Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Al Gore: Baptist of the Year

algore.pngThe Baptist Center for Ethics has chosen fmr. U.S. Vice President R. Albert Gore, Jr. (Al Gore) as “Baptist of the Year.”  I try to take a global view of my Baptist family and so I wondered whether or not this was a U.S.-centered choice. [Update: This is the first year BCE has chosen a Baptist from North America. They began this award in 2004, selecting several people from around the globe. In 2005, they chose Paul Montacute, a British Baptist and head of Baptist World Aid, for his quick humanitarian responses to the tsunami and to the earthquake in Pakistan. In 2006, BCE chose collectively the Baptists in Lebanon for their grace and courage during the war which put them literally in the line of fire between Hezbollah and Israel. So, this wasn’t as U.S.-centered as I wondered.]  But in a year in which the former Vice President (who, at the most charitable reading of the Supreme Court’s 2000 Bush v. Gore decision, at least won the popular vote for U.S. President in 2000), won an Academy Award for the film version of An Inconvenient Truth and, together with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his attempts to end the carbon-based war on the planet, this decision by BCE seems perfectly justified.  I am not sure that we have enough time or the political will, even now, to take effective action against global warming before major and irreversible damage is done all across the globe. It may well be too late to do more than limit the damage and save what we can and whom we can.  But if we do have enough time and political will, even here in the United States, then Al Gore will deserve much of the credit as a modern day Paul Revere warning “The HEAT is Coming!”

Congratulations, Mr. Gore. I only hope your efforts have paid off in time.  Keep up the good work.

Update: I have not always been impressed with Mr. Gore’s skills in political oratory. But a major exception is his Nobel Prize Lecture.  It is well worth reading.  Unless you are in delusional denial about climate change (like Fred Thompson or Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) ), you should find it very inspiring.  I know I did.

December 28, 2007 - Posted by | Baptists, ecology, global warming, heroes


  1. I find this a very sad day for Baptists that an organization would choose him as their “Baptist of the Year.” Even as we are seeing that much of what he has said over the last year has been propaganda, if not outright lies, we are also learning just how much he has benefited financially from his crusade. And all the time he lived as a hypocrite in his 10,000 sq. ft. mansion:


    I would think that a man like you would be insulted that this organization chose Gore over Baptists who have sought to bring justice or peace into the world over the last year. If Global Warming proves to be the farce that many credible scientists today are claiming that it is, then this is just another black eye to a Baptist group who has bought into politicized hype rather than the hope of the Gospel.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 28, 2007

  2. D.R., there are no CREDIBLE scientists claiming that global warming is anything but real and alarming–as even John McCain admits.

    I have noted often that Gore’s slideshow doesn’t do nuance. He’s trying to awaken sleeping political will–but in recent months we have seen the global warming disaster move faster than even most of the alarmist predictions showed just a year earlier.

    I have criticized Al Gore (and John Edwards) for lifestyles which are hypocritical. But I still think his accomplishments are worthy–and may have bought us enough time to save this planet.

    But you and Sen. James In-Denial Inhofe (R-OK),and Fred Thompson just keep living in a state of delusion. The rest of us are awake and energized to work.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | December 28, 2007

  3. Conservative Christians have alienated a whole generation of young people by their denial of global warming and other environmental disasters, and their blind support for the most incompetent president we have ever had.

    Comment by Mark | December 28, 2007

  4. My problem (and that of hundreds of credible scientists and btw, Inhofe and Thompson as well) is not the idea of “global warming,” per se (and I realize my comments didn’t differentiate and I apologize for that), but rather the idea that it is man-made and man-fueled. That is where a huge number of credible scientists disagree with Gore. And his film did indeed propagandize that aspect.

    As for Mark’s comments, let me make it clear that the President has nothing to do with my views on man-made global warming. I have a few dozen links to articles by meterologists, climatologists, atmospheric scientists, and oceanographers who claim that Gore has misled the public with his film and hyped the real effects that could result from this latest round of global warming.

    Let me give you just one example of why your opinion about “blind support” is, in fact, pointed in the wrong direction. There was an article recently written by Patrick J. Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and a member of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which notes that he and Ross McKitrick of Canada’s University of Guelph published a manuscript in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres which has been roundly ignored by almost every major newspaper in the world, yet maintains “that the planet may have warmed up only half as much as previously thought.”

    It’s that sort of information that has been ignored that is quite disturbing to me and other conservatives who are wary of talk of “global climate taxes” and other sorts of initiatives that subtract from the U.S.’s sovereignty and will eventually bring the most economic damage to the poor.

