Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gore Convinces Skeptic

Making weak arguments which are easily refuted by those who review the facts has doomed many activists. Examples range from theories on the 2004 election discussed earlier to the environment. Michael Shermer writes in Scientific American how he became an environmental skeptic:

My experience is symptomatic of deep problems that have long plagued the environmental movement. Activists who vandalize Hummer dealerships and destroy logging equipment are criminal ecoterrorists. Environmental groups who cry doom and gloom to keep donations flowing only hurt their credibility. As an undergraduate in the 1970s, I learned (and believed) that by the 1990s overpopulation would lead to worldwide starvation and the exhaustion of key minerals, metals and oil, predictions that failed utterly. Politics polluted the science and made me an environmental skeptic.

There certainly has been a lot of unscientific nonsense promoted by environmental groups. The errors of some, however, do not prove that the warnings of others are not valid. Shermer reviewed data from various sources on global warming:

Then I attended the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, Calif., where former vice president Al Gore delivered the single finest summation of the evidence for global warming I have ever heard, based on the recent documentary film about his work in this area, An Inconvenient Truth. The striking before-and-after photographs showing the disappearance of glaciers around the world shocked me out of my doubting stance.

After further discussion of global warming, this skeptic concluded, “Because of the complexity of the problem, environmental skepticism was once tenable. No longer. It is time to flip from skepticism to activism.”


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