The Truth About Al Gore's Carbon Footprint

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Al Gore's Tennessee home got an energy retrofit in 2007

Al Gore is in the news again. His new climate change movie, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, is in theaters now. And that means the folks who don't believe in climate change — or at least that humans have any impact on it — are out in force trying to discredit the message. As was the case 10 years ago when his original movie came out, they're going after his carbon footprint and making the case that he's a hypocrite. Let's take a look at the issues.

Al Gore's carbon footprint

The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) released a report this month on Gore's energy use. Titled Al Gore's Inconvenient Reality, it gives the findings of their research into the electricity consumption of the Gore home in Tennessee. And the authors are shocked, I tell you. "The findings were shocking," they write, before detailing the highlights. Here are three of their six bullet points:

  • The past year, Gore's home energy use averaged 19,241 kilowatt hours (kWh) every month, compared to the U.S. household average of 901 kWh per month.
  • Gore guzzles more electricity in one year than the average American family uses in 21 years.
  • Gore paid an estimated $60,000 to install 33 solar panels. Those solar panels produce an average of 1,092 kWh per month, only 5.7% of Gore's typical monthly energy consumption.

I found out about the NCPPR report when friends and readers of this blog began sending me links to the report and articles about it because they mentioned one of my articles. Here's what they said:

According to Energy Vanguard, a company devoted to making homes more energy efficient, an "efficient" home uses between 5-10 kWh of electricity per square foot each year. A house that consumes 15 kWh per square foot or more of electricity per year is categorized as "bad" due to its inefficiency and excessive electricity consumption. Homes that expend more than 20 kWh of electricity per square foot each year are labeled "energy hogs," which is Energy Vanguard's worst rating.

I don't have a problem with how they used what I wrote. They used my article appropriately. It's the underlying premise they got wrong.

Deja vu all over again

If all this sounds familiar, it's because we went through the same thing a decade ago. Gore releases movie. Climate change obfuscators attack Gore's personal energy use and carbon footprint. In that first round, Gore did something about it. He undertook a huge energy retrofit of his home in Nashville.

The lead photo above is from that retrofit. I was the regional manager for the EarthCraft House program at the time, and they were considering getting that certification. I think in the end they never followed through on that, although the home did get LEED certified, I believe.

Spray foam insulation in Al Gore's attic

During the period when the work was happening the summer of 2007, I got to visit the house. In the photo at the top of this article, you can see the new double-pane, low-e windows waiting to be installed as they got rid of the single-pane windows. They encapsulated attics and crawl spaces, put in a lot of spray foam insulation, installed ground source heat pumps (a.k.a. geothermal), replaced and sealed the ductwork, and installed a photovoltaic array on the roof. It was an impressive operation, on a much larger scale than the home performance projects I worked on in my earlier life as a contractor.

That was my last involvement with the project. I've seen no before and after data, so I have no idea how much energy they saved. But Gore's communications director told the New Republic, "Vice President Gore leads a carbon neutral life by purchasing green energy, reducing carbon impacts and offsetting any emissions that cannot be avoided, all within the constraints of an economy that still relies too heavily on dirty fossil fuels."

The truth about Al Gore's carbon footprint

All this talk about Al Gore's personal carbon footprint is meant to do one thing: distract. It's a red herring. The New Republic makes the case that Al Gore's carbon footprint doesn't matter in an article they published last week. They've said it much more eloquently and completely than I'll do here, so you really should read their piece. In short, the message put out by Al Gore and others climate change leaders is that individual actions can help on a small scale, but it's the large scale carbon emissions that are the key.

David Roberts, a writer for Vox, is one of the clearest voices speaking out about climate change and all the crazy debate we in the United States just can't seem to get past. (He's well worth following on Twitter, too.) He spoke about the hypocrisy issue in an article about criticism of Leonardo DiCaprio. In it he wrote, "DiCaprio's personal emissions are a fart in the wind when it comes to climate change. If he vanished tomorrow, and all his emissions with him, the effect on global temperature, even on US emissions, even on film-industry emissions, would be lost in the noise."

Here's another way to think about it. Your personal residence uses energy, and depending on where you live, the electricity delivered to your home may be really dirty. Think coal power plants, billowing out plumes of carbon dioxide laden exhaust. Or it may come from hydro, wind, and solar and have very low carbon emissions. It all depends on where you live and where your local utility purchases power.

