October 12, 2007

I Can't Resist Commenting on This

CNN:  Gore: Nobel win a chance 'to change the way people think'

PALO ALTO, California (CNN)  -- Sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize helps underscore the urgency of the climate crisis, said former Vice President Al Gore on Friday.

Gore's comments came hours after the Nobel committee announced he would share the award with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for their work to raise awareness about global warming.

"This is a chance to elevate global consciousness about the challenges that we face now," Gore said, speaking to reporters in Palo Alto, California. "It truly is a planetary emergency, and we have to respond quickly."

The former vice president said he would donate his half of the $1.5 million prize to the Alliance for Climate Protection, an organization he founded to persuade people to reduce global warming by cutting pollution.


The Nobel committee's announcement cited Gore and the IPCC "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."
There are two surefire ways to get me to stop listening to you:
1) Talk about global warming or "man-made climate change."
2) Say things about "global consciousness."

*le sigh*

When some other person remarked that this prize seems to be awarded more for forwarding the committee's political agenda over actual achievement, Michael over at Gay Orbit cited "the link between global warming, poverty, desertification, and its future effects on peace."

I would say that many people are probably unaware of such a link.  It seems like the notion that poverty is the origin of crime and war in the world and that really isn't true. 

Poverty is a relative term defined as the lower quintile of income, so if you look at the world over, most all of Africa is impoverished.  At the same time, if you look at just Africa, that lower quintile shifts to subsume a far more narrow group of people who, really, aren't so impoverished as they are stagnating in the sort of lifestyle that has existed in Africa since before European colonization.  Those people have also been doing their tribal squabbling for that long, too.

A lot of people seem to think that when impoverished people see rich people, that's what drives them to crime.  They are so overcome with envy that they kill, steal, and everything else just to get this better life that they see is possible.  Of course, I think polite people don't say that it's "envy" that motivates them but an earnest desire to live a better life that they know is possible.  The desire to have what others have and a discontent with one's own situation is the very definition of envy, though.  Envy in this sense certainly isn't bad, but I do have to condemn the mentality that ignores how that wealth was earned.  Stealing doesn't produce wealth; it consumes it.  A thief isn't a producer of a wealth, but a leech.  Earning assets versus depreciating assets.

No, the origin of war and crime is a failure to recognize not only the rights of others but also the primary importance of one's own life and happiness, which cannot be maintained through parasitism.  You have to work for happiness.

And I saw this video on YouTube the other day:

The guy in the video breaks down his argument for supporting taking action against global warming by looking at the consequences of action or inaction in the different contexts of there being global warming or there not being global warming.

His thought is that if we act and global warming is false, then in the worst case we suffer global economic ruin.  I won't say that he shrugs this off, but he does seem to fail to recognize that a global economic catastrophe would result in most of the same things that he attributes to the option of not acting in the case that global warming is true.

The best thing, of course, is for us to not act and global warming is false.

The strangest part of his argument is the case where we act and global warming is true.  He sums the disadvantage as being merely "cost," but I don't know why he thinks that the global economic catastrophe he predicted in the first scenario above would be averted.  On the contrary, I would predict economic ruin in any case of acting to stop global warming regardless of whether or not it is true.

And finally, if we do nothing but global warming turns out to be true, everything bad happens.

So, I would probably break his outcome analysis (with the stipulated worst-case assumptions) down more like this:

Act/False = Economic disaster, political, social upheaval and global health crises
Act/True = Economic disaster, political, social upheaval and global health crises + less CO2
No Act/False = Life continues as it otherwise would for good or bad.
No Act/True = Economic disaster, political, social upheaval and global health crises + really inconvenient weather.

I do mean to downplay the environmental effects of global warming.  Even in the absolute worst case scenario, I don't believe that there is any sort of climate change that would or could (barring those induced by cosmic events eg. asteroid impacts, exploding suns, and the like) stop human progress.  We will find a way.  We could move to the bottom of the ocean or build big bio domes or any number of extreme measure to match the extreme changes in weather.

I've talked about global warming on this site before.  I'm just not impressed by it.  I also say that in full awareness of my non-scientist qualifications.

Am I interested in graphs of temperature change?  Nope.
Do I want to see an analysis of how ocean surface temperatures correlate to CO2 levels?  Not a chance!
Could you pique my curiosity with a chart of changing sea levels around the world?  You must be joking me.

I am actually unmoved by the whole line of reasoning that leads a person to think they should be concerned about the environment, which are generally focused around this argument: SAVE THE CHILDREN! 

My children will be just fine in a space ship if that's where they need to go to thrive.  Note that I didn't say "survive" because I don't care to simply survive.  I want me and my children to thrive and prosper and love life.  And frankly, I don't much care about your children apart from the general level of benevolence that I grant to all strangers who haven't shown themselves to be evil and although that level of benevolence does describe an overarching positive view of humanity, my point is that you shouldn't start thinking you're special.

So, the bottom line is that I really don't care about global warming.  I will be able to deal with it no matter what happens.

But if I am to assess the veracity of the environmentalist claims, I refer back to the fact that I'm not a scientist.  Every time I've looked into this matter I've been confronted with a barrage of data with some people saying that it means we're all going to die and some people saying we won't and everyone saying that everyone else is stupid, crazy, lying, or some other colorful insults.

Due to my default stance about global warming (don't care) and my general disdain for hippies and environmentalists, I am GREATLY amused by those who question the motivations of those who argue against global warming.  They say things like, "Oh!  That scientist doesn't count because he was paid by an oil company!"  This amuses me for a couple of reasons.

First, environmentalists have spearheaded several cases of bald deception, such as with the campaign against DDT which has left millions to die of malaria.  Or the campaign against GM foods, which leave people to starve.  Don't tell me you're a humanitarian when you all but whack people on the head and bury them alive.

Second, Al Gore's winning the Nobel Peace prize stands as a prime example of the fact that in today's social atmosphere there are economic motives for being Green.  He won an Emmy, too, didja heard?  Green stuff is also a growing presence in business -- Advertising Week here in NYC featured talks on the green movement.

I'm not sure what the problem is with having a vested interest in your arguments, though.  I should hope you have some interest in being right in what you say.  You'd be an idiot to argue against your interests, right?  (Kind of makes you wonder why that guy in the YouTube video is so eager for economic ruination.)  And in any case either the data support your conclusions or they don't.

So, what do I think of Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize?  Well, didn't Yasser Arafat win one of things a while back?  And Kofi Annan?  And various representative and groups in the UN?  I think his Nobel Prize is in line with the quality of other recipients of the award.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 03:17 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 Does anyone understand how someone brings about world peace by advocating action against climate change?

I'm not even bringing into the discussion whether or not he's right, or whether he's done a bit of data stretching to make his arguments.

Let's say he is entirely correct and honest. He tells people they should cut back on greenhouse gas emissions to avoid drowning all the polar bears. How does this have anything to do with striving to maintain peace between the peoples of the world?

It seems the Nobel Peace Prize committee is populated entirely by underpants gnomes. (See South Park for context)

Posted by: Justin at October 12, 2007 04:03 PM (ckQml)

2 That's what I'm saying. 

He seems to think that poverty and more deserts leads to less world peace.  I'm granting him the leeway of assuming he said that in a weird way because, last time I checked deserts don't cause wars, but he means that the transformation of previously "moist" land to deserts leads to poverty and people moving around to survive, which leads to war.

My  point is that neither of those things are direct causes of war or "less peace."

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at October 12, 2007 04:40 PM (ErOeR)

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