Monday, May 9, 2011

An Inconvenient Truth or A Convenient Lie?

An Inconvenient  Truth or A Convenient Lie?

An Inconvenient Truth, documentary made famous by “used to be the next President of the United States” Al Gore, directed by Davis Guggenheim, brings attention to how we, the people, are causing changes to the environment. Fortunately for the success of the documentary, unfortunately for the outlook of intelligence across the U.S., not many Americans knew this.  More specifically, though, Gore talks to America about “climate change” and “global warming”. He speaks about the Keeling curve (measure of CO² in the atmosphere), the melting glaciers at the Poles, increasingly powerful hurricanes, and chart-topping record temperatures occurring over the past 10 out of 14 years. Gore presents everything: numbers, charts, pictures, and emotions; however, many skeptics think anyone (especially genetically-engineered bullshitting machines, or politicians) can pull numbers and emotion out of their ass, as well as use the widely available Photoshop program. My quest is to find whether Gore is really presenting America with “an inconvenient truth” or a career-boosting, money making, “convenient lie” by comparing his facts to other published, scientific facts. No amount of distinguished grey hair should qualify former Vice President Al Gore to comment on an issue he constantly calls “moral” rather than “political”. This is why we, the people, must seek truth, but never stop questioning authority.

Link to: An Inconvenient Truth

Before I start going into extreme detail, I figured the most important thing to do for the occasional blog reader is post a link to An Inconvenient Truth on Google Video. I will be readdressing issues Gore presents, I just like to give my viewer the same opportunity for information as I do. Whether I like him or not, Gore does have his place in public speaking. He speaks with passion and (mild) intelligence throughout the documentary, which might make the average viewer think he is more credible than he actually is, but I digress.

With the current weather situation in the South, Gore’s claim about hurricanes and other weather events getting harsher due to global warming seems the most important. From the An Inconvenient Truth website, Gore is seen next to a picture of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, stating, “The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years”. If this were entirely true, the threat of global warming would be undeniable. However, most scientists are skeptical; Stefan Lovgren of Natural Geographic wrote “experts emphasize that neither Hurricane Katrina nor any other single event can be linked to global warming” (Lovegren 279). This statement might seem to trump all of Gore’s allegations, but scientific fact seems to contain the ultimate truth. After searching around, another scientific study backed up one side of the argument, “Scientists have studied this issue and come to the opposite conclusion: extreme [weather] events are becoming LESS common”. According to the studies, Atlantic hurricanes have been more common from 1950 to 1975 than 1975 to today, as well as hailstorms being 35% less common now than 50 years ago. Roger Pielke, Jr., an Environmental Studies professor, said it perfectly (and almost exactly as Lovgren said it), “it is essentially impossible to attribute any particular weather event to global warming”. Gore tries to use the current threat of extreme weather to automatically gain followers without question; whoever is talking about the issue, especially in a movie, must be credible, right? Gore’s First Claim: Though hurricane strength is rising, it can’t be related to global warming because there are no facts supporting the theory. (Extra: Here's a link to the categorical types of hurricanes I thought was interesting.)
The Keeling curve is one of the most effective tools Al Gore uses to convince viewers about global warming. Charles David Keeling created the Keeling curve by measuring the amount of CO² in the air around the Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii. With this, Gore, along with his many supporters, show the steady rise of CO² in the atmosphere over the past 50 years. Since the model is based on actual tests, it is hard to refute; however, what does the steady increase of CO² mean for the environment? Global warming or something else? Scripps CO² Program (with Keeling as one of the major researchers) reports the Keeling curve shows “a remarkably constant relationship with fossil-fuel burning”. CO² levels are increasing with the use of our fossil-fuel burning undoubtedly, but does this mean catastrophe for future generations? Not so much. ICECAP reports, yet again against Gore, “ CO² is an essential nutrient for plants.  Plants absorb CO² and release oxygen, while animals inhale oxygen and exhale CO². Researchers have proven that higher CO² concentrations enable plants to grow faster and give them better drought tolerance”. Now, though, I am sure that increased CO² levels to a certain degree could cause harm, but as of right now and the immediate future, carbon dioxide is our friend. Gore’s Second Claim: Though CO² levels are depicted at steadily increasing levels through the Keeling curve, the effects are not absolutely negative.

As summer slowly approaches, a lot of us dream of bathing in the heat of the sun. Gore’s next claim goes hand in hand with my previous statement: record temperatures that cause melting icecaps and rising sea levels. Will all of the cute, fuzzy animals living at the Poles have to relocate, or even worse, go extinct? Will rising sea-levels cause us to have to relocate from coastal cities? At first, the idea make sense. If the increased heat from global warming causes the icecaps to melt, the sea-level will rise and it will indeed cause problems, correct? In theory, if this was actually happening, yes. Currently, the situation in the Arctic according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is iffy, “Ice extent declined through the month more slowly than usual, at an average rate of 29,950 square kilometers per day (11,560 square miles per day). The average daily rate of decline for 1979 to 2000 was 40,430 square kilometers (15,610 square miles) per day”. So yes, some icecaps are melting. How does this effect us in the grand scheme of things? ICECAP reports again opposing Gore’s propositions, “Alpine glaciers are generally shrinking, Scandinavian glaciers are growing, and glaciers in the Caucasus are close to equilibrium for 1980-95.…there is no obvious common or global trend of increasing glacier melt in recent years.” These studies conclude that while some ice caps may be melting, others are getting larger, so in the overall outlook of the world, we are in no imminent danger. Not only can the people of Miami, New York City, and Los Angeles be happy that their neighboring oceans won’t be in their bedrooms this summer, but all of the cuddly critters in these areas will be fine as well. “But what about the animals of the Arctic? Aren’t they in trouble!?” you may ask. NSIDC expert Mark Serreze explains, "There's nothing to be necessarily alarmed about.
There's been open water at the pole before. We have no clear evidence at this point that this is related to global climate change”. So after all this commotion, we can sleep easy knowing our buddies in the Arctic have endured this before, and they will do so again. Gore’s Third Claim: Though the Arctic icecaps are melting, other icecaps are growing larger, and the animals of these areas (including us!) will survive the upcoming climates.