If you get dirty electricity and want to do something about it, you could undertake an energy retrofit of your home. I'm all in favor of that, of course, but to cut your energy bills in half, say, you're going to have to put up a bunch of money or get a good financing deal. That's not always easy to do. Another thing you could do is install some photovoltaic modules on your home to generate solar electricity. Well, first you may need permission from your homeowners association. Then the laws in your state or the rules of your utility may have a say in how expensive it'll be for you to do so.

No, to tackle this problem, it's got to be done on a much larger scale than Al Gore or Leo DiCaprio can affect with their personal energy use, much less with what you can accomplish with your home. But by educating people about the issue and getting pressure on decision makers, we can have an impact on the large scale.

Oh, one more thing. The National Center for Public Policy Research is calling out Gore for hypocrisy. They've also fought against climate scientists who speak out publicly. I wonder if that nearly half a million dollars they received from ExxonMobil has anything to do with it?

 

The bottom line here is that it doesn't really matter how much energy Al Gore uses, even if he does use green energy and purchase offsets. What matters is that the Earth is heating up. What matters is that about 95% of scientists who work in the field have concluded humans are causing the accelerated climate change by dumping vast quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. What matters is that we don't have much time to turn things around. Dropping out of the Paris Accord makes it harder to effect change on the large scale.

And large scale change is what we need most.

 

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Comments

X2 Charles, and may I add that its perhaps time we all sniff our own armpits?

During WW2, with gasoline being diverted to the war effort, drivers were admonished to ask themselves, "Is this trip really necessary?" Several years ago, I bought a 7,000# GMC 2500HD Diesel to pull our occasionally used 25' camper. While the truck spends a lot of time in the driveway, it does not escape me how ludicrous it is every time I put my 165# butt behind the wheel to run an errand in town. While I make every effort to minimize those trips (see above),
and work to keep the LB7 in tune, I must concede I'm part of the problem, and try to offset emissions from that beast with other efforts in our home.

All that being said, I'm putting finishing touches on plans for our 800 mile round trip to Oregon for the Great American Eclipse. We are so privileged in America, but must also take responsibility for our (my) outsized contributions to the worlds problem of climate change.

Congratulations to Allison and all professionals here who work every day to make a difference by applying building science to your daily efforts in the construction industry.

Allison, why would you chance losing such a large number of your followers by getting political? Your peers read your writings to learn, not to be preached to about ideologies. We all get it; you support spending a lot of money on climate organizations that in turn support liberal politicians who in turn make regulations to support funding for those same climate organizations. Many of us really don't care about your politics, but we do care about your immense knowledge on energy. As a friend in the industry; please try to avoid political controversy that cannot be absolutely proven one way or the other.

I've researched and found that 102,000 commercial flights are made daily, worldwide. This number does not include delivery and private flights and military flights on training and war. That's all in one day!!! NO ONE HAS SAID A WORD ABOUT THIS!!! Why hidden? Think about it!

I'm sorry but I wholeheartedly disagree with you. By this point any sentient human being would agree that climate change represents a huge challenge for humanity, that it is getting much worse and isn't going away. That said, it's imperative that those who tout change, lead by example. The average american's carbon footprint on a world scale is already enormous. Al Gore's is 22 times that! And that is just his home energy usage. This doesn't factor in plane travel, security detail, transportation etc ... If everyone lived like AG the planet would have been cooked last week. AG spent $60,000 of his millions to retrofit his house. And? How many average americans have that kind of money laying around for a home remodel? The multiple residences, private pools and endless airplane travel make a joke out of efforts average people have made to change their lifestyles and make Gore and others like him a legitimate lightning rod for deniers. It all smacks of a let them eat cake to me. Which is probably neither here nor there to the AG crowd - including DiCapprio because when the hard rain starts falling do you really think they'll stand arm in arm with the suffering lumpen proletariat? Or instead wall themselves off, and buy themselves away from the consequences of a heating planet? I think I know the answer.

Allison
Bailes

Robin, thanks for asking. First, I'm not concerned about losing readers. Unfortunately, some will leave just because they read a title they don't like. Some will leave because of something I say in an article. Some will leave when they find out I'm not a woman. I'm fine with all that.

My mission here is to educate, mainly about buildings but also about energy in a broader sense, including transportation, energy supply, and the environment. Climate change is an unavoidable part of that. I'm also a scientist with a PhD in physics, so explaining science is another thing I like to do here. Science is the main ideology I preach, as a matter of fact.

And speaking of ideology, you've made some unsupported assumptions above. You wrote that I "support spending a lot of money on climate organizations that in turn support liberal politicians who in turn make regulations to support funding for those same climate organizations." Hmmm. Where did I ever say anything like that? I don't think you'll find anything in this blog to support that claim. Nowhere in this blog will you find anything about what politicians or political parties I support either.

