April 3, 2006

Climate Crisis...

A number of people (two is a number!) have asked me for links to Al Gore's incredibly moving speech on the very poorly-named "global warming" crisis. Unfortunately, I didn't have such a link. Until NOW. Dum dum dum!

Honestly, going into Al's presentation (and I think I know him well enough to call him Al, assuming he will call me Betty), I thought listening to a wooden dude drone on about the weather getting nicer for an hour was going to be the most deadly-dull thing I'd ever done. I thought, "Oh, boy, I love being lectured about what a bad person I am for living and breathing and how we're all going to heck and there's nothing I can do. It brightens up my day!"

I was wrong. Al's presentation was funny, enlightening, and most of all moving. He presented raw data, pictures, and yet more data, and yet more pictures, all of which points to our world being irreversibly changed in the next several years, for the much, much worse. There is a vast and overwhelming amount of evidence for this, and it is cited for your perusal if you are skeptical. The social and economic fallout will be devastating to life as we know it. This isn't about us enjoying lovely sunshine year-round -- this is about hurricanes, plagues of insects, massive species die-offs, new diseases -- real armageddon stuff, folks.

Most scientific reports I've seen now agree that the Sahara desert was created by man, thousands of years ago. We did that. We had too many cattle, we overgrazed the land, it dried out and started a cycle that perpetuated itself and even accelerated. The giant sand trap in middle of Africa, visible from space, that has plunged that entire nation into poverty for thousands of years... that was our fault.

Let's learn from our mistakes. Just this once, when it matters most.

PS: Go see Snakes on a plane it's going to rock.


Update: The trailer is finally out.



Anonymous Robert 'Groby' Blum said...

Uh, no. That link is not quite pointing anywhere remotely resembling a presentation. I'd say Al is disappointed right now...

Fix for us lowly peons who don't hobnob with the elite, please?

April 03, 2006 6:10 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Sorry if this was misleading: you have to see the film. The presentation is in it. I don't know if the presentation is online yet, but some of the stuff from it is also on the linked site.

April 03, 2006 6:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I'd rather see "Ice Age 2" and buy "The Chronicles of Narnia" then take the Al Gore sleeping pill!

April 03, 2006 8:11 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Anonymous: Well, lucky for you, you will see the ice age.

April 03, 2006 8:13 PM

Blogger Patrick Gibson said...


April 03, 2006 8:36 PM

Anonymous Thom said...

Wil, I hate to be a pill, but...um...Africa isn't a nation, dude. Also, the carbon footprint calculator doesn't work in Safari. *sigh*

But, yeah, we're coming up real fast on a world of much hurt. On the other hand, word seems to be getting out.

April 03, 2006 8:38 PM

Anonymous Robert Smelser said...

Interesting link. The information is fascinating, and I like the pragmatic tips the site offers.

By the way, have you ever been G Living Networks at http://www.greenzones.org/ ? If not, you should take a look.

(Oh, and thanks for the Paul SImon reference!)

April 03, 2006 8:46 PM

Anonymous Robert Smelser said...

Sorry to post again, but the carbon calculator worked fine for me, Thom. If it continues to not work, I guess Camino or Firefox would be a safe bet.

Mac OS X 10.4.5
Safari 2.0.3

April 03, 2006 8:52 PM

Blogger random milk said...

also, you can get an mp3 of it here:

April 03, 2006 8:59 PM

Blogger Troy Phillips said...

Carbon Calculator worked with Safari 1.3. I had to make up the state though because for some reason it is US ONLY!

According to the calculator, my household usage is 3500 lbs/year which is much smaller than the US average of 15000 lbs/year. Seriously, you guys in the US must really slurp it down! (I am in Australia)

April 03, 2006 9:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this speech by Robert Kennedy a while ago and found it very interesting, it's about similar issues.

April 03, 2006 10:08 PM

Anonymous Jason Swain said...

Stupid blogger. After you preview it wipes your identity information by moving the radio button back to Anonymous. The post above was not meant to be anonymous.

April 03, 2006 10:11 PM

Anonymous MJ said...

I'd love to hear that podcast but I guess it's copyright by TED ®. I'll wait for the iTMS DRM'ed version :D

As an IT professional who started out by doing a degree in Biology and spending too much time in the computer labs in the pre-browser days, I've seen all the arguments about global warming from the start. We heard about how the oil would run out. We heard about how the climate would change, in fact, how it was changing.

Just about the only thing my teachers didn't spot was what the developed nations would do to make sure they had oil. Pre-emptive strikes on harmless nations in the name of democracy for example while building a nation of god. They got that one wrong for sure.

