Anthony Watts’s political push poll, “Gore or Obama?”

February 9, 2013

Al Gore and Barack Obama together in Detroit, June 2012, Rebecca Cook photo for Reuters, via NBC News photo

Al Gore and Barack Obama don’t appear to be on the opposite side of most issues, especially not climate change. Here they appear together in Detroit, circa June 11, 2012 – Rebecca Cook photo for Reuters, via NBC News photo

Anthony Watts strays farther and further from science with every passing day, and most of his new posts.

At the moment he’s got a doozy of a post, citing a bovine excrement question on a CFACT billboard, and offering a push-poll with three choices designed to push Watts’s preferred political answer, that ‘Obama and Gore go in different directions on global warming and climate change, and maybe they are both wrong.’   The end message Watts pushes is wrong, as you can see in the full texts below.(Morgan, here’s the link so you don’t have to flounder around with Google.)

Who do you believe?

◊  Barack Obama
◊  Neither one
◊  Al Gore

It’s based on these two quote mine products from the CFACT billboard:

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?

“Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come.”  — Al Gore, 10/30/2012

“We can’t attribute any particular weather event to global warming.”  — Barack Obama, 11/14/2012

Lying with quotes, demonstrated by CFACT

Propaganda group CFACT’s quote mining billboard, on which Anthony Watts’s push-poll is based.

Watts doesn’t offer a “both correct” choice.  That would be the accurate answer.

Gore’s comment at his blog on October 30, 2012, noted that while we can’t attribute the formation of Sandy to climate change, the effects of the storm were magnified by climate change.  Gore called that “disturbing.”

Obama, noting that while we can’t say for certain that any particular storm is caused entirely from human-created global warming, the long-term effects clearly have human causation and we need to act to stop it.

In short, Gore and Obama take the same side on this issue, the side of science and making sound public policy.  Watts works the old tobacco company strategy, suggesting that wherever studies showing health harms from tobacco differ from each other in the slightest jot or tittle, that means scientists can’t decide whether tobacco is harmful — substitute “human-caused climate change” for tobacco in that argument, and you see what Watts is trying to do.

Meanwhile, the Earth still warms:

Gore’s blog post in full:

Statement on Hurricane Sandy October 30, 2012 : 1:21 PM

This week, our nation has anxiously watched as Hurricane Sandy lashed the East Coast and caused widespread damage–affecting millions. Now more than ever, our neighbors need our help. Please consider donating or volunteering for your local aid organizations.

The images of Sandy’s flooding brought back memories of a similar–albeit smaller scale– event in Nashville just two years ago. There, unprecedented rainfall caused widespread flooding, wreaking havoc and submerging sections of my hometown. For me, the Nashville flood was a milestone. For many, Hurricane Sandy may prove to be a similar event: a time when the climate crisis—which is often sequestered to the far reaches of our everyday awareness became a reality.

While the storm that drenched Nashville was not a tropical cyclone like Hurricane Sandy, both storms were strengthened by the climate crisis. Scientists tell us that by continually dumping 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every single day, we are altering the environment in which all storms develop. As the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, storms are becoming more energetic and powerful. Hurricane Sandy, and the Nashville flood, were reminders of just that. Other climate-related catastrophes around the world have carried the same message to hundreds of millions.

Sandy was also affected by other symptoms of the climate crisis. As the hurricane approached the East Coast, it gathered strength from abnormally warm coastal waters. At the same time, Sandy’s storm surge was worsened by a century of sea level rise. Scientists tell us that if we do not reduce our emissions, these problems will only grow worse.

Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come. We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather.

President Obama’s statement, excerpted from his November 14, 2012, press conference:

THE PRESIDENT:  Mark Landler.  Where’s Mark?  There he is right in front of me.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent.  Tomorrow you’re going up to New York City where you’re going to, I assume, see people who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather.  What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change?  And do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a tax on carbon?

THE PRESIDENT:  As you know, Mark, we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change.  What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago.  We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago.  We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.

And I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions.  And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.

Now, in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks.  That will have an impact.  That will take a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere.  We doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation.  And we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.  But we haven’t done as much as we need to.

So what I’m going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers, and elected officials to find out what can — what more can we do to make a short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary — a discussion, a conversation across the country about what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.

I don’t know what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because this is one of those issues that’s not just a partisan issue; I also think there are regional differences.  There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices.  And understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth, that if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody is going to go for that.  I won’t go for that.

If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth, and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that’s something that the American people would support.

So you can expect that you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this agenda forward.

Q    Sounds like you’re saying, though, in the current environment, we’re probably still short of a consensus on some kind of attack.

