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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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  • /vertisement (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Cryptacool (98556) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:26AM (#16931028)
    Seriously? So slashdot really is just all advertisements now? :(
  • by poulh (646309) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:33AM (#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 kan0r (805166) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:34AM (#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?

  • by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormon@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:34AM (#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
  • by devilsbrigade (930153) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:36AM (#16931228)
    Is this a plant or what? This isn't news its an Advertisement pulled from netflix about the DVD release. Want to know my favorite part of the movie? When at the premier, the entire "cast" got into big Lincoln SUV's. Drove Four blocks. And then went to movie. It's movies like these that try to drum up sensationalist support for half hearted causes that eventually push into politics. Like everything else. Besides...Harry Potter and the balance of Earth was a much better story line that he wrote.
  • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:39AM (#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) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:40AM (#16931298)
    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 thankless task so far. But so far it seems like his is a voice in the wilderness, and as long as big oil has more lobbying power than the environmental movement any sweeping changes will be a long time coming.
  • Not political (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NineNine (235196) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:42AM (#16931344)
    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.
  • 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 irrefutable that we really don't have enough information, to make any informed decision.

    Also running around scaring people to force unvetted political legislature on the guise that it will help, is about as helpful as saying the terrorists are everywhere and if we don't allow every phone call, email, fax and postal letter in the US to be monitored to we are going to have a successful nuclear attack against us.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:47AM (#16931428)
    Consensus does not mean total unanimity.
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:48AM (#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 @11:51AM (#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 Bassman59 (519820) <andy@noSPam.latke.net> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:51AM (#16931488) Homepage
    Offtopic??? Doesn't anyone here watch southpark?? JEEZ

    That episode was their worst in quite a long time.

  • by xtracto (837672) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:52AM (#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 @11:53AM (#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.

  • by ZipR (584654) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:54AM (#16931570)
    Isn't reducing what we use and making things more efficient a worthy goal in and of itself?
  • by NineNine (235196) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:54AM (#16931576)
    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 still works in our academic communities, and trust the experts.

    As you can see, there really is no choice. I still have faith in the academic communities. I have to! The alternative is what, believing that the the "whole thing" is run be Jeebus?

    And please don't associate science with religion. That's what the fundamentalist morons are trying to argue. They're arguing that science is also "faith" which is 1984 doublespeak. Religion and science are polar opposites. Science is a neverending quest for facts and information. Religion is about explicitly ignoring facts and information, and believing in something that not only has no basis in reality, but is actually diametrically opposed to the facts that we DO know. (The earth is hundreds of millions of years old. It was NOT invented in 7 days by some mystical being a few thousand years ago. That's a fact.)
  • by mochan_s (536939) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:55AM (#16931596)
    It is irrefutable that Kyoto would force millions of people into unemployment ...
    Unfortunately (for you) it is refuted in the movie.
  • by MrTester (860336) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:57AM (#16931616)
    Bull.

    You said it yourself, we are too specialized to expect a voting majority to understand everything. So we have to relly on expert opinion. All of the information is out there for you to try to understand if you want too.

    Then you take a look at the different sides and listen to their arguments and ask yourself where they are coming from. You ask yourself what one side or the other has to gain.

    If the bias for one side could be profit and the bias for the other can only be justified by involving the UN and a "too-far-out-there for the x-files" conspiracy theory then, well, Ill let you judge.
  • 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).
  • Re:/vertisement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by multisync (218450) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:02PM (#16931704) Journal
    this isn't a "news" article, it's an advertisement


    No, it's a movie review. Or do you think this [slashdot.org] is an advertisement too?

    If the producers of the film paid OSTG to place the article on Slashdot, then it would be an advertisement. If you have some information that this is what happened, please share it with us. Otherwise, the fact that the DVD was released today makes the review timely and fits my definition of "news for nerds."
  • by jamie (78724) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:02PM (#16931720) Journal

    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 Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:02PM (#16931722)
    > 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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:03PM (#16931746)
    Yeah - and people wonder why the global warming crowd are dismissed as alarmists... P.S. - Kyoto is nothing but a poorly-veiled attempt to weaken the United States' power and level the global playing field by punishing our economy. I sooo can't wait for the day when we have a commercially viable energy alternative to fossil fuels so that the U.S. can walk away from all these pissant little countries who have little-man syndrome like Iran and Venezuela with our middle fingers high in the air.
  • by Ingolfke (515826) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:04PM (#16931758) Journal
    Let's say humans are causing global warming and global warming will wreak worldwide economic disaster and kill off millions of people due to famine, flooding, etc. Here are the questions...

    1) What is your proposal to completely resolve the problem and avoid the economic and loss of life consequences?

    2) How much will it cost (include high & low estimates) to solve the problem? What is the time scale for the costs?

    3) What confidence level does the solution have in actually solving the problem? Is there a general consensus in the solution, costs, and liklihood of success?

    4) As a last resort... considering this is a global problem and assuming the solutin must be executed on a global level if one country or group of countries refuses to comply with the solution and jeoporadizes the success of the entire solution are military actions acceptable in order to avoid the economic and loss of life consequences?

    Al Gore and Co. may be right (I'm still sceptical) but their asking for trillions of dollars and massive control at a global level through indirect control of economies and comitments to payment. They're saying "give us your freedom and money" and we'll help solve this hideous problem we've shown you, but haven't shown you a solution. Before anyone in their right mind would want to give up their freedom and money they should know what they're getting...
  • One sided argument (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CrazyTalk (662055) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:05PM (#16931770)
    Al Gore paints a compeling picture (I saw the film in the theatres) but still is only telling one side of the story. All through the movie, I kept telling myself "yes, but..." Although a work of fiction, in "State of Fear" Michael Chriteon paints an equally compelling picture AGAINST global warming using real statistics (yes, parts of ice shelf are melting, but other parts are growing, increasing temparture data is due to measurments taken around growing cities with their heat islands and is not a global phenomenon, etc.)

    I don't believe the argument as to weather global warming is real or not is truely over.