But, to be honest, I got VERY sick of "I told you so" and I got real tired of people harping on about how, here in Ireland, global warming could only be a good thing. About how we'd get a good summer finally hurr hurr. They just saw the "warming" and they forgot about the "global".

Even if you're one of the big nations, like the US, global warming is going to hurt. Going to be REALLY funny when the folk stories about Virginia talk about how the sand dunes sweep down to the sea or when the idea of "baked alaska" doesn't seem quite so funny.

Want to work out your carbon footprint? To save embarrassment, never ever get on a plane.

April 04, 2006 12:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You had me until you called Africa a country and said the Sahara was man-made.

April 04, 2006 4:12 AM

Anonymous Henrik said...

I live in Denmark where we have a smaller CO2 footprint. 9.7 tons per person per year. The average for North America is 19.9 tons.

Our cars are taxed so a new Volvo S40 costs more:
Denmark: $69.165
US: $24.040

Our gas is priced at $6.12/gallon

We have similar taxes on electricity and natural gas.

Generally we drive smaller and older cars, and bicycles are an actual form of transportation.

The CO2 problen is not the only reason for this. The government simply need the money for the bugdet, and we have decided tho freeze the area used for roads.
I doubt this will be a useful model for the rest of the world although the gas prices are similar in the most of Europe. I think $10/gallon gas and US priced cars would be better, as our current system keeps newer technology off the roads.

April 04, 2006 5:03 AM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Anonymous: I'm not clear what your argument is. I never used the word "country." I said "nation."

A nation is defined by Answer.com as: "A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language; a nationality," which doesn't seem too far-fetched considering I was speaking of Africa of thousands of years ago.

April 04, 2006 5:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still don't get it, is the movie availble or not? I can't find it anywhere..

April 04, 2006 7:43 AM

Anonymous Morgan Aldridge said...

Nice post Wil, I'm always on the lookout for more of these links. Not as funny as most of your posts, but it's not much of a laughing matter.

How did your Elise fare on the CO2 output? First Mike leaves Delicious Monster, then he gets a car and only uses his bicycle sometimes, we must be getting closer to the "real armageddon stuff!"

Less car driving... more shirt buying (they're much greener... not literally... oh, nevermind).

April 04, 2006 11:57 AM

Anonymous Chucky said...

"A nation is defined by Answer.com as: "A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language; a nationality," which doesn't seem too far-fetched considering I was speaking of Africa of thousands of years ago."

Well, even under those criteria, Africa really wasn't a nation thousands of years ago. There wasn't a common language, customs, or history.


Linguistic quibbles aside, if you're interested in the topic, I'd highly recommend Jared Diamond's book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

It's not about climate change. Instead it's about how previous societies doomed themselves through environmental degradation. It's basically the Sahara story through history.

And if you're interested in doing something to help shape the future, I'd humbly offer the suggestion of throwing some spare change at efforts to end Republican control of the US House of Representatives through the agency of the DCCC

April 04, 2006 12:16 PM

Anonymous Chucky said...

"You had me until you called Africa a country and said the Sahara was man-made."

Africa's not a country, but the Sahara really was man-made.

April 04, 2006 12:20 PM

Blogger Yuda said...

Troy Phillips:

I suspect the reason the quiz asks for your state is because it uses that information to make an educated guess how your power is generated (coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, etc.)

April 04, 2006 1:53 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Chucky: On donating money -- yes.

April 04, 2006 2:22 PM

Anonymous Brandon Medenwald said...

Global warming is a real threat. What we should do is re-brand the term "global warming" and make is sound dangerous. Here are some examples.

April 04, 2006 7:09 PM

Anonymous Uli Kusterer said...


and here I always thought he was singing "You can call me Daddy...".

Oh, and on the global warming/Sahara front: Is there any good information on when and how this happened on the web? The Wikipedia mentions it briefly, but there it sounds more like one of several theroies that's backed by one of the main writers of the article. ANd it's always good to have a second or third source.

April 05, 2006 3:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, when the earth's climate heated up / cooled down thousands/millions of years ago, long before the human industrial age, who's fault was it then?

These things are cyclical. I'm not saying that we can't be better stewards of our environment (we most certainly can and should), but it is beyond presumptuous and beyond arrogant to think that we alone are affecting climate change.

The planet is a pretty sophisticated machine. If we become a threat to it, it will deal with us in the same way it dealt with the thousands of other species that now only bones in the ground.

And has anyone factored **gasp** the sun in to their scientific findings? I mean, it's pretty well established that the sun goes through cycles where it heats up/cools down.

April 05, 2006 5:58 AM

Anonymous Ron said...

40 years ago the environmentalists said "NO NUKES!! BURN COAL." We did.