    And so when you have a man receiving awards from an Ethics’ institution who is actively attempting to subvert serious study, stifle debate, and propagandize that which is spectulative at best, then I do indeed find it sad and disturbing.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 28, 2007

  5. Oh, and here’s another link to an article about a “denier” who claims that Gore is “crook.” Oh, and he’s a former French education minister and a physicist.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 28, 2007

  6. In regards to Patrick J. Michaels:

    “But while the skeptics portray themselves as besieged truth-seekers fending off irresponsible environmental doomsayers, their testimony in St. Paul and elsewhere revealed the source and scope of their funding for the first time. Michaels has received more than $115,000 over the last four years from coal and energy interests. World Climate Review, a quarterly he founded that routinely debunks climate concerns, was funded by Western Fuels. Over the last six years, either alone or with colleagues, Balling has received more than $200,000 from coal and oil interests in Great Britain, Germany, and elsewhere. Balling (along with Sherwood Idso) has also taken money from Cyprus Minerals, a mining company that has been a major funder of People for the West—a militantly anti-environmental “Wise Use” group. Lindzen, for his part, charges oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services; his 1991 trip to testify before a Senate committee was paid for by Western Fuels, and a speech he wrote, entitled “Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consensus,” was underwritten by OPEC. Singer, who last winter proposed a $95,000 publicity project to “stem the tide towards ever more onerous controls on energy use,” has received consulting fees from Exxon, Shell, Unocal, ARCO, and Sun Oil, and has warned them that they face the same threat as the chemical firms that produced chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a class of chemicals found to be depleting atmospheric ozone. “It took only five years to go from… a simple freeze of production [of CFCs],” Singer has written, “. . . to the 1992 decision of a complete production phase-out—all on the basis of quite insubstantial science.”

    This tells me quite a bit about Michaels. I can see why his claims tend to be ignored.

    Comment by Jeremy | December 28, 2007

  7. Ah, the boogieman of “Deniers are Paid Off!” Reminds me of another article I recently read where Gore speaking of the 400 scientists who have recently come out against man-made global warming noted that at least 25-30 have been linked to energy companies. Yet, that only accounts for less than 10% of those scientists! So much for a conspiracy theory!

    Of course, in logical debate we would call this hit-job an ad hominem, since this does not prove that what Michaels says is not true. You see, instead of doing the due dilligence needed to deal with the issues, people like Jeremy can just attack Michaels’ character and associations and the ignorant masses will generally just take it as fact and go away. Unfortunately for you Jeremy, I took enough philosophy classes to know better.

    Oh, but if you are looking for a connection between one’s belief and one’s money you might want to check out Gore’s investment portfolio, especially his work as Chairman of Generation Investment Management, the company from which he buys his so-called “carbon offsets”:


    Oh, one more thing, Jeremy forgot to mention that the article he cited was from Harper’s Magazine written in 1995.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 28, 2007

  8. My apologies for not linking to the article or citing it. I don’t see how this changes anything, though, that it came from an article written in 1995.

    I’ve been lurking (sorry, Michael) on this website for a while reading the debates and dialog, and I can see why you, D.R., have gained a reputation for being mean-spirited. Lines like, “Unfortunately for you Jeremy, I took enough philosophy classes to know better.” does not leave much room for debate. How arrogant can you be, seriously? Acknowledging that he received funding from these organizations IS RELEVANT in this discussion.

    It’s obvious that you are passionately against anyone who wants to fight global warming and I still don’t know why people like you are so against those who are going with the majority of CREDITED scientists on this subject. I am no scientist, and I suppose I did not take enough science classes to know better like I’m sure you did, D.R.

    Comment by Jeremy | December 28, 2007

  9. And about your link against my point w/ Al Gore – that’s great man! Post your stuff and make your case! But don’t be disrespectful to others who are just as passionate about their side as you are to yours. Some of us liberals have brains too, you know.

    Comment by Jeremy | December 28, 2007

  10. It seems to me that most of the scientists can’t agree about anything on the subject.

    Comment by Ned Kelly | December 29, 2007

  11. Jeremy, I am not trying to be arrogant, nor disrespectful, but I find it difficult to respect hit-jobs that don’t address the facts. That was an ad hominem attack (in fact that entire Harper’s article was an attack, as were the two blogs where that quote can be found). It’s irritating to me that someone would seek to attack a man’s character rather than actually deal with the issues he addresses. It’s fine if you want to characterize me as you did (something else not related to this discussion – and if you’re lurking then surely you’ve seen that there is plenty of sarcasm on this site to go around and I certainly don’t have a corner on that market), but please man, focus on the facts here and let’s leave people’s characters out of it. It seems you may be a bit quick in how you judge people’s characters – Michaels as sold-out to Big Oil and me as arrogant and mean-spirited – so it might be best to leave all those distractions out of the discussion here.

    As for Al Gore, the fact that he makes lots of money off of the idea of man-made global warming shouldn’t be an issue. That’s not the kind of discussions we should be having. We should deal with the science. And that was my point of bringing that up. All sorts of people involved in this debate have money on the line. Chemists that discover life-saving drugs are often funded by pharmaceutical companies that will make millions of dollars off of them, but that doesn’t mean their discoveries are wrong. And simply because one’s research is funded tangentially by a company that benefits from a C02 producing product doesn’t mean they are sold out to an ideology or that their research doesn’t deserve to be considered, or most importantly, that their research is wrong.

    So, my point is, again, deal with the facts and let’s stop attacking people’s characters.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 29, 2007

  12. One more thing Jeremy. You said,

    It’s obvious that you are passionately against anyone who wants to fight global warming and I still don’t know why people like you are so against those who are going with the majority of CREDITED scientists on this subject. I am no scientist, and I suppose I did not take enough science classes to know better like I’m sure you did, D.R.

