Al Gore, Nobel Prize Winner

I just get a giggle saying that. Not just because Al Gore actually won the Nobel Peace Prize, but because for the next several days, the sheer amount of spittle that will issue forth from the right side of the aisle about the matter will be enough to liberally moisten any number of drought-stressed regions on our globe. I suggest we airlift the lot of them to Eritrea, where all their spittle will do some good. No rush in bringing them back.

107 thoughts on “Al Gore, Nobel Prize Winner

  1. I think you misjudge the conservatives. Gore’s “win” merely reinforces prior opinion that the Nobel Peace Prize is a left wing award ceremony.

  2. Politics aside, what does global warming education have to do with peace? That’s the part that has me scratching my (rapidly melting) head.

  3. Poor Dubya. This will be a blow to his fragile ego, methinks. But, yeah. I am looking forward to witnessing the slobber-fest of right-wing pundits as they declare war on Norway (or, with their wits and accuracy, they’ll probably just bomb the hell out of Greenland).

  4. If the climate goes kablooey, you can expect mass migrations when coastal areas are flooded out, crop failures, etc. All of this tends to make people cranky and belligerent, thus justifying a Peace Prize for anyone attempting to avoid all that potential unpleasantness.

  5. Have you seen the little clip of Lessing being informed she’d won the Nobel? <a href=”http://jezebel.com/gossip/clips/its-official-doris-lessing-really-is-our-fave-bitch-of-the-day-309980.php”?Priceless (and brief) .

  6. Well, the key thing is that Al wasn’t using PowerPoint on his Mac laptop. You also have to pay for the rental of the hydraulic scissors lift — there’s a lot of nickel and diming you have to do before they just hand you a Nobel Prize… Fortunately, it should all be tax deductible.

    Dr. Phil

  7. Well, I for one think he’s even more deserving than Rigoberta Menchu! Though perhaps not *quite* up there with Yasser Arafat.

    Which is to say, yes, we on the right do tend to regard the NPP as a basically left-wing award. I mean, by what logic does Jimmy Carter win it before Ronald Reagan? Who did more for peace?

  8. Thanks for the link, Karen. Lessing: “I’m sure you’d like some uplifting remarks right now.” Awesome.

  9. If Al were to win, I expect the Nobel committee will have to mail it to him. I expect he’ll be on the ‘No Fly’ list in short order, not that the current administration is a bunch of vindictive assholes or anything. Just saying.

  10. Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Arco series was influential for me: most especially the first book Shikasta Re: Colonized Planet 5.

    But I also very much enjoyed the Summer Before the Dark and Briefing for a Descent into Hell.

    The books for which she became an icon of the “feminist movement” though, not so much.

  11. You know Bush won’t rest until he wins a Nobel. When his term is out he will travel the world urging foreign leaders to attack their neighbors, thereby insuring peace.

    Or maybe he’ll just cash in on the lecture circuit.

  12. Bush winning the Nobel?!?

    I think I just peed a little from laughing so hard. The only way Bush could win a Nobel Peace Prize is if he put a loaded gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

  13. Or maybe he’ll just cash in on the lecture circuit.

    It’s what his dad did. It’s what Ronald Reagan did.

    Republicans see politics as an opportunity to raid public funds for themselves, their cronies and sponsors. Since they don’t serve the public interest while they’re in office, why would they when they leave?

  14. I suspect global warming is to Al Gore as terrorism is to Pres. Bush. Both real threats, to be sure, and I’m sure both Bush and Gore are utterly sincere, but in the end both terrorism and global warming become bogeymen and excuses to grab money and power for the Greater Good.

    I suspect over the next nine years we’ll see anti-global warming efforts roughly equivalent to (and as effective as) the TSA, the Patriot Act, and warrantless wiretapping.

  15. “I mean, by what logic does Jimmy Carter win it before Ronald Reagan? Who did more for peace?”

    From my European point of view, Carter, hands down; both during and after his presidency (especially after).

    As for Gore getting the award, remember that he shares it with IPCC; good for them both! Despite the hardcore Bushists and the various contrarians for the sake of contrariness, the rest of the world has pretty much accepted that yeah, the climate is changing, that it’s a problem, and that we’ve to blame for a lot of it; I hope this will give more urgency to the efforts to fight the change.

  16. Maybe Bush should ask the Nobel people to consider a Nobel War award. On second thought he’s not very good at that either.

    But seriously, anyone who thinks wars have nothing to do with resources like drinkable water and fertile land, just isn’t paying much attention. So peace prize? Yes, I think there’s some sense in that. And to Jonathan Moeller, I think you confuse the politics of global warming with the science. There really is just no credible science out there that even begins to refute the problem, and more that supports it every day. It’s only in the minds of politicians, and the wealthy industrialists that own them that it isn’t serious issue. I believe that our generation will be judged by how we rise, or fail to rise to this singular issue. And we’re not off to a very good start.
    Steve

  17. First and foremost, as not to be compared with the likes of Anne Coulter, I think we should all be tree-hugging, fuel efficient, kumbaya singing, humans.

    However, this win — is insane.

    I agree with Kevin. What does making a film and organizing a concert on global warming have anything to do with peace? As John alluded to in his introduction, if anything his film has inspired more carbon emissions from both sides of the scientific and political community. Inciting literary warfare by the left and right sides of everything seems to be a rather large contradiction to what the award stands for.

    Mother Teresa…sure.

    Al Gore..no.

  18. Just think how lucky we are to happen to live at the very best most optimal climate ever (ever!) – what are the odds? I for one will rue any change, as it will be disasterous and totally unprecidented (ever!)
    ON the bright side though, at least I will have gotten to see the sky fall.
    C. Little

  19. …If Al were to win, I expect the Nobel committee will have to mail it to him. I expect he’ll be on the ‘No Fly’ list in short order…

    But think of all the emissions he’d be making because you know Al never flies in anything but a private jet.

    Not worth my spit, either.

  20. It cracks me up that this is talking about Gore, but the Bush haters just have to bring him up. Bringing Bush into this just shows their obsession with W. They are more obsessed than people that like him.

    Remember Clinton made more on the lecture circuit than any other president.

    I guess reaching across the political divide to be polite to another human being is just too much to ask, nowadays.

  21. Stephen :

    Gore’s “win” merely reinforces prior opinion that the Nobel Peace Prize is a left wing award ceremony.

    It wasn’t a “win”. It was a win. He won the award. For reals.

  22. Yeah, that Nobel Committee has always been pretty left-wing. This whole thing reminds me of when that hippie-dippie, tree-hugging peacenik Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. They might as well called the “Nobel Commie Award,” right?

    Please.

    I don’t know if Gore would have been my first choice; then again, he probably deserves it more than Kissinger deserved his. As others have already noted, climate change is going to cause peace problems. People will go to war for water and riot over immigrants taking their jobs or displacing traditional demographics. (What, you don’t think people are going to stay in a desert once their farmland turns to dust bowl, do you? They’ll relocate. And some countries will deal with those demographic issues peacefully and legally while others deal with the changing demographics with genocide.)

    Oh, as for Reagan: not everyone in the United States had sipped from the Republican Kool-Aid. Some of us remember him as a dangerous, possibly unhinged militant whose support of the missile defense chimera and “evil empire” rhetoric kept the hands of the Doomsday Clock perched on the stroke of midnight for too many white-knuckled years. Some of us aren’t sure if his memory lapses concerning Iran-Contra were lies or terrifyingly honest, or which would have been worse.

    Lest you think this is a Democrat’s knee-jerk reaction–and you couldn’t pay me to register as a Democrat, I may love Carter’s Habitat For Humanity work but I can’t possibly forgive him for supporting the Khmer Rouge (a policy Reagan continued, and that I could have listed in the previous paragraph). Carter’s done some notable things since he left office, but his sins aren’t exactly forgotten or entirely forgiven, either.

    But if it makes any of you right-wingers feel better, think of Gore’s Nobel as being like Jethro Tull’s heavy metal Grammy: a silly, political and irrelevant award bestowed by the clueless.

    Sorry about the rant, John. I got my dander up.

  23. What does global warming — and in particular, Al Gore’s efforts to bring awareness to it — have to do with peace? In a word, *everything*.

    Much of the conflict that has happened on this planet has been about access to the planet’s resources… iron, coal, lead, diamonds, oil, water… especially water. And much of the strife that leads to such conflict is magnified by other stress factors… like disease, drought, famine.

    So, the planet warms, glaciers melt, and polar bears drown. Big deal, right? Well, yeah.

    Hundreds of millions of people rely on aquifers fed by the slow, seasonal runoff provided by glacial ice, and when those melt catastrophically — unlikely to return in our lifetimes — those hundreds of millions of people will migrate to where there *is* water, or die.

    Hundreds of millions more who live near the oceans edge will *also* need to migrate as sea levels rise.

    Untold hectares of land that have produced crops for millennia will be produce vast dust storms and little else in the face of drought.

    Untold hectares of forest will be in flames as lack of water makes them so many upright match sticks.

    And untold millions will be infected by malaria, dengue and other insect-borne diseases as the critters migrate out of the tropics and into more temperate zones.

