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America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

More Gore

Patrick Michaels has a column in the Washington Times about Al Gore's new documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth." I haven't seen the film, but I heard parts of it on NPR yesterday. The NPR person said it's Gore speaking, but I think it's the guy who imitates Gore on "South Park." The reviewers were gaga ("Where was this Gore during the election of 2000?") but to me it sounded like the old sanctimonious Al trafficking in half-truths -- if that much.

Here's a snippet from Michaels's column:
So here's what Al told Grist Magazine about global warming: "I believe it is appropriate to have an overrepresentation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience."

It would be nice to think he came up with this de novo. But exaggeration of global warming has long been considered virtuous.
"Overrepresentation of factual presentations"? There's a graceful euphemism for lies. I guess he can get away with this because no controlling legal authority has said he can't.


Libertarian Jason said...

Somebody should send Al a copy of Michael Crichton's State of Fear....eh?

Anonymous said...

"'Overrepresentation of factual presentations'? There's a graceful euphemism for lies. I guess he can get away with this because no controlling legal authority has said he can't."

Well, his wording COULD simply mean that he supports pushing the facts on the public until they can't possibly ignore it. Not mis-representing, just over-representing. In the same way that libertarians often say "the state is force" ad infinitum, Gore just wants to get his point across firmly and unforgettably.

Just playing devil's advocate...


Sheldon Richman said...

Dain--That's a very charitable reading. :)

Jim Lippard said...

There are apparently some minor errors in Gore's presentation, but my understanding is that for the most part it is accurate. I hope to see the film when it comes to Phoenix to see for myself. Michael Crichton is completely worthless as an authority on the issue--don't get your climate change facts from a work of fiction.

Sorry folks, but the scientific consensus has become well established over the last decade on anthropogenic climate change. If you want to see the last gasp of climate change skeptics, check out the Skeptics Society conference next weekend at Caltech on "The Environmental Wars" (which will feature Michael Crichton and John Stossel, even though neither has any relevant credentials, along with a debate between Chris Mooney and Ronald Bailey, and at least one actual scientist who studies the issue, Tapio Schneider).

The best online source of factual data about climate change for the layman is RealClimate.org.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know Jim is correct. My own interests aren't so much in environmental studies, so my default mode is to go with the experts. And yea, they all pretty much agree.

But I'm not so sure that they can prove that warming wouldn't have happened anyway. And of course in the realm of economics, tradeoffs are always paramount. Perhaps economic growth is worth the increase in average global temperature. And is a warmer planet even necessarily a bad thing?


Sheldon Richman said...

Dain--Considering all the ways the state perversely influences scientific, particularly environmental, research, it is ridiculous to determine the truth by taking a head count.

Anonymous said...

Sheldon, I see your point, and I don't mean to suggest that I blindly follow whatever the majority of "experts" say.

But a cursory look at what the scientists studying this phenomenon have to say is that global warming is happening, and that humans are having SOME effect. They can't all be dupes for the state. I've met some that are, and/or have an almost religious zeal over the issue, but most seem to be rather detached, with no particular political axe to grind. I don't think their conlcusions are any more suspect (well, maybe somewhat more) than the biologists' affirmation of evolution.


Sheldon Richman said...

There's little controversy about 1) that some warming has been occurring since the end of the Little Ice Age and 2) that man plays some role in the more recent warming. What is in dispute is whether a catastrophe in heading our way. Patrick Michaels's Meltdown goes through this in meticulous detail. So does Bjorn Lomborg, the former green activist, in The Skeptical Environmentalist. Steve Malloy, of Junkscience.com, has shown that it is untrue that today's CO2 concentrations are at historic highs. The earth has been warmer in earlier times. They didn't call it Greenland for nothing. Michaels shows that at the poles ice is melting precisely where it is getting colder not warmer. I'd be very skeptical about the warming hype. Gore is not to be trusted.

Jim Lippard said...

Milloy's not a reliable source on climate science (and other subjects).

While I agree that the best science isn't determined by voting, when there is nearly uniform consensus (as there is in climate change science apart from a very tiny minority of folks like Michaels and Lindzen), that puts a burden of proof on the minority.

Lomborg, a political scientist, said this about global warming in 2001:
"It seems incontrovertible to me that there is a global warming effect and that it is going to be serious, probably not in the amount of, say, six degrees warming, but it’s likely that we’ll get two to three degrees warming and that will be serious enough."

Jim Lippard said...

Here's a climate scientist's review of Gore's film, pointing out a couple of errors. He says "For the most part, I think Gore gets the science right, just as he did in Earth in the Balance. The small errors don't detract from Gore's main point, which is that we in the United States have the technological and institutional ability to have a significant impact on the future trajectory of climate change."

Sheldon Richman said...

Jim--If Richard Lindzen, Pat Michaels, Robert Bolling, and Fred Singer review Gore's movie negatively, where does that leave us? Back at head-counting?

Sheldon Richman said...

By the way, the guy who did the Grist interview with Gore says Michaels "grossly misinterpreted it [the quotation] to mean that Gore was exaggerating the evidence for global warming." See if you agree. It's here: here.

Jim Lippard said...


Balling, Michaels, Lindzen, and Singer--you've pretty much named all of the global warming skeptics. I don't think we need to count heads, we need to critically examine the arguments. If you do, I don't think there's much substance from these guys, and a lot of *bad* arguments. (In addition to the quote issue in Michaels review of Gore, check out this from Grist.)

I attended the Skeptics Society conference over the weekend, and even Michael Crichton agreed that there is "no debate" that (a) global warming is occuring, (b) the greenhouse effect is solid physics, and (c) the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (more than double what it's been in the last 600,000 years) is caused by human activity. (I.e., he's apparently abandoned the view in _State of Fear_ that warming is an artifact of city heat islands.) Crichton didn't have anything else to say about global warming, and didn't attend the sessions all day which covered the science (and the economics and law, including Jonathan Adler on fables of federal regulation, Greg Arnold on emissions trading markets, and Gregory Benford on possible technological mitigation mechanisms). Adler live-blogged the conference.

The debate between Chris Mooney and Ronald Bailey wasn't much of a debate, since they agreed about global warming. Mooney had a much better presentation.

I had a chance to discuss Gore's movie a bit with Chris Mooney, who criticized it for bringing in tornadoes (no known connection to global warming) and for specifically attributing Katrina to global warming. But the consensus seemed to be that the scenarios Gore describes--melting of the polar icecaps, large sea-level rises--are quite plausible. (The north pole has been open water for several years now, by the way.)