  • by TerranFury (726743) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:08PM (#16931854)
    I was really pretty pissed off by that episode, actually. It's obviously satire mocking global warming -- but it's just crude name-calling. I know that's what South Park is supposed to be, but I have a problem when it starts distributing the mental tools for people to stick their fingers in their ears and say "na na na!" about something that matters.
  • by jamie (78724) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:13PM (#16931968) Journal

    Last I heard, they were still arguing over the existence of the medieval warming period

    Watch the movie. It did exist. Gore points to it on a graph. You may be surprised.

  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:16PM (#16932040)
    The science isn't political in nature except for the fact that politicians in general don't want to know about it. The movie is hardly sensational given that from my own research what he presents is quite conservative. The truth is what was seen as the extreme end of the scale six years ago is now seen as the conservative. The extreme is truly terrifying and is looking like a strong possibility. The numbers are staggering and dramatic changes are already occuring. All evidence points to melting at both poles. I strongly questioned whether Anatartica would begin to melt in out lifetimes but it has started and Greenland is melting at an unsettling pace. Among legitimate climate scientist global warming is a fact it's only the severity that is in question. Even at the most conservative estimates it'll radically change global climates within the next hundred years. People are turning it into a political football because most politicans believe they'll be dead before it hits so they don't care. If they can spin it to get reeleceted great if they can't they deny it because big business wants to bury it. It'll cost us more in the long run but corporate america is interested in short term profits, period. It's like oil. For what we are spending across the board to defend big oil, subsidies, war, polution, we could switch to renewable sources. They have a one track mind. Since oil shortages are unavoidable Bush has responded by pushing coal. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire. Why oil and coal? They are a physical resource and can be controlled. If we shift to two dozen alternative sources, wind, solar, plant oils, alcohol, wave power, etc, the power is decentralized and hard to control. It's tough to control prices when there are so many alternative sources. Anyone that doesn't believe there is price fixing needs to look at the numbers. There's been a glut of oil, I read an article recently that they have run out of storage. The suspicous thing is the prices only dropped just before the US elections yet now shortly after the elections they are headed up again inspite of a surplus that has caused a severe shortage of oil storage space. Alternative sources will cause competition and drive oil prices down. This will not happen so long as the current administration has any power. If everyone switched to efficent bulbs and drove SUVs oil prices would drop because demand would go down. The biggest short term gains would come from conservation. This would give time to develope other sources. We don't need new technology we just need to get what's availible into use. Solar cells work, wind works, hybrid cars work, biodiesel works, alcohol in cars works. There's are literally dozens of sources we can turn to it just takes the will to put them to use. All new houses in the south west should be required to have solar hot water and at least some photovoltaics. Don't want to? Stop building. I'm in Phoenix and there's a massive surge in new house construction and virtually none even have solar hot water. That's obscene.
  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <[terr] [at] [terralogic.net]> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:16PM (#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.
  • Regardless of the truth of the matter.

    Al Gore comes across as a politician looking for the bandwagon of all bandwagons to jump on. He knows he needs one to go down in the history books as more than a footnote, but even the most green (forgive the pun) politician knows that to jump on a bandwagon you have to be *sure* of it. And, since the man is a fool, he chose this one. Oh, don't get me wrong, it is possible that global warming is real, and a real problem... but this is like the idiot who has a system for predicting lottery numbers... one lucky hit, and now he's convinced that the system works.

    Even when politicians are correct, they're still politicians. And it's far more dangerous to start believing in them than it is for the average temperature to go up 2 degrees over the next century.

    On the subject of global warming... I remain unconvinced for now, but I haven't ruled it out either. I am considering investing in some beachfront property in Iowa. But the thing that gets me, is whether or not it's natural or caused by man... who gives a fuck? If it's natural, it's still a disaster and maybe one we can avoid. Why are there so many bullshit arguments from both sides? And how come if Gore gets his way, me and others like me are going to be the ones paying for it, while assholes like him fly around to global warming awareness rallies in big jets that gulp thousands of gallons of jet fuel per trip?

    Fuck him and his movie.
  • by 14CharUsername (972311) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:26PM (#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.

  • by GeckoX (259575) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:29PM (#16932412)
    The debate among informed parties IS over. That's the whole freaking point here, sheesh. The problem is that politics and the general populace are still insisting on acting as if this is not the case, DESPITE the facts provided by the scientific community.

    Or did you miss that in the synopsis above? Christ, even Al Gore knows this! This movie is about the problem that the people that Know this for fact are having a HELL of a time getting those that do NOT know to LISTEN.

    It's not about whether it is true or not, it's whether people will ACCEPT it or not. Business and Politics do NOT want to accept this, because to accept it would REQUIRE major change...major change being an understatement. It would REQUIRE business and politics as we know it to COMPLETELY reevaluate how they work. Never mind our consumerist society.

    People don't want to give up their SUV's or their PS2049's, or whatever other crap they don't need...Business doesn't want to stop selling you the crap you don't need...Politics doesn't want to rock this boat...

    Accepting or Not Accepting the facts has NOTHING to do with the facts. Global Warming is REAL. Self Induced Climate Change is REAL. These are FACTS.

    Whether you are too attached to your consumerist lifestyle to hear the facts or not is what the real issue is. Herein lies the real debate...unfortunately no one wants to have that debate because you might just end up having to take some level of responsibility for where we are at right now and actually DO something about it. It's easier to just keep driving that suv into the sunset until the day the sun doesn't rise again...then we can deal with it, cause at that point at least you'll have that 'proof' you needed won't you.

  • 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.
  • by pudge (3605) * <slashdot@pud[ ]net ['ge.' in gap]> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:38PM (#16932648) Homepage Journal
    That's simply disingenous. With the Big Bang, there's no other reasonable theories that exist right now because no one can even conceive of alternate possibilities to match the data we have. With global-warming-caused-by-man, there are innumerable potential theories, and right at the top of the list is "it's merely coincidental." The data doesn't show anything significant beyond coincidence. And frankly, even that's mostly because the data has been fudged.

