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Global warming scenarios often obscure genuine issues

Poor Al Gore: Despite two Academy Awards for his movie on global warming, and a Supreme Court ruling dealing the Bush administration a wrist slap for its obstinacy in dealing with vehicle emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect, Gore still — in the words of comedian Rodney Dangerfield — “don't get no respect.”

Fresh from his Hollywood triumph, the former vice president returned to Congress for the first time since 2001 to appeal for assistance in enacting measures to offset Earth's rising temperatures. While he was welcomed cordially by many members, others raked him over the coals, including one who bluntly opined, “You're not just off a little, you're totally wrong.”

Another accused him of hypocrisy for excessive energy use at his 10,000- square foot Tennessee home (the city of Belle Meade last week changed its zoning laws, which now will allow the Gores and others to install rooftop solar panels), and then several Republican senators refused to support a resolution Gore sought to stage a “Live Earth” concert on the Capitol grounds July 7, terming it “highly partisan” and “politically controversial.”

Letters to the editor writers, who wax apoplectic at the thought of anything Gore, have generated an avalanche of missives labeling global warming “a myth,” calling projections of the long term consequences “one-sided attempts by the liberal media and government to promote lies,” and terming it “the means to an end by a global power elite that favors a United Nations world government.”

He should be used to it. Twenty years ago, as a Tennessee congressman, Gore joined a handful of scientists and climatology experts in hoisting warning flags about the weather consequences of continuing to spew increasing amounts of man-generated gases into the atmosphere — creating a chorus of derision by skeptics and naysayers that continues to this day.

I remember, about that same time, attending a national conference on future weather trends, at which a noted climatologist gave a presentation on the then-obscure theory of the El Niño phenomenon, and he was almost hooted off the stage.

Over the succeeding two decades, however, the advent of supercomputers and the accumulation and analysis of massive amounts of very accurate weather data have allowed scientists to conclusively document not only El Niño, but its weaker sibling, La Niña, and forecast their impact worldwide. (A strong El Niño was behind the almost-tropical January over much of the United States.)

Similarly, more data and the ability to better analyze those data, have established with over 90 percent certainty that these greenhouse gases are contributing to a global rise in temperature, causing climate changes, glacier melt, shifts in plant and animal species, and a host of other weather-related phenomena.

Will all this result in swelling seas that submerge coastal areas and low-lying cities? Will Minnesotans one day be able to grow cotton?

Maybe. Maybe not. Nobody, including Al Gore, can say for sure. But thousands of respected scientists worldwide believe there is a potential danger to our planet from unchecked emissions.

To turn a deaf ear may adversely impact the lives of our children and grandchildren.

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