Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Al, at this point…

Al Gore recently responded to Bill O’Reilly’s question:  “Why has southern New York turned into the tundra?”

It was a reasoned response, if you understand the issues.

“In fact, scientists have been warning for at least two decades that global warming could make snowstorms more severe. Snow has two simple ingredients: cold and moisture. Warmer air collects moisture like a sponge until it hits a patch of cold air. When temperatures dip below freezing, a lot of moisture creates a lot of snow.”

“A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species.”

The problem is that Al Gore has tainted this issue with his insistence on framing the issue of climate change in terms of “Global Warming.” It is a branding issue largely, once you dip into the science of climate change.

The problem lies in that most folks aren’t dipping into the science. In framing things under the rubric of

Global Warming it not only allows misconceptions to bloom, it gives folks who reject climate change as a matter to latch onto this particular phrase.  Common sense folks, who look upon these blustery, blizzardy conditions hear “Global Warming” and short circuit to themselves, “How in the hell can this man be talking warming when it’s so goddamn cold?”  

To be clear, the evidence that we are seeing climatic changes as a result of man made conditions is mounting. The loss in the polar caps, and the large amounts of fresh water dumped into those seas affects energy transfers across the globe.  That shift in energy transfer has growing evidence of climatic shifts that do much more than simply warm or cool. It shifts energy patterns and transfers that affect weather formation, and throw off climatic systems.  Moreover, the warming aspect carries with it its own dangers to throw things far enough off kilter, that the massive dump of fresh water into the poles, that it could even throw off the Great Ocean Conveyor. That would be catastrophic to current weather patterns, and the agriculture that we base our food supplies on, across the globe as a side effect. Stretches of arable land turned to desert, growth of the ice caps as fresh water is locked up, and that mass of ice furthering the size of the caps, creeping us into a return to conditions that the have more typified the Earth as of late, at least geologically speaking, with a return to another Ice Age.  Currents that drive the oceans, and massive amounts of energy, as well as the oceanlife that thrive in these currents and use them shutting down would be catastrophic to more than just human life, but cause extinction events in the seas as well as on land.

That’s hard to grasp, when you only talk about Global Warming.

Al Gore did a great deal to promote the idea of responsibility for our actions, and understanding of the issues at hand. Save that his insistence of the branding of the problem as Global Warming, it now serves as an umbrella to attack him for hiding behind.

We face not just global warming, but climate change on a massive scale. Weather patterns thrown off kilter, energy transfers that fuel storm patterns that we have yet to accomodate and understand.  Shifts in pelagic poputions of various forms of life that affect fishing and the life cycles of many species. Framing the issue as climate change is a far more accurate form of terminology. It also gives the folks who are heavily invested in technologies and processes that fuel the problem less ground to push against, and less arguments to frame by disingenuously attacking the issue on “common sense” grounds and pointing to every blizzard and storm as asking the question of how can global warming explain these tundra conditions?

At this point, maybe Al Gore needs to step aside.  Allow the argument to be framed in the way that it should have been framed from the first.  Not as a matter of “warming” or “cooling” but as a matter of systemic climatic change.  Yes, Climate Change is less catchy and fear-mongery, but fear mongering is not what we need. Nor pithy catch phrases.  What we do need is understanding that our actions are causing shifts in global weather patterns.  That will mean some folks get colder, or warmer. That rain falls that they expected will change. That the storm systems they are used to will change. That lands that were arable thanks to seasonal patterns will be affected. That the investment in infrastructure around these arable lands may become outdated, if not useless.

Gore’s insistence on framing things in terms of Global Warming as a brand is hurting his own cause. And the cause of scientists who are doing good research.

Crossposted to The Suicidal Cactus Hour


  1. Another problem with Gore’s response is that he didn’t quote scientists or link to scientific studies in his response. He linked to a column by Clarence Page. The last I knew, Page is not exactly a world-renowned climate scientist.

  2. But at this point, he throws up capes in front of bulls.

    On a side note: since I have a solid Internet connection again, I’m going to updating The Suicidal Cactus Hour more regularly.  Though, perhaps a bit more eclectically than the past few articles that I’ve posted here would suggest. Politics is one passion, but it gets heavy at times, especially as of late.  This summer, and the time on the mountain was nice, but not having a solid connection sometimes for days was a pain in the touchis as was in New Mexico.  Got a backlog of bits that I want to do up a treat, and not all of it will be political.  Some cooking, some pop culture, some geek culture, and pieces like this.

    I suppose this post is as close as I’m going to go for pimping it out though.  Got a few folks I’m going to try to network out with to get a wider base for it, but if anyone here does like what I do, feel free to subscribe, and I’ll annoy you with updates regular from that BlogSpot addy. 😉

    • I’m one of them too, which is why I tried to avoid using the word ‘believe’. Are you under the impression that I was in some way denigrating AGW science in my comment? If not, why the hell are you trying to start an argument about it? I suspect we are pretty much in agreement on this subject.

  3. Shaun Appleby

    Australians who still don’t believe something is seriously amiss with the weather are never going to get it.  Droughts and fires, floods and monster cyclones are making the point very effectively.

    • Words sure are, aren’t they?

      The meaning I got from the first sentence (though I know you didn’t mean it that way) was that “right” was a modifier of “saying”, similar to “he was painting the wall right”.

      I was riffing on the point that words chosen are critical, and Gore is terrible at it. You are usually very good at word choice, which led me to picking on the structure of your sentence to make the point.

  4. But people have got to understand the difference between weather and climate.

    It’s been two of the coldest winters in the UK for many decades in the last two years, but Global sea and air temperatures are up.

    Oddly enough, the UK is not the whole world. Nor is North America. Climate change, driven by the greenhouse effect of CO2 will cause all kinds of local anomalies.

    One that could impact the UK. It’s the slow melt of the Polar Icecap, sinking deep down in sub surface currents, which creates the counter movement – the Gulf Stream – which makes Western Europe maritime and clement, though we’re on the same latitude as Labrador.

    If the Atlantic Conveyor fails, due to Global Warming melting the Artic Ice (the coverage diminishes every year) the net effect on Western Europe will be much colder winters, and much warmer summers, thanks the lack of the insulating effect of Ocean currents.

    So Gore was right about Global Warming. But forget him. 95% of all climate scientists agree rapid unprecedented warming is taking place, and an anthropogenic cause (i.e. carbon emissions) is the main reason.

    Just because we don’t like a politician doesn’t mean they’re not saying something right.  

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