Oct 12, 2007

The Nobel Prize shared with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The IPCC is made up of 2,500 scientists worldwide who interact on concensus reports shared across the World Wide Web at IPCC.ch where you can read the reports as they are being assembled.

The latest report was summarized on MSNBC and CNN today
3.23 to 7 degree temperature increase

7 to 23 inches sea level rise

This short term increase will most greatly effect cereal production in low lying coastal areas (Rice) and tied to the rampant population growth in countries where rice is the basis for life for a large percentage of people there will be dramatic consequences

Population in 1946 is 2.5 Billion people
Today it is 6.4 Billion people
In 20 years it will be over 9 Billion people

These charts and images can be found at Inconvenient Truth Charts

So in my lifetime the surge in population will be 4 times the growth since the beginning of mankind. Anyone suggesting this growth will not have a profound effect on the earth is beyond absurd.

As the population increases the demand on the environment and food supply increases. As nations like India and China become more prosperous the number of oil burning vehicles and coal fired power plants increase and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increases.

The picture below shows a time lapse covering six months: the white is light , the red is burning of forests, the yellow is gas flares.
The burning of forests accounts for 30 percent of the CO2 emissions and is most obvious in poorer nations with high population growth.

The USA is responsible for 30 percent of carbon emissions.

Unspinning The UK High Court on Inconvenient Truth

This "From the Morgue" piece takes on the distortion of the UK Verdict

It's worth reading the judgement for these errors, because they've almost all been misquoted by Muriel Newman and the right-wing bloggers. The one that threatens the validity of the film the most addresses a 650,000 year graph. Newman's article says:
"The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years."

But when you actually look, the judgement says:
"In scenes 8 and 9, Mr Gore shows two graphs relating to a period of 650,000 years, one showing rise in CO2 and one showing rise in temperature, and asserts (by ridiculing the opposite view) that they show an exact fit. Although there is general scientific agreement that there is a connection, the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts."

So Newman's source - the New Party - outright lied about what the Court found. Justice Burton doesn't say a word about CO2 lagging behind temperature rises. Burton said, "the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts", which isn't much of a condemnation. They certainly suggest what Mr Gore asserts! In any case, this point is something to dig into in future - Gore's stuff could be shaky here.

Having just reviewed the film again I can state these contradictions to the highly spun "errors" in the court's findings.

1) Gore's film showed a series of disappearing glaciers around the world including Mt. Kilimanjaro - the fact that they are disappearing is not in question - Gore suggests that this is a result of Global Warming. The court says there is no proof. So what? Does anyone have another answer?

2) Gore's film shows a rusted out fishing fleet of perhaps a dozen vessels stranded on the sand beside a dry canal dug too late to save the fleet as the lake vanished. He uses this to express how rapidly environmental change can occur. He never says the lake vanished because of global warming. The relationship between drought and global warming has not been scientifically established. So what? Gore didn't use it as evidence of Global Warming

3) Gore's film discusses the melting of sea ice on the Larsen Ice shelf

the entire area inside the black C on the right vanished in 35 days in 2005. Gore carefully explains that sea ice is like an ice cube in a glass of water. It's melting does not raise the level of water in the glass. But the ice on the sea holds back the ice on the land and as that ice melts and enters the ocean it adds to the level.
Gore is careful to state that IF the entire Greenland ice OR the entire Antarctic Ice were to melt the level of the sea could increase by 20 meters. He makes no predictions as to time frame for this to happen. He only suggests that it could happen and what would happen if it did as some scientists predict.

That covers 5 of the 9 elements in the ERRORS cited in the judgment of the UK Court which relied on a "Government expert" as the only party to substantiate claims they say were made by the film. Problem is that 'suggestions' of what might happen were considered as 'claims' of what will happen when it just isn't stated in those terms.

as Al says quoting Mark Twain
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

What we know for sure here is that this wingnut spin on the Gore movie judgment isn't close to the reality of what was decided. In the end the movie was approved for classroom use in the UK with very minor clarifications

The "errors" as described by the court

    The 'Errors'

    1. 'Error' 11: Sea level rise of up to 20 feet (7 metres) will be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland in the near future.

  1. In scene 21 (the film is carved up for teaching purposes into 32 scenes), in one of the most graphic parts of the film Mr Gore says as follows:
  2. "If Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida. This is what would happen in the San Francisco Bay. A lot of people live in these areas. The Netherlands, the Low Countries: absolutely devastation. The area around Beijing is home to tens of millions of people. Even worse, in the area around Shanghai, there are 40 million people. Worse still, Calcutta, and to the east Bangladesh, the area covered includes 50 million people. Think of the impact of a couple of hundred thousand refugees when they are displaced by an environmental event and then imagine the impact of a 100 million or more. Here is Manhattan. This is the World Trade Center memorial site. After the horrible events of 9/11 we said never again. This is what would happen to Manhattan. They can measure this precisely, just as scientists could predict precisely how much water would breach the levee in New Orleans."
  3. This is distinctly alarmist, and part of Mr Gore's 'wake-up call'. It is common ground that if indeed Greenland melted, it would release this amount of water, but only after, and over, millennia, so that the Armageddon scenario he predicts, insofar as it suggests that sea level rises of 7 metres might occur in the immediate future, is not in line with the scientific consensus.
  4. 2. 'Error' 12: Low lying inhabited Pacific atolls are being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming.