In this article, I didn't say anything about what type of solutions I support. Did you know there are well known Republicans who not only believe in climate change but have proposed free-market solutions? Check it out:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/science/a-conservative-climate-soluti...

It's only in the United States that we're stuck in this argument about the science behind climate change. The rest of the industrialized is on board and doing something about it.

Now, back to your point that I'm preaching ideologies and stoking political controversy, I'm fine with people who disagree with me. I'm fine with people posting comments refuting what I've written. (Got a few with this article!) What I'm not fine with is discussions that devolve into name calling and other forms of disrespect. We're all human beings here. Fortunately, I rarely get anything like that here.

You're a longtime reader and commenter here, Robin. We've certainly had our disagreements, especially when I write about climate change. But we can have those discussions in a civil manner, agree to disagree on certain things, and still respect each other.

Besides, if I agreed with you, then we'd both be wrong. ;~)

Its brave of you to moderate and allow posts that do not align with your narrative. I find it ignorant to squeeze efficiency out of the United States when the goal is global. The United States may be the largest net user of energy, but be honest. The United States is also the most responsible with regards to energy usage. As it is now, the vast majority of the earth's population is rapidly expanding whereas the United States has very modest growth. Likewise, the United States is much cleaner than the rest of the world on a per kilowatt basis. The world population envies - and in many cases simply hates - the success of the United States in controlling their growth and the prosperity from being so disciplined. Let the rest of the world get their fecundity under control and follow it up with delivering clean energy technology to the population that stabilizes their growth. It's not the United States that is the real problem here, it's irresponsible countries like China that are not being honest about their pollution.

The "95% of Scientists" statistic is often mentioned in the global warming discussion. Does anyone have a source for that or know how that number was generated?

I don't really care about Gore or other tree-hugging celebrities, but I do think that it is pointless to talk about the "energy efficiency" of a house. Rating houses based on energy use intensity (EUI) metrics like Btu/sq.ft/yr just doesn't make sense. If my house has an EUI that is one half of the EUI of your house, but is 4 times bigger, than it is still using twice as much energy. It is the amount of energy provided by "dirty" energy sources that affects the environment, not the "efficiency" of the house. Size matters!

As for so-called "renewable energy" generation devices, it does take resources to produce those devices. Right now, and for quite a while into the future, we will have only a limited amount of renewable energy available. Thus, if you (or Al Gore) claims to be using only renewable energy from the grid, you are just taking credit away from someone else who could have used that renewable energy. Until energy storage gets cheaper, we are all using non-renewable energy sources at night when the wind isn't blowing, at least for those us who are too far from hydro-electric sources.

Allison
Bailes

Good points, Roy. Yes, EUI is an incomplete look at the energy use. I used it as a home performance contractor to find out how much opportunity for improvement there was in a given house. If the choice is between building or buying a smaller vs. a larger house, or better, between lower energy consumption, then total energy consumption is a better metric. I wrote about this in an article on energy efficiency vs. conservation a while back.

Size matters for sure, and it would make more sense to measure energy per person and year. But an energy efficient home uses less energy than the same home with worse energy efficiency, all else being equal. So it does make sense to talk about energy efficiency.

Not least because of your second paragraph, that any renewable energy you use takes away the possibility for someone else to use it. The best you can do is to combine green(er) energy with better energy efficiency.

I live in Sweden where almost all our energy comes from hydro or nuclear. We export energy to other countries such as Germany and Poland that otherwise would burn more coal. I meet a lot of people who think we should close down our nuclear power plants and stop the export of hydro power because that would make OUR country greener. I obviously don't agree with that because it would increase the overall CO2 emissions in Germany and Poland.

I would claim that you if you evaluate energy use per person per year, then you are talking about the "energy efficiency" of the person, not the home.

Regardless of political perspective, I don't think you've presented a logical argument. It seems to me it really should matter how efficient Al Gore's home is. I wouldn't take advice from a dentist with no teeth, or a financial planner that was broke, or a builder who's house doesn't pass code. If you don't practice what you preach, isn't that the best way to loose credibility?

