There are good reasons for any species to think darkly of its own extinction. Ninety-nine percent of the species that have lived on Earth have gone extinct, including more than five tool-using hominids. A quick glance at the fossil record could frighten you into thinking that Earth is growing more dangerous with time. If you carve the planet’s history into nine ages, each spanning five hundred million years, only in the ninth do you find mass extinctions, events that kill off more than two thirds of all species.
But this is deceptive. Earth has always had her hazards; it’s just that for us to see them, she had to fill her fossil beds with variety, so that we could detect discontinuities across time. The tree of life had to fill out before it could be pruned.
Thanks for following me all this time. The article is here.
Everyone makes mistakes. I think Gore is trying to be helpful and hopeful. He’s trying to support and celebrate, I believe, recent policy changes to limit emissions from power plants, federal procurement, vehicle MPGs, etc. He also points to several disruptive changes to economies around the world, such as Germany’s aggressive investments in solar and renewables.
Several left-leaning commentators think Gore’s piece was equivalent to the word of God - dozens of high-profile blogs fell over themselves after they read his article (see blatherings at DailyKos, Grist, ecowatch).
From my point of view - which reflects the scientific consensus - Gore is spouting nonsense. The IPCC aggregates climate science from every perspective. Their recent report made it clear that even with maximum policy changes, the earth is on track for up to 4.8c degrees of warming. The policy changes mentioned by Gore do nothing to lower global emissions:
[T]he IPCC assesses a large number of scenarios from different experts. For its third report into greenhouse gas emissions, the IPCC assessed 1200 different pathways, created by different modelling teams around the world….
As a result of its own modelling and the different scenarios it assessed, the IPCC concludes that avoiding the two degrees rise means reducing global emissions by at least two fifths by 2050, and tripling or quadrupling the share of energy the world gets from low-carbon energy by the same date. It probably also means using new, untested technologies to reduce the level of carbon in the atmosphere… Via
I think it’s dangerous to say there is “hope” to reduce emissions based on a few tweaks to the American economy. Every indicator (even conservative economists) shows that emissions are going to rise for decades.
Thanks for your question. I’d send you here, but I take issue with your approach. The burden of proof is always on the person making a claim. If I may, I advise applying the Socratic Method and have a nice discussion (Note: Always apply the Socratic Method with their consent, don’t trick them!).
It is not your responsibility to “convince” them of their err, instead it is *their* responsibility to convince you of their claims. If I say the sky is red, it is my responsibility to show that the sky is indeed red - it is not your responsibility to disprove it. If you both agree to discuss the matter, proceed without getting emotionally panty-bunched. Hell, you could hold a long dialog that could take days, or even months.
If you are an environmentalist, you have to learn this humble, very effective, and quite easy to apply communication skill. It will serve you well through life.
Once they agree to discuss the issue, define the terms and stay hyper-focused on those things. Every once in a while paraphrase and recap the discussion - this helps clarify definitions, and it ensures that the other person feels comfortable that you are listening. So, if I’m talking about the sky being red, I’m not able to start talking about my opinion of Obama. Stay on point.
In this case, you’re discussing cycles. So, have them define it. What is a cycle? Is there evidence for cycles? Why do they believe in the science of cycles, but reject that cycles can be changed by human forcings? In other words, can natural cycles be disturbed by heavy influxes of CO2? Why or why not? Where is their evidence? Remember, they are making the claim; you are trying to learn from them. Are they choosing some scientific evidence while rejecting other scientific evidence? How is this possible? By which methodologies are they able to accept the science of cycles, yet reject the science that shows how cycles are influenced? After all, they have to point to science as their evidence for cycles. Interesting, right?
Know that you will experience breakdowns and failures while having these dialogs. That’s OK! Take a breather. Shake hands. Come back to the discussion later. It’s part of the process of learning. Try not to allow emotions to enter the discussion. Don’t get heated. Passion is a good thing, but getting angry and walking away all frustrated is a problem. Face these dips head on!
So, apply the Socratic Method when someone makes a claim. Just have fun with it. No need to be rivals.