The Hittman Chronicle

Al Gore doesn't just have a vision for America's future. He has a vision for the future of the entire planet, and he outlines it in his book, "Earth In the Balance." Anyone considering voting for him should read it. It comes across as something written by a bright sixteen-year-old who, after getting a B+ in earth science, is convinced he knows it all. The kind of kid a parent would brag to their co-workers about, but not necessary vote in as president.

He starts with several chapters telling us how horrible everything is; page after page of doom and gloom. Sometimes he spits numbers, other times he uses simplistic charts. One chart shows that only one species per year became extinct until the late 1800's, and now the number approaches 100,000 a year. What a dodo.

Like most politicians, he is extremely fond of junk science, but he has the gall to claim that virtually all of the world's scientists agree with him. On page 38, for instance, after expounding on global warming, he claims that 98% of the scientists agree that it's happening, a mere 2% hold the opposite viewpoint, and the evil media is at fault for portraying the division as more evenly balanced. (Note, the page numbers in this article are from the first printing of the hardcover edition.)

I'll have the whole world, in my hands I'll have the whole world...Is global warming really happening? To answer that we need to dismiss the shrillest preachers on each side of the debate; they're too blinded by dogma to provide any useful input. On the far right we have those who think Christ is coming any minute and he's going to make everything all better, so we can dump crap everywhere without worrying about it. At the other extreme are those who worship Gaia to the point of refusing to go the bathroom in the woods. They return from camping trips with their own feces packed in bags, preferably biodegradable bags hand woven by indigenous peoples in non-exploitive work environments. Government agencies are the third group we should discount, as they stand to enjoy huge increases in their funding and power if they can convince us the sky is falling, or warming, or full of holes. That leaves us with quite a few thoughtful, knowledgeable scientists who have researched the subject, and there's quite a bit of disagreement among them. Some think it's happening, some think it isn't. Among those who think it is, some think man is a primary factor, others think it's more of a natural cycle that we can do little to influence in either direction. Using real science, we can conclude that it probably is happening, a little, or that it probably isn't happening at all. Gore's 98% is as fictional as his claims to have inspired "Love Story."

Al's favorite information sources, of course, are government agencies that stand to reap huge benefits if they can find a problem and then step in to "help." Al quotes studies from the United Nations as if they were unbiased, and completely ignores other studies that arrive at different conclusions. He also fails to mention that most of the extremists who are now predicting disaster from global warming were, in the 1970's, predicting that global cooling would be the end of us all.

Mere facts, of course, never get in Al's way. He states that we've driven CO2 levels from 300 parts per million to 600 PPM, (page 93) getting the numbers wrong on both ends of the spectrum. Before the industrial age the CO2 level, as measured by air bubbles trapped in glacial ice, was about 280 PPM. Today its about 360 PPM, a significant increase, but not nearly the level he's claiming. There's no excuse for such sloppy handling of the facts. The real numbers were embarrassingly easy to find, even before Al invented the Internet.

He comes perilously close to exhibiting a clue from time to time. For instance, he admits that prosperous capitalists do the best job of keeping their environment clean. But such brief insights are almost accidental, and are quickly brushed aside to make room for his dogma. After spending the first third of the book warning us the end is near, he spends the next third telling us how wrong we all are about everything.

Analogies and allegories are always suspect, and his are no exception. His book is packed with inappropriate comparisons. He spends an entire chapter comparing civilization to a dysfunctional family, carefully dropping in all the pop psychology buzzwords like "codependency" and "validation." Businessmen are "enablers," (page 223), the power to make things happen is "not unlike the momentary 'rush' experienced by drug addicts," (page 222), and our consumption of consumer goods is an "addiction." Those who disagree with him are "in denial," and he gleefully compares them to alcoholics on page 223. After hammering us with paragraph after paragraph telling us how horribly dysfunctional civilization is, he brings up the Nazis and Mao's Chinese communism – evidently our civilization is as dysfunctional as theirs. He then tells us that "Each {of these dysfunctional societies} has demonstrated an insatiable need to thrust itself and its political philosophy onto neighboring societies…moreover, each has fostered in its society a seamless web of shared assumptions that most people know are false but that no one dares to question." This is a few chapters before he tells us how America will force the world to adopt our policies to halt global warming.

That's Al's solution: big, big government on a *global* scale. He calls it his "Global Marshal Plan," a name designed to steal good will from the very limited, very specific plan that give Europe a helping hand after WWII. By comparison his plan calls for unlimited meddling, more money than exists in the world (guess who will get to pay the bill) and fuzzy goal lines that can moved the moment anyone gets near them.

He outlines his action plan on page 346. Item one and two reek of Newspeak; he wants to redefine "GNP" and "productivity" to include environmental costs. Item ten tells banks how to conduct their business. The first three words of the remaining items are:

3. Governments should agree . . .
4. Governments should eliminate . . .
5. Governments should improve . . .
6. Governments should adopt . . .
7. Governments should adopt . . .
8. Nations should revise . . .
9. Governments should require . . .
11. Governments should make . . .
12. Governments should develop . . .

If we reduce that just a bit more, his solution boils down to government, government, government, government, government, government, government, government and more government.

Uncle Al has plenty of other plans for us, including eliminating the internal combustion engine (which, with foreseeable technology, means an end to private vehicles) and higher taxes on fuel. Don’t take my word for any of this, get a copy of the book and read it yourself. But please, borrow it from a library. Buying one will encourage his publishers to print more, and although there are many things worth killing trees for, this isn't one of them.


Other Links

The Ecology isn't quite as important as a photo op.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

After going though Al's book twice, I still can't pass this test.

August, 2000


© 2000 Dave Hitt

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