Allison
Bailes

Mark, your examples sound relevant but actually don't apply here. Gore isn't saying we all need to cut back individually. He's saying we need large-scale, systemic change. We need to change the fuels that generate utility-scale electricity. Click through and read the two articles I linked to. They do a much better job explaining this than I have:

Al Gore’s Carbon Footprint Doesn’t Matter

Rich climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio lives a carbon-intensive lifestyle, and that's (mostly) fine

If you don't want to click through, here's a paragraph from the first one that makes the point clearly:

Advocates like Gore certainly have suggested ways individuals can do their part. In 2007, he stated, “The only way to solve this [climate] crisis is for individuals to make changes in their own lives.” But just a year later, he said, “In addition to changing the light bulbs, it is far more important to change the laws and to change the treaty obligations that nations have.” Last month, he said the three best ways are to talk about climate change (which he does), look for environmentally responsible choices when making large purchases (which he does), and support climate-friendly political candidates (which he does). Individual action has never been the focus of his message.

The hypocrisy claim is a way to distract from the real message by focusing on the messenger. And unfortunately Al Gore makes an easy target.

If Al Gore's emissions don't matter, why do the emissions of any person matter? The most incoherent argument possible.

It is most telling Al Gore did not take steps to improve his home until after he was criticized.

A few of us have spent so much time and energy reducing our impact.

Leigha is correct, most people are hypocrites. Those of us who are not hypocrites have a right to be critical.

When someone, especially a well known political figure, tries to talk about environment and energy, accusations of hypocrisy are always going to happen, because to be a person living in the world is to take part in some aspects of systems that have environmental consequences, whether you're a public figure or a lowly energy rater. Thus I agree that a certain amount of this kind of criticism is just a distraction--though it's also an all-too-human reaction to environmental issues. There's myriad ways we could all do better, some of which we have control over in our individual lifestyles but a lot of which we don't, and that gets twined up in the philosophical real dang fast, and is also *depressing.* It's easier to call out hypocrisy in those bringing forward highly imperfect discussion and then and go think about something else, than to live with the sobering fact that climate change is a wicked, complex problem with wicked, complex potential solutions. To carry the analogy further of the dentist with no teeth: maybe I wouldn't trust the politician with no visible hypocrisy because I'd wonder what they're hiding or if they've ever really lived in the real world.

Billions and billions spent each year for this farce.

Yes, the earth is warming up. Yes, man sucks and never does anything truly good for the environment he lives in. That's the devil of being human, you want, you consume. You are never considerate of the environment around you.

The earth has heated up and cooled down many, many, many, and so on .. times long before we became a pimple on the globe's backside. We are not truly smart enough, nor have we even existed as a species long enough, to actually figure out why the earth heats and cools.

Sure, the ozone has a big hole in it. Sure, green house gasses do not help the atmosphere. But maybe all of the atomic detonations in the upper atmosphere years ago didn't help it either.

Only humans are arrogant enough to develop the thought that they actually can control it. And only humans can come up with the grand scheme to profit from it.

Wow, even on this page there are climate change skeptics. As soon as inconvenient politics are involved, seems like everyone puts on their spectacles and becomes a climatologist. What happened to trusting the observations and advice of scientists who have dedicated their professional lives to studying and understanding this extraordinarily complex issue? Even if you are just skeptical by nature, when you "follow the money", who do you really think benefits from climate change skepticism? There is no one way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but there IS only one (extremely, embarrassingly lucrative) product that causes the majority of those emissions. It's called fossil fuel and so-called "skeptics" seem to think they are being canny when they side with the industry that sells it. What a world.

The narrative sounds like Animal farms, "Two legs bad, four legs good." The crusade to clean up energy pollution needs to be focused on emerging countries. Focusing on the most efficient users is a farcical strategy. I'm all for sealing up homes and better efficiency out of appliances. But buying stuff built in developing countries, where pollution laws are a farce, is hypocritical. Enjoy your clean solar panels while millions of people are poisoned from the industry that creates them. But because you shift blame to fossil fuel, that makes it okay. The only sane approach to cleaning up the world is cleaning up the developing world. Please stop ignoring the innocents.

A very minor point: one good idea from the past are working shutters, which could reduce cooling loads. It appears that the shutters on Al Gore's home are correctly sized and hinged, yet the shutter dogs are placed incorrectly. The pivot point should be below the shutter, not to the side. One side is larger; they pivot freely and the weight keeps them vertical, with the smaller half keeping the shutter in the open position. As positioned they'd open by themselves unless we suspend gravity. Add that almost all decorative shutters are hung with the louvers in the wrong direction, so if the shutter could be closed the louvers would then direct water towards the window instead of away.
I suspect that if Mr. Gore was building today, his home would be a very different statement.

