Friday, 25 August 2017

An Inconvenient Travesty

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From the print edition of The New American:

The opportunity presented itself recently to see a new action science-fiction film at the local cineplex. It had performed poorly at the box office despite its makers’ fervent hope and belief that it would be greeted with universal applause. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Luc Besson’s rendition of Valérian and Laureline that graced the screen — as this would have been infinitely preferable — but that travesty of Al Gore’s fevered imagination, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Very much like An Inconvenient Truth, the former vice president’s original climate propaganda film, Sequel is built on a shifting foundation of cherry-picked information, somewhat slick motion graphic charts, emotional hyperbole, and near-blasphemy (really).

The Faulty Foundation

The new movie is based on the same oversimplified and incorrect interpretation of the Earth’s climate system as the original. In keeping with leftist climate orthodoxy, it makes the assumption that at some arbitrary time in the past, the planet’s climate was in some hypothetically normal, natural, and static state. Then, clever people started burning things to make energy with which to power various devices. As a result, “climate pollution” (i.e., CO2) was pumped into the atmosphere with wanton abandon, trapping heat and kicking off rampant global warming.

To illustrate this point, Inconvenient Sequel does two things. First, it attempts to make the point that the Earth is warmer now that it has been previously, and abnormally so. Second, it points to a range of natural disasters and attributes them directly to global warming.

Unfortunately, it’s easy for Al Gore to make the claim that today’s climate is abnormally warm. Within the time frame of a human lifespan or two (or three) it may seem that temperature variations are substantial. There can be warm periods and there can be cold periods. In fact, generally speaking, compared to most periods in Earth’s very long history, we’re in a bit of a cold spell. Luckily for us, the current age finds us enjoying a brief thaw in the cycle of ice ages that have brought repeated glaciations to the planet.

With that in mind, consider Al Gore’s claims in his films that glaciers are melting at a catastrophic level. Inconvenient Sequel dwells for a considerable number of minutes on melting ice, returning again and again to footage of rivulets and rushing waters pouring on, through, and off of glaciers.

Scary, perhaps, but only if one has no idea of how those images relate to the climate history of the last 20,000 years. To put this into perspective, consider that within a very easy drive of where the magazine you are reading is published, it’s possible to find the scars in the landscape left behind by the very considerable glaciers that once covered much of the Northern Hemisphere.

The Glacial Drumlin State Trail, for example, runs between Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, for a bit more than 50 miles. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the trail takes users “through farmland and glacial topography.” The trail takes its name from the “drumlins” of the region, which the National Snow & Ice Data Center describes as “teardrop-shaped hills of rock, sand, and gravel that formed under moving glacier ice.”

The Drumlin Trail is near another major glacial feature of Wisconsin, the Kettle Moraine. Stretching over 120 miles, the Kettle Moraine “is composed of glacial sediment deposited between the Green Bay and Lake Michigan Lobes approximately 18,000 to 15,000 years ago as they receded from their maximum positions during the most recent glaciation.”

Inconvenient Sequel would have viewers believe that melting glaciers are unusual and a sign of impending catastrophe. A longer perspective demonstrates that glaciers do, in fact, melt even without people contributing to the process.

The use of glacial fearmongering, though, is at least somewhat understandable as a propaganda strategy, as most people may not have a 20,000-year perspective in mind at all times. But, Sequel seems to assume that its viewers are at best completely gullible. The film earnestly shows images of storms — thunderstorms in the Midwest, downpours in Arizona, floods in Houston and New Orleans, high tides along the Atlantic Coast, and, of course, hurricanes, claiming that all of them are due to human-generated climate change.

Photo: AP Images

This article appears in the September 4, 2017, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.

This is laughably untrue. Large thunderstorms in the American Midwest are a weekly occurrence any time when it’s not snowing. In the Southwest, Arizona’s heavy rains are part of the summer Southwestern Monsoon which, according to NOAA’s Climate Assessment for the Southwest, “suppresses much of the hot summer temperatures, replenishes water resources, and nourishes the vegetation.” As for tides along coasts and floods in cities at or below sea level, that’s as noteworthy as saying that it gets cold in Fairbanks, Alaska, in January.

This doesn’t stop Al Gore from claiming, however, that one of his most ludicrous predictions from his first movie came true. In that earlier piece, he predicted that sea level rise from a melted Greenland would inundate Manhattan, flooding the area around the 9/11 Memorial. And so it came to pass, claimeth Al Gore. Except, not quite. In 2012, a storm surge associated with Hurricane Sandy caused flooding near and at the memorial. But this is not even remotely the same thing as claiming a permanent catastrophic sea level rise caused by the melting of Greenland. And while a flooded Manhattan may seem shockingly apocalyptic, New York City is particularly susceptible to storm surge, as National Geographic reported in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and it’s suffered flooding as a result in the past as well. Recounting historic storms, the New York Daily News pointed out that in 1821, the era before named storms, “the ‘Norfolk and New England Hurricane’ passed directly through the city and created a 13-foot storm surge that flooded all of Manhattan under Canal St.”