    First, I am not “passionately against anyone who wants to fight global warming.” You’ve made a number of assumptions about me and this one is quite incorrect. I am all for conserving and clean energy initiatives. For me it is a poverty issue. The more I consume, the more expensive energy is for poorer people. I also believe in recycling, which also brings down the cost of materials and lessens pollution and waste. I’ve replaced almost every bulb in my house with CFLs and when Sylvania finally comes out with their LED bulbs, I’ll replace the rest. I am an avid reader of Treehugger, Mother Earth Magazine, and RenewableEnergyAccess.com. If I had the money in my IRA I would buy GE, SI, and WMI stock because of their eco-projects (and if I was rich I would invest in BP Capital who buys wind projects). And if I tell my wife again how I want to buy a diesel vehicle and convert it to WVO, she will probably take my internet away. And the funny thing is that many, many of my friends who agree with me that the evidence for man-made global warming is lacking believe and act the same way I do.

    The reason why guys like me “are so against those who are going with the majority of CREDITED scientists on this subject” is because there are serious problems with that statement and with the “science” that supposedly backs that up. We’ve seen pseudo-science in action and we don’t want to spend trillions of dollars fighting something that has not been studied nearly enough, mostly at the expense of the poor and middle class, which will inevitably threaten our economy and our sovereignty.

    So I want a real debate. I want to see people put their cards on the table and look at all the evidence, not just a handful of selected studies that don’t always examine all the facts. And you should too. We all should. We should demand better science and shouldn’t threaten to take people’s credentials away when they disagree (like Heidi Cullen has proposed). So now you know why I’m passionate.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 29, 2007

  13. D. R., I am glad you are for clean energy for all those reasons you suggest. I have said all along that human-made global warming is far from the ONLY reason we should be lowering CO2 emissions–just the most urgent one.

    Ned, I am afraid you are mistaken. The vast majority of global climatologists agree about the major outlook: that global warming is real (BEYOND anything cyclical in nature), that it is caused by humans, especially from industrial processes adding tons of C02 into the atmosphere (but also from factory farms with cows whose waste emits vast amounts of methane, etc.). The disagreements are in the details: will the artic ice cap be free of ice completely during the summer months by 2040 as most think, or, as one new study suggests, has the process so sped up that this will happen by 2013! Those are the kinds of differences one finds even among the brilliant scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    One note about dissidents paid by oil companies. I have previously pointed out on this page that Chevron oil spent millions of dollars funding rightwing think tanks to try to debunk the mainstream science on climate change. Well, studies show it hasn’t worked. 59% of the public in the U.S. (still small compared to Europe) is convinced of the threat of catastrophic climate change and the need to take drastic action. However, there are political differences: only 45% of registered Republicans agree with the above statement, whereas 70% of Democrats agree–but that is a significant shift toward IPPC consensus since 2004.

    The “real debates” that D.R. says he wants have happened–all through the ’80s and ’90s. The debates are over in the scientific community because the evidence is in–and one can literally see the effects happen before one’s eyes, now.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | December 29, 2007

  14. D.R.,

    Point well taken. I am not trying to attack anyone’s character or get off focusing on the issue at hand. Perhaps the funding he received did not influence him in the least, but I still don’t think (personal opinion) that what I suggested insults his character. It’s just my honest thoughts on why perhaps he is being ignored as you say he is. ANYONE can be strongly influenced in one way or another by things other than pure motives (on either side of the issue, might I add), and it doesn’t hurt to at least point that out. Sometimes it is worthwhile to follow the money. Otherwise, I don’t think you would have thrown out that link of your own.

    Nor did I suggest that you have a corner on sarcasm; but when the sarcasm comes from YOU towards ME, I’ll take you to task on it. It’s your demeaning way of addressing me that speaks volumes – you act as though I could not possibly know as much about this subject as you. If ANYONE else wants to address me in that way, I probably won’t take to kindly to it, either. Who would?

    I don’t think that this “debate” will go any further. There’s really no point in continuing it as we both have our facts and figures and points of disagreements. Perhaps it is best left at that.

    Comment by Jeremy | December 29, 2007

  15. D.R. & Jeremy, thank-you for a very entertaining argument that I got to just observe!

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | December 29, 2007

  16. Here are a couple quotes and links: I will add a few comments of my own in another post.

    “I used to spread the blame uniformly until, when I was about to appear on public television, the producer informed me that the program “must” also include a “contrarian” who would take issue with claims of global warming. Presenting such a view, he told me, was a common practice in commercial television as well as radio and newspapers. Supporters of public TV or advertisers, with their own special interests, require “balance” as a price for their continued financial support. Gore’s book reveals that while more than half of the recent newspaper articles on climate change have given equal weight to such contrarian views, virtually none of the scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals have questioned the consensus that emissions from human activities cause global warming. As a result, even when the scientific evidence is clear, technical nit-picking by contrarians leaves the public with the false impression that there is still great scientific uncertainty about the reality and causes of climate change.” http://www.nybooks.com/articles/19131

    Interestingly enough, Dow Chemical sponsored an article by Al Gore on Jim Hansen, the following is an excerpt:

    “Jim Hansen had become a thorn in the side of many who resisted the idea that global warming was real. The business-as-usual occupants of the White House at the time—then as now—tried to censor and ridicule his conclusions and silence his warnings.”