April 05, 2006 6:59 AM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

The natural cycles of the earth are pretty well documented, but we're not in one. We're way outside of that. I can't explain without having the data and charts and graphs right here, but, luckily, my work's been done for me, in the form of a movie, which you can conveniently see and decide for yourself. It's called "An Inconvenient Truth."

April 05, 2006 7:33 AM

Blogger Eric Jasso said...

Check out how much gunk your car puts out...amazing. We purchases credits; at the very least it makes us feel a bit better!


April 05, 2006 8:26 AM

Blogger Dethe Elza said...

If you want more links for the scientific proof of global warming, check out the Real Climate blog, by real climate scientists.

Yes, we're in for quite a ride.

April 05, 2006 9:55 AM

Blogger Pilky said...

Anonymous: "And has anyone factored **gasp** the sun in to their scientific findings? I mean, it's pretty well established that the sun goes through cycles where it heats up/cools down."

Umm, yes they have. The people that claim that global warming is natural are just plain wrong. The sun takes millions of years to go through cycles that could change the earths average temperature by 1ºC. Please note that while 1ºC may not sound a lot of an increase it can often be caused by your summers getting hotter by several degrees and winters getting colder by several degrees. It also leads to the extinction of several 100 species.

However the average temperature of the earth has increased by over 1ºC since 1970, before which it was in a cooling trend. This is an increase that has never before been seen in earths history, except when there has been an extinction level event such as a huge volcanic eruption or a comet strike. And while the whole world average is a 1ºC increase places such as Alaska have seen a 6ºC increase.

Another thing to consider, that is probably more important to Europe than the US, is the gulf stream shutting down. Since the early 1980s the gulf stream has weakened by about 50%. Now while it may not be too important to the US it is keeping northern europe 14ºC warmer than it should be. If it shut off in the next 10-20 years then pretty much all farming in the UK, Northern France & Germany, Denmark etc. would be destroyed. If it happens in 80-100 years time then the effects of global warming might have made it so that it doesn't affect farming too bad, just longer and colder winters.

Buy by far the most dangerous threat is from the Greenland ice sheet. If you can imagine that this contains 10% of all the freshwater on earth. We have roughly 10 years to stop the climate from being damaged so far that there is nothing to stop it melting. And this could raise the sea level by 10m IIRC. Now this means that Cities such as London, Amsterdam, Sydney, New York. etc. would be flooded. You saw what happened to New Orleans, well imagine that happening to New York, albeit much slower, but also irreversibly. And that isn't the biggest problem. Countries like the Netherlands and Bangladesh will be all but wiped off the map as they are either below or only a few meters above sea level.

April 06, 2006 10:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought it was all due to cows farting lots or something.

Either way, it sounds like it will be interesting. Wars are getting boring, man needs something a bit more challenging to tackle.

I for one am taking every opportunity to increase gas emmissions. Come on guys, lets see if we can raise it 2 degrees in the next 30 years! Beans for everyone and everything!

April 06, 2006 4:13 PM

Anonymous Mark Stultz said...

Wil, you should check out Media Man. It has a 1500 lbs/year smaller carbon footprint than Delicious Library.

April 07, 2006 2:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realise that this view may well be unpopular with the people here, but many climate scientists simply do not agree that humanity is destroying the environment.

Yes, even non-U.S. scientists who aren't in the pockets of giant oil conglomerates.

.. but hey, enviro-scare mongering does have its perks.

April 07, 2006 6:37 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

The first link is kind of interesting, in a frightening way... I simply disagree with it. I think the evidence is pretty observable, and I think most rational people will agree once the dang movie comes out.

Saying that we're off the computer models for the climate does NOT excuse us from trying to stop the world from frying itself. We're "off" them because we've never had so much CO2 in our atmosphere, so we have no data on which to make a model!

We're literally running the experiment with all of our lives. No, there's no "proof." There won't be until we're dead, or not dead. I choose not to run this experiment.


The second piece is way too high-strung to take seriously. Whenever a conservative columnist starts in with the shrill, "THERE THEY GO AGAIN!" and makes lame puns and references, I frankly think "Rush Wannabe" and ignore him. It's a position that allows me and Ann Coulter to exist on the same planet.

April 07, 2006 7:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just don't know if I can trust Al. Too much politics in science is like too much religion in science. The ideology gets in the way and the result's are hard to trust.

April 07, 2006 7:12 PM

Blogger surfingmarmot said...