THE PRESIDENT:  That I’m pretty certain of.  And, look, we’re still trying to debate whether we can just make sure that middle-class families don’t get a tax hike.  Let’s see if we can resolve that.  That should be easy.  This one is hard — but it’s important because one of the things that we don’t always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters; we just put them off as something that’s unconnected to our behavior right now.  And I think what — based on the evidence we’re seeing, is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if we don’t do something about it.

In context, can you point to any points of conflict between what Al Gore said in October, and what President Obama said a couple of weeks later?  To me it looks as if they’re singing very much from the the same hymnal or songbook, and they’re in harmony, if not unison, especially in what I’ve turned into red-letter text.

Here’s the video of the entire Obama press conference (climate question comes at 42:19 in the video transcript):

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Annals of global warming: Insurance companies note increasing costs of floods, due to climate change

October 1, 2012

Note today in Al Gore’s Journal:

Flooding Costs October 1, 2012 : 10:32 AM

Time cover from April 28, 2008 - how to win war on global warming

Time Magazine cover for April 28, 2008 – How to Win the War On Global Warming

A new report from Swiss Re finds that the financial impact of flooding has doubled in the past decade – climate is a major driver:

“Flood losses are increasing at an alarming rate while the insurability of floods provides unique challenges for the industry, according Swiss Re’s latest report, “Flood – an underestimated risk: Inspect, inform, insure”.” …

“No other natural catastrophe impacts as many people as flooding with an estimated 500 million people affected every year. Insured flood losses are also increasing significantly; 1970’s annual claims were between USD 1–2 billion, whereas insured flood losses amounted to USD 15 billion in 2011. Recent flood events in Thailand, Australia and the Philippines have shown that floods are now rivalling earthquakes and hurricanes in terms of economic losses.” …

“Population growth, demographic change, a higher concentration of assets in exposed areas, greater vulnerability of insured objects and climate change are all contributing to the increasing costs of flood damage. The rising costs of floods are creating challenges for the insurance industry and the economic viability of flood insurance is currently an issue under scrutiny.”

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Quote of the moment: Al Gore on facing reality

November 25, 2011

Michael Tobis says Gore said it — that’s good enough citation for me:

Reality of climate change crises, Matt Mahurin for Rolling Stone

Matt Mahurin in Rolling Stone, June 11, 2011

Even writing an article like this one carries risks; opponents of the president will excerpt the criticism and strip it of context.

But in this case, the President has reality on his side. The scientific consensus is far stronger today than at any time in the past. Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act.

Al Gore, in Rolling Stone, June 22, 2011

Actually, Real Aspen has audio of Gore saying stuff like that, and you’ll probably want to listen.  NPR has a story on Gore’s essay in Rolling Stone.


Al Gore shows how green investing works

November 3, 2009

Then Vice President Al Gore campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa, November 25, 1999.

Then Vice President Al Gore campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa, November 25, 1999.

Among the more amusing about-faces in conservative knee-jerk politics is conservative criticism of Al Gore for being a successful investor.

No, I’m not kidding.

Back in April, Gore testified to a House Energy and Commerce Committee in April — one of the committees where Gore was a shining star when he was a Member — and he ran into a challenge from Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blakburn who tried to play bad cop in grilling Gore about his investment work.  Since leaving politics Gore has worked to put his money where his advocacy is, backing green industries and energy efficiency projects. Blackburn is a Republican representing Tennessee’s 7th District. Blackburn appears not to understand how cross-examination works.

In most discussions I’ve had on warming issues over the past two months, advocates for doing nothing almost always bring up Gore as as “profiteer” for investing in green businesses.

It’s as if conservatives and Republicans have forgotten how business works in a free-enterprise system, and they think that free enterprise is tantamount to communism.

T. Boone Pickens used to be a favorite witness for Republicans to call at Congressional hearings.  Pickens was, and still is, a staunch advocate of free enterprise, and he advocates a lot less regulation than most Democrats want.  Then Pickens’s investments, especially his vulture investments in dying companies where he’d sell off the assets and put the company out of existence, were touted by Republicans as indication that Pickens is a genius.

A hard look at Gore’s investments shows him to be nothing more than a free-enterprise advocate who leads the way in green investments.  He has made huge gambles in businesses that warming skeptics claim won’t work — and his investments have tended to pay off, to the great consternation of warming do-nothings who understand markets.

This story in the New York Times suggests just how well Gore has done, and how much his leadership in investing might benefit us.  It’s worth bookmarking for your next discussion on what we should do about global warming — because you know somebody will try to make it about Al Gore.  It just galls the heck out of conservatives and anti-science folks that Gore is right so often, and that he is such a practitioner of the Scout Law.