    Comment by Mark | December 29, 2007

  17. I understand why many of my Christian friends feel compelled to question evolution, but I have never understood the need to deny the scientific evidence for man-made global warming.

    The president is responsible for leading the crusade against accepting responsibility for the damage humans are continuing to do to our living environment and therefore to future generations of humans.

    The white house routinely “redacted” NASA reports on global warming. James Hansen was put under a gag order but courageously spoke out and continues to do so.

    If your studies of Philosophy got to the 19th century or beyond, you learned that all thinkers have “interests” and when the economic interests are plainly visible, it is relevant to take them into account.

    I was smart enough as a teenager to discount the “scientific” reports showing that smoking does no harm to one’s health. For 40 years the tobacco companies were able to fund scientific studies supporting their financial interests.

    Read RFK Jr.’s Crimes Against Nature (if you are not swayed by ad hominem prejudice against the author’s name.) It is full of documentation showing that the whole administration occupying the white house is bought and paid for by coal and oil interests. The Bush administration appointed energy company officials who were under indictment for violating environmental laws to positions on the EPA.

    I gave the president the benefit of the doubt for about 6 years. I began to become disillusioned when I learned he suppressed evidence questioning the reality of WMD’s in Iraq. I lost what remaining respect I had for him as president when I read Crimes against Nature.

    I still respect George Bush as a fellow Christian and a sincere believer in Christ. I have no doubt that he is sincere in his belief that the public that elected him cannot be trusted with the truth and that total deregulation of industry is good for the economy.

    It dawned on me one day when I thought of the members of my own church. There are a lot of good brothers and sisters with a genuine faith–who are not qualified to be president.

    If you interested, I wrote a post on global warming a while back: http://alterfaith.wordpress.com/2007/10/21/fossil-fuel-is-dead/

    Comment by Mark | December 29, 2007

  18. Mark, you gave Bush 6 more years of trust than I did. 🙂
    Welcome to Levellers!

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | December 29, 2007

  19. Jeremy, it seems you are still much more focused on telling me how bad of a person I am than you are actually dealing with the anything I’ve said about “man-made” GW. Look man, I apologize for my sarcasm. I am sorry I came across as arrogant. That was not my intent, nor was it to try to put myself up “as though [you] could not possibly know as much about this subject as [I]. I am sorry you felt you needed to take me “to task on it.”

    Now, having said that, I think you fundamentally misunderstand me and my words to you. My sarcasm was in reaction to your poor argument – a logical fallacy (specifically an ad hominem – essentially an attack on a man’s character in order to “poison the well” against his position). I’m sorry man, but it’s getting ridiculous when first attacks a man’s character before he deals with the content of his position. And the way you posted that was inapporpriate, a hit-job from the mid-90’s that you can only find on a couple of extremely liberal blogs that do indeed attack all these men’s characters. So, yes, it irritated me and I acted out in sarcasm, but the assertions since about my character from that have gotten out of bounds. You said you didn’t “take kindly” to my sarcasm, but I think you’ve gone beyond that to making this personal and trying to attack my character. So, as I said before, let’s stop it – I think it’s time to actually deal with the evidence and quit attacking people.

    You said, “I don’t think that this “debate” will go any further. There’s really no point in continuing it as we both have our facts and figures and points of disagreements. Perhaps it is best left at that.”

    The problem with that is we haven’t discussed any facts and figures. I pointed out in my first post that there are plenty of man-made skeptics out there, but many have been ignored by the media and posted the article about what Michaels said about his article being ignored, yet it was published in a peer-reviewed journal (directly contradicting both Hansen, who wrote that article in July 2006 – but more on that later – and Michael, who falsely and blindly believes the debate is over). You posted your ad hominem and I sacrastically attacked your argument. Since then you have attacked me and then acknowledged I had a good point. So where in there have we dealt with facts and figures? I’d be glad to get off our present course and deal with those if you’d care to do so.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 29, 2007

  20. Mark,

    I wrote a response to you, but unfortunately I somehow navigated away from this screen when looking for a link and alas it is gone. But let me post a couple of links that rebuts some of Hansen’s temperature readings and some closing thoughts:

    Here is the account about McIntyre’s rebuttal
    Here is McIntyre’s article

    As for the debate being over: Here is a link about 400 scientists who just came out against “man-made” global warming.

    And here is the article where the founder of the Weather Channel calls man-made Global Warming a SCAM (you can find a link there to his blog where he explains why). By the way, Hansen’s article was written in July 2006, the rebuttal by McIntyre was a year later, the 400 scientists came out earlier this month, and Coleman’s comments were made in later November of this year. So, it seems the debate is really just getting started, unlike what Michael would like for us to believe.

    And if we are going to spend trillions of dollars, putting the poor and middle-class in jeopardy, you would think that Christians like Michael would want to get this right. After all, there are plenty of environmentalists who will tell you it’s too late to do anything now anyway and plenty who will tell you we have 50 years to get it right. Since no one really knows, we’d better error on the side of due dilligence.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 29, 2007

  21. D.R.

    I will read the links you have given and give them fair consideration. I hope you are right–it is a big gamble and a lot is at stake.