    So… in addition to mass, cross-border migration of water refugees, the people of our planet will be stressed by flood, famine, fire, disease and drought. How long do you expect peace to last?

    As to Al’s role… he’s got about 30 years of social and political activism to his credit, in his effort to raise awareness to the dangers of climate change. If you’re only aware of his film and his book and his concert, then it’s pretty clear that it’s only recently that the matter was brought to *your* attention. And probably through the sustained efforts of our latest peace prize winner.

  24. Indeed, it’s also lucky (thank Loki!) the we have Mr Gore and his friends around to take control and save us from ourselves. Too bad he couldn’t have saved us from all those other disasters, like the commie threat, the depletion of all the copper and tin we suffered through back in the 70’s, the massive starvation in India from overpopulation, the horrible Ice Age (We were warned in the book, “The Cooling, but did we listen? Nooo….), and the horrible Y2K bug.
    Too bad about all the people that died from all those other disasters we were warned about but just decided to ignore

  25. Too bad John couldn’t get in on that. He has more believeable characters!

    De apok-o-lisps is comin! Ta smite us 4 r sinz! 4-give me, I haz consumed!

  26. An Eric
    “I may love Carter’s Habitat For Humanity work but I can’t possibly forgive him for supporting the Khmer Rouge (a policy Reagan continued, and that I could have listed in the previous paragraph).”

    Might you elaborate please? The Khmer Rouge was expelled by the Vietnamese in ’79, two years before Reagan became president. And if I’m not mistaken, the insurgents his administration supported were of the royalist and republican stripe, that is, decidedly non-Khmer Rouge.

  27. It’s interesting… Al Gore’s message gets obscured by the right-wing’s disdain for the man. Hillary Clinton’s platform gets obscured by the right wing’s contempt for the woman. Bush’s ideals get muddled by the left wing’s hatred for the man.

    We’re such a judgmental, generalizing, demonizing nation, and it’s really poor logic. “All Republicans do X.” “All Democrats feel Y.”

    The situation is ever so much more complex than that. Some Republicans are moderate or even liberal on the social issues of the day, and some Democrats are conservative and hard line on the same social issues. Some religious leaders are fundamental and conservative, and some are progressive and social-action focused.

    Why do we have such a need to pigeonhole? I think Gore, like Carter, has done some of his most impressive, influential, far reaching work since leaving political office. I think Gore is also a man flawed by his blind spots, for example assuming that carbon offsets are a fair trade for an extravagant personal lifestyle.

    Our leaders, like all humans, are complex people, with strengths and weaknesses. Black, white, left, right, good, or bad doesn’t even begin to describe it. It annoys me when we start thinking that such one-note adjectives are sufficient.

  28. Don’t get me wrong, I love President Gore, and have ever since his wife saved me from Twisted Sister!

  29. ” Bush’s ideals get muddled by the left wing’s hatred for the man.”

    Ideals? What ideals? Torture? Kidnapping and indefinite detention? Endless secrecy? Denying minorities the vote? Fraud? Corruption?

  30. Amitava:

    The Vietnamese expulsion of the Khmer Rouge was widely regarded throughout much of the world as the much-lesser evil; so much so it was even described as “humanitarian” in some quarters(yes, that’s ironic and a touch frightening).

    The U.S., first under the Carter administration and then under Reagan, refused to recognize the Vietnam-installed Kampuchean regime. Because of American influence, the Khmer Rouge continued to represent Kampuchea in the United Nations.

    The Kampuchean royal family was compromised at that point, unfortunately. Prince Sihanouk’s balancing act (keeping Cambodia technically neutral through most of the 60s) ended when he was overthrown in a coup while he was out of the country. While it might be obvious to ally yourself with the enemy of your enemy, in this instance Lon Nol’s government was being opposed by the Khmer Rouge, and it’s to Sihanouk’s discredit that he allied himself with what eventually became a genocidal regime after they took over. Sianhouk was quickly marginalized and eventually denounced the Khmer Rouge. The bottom line would be that supporting “the royalists” during the late ’70s was at best a meaningless gesture and at worst proxy support of the regime responsible for Tuol Sleng and the “Killing Fields.”

    Had our country been willing to get over our collective humiliation by the Vietnamese, and found a way to work with the Vietnamese government and the puppet regime in Kampuchea, Pol Pot and others might have been tried for war crimes in the 1980s. Instead, most of the killers have escaped justice (e.g. Pol Pot died awaiting trial) and the whole era remains a national embarrassment to the extent it hasn’t been collectively forgotten in our country.

    I do recognize that the political realities of the era were such that American support (tacit or open) of Vietnam was probably beyond even the wildest imagination of the time. I understand it, and I don’t consider that much of a defense or justification.

  31. Indeed, on other web forums I read the right wing sheeple are bleating the same message. That the Nobel Peace Prize is irrelevant and has been for years.

  32. From The New York Times, Published: September 29, 1988, ELAINE SCIOLINO wrote

    In an effort to curb the influence of the Communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas, the Reagan Administration intends to triple its aid to the non-Communist Cambodian opposition, senior State Department officials said yesterday.

    In an effort to curb the influence of the Communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas, the Reagan Administration intends to triple its aid to the non-Communist Cambodian opposition, senior State Department officials said yesterday….

    President Reagan hopes to be able to announce the increase when he meets in Washington on Oct. 11 with Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the former Cambodian head of state who controls one of the two non-Communist factions, the officials said. The United States will also urge other countries that support the non-Communist factions to provide more money.

  33. Just another step on the political debasement of everything. Someone who deserved an Oscar for their documentary didn’t get it so Hollywood could make a political statement. Someone who deserved to be recognized for their work in promoting world peace was shunted aside so the Nobel committee could make a political statement.

  34. Frank, thank you, and you have a point, but also note the date of the article. The change in policy you point to occurred almost a decade after the events I was writing about.

    I suppose I can give Reagan a few cents credit for it, but he’s still in the red as far as I’m concerned: I spent too much of my youth thinking he was accidentally going to get me killed by the Soviets. (Among other things I hated Reagan for that would probably make it sound like I was just piling it on. What’s the point? He’s dead, I’m tired, and his name is already on every other airport in the United States. Just add him to Mount Rushmore and put him on the dime, already. I wrote that I haven’t forgotten, but perhaps should have asked, what’s the point of remembering?)

  35. An Eric:

    “Because of American influence, the Khmer Rouge continued to represent Kampuchea in the United Nations.”
    I was unaware that it was specifically through our influence that the Khmer Rouge was allowed to retain its seat at the UN. Is there evidence for this?

    “The bottom line would be that supporting “the royalists” during the late ’70s was at best a meaningless gesture and at worst proxy support of the regime responsible for Tuol Sleng and the “Killing Fields.””
    I can see that; but we’re talking about Reagan during the ’80’s, after the KR was deposed.

    “Had our country been willing to get over our collective humiliation by the Vietnamese, and found a way to work with the Vietnamese government and the puppet regime in Kampuchea, Pol Pot and others might have been tried for war crimes in the 1980s.”
    I think our priority at that point was to support/instill a govt. in Cambodia that would be non-Communist and amenable to our interests (something in which we were arguably succesful) rather than see the perpetrators of the Cambodian genocide brought to justice. As Frank posts above, my understanding is that our support was given to insurgents who were avowedly anti-Communist, which would not include the KR. Of course, insurgents across the spectrum would have been united in opposing the Heng regime, a stance which we (the US) happened to share. So my perception is that while we didn’t really oppose the KR, we didn’t support them either.

    “(e.g. Pol Pot died awaiting trial)”
    Heh, I remember when that happened (I even remember the date), they showed him being burned on a funeral pyre of junk!
    I’m just curious, how is it that you have such knowledge of Cambodia’s post-colonial history? I only read into such affairs after I saw “The Killing Fields” (one of my favourite movies).

  36. Actually, this is all a neo-con-spiracy to sap the Clinton candidacy. I’m changing my registration to Dem and sending money to DraftAlGore.com. The Rove-Ray is still working, baby! I can’t wait for the debates. The two most wooden politicians in the world attempting to out-emote each other. If I’m spraying spittle, it’s just ’cause I can’t stop gut-laughing.

    Also, please remind me what policies have been installed as a result of Mr. Gore’s efforts? How many lives has An Inconvenient Truth saved? (I guess being a non-negative number [zero] it would be greater than Jimmy’n’Yassir, but less than Mother Teresa.)

    Congratulations to Mr. Gore AND the UN panel! UCNMTSU*!

    *you can not make this shit up

  37. Just playing devil’s advocate here, Decadmus (and please see previous statement about me hearting trees).

    How do you know, that beyond a shadow of a doubt, these things will eventually happen? I pose that question to anyone. So far, most of the stuff we’ve seen on actual proven theory, are strengthening hurricanes and ‘what-if’ computer models.

    I am all about planting trees as much as the next guy, but I’m not freaking out about coastal erosion or worrying about war as resources dry up. Truth is, we’ll always have war. We had war before oil was ever used as a fuel. Humans are a territorial animal and will always find a reason to fight. I’m sure the Nobel peace prizes could have gone to someone more deserving for their efforts working in Darfur, or trying to broker peace in the Middle East and actually getting results.

