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An Inconvenient Truth 1033

Posted by jamie
from the conveniently-packaged dept.

There's a movie teaser line that you may have seen recently, that goes like this: "What if you had to tell someone the most important thing in the world, but you knew they'd never believe you?" The answer is "I'd try." The teaser's actually for another movie, but that's the story that's told in the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth": it starts with a man who, after talking with scientists and senators, can't get anyone to listen to what he thinks is the most important thing in the world. It comes out on DVD today.

The scariest horror film of 2006 was a documentary.

The first thing everyone wants to know, or at least to argue about, is whether Al Gore has his facts straight. The short answer is yes, he does. There are minor errors. They don't detract from Gore's main point, on which the scientific debate has ended.

And the main point is scary, and almost too big to think about or talk about. The earth is warming, because of us. Sometime in the next hundred years, our environment is going to change in big ways. We can't predict it with much accuracy yet, but the best estimates we have are that it's going to be -- measured in lives and dollars -- really bad.

In a way this film isn't really about that story. It's about a man telling that story -- someone who, after suffering a bit of a setback, asked himself, well, what can I do now? What's important to me? How do I want to spend my time?

What's important is a question a lot of nerds may be familiar with. We like to talk about important things. But how do you respond when you try to say something serious and the cool kids laugh at you? What do you do, when you put yourself out there, try to engage people's minds, and instead they make fun of your clothes?

The good news for anyone who's had a prom invitation rejected is that people can come back from worse disasters. His presidential bid didn't go so well in 2000. Gore had given talks on global warming before; after he was forcibly retired from public service, he took a Powerbook and Keynote on the road, sharpening and expanding his slideshow talk in airports and hotels.

Half of the film is that talk, and it's an engrossing talk. There are charts and diagrams and footnoted stats (and a Futurama clip) and it's about as fun as numbers and chemicals get. Turns out Al Gore has a sly sense of humor (but not a nasty one -- the film's only two political nudges are pretty gentle). Unless you're a climate scientist you'll probably learn something too.

But the other half, interwoven with the lectures, is a man picking up the pieces and rediscovering something important in his life, a message that he has to tell. That succeeds as a film.

And Gore's lecture succeeded too. Somehow, I'm not sure how, this documentary changed the way Americans look at global warming. In early 2006, global warming was still seen as one of those things that may be true or may not. Pundits were fairly evenly divided and both positions were routinely heard. It's now late 2006 and the debate has moved from "is global warming happening?" to "it's happening, we've caused it, and what if anything should we do about it?"

Most of the warming-deniers left are the real extremists out in Rush Limbaugh territory. We're not yet all the way to a serious, scientifically-informed debate, but somehow, overnight, this film pulled most of the fence-sitters over to where the scientists were years ago.

As for actually fixing global warming, it will take a miracle. Maybe two miracles. I think in the next few decades we're going to need to start an Apollo moonshot-type miracle of technology and engineering to beat back the greenhouse effect. Nanorobots. Reflective dust in the stratosphere. Giant mirrors at the Lagrange point. Bioengineered plankton to sink carbon or change the oceans' albedo. Something. That's just a guess.

But meanwhile, though we hope someone can build us an airbag before we crash the car into the tree, that doesn't absolve us from stepping on the brakes. Right now, we need a change in attitude, in our community and our politics, to start slowing the damage we're doing every day to our grandchildren's Earth -- to buy them time, and give them more options. The only way that happens is when the governments of industrialized and developing nations decide this is a priority.

And the only way that happens is for people everywhere to stop listening to the cool kids and, once again, pay attention to the nerds.

Go buy the nerd's DVD.

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An Inconvenient Truth

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  • I don't think the reason that nobody initially wanted to listen had to do with the story, but rather the storyteller. Gore was about as charming and captivating as an endangered sea turtle. Had some other high profile public figure attacked the problem with the same gusto, there may have been a little more initial acceptance of the core message, which I actually feel would have harmed the result.

    Why? Because if anyone else had tried to get congress to act on Global Warming, there would have never been An Inconvenient Truth. Had Gore been more successful in convincing congress to join the Kyoto treaty or strengthen EPA guidelines, I don't believe there never would have been the movie. Which just means that the public would remain uncommitted/unconvinced, and future administrations would have just reversed what the more convincing version of an Al Gore could have achieved in Congress.