    Economics is even more complicated than climate science, but I don’t buy the argument that developing cleaner, more efficient technologies will hurt the poor.

    In the 70s and 80s middle class people started buying fuel efficient cars and building energy efficient homes. Eventually the price of oil came down. Then in the 90s we became complacent. Soccer moms started buying SUVs, which were counted as work trucks and exempted from mileage requirements.

    One of the ways Ronald Reagan defeated the evil empire of the Soviet Union was that he brought it to the brink of bankruptcy. Now it’s back with Putin who has visions of re-building the lost empire–and it is now swimming in money.

    One thing I am certain about is that our addiction to oil is enriching all the wrong people: flogger barons in the middle east, terrorists, dictators.

    I know farmers who have struggled for years growing wheat and selling it for less than $3.00 a bushel, corn for about $2.00 a bushel. I assume some of them are now doing fairly well. Ethanol is a short-term solution. Ethanol made from corn is not very efficient–but it is a stop-gap solution; eventually ethanol and bio-diesel will be produced from algae, switchgrass, or animal and plant waste products. Anything is better than enriching the worst tyrants in the world.

    The poor would benefit from safe and efficient public transportation.

    I see it as a gamble either way. I’m betting that we will all be better off if we take the threat of global warming seriously and change our personal habits and national policies accordingly.

    One-thing I agree with you, is that we should all do our own thinking. I am against knee-jerk reactions. The difference is that from where I live, I see most of the knee-jerk reactions coming from conservatives who don’t bother to research it for themselves but just laugh at Al Gore and assume because somebody told them they heard some scientist somewhere didn’t believe in global warming, it must all be a hoax.

    Comment by Mark | December 29, 2007

  22. D.R.,

    The unyielding finger pointing between us is exactly why I don’t think it would be a good idea to deal with this issue anymore. Would it really be helpful if I threw out a bunch of links that quoted facts and figures from scientists who believe global warming is man made? Would it change your mind at all or make you consider my position? As long as you say you have just as many neutral sources that are equally credible in the global warming discussion, there really is no point in me posting my arguments – you will not believe me or them. I don’t think that your stance on global warming makes you any less of a Christian, human being, or educated person.

    As I said before, I posted the Michaels’ funding statistics to address your point about Michaels being ignored, that is it and that is all. Even if the site I quoted from was extremely liberal and biased, are the facts suddenly wrong? If so, then the fault is with me. If not, it shouldn’t matter what site I get them from as long as they are true and relevant to the discussion, which they are. I wasn’t pushing the whole article or calling Michaels a dirtbag. MY POINT IS THAT MONEY CAN INFLUENCE PEOPLE!!! Period. Though I strongly disagree with your stance on global warming, at the risk of sounding like a 5 year old (which I sometimes do), “I didn’t start it” in regards to the character attacks.

    This is my last post on this subject. I think it would be better to lock two opposing scientists in a room to duke it out and we should sit in the stands eating popcorn and taking notes.

    Comment by Jeremy | December 29, 2007

  23. Mark,

    I appreciate your irenic response. I agree with your last post on many points. I do want to address a few things.

    You said, “I don’t buy the argument that developing cleaner, more efficient technologies will hurt the poor.”

    I don’t buy that argument either, but that’s not the one I am making. The thing that bothers me are the “solutions” that include global carbon taxes, which will drive short and medium term energy prices to the stratosphere. Also, I think many of the incentives given to clean technology companies will waste money. Companies like Conergy, Evergreen Solar, Nanosolar, MEMC, and First Solar are making money without expensive tax and spend policies. The market solutions are working and Nanosolar has already begun producing units that have cost/kw ratios that mimic coal production. And really their products aren’t even close to the best and most efficient out there.

    You said, “Ethanol is a short-term solution.”

    Ethanol is not a solution, it’s part of the problem. Several studies have suggested that it takes more energy to make it than it produces. Ethanol doesn’t make a dent in global oil usage, yet it has driven up food prices throughout the world, hurting the dollar and causing uneccessary damage to our economy. But biodiesel is much more efficient and algae biodiesel could be a cheap, clean, and efficient substitute for gasoline. Hybrid-diesel should be the next step, not ethanol vehicles.

    You said, “I’m betting that we will all be better off if we take the threat of global warming seriously and change our personal habits and national policies accordingly.”

    I disagree. I think it has wasted time and energy. Rising energy prices are enough to bring out better solutions. The threat of mass destruction does motivate some people, but it also brings inefficient technologies like traditional solar cells and ethanol into the market, when better technologies could be developed within 5 years. Finally, it threatens our national sovereignty when we are called to sign treaties that other countries will sign, but not adhere to (like France).

    Lastly, you said, “I see most of the knee-jerk reactions coming from conservatives who don’t bother to research it for themselves.”

    I agree – I see that here as well. I heard ignorance coming from a local pastor recently. But there are clearly people who haven’t thought through the issue on the other side as well. And there are many people like myself, who see themselves in Ron Dreher’s book, Crunchy Cons, who care about the environment, but refuse to worship at the feet of a movement that has become irrational and cultlike.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 30, 2007

  24. Jeremy,

    I am sorry that will be your last post. It’s unfortunate that we never discussed the issue at hand. I think you still misunderstand me and I’m not sure you can get past the one sarcastic comment I made to be able to.

