Exaggeration in An Inconvenient Truth? No…

Nicolas Loris /

Watching the trailer to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, one would think that this planet is near Armageddon. According to the Nobel Laureate, our planet will soon be done in by ravaging hurricanes, scorching heat waves and twenty-foot sea level increases. Unless we do something about it.

Well, one thing we can do is more research. Without question global warming is an extremely complex issue, but there’s a lot of evidence out there suggesting that the catastrophic events in Gore’s Academy Award winning movie may not be as prevalent as the film proposes.

Take the dramatic sea level projections for instance. A new study by Prof Tad Pfeffer at University of Colorado in Boulder, Dr Joel Harper at University of Montana and Dr Shad O’Neel at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, found that the rise in sea level is more likely to be between 0.8 and 2 meters over the next century, which is well below An Inconvenient Truth’s figures and also below other typical projections. But even the experts admit it’s a complex issue. Dr. Harper remarked,

We simply don’t understand the physics of ice dynamics well enough to make accurate model predictions. There are just too many uncertainties.”

Pointing out the egregiousness of Gore’s projections is nothing new. The Heritage Foundation’s Ben Lieberman writes that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report predicts sea level increases of only 7 to 23 inches over the next century, which is between .18 and .58 meters. (Lieberman also notes that Gore considers the IPCC report the gold standard for climate change analysis.)

There’s more. For the first time in nearly 100 years, the sun went a full month without having any blemishes. That’s right, no sunspots.  But what does that even mean?

The event is significant as many climatologists now believe solar magnetic activity – which determines the number of sunspots — is an influencing factor for climate on earth.”

So….what does that even mean? The takeaway here is that numerous factors come into play when discussing climate change. Although 2008 has been a cooler year, the coolest since the year 2000, it doesn’t mean we’re headed toward a period of global cooling either. It simply means that despite all the expert attempts to understand climate change, the complexity of the issue leads to new discoveries, which usually results in more complication.

So, what do we know? We do know that there’s a cost to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill sought to reduce carbon dioxide 70% below 2005 emission levels by 2050. Although the bill died on the Senate floor in June, if implemented it could have cost the U.S. economy $4.8 trillion and millions of jobs. The benefit? Given that Lieberman-Warner was not a multilateral approach, it wouldn’t have done much to affect the earth’s temperature. Even a plan involving many countries would do little. Ben Lieberman asserts,

Kyoto’s provisions, if fully implemented, would have cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars annually from higher energy prices, but would, according to proponents, avert only 0.07 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2050.”

Although the climate change battle has been won temporarily in Congress, a new challenger is stepping up to the plate: The Environmental Protection Agency. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA hopes to achieve what Congress could not by regulating carbon dioxide emissions through a number of unthinkable rules. Under its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), the EPA plans to regulate everything from lawnmowers and boats to hotels, restaurants and apartment buildings. If you thought the trailer to An Inconvenient Truth was scary (or just absurd), you will won’t believe what you read in the ANPR.

You can do your part by sending the EPA your thoughts and comments.

Proponents of a global warming reduction policy will say that there’s also a cost to doing nothing and we need to act now. But now that the alarmism has died down a bit and new evidence that analyzes different reasons for climate change is emerging, should we be so hasty when it costs so much?