    What's amazing is that Al Gore's movie really IS engrossing. He comes across as a man with a mission. While he may sensationalize the risk a little at times, he delivers a message that is irrefutable: we must act now. I believe he has helped increase awareness of the problem, and the greater the awareness the greater the chance for long term change. Governments will act on ridiculously expensive endeavours only in the face of overwhelming public support ... An Inconvenient Truth is one big step in the right direction.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by InsaneGeek (175763)
      It is refutable that we must act now with legislation. It is refutable that the Kyoto treaty does anything for the environment. It is refutable to say that humans can stop the general warming trend.

      It is very refutable to say that we must pass things that look good on paper, allow politicians to pat themselves on the back to get re-elected. It is irrefutable that Kyoto would force millions of people into unemployment, it is refutable to say that Kyoto is even marginally good legislation. It is irrefutab
      • by mochan_s (536939) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:55AM (#16931596)
        It is irrefutable that Kyoto would force millions of people into unemployment ...
        Unfortunately (for you) it is refuted in the movie.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:59PM (#16937816)
          Extinction Level Events also cause unemployment.
      • In many respects I agree, Kyoto is NOT the answer. However, the answer will almost certainly cause a major change in our economy and definition of prosperity. The world cannot sustain 3 ton SUVs, Airbus jumbo jets, and lavish cruise ship vacations forever. We all want our children to live a better life than we do today, but in order for this to happen we need to redefine what 'better' means. If we continue to equate 'a better life' with 'having more stuff', then frankly the environment is doomed.

        Until we find far greater stores of cheap clean energy and raw materials, consumption will always yield pollution and environmental damage. We must reduce consumption to reduce global warming. This is the expensive and unfortunate consequence of tackling global warming ... the lifestyle that we covet must change. Once/if we move down that path, it will be economically painful in the short-term, but at some point we just won't have any other choices and we'll end up with a radically different society/world (which I am optimistic will be for the better).
        • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:30AM (#16932446) Journal
          And how do you suppose we FORCE people to choose a more simplified lifestyle? Trust me, people are greedy and aren't going to do so by choice. You can provide tax incentives, but you simply aren't going to be able to say, HEY YOU! stop consuming. Its just not going to happen. At least not until we hit peak oil or something else that drastically drives up the price of our consumption. But historically we have always figured out a way around resource limitations, and we will continue to do so. Talk of what people "NEED" to do is about as good as talk of the benefits of Communism. It completely ignores the reality of the situation.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dasunt (249686)

          In many respects I agree, Kyoto is NOT the answer. However, the answer will almost certainly cause a major change in our economy and definition of prosperity. The world cannot sustain 3 ton SUVs, Airbus jumbo jets, and lavish cruise ship vacations forever. We all want our children to live a better life than we do today, but in order for this to happen we need to redefine what 'better' means. If we continue to equate 'a better life' with 'having more stuff', then frankly the environment is doomed.

          Bullshi

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shads (4567)
        You're right, there is no hard proof we can fix the environment any longer.

        However, there is also no proof that when I walk out of my house today that I won't get ran over by a bus... but I'm still going to walk out of my house.

        So we're not sure if we can fix it? Does that mean we shouldn't try?
    • by caseydk (203763) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:50AM (#16933024) Homepage Journal

      Of all the nations who agreed to Kyoto, which have kept with their commitments?
  • by wanerious (712877) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:33AM (#16931170) Homepage
    I'll have to paraphrase, but it is kind of remarkable that the film was made. Jon Stewart tried to imagine pitching a movie with the gripping charisma of Al Gore combined with the drama and excitement of a scientific powerpoint presentation. It's hard to imagine many execs falling over themselves to write that check.

    Of course, I'll probably rent it (along with "Who Killed the Electric Car") tonight for a uber-geek double feature.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014)
      Which explains one of the controversial aspects of the movie: the apparently equal focus on Al Gore, the man.

      One reviewer I read hit it on the head: this is a concert movie.

      It helps that the concert turns out to be a surprisingly good one, but the film takes you not only backstage, but to the back story. There is a poignancy to watching the man who won the popular vote for US President in 2000 schlepping his stuff from venue to venue, telling the same story over and over. If you don't put a human face on
  • by poulh (646309) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:33AM (#16931172)
    Because this seems like an ad for the dvd, not a story. At any rate, this needs to be filed under politics, not science. Or, as a compromise, both.
    • by jamie (78724) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:40AM (#16931308) Journal

      I have no idea whether Al Gore or anyone affiliated with the film bought advertising on this site. The content/editorial side and the advertising side are kept separate on Slashdot as well or better than any other news website out there.