    Also, your claim that things are going to get worse has *no* serious grounding in available data. Even the fudged data. It's make-believe. For all we know, even if "global warming" was caused by man, it could end up being a net benefit to mankind. Also, according to all this Goreish interpretation of the data, it's quite possible we'd be headed into a global *cooling* period right now without man, in which far *more* lives would be lost.

    I just can't agree with the notion that the debate is over, or even that it is over with a very high degree of certainty. And I just can't agree that any data at all shows that "global warming" is a net loss for mankind. The science simply doesn't show either one.
  • by psmears (629712) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:38PM (#16932658)
    No, the article's point is valid, if sloppily made. Appeal to authority, slightly more formally, is the step of deriving from
    ASSUMPTIONS:
    • Z speaks the truth about X
    • Z says that Y(X) is true
    the conclusion
    DERIVE:
    • Y(X) is true
    i.e. if you have reason to believe that a person knows about a topic and is honest about it, then you can base your assumptions on what they say. Of course, as with all logic, if your assumptions are false your argument falls down—in this case, if there's no reason to believe Z speaks the truth about X ("E=MC^2 is false because my mum said so"), or they didn't say what is claimed ("It's legal to distribute MS Windows for free cos Bill Gates said so") then the conclusion is likely to be false too.
  • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:42PM (#16932770) Homepage
    "It's not like global warming was unheard of - it just has a credibility problem."

    That's because people like to get political instead of scientific when addressing the issue. In the film, it is stated that out of 928 scientific studies on global warming, zero had any doubt that A) it exists and B) we are causing it. So it depends on if you want to listen to science, or politics. Usually the people with the loudest mouths on both sides of the issue have the least to say. Whether or not you believe that it is even happening, it may be prudent to at the very least look into it a little.
  • by mpitcavage (655718) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:45PM (#16932866)
    They can't even predict the weather next week
    Won't it be hilarious for climatologists when the Ocean Conveyor shuts down and Europe experiences a mini ice age, killing 25% of Europe's population, but it happens 70 years after they predicted it? I can just see your kid (if God forbid you reproduce) posting on Slashdot saying "My Pa always said you were good for nothing bastards, you expected this 70 years ago!"

    I'm no climatologist, but I think they're different than weathermen.

    Here [wikipedia.org] are some famous climatologists.
    Here [youtube.com] are some famous weathermen.
  • by caseydk (203763) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:50PM (#16933024) Homepage Journal

    Of all the nations who agreed to Kyoto, which have kept with their commitments?
  • by say (191220) <sigve@wolf r a i d a h .no> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:52PM (#16933064) Homepage
    To stop people from polluting, make them pay the real price for consumption. In other words, fuel prices should skyrocket. If you want to destroy Shanghai, pay for moving the people out of there first.
  • by lessthan0 (176618) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:53PM (#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 htd2 (854946) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:56PM (#16933196)
    Quite, so you have identified the main reason why if you don't believe in the science of Global Warming you should still embrace the Global Warming message. Whatever you think of Global Warming as a theory the actions that the green lobby want us to take to reduce the effects also reduce our dependence on Oil. Everyone agrees that Oil will run out, the economies most dependent on Oil when it starts becoming scarce will be the ones that suffer most. At the moment due to the shortsighted self interest of American politicians the country most likely to be seriously impacted is the US.
  • by GeckoX (259575) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:57PM (#16933228)
    If this particular issue remains so divided, to put it bluntly, we're completely and utterly fucked, period. That's really what I'm arguing here.

    We absolutely know enough to know that we should be doing something about the sources of these problems, even though we don't know everything about the problems or the effects they are having or will have in the future. But we damned well can work towards stopping the damage we are doing, even WHILE the scientific community continues looking into the plethora of issues related to this particular topic.

    The problem is we've been set up to believe that this is an all-or-nothing problem. It either exists or it doesn't. It will either kill us all within 100 years or it won't. If we can't get past this completely retarded viewpoint as a society, again putting it bluntly, we're completely and utterly fucked. Period.

    The worst is Big Business and Politics for propagating this problem...first, they have the most to 'lose' (Lose in their nearsighted view...it can easily be argued that there would be much to gain in the long term...but that's for another discussion) if people take this issue seriously. To fix this problem, Ford et al would either have to cease to exist, OR change completely. Not something big business is ever going to voluntarily take on. Politicians have zero interest in pushing the subject with big business because chances are very good that their career will be over if they piss off the wrong businesses.

    Worse, the general public is inundated with input from these 2 entities. What percentage of factual information on this kind of subject do you think your average person is exposed to? Riight. Good luck changing the general publics mind when the 2 entities that have the (perceived) most to lose are the same ones that have the general publics ear?

    I hate arguments related to this that detract from the very obvious big picture. The proof that we're in trouble is right out your doorstep. Stop convincing yourselves that because this one particular fact or this other particular fact aren't completely valid in your book, that that means we're actually living in the garden of eden and will never have anything bad come to us.
  • Re:Debate ended? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by paralaxcreations (981218) <george&paralaxcreations,com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:03PM (#16933382) Homepage
    Sure, if your country's first instinct to fixing a problem is to go to war...

    I would also like to remind you that a lack of evidence supporting A is not always evidence supporting the inverse of A.
  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:04PM (#16933402)
    It is irrefutable that Kyoto would force millions of people into unemployment

    Um, how so? Do you think cutting emmissions means simply closing the businesses that cause them? Reducing emmissions can be done by making processes cleaner and maybe using more expensive processes that have a reduced environmental impact. The correct solution is increasing spending on reducing the environmental impact of the industry and the only way to do that is making environmental impact somehow have a financial impact to the producer (instead of the people who get hit by the pollution which distributes the costs much differently and gives the producer little financial incentive to improve) so it becomes cheaper to reduce the environmental impact than simply swallowing the cost of it. Additionally the "green" technology doesn't fall from the sky or something, somebody needs to make it and that means additional employment.
  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:12PM (#16933614) Homepage Journal
    Then please conduct an experiment in which you demonstrate global warming.