However, including your icons mentioned here, it reads as if you don't mind central planners imposing policies on us who have limited means/connections/relationships with the hope, it does more than a fart in the wind.

i bet if you asked scientist in the 1600s, 95% would have said the sun rotated around the earth until Galileo. How accurate have all the modeled predictions been against reality?

Allison
Bailes

Doug, central planners have been imposing their policies on all of us our whole lives. How much say have you had in your local utility's choice of fuels? How much transportation fuel options do you have when you go to buy a car? (Fortunately, that one's starting to budge a bit.) For those of limited means, it's even worse. There are good energy efficient, affordable housing options now, but people with little resources don't get a lot of choice.

I find that most folks choose to align with their political party's traits and positions primarily to have a common affinity within the tribe. If Al Gore had a prominent Republican co-narrator with him in these documentaries, I expect the political climate would be different. The Climate Solutions Caucus is addressing the partisan issue by requiring a Congressman from one party to partner with a Congressman from the other party to join the Caucus as a pair. The real debate isn't whether the science is real, but how we should tackle Climate Change.
Even within the home performance industry we view the building science pretty much the same, but how we put EE programs together can be political. Climate Change should be no different.

Great discussion. I was skeptical someone who benefits from the global warming discussion could write a fair article but have to say, I was surprised. My 10 kWH solar home is insignifcant, but if everyone had a 10k home, it might make some difference in carbon emissions. I do think its extream arrogance that humans believe they control global warming/cooling, but can't stick my head in the sand when I see the smog choking air over Chinese cities. Don't forget that mother nature's volcanic action probably does more harm than 100 smoggy cities. That said we all want clean air and water so we should continue to work towards that ideal and I think the carbon question will diminish. Not sure about the Paris accord, seemed it didn't do anything to the biggest carbon offenders (China/India). I hope this is one of Trump's big picture tactics to renegotiate a treaty that makes sense globally and not just the US.

The real problem is the new windows are Andersen double hungs. Not a very energy efficient window, at all, and given that this was 2007 they're probably in need of being replaced again already!

Just kidding all. A very fine product indeed...

Allison
Bailes

You had me going, Jay. I thought you were going to say they should have put in triple-pane, passive house qualified windows.

Apparently Allison, you belong to the "do as I say, not as I do" school of thought...and you reject Immanuel Kant's categorical moral imperative that one should act in a manner that one would like to see as universal behavior/law. On a more pragmatic front, you might want to read what Bjorn Lomborg has to say about the costs and benefits of the Paris Climate Accord--$100 trillion to reduce temperatures by 0.3 degrees...that is over 5 times U.S. GDP. If one is intent on spending that amount of money, I can't help but wonder if it could be better spent to reduce human misery world-wide?

Isn't that a 'take the money and run' sort of argument? Albeit it more altruistic than the purported wave frolicking, Monte Carlo extravagance of the 1% elite. We're all going to croak so let's just make the most of it?

In less than one week many of us in Kansas City plus other places located in the arc of the solar eclipse will be watching this spectacle in awe. People are coming from all over the USA & abroad to witness this phenomenon inside the primary total darkness track that scientists have pinpointed with amazing accuracy. These same scientists who can pinpoint the arc of the moon's shadow within inches apparently cannot fathom how to determine the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and where the bulk of it is coming from. So, if you are truly a climate denier who doesn't believe in scientists then I feel it is my obligation to tell you that the solar eclipse is actually happening in Canada or Puerto Rico, anywhere but where the scientists say it will be.

So, if you're doctor is fat, sedentary and a heavy smoker does that mean his advice to you to exercise, eat right and not smoke is invalid? Of course not! If Al Gore is right on the science and the public-policy recommendations for how we save the planet, that is what is important. We need to limit carbon emissions. A lot. Fast. If his personal energy consumption decisions are not worthy of imitation, then DON'T IMITATE THEM!

"The bottom line here is that it doesn't really matter how much energy Al Gore uses, even if he does use green energy and purchase offsets. What matters is that the Earth is heating up."

- As long as you don't make the worlds poor worse off I'm all for it.

However pollution (especially created by animal husbandry) along being able to feed an ever growing population a protein-centric western style diet is a bigger threat than AGW. Like reasons to go to war, AGW is just another crisis generated by the State. After all why would anyone agree to make the worlds poor worse off in order to "save them" from "climate change"? Humans aren't necessarily rational organisms. We still encourage people to build and of all things re-build numerous times in areas which are subject to hurricanes.

Climate changes, so what.