    The fact is, weather patterns and geological surveys have only been recently studied in the past 60-70 years. If you subscribe to evolution, Mama Terra has been around oh, 65 million years.

    Did you know that the eruption of Krakatoa (a completely natural disaster) did more to injure this earth than the combination of every single carbon ‘footprint’ made by man? Should we start taxing those nasty magma spitting holes in the ground?

    As an offshoot — There is an interesting theory that with volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters, that the only thing that isn’t thrusting this planet into another ice-age is our *industrialization*.

    Regardless, as far as I’m concerned, yes, we should recycle. Yes we should plant more trees. Yes, we should look into alternate fuels.

    But it’s going to be a cold day in Mexico before I start digging a hole underground in the middle of the country because the east coast just got wiped out by a flood. If it happens, well, I think the only lesson that surviving humans will learn is that is that as habitable our planet has been to our small evolutionary blip of a race, it is also evolving and ever-changing.

    Frankly, I’m more concerned with the sun just packing up and going home, than I am about snow in July. Show me hard scientific evidence that the sun isn’t responsible for all these changes and is ultimately going through its own death spasm.

    I’m more concerned with being wiped out ala the Dinosaurs by a massive planet killer asteroid.

    On the one hand, there is scientific evidence that the latter could most definitely happen (as it did so long ago), and there is no scientific evidence proving that our sun will just ‘burn out’ one day in the near future. We know it happens as we turn our telescopes to the heavens, but do we know the catalyst? Do we know the reasons or time frames?

    No.

    If humans have any chance of survival in the millions of years to come, we need our resources and energy to be put into space travel regardless.

    We need to stop inciting needless fear, and start being productive on a much larger scale than we have.

    My ideal : Establishing new habitable worlds that we can ‘screw up.’

    The only good thing that this ‘the Earth is dying’ scare has shown me is that humans are finally starting to take responsibility for their actions in some form. If only they can focus on the *right* things.

  38. I doubt you’ll be seeing much spittle from the “right”, John, I don’t think any of “us” (I suppose I’m right-ish) really care.

    Though the comment about sending everyone you disagree with to Eritrea and not letting us come back doesn’t seem very nice. Will you at least send us copies of Zoe’s Tale?

  39. To Kate Baker:

    The short answer is, I *don’t* know that all sorts of calamity — flood, famine, fire, disease, massive involuntary migration — will occur due to climate change. From where I sit, the evidence suggests these outcomes. In fact, the evidence suggests that climate change is progressing much more quickly than even the most pessimistic projections would figure. More on that in a bit.

    On the other hand, this isn’t a jury trial. Knowing “beyond the shadow of a doubt” is, I think, an unreasonable standard to apply. If evidence suggests that we’re facing a catastrophic change to our climate, I believe it’s prudent and wise to make every effort to mitigate those changes. Today. Now. While there is perhaps still time to have some impact.

    Let’s address your arguments:

    You are correct that a vigorous study of climate and meteorology has occurred only since the 1930s or so. Even then, both meteorologists and ‘amateur’ weather watchers were able to determine that — on average — “normal” temperatures had been on the rise since the 1880s. More, studies of Arctic and Antarctic ice cores from the 1960s to present provide evidence of temperature variations and relative amounts of C02, methane and other trace greenhouse gases reaching back some 740,000 years. Ice cores from the South American Andes and the Asian Himalayas provide additional evidence, reaching back some 5000 years. Testing of these cores — primarily the Antarctic cores — show that present-day C02 levels are higher than they have been in 440,000 years.

    Additionally there is historical, photographical evidence of the retreat of “permanent” glaciers in the Andes, and the Himalayas. Snow and ice have retreated, or disappeared altogether from the Bavarian Alps to Mount Kilimanjaro. The rate of glacier loss on the Greenland ice sheet has tripled in the last year, alone, after having doubled in the five years prior. And the polar ice cap has retreated to unprecedented levels, making the mythical Northwest passage a reality.

    As to Krakatoa… while perhaps you threw this in as a red herring, it’s interesting to note that, as the vast weight of glacial ice is removed from some of the more active tectonic plates, the likelihood of future cataclysmic volcanic eruption increases. Maybe momma earth has her own ways of dealing with climate change after all. But are we willing to watch and wait?

    I’m somewhere between amused and amazed that you appear more worried about the Sun flaring out in a spectacular death spasm than you are interested in dealing with the very real, measurable and actionable circumstances on planet Earth. Were I the cynical sort, I might suppose it’s easier to arm-wave about things entirely out of our control than to take steps to manage those that are.

  40. “Mama Terra has been around oh, 65 million years.”

    Hate to be “that” guy, but if I’m not mistaken, the earth has actually been around for closer to ~4 billion years…(give or take a few hundred million)

    Carry on now! =)

  41. Regarding “An Inconvenient Truth” A British Court recently ruled

    Showing schoolchildren Al Gore’s award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth is a political act, a High Court British judge has said, ruling on a challenge by a parent to remove the film from secondary schools. Although it does not ban the film, the decision requires that the film be shown with guidance notes to comply with laws prohibiting “partisan” material in the school curriculum.

    In his 17-page ruling, published Wednesday, Justice Michael Burton wrote: “It is now common ground that it is not simply a science film although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion but that it is a political film.”

    …While accepting the broad arguments of the film, the judge pointed out nine scientific errors and omissions that he believes Gore raised in the context of alarmism and exaggeration. For instance, Gore refers to a study indicating that polar bears have, in recent years, started drowning as they swim up to 60 miles (97km) in search of ice. According to Justice Burton, “The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm.” He also dismissed what he called the film’s “Armageddon scenario” in which the world’s melting ice caps could cause sea levels to rise by up to 20 feet (6m) in the near future. Such a rise could take place, he said, but “only after, and over, millennia.”

    There was also not sufficient evidence to back the film’s claims that global warming caused Hurricane Katrina, the melting of snows on Mount Kilimanjaro or the evaporation of most of Lake Chad, he said.

  42. Josh – Yeah, the 65 million years was the dinosaur threshold. I only saw that after I wrote it in the heat of the moment and couldn’t edit.

    As far as decadmus (as aside, thanks for the sincere and intelligent discourse)– “From where I sit, the evidence suggests these outcomes. ”

    What evidence? Evidence of what? Like I said, the only ‘evidence’ we’ve really got are computer models that seem to give alternate means of destruction depending on who did the programming.

    All the studies that scientists have done in the Arctic dating back to 740,000 years, is still a minuet blip in the evolutionary scale and age of this Earth. How do you know the same thing didn’t happen with the Earth was born out of the big bang (or to whatever theory/religion you describe) or shortly there after between those scientific thresholds you mention in your retort.

    Although you may find my stance on the death of the sun and a killer asteroid laughable, I was simply illustrating a point that the same research in which we’ve used to show the ‘disastrous’ effects of global warming, is the same science we’re using to guess the gas giant’s life span, or the probability of a planet killer.

    We don’t know and that was exactly my point.

    Like I said, I plan to recycle my cans, bottles and newspaper. I will continue to buy vehicles that have reduced carbon emissions and alternate fuels. I will clean up my trash when I go camping. Personally, I feel that’s *my* responsibility as a human to take care of my surroundings.

    However, to promote our imminent deaths due to garbage, on top of the terror alerts, coupled with every news broadcast that warns us that the fad of the day is ultimately bad for our health…etc, is just adding the culture of fear that in my opinion is highly unnecessary.

    No wonder the depression and anxiety drug market has seen triple revenue since 9/11. :(

    Getting back to the point — go and save the world one carbon footprint at a time. I have no problem with that, but to celebrate a man who made a movie based on what one of my friends considers ‘Junk Science’ (although I hate that term) after riding around in a private jet, lived in a house that took more energy to run than five of my abodes combined; and give him an award for promoting peace when all he’s seem to do is give us more things to needlessly worry about considering *all* of the evidence, is a complete and utter nonsense. It completely detracts from what that award was meant to do.

    Promote peace, my arse. :)

  43. Kate,

    Its so nice to read what you have written!!!

    People should really spend a bit more time reading whats out there about this subject, Global warming, and take a deep breath and then look at who stands to make the most money if we believe people like Al.

    I remember when mt st Helens blew its top,I remember the longer then normal winters and heavier then normal show fall foe a coouple years after that.

    I also remember the same folks warning us about the coming ice age like it was a fore gone conclusion back in the 70’s

    At least it makes for interesting conversation!!!

  44. Omg, is minut not a derivative of minutia? Instead my spell checker put in minuet. (Sorry for the ballroom dancing, folks)

    Regardless, replace that word with something that means, ‘very small.’ :)

    I need an edit button!

  45. Nice political jousting match, but who gives a shit?

    I think that the Wachowski brothers summed it up rather nicely:

    “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. ”

    Feel free to disagree, but you better have a good argument.

  46. I’ll make one last (futile?) attempt to make my point, which is — the Climate Crisis isn’t an “End of the World” scenario, but one that describes “The End of the World as We Know It.” This is a subtle but important difference.