Anti-pollution is good business.  Reducing the dumping of poisons into the air and water makes sense, and it makes a better economy in the long run.  Sometimes it makes a better economy in the short run, too.  Gore stepped into the marketplace, a very capitalist act.  His investments paid off, demonstrating that markets do work, and demonstrating that green business is smart business.  What are Republicans and conservatives thinking in taking after Gore’s business success?

Oh — Boone Pickens? He used to have an office in Trammell Crow Tower when our offices at Ernst & Young LLP were a floor or so away.  We shared elevator rides many times, and he is in person as gracious and smart as he appeared in those Congressional hearings years ago.

His money today?  He’s investing in wind power, because he thinks we need to act now to reduce dependency on oil imports.

Maybe Republican anti-green politics is coming home to roost.

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Anti-Gore film’s producer tries tantrum to get publicity

October 13, 2009

Phelim McAleer, one of the producers of the anti-Al Gore film “Not Evil, Just Wrong,” sneaked into a Gore press event and threw a tantrum the other day.

Why is this relevant?  Oh, the tantrum was rude, but if you’re a hack film producer with a political screed whose film looks like a flop, you’ll do anything to get publicity for the film.  Perhaps we should not be too critical of publicity whores.

It’s not relevant because of that.

It’s relevant because one of the charges against Gore by the fruit-and-nut brigade is that Gore refuses to talk to the press.  How can they complain about Gore’s treatment of them when any mention of this event makes the Gore critics appear untruthful?


New junk science movie: “Not evil, just wrong”

August 16, 2009

I warned you about it earlierCrank science sites across the internet feature news of another cheap hit on Rachel Carson and science in movie form.

“Not Evil, Just Wrong” is slated for release on October 18. This is the film that tried to intrude on the Rachel Carson film earlier this year, but managed to to get booked only at an elementary school in Seattle, Washington — Rachel Carson Elementary, a green school where the kids showed more sense than the film makers by voting to name the school after the famous scientist-author.

The film is both evil and wrong.

Errors just in the trailer:

  1. Claims that Al Gore said sea levels will rise catastrophically, “in the very near future.”  Not in his movie, not in his writings or speeches.  Not true.  That’s a simple misstatement of what Gore said, and Gore had the science right.
  2. ” . . . [I]t wouldn’t be a bad thing for this Earth to warm up.  In fact, ice is the enemy of life.”  “Bad” in this case is a value judgment — global warming isn’t bad if you’re a weed, a zebra mussel, one of the malaria parasites, a pine bark beetle, any other tropical disease, or a sadist.  But significant warming as climatologists, physicists and others project, would be disastrous to agriculture, major cities in many parts of the world, sea coasts, and most people who don’t live in the Taklamakan or Sahara, and much of the life in the ocean.  Annual weather cycles within long-established ranges, is required for life much as we know it.  “No ice” is also an enemy of life.
  3. “They want to raise our taxes.”  No, that’s pure, uncomposted bovine excrement.
  4. “They want to close our factories.”  That’s more effluent from the anus of male bovines.
  5. The trailer notes the usual claim made by Gore opponents that industry cannot exist if it is clean, that industry requires that we poison the planet.  Were that true, we’d have a need to halt industry now, lest we become like the yeast in the beer vat, or the champagne bottle, manufacturing alcohol until the alcohol kills the yeast.  Our experience with Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the Clean Air Acts and the Clean Water Act is that cleaning the environment produces economic growth, not the other way around.  A city choked in pollution dies.  Los Angeles didn’t suffer when the air got cleaner.  Pittsburgh’s clean air became a way to attract new industries to the city, before the steel industry there collapsed.  Cleaning Lake Erie didn’t hurt industry.  The claim made by the film is fatuous, alarmist, and morally corrupt.

    When the human health, human welfare, and environmental effects which could be expressed in dollar terms were added up for the entire 20-year period, the total benefits of Clean Air Act programs were estimated to range from about $6 trillion to about $50 trillion, with a mean estimate of about $22 trillion. These estimated benefits represent the estimated value Americans place on avoiding the dire air quality conditions and dramatic increases in illness and premature death which would have prevailed without the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Act and its associated state and local programs. By comparison, the actual costs of achieving the pollution reductions observed over the 20 year period were $523 billion, a small fraction of the estimated monetary benefits.