    Note that GP did not stipulate "experimentally testable". Only testable. While proof under laboratory conditions provies the most controlled environment for testing, requiring all scientific theories to have laboratory proof would invalidate not only climate science, but astronomy, much of geology, biology and even physics.


    Guess climatology is a religion now?


    It would be if the consensus was unsassaible. But its not. Scientific consensus does get overturned from time to time, and with it must fall arguments that rely upon it. But at some point you reach the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" stage.

    Anybody is free to dispute anything. However that doesn't give everybody equal a priori claim to credibilty. Where a challenge is made to consensus derived from the best avaialble process for evaluating such claims, then a reasonable person should impose a higher standard of proof or a narrower scope of claim upon the challenger.

    For example, if I claim that O2 is denser than CO2, I am not entitled to demand that everybody consider all prior and contrary observations false. Instead, I may claim at most that measured by a certain technqiue O2 appears denser than CO2, and that there are reasons to consider the new test as more reliable than the old one. We then proceed to test the narrower claims before debating the broader ones. If it turns out I have made some mistakes in my technique, or my math, or my interpretation, I must correct it before even my narrow claims can proceed. Until the faults in my proof are cured, I have no further claim to scholarly rebuttal, even if the resulting doubt is relatively small.

    On the other side of the debate, the arguments need not be as robust. They only need to establish that a reasonable person may doubt my challenge; I must demonsrate that only an unreasonable person could doubt my challenge.

    Clearly this places an assymetrical burden of proof on challengers to scientific consensus. But it is not an unassaiable barrier to valid challenges. It is quite possible to overturn incorrect scientific consensus under these conditions, but it is impossible to maintain a correct consensus under any other.

    If we imposed a symetrical burden of proof on the scientific consensus, scientists would spend their time going over the same ground over and over. Most scientists I know relish a valid claim that throws prior assumptions into doubt. But nobody wants to spend their time taking apart yet another design for a perpetual motion machine.
  • by polar red (215081) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:12PM (#16933634)
    surely man-affected climate change will slow down once that happens?


    We are talking about ONE HUNDRED MILLION cars blowing CO2, polluting gasses, and particulates into the air every day. How is that amount of chemicals going to disappear ? I guess that sort of stuff happened long ago ... over MILLIONS of years. Let's make it ourselves easier by changing now than in 50 years (when it can be too late). I say CAN BE, because the science isn't 100% sure, but whether or not it is happening, it's going to be cheaper and healthier to change now, than in 50(or 150 or 250) years when oil runs out. Cheaper ? yes, when the windfarms are 'turning' and the solar plants are 'burning' costs shift to maintenance, which is good for the local economy too (as opposed to big multinationals.)
  • > The US Senate signaled in 1997 that it would reject ratification of the treaty by a vote of 95-0 before it was even
    > signed (essentially symbolically) by Al Gore in 1998.

    How dare you attempt to introduce historical fact into today's Hate. I mean, like we all know who is responsible for all the world's ills. He heats the Earth in league with Big Oil and Haliburton. He is waging war on poor innocent brown people with the Milirary Industrial Complex and Haliburton. We know who the problem is.

    BUSH!

    Seriously though; it is way past time for a new /. catagory, Op-ed.

    Personally the Global Warming hoax is far from 'beyond debate'. If there is any science in the arguments it is buried so far in the noise of the politics that no instrument exists capable of seperating the two. And as a political debate all I need to see is the rogue's gallery on the Warming side and their proposed solutions and contrast with the skeptics to know I will fight Al Gore and Jamie with my last living breath.

    We defeated Communisism once, we will defeat it again even if we don't have Ronald Reagan leading us this time. And we will do it while defeating Islamic Fascism. Because we must.
  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <[terr] [at] [terralogic.net]> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:30PM (#16934092)
    Check the demographics in the Middle East, SE Asia, the "stans, India and Africa.
  • by ConceptJunkie (24823) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:36PM (#16934250) Homepage Journal
    hat part of being underwater in 100 years is a partisan issue?

    It's the part where suggestions for preventing it always seems to correlate with a massive government power grab and assault on the free market, and specifically against the United States, which while producing a big chunk of the pollution, also manufactures the most stuff.

    It's the part where the proposed solutions always seem like they will have huge and disastrous effects on the economy of developed nations while the developing countries who are actually the worst polluters always get a pass.

    It's the part where environmentalism often seems more interested in punishing the rich than really protecting the environment.

    Otherwise, no, it's not a partisan issue.

  • by sanjacguy (908392) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:36PM (#16934258)

    Some have commented that "This is a theory, but we can't blow lots of money on a theory." Hmmmm. So, I guess we shouldn't blow any money on that whole "Theory of relativity" thing? We need to remember that a "theory" to the average user is a hypothesis. A "theory" to a scientist is the final step of the scientific method

    1. Observe

    2. Generate hypothesis

    3. Make preditictions

    4. Test preditctions and modify hypothesis

    5. Repeat 3 and 4 until predictions match test results

    6. Publish THEORY

    Politics is different - this is politics: okay, so what's the worst case scenario if the environmentals are wrong? We spend a bunch of money and give our grandchildren a cleaner place to live than they otherwise would've had. If the environmentalists are right and we don't spend the money, that's a much worse case scenario. But that's me. YMMV.

  • by Pentavirate (867026) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:37PM (#16934280) Homepage Journal
    $15/gallon gas will cause the price of food to skyrocket. Who would this affect the most? Probably the poor. Would this cause people to go on government assistance? Maybe that's the end goal? The more people that completely depend on the government, the more control the government has over people so they can tell them what they can and can't do. Then you'll have the environmentally minded and rich people who can afford the increase in prices still living their lifestyle of driving big cars and flying around the country (because they can afford it and I'm sure they have some justification) while they tell the rest of the people how "we all" have to sacrifice for the environment so we don't kill our grandchildren yada-yada-yada and they'll have no choice because if they don't comply they'll be cut off from the government assistance they depend on.

