Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Al Gore’s “Pulp Fiction”

Guest Commentary by Edward Cline:

As years go by the idea of Nobel Prizes for peace and literature becomes more and more lunatic. The criteria by which literature is measured and recognized by the Norwegian Nobel Committee remain unfathomable to an outside but critical observer. This year the Prize for literature went to Doris Lessing, a British author who wrote stories with ever-in-vogue feminist themes.

But the individuals who screen nominees and award the Prizes for literature could just as well as sit on award committees for the Guggenheim or MacArthur Foundations, whose criteria for giving away lots of tax-free money are similarly eclectic, eminently subjective, “socially relevant,” and focused on the obscure and banal because they are obscure and banal. The standards of what anymore is judged literarily important have been plummeting as fast as a skydiver in a tangled parachute.

The Nobel Memorial Prize in economics, established in 1968 by the Swedish central bank and conferred by it, has invariably gone to economists who disparage or are ignorant of capitalism, or who are not consistent advocates of it, such as Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek.

Only the criteria for the Prizes for medicine, chemistry and physics have retained some semblance of objectivity. But that will change, now that science has become increasingly politicized, that is, now that scientific truths are established, not by empirical evidence, but by consensus. And when politics applies those consensus-based, reality defying “truths” to life, the results have been disastrous.

It was a “scientific cultural consensus” in Germany that Jews were sub-human parasites who were destroying the country. This was an “Aryan truth” responsible for the Holocaust. Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, a Soviet agronomist and pseudo-geneticist, claimed that acquired characteristics could be inherited in crops (just as the bourgeois had acquired their own irreversible characteristics, requiring their eradication in Soviet Russia). This was a “Soviet truth” that conformed to Marxist ideology and the Party line. It resulted in drastic crop reductions and chronic famine.

When it comes to rewarding accomplishments in the abstract, normative realm, the successive Committees that vet nominees for the Peace Prize have apparently been spinning their judgmental wheels since 1901. In establishing the conditions for awarding this Prize, Alfred Nobel stipulated in his will that it go to the individual who had done “the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace conferences.”

The problem is that neither Nobel nor any of his succession of executors of the Peace Prize has ever had any fundamental knowledge of the requirements of “peace.” “Fraternity among nations” is possible only if those nations are free nations, nations that feature governments that have at least a nominal respect for individual rights and a judiciary that protects them. Volunteer standing armies may be necessary for those nations as protection from or deterrents against aggressor nations. Peace conferences are not be necessary among nations not bent on conquest or territorial expansion, although alliances may be formed between free nations to oppose or fight outlaw, criminal governments that are so inclined.

It is important to note that the Committee that reviews nominees for the Peace Prize is composed of five individuals elected by the Norwegian parliament. Norway is a socialist country, so it is logical that career socialists and collectivists would favor any person or institution that worked for peace for the sake of peace, regardless of kinds of individual accomplishments (as long as they are selfless and altruistic), the nature of a conflict or of the character of the disputing parties. This explains why the Prize has been awarded to an unsavory collection of thugs, criminals, “saints,” charlatans, and fools.

In terms of conflict between nations, “peace,” to these individuals, as well as to their moral and political ilk ranging from Jimmy Carter to Condoleezza Rice and George Bush, is a Platonic condition to be achieved between antagonistic parties by means of compromise, concession, or even surrender. “Peace” is the “higher” principle to pursue, higher than the principle of a nation’s self-preservation in the face of conquest or destruction. Since these individuals regard the desire for self-defense or self-preservation against brute force as a purely “subjective” or selfish motive, the rational and the irrational are placed on the same plane, on which, by their moral criteria, the selfish must always defer to the unselfish.

Thus, for example, to the peaceniks, the desire of Palestinians to swallow chunks of Israel is just as legitimate a cause as Israel wanting to preserve its existence against governments and gangs that wish to dismember it or completely erase it – perhaps even more legitimate, since the Palestinians are stateless, poor and needy, while Israel is a prosperous, relatively free country.

