Monday, March 05, 2007

Global Warming - An Al Gore Fable

There were six men of Al Gore-stan
who stuck to Al like glue,
As he preached of global warming,
with science quite untrue,
Al blamed it all on mankind,
not giving Nature its due.

(With abject apologies to John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887), author of “The Blind Men and the Elephant” subtitled A Hindu Fable, which is included at the end of this post.)

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(I wonder what the blind Hindi would have thought if they encountered Al Gore instead of the elephant? Would they have noticed the difference?)

Al was already preaching Environmental Apocalypse Now (remember "Earth in the Toilet"?), but no one was paying much attention because they could see that the more prosperous a nation was, the better care that nation took of its environment. Not only did prosperous nations take better care of the environment, but they also exported funds through aid and tourism to help less prosperous nations improve their environmental stewardship too.

“We can’t do much with this,” Al surmised. “No one gets worked up when the developed nations, and in particular the United States, are the ones doing good.”

“Go questing, loyal Apostles of Al, and find me a cause!”

(“Losing the election was bad enough, but being totally irrelevant is even worse,” Al thought.)

The first quested mightily, and soon noticed that, through freedom, many nations were prosperous, and many others were moving rapidly in the same direction. The common thread linking the two groups was that, to increase production and prosperity, they all consumed more power.

“This won’t do,” the Al Gore Acolyte muttered. “At this rate, no one will think the world needs government planning and control of all resources, and everyone will be free to buy property and accumulate wealth in order to take care of themselves and their families. What will we do when the people find out they don’t need us?”

“Aha!” he said, “they’ll need us to save them from disasters. Everybody panicked over the threat of global cooling in the 1970’s, but that panic ended when it started to warm up again. Why not global warming this time?”

“It’s perfect! We can blame it on the United States, because they have prospered more than any nation ever, and no one likes the thing – be it person or nation - that they envy.”

The second Acolyte of Al Gore-stan saw a graph based on ice core samples that showed temperatures and carbon dioxide atmospheric concentrations had moved together for millions of years.

“Perfect,” he cried. “Increased carbon dioxide caused higher temperatures. Since the Industrial Revolution, mankind has increased the output of carbon dioxide. Therefore, more carbon dioxide means higher temperatures, and obviously the only way to control it is for governments to control industrial production. And lifestyles, too.”

(At this point we pause to inject a dose of sanity. The first dose contains the knowledge that temperature increases preceded, not followed, increases in carbon dioxide.

The second is that climate fluctuations are natural, and have occurred hundreds of times, in greater magnitudes, than the current instance of natural global warming.

The third is that temperatures fell from 1945 to 1970, while atmospheric CO2 rose steadily.)

Al’s third Zealot was concerned that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC) had already blown the case for unprecedented man-made global warming by including a graph showing it had been warmer 1000 years ago. Fortunately he found a pseudo-scientific study by Mann et al, dubbed the “hockey stick,” that conveniently erased the earlier warmer period, called the Medieval Warm Period, and also, for good measure, scrubbed the more recent Little Ice Age.

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(The graph the IPCC had to get rid of)
(It just wouldn’t do, for panic-mongering purposes, to show that Nature, with no help from man’s activities, was responsible for larger climate fluctuations in the past 2000 years – not once, but twice - than we have seen in the current period.)

Number four found glaciers in retreat, and the Antarctic losing ice shelves – and couldn’t find the many more glaciers that are stable or growing, or that Antarctica overall is colder and growing.

Number five found the Snows of Kilimanjaro disappearing – just as they have been naturally for over a hundred years.

Number six found four polar bears in distress, and commissioned a cartoon depicting their stress, while not finding that there are twice as many now as forty years ago.

(Six also didn’t check earlier warm periods to find that polar bears survived the much warmer 1930’s, the Medieval Warm Period, and the even warmer Roman Empire period. Since polar bears naturally spend about half of each year on bare land, not ice, it is a fundamental mystery how polar bears became the poster animal for man-made global warming.)
So six Acolytes of Al Gore-stan
pontificated loud and long,
Blowing hot air in each breath
exceeding stiff and strong;
Though they thought they fooled us all,
they got everything all wrong!

“The Blind Men and the Elephant” subtitled A Hindu Fable, by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

There were six men of Hindustan,
to learning much inclined,
Who went to see an elephant,
though all of them were blind,
That each by observation
might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant,
and happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
at once began to bawl,
"This mystery of an elephant
is very like a wall."

The second, feeling of the tusk,
cried, "Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear,
This wonder of an elephant
is very like a spear."

The third approached the elephant,
and happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
thus boldly up and spake,
"I see," quoth he,
"the elephant is very like a snake."

The fourth reached out an eager hand,
and felt above the knee,
"What this most wondrous beast
is like is very plain" said he,
"'Tis clear enough the elephant
is very like a tree."

The fifth who chanced to touch the ear
said, "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
deny the fact who can;
This marvel of an elephant
is very like a fan."

The sixth no sooner had begun
about the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
that fell within his scope;
"I see," said he, "the elephant
is very like a rope."

So six blind men of Hindustan
disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
exceeding stiff and strong;
Though each was partly in the right,
they all were in the wrong!

So oft in theologic wars
The disputants I wean
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean
And prate about an elephant
Not one of them has seen!

At least they were closer to the truth than Al Gore and his merry band of misinformation mavens.
(Thanks to Steverino, who alerted me to a last verse I had never before encountered, which now is added, and which sums it all up perfectly!)
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