Gore and more

We’ll find out in a few hours if Al Gore wins a Nobel, but today his movie An Inconvenient Truth was approved for use in school science classes in Britain. Kind of. After a challenge by a school official, judges ruled that the movie could be shown, but only if 9 factual errors in the movie were explained to students. Apparently the number of polar bear drowning studies is smaller than Gore thought, which seems to be actually good news for people who like large white things that are cute from far away but will eat you if you try to pet them. Polar bears are still in big trouble, but not enough trouble yet for the British court to verify Gore’s prognosis. I saw Gore’s film, and I really appreciated it, but the criticisms of it being “one-sided” are true. Gore himself says he didn’t include views from the handful of scientists who don’t think humans are changing the earth’s climate in order to present a clear picture of the dangers we find ourselves in. Bravo to Al Gore for staying on the appropriate message, boo to people who use the nature of scientific doubt as a justification for not paying attention to global warming, and bravo to Britain for questioning authority and giving its kids some real science behind the PowerPoint slides. What we know about global warming changes weekly, and that new information should be reflected in teaching people about it.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch: I’m planning my first biking in to work tomorrow- I haven’t tried it yet due to wanting the bus ride to finish the most incredible book (Love in the Time of Cholera by Garcia Marquez. Read it because it’s worth every word.)  After work I will be attending the Politics and Prose book talk for Nordhaus and Shellenberger’s book, Break Through- the one about how we need a Manhattan Project to build a big old Green Tech bomb to drop on the scourge of Carbon Emissions, and how environmentalists like our own Mr. Gore are chaining themselves to the wrong political tree.  Should be quite fascinating, and I will of course report back on how all that goes.

5 Responses to “Gore and more”

  1. 1 Mr X October 12, 2007 at 8:13 am

    The problem with Nordhaus and Shellenberger’s idea for a Green Manhattan Project is that the government is horrible at directing research. To quote a former director of the National Cancer institute, “If it was up to the NIH to cure polio through a centrally directed program. . . You’d have the best iron lung in the world but not a polio vaccine.”

    The Manhattan Project is a deeply flawed analogy. The Manhattan Project was an engineering challenge to implement a certain idea, this “Green Manhattan Project” would be to develop new technologies. Atomic physicists in the course of their research realized that the things they had discovered could be used to make an incredibly powerful bomb. The Manhattan Project was then created to implement this idea. This is not to diminish the brilliant people who worked on the Manhattan project, but the type of work done on it is of an entirely different scale then what N & S are asking for in their book. If the Manhattan Project had been tasked to build a bomb that was as powerful as 20,000 tons of TNT but weighed less than 1 ton, we probably still wouldn’t have a functioning weapon.

  2. 2 virescent October 12, 2007 at 9:26 am

    And the Manhattan Project was a secret, whereas this effort would be publicly known, and the Manhattan Project had one specific overriding goal (develop large bomb technology to save humanity), whereas this project would probably have lots of different specific goals (develop public transport/fuel technologies/sustainable waste disposal to save humanity). But the government is no research and technology development slouch- I think the Space Program in the 60s and the Internet speak for themselves- they were both researched and developed on primarily government support. And our military especially is quite clever at researching and funding new weapons capabilities- and some of that research has lead to developments in non-explosive sectors of the economy, like health care (bionic suits to protect soldiers->treatments for handicapped people). I agree with you that government can be very inefficient, and the best way to go about a project of this size and nature would probably be to distruibute grants to effective projects in the private sector- but to a certain extent that’s what the Manhattan project did as well. Is there something specific about Nordhaus and Shellenberger’s plan that you think the government will handle poorly? I haven’t read the specifics myself- I’m getting the book tonight-, so I’m interested to hear your take on it.

  3. 4 Jaynee October 17, 2007 at 1:05 am

    Not much about Al Gore impresses me, but then I’ve not really given the man the time of day. Or any other leading politician for that matter. I subscribe to the theory shared by my sister years ago: the people we would really love to have lead this (or, presumably any other) country will never put up with the K.R.A.P spewing forth from the election process. The people that will put up with said spewing aren’t worth being elected. So where does that leave us? Sadly, not voting in every election as I did with such gusto decades ago. Gore, like most other politicians lusts for power and glory, and he’s still trying to fight his way to the “top”. He’s just changed hills. My two cents: he’s paid some pretty magnificent PR folk some pretty magnificent money to pave the way for him over the last handful of years. I’m not impressed.

    Now the fact that he has “virescence” in his spotlight doesn’t hurt the cause, but Oprah Winfrey, Ed Begley Jr. and George Clooney, he ain’t.

  4. 5 virescent October 17, 2007 at 8:54 am

    I really can’t think of one other single person who got the issue into the mainstream, though. He did it with spin and simplifications, but apparently that’s what it took to get people to talk about it. Oprah and Clooney have certainly done their parts, and Begley has his own show now on living green (it might actually be called Living Green) but their efforts never got the press and word of mouth that Gore’s eventually did. His sucess is helping to push theirs. Maybe we needed somebody who understands the sneaky, slimy world of politics, public relations, and campaigning to make us believe- they’ve certainly convinced many to believe much sillier things. I respect Gore for growing that beard, I respect him for getting rid of it, I respect his perserverence, and I am so very, very happy that he won’t be running for president. He does better work elsewhere.

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