    If the fuel prices are inflated artificially (ie taxed at a high rate) perhaps the only think it'll do is cause huge inflation and damage the economy but in the end nothing changes once things even out.

    I don't know. Just some thoughts and ramblings.
  • by Kymermosst (33885) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:42PM (#16934386) Journal
    And this doesn't even begin to address population growth issues, which are just as big a problem.

    Don't worry. When your dream of $15/gallon gas makes it impossible to have affordable food everywhere during all times of the year due to shipping costs, mass starvation will take care of that population thing for you.
  • by WhiplashII (542766) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:42PM (#16934408) Homepage Journal
    Okay. Here are the options that are currently achievable with modern technology.

    1) Cut CO2 levels.

    Your call! Take your pick.


    And that is the problem. You feel that you understand the problem, and you have the only solution. Further, you are culling debate (or at the very least, those that agree with you are). You are claiming a consensus, or appealing to authority as the only evidence of your system. (Because of the complexity, etc.)

    Look, I hate to say it, but I really am a rocket scientist - this is not about who is smarter. This is about access to information, and bias. I am not saying that I know the "one truth", I am saying that advocates aren't even discussing the truth (or at least that is the exception rather than the norm). You say that they have this model that can predict everything, OK, fine. I can't beleive you because you are obviously biased - there are more than one options here!

    1. Reduce CO2
    2. Put dust in the stratosphere
    3. Put large mirrors in orbit
    4. Put Al Gore in orbit and use his head to shade the Earth (sorry, couldn't resist!)

    All these have about the same feasibility - yet you believe that #1 is the only answer. That is evidence of bias, and makes me strongly discount the rest of what you say. Yes, any of those would be hard to do - some might be impossible. But reducing CO2 without killing people is just as impossible.
  • by Workaphobia (931620) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:50PM (#16934590) Journal
    I see it from another perspective. South Park's commentary introduces me to biases that I have never even considered before, biases that allow me to put my own in perspective. For example, they taught me that it's *okay* to hate the anti-drug people - that it's not hypocritical to be anti-tobacco yet still hate that jackass in the "zephyr" awareness commercials. Likewise, I never had any strong opinions about illegal immigration (and still don't), but all the same I did not identify at all with Americans who have lost their jobs until I saw the SP episode satirizing that issue.

    If you disagree with the messages conveyed by South Park, fine. It's not like I choose to believe everything they say either. But how about instead of making a fuss because they happen to promote a view you don't like, you just accept South Park as a welcome source of underrepresented criticisms, and make up your mind for yourself.
  • by jamie (78724) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:50PM (#16934602) Journal

    Note that the Reason article basically agrees with Gore on every major point. Global warming is happening. It's caused to some extent by human activity. Glaciers are melting because of global warming. Predictions are that polar bears "will have a problem," he says euphemistically, and he cites a very conservative estimate whose severity has been upgraded within the past few months.

    The Reason article even paraphrases Gore as saying "global warming is increasing the intensity of hurricanes," and retorts "that claim is hotly contested by climate scientists." The paper it links to says right in its abstract, "There has been a small increase in global Category 4-5 hurricanes" in the past 20 years -- a 10% increase actually -- and it says not all of that 10% can be explained away. And the only significant correlations that it finds between wind strength and sea surface temp are positive: a 0.39 correlation in the North Atlantic and 0.59 in the NE Pacific (table 3).

    In other words, far from being an exaggerator, Gore's presentation of the science in the movie has been pretty much spot-on. Note in particular that when Gore talks about sea levels rising 20 feet, he clearly says, in the movie, that this will only happen if the Greenland or Antarctic ice melts completely, which he points out is speculation. Rent the movie :)

    Nobody knows to precisely what extent humans have caused the global warming problem, but clearly we are some part of the problem. Does it matter if our fossil fuel usage has caused 20% of the problem, or 80%, or even 150%? (Maybe the Earth would be cooling if not for our carbon emissions.) Even if it were 0% -- if our net emissions cancelled each other out and the Earth were heating up exactly the same as if we were not here -- we would still have to reduce carbon emissions to buy our grandchildren time to solve the problem of living on a warming Earth.

  • Of all the nations who agreed to Kyoto, which have kept with their commitments?

    Fewer than many people suspect - both the UK and Japan for example, haven't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:58PM (#16934796)
    It's a great talk. Here's a highlight as per this discussion:

    I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.

    Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.

    In addition, let me remind you that the track record of the consensus is nothing to be proud of. Let's review a few cases.

    In past centuries, the greatest killer of women was fever following childbirth . One woman in six died of this fever. In 1795, Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen suggested that the fevers were infectious processes, and he was able to cure them. The consensus said no. In 1843, Oliver Wendell Holmes claimed puerperal fever was contagious, and presented compellng evidence. The consensus said no. In 1849, Semmelweiss demonstrated that sanitary techniques virtually eliminated puerperal fever in hospitals under his management. The consensus said he was a Jew, ignored him, and dismissed him from his post. There was in fact no agreement on puerperal fever until the start of the twentieth century. Thus the consensus took one hundred and twenty five years to arrive at the right conclusion despite the efforts of the prominent "skeptics" around the world, skeptics who were demeaned and ignored. And despite the constant ongoing deaths of women.

    There is no shortage of other examples. In the 1920s in America, tens of thousands of people, mostly poor, were dying of a disease called pellagra. The consensus of scientists said it was infectious, and what was necessary was to find the "pellagra germ." The US government asked a brilliant young investigator, Dr. Joseph Goldberger, to find the cause. Goldberger concluded that diet was the crucial factor. The consensus remained wedded to the germ theory. Goldberger demonstrated that he could induce the disease through diet. He demonstrated that the disease was not infectious by injecting the blood of a pellagra patient into himself, and his assistant. They and other volunteers swabbed their noses with swabs from pellagra patients, and swallowed capsules containing scabs from pellagra rashes in what were called "Goldberger's filth parties." Nobody contracted pellagra. The consensus continued to disagree with him. There was, in addition, a social factor-southern States disliked the idea of poor diet as the cause, because it meant that social reform was required. They continued to deny it until the 1920s. Result-despite a twentieth century epidemic, the consensus took years to see the light.