      And it already is filed under both politics and science (check the icons near the top of the story). Both are clearly applicable.

    • Not political (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NineNine (235196)
      I'm sorry, but the Ozone layer isn't registered to vote. You getting skin cancer has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats. Good science is about facts. Politics is about bullshit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PoderOmega (677170)
        This reminded me of something. I remember being scared to death when I was a kid (20 years ago) because I saw a news article that the o-zone may be completely gone in a 10 years!! Well, what the heck happened? I know there is still a big whole in the ozone but where is it now? The fear mongering media must have moved on.

        I also remember in an early science class that we would be out of oil by 2015, but I saw a report recently that we wouldn't be hitting problems until 2050. Not that 2050 is good eith
  • by kan0r (805166) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:34AM (#16931180)

    ..with inconvenient truth: People will laugh, people will ignore, people will not like you for telling them about it.
    They laughed at Galileo Galilei, they laughed at Gandhi and they now laugh at everything inconvenient.

    Since when does public opinion influence truth?

  • If a tree falls in a forest and everyone around pretends it never happened, does it make a sound?
  • by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormon ... m ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:34AM (#16931194) Homepage Journal
    The short answer is yes, he does. There are minor errors. They don't detract from Gore's main point, on which the scientific debate has ended.

    Consensus is NOT proof. I don't know how else to say this. When someone tells you that there is a consensus among scientists on a certain issue, they have proved nothing about the issue itself.. I'm not arguing that global warming is not real, or is not the fault of humans. But I'm tired of people trying to strong-arm me into acquiescing to the point using blatantly un-scientific methods.

    The troubling side-issue no one wants to talk about here is that in our modern world of super-specialization it has become increasingly impossible to fact-check our experts. There are at least 3 distinct parties in this conversation: scientists, the media, and the public at large. If either scientists or the media have a bias at all on this issue anyone who believes the tired-old "scientific consensus" argument can be led around just like those religious fools they love to mock: a subject to an irrational trust in authority. Scientific consensus is the argument used to sell us toothpaste and mouth rinse - not to argue substantively for the biggest scientific crisis the world has faced.

    This troubling side-issue of authority vs. science won't go away. We are in danger of becoming a society where science is the new priesthood, universities are the new temples, and PhDs are the new bishops of a timid and trusting flock. I'd say this corruption of science is almost as alarming as global warming, and far easier to demonstrate. Any true follower of science must reject "consensus" for what it is: argument by authority. It is, fundamentally, the same monstrosity that corrupted organized religion 1,000s of years ago. It must be rejected if science is to escape the fate of those organized religions.

    I don't mean for this to distract from the central point of global warming. That's an important issue as well. The trouble is: how do we make up our minds about the issue if we reject scientific consensus as proof? The only thing I can think of is to understand as much of the issue as we can for ourselves rather than from the media. That's something I definitely need to work harder on.

    -stormin
    • . Any true follower of science must reject "consensus" for what it is: argument by authority. It is, fundamentally, the same monstrosity that corrupted organized religion 1,000s of years ago. It must be rejected if science is to escape the fate of those organized religions.
      Not to go off-topic here,not that I don't agree with you, and not that I know all that much about you, but isn't it a bit .... ironic coming from a fellow named "theStorminMormon"?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Even a devout Catholic can't look at the history of the Catholic church and say that organized religion has been anything other than a monstrosity for most of its history. From the Inquisition to the Crusades to anti-Semitism to political and social oppression - the history of Catholicism is sordid and shameful. Most organized religions fare no better, and the shame of their history simply depends on how long they've been around. The Mormons, for example, have the Mountain Meadows Massacre (http://en.wik
    • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:48AM (#16931446)
      In science, the best you can do are experiments whose results seem to support or not support a theory. Even when the results seem to point one way or another, you can pick apart the methodology, the bias of the experimenters, and more. That's the best you can do with science. It's a human endevor, and has the same human flaws.

      That's why we have peer reviewed journals, public debate, and more. No, consensus is not proof. Look at the long standing belief that ulcers were caused by "stress". It turns out it's a bacterial infection and it took a crazy guy drinking a batch of the bacteria to prove his point. But in so many other cases, the evidence changes the consensus. It takes awhile and can be hotly debated, but the process generally works.