40% of carbon emissions have to do with buildings. 60% from transit and industry. 40% is a lot of homes. If an individual's "fart in the wind" is so insignificant, why are we so worried about the methane produced by cows? Because there are a whole lot of cows, just as there are a whole lot of homes. It may be no big deal that my 10kwh roof mounted solar system takes care of our needs, but if enough homes and businesses also went off-grid, then we can make an impact. If cows can make an aggregate negative impact, we humans certainly should be able to make an aggregate positive impact! Al Gore needs to do his part, and he needs to get out of his private jet and take public transportation. Buying carbon credits is baloney. That's just a rich man buying privilege at the expense of everyone else. Just like in the Civil War when rich men paid someone else to go to war for them. If we are all really going to die from a runaway greenhouse effect, is it going to be alright that Al Gore kept guzzling fossil fuels because he could afford to buy his way out of having to conserve? No. "Carbon Neutral" is not the goal. Reduction is the goal.

There are ~94 million cattle in the US and each one generates ~65 lbs/day in manure and ~3 gal/day of urine. That's a lot of nasty runoff which makes its way into our rivers resulting in algae blooms and dead zones (ex, Gulf of Mexico). Pig/Chicken aren't much better. Of course we shouldn't forget fertilizer/pesticide runoff from growing an over abundance of corn and other feed crops for these animals then there's the amount of oil required to keep the whole system running.

Allison,
PSD also worked with the Gore household after the retrofit during the prior flap. We were brought in by a manufacturer to help commission ground source DX heat pumps and because of our M&V expertise we were asked by Gore's staff to evaluate the post retrofit performance of the home and did a fair amount of whole building commissioning including modeling and real time M&V. I can speak at a high level about this. First, the retrofit was an electrification of a large home that also serves as an office for the former Vice President's staff. There were natural gas boilers for heating and hot water and after the retrofit there was only cooking gas. All off site electricity was purchased from renewable sources, no offsets for the electricity. All said and done, the carbon footprint on this house is REALLY low. Now think about how useful it is to explain this to someone who has an opinion against climate change (is there anyone left without an opinion?) and if it is worth it to even try when the people who want to cut you down are willing to distort anything you say. I suspect that this the reason for the silence.

Greg

Allison
Bailes

Greg, thanks for that extra information about your work on the Gore residence/office. There's one thing I didn't really emphasize in the article that you make clear:  energy consumption and carbon footprint are two different things.

Greg, how does one know that he is purchasing off-site electricity from renewable sources? Does the grid have different paths for renewable and non-renewable sources? Is it just because he is paying a couple of cents more per kilowatt-hour and the utility then tells him it was from renewable sources?

I don't think you have to live in a tiny house in order to credibly preach about energy conservation. But Al Gore does more than that.

The issue for me is that while many have claimed that Gore is mostly pushing for changes in large scale carbon emissions, the policies he supports on that front will result in drastic price increases for energy on the small scale. Accordingly, he's asking people to either pay considerably more for their current consumption, or cut back drastically in order to maintain a current expenditure level they can afford. That's a hard pill for most people to swallow.

Since he's obviously able to absorb those kinds of extra costs, his modest energy improvements are only symbolic. In order to avoid the hypocrisy charge and maintain credibility asking people to make huge sacrifices, he should himself make huge sacrifices.

Science should always be questioned - that is the premise of science. When we take scientist solely at their word without definitive proof (something that cannot be provided with our level of knowledge as humans), we become fools. Simply put - we are not knowledgeable enough to say with absolute certainty that all global warming, this time around, is only caused by human activity. Thousands of years from now when the next cooling trend, probably even another ice-age, starts our way, what are we going to say then? "Hey look everyone, all of that energy savings we have done is now cooling the earth. Ooops, we cooled it too far and now it's too damn cold. Better start up with fossil fuels again?" Oh our arrogant nature.

The comments above say all we need to know about the future of climate change. It demonstrates that, typical of humans, we would rather debate to the last breath , each person representing a singular process of information bytes, unexplored ideas and opinions, and basic economic self-interest (not to even get into interpersonal dynamics.) Multiply this by 7.5 billion.
Allison provides real,factual information Do with it what you will, or not. It won't matter, it is only your choice. Collective action is fine, but it should have begun 30 years ago, when even most scientists were hedging their bets. Now , it's simply too late.

