It’s official — former Vice President Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with global warming.

Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and lay the foundations for counteracting it.

Contrary to what you might think, it wasn’t awarded because of his huge CO2-spewing house and CO2-spewing private jet junkets, but because of his vanity puff-piece movie, An Inconvenient Truth. I call it a vanity puff-piece because the movie is not about global warming as much as it is about Al Gore talking about global warming.

But is Gore’s movie and subsequent CO2-spewing trips to blab about global warming really the best candidate for this award? I have to believe that the answer is no because of the poor science behind the movie. I’ve already written about Gore’s movie, but since then, there have been some interesting news items come out about his movie.

A truck driver in England brought Gore’s movie to court because he believed it was biased, inaccurate, and shouldn’t be shown to school children as fact. The final ruling isn’t in yet, but the judge on the case has found 11 inaccuracies in the film. (hat-tip Climate Skeptic) Here is the listing of the 11 inaccuracies from the movie, as specified by the judge.

  • The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
  • The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
  • The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.
  • The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.
  • The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice.  It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.
  • The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
  • The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
  • The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.
  • The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.
  • The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
  • The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.

Yeah. This is worth awarding the Nobel Peace Prize. Rush Limbaugh pointed out this week that Mother Theresa got the Nobel Peace Prize after a life-time of service. Al Gore makes an inaccurate movie that is more a vehicle for his own vanity than it is about global warming, and he gets the same prize. The bar has really been lowered.

In other environmental news, the Nobel Peace Prize was also awarded this year to a German chemist, Gerhard Ertl, for his work that can explain the destruction of the ozone layer.

“Surface chemistry can even explain the destruction of the ozone layer as vital steps in the reaction actually take place on the surfaces of small crystals of ice in the stratosphere,” the award citation said.

That would be really impressive if it weren’t for some other news in the chemistry world this year. As written up in Nature, “Chemists poke holes in ozone theory.”

“Our understanding of chloride chemistry has really been blown apart,” says John Crowley, an ozone researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz, Germany.

“Until recently everything looked like it fitted nicely,” agrees Neil Harris, an atmosphere scientist who heads the European Ozone Research Coordinating Unit at the University of Cambridge, UK. “Now suddenly it’s like a plank has been pulled out of a bridge.”

And here’s the final paragraph with my emphasis added.

Nothing currently suggests that the role of CFCs must be called into question, Rex stresses. “Overwhelming evidence still suggests that anthropogenic emissions of CFCs and halons are the reason for the ozone loss. But we would be on much firmer ground if we could write down the correct chemical reactions.”

It’s still man’s fault, but they can’t prove it. Yep. Sounds like rock-solid science to me. And well worth awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a chemist who can “explain the destruction of the ozone layer” when that same chemistry is being called into question. And while Gore’s movie is being called into question, why not award him, too? But they have a history of doing this. Former President Jimmy Carter was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work for peace and the Agreed Framework with North Korea. The same Agreed Framework that North Korea announced in 2002 that they had violated from the beginning.

At this point I don’t have any respect for the selection process of the Nobel Peace Prize. I only write this because liberals will be applauding Saint Gore for his prize, and they will ignore the shaky science behind it.

OK, so I’ll stop writing about Global Warming for a while. Well, I will until something interesting comes up on the subject. But before I voluntarily silence myself on this subject, there is a fine bit of information I strongly suggest you read. Warren Meyer runs CoyoteBlog.com, and he has done a masterful job in discussing from the point of view of a skeptic the idea of man-made global warming, or to use a 21-point Scrabble word, anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

To begin with, you should read his post, “The 60-Second Climate Skeptic,” that nicely condenses the skeptic’s arguments against AGW into a one-page read. Once you have read that blog entry, you can go for the meat of Meyer’s skeptical look at AGW in his paper “A Skeptical Layman’s Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming.” The PDF version can be downloaded separately and clocks in at 82 pages.