Here is man's chance: either he is is but an ignorant, arrogant, and selfish beast who will not overcome his instincts (what we euphemize as emotions such as greed, love, hate, and fear) and reap his own destruction by fouling his Mother Earth or he will transcend his animal nature to stop his wanton destruction of his own world. Unfortunately, as much as I hope for the former, it has been over sixty years since the late Rachel Carson wrote Slient Spring and too few have listened. It just makes me sad.

April 07, 2006 10:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will Shipley said:

The first link is kind of interesting, in a frightening way... I simply disagree with it.

I hate to point out the obvious, Will, but are you claiming to have better environmental-science credentials than the 60 signatories to that letter?

I think the evidence is pretty observable, and I think most rational people will agree once the dang movie comes out.

Be serious. A movie?

Saying that we're off the computer models for the climate does NOT excuse us from trying to stop the world from frying itself.

I agree.. except that the point is we don't have good reason to think the world is going to fry itself.

Critics and proponents of Kyoto have agreed that the potential amount of global warming avoided given complete implementation of the protocol is a paltry 0.07°C by 2050.. at a cost of trillions to the world economy. We don't even know the absoulte mean surface temperature of the planet to within ±0.07°.

We're discovering that some of the key assumptions upon which Kyoto was based turn out to be completely wrong as well - such as the fact that forests are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The rational conclusion seems to be that if the U.S. had signed on to Kyoto it would not have helped the environment, but would have cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and led to the U.S. being held economically and militarily (military emissions are tallied separately under Kyoto) hostage to neutral and potentially even hostile nations, since it would have had to purchase pollution permits from those nations. Perhaps that's why the U.S. senate voted 95-0 against Kyoto in 1997. Even Ted Kennedy didn't vote for it.

The U.S. isn't doing too bad on greenhouse gases anyway, despite not signing on to Kyoto.. which is probably one of the reasons why some countres are considering scrapping Kyoto.

The second piece is way too high-strung to take seriously. Whenever a conservative columnist starts in with the shrill, "THERE THEY GO AGAIN!" and makes lame puns and references, I frankly think "Rush Wannabe" and ignore him.

You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but you'll forgive me for thinking that this sounds a lot like finding the quickest excuse possible to dismiss an opposing viewpoint before you have to actually read it.

The fact remains that preaching environmental doom seems to be quite a lucrative enterprise for some.. and being proven wrong time and time again doesn't seem to affect one's profit potential.

April 08, 2006 8:36 PM

Blogger Apt said...

Yeah, cause ignoring climate change and not taking measures to protect the environment is sooo expensive...
Why would anyone hire scientists to disprove global warming? Surely not out of greed?

April 09, 2006 11:06 AM

Anonymous Christian Klein said...

Damned, you are so American. The second
paragraph is quite an outrage. It's sad that you all over there care so little about anything...

April 10, 2006 1:40 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

I care.

April 10, 2006 1:46 PM

Anonymous Morgan Aldridge said...

This is also a good video: Stanford Exports on Climate Change and Carbon Trading (from TerraBlog... no affiliation).

April 10, 2006 3:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty sad that you smarties are debating whether there truly is a climate crisis (!?!?!). Is this some defense mechanism for shirking any kind of responsibility. Where does this denial get you? He's not asking you to live a monastic lifestyle. Just admit there's a crisis and try to do better.

April 10, 2006 5:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

By all means, let's learn from our mistakes:



April 12, 2006 3:31 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

JCR: Your post is pretty ironic in light of the Bush administration's documented policy of silencing government scientists and changing their wordings in government reports on the climate.

This is like Lyndon LaRouche claiming he's being silenced because he offers a different viewpoint. No, no, it's because he's a crazy bastard.

April 12, 2006 5:05 PM

Anonymous Mark Stultz said...

Wil, I just watched the trailer for the film at apple.com. Amazing. Than k you for bringing it to my attention.

April 12, 2006 10:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


You seem to be under the misapprehension that I'm a supporter of the president.

The current administration's habit of leaning on researchers to shut up when their findings don't agree with policy, is a predictable consequence of research being government-funded in the first place. It's nothing new, and it's certainly not an exclusive practice of the republican wing of the Ruling Party, as Dr. Lindzen points out.

The point is, partisans on either side of any debate for which there is a scientific question at issue, will seek to shout down the researchers whose results don't support their position.

Is it your position that Richard Lindzen is a "crazy bastard"? Frankly, I find him far more credible on any question of atmosperic science than any politician.


April 13, 2006 1:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to ask the obvious, but did Al Gore fly to the conference in a private jet? How many people at the conference fly in private jets?

April 14, 2006 2:12 AM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

I don't know... I guess a related question might be: How many people give a billion dollars a year to charities? I'm really not opposed to people living large if they are offsetting the damage they do with a much greater amount of good. We don't all have to live like monks, we just have to make sure the planet is a little better off for having us on it, not worse.