So, if we are all doomed no matter what, and we keep hearing this same song every ten years or so without reality ever indicating there was ever any accuracy to the predictions of doom and gloom, why are we still making life so difficult for ourselves? The cost of HVAC systems has tripled and more due to all of the claims that continue to prove to be false simply by time. So if we are doomed anyway, why do we continue to spend trillions of dollars to fix what cannot be fixed?
And as for scientific proof; there is no scientific methods of determining any claims, only manufactured models that amount to being as scientific as tarot cards are in predicting the future. Not one thing claimed in any of the gloom and doom predictions have come true. That is the only data we have that comes even close to being scientific. We learned how to measure a few things in the atmosphere and a few opportunistic folks figured out how to scam a whole lot of money from the world over predictions based on WAG's. We are simply not that important to the Universe that we can take out a planet that has wiped out over 99% of species that have ever existed before mankind even made an appearance on planet Earth. If we get too out of hand, nature will take care of us; one way or the other. We truly need to stop believing we are some sort of godlike beings and just go with the flow of nature.

Allison
Bailes

Did you watch the eclipse, Robin? Have you seen the news about hurricane Harvey? We knew about those events before they happened and could predict them pretty well. Are they, too, "as scientific as tarot cards"?

Seriously, Allison, you are better than this. You know darned well that being able to predict an eclipse or hurricane is a lot easier, albeit more current, than to predict climate change and global temperatures. Even the hurricane predictions change from hour to hour as "the world turns".
But since you decided to go this direction, you have proven the point I was making. None of the predictions over the past 40 years about global warming or climate change have come true. Coastal cities are not under 20 feet of water, as was predicted. Global crops have not diminished, in fact, vegetation globally is benefitting from the changes in climate. No massive increase of more intense storms have occurred. And the global temperatures actually decreased for most of the time period they were predicted to increase. There is no more evidence that an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere causes global warming than there is that an increase in global warming causes more CO2 in the atmosphere. Some of the most absurd excuses have been made in the attempt to justify claims made by the environmentalist industry;
*Greenland was not named so because it used to be greener, it was named so as a marketing ploy for Vikings to trick more Scandinavians to settle there.
*Ozone is smog (just because ozone is always found in smog because ozone is a byproduct of VOCs that make up smog and sunlight. The ozone in smog is what depletes the harmful VOC's)
*Polar bears are dying due to ice melt (the photos showing dead polar bears turned out to be staged by environmentalists who killed the bears and placed them on the ice sheets.)
*Expedition ships sent into the Antarctic to prove how badly the ice is melting gets stuck in the ice and can't be extracted because all of the ice breakers are busy freeing other ships that are stuck.
Just how many lies, deceits and manipulations are we supposed to fall for from such a dishonest industry?

And Robin, you make my point. The human brain and the systems of thought we employ, in contrast to the subjective world we occupy, give rise to too much dissonance for us to effectively respond to problems that are too opposed to our self interest. Hence a whole array of obvious problems go along until they reach a crisis stage. In terms of climate change ,due to the inertia of the geophysical system that crisis stage (which we are entering now) will reach it's maximum regardless of what we do now. You can pick whatever data you like, the system will respond in its own way. I do note, that,ecologically, your reference to plants thriving due to a more CO2 is a tremendous oversimplification.

Brian, you and I seem to be viewing this issue similarly, but from opposing viewpoints. It is my belief that opposing viewpoints that all have some credence should all be considered while all being taken with a grain of salt. Any predictions of the future of the Earth's climate is purely speculative from any of our viewpoints, that does not mean we should dismiss any points of view other than the absurd.
What I mostly oppose are the regulations that have been created without thought to the many immediate consequences created by them. Just from the field of the HVAC industry, requiring higher efficiently "rated" systems and providing government sponsored incentives to promote them has cost a lot of money and has created a lot of comfort issues and energy cost issues. For example, in order to achieve a higher SEER "rating", most systems in my area must be mismatched to oversized furnaces which in turn cost more to operate due to short cycling. Also, two stage cooling and heat pump systems are only available in full tonnages creating oversized, short cycling systems replacing 1/2 ton systems. Just about every high efficiency system utilizing a furnace in my area suffers from too much air volume. In my area, humidity is more of a summer issue than cooling is. To achieve higher SEER "ratings", equipment manufacture's simply took from dehumidifying latent capacity to boost sensible capacity, making it more difficult for higher "rated" systems to dehumidify. The entire rating system is a sham. The HVAC industry is being driven by energy "ratings" rather than by HVAC comfort needs. So we wind up paying more for HVAC systems that in parts of the country do not work as well unless we set them up in a way that would reduce the efficiency "rating". Every week I find myself working with a contractor to set up a new high efficiency "rated" system be able to dehumidify better by essentially reducing the efficiency "rating". Of course, by doing so, the end user winds up turning the thermostat up because they are more comfortable at a higher temperature once we get the humidity under control; which in turn costs the consumer less money to be comfortable with a less efficiently "rated" system. This is but one example of how the way we are going about "fixing" the environment is ridiculously costly with no gain to the environment.
Yes, we should be focused on reducing pollutants from fossil fuel energy. We should be focused on reducing emissions, not on eliminating the most cost effective form or energy available to us. Refrigerant leaks? We should not be leaking any chemicals into the atmosphere. So logically, we should be focusing on containment, not the elimination of refrigerants du jour. Everything we are doing to allegedly save the world is being done for political and financial gain and not at all rationally. OK, that's my rant for today. We are not far from one another as far as the end goal, just not agreeing on paths to be taken to get there.