  6. “Some of the environmental activists have not come to accept that the human is also part of the environment.”  Fatuous claim.  Environmentalists note that humans uniquely possess the ability to change climate on a global scale, intentionally, for the good or bad; environmentalists choose to advocate for actions that reduce diseases like malaria, cholera and asthma.  We don’t have to sacrifice a million people a year to malaria, in order to be industrial and productive.  We don’t have to kill 700,000 kids with malaria every year just to keep cars.
  7. “They want to go back to the Dark Ages and the Black Plague.”  No, that would be the film makers.  Environmentalists advocate reducing filth and ignorance both.  Ignorance and lack of ability to read, coupled with religious fanaticism, caused the strife known as “the Dark Ages.”  It’s not environmentalists who advocate an end to cheap public schools.
  8. The trailer shows a kid playing in the surf on a beach.  Of course, without the Clean Water Act and other attempts to keep the oceans clean, such play would be impossible.  That we can play again on American beaches is a tribute to the environmental movement, and reason enough to grant credence to claims of smart people like Al Gore and the scientists whose work he promotes.
  9. “I cannot believe that Al Gore has great regard for people, real people.”  So, this is a film promoting the views of crabby, misanthropic anal orifices who don’t know Al Gore at all?  Shame on them.  And, why should anyone want to see such a film?  If I want to see senseless acts of stupidity, I can rent a film by Quentin Tarantino and get some art with the stupidity.  [Update, November 23, 2009: This may be one of the most egregiously false charges of the film.  Gore, you recall, is the guy who put his political career and presidential ambitions on hold indefinitely when his son was seriously injured in an auto-pedestrian accident; Gore was willing to sacrifice all his political capital in order to get his son healed.  My first dealings directly with Gore came on the Organ Transplant bill.  Gore didn’t need a transplant, didn’t have need for one in his family, and had absolutely nothing to gain from advocacy for the life-saving procedure.  It was opposed by the chairman of his committee, by a majority of members of his own party in both Houses of Congress, by many in the medical establishment, by many in the pharmaceutical industry, and by President Reagan, who didn’t drop his threat to veto the bill until he signed it, as I recall.   Gore is a man of deep, human-centered principles.  Saying “I can’t believe Al Gore has great regard for real people” only demonstrates the vast ignorance and perhaps crippling animus of the speaker.]

That’s a whopper about every 15 seconds in the trailer — the film itself may make heads spin if it comes close to that pace of error.

Where have we seen this before?  Producers of the film claim as “contributors” some of the people they try to lampoon — people like Ed Begley, Jr., and NASA’s James E. Hansen, people who don’t agree in any way with the hysterical claims of the film, and people who, I wager, would be surprised to be listed as “contributors.”

It’s easy to suppose these producers used the same ambush-the-scientist technique used earlier by the producers of the anti-science, anti-Darwin film “Expelled!

Here, see the hysteria, error and alarmism for yourself:

Ann McElhinney is one of the film’s producers.  Her past work includes other films against protecting environment and films for mining companies.  She appears to be affiliated with junk science purveyors at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an astro-turf organization in Washington, D.C., for whom she flacked earlier this year (video from Desmogblog):

Remember, too, that this film is already known to have gross inaccuracies about Rachel Carson and DDT, stuff that high school kids could get right easily.

Anyone have details on McElhinney and her colleague, Phelim McAlee?

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Related posts, at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

Please spread the word:

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Clean energy bill needs your help

June 25, 2009

Call your Congressman, the person who represents you in the U.S. House of Representatives, and urge a “yea” vote on the comprehensive clean energy bill.

You can check your representative at several places, or follow the instructions through RePower America, listed below the video from our old friend Al Gore.

Repower America said in an e-mail:

Clean energy bill needs our support

Any moment now, the House will be voting on the boldest attempt to rethink how we produce and use energy in this country. The bill’s passage is not assured. Call your Representative today.

  • Call 877-9-REPOWER (877-9-737-6937) and we’ll connect you to your Representative right after providing you with talking points. (We’re expecting high call volume, and if you are unable to be connected please use our secondary line, 866-590-0971.)
  • When connected to your Representative’s office, just remember to tell them your name, that you’re a voter, and that you live in their district. Then ask them to “vote ‘yes’ on comprehensive clean energy legislation.”

They’d like you to report your contact, here.

What?  You haven’t been following the debate?  Here’s what the pro-pollution, give-all-your-money-to-Canada, Hugo Chavez, and the Saudis group hopesHere’s where the anti-pollution, pro-frog and clean environment people say the proposed act is way too weak as it stands.  Here’s the House Energy and Commerce Committee drafts and discussion of the billConsumer Reports analyzed the bill here (and said it can’t be passed into law fast enough despite its flaws).

Call now.  Pass the word to your friends.  Tell your children to call — their kids deserve better than the path we’re on now.

More information and discussion:


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