    Probably every schoolchild notices that South America and Africa seem to fit together rather snugly, and Alfred Wegener proposed, in 1912, that the continents had in fact drifted apart. The consensus sneered at continental drift for fifty years. The theory was most vigorously denied by the great names of geology-until 1961, when it began to seem as if the sea floors were spreading. The result: it took the consensus fifty years to acknowledge what any schoolchild sees.

    And shall we go on? The examples can be multiplied endlessly. Jenner and smallpox, Pasteur and germ theo
  • by Com2Kid (142006) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:58PM (#16934798) Homepage Journal
    howstuffworks.com link [howstuffworks.com]

    Basically, 747 gets between 69.8 to 100mpg passenger miles per gallon.

    Comparing both vehicles as being "full" is a faulty assumption. Airlines work their arses off to ensure that their airplanes take off as close to capacity as possible. Lots of people drive their SUVs to work alone.

    (And the 747 is not exactly Boeings most fuel efficient airplane, the 787 is going to kick its arse! Not a huge jumbo jet, but amazingly cool. :) )
  • by operagost (62405) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:05PM (#16934984) Homepage Journal
    but it's just crude name-calling.
    Be sure to post that every time someone calls the President an idiot on Slashdot.
  • by operagost (62405) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:14PM (#16935228) Homepage Journal
    We are talking about ONE HUNDRED MILLION cars blowing CO2, polluting gasses, and particulates into the air every day. How is that amount of chemicals going to disappear ?
    Err... chemical reactions and photosynthesis? I hear trees really like CO2.
  • by dasunt (249686) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:14PM (#16935252)
    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.

    Bullshit.

    Why can't the world sustain 3 ton SUVs, Airbus Jumbo jets, and lavish cruise ship vacations forever? (I'm defining forever as a few billion years, btw. After that, the sun goes kinda goofy, and there'll probably be a few problems with making jumbo jets fly and cruise ships cruise on what's left of earth.)

    Transition the economy over to an electric energy base (with artificial fuels as an energy store) and create the electricity with nuclear power. To begin with, we'd use nuclear fission (and make a cavern under the American southwest radioactive for awhile). In the future, we can move the electricity production off planet, and beam the energy down.

  • by VWJedi (972839) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:18PM (#16935354)

    Well, if you want to go down that road, walking or riding a bike don't expend any fuel, but it would take quite a long time to go 2821 miles.

    It's also quite difficult to cross the ocean that way.

  • by pilgrim23 (716938) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:33PM (#16935726)
    Personally I never watch South Park OR Al Gore. or other politicans... all are equally relavant and entertaining; not one whit
    As to global warming I am sure it is warming Al's pocketbook but I foind hun causes to be somewhat...doubtful as do many who really view this with an open mind. To quote another on this; It seejms mankind's intervention must be causing warming even beyond this globe:

    On Pluto: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/pluto_warmin g_021009.html [space.com]

    On Triton: http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/19980526052143dat a_trunc_sys.shtml [scienceagogo.com]

    On Saturn: http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=2006 1109-022035-4126r [upi.com]

    On Jupiter: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060504_red_j r.html [space.com]

    On Mars: http://www.mos.org/cst-archive/article/80/9.html [mos.org]

    Remember; Piltdown Man was accepted as totally valid by the scientists of that day...
    Any time lends itself to "present knowledge chauvanism"
  • by aled (228417) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:33PM (#16935742)
    1. Reduce CO2
    2. Put dust in the stratosphere
    3. Put large mirrors in orbit


    1) That's was Kyoto was about.
    2) That may be dangerous. How would you put the dust down if needed? Seems too much unpredictable.
    3) Perhaps this requeries much more rocket science than we have realistically available o economically viable today. You can provide some numbers if you feel this feasible.
  • by uncadonna (85026) <mtobis@WELTYgmail.com minus author> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:57PM (#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

  • by kwiqsilver (585008) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:01PM (#16936454)
    Only in America would that comment be labeled "Insightful".

    Because only in America do we have people who question flawed evidence?

    Give it up already... global warming is real.

    Yes it is real, the question now is how much of an impact (if any) do humans have on it? All the Al Gores in the world back their claims of human impact with the "hockey stick" graph, which ignores the fact that in the middle ages, the Earth was significantly warmer than it is today. And that for the past few centuries we've been in a cool cycle, which we're now coming out of.

    The debate is not over. The closed minded Gores of the world have just refused to listen to any evidence that challenges their claims. Now that's "science".
  • by frdmfghtr (603968) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:07PM (#16936582)
    The only fault that comes to mind immediately with this argument is that the Escalade may be carrying eight passengers, but...where is their luggage? Can an Escalade carry eight passengers PLUS two suitcases per passenger (16 suitcases) PLUS a carry-on (eight more bags) PLUS that well-defined personal item (such as a laptop or briefcase, eight more small bags)?

    I ask simply because I don't know the cargo capacity of an Escalade. A 747 will carry all that, plus that occasional extra/overweight baggage, without the need for a trailer or rooftop cargo box (both of which will cut your fuel economy considerably).

    I think a more equivalent argument would be the fuel required to move a certain amount of mass from point a to point b; after all, that's what's being moved, whether it's people or cargo.
  • by Iron Condor (964856) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:14PM (#16936766)

    The problem is credibility

    Climate change has no credibility problem whatosever. It is as much a fact as gravity.

    The people with the credibility problem are the folks who've spent the last three decades denying climate change who are now all flip-flopping and telling us "climate change is a completely natural process".