    I do want to say in response to your comment “‘I didn’t start it’ in regards to the character attacks” that I never attacked your character at any time. I attacked your ad hominem post with sarcasm. You took it as such, but it was not my intention to do so. And I made that clear when I apologized for that comment.

    What we need in this debate is less pettiness and character attacks and more clear, logical argumentation. Debate is supposed to bring the latter out. It would have been much more helpful if you had posted some of those links. And I am sorry that you feel it would have been a waste of your time. I respectfully disagree.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 30, 2007

  25. Hey, hey, hey, I’m reading Crunchy Cons. The guy’s a little too liberal for my taste, but at least he’s interesting.

    Not all meteorologists believe humans are causing climate change. See Gore gets a cold shoulder – Environment – smh.com.au. Dr. William Gray was a pioneer in seasonal hurricane forecasts, and he disputes Gore’s claims.

    Of course, everyone who disputes Gore must be in the pockets of the oil industry, right? Like the global warming advocates don’t have a financial interest! A good documentary to see is the Great Global Warming Swindle. Not only does it feature scientists who do not believe in Gore’s spin, but it also argues that scientists have a motive to come up with sensationalist ideas–that gets them grant money.

    Comment by James Pate | December 31, 2007

  26. James, meteorologists are not climatologists. Many of the scientists (and others) who dispute–not layperson Al Gore, but the scientific consensus on climate change, are in the pay of the oil industry. See http://www.exxonsecrets.org/ for the documentation of how one oil company has been funding climate skepticism.

    There are some other climate scientists, a tiny minority, with no ties to the vested interests and no obvious ideological bias (like the CATO Institute which will automatically oppose anything that doesn’t worship at the golden calf of the so-called “free market”) who are skeptics about the AMOUNT of human causation of global warming. And many scientists disagree on the details. But there is no real debate in the peer-reviewed scientific journals concerning the existence of global warming, its human causation, and the likely disasters if nothing is done.
    Most also agree on the policy remedies: Very similar to the way we stopped acid rain the problem of ozone erosion with CFC, we need a hard cap (and pretty deep) on carbon emissions with a trading system that encourages green innovation. Plus, we need carbon taxation to show the true prices of our industrial products. Gore himself has proposed that we greatly reduce, eventually even eliminating, payroll taxes on income–and tax pollution, instead. That benefits the working poor, green entrepeneurs, and puts the costs for our environmental crisis directly where it should be. Not taxing polluters is the equivalent of giving them government subsidies because the prices do not reflect the true cost of oil refining, coal production, etc., etc.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | December 31, 2007

  27. Michael, I think it is you who are in denial. Repeatedly saying that there is no debate doesn’t make it true. It sounds more like you are just espousing talking points than you are actually looking at the evidence.

    Now, while you continue to attempt to “poison the wells” (a fallacious argument, btw) by bringing up the claim that skeptics must be sold out to Big Oil, there are plenty of scientists completely unlinked to any oil companies in the list of 400 scientists in the article listed below. Seriously read this article – href=”http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=f80a6386-802a-23ad-40c8-3c63dc2d02cb”>U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007< – without outright dismissing it and you will see the breadth of disagreement among many, many disciplines.

    As for your assertion that metereologists are somehow not on the level of climatologists – if that is true, then why did the IPCC include physicists, geologists, glacierologists, and yes, even meteorologists on their committee of reviewers? Doesn’t make sense if you only need climatologists. Also, it’s very clear that climatologists cannot accurately assess glacier levels, sea level readings, geomagnetic effects, solar radiation levels and the like without the help of those in other disciplines. So your logic here fails.

    Also, you keep repeating that there is no debate in peer-reviewed journals, but that is completely inaccurate – another talking point that fails the sniff test. There are a dozen or so peer-reviewed articles mentioned in this report. And it goes on to note that “[a] July 2007 review of 539 abstracts in peer-reviewed scientific journals from 2004 through 2007 found that climate science continues to shift toward the views of global warming skeptics.” And then here is an article that explains how the term “consensus” came into being and why it doesn’t reflect fact.

    In fact, RealClimate has all but admitted to the falsehood that there are no peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles as far back as January 2005 when they attacked the idea of peer-review in article entitled, “Peer Review: A Necessary But Not Sufficient Condition.” Of course, their proposition effectively undercuts their own foundations for their claims.

    As for the idea that Gore supports the elimination of the payroll tax, I would like to see some documentation. But to say that would help the working poor is false. The Federal Poverty Level for a family of 4 is about $21,000, and at that level you don’t pay taxes However, it might cause a rise in the cost of goods, to be offset by income taxes. But if one doesn’t pay income taxes, then that rise in the cost of goods would effectively be a tax, thereby representing a regressive tax and thus very much hurting the working poor. In fact, Timothy Noah wrote an article for Slate entitled, “The GOP Triangulates,” in which he states,

    On a purely theoretical level, it’s not at all inconsistent for a Republican to advocate a carbon tax. Conservatives prefer taxing transactions to taxing income because it’s a way to avoid progressivity; rich and poor get taxed at the same rate.

