Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth opens nationwide this week. The movie purports to enlighten the benighted masses about the global calamity facing humanity as a result of global warming. Unfortunately, for Al Gore, Truth is Inconvenient because as we get closer to the truth about global warming it will be inconvenient that his "truth" will be revealed as a mendacious distortion of unrelated scientific facts. The Gore program for socialism, which has lost repeatedly in the polling place, now seeks victory through hysteria via worldwide U.N. mediated regulation, and that is An Inconvenient Truth.
Really scary images and wild assertions can be found at this website. What will be lacking is hard science because by virtue of being hard it is not very popular, is not conducive to simplification, does not provide vivid gut-wrenching imagery and is veiled in difficult mathematical formulas, concepts and reams of numerical data.
The climatological record based upon observation is about 150 years duration, which for a planet of some 4.5 billion years of age is a statistically meaningless sampling period. Nothing can be extrapolated from this data other than its uselessness. Don't believe me, ask your friendly neighborhood actuary about the veracity of my statement.
Atmospheric dynamics is a subject of such complexity that any "expert" will readily admit that all of the models are no good; that is, they have little to no predictive value (that's why the weather man is wrong so often). These dynamics are governed by the Navier-Stokes equation which cannot be solved, as a system of non-linear partial differential equations, the solution of which required boundary and initial value constraints that cannot be evaluated. Additional and complicating factors are high dimensional systems of chemical kinetics that interact (perturb) the pressure and density terms of the Navier-Stokes system. Not to be forgotten is the effect of radiation transfer from the Sun, as well as, radiative re-emission by the planet and its gaseous envelope. All of these "models" require extensive simplification such that they no longer represent the systems they purport to model. Unfortunately, only a trained mathematician or physicist will recognize these limitations and errors.
We live on a decent-sized planet with a large atmosphere, and the amount of carbon man can pump into it is trivial compared to the natural sources: biomass decomposition, animal flatulence, undersea vents, surface hot spots like Yellowstone, volcanic eruption and soil out-gassing to name a few of the sources that have been studied. There are many Internet sites that abound with data on these assertions.
We also live reasonably close to the Sun, which provides virtually all the energy mankind and the planet has. It would be a vast oversimplification to assert that this fusion reactor has a constant output over time. The space weather link provides continuous monitoring of multi-spectral data that demonstrates that this is not in fact the case as solar output is spectacularly dynamic.
Those that have taken freshman chemistry will remember Le Chatelier's Equilibrium and that it has a powerful effect on this system. The Earth's oceans provide a massive CO2 buffering system such that the atmospheric ocean system exchanges CO2 continuously in copious amounts that will minimize concentration fluctuations
In the 1970's Dr. Ralph Cicerone (University of Michigan) was widely promulgating a theory that ozone holes from Freon-based refrigerants were pummeling mankind with ultraviolet radiation due to questionable fluorocarbon chemistry and its subsequent extrapolation was massive skin cancer for mankind. It was clear that by the early nineties his predictions were grossly wrong. I heard the man speak first hand, and as a freshman could find the flaws in his analysis, but he retained funding for years in spite of being grossly wrong. Subsequent research determined that holes were natural, regular and harmless.
The planet may be getting hotter, it may be getting colder. Some regions of the planet may be getting hotter while others get colder (also known as seasons), but none of these theories can model any of it with any accuracy. Even the experts admit this in the terse mathematics of their published papers, but never when requesting grant funding.
The Inconvenient Truth is that Al Gore has assembled a team of statist academicians to promulgate his theme. The theme so strongly rejected by voters of the last quarter century at the polls, an overwhelming NO to socialism. Every expert he brings forth in this evidentiary proceeding is on the tax payer's dole, either directly like NASA employees, or indirectly as recipients of NSF grants for research. As such they should be treated as scoundrels selling snake oil under the legalistic façade of academic respectability.
Atmospheric Physics is a growth industry but only for those that sing the proper tune and in the proper key: the proverbial sky is falling and only bold, massive government and inter-governmental regulation and expensive "investments" (paid for by the taxpayer) can save the world. Al Gore is a lifelong politician who has never held a job, the son of a politician, who has unfailingly played the role of Chicken Little (in a public policy frame of mind) his entire adult life. This movie is a just another shameless, self-promoting, dishonest and mendacious attempt at securing more taxpayers dollars which at best will squander billions on science without results (think star wars) or possibly a cruel lie that will lead to the death of millions through environmental mismanagement at its worst. Now that is an Inconvenient Truth.
June 7, 2006