After you have read these (and my posts on global warming, of course), you should know how to respond when people start discussing the topic of global warming. Well, that’s assuming you don’t want to be attacked as a heretic.

I have written many articles about global warming and climate change, and with the way the proponents of the anthropogenic climate change theory keep acting, I don’t think I’ll run out of material for a long time to come. The current atmosphere of hysterical climate change sounds more and more like the Spanish Inquisition, with people who disagree being treated like heretics. And the Washington Times has written up a story about a letter written by Michael T. Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI):

“It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar,” Mr. Eckhart wrote. “If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on.”

I can hear the knives of the global warming inquisition being sharpened and placed in a hot fire, ready to be used on the heretics who dare to disagree with their position. Believe in human-based global warming, infidels!

The Washington Times article ends the section about Eckhart and Lewis with the following two paragraphs:

However, this column earlier this week published another letter Mr. Eckhart sent in September to CEI President Fred Smith, saying “my children will have a lesser life because you are being paid by oil companies to spread a false story.”

He said he would give CEI, which advocates “sound science,” 90 days to reverse its “position” on global warming, “or I will take every action I can think of to shut you down,” including filing complaints with the Internal Revenue Service “on the basis that CEI is really a lobbyist for the energy industry.”

Eckhart has faith that global warming is caused by humans, and it is his faith that is driving him to attack the unbelievers so strongly. His faith is inspiring him to take on the role of inquisitor in the fight against the heretic and unbeliever. If Eckhart had the full force of facts and science to back him up, he wouldn’t need to bludgeon people into accepting the truth — it would be self-evident. But since he doesn’t have the full force of facts behind him, he has to discredit and ruin unbelievers with his hatred instead.

If I were Marlo Lewis, I’d have publicly responded to Eckhart’s letter with a very short one of my own:

E pur si muove!

Remember the really nasty hurricane season of 2005? Twenty-eight storms formed that year and 15 made it to full-fledged hurricane status. The images of devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina so terrified the nation that former Vice President Al Gore used the image of a hurricane on the poster and DVD cover of his movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Coming off that year, experts predicted that 2006 would give us 17 storms with nine hurricanes, but the actual results were almost half that at ten storms and five hurricanes. As of this writing, there have been only two named storms for 2007, neither of which became a hurricane. This calm year has led hurricane forecaster WSI Corp. to change its season predictions from 15 named storms and eight hurricanes to 14 named storms and six hurricanes.

The failed forecast for 2006 and the shifting of the forecast in 2007 has led Investor’s Business Daily to ask a very good question of the Global Warming crowd:

If scientists can’t get near-future projections in a limited area right, how can they predict the climate decades from now?

A reasonable response is: They can’t. But the global warming climate of fear did not blow in on the soft breezes of reason, but by the storm winds of emotion.

Professional meteorologists have a difficult time making an accurate forecast two days in the future, let alone accurately predicting the temperature two weeks from now. If they have that much trouble predicting the very near future, how much confidence can we put in the long-range forecasts of global warming proponents?

Short answer: not much at all.

I had to snicker when I read an article stating that China had surpassed the U.S. as the largest producer of CO2 on the planet:

China has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest producer of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, figures released today show.

The surprising announcement will increase anxiety about China’s growing role in driving man-made global warming and will pile pressure onto world politicians to agree a new global agreement on climate change that includes the booming Chinese economy. China’s emissions had not been expected to overtake those from the US, formerly the world’s biggest polluter, for several years, although some reports predicted it could happen as early as next year.

But according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, soaring demand for coal to generate electricity and a surge in cement production have helped to push China’s recorded emissions for 2006 beyond those from the US already. It says China produced 6,200m tonnes of CO2 last year, compared with 5,800m tonnes from the US. Britain produced about 600m tonnes.