      Global climate change is in that category. Smaller experiments support it. The historical record supports it. Various measurements support it. Sure, it's not proof, but that's as good as it gets with science.
    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:51AM (#16931486) Homepage Journal
      >Any true follower of science must reject "consensus" for what it is: argument by authority.

      Granted, few of us can afford to check their work the way we could check a result in chemistry, by building a planet and measuring what happens to it.

      But it's not "argument by authority" when the people being cited love to argue. It's not like a church where anyone who speaks about doctrine has sworn obedience to the hierarchy.

      Looking for consensus isn't proof, but it's a good heuristic. Another heuristic is to pay more attention to people who admit uncertainties. Climatologists admit they have huge variation in their forecasts, ranging from serious warming to catastrophic warming.

      >The only thing I can think of is to understand as much of the issue as we can for ourselves rather than from the media. That's something I definitely need to work harder on.

      As we all should and not just on this issue.
    • by xtracto (837672) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:52AM (#16931496) Journal
      scientists or the media have a bias at all on this issue

      Scientists can have whatever bias they want, but science will be the same.

      We are in danger of becoming a society where science is the new priesthood, universities are the new temples, and PhDs are the new bishops of a timid and trusting flock.

      Yeah, the danger has always been there. Normal people see scientists almost as priests who have "The Truth". The reality is that we do not have "The Truth", we *try* to look for the truth, science is about *understanding* the phenomena of the universe. In fact, there is no truth after all, there are only *accepted models* (theory).

      The issue here is that, scientists have discovered information that shows the impact that humans are making to the environment, the problem is that normal people (non scientists) always look for a black and white "simple" answer (thats why "God" was invented).

      It is, fundamentally, the same monstrosity that corrupted organized religion 1,000s of years ago. It must be rejected if science is to escape the fate of those organized religions.

      Oh no it is not, the difference is that for any scientist to get reputation, it must have published some work which is *peer reviewed* by other scientists. And, as we saw with the chinesse scientist, it is very easy to lose the reputation if they make fraud.

      And ultimately, no mattering the reputation of the scientists, science will continue to grow and our understanding will continue to grow.

      The real problem is in pollitics, the governments do not care about global warming, as they do not care about lots of other things just because they do not understand it. To understand it, the problem must be stated in terms of profit or loss (of wealth or mind-share).

      I watched this movie and I think it was great. I would really invite other people to watch it. But the sad thing is that, anyone who refuses to accept the issues of global warming will just waste 2 hours and then after watching the movie will just try to make excuses.

    • by jamie (78724) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:53AM (#16931516) Journal

      We are in danger of becoming a society where science is the new priesthood, universities are the new temples, and PhDs are the new bishops of a timid and trusting flock. I'd say this corruption of science is almost as alarming as global warming, and far easier to demonstrate. Any true follower of science must reject "consensus" for what it is: argument by authority.

      Incorrect. Argument by authority [nizkor.org] "is fallacious only when the person [cited] is not a legitimate authority in a particular context." Climate scientists are, of course, exactly the authority one should cite about matters of climate science.

      Comparing science to religion is very much the rage but the simple fact is that science produces testable theories which seek to correctly describe the world around us, while religion does not. Anyone with education and intelligence who studies scientific research or does their own scientific experiments can correct scientific errors, and this is not true for religion.

      I'm not sure why you went off and attacked the concept of consensus because I wrote (correctly) that the scientific debate on this matter had ended. The vast majority of climate scientists acknowledge that the Earth is getting warmer and that one of the causes is human production of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. It is virtually impossible to find any respectable scientist who will disagree, anymore.

      What this means is that we -- lay readers like you and I, and scientists alike -- can move on to other questions. Maverick scientists are of course welcome to try to disprove the existing consensus belief, and the wonderful thing about science is that they are always welcome to do so (and will receive great acclaim if they are right and everyone else is wrong). But it is correct, and significant, and important to say that there is consensus and the scientific debate on this particular question is over.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NineNine (235196)
      The big problem is that we, as humans, tend to live 70-80 years. Why is that a problem? Well, it's physically impossible, unless somebody invents time travel, for anybody to be a scientific expert in much more than one or possibly two fields. There's just not enough time for everybody to become an expert on every issue. So where does that leave us?