  • by Garrett Fox (970174) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:16PM (#16936812) Homepage
    Exactly. I'll not comment here on the underlying scientific debate, but it's suspicious to me that the political aspect of the global warming issue is, "We need to give governments more power." An expert says that collectively "we" should be forced to give up our wealth and freedom (while acknowledging that an elite will be able to keep them) because of a global emergency. Conveniently the emergency is also perpetual, which justifies a permanent power grab. One of the above posts even says that such rules should be imposed over the objections of voters.

    I'm not saying this is the Real Secret Motive behind global warming regulations, but it's frustrating that the automatic answer to every problem is more laws, less freedom. If we're to protect the environment, let's focus on free-market solutions wherever possible.
  • by mockchoi (678525) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:21PM (#16936958)
    That 747 burns Jet-A, which is basically kerosene. It is not leaded.
  • by xappax (876447) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:22PM (#16936964)
    $15/gallon gas will cause the price of food to skyrocket.

    Actually, it will cause the price of imported food to skyrocket, giving a tremendous market advantage to local farmers who produce food in smaller amounts and with less impact on the environment. Currently, the price of transporting food is low enough that giant industrial farm complexes which produce and ship vast quantities of food are the norm, and they have terrible environmental footprints due to inefficient energy use, mismanagement of pesticides, etc - and don't even get me started on industrial meat producers.

    So yes, food prices would go up, but not as radically as some people claim. However, food quality would also go up, pollution would go down, and local economies would be much more stable since local farmers would actually be able to make money again.

    rich people who can afford the increase in prices still living their lifestyle

    Rich people have always been able to waste more resources, screw over more people, and generally fuck up the world more than poor people have - and as long as there are rich people, this will be the case. I agree that that's a problem, but it has nothing to do with whether we should make gas more expensive.
    Government regulation = bad. Government = bad. But unfortunately, government regulation is pretty much the only tool we have available right now to prevent environmental destruction. I think we should eventually get rid of governments entirely, and that with a little work, we can build a society that's perfectly capable of taking care of the environment in an egalitarian, non-coercive way.

    Until then, though, it's unacceptable to continue the suicidal path we're on now. There are a lot of people who will try to tell us that such-and-such threatens civilization. Terrorism, drugs, homosexuality, everyone wants to play that card, because when something really does threaten civilization, it means we have to drop everything and take care of that problem.

    Terrorism does not threaten civilization. Drugs do not threaten civilization. Global warming really and truly does, and the only issue I can think of that supersedes its importance is the threat of nuclear war.
  • by RexRhino (769423) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:27PM (#16937100)
    Yes... but the question is how you enforce the goal. Do you have the government put a gun to people's heads and threaten to kill them if they don't reduce consumption or make things more efficent, or is it a decentralized popular social movement? No one has a problem with protecting the enviornment... it is just the question of how much police powers to regulate private non-violent behavior that we disagree about.

    Al Gore is of the school that thinks totalitarian government is the solution to enviornmental problems, which is why so many people hate him even if they agree with the science of global warming.
  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:28PM (#16937132) Homepage
    But climatologists haven't been able to predict much in the past...

    Oddly enough, neither have the economists who say that we're going to screw up the economy by doing something about this. Both academic groups have a couple of things in common: they're both studying complex systems where very little experimental evidence is available and they've both had a mixed track record. In most cases when a hard science (like climatology) comes up against a soft science (like economics), the scientific peanut gallery tends to believe the hard science. The fact that this is not the case here is a clear indication that something is seriously being spun on the other side. All I can say is that I go with the hard science. Past experience shows that you ignore hard science at your own peril, but that ignoring economists is not nearly as hazardous to your health.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:49PM (#16937616)
    Avgas will have tetra-ethyl lead, but I don't know if JetA, which is the kereosene mixture that US commercial jets use, has much lead in it at all. The amount of passenger miles in piston driven aircraft is probably dwarfed by most other forms of transport, so efforts by the EPA to clean it up wouldn't make much of a difference.
  • by TriezGamer (861238) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:53PM (#16937688)
    And how many miles must a car travel to cover the same distance? Roads are not all straight.
  • by DuckDuckBOOM! (535473) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:55PM (#16937722)
    Therefore governmental policies must be put in place to drive of the price of consumption..... To reduce consumption in societies that vote for thier leaders will require decisions to be made by those leaders that will be uniformly despised.

    And those leaders will be removed from office at the peoples' first opportunity.

    I'm continually amazed at the ubiquity of the notion that any problem can be solved by passing a law. Fuel shortages? No problem - just impose a 55 MPH national speed limit and there'll be plenty for everyone. (You'll recall how well that worked out.) Global warming? Just slap a 700% "carbon tax" on fuels and everyone will be driving Priuses (Priii?) and showering with solar-heated water before the decade is out. Enact a treaty, and the rest of the world will eagerly follow suit.

    Reality check (1): Any elected officials putting such measures into law would be turned out of office at the next election - if not sooner - and their successors, well-knowing why they were elected, will immediately repeal those measures.

    Reality check (2): China, IIRC, has under construction over 50 new coal-fired power plants. Although a Kyoto signatory, their CO2 emissions are projected to surpass USA's by 2010 [energybulletin.net], with no end in sight. No law passed by USA or any other country can temper China's behavior if the Chinese decline to cooperate. And it appears they have no intention of doing so.

    Reality check (3): Arbitrary restrictions on peoples' behavior do not work. See the 55MPH thing, the War On Fill-In-The-Blank, any 4th of July in a state that outlaws fireworks, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

    The way to wean people off fossil fuel is to present them with a better and/or easier and/or cheaper alternative. The way to bring those about is with incentives, not with mandates or subsidies. Since 1980 the USA government has pumped something like $50 billion into energy R&D, with nothing significant to show for it. Suppose it were to establish an X prize [xprize.org] to pay, oh, $25 billion to the first organization demonstrating an alternative energy process that (1) is renewable, (2) has less end-to-end environmental impact than coal or petroleum, (3) is at least as end-to-end efficient as coal or petroleum, (4) yields end-user cost and performance comparable to gasoline in a typical mid-size automobile, and (5) is practical on a commercial scale. Would you bet that we wouldn't be retooling the nation for such a process by, say, 2020?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:59PM (#16937816)
    Extinction Level Events also cause unemployment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:00PM (#16939092)
    Unfortunately, it's not been shown that they can accurately predict the *climate* either. Most predictions are based on computer simulations, who's accuracy in modeling such a complex system must be questioned. For instance, we are still unsure how much of the climate change is actually caused by heat retention due to the increase of concrete on the planets surface from large cities, a factor estimated in most simulations.