To the peaceniks, the historic circumstances of Israel and the Palestinians are irrelevant. In order to stave off the chimera of violence and war, both parties must be brought to the negotiating table and persuaded to compromise. Bush, Rice and the State Department wish Israel to surrender large sections of its territory to create a Palestinian state, knowing full well, but not conceding it in public, that such a state would merely serve as a launching site for Hamas and Hezbollah to attack and destroy Israel.

But it is Israel that is asked to compromise, while the Palestinians have nothing to compromise but their urge to kill. The peril in which Israel is placed is of no concern to the peaceniks; violence must be avoided at all costs, even at the cost of Israel’s existence. The classic instance of pursuing peace for the sake of peace and avoiding violence is Neville Chamberlain’s surrender to Hitler in Munich.

All that being said, what has Al Gore’s campaign against global warming to do with “peace,” vis-à-vis Alfred Nobel’s good intentions? In a fairly ludicrous and patently desperate stretch of semantics, Jan Egeland, a Norwegian peace mediator and former U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, offered an explanation. According to an Associated Press release on October 12, the day it was announced that Gore had won the Peace Prize, he said,

“It is a question of war and peace. We’re already seeing the first climate wars, in the Sahel belt of Africa.”

“He said that nomads and herders are in conflict with farmers,” reported the AP item, “because the changing climate has brought drought and a shortage of fertile lands.”

Omitted from his account is the fact that the Sahel Crescent, located between the spreading Sahara desert and the wetter tropical regions to the south, has been in drought conditions since the 1960’s, and also the fact that billions of dollars in indiscriminately strewn international aid have not improved conditions there one iota. Perhaps in pre-history it got more than rainfall than the contemporary, recorded annual averages of between four and eight inches through summer and fall.

Egeland also neglected to mention the increase in population in the Sahel, a population existing in an altruist purgatory made possible by anti-cause and effect international aid. Much of the African continent is on a Western welfare system, and as a Kenyan economist recently explained, conditions will never improve as long as the West keeps sending it aid. This fellow will never be a serious candidate for the Peace Prize. He spoke a truth and pleaded with the West to stop being so “caring.”

By awarding Gore the Peace Prize, which he will share with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Nobel Committee revealed itself as being on the same intellectual level – a very, very low and clueless one – as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which earlier this year awarded an Oscar to Gore’s propaganda film, An Inconvenient Truth. One can imagine that the Committee members were as impressed by that instance of agitprop as they might have been (and possibly actually were) by Hollywood’s past environmental efforts, such as The Day After Tomorrow, Day of the Animals, Frogs, Soylent Green, The Pelican Brief, and Silent Running, to name but a few “let’s blame man” eco-disaster films.

Propaganda is not necessarily an evil form of communication. It is an extreme, stylized distillation of concepts to perceptual concretes of a group’s position or cause in words, pictures, or both. Its purpose is not to inform men of facts or to educate them, but to alert them to or remind them of an issue. The issue may be genuine or false; that is, it may be governed by facts, falsehoods, or a stew of facts and falsehoods. Political cartoons skirt the definition of propaganda, and an argument could be made that they are a form of propaganda.

Even without a British High Court’s ruling this month that An Inconvenient Truth is largely a high-tech tissue of lies and misinformation, and that students shown the film in class must be advised of eleven major “inaccuracies” (a kind term for fabrications) in the film, not only the film but the whole issue of global warming, whether or not it is occurring, and if it is, what is causing it, has been stirring up another kind of “climate war” between believers and skeptics that has gone on for years.

On one side are the believers in anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming, armed with statistics and findings they claim prove man is causing the phenomenon. These have the ear and voice of most of the disaster-and-crisis-obsessed news media. On the other side are climatologists and meteorologists who claim that if global warming is occurring, man has little or nothing to do with it, and they, too, are armed with statistics and findings. They do not have the ear and voice the news media, because they are not posing as oracles of disaster and crises. Some of the latter cannot be justly labeled “skeptics,” because they are certain of their findings.

