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If flat earthers had unlimited funds, would we fly around the globe?

December 9th, 2009 · 2 Comments

If the people that believed the moon landing was staged on a movie lot had access to unlimited money from large carbon polluters or some other special interest who wanted to confuse people into thinking that the moon landing didn’t take place, I’m sure we’d have a robust debate about it right now.

This is Al Gore’s take on the climate denial industry from an extensive interview published on Slate with many questions related to ClimateGate / Swifthack.

Sadly, too many will simply have their fingers stuck in their ears, screaming “Goracle“, ignoring what Gore says even though his words are (not atypically)  some of the clearest and most cogent comments about our energy/climate opportunities and challenges that we are likely to have.

When asked about energy costs potentially rising due to climate action,

If you want your energy bills to go up, you should support an ever greater dependence on foreign oil, because the rate of new discoveries is declining as demand in China and India is growing, and the price of oil and thus the price of coal will go sky high. That is the formula for increasing energy bills.

When asked about the hacked emails from the UK’s Climate Research Unit, he responded:

To paraphrase Shakespeare, it’s sound and fury signifying nothing. … the noise machine built by the climate deniers often seizes on what they can blow out of proportion, so they’ve thought this is a bigger deal than it is.

When asked about (self-proclaimed) “skeptics” and the validity of their questioning science

I have followed the debate for 40 years. It was a somewhat harder case to make 30-40 years ago, but it was still clear. So many of the details have been filled in now, it’s very hard to find a respectable argument contrary to the consensus on the main points about global warming. Some people don’t want to hear that, but it’s a fact.

All in all, it is a good interview by John Dickerson: serious, interesting questions with thoughtful and solid responses. Recommended reading.

Gore covered much of the same ground with Andrea Mitchell who was far less in the reality-based world and far more in the controversy creating vein with her questioning. Mitchell, quite sadly, opens her interview giving credence to Sarah Palin and her deceptive/deceitful/error-filled ghost-written OPED in The Washington Post.

MITCHELL: Well, one of the things that Palin has written recently on Facebook is that this is doomsday scare tactics pushed by an environmental priesthood that makes the public feel like owning an SUV is a sin against the planet.

GORE: Well, the scientific community has worked very intensively for 20 years within this international process, and they now say the evidence is unequivocal. A hundred and fifty years ago this year was the discovery that CO-2 traps heat. That is a — a principle in physics.

It’s not a question of debate. It’s like gravity; it exists.

NOTE: Important related ClimateGATE/Swifthack piece: A Case Of Classic SwiftBoating: How The Right-Wing Noise Machine Manufactured ‘Climategate’

See, of course, UCS on ClimateGATE.

PS:  Perhaps there is a reason that I like Gore’s moon landing analogy.  From a LTE that I wrote, published in The Washington Post almost three years ago (discussed here):

This brings to mind the fact that about 15 percent of Americans believe that the Apollo moon missions never occurred and were staged on movie sets in the desert. Would The Post, in reporting on the space program, seek to be fair and balanced by giving this 15 percent a voice equal to that of astronauts, astronomers and academic experts? Why, then, give prominent voice to global-warming deniers, who are similarly at odds with facts?

And, in a later blog post, reacting to more Washington Post truthiness,

Like all too many other news outlets, The Washington Post has a tendency to lead to false equivalency in its search for balance. Some 5-10% Americans believe that the Apollo moon landings were Hollywood creations, with it all filmed in secret studios in the desert.  One has to wonder whether, when the Chinese or someone else again lands on the moon (or Mars), The Washington Post would give equal weight to these voices in a search for balance?  After all, their standing in reality-based analysis of science is just about that of Global Warming Skeptics / Deniers.

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Tags: Al Gore · climate change · climate delayers · environmental · Global Warming · global warming deniers · politics

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