My Turn: Believe the global warming hype
Nick DeFiori’s August 29 guest column “Don’t believe the hype about global warming” opens with the question, “Why do so many people believe everything about global warming is true?”
I’m sure my first reaction, “Because irrefutably, the earth is getting warmer,” was shared by many.
After accusing Al Gore, the keynote speaker at the 17th annual Lake Tahoe Summit, of using his crafty speaking skills to manipulate public emotion to push his agenda and accusing him of being like a snake oil salesman, DeFiori got to his point: “Gore is trying to sell the public on believing global warming is scientific fact and is caused by human factors.”
I mentally screamed, “Duh!” repressed the urge to crumple the newspaper, and read on.
How did Gore manage to deceive a thousand citizens who gathered on a Monday morning at Sand Harbor’s Shakespeare Theater because they are deeply concerned about our environment?
DeFiori says by telling half-truths like global warming is responsible for the lake’s declining clarity. I was among those who Gore hoodwinked and whose emotions he tugged at. And I have to admit, he duped me into believing his shtick.
I didn’t remember Gore correlating global warming to Lake Tahoe’s clarity, but I realized I may have been under the snake oil salesman’s spell, and I wanted to believe his upbeat message.
After DeFiori brought me to my senses, I watched Gore’s speech again. And sure enough, he doesn’t connect the lake’s clarity with global warming. I may have missed it, but decide for yourself by watching his speech at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYaq20ZFxQk.
I did hear Gore give some compelling fact-backed arguments that man-made pollutants and energy generation are raising the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere and water, and increases in temperature are bad for ski slopes and mountain habitats.
Except to note the extraordinary environmental accomplishments that have been made in the Basin, he didn’t focus on Lake Tahoe, but instead took a global look at what the future holds if we continue to burn fossil fuels at current rates — especially coal.
With good humor, Gore explained how through science and renewable energy technology we can help resolve the increasing rate of global warming. Contrary to DeFiori’s claim, Gore didn’t say global warming was exclusively man made.
DeFiori refers his readers to a Canadian study of petroleum industry engineers, geoscientists and regulatory agency managers. He quotes scientific opinion statistics that are well below the consensus that “the Earth’s climate system is unequivocally warming, and it is more than 90% certain that humans are causing most of it.” I couldn’t find the numbers he quoted in the study’s lengthy report, but regardless, the scholarly work is revealing.
The study is not about why some scientists say they disbelieve global warming is real — but about why they deny the truth. The largest group of those who deny climate change are those who believe nature is overwhelming — “changes to the climate are natural, normal cycles of the Earth, and their focus is on the past: ‘If you think about it, global warming is what brought us out of the Ice Age.’”
Gore explained how daily we accelerate natural warming by creating man-made “energy equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombings.”
Another group that is ambivalent towards climate change are “regulation activists.” Like fatalists, they are skeptical regarding the scientific debate being settled and tend towards an attitude that says, “I don’t know what the impact really is. I suspect it is not good.” Gore gave many alarming examples why continued global warming won’t be good.
A large indecisive group that contains both those who deny and accept climate change are “fatalists.” They “consider climate change to be a small public risk with little impact on their personal life.” They are prone to believe, “The number of variables and their interrelationships are almost unlimited — if anyone thinks they have all the answers, they have failed to ask all of the questions.”
The overridingly important fact is that now the world’s research scientists nearly unanimously agree humans contribute significantly to global warming — therefore, we can help solve the problem we are at a minimum greatly accelerating. That was the former vice president’s message.
Gore spoke passionately about personal commitment and using Lake Tahoe’s communal environmental awareness to help win the conversation on global warming. But DeFiori concludes the only way for Gore to stay relevant is through the global warming issue.
That may be true, but can anyone think of a more relevant issue?
Steve Urie is a Truckee resident.
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