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What's All This About Warming?

By Bolek Z. Kabala

Three weeks ago, it was snowing. In late April. These last few days, though, the summer heat has been downright oppressive. One could almost sit languidly under a tree, sipping lemonade and watching throngs of beautiful bronzed bodies darting about in carefree games of Frisbee or volleyball. Almost--because the minute you actually started enjoying this come-from-behind sunshine, your conscience should have rebelled. What are we arrogant homo sapiens doing, reaping the sweet fruits of our heinous interference with weather systems and our unconscionable rape of the global climate?

That's right. You have a moral responsibility to get off that field, move to Washington, and campaign without pause for the less-than-sunny personality of Al Gore '69. Republican or Democrat, libertarian or Independent: it doesn't matter. Only Gore can convince those reactionary corporate pawns in the Senate to ratify the prudent Kyoto Protocol. Only Gore has written a book--a whole book!--on the subject, refreshingly entitled Earth in the Balance. Only Gore, therefore, can save civilization from the preeminent crisis now facing it, climactic Armageddon precipitated by human-driven global warming.

You should trust Gore. Since he's actually written a book on the subject, he is familiar with all the relevant data. He has surely heard of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sponsored by the UN itself. And he must have seen Bert Bolin, chair of the IPCC, admit in debate that the vast majority of warming this century took place before 1940. Aaah, the good old days--so many cars on the road that Henry Ford even let you "choose between black and black."

Believe in Gore. Having invented the Internet, he is no doubt up to speed on all the goings-on at NASA. He has seen the data amassed by U.S. satellites, showing quite clearly that since 1979 there has been absolutely no warming in the lower atmosphere. He is well aware that such data correspond almost perfectly to those gathered independently by weather balloons. And he understands that surface measurements of temperature can be notoriously unreliable, given the thermal "noise" modern cities emit. But Gore, sipping his iced tea as he leafs through Earth in the Balance, remembers these things selectively, understanding them when he wants to.

Viva Gore! A liberal Harvard education under his belt, this son of Tennessee (or is it Washington, D.C.?) enjoys staying up with the scientific community. Aides have reportedly seen him poring over back issues of Science magazine in the Congressional library. His favorite article to appear in Science is likely the relatively recent "Greenhouse Forecasting Still Cloudy," which reported that "many climate experts caution that it is not at all clear yet that human activities have begun to warm the planet--or how bad greenhouse warming will be when it arrives."

Gore might also want to check out the Heidelberg Appeal. Signed by 4000 plus scientists whose ranks number 70 Nobel Prize winners, the Appeal makes clear that regulating human output of greenhouse gases is, at least at this junction, not justified.

How does Gore do it? How does he manage simultaneously to know all the relevant data and publish alarmist, unscientific screeds such as Earth in the Balance? Without taking away from his mental acuity, one might note that Gore has had eight years to hone his own understanding of what the multivalent meaning of "is" is. Make such semiotic slop the basis of your metaphysical system, and it's easy enough to see how what is actually a neat correlation between sunspot activity and global warming is, and is not; how today's warming hysteria is, and is not like the analogous "the-glaciers-are-coming" panic of 20 years ago.

For those of us not well versed enough in philosophy to master such a system of contradiction, however, one thing alone is clear. Amidst all the talk about warming, the only thing that needs cooling is Gore, and his environmental brethren's, heads.

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