    In the four billion years that this planet has been circuiting its rather ordinary sun there have been any number of events more cataclysmic than any of the issues worrying climate scientists. There may have been any number of collisions with planetary bodies, supervolcanic eruptions, mega tsunamis, and climatological catastrophes of all sorts.

    Between 500 and 700 million years ago the planet was in the grip of an ice age that — by some scientists’ accounts — suggest the Earth was a ball of snow and ice. And about 55 million years ago the planet was at its warmest, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. That warming event lasted some 200,000 years, and resulted in mass extinctions.

    Most all of these quite interesting bits of fact are, nonetheless, irrelevant to the argument at hand. ;)

    Our earliest hominid records date back some 3.6 million years, our earliest record of Homo Sapiens roughly 200,000.

    In the last 200,000 years we’ve seen some lesser peaks of temperature variation, and the thermometer has swung both ways, notably 125,000 years ago when temperatures were about 2°C degrees warmer than today (and the oceans were 5 to 8 meters higher than today, as well, which is rise enough to inundate most of today’s coastal cities.)

    The oldest continuously occupied cities — most all of them in today’s Middle East — have been inhabited for no more than 7,500 years. I think it’s reasonable to use that period — the last 7,500 years — as a reference for a climatological standard (i.e. the world as we know it.) Except for Holocene Climate Optimum — a warm period between 9,000 to 5,000 years ago — there has been little climatological change between the founding of those cities and today. No change, that is, until the industrialization that began some 200 years ago.

    With all this in mind, I’m comfortable in asserting that, since the dawn of civilization, our planet has not seen the scale of climatological change that scientists are currently projecting. And recent evidence suggests that even those projections are not pessimistic as they should be. If data from arctic core samples doesn’t move you, if melting glaciers and ice-caps don’t get your attention, and if shifting ocean currents and the increasing intensity of typhoons and hurricanes don’t worry you, then maybe you’re not paying attention.

    Wall Street is. The insurance industry, in particular, is scared shitless. Weather-related “catastrophic losses” increased from some $1 billion a year in the ’70s to an average of $17 billion a year over the past decade (and $71 billion in the wake of hurricane Katrina.) Were a Category 5 hurricane to hit a major city on the Eastern Seaboard it would likely exceed the entire capacity of the collective US insurers. Perhaps that’s why they’re dropping coverage, or tripling premiums, and refusing to offer new coverage for hundreds of thousands of homes from Florida to Maine.

    Because of the potential for massive, involuntary migration, hundreds of millions of refugees, drought, famine and disease — and don’t forget trillions of dollars of monetary losses to Wall Street — the Climate Crisis has the potential to eclipse the dangers of the Cold War, the War on Terror, World Wars I and II combined. Every effort to change that outcome should be rightly viewed as a bid for peace.

    In my view, Al Gore’s Nobel Prize is justifiably earned.

  47. deCadmus:

    RE: The Insurance companies. Actually, they are far more afraid of the Trial Lawyers/Congress than any actuarial data as to losses. Coming from Florida, I can’t say that I blame them. Though my true position is closer to a pox on all their houses.

    Also, as to the Trillions of dollars scenario, it should be noted that the British study earlier this year found that it would cost approximately $11T to mitigate the effect of AGW over the next 50 years. The same commission found the global cost of AGW at current trends to be about $10T over the same period. Yes, you read that right. The cost of “fixing” the “problem” is more than the projected cost of the problem.

    Second, it should be noted that as we cannot reliably predict the path of hurricanes over a ten day span within an error rate of their zone of impact (about 150 miles, or +/- 75 miles) with current modeling technology, one might reasonably be skeptical of computer models that cannot accurately model past climate data to reliably predict the future. If drug makers went to the FDA with correlation numbers like climate modelers, they’d be laughed out of the room just before being sued out of business. But don’t take my word for it. Read the actual studies. ESPECIALLY, the statistical correlation values.

    Finally, your civilizational survey certainly omits the Medieval warm period, as well as the Little Ice Ages surrounding said warm period. The Dark Ages were far colder than the Renaissance, which was far warmer than the 18th Century.

    Honestly. I don’t give a damn about whether we get by on fossil fuels, nuclear energy, solar, geothermal, or fairy dust. But please don’t ask an engineer and programmer such as myself to believe that (a) studies with r values in the .5 range are statistically valid, and (b) computer models that are not capable of being run backwards to replicate observed data are at all predictive going forwards.

    The science is inconclusive at best. Far too inconclusive to punish developing nations with continued pestilence and poverty.

  48. Brett L wrote:

    “But please don’t ask an engineer and programmer such as myself to believe that (a) studies with r values in the .5 range are statistically valid, and (b) computer models that are not capable of being run backwards to replicate observed data are at all predictive going forwards.”

    Weather is a stochastic process and I would guess therefore that climate models are necessarily stochastic models. Unless something really fundamental is discovered we probably won’t ever be able to model discrete climate events (like a hurricane) in a deterministic manner. To demand such determinism is to miss the point that a stochastic model can still reveal useful information about trends and probable outcomes.

    Stochastic models (often called Monte Carlo simulations) are often quite useful in portfolio management: you don’t know where the market is going to go, but you can model the effects of different market environments on your portfolio and then sample the possible outcomes. Often, statistically significant patterns emerge that are useful for managing market risk.

    A correlation of .5 is actually quite strong in a complex multi-factor model like this. So what are you saying here? What would be a reasonable correlation to you? I mean, .8 or .9 would seem absurd to me, implying that global warming is almost perfectly correlated with CO2 emissions. That would be entirely inconsistent with observation and I don’t recall hearing about any scientist making such a claim.

    As I understand it, the claim is simply that there is a correlation between emissions and global warming, and the correlation is enough to matter at current emission levels. The correlation wouldn’t even necessarily have to be as high as .5 for that to be true.

  49. Brett L said, “Second, it should be noted that as we cannot reliably predict the path of hurricanes … with current modeling technology, one might reasonably be skeptical of computer models that cannot accurately model past climate data to reliably predict the future.”

    That could be because different models are used to perform different tasks. You’re comparing models based on the question of, “will it rain on Tuesday” to completely different models that answer the question, “will this decade’s rain fall be greater or lesser than the previous decade?” Weather predicting as in “Your Action 5 5-day Forcast” is not what climate weather modeling is meant to do.

    As to your first point, so what would be the cost of continuing global warming over the next century? That $11t would have fixed the problem. Without fixing the issues the problem will continue to exacerbate.

  50. What I want to know is if Al is going to contribute to the problem by flying over to Sweden to accept his prize…

    BTW, what happened to the whole “Earth is cooling” hoopla that was taking place in the 70’s? There was scientific data and everything proving it was happening. God reset the thermostat or something?

  51. Steve,

    Exactly, it’s like the difference between predicting whether a single stock will be up or down tomorrow versus predicting how much the market is likely to have increased 10 years from now. Different kinds of models, different kinds of predictions.

    But, barring some kind of massive, possibly catastrophic event, 10 years from now the markets will be up. So will global average temperatures. Go far enough out, and it becomes even more assured. A climatologist who will tell you he’s sure that 100 years from now global temperatures will have decreased will get laughed at just as much as an economist who’d say the same thing about the stock market 100 years from now. Neither one is necessarily wrong, but the consensus is against them.

  52. Todd,

    The short answer (and the best one I know, as IANACS) is that particulate matter (i.e. ash from tailpipes and smoke stacks) was being released into the atmosphere in much greater quantities then. Volcanic ash has the effect of reflecting sunlight back into space, and so too does ash from coal smokestacks and car exhaust. So, while we had been increasing the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere for decades, the heating caused by their presence was partially canceled out by the effect of particulate matter.

    The Clean Air Act reduced the amount of particulate matter and other pollutants allowed into the atmosphere. It is thought, however that even if particulate matter were unregulated, we would still be experiencing global warming today, albeit at a lower level. This is because particulate matter comes out of the atmosphere much faster than does CO2. Why? Particulate matter only has to fall to the ground or ocean. CO2 must be photosynthesized or dissolved in seawater. Neither of these processes are much affected by the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is not true that human activity releases the most CO2 of any process on earth, just that without our contribution, there would be no increase year to year. Nature releases 96% of all CO2 added to the atmosphere and we only 4%, but Nature only absorbs about as much as the added 96% and so, year after year our contribution continues to be added to the atmosphere, but few natural mechanisms exist to subtract it.

    I’ll add that the Global Cooling Myth was largely a creation of the media and was only ever embraced by a minority of climate scientists in an era when climate change was a relatively unstudied area. Today, it is perhaps as difficult to find climate scientists skeptical of global warming as it is to find biologists skeptical of evolution. Having informally researched the global warming deniers usually cited in these discussions, I have come to the above conclusion. But don’t believe me just because I’ve said so, read the peer-reviewed papers they’ve published, Google them, or hell, Wikipedia is better than nothing. If they’ve never been published in journals for anything directly related to climatology, why would you listen to them, rather than the consensus of the vast majority of climatologists?

