Hoisting Mr. Gore on his own Petard
I like what he says ... if he would have only really looked at the DATA and the real Science ...
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Al Gore; he is the perfect Al Gore! But he’s not a scientist, not even close. He is a Politician. Perhaps also, or redundantly, a show-man and con-man.
Let’s look at a few scenes from Al’s infamous movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and point out a few inconvenient TRUTHS.
Firstly, 650,000 years is not a very long time in the earths 4,500,000,000 year history (about 0.01%). During most of the earth’s history, the CO2 level has been much higher than it is today, and the plants and trees that evolved during those times of higher CO2 levels are quite literally starving to death due to the low CO2 levels that we have today. So too the earth’s temperature was about 4 - 5 degrees F warmer in just the previous inter-glacial period when our ancestors and even Neanderthal man walked the earth, and even a couple of degrees warmer previously in the present Holocene inter-glacial period.
But, these details aside, most importantly, in the above clip Al seems to have made the discovery that CO2 controls the earth’s temperature, something that real Science has shown to be false. The first thing a real Scientist would ask is, “what makes the earth’s temperature and go up and down like that?”. Today, about 80% of the time, the earth is in an ice age, and for brief 10 – 20 thousand year periods every 100 thousand years or so, called inter-glacial periods, the ice recedes and the earth heats up. We are presently, and fortunately, today living in the end-times of such an inter-glacial period called the Holocene. In the 1920’s Milankocvitch hypothesized that these cycles were caused by variations in the earth’s orbit (the so-called Milankovitch Cycles). In 1976, using mud-core data, Hays et al confirmed Milankovitch’s hypothesis in their seminal work published in the journal Science: Variations in the Earth’s Orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages. More recently I used the Vostok Ice Core data to re-confirm Hays et al’s work and predict the end of this Holocene inter-glacial period and the coming of the next ice age, as shown in Figure 1.
Fig. 1. One of my Milakovitch Cycle models compared to the earth’s temperature record from the Vostok ice core DATA. My conclusions are in very good agreement with those of Hays et al published 45 years ago.
The next question a real scientist might ask is “why does the atmospheric concentration of CO2, in Al’s words, ‘fit together’ with the earths temperature”? Well, the fit isn’t perfect:
A simple correlation analysis shows that CO2 lags temperature by about 800 years, on average (If only Al had actually looked at the DATA!); and
There is a 10,000 to 20,000 year lag in CO2 as the earth cools off after the brief inter-glacial periods (ergo high CO2 will NOT save us from the next coming ice age, it never has before). Al too could have seen this if he only really looked at the DATA.
CO2 comes out of the oceans quite quickly when the earth heats up, but it takes 10’s of thousands of years to be re-absorbed back into the the oceans when the earth cools down. (Try shaking a can of Coke and you’ll see it’s also true with Coke). Let’s again listen to Mr. Gore and finish his hoisting:
In Al’s [or really Mark Twain’s] words:
What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know, It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.
What Mr. Gore doesn’t know is that variations in the Earth’s Temperature, caused by the periodic changes in the the Earth’s orbit (Milankovitch Cycles), have always caused variations in the Earth’s atmospheric CO2 level, not vice-versa. What Mr. Gore knows for sure simply ain’t so.