April 14, 2006 2:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tragedy is that people did listen to Rachel Carson.


Silent Spring is propaganda, not science.

April 14, 2006 3:59 AM

Blogger Yuda said...

Ha, that "Junk Science" site is fantastically ironic, given just how much junk science they're throwing out on their own.

A point of note: Richard Lindzen is a meteorologist, not a climatologist. Treating him as an expert in climate change is like treating a mechanical engineer as an expert in microchip design: a bad idea.

April 14, 2006 10:50 AM

Anonymous Filter Feeder said...

I'm sorry to be nippy, but global warming is a phenonema the entire world has known about as a reality for at least a decade, except the US. I think it's very telling that you've only just woken up to this, and that millions of your bretheren take the head in the sand approach and vehemently, often violently, deny that there is a problem. And who, per capita and per state are the biggest polluters? The good old USA. Sort it the fuck out before you kill us all.

April 14, 2006 7:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And has anyone factored **gasp** the sun in to their scientific findings? I mean, it's pretty well established that the sun goes through cycles where it heats up/cools down."

Um, yes.

April 14, 2006 8:54 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Filter Feeder: I'm willing to bet, whatever country you come from, it does its share of bone-headed things. Don't turn this into America bashing, it helps none of us.

Almost nobody responds well to being snipped at. It's not a way to change people's minds or hearts or actions.

April 15, 2006 2:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will leave it to people who are more qualified than myself to determine whether global warming is really happening and if so whether humans are causing it. I am old enough to remember popular science claimed we were headed for another ice age.

I think we need to drastically reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and fossil water and everything else that is not renewable. If only for reasons of national security, the USA and most other developed nations need to be energy and water independent. Global wars have been fought over trivial things like ideas. Let's not have one over energy or water please.

April 15, 2006 7:03 PM

Anonymous Morgan Aldridge said...

The "An Inconvenient Truth" trailer is now on Apple's Trailers page (http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount_classics/aninconvenienttruth/trailer/).

April 16, 2006 5:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This love-fest for Al Gore has gone on way too long. I am a big supporter of alleviating global warming, but let's delineate between an important issue and a man who is nothing more than an opportunist. I live in Nashville and near to Mr. Gore's home. If you drive by it, you will notice many SUVs, fertilized lawns, expensive trinkets, and other items that contribute to the problem that he argues against. The man may be compelling in his speeches, but his lifestyle has never backed up his paper facade. He is a son of a senator who sold his soul to one of the largest conglomerates in the world. Al Gore learned very well from the man how to make a career and a fortune by lying and telling good stories.

Also, Wil, if Mr. Gore is going to "live large" (which he does) his credibility to lecture people about their lifestyles goes to nil. It is one thing to have the financial independence to live how you wish. Money is a responsibility, not a free pass to "live large" and make up for it on the back-end. The whole point is that people chose to live large and clean up the environment on the back-end.

April 17, 2006 12:43 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Anonymous: I disagree about living large. Using resources is not the same as, say, murdering puppies. The latter in inherently bad, always, and not something you can make up for by, say, giving money to charity.

With using resources, each of us is going to use resources as a consequence of living. Our only goal should be to make sure they are put back. I don't care if you create 10 tons of CO2 if you also have your own personal algae farm that turns it into oxygen. Doesn't bother me a bit.

It's true that reducing our consumption and emissions is an easy way to make sure our total footprint is small, so we focus on that a lot. But if you want to do other ways, be my guest.

I, myself, am going to start buying offsets, just on principle.

April 17, 2006 5:32 PM

Anonymous Kyle said...

Are you Cereal? Long Live Man-Bear-Pig!

April 27, 2006 3:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sheds a lot of light on the issue:


June 14, 2006 9:10 AM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

I think that link sheds some dark on the issue, really... A newspaper staffed by former Fox News people rejects global warming? WHAT A SURPRISE!

Next up: owners of SUVs stick their heads in the sand, and state there is no correlation between them driving their huge cars and having to buy gas every other day.

June 14, 2006 2:33 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Here's a neat blurb on a book by one of the "journalists" at that fine paper:

In this stunning open-source investigation, Mr. Mauro reveals the truth about the existence of Iraqi WMD programs and their movement into other countries, Saddam Hussein’s role in helping Osama Bin Laden attack the free world, and the ongoing treachery of so-called allies.

Wow, denying global warming goes hand-in-hand with STILL believing there are WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam was somehow behind the bombings!

Could it be that some people make a fetish out of believing the incredibly unlikely because it serves their causes?

June 14, 2006 2:36 PM


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