    So it seems that Gore’s idea fails to seriously consider the consequences to the poor. The fair tax does much better in considering the poor than does a carbon tax. And carbon taxes would never be imposed in place of an income tax – Dems have made that abundantly clear.

    The point I made earlier is that market-based solutions are working, and at a much faster rate than carbon taxes. For instance, when was the last time you heard about the need for rolling blackouts in CA? The state has combined the most agressive incentives for energy efficient products with the best technological advances in the business to correct their decade long problem of energy shortage. And just consider how many MWs of wind turbines are going up all across the Midwest. And honestly, we’re just getting started.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 31, 2007

  28. Sorry, here’s that article in the second paragraph:

    U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007

    Comment by D.R. Randle | December 31, 2007

  29. 400 is a drop in the bucket. Let’s take the most basic evidence for the consensus: the actions of the Bush administration. W comes into office eager to deny global warming. So, he convenes a panel of hand-picked scientists to write a report. To his chagrin, they write a report saying it’s real and human-made and urgent. So, he sets aside the report and convenes a new panel: Same result. At taxpayer expense, this happens 4 times in a row. Meanwhile, other reports supporting global warming from the EPA, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, etc. are either removed or alterned online–actions so outrageous that it began to change many elected Republicans’ minds about it.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 1, 2008

  30. Wow Michael, you are really grasping at straws now. I guess all 400 of those scientists, plus all of those who have recently written peer-reviewed articles must have been employed by the Bush Administration, huh? I won’t fight the idea that Bush, et al. worked to limit GW research, but all of what you talked about happened prior to 2003. So when you speak in the present tense, you mislead your readers. Unfortunately, we are not talking about past research here. We are talking about studies that have come out in the past 2-3 years, as the best and the brightest in the scientific community have jumped into the fray.

    You said, “400 is a drop in the bucket,” but maybe you should have read that article I posted just above. Here is one quote:

    The over 400 skeptical scientists featured in this new report outnumber by nearly eight times the number of scientists who participated in the 2007 UN IPCC Summary for Policymakers. The notion of “hundreds” or “thousands” of UN scientists agreeing to a scientific statement does not hold up to scrutiny. (See report debunking “consensus”. Add to that that many of the 400 were actually participants in the UN IPCC panel who disagreed with the official report. And there is plenty of controversy surrounding how that report came about.

    The idea of “consensus” is falling hard and fast. It was a myth from the beginning and it’s becoming more evident as each article is published. If all you can do to combat the vast amount of evidence I have listed here to suggest we need further debate is to keep repeating that tired old line of “consensus”, then clearly you are not keeping up with the debate. How about you revisit this in a year and see if your arguments of consenus hold up to scruitiny? I suggest they will not.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | January 1, 2008

  31. Sorry, only the phrase prior to 2003 was meant to be place in bold.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | January 1, 2008

  32. By what standard then, I wonder, should we accept the understanding of these 400 scientists over the understanding of the scientists who do think GW is a reality and that human activity may be impacting it?

    Why should we listen to those scientists, DR and not these others?

    You are correct, DR, that Bush has apparently had to adjust his understanding of the science. Now it appears that he agrees that GW is a reality and that the scientists researching it think that human activity may contribute to it. Do you suspect that Bush is wrong? Why?

    Understand that I’m not saying GW caused by human activity is a reality. I’m frankly not well-versed enough in science to make that judgement.

    What I DO know is that,

    1. GW (the earth getting warmer) seems to be accepted as a reality by most scientists,
    2. That many scientists who have studied this think that human activity may contribute to it,
    3. That other scientists disagree, but can’t say authoritatively that human activity DOESN’T contribute to GW
    4. GW is just one of MANY reasons why we need energy and consumption policy changes as individuals, as a nation and as a world.

    That the science isn’t settled only suggests to me that we ought to be prudent and err on the side of caution.

    Comment by Dan Trabue | January 3, 2008

  33. Dan,

    I will break my normal rule of not discussing with you since you did indeed ask some reasonable questions that do deserve to be answered.

    First, let me say that this argument isn’t about Bush or Gore, or Hillary or Thompson. Politicians just muck everything up, as their desire is not for truth, but rather political expediency. If anything can be learned from this political season, it’s that the views of politicians are more flexible than Playdough.

    The standard should be the scientific method. Unfortunately, we don’t have legitimate tests that can truly prove that CO2 levels drive a greenhouse effect. So far what we have are models of correlation. And there are models that show a lag of 500-800 years between CO2 levels and temperature rise. Correlation is historically a very poor way to substantiate cause and effect, yet it is the chief way that M-M GW advocates have attempted to establish credibility. We still need a reliable and repeatable test for such.

    Additionally, we need MORE communication between disciplines since temperatures correlate with several variables other than CO2 levels (CO2 is just one gas among many attributed to a “greenhouse effect”). Changes in solar radiation, geomagnetic factors, and urban temperature variance are all important issues than have not been adequately examined. In fact, just today we read that a Russian scientist claims that global cooling will soon begin because of an ending solar activity cycle. So we need more debate, not less.