I did a quick calculation of tons of CO2 per person in each three nations. It works out to 4.69 tons per person in China, 19.26 in the U.S., and 9.87 in the U.K. CO2 is also a quick way to measure a nation’s productivity, because industrial processes will produce CO2 as a byproduct. This means that China would need to be twice as productive to reach the level of England, and four times as productive to catch up to the U.S. The Kyoto Protocol failed to be ratified in the U.S. because of the growth of production in China and India. It was easy to see, even back in 1997, that China and India were both growing industrial states, and granting them exemptions from the CO2 emissions limits made the treaty into a joke.

But there is good news — the Washington Post reported that the CO2 produced in the U.S. dropped last year:

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions dropped slightly last year even as the economy grew, according to an initial estimate released yesterday by the Energy Information Administration.

The 1.3 percent drop in CO2 emissions marks the first time that U.S. pollution linked to global warming has declined in absolute terms since 2001 and the first time it has gone down since 1990 while the economy was thriving. Carbon dioxide emissions declined in both 2001 and 1991, in large part because of economic slowdowns during those years.

But why did our CO2 emissions drop last year? The WaPo article explains:

A number of factors helped reduce emissions last year, according to the government, including weather conditions that reduced heating and air-conditioning use, higher gasoline prices that caused consumers to conserve, and a greater overall reliance on natural gas.

Interestingly enough, the countries of Europe suck at dropping their CO2 emissions, based on this article:

EU-15 countries will need to step up their efforts if they are to meet their overall target to reduce emissions of global-warming gases and meet their Kyoto commitment, the EEA warned on 27 October.

According to a new report by the Copenhagen agency, ‘Greenhouse-gas emission trends and projections in Europe 2006′, existing policies will have slashed greenhouse-gas emissions in the EU-15 by only 0.6% in 2010 – a far cry from the 8% it committed to achieve by 2012.

Let’s think about this a bit: the U.S. hasn’t ratified or participated in the Kyoto Protocols as Europe did, but the U.S. has achieved double the CO2 reduction in a single year as all of Europe has pledged to accomplish by 2010. Interesting, no? But the bottom line is that American carbon dioxide drops in absolute amounts. And that’s good news, right? Well, apparently not to the sourpuss whiners on the Left:

Critics of the administration, including Democratic lawmakers and environmentalists, said the one-year decline did not prove Bush’s voluntary approach to cutting greenhouse gases is working. They noted that the emissions have been rising worldwide since 1990 and that the rate accelerated to 3 percent a year between 2000 and 2004.

“This is more proof that this President just doesn’t get it when it comes to combating climate change,” Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said in a statement yesterday. “The house is on fire, and he’s trying to douse the flames with a watering can. The science tells us that we need to reduce our emissions by 60-80% by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic damage.”

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! We need drastic government action to distribute hard-hats to all Americans in order to avoid catastrophic damage! Yeah, right. I’ve already mentioned that mankind’s total contribution to all greenhouse gases is comparable to less than one-third of a penny out of a dollar. So Senator Kerry is saying that to avoid catastrophic damage, we need to drop that to one-sixth of a penny. Frankly, I can’t get all worked up about going from concentrations of 0.0028 to 0.0014.

[hat-tip to Ed Morrissey for his article bringing the three links together. -- CM]

Former Vice-President Al Gore says there is no argument that the Earth is suffering global warming. Politicians and scientists who are wringing their hands over anthropogenic global warming are telling us that we need to cut back on the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere. But is it really a big deal?

Monte Hieb has done a nice job of calculating how much humanity has contributed to the greenhouse effect. He totaled up the greenhouse gases produced by humanity’s activities, and then multiplies them by how much they contribute to the greenhouse effect. For example, nitrous oxide (N2O) has a 310 times greater effect on our greenhouse than carbon dioxide (CO2), and Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6) has a whopping 23,900 times greater effect. So taking the concentrations and their effects into consideration, Hieb posted how much humanity has affected the Earth’s greenhouse effect. Hold on to your hats for this horrible news — humanity has contributed 0.28% to the greenhouse effect of the Earth.