The believers indulge in histrionics and demand that governments impose controls and restrictions on especially industrialized nations to arrest or reverse global warming. The skeptics or “deniers” of anthropogenic global warming, eschewing thespian ambitions, and respecting and relying on human intelligence, simply offer their counter-arguments and positions to anyone who will listen, hoping that reason and truth will win out the end.

They do not think any action need be taken by either governments or panicked citizens. Indeed, they contend that any drastic, fiat actions taken by governments would result in an infinitesimal reduction in “greenhouse gases,” hardly measurable and certainly not worth the likely trillions of dollars such totalitarian measures would cause in lost production and standards of living. (As an illustration of the pathetic, impressionable ignorance rampant in the media, Roger Ebert, the movie critic, when he came home from first seeing An Inconvenient Truth, immediately turned off all his lights. One could say that he remains “in the dark.”)

Needless to say, the skeptics and deniers do not get much press, friendly or unfriendly. What they have to say, which is the truth, is not what politicians and the media want to hear. (This is another instance of how “science” can be politicized.) The number of “skeptics” and “deniers” is unknown, chiefly because of the “climate of fear” that exists. Too many climatologists and scientists in related fields are afraid to buck the “truth” and perhaps lose their grants, jobs, or careers.

One meteorologist who is not afraid is Dr. William Gray, retired, famous for his hurricane forecasts, who addressed an audience of 300 at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte recently. The Courier Mail of October 13 (“Gore’s climate theory savaged”) reported that:

“Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicized, said instead that a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures – related to the amount of salt in ocean water – is responsible for global warming that he acknowledges has taken place….However, he said, that same cycle means a period of global cooling will begin soon and last for several years.”

Countering another of Gore’s assertions, that man-caused global warming has caused an increase in hurricanes, the article reported that Gray “cited statistics, showing there were 101 hurricanes from 1900-1949, in a period of cooler global temperatures, compared to 83 from 1957-2006, when the earth warmed.”

“’The human impact on the atmosphere is simply too small to have a major effect on global temperatures,’ Gray said. He said his beliefs have made him an outsider in popular science.

“’It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong,’” said Gray. ‘But they also know that they’d never get any grants if they spoke out. I don’t care about grants.’”

He cares about the truth, and alluded in his talk to self-censorship by extortion and a fraternity of cowards.

Before Gore’s covinous movie won either an Oscar or a Peace Prize, Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow in Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in September 2006 took the film apart nearly frame by frame, assertion by assertion. Among a multitude of things, he points out that Gore:

§ “Calls carbon dioxide [CO2] the ‘most important greenhouse gas.’ Water vapor is the leading contributor to the greenhouse effect.”
§ “Claims that Venus is too hot and Mars too cold to support life due to differences in atmospheric CO2 concentrations (they are nearly identical), rather than differences in atmospheric densities and distances from the Sun (huge).”
§ “Claims that global warming is drying out soils all over the world, whereas pan evaporation studies (which measure the rate of evaporation from open pans of water) indicate that, in general, the Earth’s surface is becoming wetter.”
§ “Blames global warming for pine beetle infestations that likely have more to do with increased forest density [as a consequence of environmentalist policies, “Woodman, spare that tree! It has rights!”] and plain old mismanagement [again, management dominated in the forestry and national park bureaucracies by environmentalist policies].”
§ “Blames global warming for a ‘mass extinction crisis’ that is not, in fact, occurring.”
§ “Claims that sea level rise could be many times larger and more rapid ‘depending on the choices we make or do not make now’ concerning global warming. Not so. The most aggressive choice America could make now would be to join Europe in implementing the Kyoto Protocol. Assuming the science underpinning Kyoto is correct [or objectively validated], the treaty would avert only 1 cm of sea level rise by 2050 and 2.5 cm by 2100.”
§ “Claims that the European Union’s emission trading system [linked to Kyoto] is working ‘effectively.’ In fact, the ETS is not reducing emissions, [it] will transfer an estimated £1.5 billion from British firms to competitors in countries with weaker controls, [it] has enabled oil companies to profit at the expense of hospitals and schools, and [it] has been an administrative nightmare for small firms.” [Britain is a “have,” and so is guilty and must be punished; competitors and “have not” countries are needy, and must be rewarded with being let off the totalitarian hook. Imagine the consequences in the U.S. if it ever becomes party to the looters’ philosophy of the Kyoto Protocol.]