  53. “People should really spend a bit more time reading whats out there about this subject, Global warming, and take a deep breath and then look at who stands to make the most money if we believe people like Al.”

    Yes, who? That’s the thing that interests me, really; the idea that the climate change is a fraud perpetrated by a global conspiracy of money-grubbing scientists awash with grant money, and of all those notoriously uber-capitalistic enviromentalists.

    Whereas the poor, defenseless oil and coal and auto industries are tirelessly lobbying against this perversion of science out of their pure good will towards you, the consumer, with no selfish thoughts about their own profits whatsoever.

    In other words: the people who oppose the climate change the loudest are invariably those who profit the most from the status quo of energy usage, and stand to lose the most if people start taking steps to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.

    http://www.realclimate.org is down just now, because of heavy traffic, but I think that many people here should give it a good read; especially the “Where to start?” section, where they address a lot of the common uncertainties, misunderstandings and just plain lies about the climate change.

  54. I just get a giggle saying that. Not just because Al Gore actually won the Nobel Peace Prize, but because for the next several days, the sheer amount of spittle that will issue forth from the right side of the aisle about the matter will be enough to liberally moisten any number of drought-stressed regions on our globe.

    Like Darfur? Oh, I forgot nobody gives a fuck about the 2 million + refugees who have more pressing concerns than buying carbon credits to offset the next spreaking tour.

  55. Craig @64 – water scarcity is one of the lead provocating agents of the Darfur crisis. Rainfall in the region has dropped 40% over the last 50 years.

  56. Right, Craig, nobody can care about more than one thing at a time, so Gore should abandon climate change and focus on some other issue that the right would also find a way to label him a hypocrite over.

    Y’know, I have very little doubt that the human race, as a whole, will get along just fine if the grain belts move north, the polar icecaps fall into the sea, much of Africa becomes uninhabitable, etc., etc. We’re adaptable, inventive critters. We’ll (at least some of us) build special habitats and create new modes of farming and protective clothing and so on, and be on our merry way, living.

    If you want to call it that.

    What a lot of the climate change “skeptics” don’t seem to be appreciating is that the issue isn’t really an “end of the world” scenario, and movies and books that present it as such do an injustice to the subject. But it is an “end of the world as we know it” issue; I really like the idea of a world with polar bears more than I like the idea of a world without. And that’s just–sorry to have to use the expression–the tip of that old iceberg.

    This also seems to me to be one of those issues where something like Pascal’s Wager is suddenly useful for a change, because the global warming issue would seem to be a real dichotomy (Pascal’s Wager, as originally phrased, being a bogus one). If the global warming alarmists are wrong, and we invest eleven trillion or any other sum, probably the worst things we’ve done is made some quality-of-life improvements by reducing industrial pollution, de-fanging oil monopolists, and inventing some new technologies. If the global warming alarmists are right and we don’t make the effort, we end up with a bit of Hell On Earth.

    That doesn’t seem that difficult a choice, actually. The idea of “Hey, Al Gore was wrong about climate change and all I got was this totally-awesome zero-emissions car that helps free my government from kowtowing to petroleum blackmailers!” doesn’t seem like a loss at all–matter of fact, some would say that was a win-win situation.

    Granted, someone may say “Ah! But it’s not a simple wager–you’re complicating third-world development by creating emissions standards and reducing their ability to sell their oil if they have it, etc.” The response is “yes.” Believe me, if I saw “everybody gets free ice cream and nobody is ever sad or hungry or unhappy again” on the list, I’d tick that one. I’m not trying to sound cruel, but those developing nations will be better off if we can all figure out how to elevate them without making the mistakes we made during our industrial revolution–it may not be easy or even possible, but I don’t see the alternative.

  57. Todd said: “What I want to know is if Al is going to contribute to the problem by flying over to Sweden to accept his prize”

    I call red-herring. The same thing was said about Carl Sagan traveling by private jet. It’s one of those things the detractors get all in a bind about. VP Al Gore still has his secret-service detail to take along, so, yeah, his travel plans aren’t like you and I flying to Chicago. Mr. Gore at least has the common curtosy to try carbon offsets.

    “BTW, what happened to the whole “Earth is cooling” hoopla that was taking place in the 70’s?”

    Have you ever read the articles the reported the “Earth is Cooling”? Look at the data, one, it was a very small sample (only two decades and only surface temps on the North American Continent). Two, while there was a sharp decrease over (IIRC) a 4 years time span, the actual temperatures still showed and increase in over all temperatures over the whole data set (that is the final data point is still higher than the starting point).

    So, think we may have increased our data collection techniques, researched more historical data, collect data from across the globe, include satellite surveys, and refined our models since the mid 70s? You know, that might have something to do with it.

  58. “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. ”
    Feel free to disagree, but you better have a good argument.

    What of the rabbits in Australia, devastating the vegetation that is supporting them? What of grazing animals in general? They typically survive by moving from over-grazed areas to less-grazed areas. Or what of Canadian lynx? A 8-10 year cycle of dramatic population crashes could be considered a “natural equilibrium” on a time scale of a hundred years, but I wouldn’t count on it remaining in place for the next million. Frankly, I don’t see any reason to call the behaviour of our species unnatural (or un-mammalian), but natural behaviours can be badly mal-adaptive too.

  59. Here’s what we know.
    The world is warming up. The cause or causes are debateable. Human action may be a major cause or it may not…right now nobody knows for sure, or at least nobody can prove it for sure one way or the other.
    Solar activity is up, which may or may not be a major cause ( the ice caps on Mars are shrinking right now also ).
    The Earth’s climate has undergone an unknown number of significant changes in the past, cycling through warm and cold periods, mostly before the onset of humanity…reason(s) for the changes are largely unknown.
    We do not understand why the Earth’s climate changes so significantly.
    Essentially, “what we know” is next to nothing. So, what does one do in such a situation? I will not argue the pros and cons of trying to reduce human carbon emissions, not the efficacy of searching for cleaner forms of energy, or of driving more fuel efficient cars.
    Instead, what I will argue is that as time goes by, we, meaning industrialized humanity, seem to find life more and more terrifying, and our collective fear is causing us to run around in circles hysterically shouting, “We’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die. Somebody DO something!”
    If you pay attention to the media, we are bombarded with messages of fear. Our food is tainted; our children’s toys are tainted; our medicenes are unsafe; the air at the office is making us sick; vaccinations are causing autism; video games are so addictive they’re giving gamers ADD and HADD and carpel tunnel; the internet is driving up divorce rates and driving down literacy; lack of access to the internet is causing impoverished children to fall behind in education.
    The list goes endlessly on.
    Americans, in particular, live in a perpetual state of fear, and it’s driving us all nuts as we seek solutions to every real and percieved threat that life brings.
    The solution? Accept your own mortality. Something, somewhere, sometime is going to kill you. As some wit said, “Nobody gets out of here alive.”
    While you all are so worried about catastrophic climate change, that killer asteroid is getting closer, the big earthquake in San Francisco or L.A. is just about to shave off the entire west coast from the rest of America and the HIV virus is exchanging RNA with the Ebola virus and is incubating in an African monkey before it crosses into homo sapiens and kills half the world’s population.
    We can not control everything in the world. Stop trying. Instead, work to identify those things we can influence to our benefit, let go of the mindless fear, and have some faith in humanity’s proven ability to adapt to whatever comes.
    If something so big comes around that we can’t adapt to, well then by definition there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.
    Life is short. Live fearlessly. Embrace the chaos that is change. Work to make your familie’s life better, to make your community better, even to make your nation better. These are obtainable goals. But stop trying to “save the world”. We lack the knowledge or ability to do so. Let’s evolve, since we have no choice, and play the cards the universe deals us.

  60. Alien Probe: see, here’s the magic phrase:

    “Instead, work to identify those things we can influence to our benefit…”

    You probably can’t do squat about the killer asteroid, but you can reduce your carbon footprint. And it’s not just about human adaptability. I mean, hey, I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that if there were a full-blown superpower nuclear exchange (an unlikely event now, but not impossible), there would be some Tibetan Sherpas, Central Mongolian shepherds, Inuit hunters and/or South Pacific fishers who–thanks to insignificance and favorable winds–wouldn’t be too put out by Nuclear Holocaust (or even a Nuclear Winter–they’d adapt); but I doubt anyone here who gives a damn about the human race would conclude nuclear war was an insignificant thing.

    A key part of the equation is “what kind of world do you want to live in?” If you really don’t care all that much about the prospect of wars over water rights, drought refugees, regional flooding, mass famine and the like because the human race, on the whole, will trundle along just fine and get used to the heat waves, I really can’t think of anything more sophisticated or civilized to say than, “Screw you.” And I’m not sure you’d deserve better if I had it.

  61. The pseudointellectual yammerings on this forum make my teeth ache.

    Anyone who is able to call public attention to any issue with global implications — especially one that greatly affects both the local and global balance of power — contributes greatly to mitigating its effects.

    If you’ve been paying the slightest attention to the droughts throughout the world, it’s a plain fact that people suffer when water supplies and food cycles are disrupted by changes in temperature and rainfall; and it’s a plain fact that their governments (no matter what form) will react to protect their own scarce natural resources; those in power are vested in keeping it, usually to the detriment of those they “serve.”