Yes, that’s 28% of 1%. Or if you’d like another way of looking at it, here’s 28% of a penny, out of one dollar:

28 percent of a penny

So the next time someone complains about how mankind is driving global warming, you can toss them a penny and explain that, if a dollar represents all global warming, humanity’s contribution amounts to less than one-third of that penny. Then ask them why they are freaking out over such a trivial amount.

I wrote earlier about NASA administrator Michael Griffin and his comment about global warming. Here’s a snippet of what he said that has generated howls of outrage from the church of global warming:

“I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists,” Griffin told Inskeep. “I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with.”

“To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change,” Griffin said. “I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.”

Did Griffin deny global warming? No, not at all. But he made the mistake of suggesting that people don’t need to do anything and everything to “fix” global warming, because fixing it requires us to state that Earth’s climate right now is somehow optimal. Griffin wasn’t prepared for the storm of protests his comments stirred up. He didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

Spanish Inquisition“NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is suprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our four…no… Amongst our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again.”

Here is the news of Griffin’s apology as reported on MSNBC:

NASA administrator Michael Griffin said in the closed-door meeting Monday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena that “unfortunately, this is an issue which has become far more political than technical, and it would have been well for me to have stayed out of it.”

“All I can really do is apologize to all you guys…. I feel badly that I caused this amount of controversy over something like this”, he said.

Griffin made headlines last week when he told a National Public Radio interviewer he wasn’t sure global warming was a problem.

“I have no doubt that … a trend of global warming exists, Griffin said on NPR. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with.”

The radio interview angered some climate scientists, who called his remarks ignorant. [emphasis mine - CM]

No, not ignorant, heretical. That is why Griffin’s comments could not be allowed to stand. Global warming is big money for scientists who can use it to get research grants, and no one can be allowed to use his right of free speech to stem the flow of money.

I can understand why Griffin apologized, but he should have taken a line from Galileo Galilei and answered his critics with a simple phrase:

E pur si muove!

And global warming continues to make the news. First comes a story about a comment made by NASA administrator Michael Griffin in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep. Inskeep asked Griffin whether he was concerned about global warming.

“I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists,” Griffin told Inskeep. “I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with.”

“To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change,” Griffin said. “I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.”

Griffin’s comments immediately drew stunned reaction from James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

“It’s an incredibly arrogant and ignorant statement,” Hansen told ABC News. “It indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change.”

Can you hear Hanson’s cry of “Heretic!” at Griffin? I sure can! And what exactly are the “implications of climate change” that Hanson is frothing over? Humans have experienced hotter overall temperatures than the ones we are currently experiencing, most recently during the Medieval Warm Period of the 10th – 14th centuries. But Hansen’s response is disingenuous — his comment about the implication of climate change has nothing to do with Griffin’s question. Who are we to say that this climate is the best climate and that we should do something to arrest the climate to our arbitrary standard? Hanson continues to deliberately misunderstand Griffin’s query.

Hansen believes Griffin’s comments fly in the face of well-established scientific knowledge that hundreds of NASA scientists have contributed to.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Hansen. “I thought he had been misquoted. It’s so unbelievable.”

It’s not unbelievable. It’s just that Hansen isn’t listening to what Griffin is actually saying. Griffin isn’t denying that there is a warming trend. What he doubts is that we must be all a-twitter over “fixing” our climate. Climate temperatures rise and fall over time, just as the water level of the sea rises and falls over time with the tide. Griffin is saying that it is arrogant for scientists to claim that our current climate is the “right” climate and to try to fix temperatures at this level. Imagine a scientist standing at the seashore, declaring the “right” sea level and trying to stop the changing of the tide. Is it not arrogant to stand on the shore and demand that the tides obey your very whim?

Sadly, it appears that President Bush is climbing on the “we must fix it” bandwagon.

President Bush on Thursday urged 15 major nations to agree on a global emissions goal for greenhouse gases and to reach a consensus by next year.

With the United States accused of dragging its feet on combatting climate change, Bush called for a meeting this fall of 15 countries identified as major emitters of greenhouse gases. This list would include the United States, China, India and major European countries.