      Well, we can believe nothing until each one of us personally has spent 20 years researching the thickness of arctic ice caps.

      Or, we can hope that peer review
    • > The troubling side-issue no one wants to talk about here is that in our modern world of super-specialization it has become increasingly impossible to fact-check our experts.

      The same is true in every other field of scientific enquiry. Are you also dragging your feet on superconductors, the expanding universe, evolution, and the heliocentric solar system?

    • by 14CharUsername (972311) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:26AM (#16932340)

      The thing is, consensus is all we have. We can't absolutely prove anything with 100% certainty. All we can do is work with the best data and models we have available.

      We have used the theory of evolution in medical research which has resulted in countless lives being saved. Should we have waited until we convince all the ID people before we start using the theory of evolution to develop new medicine.

      Yes, it is good to have suspicion of consensus, but you can't let that suspicion paralyse you. If these theories of global warming are correct then we need to act now. By the time we have absolute conclusive 100% certain "proof" it will be too late.

      I'm reminded of of someone discussing the reaction time of governments. Imagine there were a virus that doubled the amount of people infected everyday. First one person, then 2 on the next day, then 4 on the day after that, then 8, 16, 32, etc. The government only reacts when a quarter of the population is infected. How much time do they have to contain the virus or find a cure? Two days.

      Sometimes if you wait for a problem to have real demonstrable effects you leave yourself too little time to find a solution.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by smallpaul (65919)

      . The trouble is: how do we make up our minds about the issue if we reject scientific consensus as proof? The only thing I can think of is to understand as much of the issue as we can for ourselves rather than from the media. That's something I definitely need to work harder on.

      It is far better to act on the basis of authority than not act at all. 98% of people do not have the ability or time to work through the equations and models themselves. Does this mean we should never act on environmental issues?

  • The popular belief here is that all climiate scientists agree with Gore's conclusions about Global Warming. It would seem that is not the case. From this article [canada.com].

    "I can assure Mr. Gore that no one from the South Pacific islands has fled to New Zealand because of rising seas. In fact, if Gore consults the data, he will see it shows sea level falling in some parts of the Pacific." -- Dr. Chris de Freitas, climate scientist, associate professor, University of Auckland, N.Z.
    - - -
    "We find no alarming sea level
  • Those who share the opinion that those tags as correct, please tag it as such - this is an alternative form of influencing /. crowd opinion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jamie (78724) *

      Please use "!proved" to mean the opposite of "proved" -- we'll eventually implement synonyms for tags and those two forms of opposites will join together anyway.

      And of course if you want to express the opposite of the suggested tags or any others, prepend a "!", e.g. "!notscience !notproved !fud". Of course, categorizational tags ("globalwarming algore") are just as welcome as opinion tags and ultimately help Slashdot even more...

  • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:39AM (#16931282) Journal
    Last I heard, they were still arguing over the existence of the medieval warming period and a hundred other possible oddities in recent climatological history. There is quite a bit of debate over what our role in the warming is, and what the climate will do in the next hundred and the next thousand years.

    The earth is warming. We may or may not have a role in the warming. We do know for certain that our presence has affected climates at the local level; there *is* some debate still over how much influence we exercise over the global climate. Science has been wrong several times about climate change in the past few decades (The big chill never happened, and warming hasn't progressed nearly as quickly as was once predicted). We've got a lot left to learn before we can accurately predict where this is going.

    Don't do science a disservice and proclaim an end to debate. One of the key tenets of science is that very few things are absolute, and our knowledge of climate certainly isn't one of them. As often as science has proved itself wrong in the past, to proclaim an end to debate over a subject like global climate change and declare once side to be fact is to spit in the face of science.
  • Drop in the bucket (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lurker2288 (995635)
    And yet, despite all this, what has really been accomplished? Sure, there's more "awareness" but have people started scrapping their SUVs for Priuses? Have there been any major governmental (in the U.S., at least) commitments to renewable/carbon neutral technologies? Have we come any closer to an idea of how to deal with the fact that two of the most populous nations on Earth, China and India, are increasing in their use of fossil fuels as we speak?

    Kudos to Gore for doing his part; Lord knows it's been a th
  • by xlurker (253257) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:45AM (#16931398) Homepage
    I have seen the movie; it is well done.