Robin, Thanks for your effort to describe your position. Perhaps, as you say, we are not that far apart in the question of how humans deal with such existential issues as Climate Change. I can see your frustration at the seemingly contradictory applications best practices, which often generate undue costs for marginal results. I will even agree that Archer's book made me question some of his assertions, partly, I think, because of the writing/editing.

Where you lose my agreement is in professing what are essentially conspiracy theories, which introduce venal motivations into real scientific debate. But I have no objection. I believe, as I've said, that no assembly of human effort can avert catastrophe at this point. Climate Change,in destabilizing ecosystems which have established over millennia, paired with a human biological load which shows no sign of voluntary reduction, will bring about the same sort of biological crush that has ended in historic mass extinction. That's not to say humans will be erased, (unless of course we decide to deploy some of our best lethal technology), but it's safe to say business as usual will be done for anyone emerging from the experience. That said, I have no need to debate anyone. The future will demonstrate who was correct, regardless of what we say now.

Without thoughtful debate, even when it seems absurd at times, we cannot envision possible futures and therefore cannot avoid those we would not want to live in. I have certainly altered my opinions due to thoughtful debate, so I will never take offense to it.

I was trying to stay out of this conversation, but I cannot resist this one. Predicting eclipses is rather simple physics and has been done for quite a while now. Laws of gravitational attraction are well known, and the Earth and Moon have been orbiting in a vacuum for quite a while with lots of past available data. I think that anyone who took freshman Physics in college could figure this one out.

As for hurricanes, the weather service has gotten a lot better during the past decades at predicting the path and severity of hurricanes, but mainly because they have so much more data and real-time monitoring capabilities available to them. However, Harvey is an anomaly to their prediction capabilities. They were way off on predicting its severity in advance. They have about 10 different models for predicting the path and they show about 10 different directions for it. About the only thing they do know with certainty is that it isn't going in any direction very fast, and it is going to be there for a while. This one is hitting pretty close to "home" for me because I have a daughter living in Houston and she received no clear direction in advance (or even now) on what she should be doing. I am not blaming anyone for this, just pointing out that hurricane prediction is still very complex with many unknowns.

As for climate change, I was living in Texas about 10 years ago when we had Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and Wilma and Ike. We were told that we should expect the frequency and severity of hurricanes in the U.S. to continually increase due to climate change. So I moved to Oklahoma to get away from hurricanes, but then Texas didn't get another one until now. What happened?

So here is my point. Eclipses are governed by very simple long-term physics that are easy to predict. Hurricanes are short-term instabilities that are much more difficult to predict. Climate change is based on very complex, long-term physics involving numerous mechanisms of thermodynamics, heat and mass transfer, and fluid flow. These are my areas of expertise as applied to buildings and HVAC equipment which I find to be pretty complex, even for these simple, short-term applications with lots of available data. Applying these same principles to the sun and earth over long time periods is way more complex than eclipses, hurricanes, and building physics. I claim that the only consensus on the topic of climate change is by those who speak the loudest, who also happen to be those who receive funding or are looking for political gain.

By the way, I am not "denying" climate change by any means. I just don't see convincing evidence to support it. I do support more efficient use of energy and less pollution to our environment. I do not support needlessly wasting time or money to do that.

I suggest you read the book by David Archer, 'The Long Thaw' if you are interested in more of a scientific perspective. There are a number of factors in play, as you point out, but there is a difference between determining if a change is happening and determining how and when it will manifest.If anything, science is too conservative. As Archer points out, warming does not stop in the year 2100, the convenient point for which most projections seem to be made. The real warming will continue after that point as the climate system responds. But of course, climate change is simply the wild card in the deck. We have plenty of other unaddressed problems that will gain more momentum in the decades to come.

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