But Germany has a better plan, and it only calls for a reduction in emissions (read that as production of goods and services) to 50% of what it was in 1990. It is like making only 50% of the money you earned 17 years ago. Does that sound like a good plan?

Germany, which holds the European Union and Group of Eight presidencies, is proposing a so-called “two-degree” target, whereby global temperatures would be allowed to increase no more than 2 degrees Celsius – the equivalent of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit – before being brought back down. Practically, experts have said that means a global reduction in emissions of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

It was hot yesterday, and there is no air conditioner at my place. But I took care of the matter because I gave strict instructions to my thermometer not to rise more than 3.6 degrees that day before it started to cool off. For some reason, it ignored me. I’m not sure why.

But good luck on that, Germany. Tell us how it works out.

Are you sick of hearing from the global warming whiners and climate change moaners? I know I sure am. I’m sick of reading gloomy sob-stories like the one titled “Time to tax carbon” that appeared in the LA Times on May 28, 2007:

If you have kids, take them to the beach. They should enjoy it while it lasts, because there’s a chance that within their lifetimes California’s beaches will vanish under the waves.

Global warming will redraw the maps of the world. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that sea levels will rise 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century; as the water gets higher, the sandy beaches that make California a tourist magnet will be washed away. Beachfront real estate will end up underwater, cliffs will erode faster, sea walls will buckle and inlets will become bays. The water supply will be threatened as mountain snowfall turns to rain and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta faces contamination with saltwater. Droughts will likely become more common, as will the wildfires they breed.

Global warming is happening and will accelerate regardless of what we do today, but the scenarios of climatologists’ nightmares can still be avoided. Though the cost will be high, it pales in comparison to the cost of doing nothing.

Oh noes! Global warming iz teh suxx0rz! Everybody go see nature right away, because tomorrow it will be gone! It’s time to PANIC!!!!!!”

Well, maybe not.

Yes, there is a chance that California’s beaches will vanish under the waves because of rising sea levels caused by global warming. But there is also a chance that California’s beaches will vanish under the waves because of a huge tsunami caused by a massive meteor strike in the Pacific. I can come up with all sorts of horror stories, but what is the actual chance of global warming causing the sea level to rise sufficient to remove California’s beaches? The news article doesn’t say. But we must get crackin’ at doing something, the article says, because any cost we might have to pay now is better than the cost of doing nothing. Thus saith the LA Times.

The more I hear people moan about global warming, the more it sounds like the Red Queen in the last chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first–verdict afterwards.’

‘Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first!’

We don’t need no stinkin’ verdict that humans are causing global warming, we need a sentence first. It’s so important that we need to start now, Now, NOW to fix the climate. We can’t wait until we really know the cause. News articles like the one from the LA Times are “sentence first, verdict afterwards” articles. And they are “stuff and nonsense,” to quote Alice.

Have we actually proved that the earth is warming? There are people debating the methodology of getting a global-wide temperature of the Earth (“Open wide, Earth, and say, ‘Ah.’ Now keep this thermometer under your tongue for three minutes.”), while others claim to know the average temperature of the Earth down to .0001 of a degree, as displayed on this USA Today graphic. Pray tell, how does “scientific analysis” derive the information that the average temperature from 200-210 was 56.7302 degrees, and from 210-220 it was 56.7896? And what was the “scientific analysis” used to detect the difference of 0.0594 of a degree and not, say, 0.0595? And why does the USA Today graphic show no peaks for the Medieval Warm Period of the 10th – 14th centuries, or troughs for the Little Ice Age between the 16th and 19th centuries? Puzzling, isn’t it? The omission of these two time periods in the graphic is as startling as a hypothetical discussion of Louisiana events of 2005 which fails to mention Hurricane Katrina.

But if we say that global temperatures are actually rising, have we answered the question of whether the rise is caused by man’s actions? Well, no. I have often asked people to name the primary cause of global warming, but so far no one I’ve asked has ever answered correctly. [Answer here] If global warming is the result of human action as is so often stated, why are Mars and Neptune simultaneously warming up? But back to the LA Times article — what is their solution?