After all of the truth-seeking and authority-questioning, I’ve came to a pretty solid conclusion: Al Gore is full of ….partial crap. Al Gore presents some of the information needed to conclude whether or not global warming is occurring, but he does a bad (or good, for him) job of swindling viewers out of the whole truth. While extreme weather might seem on the rise lately, none of them can be scientifically linked to global warming. While CO² in the atmosphere is increasing, it isn’t effecting us as badly as Gore makes it seem. While Arctic icecaps are melting, other icecaps are expanding and the environments surrounding these areas will be only slightly effected. While politicians like Al Gore distract us with one-sided stories, they are expecting us to pay for it. An Inconvenient Truth needs a name change, preferably something to the effect of Some Inconvenient Truths, Mostly Convenient Half-Truths.

Disclaimer: I’m not telling you Al Gore is the only dumb politician (dinosaur farts, really?), and I am most certainly not saying he is the only politician that lies. Whether we like it or not, it is our duty as Americans to create our own opinions based on fact. Much like Rorschach from Watchmen, I have little tolerance for the ignorance of politicians.  The main reason I pursued this topic was because I wanted to create my own opinion on the matter, and I wanted other people to follow suit and realize it is possible. All of the information you would ever need is out there, you just have to LOOK. Especially in this new age of the internet, don’t let some fool politician make you into a fool. Collaborate with other people throughout the world to find an ultimate truth for yourself, and not just because someone smooth-talked you into agreeing with them. I would like to end on the same note I started: We, the people, must seek truth, but never stop questioning authority!

Works Cited

Lovegren, Stefan. “Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ Movie: Fact or Hype?” Apocalypse: Bright Future/Dark Future. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2011. Print.

Lawrence Bender Productions. An Inconvenient Truth. Google Videos. Google Videos, 3 May 2011. Web.


  1. Your essay was very well written and very clear. You got your point across nicely. I found myself agreeing with all of your facts and observations. It was very persuasive and it convinced me to think less of Al Gore and his global warming argument. All of the links worked fine and your numerous pictures and graphs made it visually pleasing. Excellent work!

  2. not positive whether you are saying global warming exists as a whole in any way or if its a term made up by humans to define our pollution. I liked the essay though, good stats,good info, good pics/vids. written well and i enjoy the calming light blue BG. One must always question. right on. idk whether the CO2 lvls are part of the natural cycles that earth goes through or a human investment but they are there and i suppose that requires further investigation. Good topic!

  3. You make some very good points Danny. I like how you use the format of Gore's movie as a template, addressing what he says and putting his voice, as well as your own, in conversation with other authors. I also like the candor you have in dealing with the subject.

    "Stefan Lovgren of Natural Geographic wrote “experts emphasize that neither Hurricane Katrina nor any other single event can be linked to global warming.”" Since this is a direct quote, you will want to provide a page number.

    "These studies conclude that while some ice caps may be melting, others are getting larger, so in the overall outlook of the world, we are in no imminent danger." How much are the Scandanavian Ice Caps growing? Is it enough to offset the lose of glaciers documented by the NSIDC?

    Could you perhaps tell us the significance of the last video of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and the Picture of Rorschach? I am interested in these rhetorical choices, but I am not sure why they are there.

  4. This is really well written, Danny! I must say I agree with you on pretty much everything you're saying here.

    I think that Gore presents some good potential arguments and theories; however, I also think he's just one of the many who have figured out how to manipulate statistics and facts into a way that is convenient for him. For example, he presents these alarming statistics about the icecaps melting and the increase in CO2, but, like you said, he doesn't touch on ALL of the information. He fails to mention that the icecaps are only melting in certain places and that they are in fact growing in others. And he doesn't really give the whole story on the effects of CO2.

    Alas, manipulating statistics and facts is common with anyone, especially politicians, when trying to make a case or just make a buck (or several thousand).

    I really enjoyed reading this! Great job, Danny!

  5. @Bryan - I addressed the areas you touched on. Hopefully that works better!

    @Alex, Taylor, and Eric - Thanks guys. +10 to my confidence level.

  6. I really, really should watch An Inconvenient Truth, but I'm awful and haven't yet. However, from the article I'm reading, I think that you make good points. It's always good to be skeptical and I think that many documentaries use the emotion card too much (does he use sad images of polar bears in this one?) Emotion works. So do statistics.

    Most people never question them because they sound like they're cemented in truth. I think maybe that's one of the reasons many people don't get too into politics-- you really have to do your research with issues to uncover the truth.

    Good points, Danny! I enjoyed reading. I'll have to watch the documentary sometime soon and tell you what I think.