These are seven of the ninety-three points that Lewis raises and discusses in his paper, which is nothing less than a complete shredding of Gore’s thesis (square brackets contain my observations). His paper, “A Skeptic’s Guide to An Inconvenient Truth,” may be read in its entirety at the CEI’s site at http://cei.org/.

For the report on the British High Court’s ruling on Gore’s movie, go to http://newsbusters.org/node/16209/print.

For what one CNN weather forecaster has to say about the movie, go to http://rawstory.com/news/2007/CNN_weatherman_applauds_global_warming_skepticism_1004.html.

And as a counter Power Point Presentation about the Earth, climate, and the hoax of anthropogenic global warming (Gore's original production was a slide show), go online to http://www.darylscience.com/GW.ppt#2561,1,Globa_Warming;_A_Semi-Educated_Rebuttal. If Marlo Lewis’s paper shreds Gore’s thesis, this ten-minute presentation further reduces it to atoms.

The Courier Mail article on Dr. William Gray’s stand against psuedo-science, which is the least unbiased report I could find, can be read at http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,22579081-5003419,00.html. It is significant that this report appears in an Australian newspaper, not a cowed American one. But then most American papers were afraid to reprint the Danish Mohammad cartoons, out of “respect” for the religion. Well, a lot of people “respected” Al Capone, Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin, and it wasn’t from love.

It is interesting to note that it was Hollywood that made Gore’s movie possible, and not any special marketing savvy of the former vice-president’s. (At least he hasn’t claimed any.) According to a Los Angeles Times article of October 13, “Even better than an Oscar,”

“Hollywood has been credited for playing a major role in the efforts that led to Gore’s [Peace Prize] award Friday.” Laurie David, apparently a power behind putting Gore on a studio blue screen, “saw Gore’s slide show on global warming at a private Los Angeles presentation in 2004. She immediately asked Pulp Fiction producer Lawrence Bender to get involved. They approached Burns [Scott Burns, a producer of An Inconvenient Truth] and director Davis Guggenheim, then set up a pitch session with Gore at a hotel in San Francisco in spring 2005….Participant Productions – founded by EBay pioneer Jeff Skoll – came onboard with financing, and Guggenheim immediately went to work…..John Lesher, the newly installed head of Paramount Pictures’ specialty film division, made the documentary one of his first purchases.”

That figures. Leave it to West Coast, anti-American lefties to help a failed politician perpetrate a fraud, a big lie. It is also noteworthy that Laurie David immediately contacted Bender, producer of Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 Oscar-winning Pulp Fiction, an episodic collection of stories about Los Angeles low-life criminals. Who better, she must have thought, to help pull off a celluloid non sequitur?

In “The Worm and the Spider,” a review I wrote of Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction for the May 1995 Intellectual Activist (and which also appeared in the April 9, 1995 Las Vegas Review-Journal), I noted Bender’s (and director Tarantino’s) contempt for plot and logic, and his penchant for mindless violence, mayhem, and obscenities. It is a short cinematic journey, in terms of man-hating “art,” from depicting the nihilism of brutes to the nihilism of environmentalism.

From one perspective, one cannot help but view Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth as his vengeance for having lost the 2000 election to George W. Bush. Perhaps he wishes to punish America and Americans for having denied him the White House, from which he could have more easily imposed his (not our, what’s this “we” business?) environmentalist “choices” without having to resort to a slide show.

From a more fundamental perspective, however, environmentalism, which has become a no-questions-permissible secular religion (and the last graspable straw of the left wing), is Gore’s Allah, to which he is urging everyone to bow – or else.

Crossposted at The Dougout

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