    This is happening now, and the range of reactions flow inexorably from financial skirmishes to bloodletting wars. Therefore, a “Peace” Prize is justified if someone can educate the public to what’s really happening.

    For those who label Al Gore an alarmist because he points out the obvious loss of aquifers, reservoirs and/or mountain ice runoff, or who decry his being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize because he chooses to “offset” his carbon emissions, I have one question: what the hell have YOU done to increase the chance for peace?

    As far as I’m concerned, many of the posts above are simply sour grapes from people who support swiftboating tactics, raw nationalism, and shortsighted selfishness. You undermine reason when you mock those who give a damn about the future.

    Personally, I urge Mr. Gore to remain out of politics; he deserves better than to be lynched by demagogues such as you.

  62. Steve,

    You may call a red herring all you want, the fact of the matter is should he fly to Sweden to accept the prize, he’ll be contributing. Unless of course he buys some offsets before he travels.

    “So, think we may have increased our data collection techniques, researched more historical data, collect data from across the globe, include satellite surveys, and refined our models since the mid 70s? You know, that might have something to do with it.”

    So, what guarantees do we have that the same thing will not happen again? Yes, that data sample was small, but it was enough to set a whole movement of concern, a call for action, the need to “Do Something” to fix the problem before it became so bad it could no longer be fixed.

    Then around the late 70’s, it was Rosanne Rosannadanna saying “Oops, nevermind.”

    Do I think something like that is going to happen with Global Warming? No. As others have said, the evidence for it is pretty good, but then again the Earth has been in a warming state for awhile now, at least a few thousand years. The last couple of hundred have sped the process up, but it was a process that was going to happen, right?

    I do what I can to reduce my carbon footprint. Bought and car that has decent gas mileage, put a sweater on in the winter, fewer fireplace fires when it’s cold, use a fan instead of the AC in the summer, roll the windows down when I am driving, thing like that…The problem is while I am doing that, the 2 billion people in India, China, and other such areas more than enough to make up for what I am not producing…and at some point, should that trend continue I am going to get tired of driving my Civic, sweating during the summer, and freezing in the winter, buy a damned Hummer, crank up the AC, and use my nearby coal fired powerplant for all it’s worth.

    Hell, at this point Global Warming is nothing more than our generations version of Social Security. I’ll let my daughters generation fix it, I’ve got other things to worry about.

  63. It is a mystery to me why you want to alienate gratuitously half the population (you know, the right side of the aisle) with puerile comments of this sort. Is it a good strategy for you to make funnies at the expense of the right, if every time you do so it causes one reader henceforth to get your books from the library instead of buying them?

  64. It is a mystery to me why you want to alienate gratuitously half the population (you know, the right side of the aisle) with puerile comments of this sort.

    I didn’t make the comment, so I can’t say for sure, but here’s a guess: because it’s just so much damn fun?

    And if people actually start using libraries in greater numbers as a result, well, horrors!

  65. Considering that the Nobel ‘Peace’ Prize has had absolutely nothing to do with actual peace since at least the time it was given to Yasir Arafat, giving it to Gore makes about as much sense as anything else. It’s not even worth getting annoyed about.

  66. I sorta doubt John will actually alienate anyone who was likely to buy one of his books in the first place. Conservatives who read his books are likely to agree with him or forgive him; conservatives who are offended probably weren’t long-term fans to begin with, anyway.

    And honestly, JP that kind of vague blackmail is pretty obnoxious. You (or some hypothetical other member of the “50% of the population”) don’t like his opinion, so you don’t want him to express it, so you won’t buy his book? Y’know, it’s very Soviet of you, down to the part where you hope his books don’t sell but you’ll sneak off and read them anyway when nobody’s looking. Give you some secret policemen and I think you’ll be ready for prime time, rolling in style.

  67. Judging by the reactions I am reading everywhere, it seems that everybody is drinking their favorite kind of Kool-Aid.

  68. I sorta doubt John will actually alienate anyone who was likely to buy one of his books in the first place. Conservatives who read his books are likely to agree with him or forgive him; conservatives who are offended probably weren’t long-term fans to begin with, anyway.

    What is a long-term fan? Someone who has read all his readily available and owns all his books? That’s me. I am just the type of person who is likely to buy his books. Yet these infantile flings at conservatives are indeed enough to alienate me — and I am sure I am not the only person in America who votes with his dollars against someone who alienates him. I have a limited amount of money to spend on books, and it is just as easy to spend my money on an author I enjoy who has not irritated me.

    And honestly, JP that kind of vague blackmail is pretty obnoxious. You (or some hypothetical other member of the “50% of the population”) don’t like his opinion, so you don’t want him to express it, so you won’t buy his book? Y’know, it’s very Soviet of you, down to the part where you hope his books don’t sell but you’ll sneak off and read them anyway when nobody’s looking. Give you some secret policemen and I think you’ll be ready for prime time, rolling in style.

    Wow, what a stupid interpretation of my comment. Where’s the blackmail? There is nothing but free choice here. He is free to make annoying remarks, and I am free not to buy his books. I did not say that I did not want him to express his opinions – that would be futile, since I certainly can’t stop him from doing so – only that it puzzles me that he would choose to offend half the population with a totally unnecessary snark. He does not get paid (so far as I know) to be a political commentator, he gets paid to write science fiction, so to voice political opinions that may in any way reduce the sales of his science fiction seems like foolish self-indulgence to say the least. The smart thing to do would be to shut up and write science fiction, and leave the Lefty rants to the fruitcakes on Daily Kos.

    As for “sneaking off to read his books anyway when nobody’s looking” – there is no “sneaking” involved at all. I openly admit that I read many books by authors whose political views I find annoying and stupid (e.g. Sue Townsend, John Mortimer) for the simple reason that I enjoy their fiction. I’m not going to reward them with my dollars, though. Why should I?

    If anything, YOU are the one with the Soviet approach here. Apparently I am obligated to spend money on politically correct authors regardless of whether or not I agree with them. You going to send the Commissar to check my bookstore reciepts to make sure I am making the correct purchases?

  69. He does not get paid (so far as I know) to be a political commentator, he gets paid to write science fiction, so to voice political opinions that may in any way reduce the sales of his science fiction seems like foolish self-indulgence to say the least. The smart thing to do would be to shut up and write science fiction, and leave the Lefty rants to the fruitcakes on Daily Kos.

    I’m still not seeing how statements like this one aren’t to be read as, “Waah! Stop saying things that make me uncomfortable! Stop having opinions! Waah!”

    Sure, you don’t have to buy his books. But if I were John (and I’m not trying to speak for him, here), I’d rather keep my opinions and my right to express them, and you can keep your stinkin’ money. The issue isn’t with which books you buy (or don’t buy): the issue, JP, is your arrogance in thinking you have a right to use your dollars to gag someone else’s mouth; just because you bought someone’s book (or album, or saw their film) doesn’t give you the right to stifle them. I’m tired of conservatives telling musicians, actors, directors and writers that the “smart thing to do is to shut up” and “they’re not paid to comment on politics.” (At least you didn’t trot out the other standard-issue plaint, “what does he know, he’s just a [writer/singer/whatever].”

    There is a job title for someone who only says what his patrons want to hear, keeping his real views to himself because he wants more of the patrons’ money. It’s called “whore.”

  70. “There is a job title for someone who only says what his patrons want to hear, keeping his real views to himself because he wants more of the patrons’ money. It’s called “whore.””

    You sure its not “Congressman” or “Senator”?

  71. I’m still not seeing how statements like this one aren’t to be read as, “Waah! Stop saying things that make me uncomfortable! Stop having opinions! Waah!”

    Sorry, but sophomoric political jibes don’t make me “uncomfortable”. They only arouse amused contempt, diminished respect for their author, and in this case puzzlement at the author’s lack of common sense in needlessly offending some portion of his readers.

    I’d rather keep my opinions and my right to express them, and you can keep your stinkin’ money. The issue isn’t with which books you buy (or don’t buy): the issue, JP, is your arrogance in thinking you have a right to use your dollars to gag someone else’s mouth; just because you bought someone’s book (or album, or saw their film) doesn’t give you the right to stifle them.

    Eric, your boneheaded lack of comprehension continues to astonish. I am not asserting a right to gag or stifle Scalzi, and have never done so. It is not “censorship”, nor is it the least bit arrogant, to say that if I don’t like someone’s politics, I am not going to buy his books. It is a simple statement of fact, and the author in question can act as he likes on that information.

    What is arrogant (not to mention absurd) is your assertion that somehow I don’t have the right to spend my money the way I like, or even to talk about how I plan to spend my money.

    I’m tired of conservatives telling musicians, actors, directors and writers that the “smart thing to do is to shut up” and “they’re not paid to comment on politics.” (At least you didn’t trot out the other standard-issue plaint, “what does he know, he’s just a [writer/singer/whatever].”