A well-designed, well-monitored carbon-trading scheme could deeply reduce greenhouse gases with less economic damage than pure regulation. But it’s not the best way, and it is so complex that it would probably take many years to iron out all the wrinkles. Voters might well embrace carbon taxes if political leaders were more honest about the comparative costs.

The world is under a deadline. Some scientists believe that once atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have doubled from the pre-industrial level, which may happen by mid-century if no action is taken, the damage may be irreversible.

Irreversible? Really? How is it that the Earth has had periods of much higher carbon dioxide levels than there are now, without irreversible damage?

What would be the real result of the LA Times‘ beloved carbon tax? Well, the simple answer is that you get less of what you tax, which is the real goal of the carbon tax. But what produces carbon in the first place? The answer is “just about everything,” including human production of goods and services. So a carbon tax will effectively limit all human production of goods and services. Are you ready to live in a world with fewer goods and services? If you approve of a carbon tax and the resultant drop in production, prepare to give up your car and never to fly in a commercial aircraft again.

I am really sick of hearing naysayers whine and moan about climate change. They remind me of others who have mastered the skill of complaining:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me!
(*woe*)
Deep dark depression, excessive misery.
(*woe*)
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.
(*woe*)
Gloom, despair, and agony on me!

A pig and a chicken were walking down the street when they noticed a billboard advertisement for a bacon and egg breakfast special. The chicken turned to the pig and exclaimed, “Isn’t it great? Think of all the people made happy by what we do!” The pig responded, “I don’t see why you feel so special. For you, it’s just a contribution, but for me it’s a total commitment.”

Are we totally committed, or are we merely contributing?

Let me give an example. In 1863, as the Civil War dragged on, the North needed men and money for the fight. The North levied a draft, but with a significant loophole — any draftee could get out of service by paying the government a fee of $300. Now it cannot be denied that a draftee buying his way out of service with $300 had contributed significantly to the war effort, but could he be said to be completely committed? Of course not. How could anyone be totally committed when all he had done was throw some money at his problem to make it go away? The soldiers who stood shoulder-to-shoulder in firing lines were completely committed, and almost 600,000 paid with their lives.

The difference between making a contribution and being totally committed was not lost on the people of the day. A well-dressed gentleman might be greeted with a sardonic call of “There goes a $300 man!” While both soldiers and wealthy “$300 men” contributed to the war effort, the total commitment of the soldiers trumped the monetary contribution of the wealthy.

Here’s a more recent example. The other day I drove behind someone with a TerraPass bumper sticker. The driver was still putting CO2 into the atmosphere, but he had purchased an indulgence from TerraPass so he didn’t have to change his lifestyle and become totally committed to reducing pollution. After a quick look at the TerraPass site, I realized that I could buy forgiveness for my car’s CO2 emissions with a simple yearly payment of $39.95. And it’s so much easier to pay to have someone else take care of my CO2 emissions than it is to be wholly committed to a vastly smaller CO2 footprint. That’s the difference between contribution and commitment.

I have seen the distinction between contribution and being completely and totally committed in another way. Former Vice President Al Gore has spent countless hours bringing global warming to the people’s attention through his movie An Inconvenient Truth, his books, and his speeches. But based on his actions, is Gore merely contributing to a solution, or is he completely committed to that solution?

The answer has to be obvious. While Gore is contributing his time, his energy, and his money, he is far from being totally committed to fixing global warming. Gore talks about the effects of CO2 on global warming, but his actions and lifestyle produces vast quantities of CO2. He has flown many thousands of miles on private and public jets to promote his cause, and his personal mansion consumes more energy in one month than the average American household consumes in a year. If he were totally committed he would change his lifestyle in a significant way, but he has not. Instead, he excuses his large, deep CO2 footprint through his contribution of money to fight the problem in his name.

If you ask me, Al Gore and TerraPass users are the 21st century’s version of the $300 man.