    There are some conclusions that I think are inevitable... The final ultimate conclusions is essentially:

    • Wind or solar energy-farms should be build in gargantuan scales. If one is dubious about such large scaling, just think of Google, they use tens of thousands of computers to power the search machine, all are centrally controlled and maintained.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing, says it can't be done with energy-farms on colossal areas. These farms are used for sequesteration and also as an energy source. This does not depend on changing human nature, it will work and it will pay itself of. All it needs is for someone to propagate the idea.

    Runup to that conclusion:

    Sadly recent news and statistics can let one only draw the following conclusions:

    1. it is not possible to change human habits even if the first world nations reduce CO2 emmisions, the second and third world nations will compensate by buying oil and coal no longer being bought by first world nations [1]
    2. for us as a developed and civilized world to (really don't want to sound melodramatic) survive this, we will need to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere. As much as I would like humanity to finally change its habits and maybe become a bit more conscious of itself as a whole: what I would like has little influence on what "is" ; in particular little influence on 6 billion+ people ... (e.g. China will likely overtake the US concerning CO2 emmisions in 10 years...)
    3. Since (1) will happen no matter what, reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere by reducing emmisions will not be enough
    4. the conclusion from (3): sequesteration of CO2 requirement: large amounts of energy
    5. the amount of energy needed for (4) will be large, it cannot come from other limited sources such as gas or atomic thus it must come from renewable sources: wind, solar, tidal/water (I exclude fusion since this is still too uncertain for the next 30 years)
    6. no matter what the source of energy, the industry needed to provide the amounts of energy will be huge, it cannot only be used for sequesteration but also (obviously as an energy source)
    7. a second conclusion of (1) is that humanity cannot change one of it's habits: consumption of resources / pruduction of goods, both need energy; if we cannot solve the problem by reducing consumption of energy, then we solve the problem by producing more means of producing energy
    8. based on (7) look for systems that have a positive energy return on energy investment scale the good candidates to very large levels basically I think (8) is the only way to go for humanity, (8) is then applied to (4) examples of (8) can be found : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_energy_develop ment [wikipedia.org]
    9. first example: a wind turbine produces enough energy for a bit more then 300 homes, the US has approx. 300 million citizens, and maybe 80 million homes, thus 1000*1000 wind-turbines would supply enough energy for all households and sequesteration of CO2 just lining them up next to each would not work since there is only so much wind availible, spacing them at a distance of 1km to each other might work, thus one would need 1 million square kilometers, the US itself occupies 10 million square kilometers. wind turbines could be setup on the same areas used for agriculture the energy return on energy investment is more than twenty-fold, amortization after approx. 3 years. Amount of time to build: decades
    10. a further maybe quicker to implement example for (8) would be to create large industries that create huge amounts of solar panels, not based on silicon but instead on the energy/resources-cheaper version: copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar panels [2] [3] claims th
  • by HoneyBeeSpace (724189) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:47AM (#16931434) Homepage
    If you'd like to recreated a lot of the stuff from the movie, using real data as inputs and getting similar results as what Gore gets, the EdGCM [columbia.edu] project has wrapped a NASA global climate model (GCM) in a GUI (OS X and Win). You can add CO2, re-arrange the continents, change the vegetation cover, or turn the sun down by a few percent all with a checkbox and a slider. Supercomputers and advanced FORTRAN programmers are no longer necessary to run your own GCM. Disclaimer: I'm the project developer.
  • by Mantorp (142371) * <mantorp 'funny A' gmail.com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:01AM (#16931694) Homepage Journal
    the current wave of unprecedented warming is due to "natural changes." "God's still up there," [thinkprogress.org]

    Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works James Inhofe.

  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <terr@terralogic. n e t> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:16AM (#16932056)
    Read this: http://www.cei.org/pdf/5478.pdf [cei.org]

    This is a 120 page criticizm of "An Inconvienant Truth". I didn't write it do if you guys have issues then please take it up with Marlo Lewis.

    M. Lewis is a Senior Fellow in Envirnomental Policy ast the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    http://www.cei.org/ [cei.org]

    You can contact CWI through their website. Lewis's research is pretty through and I'll advise anyone who really wants to know the truth to actually read what he has to say and think about it rather than just posting a knee jerk reaction. Lewis makes some pretty good points.

    If course I expect my post will get modded down. If so - its just another knee jerk reaction by those who wish to suppress the truth rather than actually look at the data.
  • by lessthan0 (176618) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:53AM (#16933124)
    "Most of the warming-deniers left are the real extremists out in Rush Limbaugh territory."

