
by Tony Medley
Al Gore is trying to prove
that we are in a period of global warming, which is like trying to prove
that grass is green with an abundance of evidence, or trying to kill a
mosquito with an atomic bomb. Unfortunately, in addition, he is trying
to get us to believe that man is responsible, and that we in the United
States have the ability to stop it if only we had the will. This film,
which is junk science gone mad, is the baby of leftie producer Laurie
David, wife of Seinfeld co-creator, Larry.
If the Al Gore that you see
in this movie had been the Al Gore who ran for the presidency in 2000,
he would have had a much better chance of being elected than he did
then, when he appeared about as loose as a wooden soldier. This Al Gore
is relaxed, informative, eloquent, and speaks with a respect for his
audience. The 2000 Al Gore was stiff, inarticulate, condescending and
cliché-ridden, mouthing insipid platitudes given him by political hacks.
He’s still probably wrong about the cause of global warming, but he’s
probably wrong with style.
Because this is basically
Gore’s stump speech that he estimates he has given over 1,000 times to
alert the world to what he considers irrefutable evidence of
global-warming, its devastating effects, and that both are caused by
human activity, this was a relatively easy movie to produce. Among a
mountain of evidence he presents to prove the obvious and universally
admitted, he shows time-lapse pictures of the diminishing ice in the
Arctic, Antarctic, and Greenland, with before- and now aerial photos.
The best graphics he showed were what would happen to various cities
throughout the world if both the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps melted
completely, which Gore says would raise the level of the ocean 40 feet.
The graphics showed how the water would inundate cities like New York
City, Beijing, and the entire country of The Netherlands. Pretty scary.
That something is happening
is irrefutable. That it is something that can be attributed to human
behavior, which is the point of the film, is much more debatable.
This is a
technically well-made movie that ultimately fails because of Gore’s
faulty logic. For instance, this entire movie shows evidence of global
warming. There are lots of shots of glaciers breaking up and falling
into the sea. Gore gives us a flood of statistics about what will happen
if we do have global warming. He spends a lot of time trying to convince
us that global warming is occurring. After doing all that, he comes to
the conclusion that the reason why global warming is occurring is because of what man is doing, and specifically because of what
America is doing or not doing, like not signing the Kyoto Protocol.
But Al isn’t a
scientist (even though he once claimed he invented the internet among
lots of other things we take for granted today). What he presents as
“science” epitomizes junk science. Just for starters, Al’s arguments are
based on flawed logic, which might go over well in the United States
Senate given the intellectual level of people like Patrick Leahy, Orrin
Hatch, and Teddy Kennedy, but which don’t withstand analysis, which is
what we’re going to do right now. Let’s analyze his arguments logically.
First, he’s got a
problem with “Confirmation Bias”, the tendency to seek out evidence that
is consistent with an hypothesis, instead of seeking out evidence that
could disprove it. Al’s hypothesis is that global warming is occurring
and man is the cause. All Al does is to present evidence that it’s
occurring. He doesn’t show what is causing it, but he comes to the
conclusion that the cause wears pants. He doesn’t even try to find
evidence that refutes this conclusion.
His logic is
further skewed because of the basic error called “correlation to cause,”
which occurs when a correlation is observed, and a causal relationship
assumed. Al says global warming is occurring and man is doing lots of
things at the same time, so man’s actions must be causing the global
warming. But he gives us no PROOF that man’s actions are the cause of
his alleged global warming.
But even worse is
his “Causal Oversimplification,” which occurs when there are many causes
to a phenomenon, but the argument implies or assumes that only one is
important. It is naïve to assume that if global warming is occurring,
there is only one cause. The earth has been cooling and heating
throughout its 4 billion year existence. Even assuming that Al’s first
premise is correct, that global warming is occurring, he has completely
struck out in trying to prove that the sole, primary cause is human
Global warming is one of the
left’s pet projects. Consistent therewith the film complains that the
United States is one of two advanced countries who have not signed on to
the Kyoto Protocol, another of the left’s more boring refrains.
As technically proficient as
the film is, it often looks like a campaign poster for Gore 2008.
Instead of concentrating on its subject, the film veers into Gore’s
personal life, even covering the deaths of his sister and child. While
that is emotional and creates empathy for him, it has nothing to do with
the topic of the film. Did the producers of “The March of the Penguins”
detour into the personal life of the Director Luc Jacquet? Gore’s
personal life has nothing to do with Global Warming (some more callous
than I might comment that his personal life has as much to do with
Global Warming as does human activity, but I would never stoop to such a
cheap shot). So why is such information inserted in the film if not to
promote Al for some political office?
Unfortunately, the film
virtually ignores the real environmental calamity, which almost without
doubt is a large contributor to any global warming, and that’s the
vicious, continual destruction of the rain forest. The tropical rain
forest has circled the globe for 60 million years. Twenty five percent
of our prescription medicine comes from 10% of the known rainforest
plants. But, fasten your seat belt, only an estimated 5-25% of all
plant species have been found. 1,300 of the known 2,000 cancer-fighting
plants come from the rainforests. But only 1% of the total number of
plants has been studied for medicinal properties! Yet it is being burned
to the ground. This is undisputed human activity that nobody is doing
anything about. For more on this, see an article I wrote about it in
1996 at the following link:
I wish Gore and the left
would devote their efforts to what man is doing to the rainforest. But
that would be difficult and the United States has nothing to do with
what’s happening there. The left would prefer to tilt at windmills,
especially windmills they claim are controlled by America.
Even though, at 100 minutes,
it’s about 40 minutes too long, this is an interesting film that can
help to increase everybody’s knowledge of what’s going on in the world.
However, to counterbalance Gore’s skimpy conclusions, there is another
viewpoint, eloquently expressed by author Michael Crichton, a man who
really is a trained scientist, and who was on the “man is causing global
warming” team until he started researching his novel “State of Fear”
(2004). He changed his mind. In a postscript to his book, he states 28
conclusions, six of which are reproduced here:
- Atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing,
and human activity is the probable cause.
- We are also in the midst of a natural
warming trend that began about 1850, as we emerged from a
four-hundred-year cold spell known as the “Little Ice Age.”
- Nobody knows how much of the present
warming trend might be a natural phenomenon…or man-made (which is
what Gore claims).
- I think that for anyone to believe in
impending resource scarcity, after two hundred years of such false
alarms, is kind of weird.
- The current near-hysterical preoccupation
with safety is at best a waste of resources and a crimp on the human
spirit, and at worst an invitation to totalitarianism.
- I believe people are well intentioned. But
I have great respect for the corrosive influence of bias, systematic
distortions of thought, the power of rationalization, the guises of
self-interest, and the inevitability of unintended consequences.
The film is beautifully
produced and shot. The quality of the filming is so clear and beauteous
that it is a joy to watch. Throughout I was impressed by the visual
clarity of what I was watching. Even though it probably didn’t cost much
money to produce, the money spent on the color and quality of the film
and the cinematography was well-spent.
I urge anyone who might be
swayed by Gore’s film to read Crichton’s postscript if only to get some
balance from someone who has done at least as much research as has Al.
And don’t forget that Crichton is a scientist with a medical degree from
Harvard. As I recall, Al studied journalism in college. But I did come
out of the film with a different opinion of “stiff Al” than I did going
That’s not to say that this
film is categorically wrong. Who knows?
May 12, 2006