    Another problem is that our climate information is rather limited. Temperature recordings only go back about 100 years at the longest, and that is only for isolated locations. Not to mention the fact that many of the researcher's funding depends on global warming being a problem.

    I'm not saying that global warming is not a problem, I'm just saying that reports such as this need to be taken with a grain of salt.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:05PM (#16939156)
    The sun has absolutely no effect on Earth's climate.
    The sun never fluctuates. Ever.
    AlGore is not a 'tard, he invented the Interweb.
    Bush is Hitler.
    Republicans are evil.
    No WMDs were found in Iraq.
    Terrorism stems from poverty.
    The USA is the biggest threat to global peace (after those damn Zionists).
    The UN is the best way to world peace.
    Islam is a religion of peace.
    Slashdot is a great forum with brilliant editors and their moderation system works perfectly.
    This post is not sarcastic.
  • by irritating environme (529534) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:44PM (#16939904)
    After a while, the fallacy of South Park becomes apparent: they make fun of anyone that believes in anything or takes a stand for anything

    So eventually, you have to conclude that the political tenor or the show is to believe in nothing. Except watching TV. And doing nothing.

    In an ideal world sarcasm is humor to paint ones path through the world. In high school mentality, it is an illusion of airs of superiority maintained by denigrating everything that is not you.
  • by dosquatch (924618) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:55PM (#16940100) Journal

    One sided? It's supposed to be. It's a documentary

    I'm calling bullshit. Documentary is meant to present an unimpassioned recording of events as they happen, without being tied to or filtered through pet theories.

    This I hold as true, in spite of the fact that the Michael Moore school of "propoganda as documentary" continues to be so lucrative.

    Not saying that we shouldn't be looking for ways to be kinder to the environment, or that Gore doesn't make some good points, but Documentary? Meh.

  • by MartinB (51897) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:33PM (#16942692) Homepage
    1. The research is biased. A huge majority of the people researching climate change support the theory. If it were 50/50 I might consider it.

    Sounds like a consensus of researchers to me...

    2. All of the equipment used to test the 'evidence' is owned by these biased scientists.

    ...or, to put it another way, everyone with the equipment to validate the evidence has done so.

    3. As the parent said, Al Gore and the 'scientists' all make a ton of money scaring people into sacrificing for their cause. It's a war-on-terror, but on a global scale.

    Not as much money as the vested interests (*cough*Oil and motor industries for a start*cough*) in the status quo make from the status quo.

    4. The scientist who wants to spread reflective dust into the atmosphere is also spreading BS. If it reflects, then it would reflect light back onto Earth, probably creating a greenhouse effect times ten.

    Yes, because we all know that the Earth is a radiant body. Oh, wait...

    5. The average temperature rises once every century because of El Nino

    Lisa, in this family we *obey* the laws of conservation of energy. But yes, the El Nino-related short term rises show what damage a small increase in temperature can cause.

    6. The scientists neglected to mention that the salt concentration in the ocean might be rising due to a lack of carbon in the atmosphere to break down potassium chloride and sodium nitrate.

    They also neglected to mention that it might be caused by phlogiston.

    7. Show me one experiment I can verify myself with the tools in my garage.

    Sure, after you show me the garage tools you used to experimentally verify Rutherford's work. And your home-made supercollider.

    8. When the script for An Inconvenient Truth was written by Steven Soderberg as a science-fiction thriller, it was bought and discarded. Exactly four months later, about the time it takes a documentary to be produced and filmed, Al Gore's movie came out. Coincidence?

    Um yes.

    You didn't bother shooting for 9 and 10 then? Or is your numeracy as strong as your logic..?

  • by Workaphobia (931620) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:57AM (#16945294) Journal
    Those are the truest words I've ever heard spoken about the show. And it is that neutrality, or indifferent mallice to everything else in the world, that I find kind of insightful. Maybe it is a high school mentality, but I still think it's kind of healthy nonetheless.
  • by zenhkim (962487) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:36AM (#16945938) Journal
    > Increased storm activity and flooding would only affect coastal areas.

    Uh ....you are aware of inland tornadoes, right? How about massive drought and desertification triggered by increasing temperatures?

    > People who complain that they can't afford to move are just complaining.

    Try telling that to the inhabitants of island nations which are *at most* a few feet above sea level.

    > Nowhere is it written that people have the right to an easy life with no effort.

    Of course! And nowhere is it written that people have the right to a peaceful death with no suffering, so the Katrina disaster of New Orleans is just peachy!

    > Maybe I'm an ass, but that's life.

    Maybe, maybe not, but you're definitely sounding like an apologist. If you're going to use the phrase "that's life" as a crutch to justify failure to promote the improvement of civilization and the progress of society, then you might as well tell every researcher, every inventor, every doctor who aims to change the world for the better to "just give up -- why bother? -- people are always going to suffer and die anyway, that's life!"

    > It's not like the world is saying "screw this, let's juts keep making things worse."

    No, it's just the oil companies and conservative wing-nuts, who have a vested interest in keeping everybody on the petroleum bandwagon and attacking the progressive movement at every opportunity.

    > [...] on the whole, humanity will be okay.

    Sure ...unless it won't. The fossil record is full of examples of entire species that existed for anywhere from thousands to millions of years ...only to vanish forever from the face of the earth. Why should homo sapiens be exempt from this possibility? (Because we're "God's creatures"? But weren't the dinosaurs "God's creatures" too?)

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