    Guess you can’t handle the truth, then, because it is unquestionably true that the smart thing to do is shut up. Authors and musicians are not – and should not be – immune to criticism than anyone else is, nor should they be exempt from suffering the consequences of their actions. They have a perfect right to express their opinions if they so desire (and yes, in many cases those opinions are completely ignorant). If those opinions offend people who then withhold their dollars, so be it. No author has an automatic right to the public’s dollars.

    There is a job title for someone who only says what his patrons want to hear, keeping his real views to himself because he wants more of the patrons’ money. It’s called “whore.”

    Amazingly infantile. When you patronize a store or a restaurant, do you think the clerk or waiter is a whore if he is polite to you rather than deliberately and needlessly abusive? Do you take your money elsewhere, or do you crawl back there again and again for more abuse? I hope you don’t censor the views of people you’re spending money on… that would be wrong, evil, Stalinist!

    There is no upside for Scalzi in making political snarks. He can’t gain any readers that way, he can only lose them.

  72. Oh my, JP. I can only conclude I struck some nerve.

    Where, oh where in my posts did I suggest you couldn’t spend your money as you pleased. In fact, I do believe I wrote:

    Sure, you don’t have to buy his books.

    Repeating this thing I didn’t say is a straw man.

    And, the fact is, whether or not there’s an upside for an artist in making remarks, he has a right to make them. And, the fact is, the only reason for advertising the claim that you’ll no longer purchase his work is because you’re hoping the threat of lost business will get him to stop expressing his opinion.

    I mean, I could go around babbling about how Ann Coulter’s latest yammerings will keep me from buying her next book, but this sentence is the first and last time you’ll see me making such a pronouncement: dear Ann may be a complete idiot, but she has a right to her opinion.

    For that matter, the fact that I disagree with the general bulk of Bruce Willis’ politics doesn’t keep me from going to his movies–he can say whatever the heck he wants to about whatever he wants to, and I have no problem patronizing his business.

    What’s amazingly infantile is going onto an author’s website, and writing something like:

    It is a mystery to me why you want to alienate gratuitously half the population (you know, the right side of the aisle) with puerile comments of this sort.

    There’s no mystery: it’s his damn site, and the motto is (or was), “taunting the tauntable.”

    It’s also infantile to raise the issue of how you’re going to spend your money and then to feign outrage when others respond. I didn’t care how you spent your money before you wrote your comment about John losing your business, I wouldn’t continue to care that much if you didn’t keep talking about it, and I’ll stop caring a few seconds after I hit the “submit comment” button. Actually, I don’t even care that much while I’m caring–the real thing that bugs me–the nerve you struck–is this whole “the smart thing to do is shut up” attitude you keep foisting off on everyone. I doubt you’d be saying anything of the kind if you agreed with John; I doubt you’d be wondering why John would risk alienating the half the population you imply is on the left side of the aisle. You’re a hypocrite, JP.

    Oh, and one more thing: I discovered Scalzi through the Whatever first (specifically, the “Being Poor” essay) and started reading his books second. Your last paragraph is presumptuous and silly and demonstrably false–I can name at least one reader, myself, and it stands to reason I’m not the only one.

    You may know a lot of two-dollar words, JP, but you still have two cent opinions.

  73. Guess you can’t handle the truth, then, because it is unquestionably true that the smart thing to do is shut up.

    By all means, do the smart thing.

    And no, you’re wrong and daft. Scalzi has been having notable and interesting opinions here for a while. It draws folks in. If it was nothing more than bacon cat here, I’d have long left. In fact, John’s writing career in SF started in part (it also helped that he was a kick ass writer) because he haunted another blog and probably had political opinions there too.

    Are you an agent? A publisher? I’m curious because you’re making industry predictions here, and I’m curious as to where you’re getting your data from. Please provide proof that writers who blog about politics (or any matter that might upset people) have any noticeable decrease in sales.

    Or, do the smart thing.

  74. Have fun on the trip to Eritrea, JP. Based on your posts here, it seems you’ll be a leading spittle producer! Be sure to pack ample drinking water.

  75. JP said: “The smart thing to do would be to shut up and write”.

    Depends how you define “smart”.

    I’ll take honesty over this brand of transparently manipulative, profit-maximising, “smart” any time. You can keep your “smart”.

  76. And then there are those who intentionally read blogs and books written by writers from all sides of the political spectrum just to have a more balanced idea of what is going on out there.

    Sci fi writers arent political in their outlook you say…….

    Yes they are although the story they are writing may not conform to their particulat beliefs.

    If you are going to dislike a writer based on what you percieve his political agenda may be, you are going to miss out on a lot of good stories

    What a dull place the Whatever would be if we all agreed with john all the time!!!

  77. JP: I believe that people are able to separate a writer’s political opinions from his/her literary output. I know that if I couldn’t, I would probably never read anything by Orson Scott Card. He has many very conservative political opinions that he is not afraid to express on one of his websites, opinions that I, by and large, disagree with. But I continue to read, enjoy, and yes, even buy his books.

    Scalzi has indicated here that while he largely disagrees Mark Helprin (author of, among other books, Winter’s Tale, he nonetheless very much admires him as a writer.

    I have yet to see any credible empirical data to suggest that expressing controversial opinions in any way hurts sales. Indeed, if there is anything to the maxim that controversy sells, then it should actually help sell more books.

    In any case, JP, by all means, do whatever the hell you want with your money, and I will do the same, and so will the rest of the country. That’s how the marketplace works.

  78. I haven’t been keeping up with this thread because I’ve been away, but looking at the tail end of these comments it appears as if someone upthread is suggesting I should just shut up and keep to my knitting, i.e., science fiction, and not worry my pretty little head about politics or whatever.

    If this is the case, of course, that person suggesting such a thing can kiss my ass, because I write and say whatever the hell I want, because I can, and because I should, and I don’t give a good god damn about whether it alienates someone. This previous discussion on the subject continues to give my general feelings on the matter.

    For those of you who don’t want to bother clicking through, here’s a relevant passage:

    “First, if you think I’m going to watch what I say here to possibly preserve a book sale or two, you’re out of your hollow gourd. For one thing, I don’t want readers who think they can presume to tell me what I should or should not say by holding the cost of a hardcover over my head; it sets a bad precedent. Y’all can just take a leap off a highway overpass, as far as I’m concerned. For another, I’ve been writing this sort of crap long before I had book sales; strangely enough, the books seem to moving out from the bookstores just fine. By personal inclination and by experience, there’s no advantage in me shutting myself up. So quite obviously I don’t intend to.”

    I’ve written here for nearly a decade; I’ve pretty much offended everyone of all political stripes during that time, although I tend to notice that it’s generally the right-leaning people who suggest I should shut up for the sake of book sales. It’s something in their particular brand of Kool-Aid, I suppose.

    Regardless, my response to anyone who tells me to be quiet about anything I want to talk about, right, left or orthogonal, is the same, i.e., they can fuck right off. If it means losing them as a book buyer, oh well.

  79. Oh my, JP. I can only conclude I struck some nerve.

    Don’t flatter yourself. I was bored this weekend or I wouldn’t spend a minute on trolls like you.

    Where, oh where in my posts did I suggest you couldn’t spend your money as you pleased.

    Here, oh here, when you said I was arrogant to think I “have a right to use your dollars to gag someone else’s mouth;” In point of fact I have a right to use my dollars however I please, and I also have a right to say what I plan to do with them.

    whether or not there’s an upside for an artist in making remarks, he has a right to make them.

    Gosh you are dense. I never denied his right to make them. I said his exercising of that right is foolish and unnecessary.

    the only reason for advertising the claim that you’ll no longer purchase his work is because you’re hoping the threat of lost business will get him to stop expressing his opinion.

    Not at all. I know very well he couldn’t care less what people say here.

    I could go around babbling about how Ann Coulter’s latest yammerings will keep me from buying her next book, but this sentence is the first and last time you’ll see me making such a pronouncement: dear Ann may be a complete idiot, but she has a right to her opinion.

    The difference is that Ann is paid to make political comments. Scalzi is not. Inflammatory political comments increase her bottom line; they can only decrease his.

    There’s no mystery: it’s his damn site, and the motto is (or was), “taunting the tauntable.”

    You’re making my point for me! Taunting is puerile, unnnecessary, and counterproductive, just as I have been saying.

    It’s also infantile to raise the issue of how you’re going to spend your money and then to feign outrage when others respond.

    Believe me, nothing you have said or can say can outrage me. I fully share your “not caring a whit” attitude about what is said in this exchange.

    I doubt you’d be saying anything of the kind if you agreed with John; I doubt you’d be wondering why John would risk alienating the half the population you imply is on the left side of the aisle. You’re a hypocrite, JP.

    Wrong on all counts. My logic applies to all political taunts of whatever character. It is foolish and unnecessary for him to taunt anyone politically.

    I bet it just made your day to stamp your foot and squeal, “oooh you hypocrite!”, though.

    I discovered Scalzi through the Whatever first (specifically, the “Being Poor” essay) and started reading his books second. Your last paragraph is presumptuous and silly and demonstrably false–I can name at least one reader, myself, and it stands to reason I’m not the only one.

