Monday, February 2, 2009

The Fine Art Of Exaggeration

I've been putting this one off for days because, quite frankly, reading the never-ending stories about Al Gore going on and on with his little crusade bores me. The man is a complete waste of space and yet news sources across the world continue to give him space as though he were actually someone who mattered. Think about it for a moment. The man served two terms as Vice President in one of the most popular administrations in recent history (and regardless of your personal opinions of Bill Clinton, you must recognize that he was popular) and yet was still unable to turn that popularity into a landslide against a governor with no significant history. All indications are that even his popular boss didn't like him that much. His "documentary" An Inconvenient Truth is full of documented holes and errors yet, now that he has become the poster child for the media darling that is the Climate Change controversy, it seems that he can barely open his mouth without being the center of attention.
[For those of you who might be somewhat satire-impaired, there was no shortage of exaggeration thrown into that opening paragraph to illustrate the point of this particular post. If you cannot grasp that, please do not flame me for your lack.]
While I have exaggerated to some extent, my irritation is no less real. It infuriates me that a man with no scientific background or training received a Nobel prize for a scientific subject just because that subject happens to be the current cause celebre. It drives me insane that this man is now looked to as an expert on anything other than politics and advertising. He, however, stays true to form, no matter how often the mainstream media wants to overlook that form.
Al Gore's form is hyperbole, plain and simple. Even when he is approaching being right, Gore apparently cannot help but blow up the significance of what he is saying so that it seems more important and so, by extension, he seems more important. In his latest speech to Congress concerning Global Warming, Gore stated, "This is the one challenge that could completely end human civilization ..." Even Gore's supporters have to be cringing at such a blatant exaggeration.
There are so many things wrong with this statement.
Even if we assume that Gore is right about Global Warming and it is every bit as potentially disastrous as he claims, it would be far from the only challenge facing the world with the possibility of "end[ing] human civilization". For decades, the threat of nuclear annihilation was the number boogeyman for those who believed that we were on the brink of extinction. Despite being somewhat mitigated with the ending of the Cold War, this threat still holds at least as much danger as Climate Change. Add in the possibility of terrorists and rogue states and this threat must surmount Climate change as a potential civilization ender. Spend just a few minutes on the internet and I'm sure you could find at least a dozen more challenges that could potentially end human civilization.
The bigger problem with this portion of the statement is that we can't assume that Gore is right. The number of respected scientists who disagree with the popular consensus on Climate Change is not insignificant. It is, in fact, about as large as the number of respected scientists who argue for Climate Change, even if the mainstream media refuses to publicise that fact. In short, the jury is still out and, while it is prudent to take care of your home, such prudence does not mean that your home is on the verge of destruction.
My biggest problem with this statement, however, is the simple fact that it is wrong. Even if everything else that Global Warming advocates maintain is true, not even the worst case scenario of Global Warming could end human civilization. It is a cannard that even Hollywood could not turn into a decent disaster movie. A worst case scenario would certainly change human civilization, but it wouldn't end it. Beach front property might take on a new meaning and a fairly dramatic death toll would be almost guaranteed, but civilization itself would step over this hurdle with hardly an altered stride. No one other than Hollywood is claiming that there would be no arable land left or that the disasters that Global Warming might cause would all come rushing down in a matter of weeks and, make no mistake, it would require something of that magnitude to end human civilization.
It would seem, then, that Mr. Gore has been spending too much time lately with his celebrity sycophants and is incapable of speaking without hyperbole. That being the case, this is entirely too important a discussion for him to even be involved. We do not need exaggeration-prone storytellers debating the fate of the world. We need thinking people who will use reason and facts rather than fear and distortion. I guess that means that we do not need politicians involved at all but, for the moment, I would be satisfied if Gore would fade into the obscurity he has earned.

1 comment:

  1. They can't get rid of Gore, they need someone famous, and he's the only "famous" person out there willing to ruin a career over an unproven theory. Wait, have they called Tom Cruise?