Our Hero

Perhaps because of a growing awareness of inconvenient facts such as these, the public is becoming much less convinced of a global-warming scare. As a result, it’s been much harder for climate-change statists, such as Al Gore, to move the climate-based global governance regime forward.

In Sequel, Gore makes every effort to position this difficulty as a cross that he has to bear. Making repeated references to his Christian faith, he takes great pains to convince the audience that he carries on the fight on behalf of the world’s unwashed masses, to save them from global warming. And, of course, he is persecuted and thwarted by the evil oil corporations and by dastardly powerful men such as Senator James Inhofe and President Trump.

It is here where Gore starts getting a bit close to blasphemy. Hollywood loves a good story, and no story is as good as that of Christ’s mission of salvation. As described by the ransom theory of salvation, which has a long history in Christian theology, Christ the redeemer came to free mankind from the sin that indebted all to Satan. Through killing Christ, by “shedding the blood of One who was not his debtor, he was forced to release his debtors,” wrote St. Augustine in his description of the ransom theory.

The ransom theory has long been referred to allegorically by Hollywood. It made a noteworthy appearance in the classic western Shane and repeatedly has been the basis for Clint Eastwood’s films, including in the westerns High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider, along with the more recent Gran Torino. In these films an innocent outsider must intercede on behalf of, and suffer for, an oppressed group, the lead character being, in effect, an allegorical reference to Christ.

This may be useful, even laudable as a teaching tool, when used in a fictional story. It becomes blasphemous when someone makes a documentary about himself and puts on that mantle quite directly as a consequence.

This is the most disturbing and distasteful part of Inconvenient Sequel. Gore makes repeated reference to his frequent suffering and disappointment while working to free mankind from the evildoers responsible for global warming. First as a politician and now as a global-warming activist, he is voluntarily sacrificing himself in this cause. He even makes repeated references to those he “trained” as part of his Climate Change Leadership Corps. These are his disciples who are to carry his word to the world.

Hypocrisy, Not Salvation

Since Gore takes pains to point to his Christian faith here and there in Sequel, it is appropriate to point to Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 7:15-16 to “Beware of false prophets” and “recognize them by their fruits.” How, then, should we view Gore? Despite his protestations throughout that he is trying to save us, and especially the poor, from climate change, we see him in the movie traveling the world, stepping out of airplanes, flying in helicopters, and being carted around in chauffeured luxury cars. None of these activities is especially climate friendly, if you take Al Gore seriously.

Moreover, he continues to live the life of a pampered potentate, consuming more energy resources and belching out more “climate pollution” than some small American towns. Writing for ABC News in 2006, the year of Gore’s first climate propaganda film, Jake Tapper pointed to the former Veep’s utility bills and noted that his “20-room home and pool house devoured nearly 221,000 kilowatt-hours in 2006, more than 20 times the national average of 10,656 kilowatt-hours.”

Since then, not much has changed. Gore still uses vastly more energy than most other Americans. According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, his “home energy use averaged 19,241 kilowatt hours (kWh) every month, compared to the U.S. household average of 901 kWh per month.” As part of that colossal usage, Gore used enough electricity just to heat his swimming pool to power six average U.S. homes for a year. Shockingly, in just the single month of September 2016, “Gore’s home consumed 30,993 kWh ... as much energy as a typical American family burns in 34 months.”

In addition, Gore’s technological “solution” for climate change is to switch from fossil fuels to renewables, specifically wind and solar. But while these have the appearance of being “clean,” they aren’t.

For solar cells, the basic ingredient is quartz, which comes from mines, where workers may develop silicosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling silica dust. That quartz must later be refined, a proc­ess, according to IEEE Spectrum, “that happens in giant furnaces, and keeping them hot takes a lot of energy.” Further refining creates hazardous chemicals that can escape into the environment. In one case cited by IEEE Spectrum, hydrofluoric acid from a solar panel manufacturing facility in China contaminated river water, killing fish and pigs. Other Chinese manufacturers poured waste directly onto fields, “rendering those fields useless from growing crops and inflaming the eyes and throats of nearby residents.”

Meanwhile, wind power, captured by turbines, is widely considered to be comparatively benign. But it isn’t perfect either. Aesthetically, many consider it a blight on the natural landscape; it has a penchant for chopping up hundreds of thousands of birds and bats per year or otherwise disturbing them; and because wind is intermittent, it requires some additional technology to make up for downtime. This can take many forms, including batteries, which have their own environmental impacts.

On these matters, there is no critical reflection coming from Al Gore in An Inconvenient Sequel. There is no admission of his own profligate energy use, no apparent awareness that roaming the world in the luxury that he believes is his due flies in the face of what he advocates for the deplorables of the world. The film, like Al Gore himself, is so tone-deaf to reality as to be the most cringeworthy thing you’ll see this year.

One or two social justice warriors will join a few old-line granola-crunching radicals to see and appreciate this film. The rest of us can make better use of our time by getting outside to enjoy whatever warmth of summer remains in the Northern Hemisphere before the reality of winter’s ice and snow sets in once again.

Photo: AP Images

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