    If you expect me to believe you came here to read Scalzi’s political taunts, and that you bought his books because of (not in spite of) his snarks, sorry, no sale there, chump.

    you’re wrong and daft. Scalzi has been having notable and interesting opinions here for a while. It draws folks in.

    There is a large difference between a “notable and interesting opinion” and a snark / taunt. Scalzi’s original post up top here is not one of the former, it is one of the latter. I have no problem at all with his thoughtful political opinions, even when I disagree with them (which is certainly not all the time by any means), and those would not drive me towards a personal boycott. “Airlift the spitting conservatives to Eritrea” is not notable or interesting, or even particularly original or funny, however. It is, as I said, childish and unnecessary.

    Please provide proof that writers who blog about politics (or any matter that might upset people) have any noticeable decrease in sales.

    I made no such claim, so I have no obligation to prove any such thing (so STFU yourself). My claim is that for an author to offend any reader – even one reader! – unnecessarily is foolish.

    Depends how you define “smart”. I’ll take honesty over this brand of transparently manipulative, profit-maximising, “smart” any time. You can keep your “smart”.

    Honesty? There is no honesty in the original opinion Scalzi expressed above. Are you really so stupid as to think he honestly wants to deport the right to Eritrea? Snarks and taunts are not honest opinions, they are voiced solely for the purpose of provoking people. Some people (e.g. Ann Coulter) get paid to provoke. Those who don’t (e.g. Scalzi) avoid provoking people if they are smart.

    If you are going to dislike a writer based on what you percieve his political agenda may be, you are going to miss out on a lot of good stories

    No, I’m not going to miss out on them. I’m just not going to pay for them. I’ll get them from the library.

    I believe that people are able to separate a writer’s political opinions from his/her literary output. I know that if I couldn’t, I would probably never read anything by Orson Scott Card.

    OSC is an example of what I was saying above – he voices thoughtful political opinions, and they are worth reading even when I disagree with them (which is some of the time). Such opinions have not thus far driven me towards a personal boycott.

    Anyway, kids, I’m flying out of town for the week, so don’t knock yourselves out responding to this.

  80. Scalzi, it is of course your privilege to be infantile and offensive on this blog if you wish.

    See ya in the library!

  81. JP:

    “Scalzi, it is of course your privilege to be infantile and offensive on this blog if you wish.”

    Likewise, it is your privilege to get grievously offended at something that is essentially silly and harmless; really, if this entry rings your “I’m offended” bell, you must not have been reading here for very long. Also, you know. Sack up, JP. This is “offensive” for very minor values of the term.

    Incidentally, as it happens, I have and do get paid for writing political opinions; I used to have a nationally syndicated newspaper column, in fact, in which I did just that very thing, and on more than one occasion something politically oriented that I’ve written here has been picked up by the print media. Also, of course, I’m going to be paid for Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded, the ten-year retrospective of Whatever entries which will be published next year, which will certainly include political columns. By your rather dubious metric that apparently one should be paid before they offend, I certainly qualify.

    Aside from this, some of the entries which have driven the most traffic to this site over the years — thus contributing to me notoriety and to my book sales — have been political ones. So not only does it make financial sense for me to write political columns, it also makes fine sense from the point of view of publicity.

    So, basically, your opinion that I should avoid provoking people if I know what’s smart for me is, in fact, completely and totally wrong by any conceivable metric, save one, which is what you personally are offended by. And while it’s too bad for you that you’re offended, it’s really not my problem.

    Now, leaving aside the absolutely idiotic notion that it’s okay for Ann Coulter to say the US would be better without Jews because she’s getting paid for it, while I shouldn’t rather tamely snark about foamy right wing spittle flingers on my own personal site because someone somewhere might not buy my book, the fact of the matter is you’re opining on what I should do based on what I see is complete and utter ignorance as to how my economic model works. What you think I should do is pretty much entirely opposed to what I know has worked for me before, and continues to work for me now.

    Not only should I ignore your opinion of what I should do on general moral principles, I should also ignore it on the specific principles for which you seem to think apply in this case. Because, in fact, you know absolutely nothing about how I conduct my business, and I’m not in the practice of taking advice about my economic life from people who are completely ignorant about it.

    That said, I applaud your choice of the library. They’re there to be used. And the library pays for the copy.

  82. Dad age 50 “Don’t drive so fast, you’ll wreck your car.”
    Son aged 25 “Screw you old Man, you can’t tell me what to do”
    Cya at the library

  83. Phil-Z:

    There have been worse analogies here, but not very many.

    Folks: I really don’t care if you have decided only to check out my books from the library or alternately have decided never to sully your beautiful mind with my nasty words ever again, so trying to insult me and/or instill economic fear in me by telling me all the ways you’re not going to buy my books isn’t going to do much for me. If you feel you must let me know, fine, but you can also feel free just to keep it to yourself.

  84. All the ways I am not going to buy John Scalzi’s books:

    1. I will enter a bookstore, bring copies of Scalzi’s books to the counter, and then claim to have forgotten my wallet and leave…*and not come back!*

    2. I will ask a different bookstore to reserve a copy of Scalzi’s latest release…*using a hilarious fake name!*

    3. If one of Scalzi’s books is made into a movie, I will buy the novelization…*of the inevitable illegal Chinese knock-off film!*

    4. I will zealously attend Scalzi’s public readings of his books…*until I’ve heard them in their entirety!*

  85. JP: “Anyway, kids, I’m flying out of town for the week, so don’t knock yourselves out responding to this.”

    Off to Eritrea* are we?

    * Note for the hyperbole-and-humour-challenged: That was a joke.

  86. 2. I will ask a different bookstore to reserve a copy of Scalzi’s latest release…*using a hilarious fake name!*

    Given that that bookstore will probably put the copy out on the shelf before returning it to the publisher, doing this may actually increase Scalzi’s sales, if only by one. :-)

  87. OSC is an example of what I was saying above – he voices thoughtful political opinions, and they are worth reading even when I disagree with them (which is some of the time). Such opinions have not thus far driven me towards a personal boycott.

    Well, JP, you can think what you like about OSC’s political opinions, I don’t think they’re generally worth reading at all. So I don’t read the columns on his site. But that doesn’t stop me from buying his books and enjoying them.

  88. I do research. I *learn* things. I make a frickin’ *insightful* contribution to this argument and what happens? A silly bunch of ranting back and forth about *Scalzi* this and *Scalzi* that.

    This Scalzi fella should get his own damn web site, I say.

  89. My claim is that for an author to offend any reader – even one reader! – unnecessarily is foolish.

    So authors are never supposed to offend readers? Ever? You know what they call authors like that? Bad writers.

    The authors of some of my favorite books have been considered offensive by many: George Orwell, Joseph Heller, John Irving, William Styron, Armistead Maupin, Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Sue Miller, etc.

    Were these writers paid to be offensive? Not initially, at least not all of them. But isn’t it amazing that a significant portion of their first work published – much of which rightfully became classics – contained “offensive” content which drew more and more readers to their subsequent work? Some of those readers even paid good money for those books.

    I know the argument you were trying to make, JP, but it’s a bad and poorly made argument.

    BTW, I get paid to be a secretary, but I put in a significant amount of “spare time” working as a political activist. I guess that means I can only ever write about being a secretary (or, in former lives, sales coordinator, sales analyst, accounts receivable analyst, etc.) and I can never write about my volunteer work as a political activist, because I might accidentally offend someone. Though I did make actual money managing a congressional campaign website last year. Do I have your permission to write about that? Please?

    Oh, and re: Gore? Good on him. I’ll admit that I don’t entirely agree with the whole carbon offset thing, but I think he’s done a fantastic job bringing global warming to the forefront. With all the awards he’s won this year, I suppose he’s next up for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.

  90. I think I’ll sing your praises a few times to people who’ll do more than make up for JP’s prattling.

  91. Am I the only one wondering how John Scalzi’s appreciation of Al Gore makes Old Man’s War less enjoyable?

    I’m not only conservative, I’m best described as Hamiltonian. But to expect that authors pander to my politics and jurisprudence when I’m not reading political books is ridiculous.

    I liked Old Man’s War, and Ghost Brigades – and this column. If I wanted political fiction, there are countless other spots on the internet to frequent – and I moderate one of them. But fiction, of the sort in which Scalzi excels, is one area where I don’t want any politics to interfere.

    Support Gore, even the Nobel Prize Committee, however ridiculous some of their awards have been. Until such time as your books become nothing more than vehicles for your politics, I’ll be reading them. (Granted, I take most out of the library, but law school loans are hellish)

  92. AEM:

    And I think that’s pretty much right. When I’m writing fiction, I leave contemporary politics at the door, because among other things, as a reader, I hate being lectured on politics in the guise of fiction. Don’t like to read it, don’t plan on writing it.

  93. Count me in as another who found John Scalzi primarily through his political and/or snarky writing first (in my case the Krissy/drunk guy incident), and went from there to reading the blog, and from there to buying the books (awaiting the last of the currently published books to arrive right now, in fact). Why on earth would that be unbelievable, JP. Snark is a form of humor, and one that I appreciate. Someone who demonstrates an ability for good snark is someone whose writing I’m likely to try.

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