BROAD (3/13/07): In October, Dr. Easterbrook made similar points at the geological society meeting in Philadelphia. He hotly disputed Mr. Gore's claim that ''our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this'' threatened change.As we said, Dr. Easterbrook may not reed reel gudd. In that statement, Gore doesnt say that our planet has never experienced such temperature shifts; instead, he speaks of our civilization. Many of you will see the difference in the problems encompassed by those different statements. (For Gores fuller text, see below.) So how about it? Has our civilization ever experienced environmental shifts like the shift which Gore is projecting? Were told that Easterbrook offered data dating back 15,000 years—but many of those data would presumably predate our civilization (see Gores text). True, that medieval warm period which Broad highlights certainly could contradict Gores statement. But uh-oh! Gore had addressed that point long before Easterbrook gave his hot speech! Gore writes this in his book:
Nonsense, Dr. Easterbrook told the crowded session. He flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to ''20 times greater than the warming in the past century.''
GORE (page 64): The correlation between temperature and CO2 concentrations over the last 1,000 years—as measured in the ice core recorded by [Lonnie] Thompsons team—is striking.To see the chart, go buy the book. But as you can see, Gore discusses this standard objection in the pages of his well-known book (and in Davis Guggenheims film). Gores book and film came out months before Easterbrook flashed his own slide show.
Nonetheless, the so-called global-warming skeptics often say that global warming is really an illusion reflecting natures cyclical fluctuations. To support their view, they frequently refer to the Medieval Warm Period.
But, as Dr. Thompsons thermometer shows, the vaunted Medieval Warm Period (the third little red blip from the left, below) was tiny compared to the enormous increases in temperature of the last half-century (the red peaks at the far right of the chart).
GORE (page 149): The average temperature worldwide is about 58 degrees F.In that passage, Gore isnt discussing changes which may have happened 15,000 years in the past. He is saying that our current civilization presumes a climate pattern which may change in this century. Eighty-five pages earlier, he has already said, correctly or otherwise, that the Medieval Warm Period doesnt compare with the changes which may come.
An increase of five degrees actually means an increase of only one or two degrees at the Equator, but more than 12 degrees at the North Pole, and a large increase on the periphery of Antarctica as well...
Our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this. Today's climate pattern has existed throughout the entire history of human civilization.
Every place—every city, every farm—is located or has been developed on the basis of the same climate patterns we have always known.
A STASI-BOYS QUESTION: Poor Tucker! Last night, he asked Easterbook about the very point weve discussed. And omigod! Despite his failure to throw out the chaff, he provoked a clarification:
CARLSON (3/13/07): You make the point in the New York Times today that Gore`s contention that weve never seen a climate shift like this ever in history is false, and, in fact, there have been lots of changes in climates down through the millennia. Can you explain that?Oh! So those really big changes fall well outside the time period Gore was discussing! Somehow, Broad managed to miss that point. Maybe the glint off his Pulitzer Prizes kept him from seeing it.
EASTERBROOK: Thats very true. We have excellent data from the Greenland Ice Core, and what we do is measure isotopes that leave a climatic fingerprint, and they show conclusively that at least ten times in the last 15,000 years, we have had climate changes that are more pronounced than what we`ve seen in the last century, and in fact, about 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, they were 20 times as great as what we are seeing now.
COLMES (3/13/07): Joining us now is an emeritus professor of geology at West Washington University, Don Easterbrook.More tomorrow on Broads attempts to get at those logical facts. Its important to sort out the science of warming. How well did our great paper do it?
A lot of people are using this as a way to hit Al Gore over the head and ridicule him, because they don't think that he's on the right. So it is an inconvenient truth, because Gore continues to be ridiculed. And you're one of the people, professor, who seems to question him.
EASTERBROOK: I would question the conclusion. I certainly don't ridicule him. I have the greatest respect for Al Gore, and I commend him for his attempts to clean up the atmosphere. It needs to be done.
But I don't agree with some of the inaccuracies that are both in the film and the book. And that some of the things that he alleges are incongruent with logical facts.