  5. In scene 20, Mr Gore states "that's why the citizens of these Pacific nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand". There is no evidence of any such evacuation having yet happened.
  6. 3. 'Error' 18: Shutting down of the "Ocean Conveyor".

  7. In scene 17 he says, "One of the ones they are most worried about where they have spent a lot of time studying the problem is the North Atlantic, where the Gulf Stream comes up and meets the cold wind coming off the Arctic over Greenland and evaporates the heat out of the Gulf Stream and the stream is carried over to western Europe by the prevailing winds and the earth's rotation ... they call it the Ocean Conveyor … At the end of the last ice age … that pump shut off and the heat transfer stopped and Europe went back into an ice age for another 900 or 1000 years. Of course that's not going to happen again, because glaciers of North America are not there. Is there any big chunk of ice anywhere near there? Oh yeah [pointing at Greenland]". According to the IPCC, it is very unlikely that the Ocean Conveyor (known technically as the Meridional Overturning Circulation or thermohaline circulation) will shut down in the future, though it is considered likely that thermohaline circulation may slow down.
  8. 4. 'Error' 3: Direct coincidence between rise in CO2 in the atmosphere and in temperature, by reference to two graphs.

  9. In scenes 8 and 9, Mr Gore shows two graphs relating to a period of 650,000 years, one showing rise in CO2 and one showing rise in temperature, and asserts (by ridiculing the opposite view) that they show an exact fit. Although there is general scientific agreement that there is a connection, the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts.
  10. 5. 'Error' 14: The snows of Kilimanjaro.

  11. Mr Gore asserts in scene 7 that the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro is expressly attributable to global warming. It is noteworthy that this is a point that specifically impressed Mr Milliband (see the press release quoted at paragraph 6 above). However, it is common ground that, the scientific consensus is that it cannot be established that the recession of snows on Mt Kilimanjaro is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.
  12. 6. 'Error' 16: Lake Chad etc

  13. The drying up of Lake Chad is used as a prime example of a catastrophic result of global warming. However, it is generally accepted that the evidence remains insufficient to establish such an attribution. It is apparently considered to be far more likely to result from other factors, such as population increase and over-grazing, and regional climate variability.
  14. 7. 'Error' 8: Hurricane Katrina.

  15. In scene 12 Hurricane Katrina and the consequent devastation in New Orleans is ascribed to global warming. It is common ground that there is insufficient evidence to show that.
  16. 8. 'Error' 15: Death of polar bears.

  17. In scene 16, by reference to a dramatic graphic of a polar bear desperately swimming through the water looking for ice, Mr Gore says: "A new scientific study shows that for the first time they are finding polar bears that have actually drowned swimming long distances up to 60 miles to find the ice. They did not find that before." The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm. That is not to say that there may not in the future be drowning-related deaths of polar bears if the trend of regression of pack-ice and/or longer open water continues, but it plainly does not support Mr Gore's description.
  18. 9. 'Error' 13: Coral reefs.

  19. In scene 19, Mr Gore says: "Coral reefs all over the world because of global warming and other factors are bleaching and they end up like this. All the fish species that depend on the coral reef are also in jeopardy as a result. Overall specie loss is now occurring at a rate 1000 times greater than the natural background rate." The actual scientific view, as recorded in the IPCC report, is that, if the temperature were to rise by 1-3 degrees Centigrade, there would be increased coral bleaching and widespread coral mortality, unless corals could adopt or acclimatise, but that separating the impacts of climate change-related stresses from other stresses, such as over-fishing and polluting, is difficult.
Taking these "errors" in order

The 7 meter sea level rise.

How can it be an error if Gore never gives a time line for this possibility?

Evacuated Pacific Atoll?

Six horse shoe shaped Carteret Atolls Evacuated
- first victims of climate change
Seems like the court got this one wrong

The shutdown of the ocean conveyor

Gore makes no claim about if or when, only pointing out that enough ice is available IF MELTED to effect the thermohaline circulation

Direct coincidence between rise in CO2 in the atmosphere and in temperature, by reference to two graphs.

I don't recall any 'exact match' reference in the film but if it isn't an exact match the two graphs certainly mimic one another. (see graphs above)

The snows of Kilimanjaro.

As previously discussed Kilimanjaro is but one of a dozen glaciers shown by pictorial evidence to be disappearing. If Global Warming isn't the cause then what is?

Lake Chad etc

In the film Lake Chad's drying up was an example of how fast an environmental change can occur not necessarily attributed to Global Warming

Hurricane Katrina

Study of the relationship between Global Warming and increased Hurricanes
The jury is still out on the relationship but there does appear to be one.

Dying Polar Bears

Scientist discover Polar Bear deaths Seems the court was wrong on this one

Coral reefs

Global Warming and Coral Reefs

This study certainly contradicts the courts statement.