    As for what you say you do know, I agree with #1 in as much as it has gotten warmer over the past 200 years from the previous 200. But that doesn’t mean it will continue. Number 2 is clearly a fact. But, number three is true about BOTH sides, not just those who disagree with the theory of M-M GW. Neither side can truly claim anything authoritatively. And finally, I agree we need better energy sources, especially renewable ones, for a variety of reasons. But as I pointed out to Mark earlier, I think that the M-M GW scare has brought about some negative, unintented results – one being that global commodity prices are at an all time high, a negative for all people, especially those in poverty. We need better solutions than stop-gaps like Ethanol, which is terribly inefficient and threatens our food supply. FOr example, lately, wheat is at an all time high because farmers are growing corn and soybeans, which are cheaper to produce and yield more cash per acre. What we really need is a non-food-related biodiesel – something like algae.

    So, sure the idea of M-M GW has its positive results, but we may be paying for those positives with overwhelming negative consequences for years to come. And I agree, we should err on the side of caution and not subject our economy to potential wreckage until we have all the facts.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | January 3, 2008

  34. Thank you for a reasonable answer. I’ve read the reports of those who’ve studied M-M GW and those who disagree and, to me, the ones who’ve made the most reasonable case have been those who think there may be a link.

    As to this:

    one being that global commodity prices are at an all time high, a negative for all people, especially those in poverty.

    But what if our commodity (and fossil fuel) prices are artificially low? That is what I believe to be the case. That our commodity prices are artificially low for a variety of reasons, one being that our fossil fuel costs (in the US, anyway) are significantly underpriced.

    Yes, higher commodity prices will hurt the poor disproportionately. But keeping prices artificially low (that is, pushing the costs off on others, the environment, future generations as we do currently) is not the way to have a more equitable solution for higher prices.

    I do agree with you that increased ethanol is a horrible idea, for exactly the same reason. It’s just pushing the costs of allowing us to swim in energy off on others.

    I think the solutions will tend to ultimately come from living more responsibly, more sustainably – living within our means. We are a hyperconsumptive culture that the world is trying to emulate and there just ain’t enough resources for everyone to live as high on the hog as we do.

    But to the point, if you agree that the anti M-M GW faithful have no authoritative evidence (and I concede that those who posit that humans may exacerbate GW don’t have – nor claim to have – proof positive that this is the case, just that their research suggests it’s a likelihood), why would we not take a more prudent approach and make policy with an eye to the possibility that too much pollution IS affecting climate change?

    Especially when there is plenty of evidence of OTHER problems with our current pollution/environmental degradation/hyperconsumptive policies?

    Comment by Dan Trabue | January 4, 2008

  35. Dan,

    I am unaware of anyone in the ag-business who believes that commodity prices are too low. Prices are determined by supply and demand. And as economists have proven consistently, markets are efficient over the long term, though they fluctuate over the short term. So to say that commodity prices are artificially low is to ignore the very market factors of supply and demand which determine price.

    As for fossil fuel prices (specifically oil), that too is determined by market factors and, while short term prices have moved sharply, most traders agree the fundamentals don’t support a current price of $100/barrel. Demand has’nt grown 60% and neither production nor known reserves have been reduced by 60%, yet prices have increased 60%. Thus, the oil price is fueled by speculation of future demand, not the true supply/demand correlation.

    Now, what this rise in price has accomplished is to allow other sources of fuel to become more competitive, assuring us that future supply will increase, demand will decrease, and thus prices will move downward to reflect such. Already traders have prepared to hit $110/barrel oil with a quick retreat back to a fundamental price of $70/barrel.

    As to sustainability, indicators suggest it is improving not worsening. I am seeing more small scare farming in my area and even in urban areas (like Chicago), the local authorities are having to make decisions on how to deal with residents growing & raising their own food sources (like chickens). The same is true in regards to energy sources, as DIY projects like solar water heating and homemade biodiesel become more common. So while you have typically been cynical about our future sustainability, I remain optimistic that technology is keeping up with demand and will soon outpace it as solar and wind energy, along with ocean desalination, become more reasonable and affordable.

    Finally, pollution is a problem, but not because it causes GW, but because it causes other problems. I would love to eliminate pollution, but we shouldn’t throw the baby (CO2) out with the bathwater (actual pollutants). When you mention prudence, it seems you only examine it from one perspective, but true prudence demands one consider economic consequences of any action and that we do our due diligence to make sure we aren’t wreckless in that regard.

    In the end, you paint a very ugly picture that hides much of the reality of what has been accomplished in a very short time period, namely a realized 41% solar efficiency and 1.6 billion kw of wind (expected to triple every three years). So the scenarios that you often paint are absent of those types of additional data. And I think you and others should consider such when you speak about the possible good that could come from speculative “science,” the results of which could take those advances and counteract them by wrecking an economy and hurting the very people that would benefit most from them.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | January 7, 2008

  36. Okay, Okay! STOP! This was never intended to be a thread about global warming. I might do such a series–or D.R. could actually blog on his own site about it. After all, when I check it out, I find that D.R. posts on my site far more than on his own. But these “comments” have become far longer and more complex than the original post, which was just a congratulatory post to Al Gore. So, I am closing this thread to further posts.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 7, 2008

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