    I still have serious doubts about the science and I am far from Limbaugh territory. I lived through the dire Global Cooling warnings of the 1970s/1980s and I've seen my share of scientific scams. I've studied the research to the best of my ability and read the arguments on both sides. The evidence hasn't convinced me that humans are causing warming beyond natural processes. Global weather is complex.
  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:14PM (#16935234)
    I've seen the movie, and it's well done. There's a single slide in it that really tells the whole story, that I've recreated here in hand-drawn version.

    In a nutshell:

    • The global population, in absolute numbers, was relatively small untill the last few hundred years, since when it's been growning exponentially
    • Global CO2 levels follow a natural cycle, but are recently WAY above the natural cycle level due to industialization caused by population growth
    • Global temperature naturally tracks CO2 levels (greenhouse gas effect), but lags it. Global temperatures are currently close to the natural cycle level, but we only need to look at the CO2 and population curve to see where they are headed - into disasterous territory

    The natural cycle timeline here (per Gore's graph) is very long - these are the last few ice ages we're looking at, with data derived from artic ice cores etc.

    The inevitable conclusion is that global temperature follows CO2 level and CO2 level is already way above normal due to industrialization. The vertical/horizontal axis here are about in correct ration (showing how far above the normal range the CO2 level is).

    http://img62.imageshack.us/img62/8480/globalwarmin gua0.jpg [imageshack.us]

  • by uncadonna (85026) <[mtobis] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:57PM (#16936352) Homepage Journal
    Is the basic question "are humans causing sufficient global warming to be dangerous?" settled?

    William Connolley on realclimate [realclimate.org] parsed the question fairly, here:

    The main points that most would agree on as "the consensus" are:

    1. The earth is getting warmer (0.6 +/- 0.2 oC in the past century; 0.1 0.17 oC/decade over the last 30 years (see update))
    2. People are causing this.
    3. If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate.
    4. (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it)

    I've put those four points in rough order of certainty. The last one is in brackets because whilst many would agree, many others (who agree with 1-3) would not, at least without qualification. It's probably not a part of the core consensus in the way 1-3 are.

    I understand that I can either argue from authority (ask you to take my word for it as an expert) or provide some [sciencemag.org] evidence [wikipedia.org].

    You will see in these Slashdot discussions plenty of weaseling on the first three points, despite readers of this list presumably being better informed on science than the general public. The first three points are not open questions in science. Like anything in science they are open for revisiting, but they are not where the action or controversy lies within the research community.

    While I agree with the fourth point very strongly, and while a majority of participants in the relevant sciences probably do, it's not universally agreed. It's not really a scientific question, though; it's a question in economics, policies, values, and risk.

    The broad scientific questions, the ones typically up for debate, are essentially settled.

    What interests me here is why people continue to rant about questions that are part of the consensus, when the case is pretty much closed. They take offense when one has the temerity to suggest they are not only barking up the wrong tree, but that the tree they are barking up was chopped down for pulp years ago, but they don't seriously consider the possibility that while the policy is uncertain, the broad outlines of the facts are known well enough.

    For those of you who think people like me are wrong, disingenuous, or even dishonest, consider how the situation looks to you vs how it would look if we were basically right. There would be organizations with substantial investments in resources (especially fossil fuels) whose long term value would be at risk. (There's ample precedent. Consider the history of the tobacco industry.) Their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders would be to minimize that risk. They would therefore inject the greatest possible doubt into the public's understanding of the science.

    Consequently, there would be many arguments in the press, mostly appealing to the elements in the society who are generally most suspicious of regulation and taxation, that would cherry-pick evidence and spin tales that were scientifically incoherent and yet superficially convincing.

    They would appeal to the fairness of the lay audience. They would claim that there are two sides to every issue. They would object to any presentation that was scientifically balanced on the grounds that their manufactured opinion was not represented. The echoes of this argument ring through every public discussion of the topic, on Slashdot and elsewhere.

    Science and commerce do not deserve equal time on scientific questions. Cherry picked evidence does not deserve equal time with the totality of the evidence. The best policy is not a compromise between truth and fiction.

    Capitalism is necessary for prosperity, and vigorous defense of private interests is part of the game. Cherry-picking evidence isn't illeg

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

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