Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore gets their goat

-- by Dave

We knew even beforehand that if Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, as he did today, heads all over the wingnutosphere would explode with fury.

After all, some had already exploded over the concept of his nomination. Some right-wingers even rushed to nominate Rush Limbaugh for the honor, and the Big Man himself loved it, adding:
"I don't even know why Gore's qualified for this. ... I have done more for world peace to promote liberty and freedom than Al Gore has."

One of the first to explode this morning was Michelle Malkin, fresh from her crispy-fried flameout over the Frost family, who's been posting all morning about how big Gore's head must be.

In London, Damian Thompson at the Telegraph offers what will probably be the archetypical response: some hoary old-style Gore-bashing mingled with some warmed-over specious global-warming denial, topped with an absurdly ignorant denunciation of the award itself.

Thompson serves up a heaping helping of mythological Gore-hate in order to explain why Gore didn't deserve the award -- namely, that he's an "exaggerator and a braggart."

He manages to resurrect nearly every Gore-bashing cliche from 2000, including the "invented the Internet" charge, which he grudgingly acknowledges wasn't quite right. But then he digs up every other phony charge raised by the mainstream media in 2000 -- for instance, the remark about the "Love Canal," which the Daily Howler long ago dispensed with. His favorite, he says, was the "union label" tale -- which Bob Somerby also handled this charge back when it raised:
Quick review: On September 18, 2000, Gore told the Teamsters convention that he had been sung “Look for the Union Label” as a lullaby in his youth. Brilliant historians like Shapiro discerned that the song wasn’t written until 1976; they loudly complained that the troubling comment was surely Al Gore’s Latest Lie. Gore explained that he’d only been joking. (“That was a joke,” he told a press conference. “You know? Nobody sings a lullaby to a little baby about union labels?”) He also said that he often told the joke to union audiences. Indeed, on the tape of the Gore speech, you could see Teamsters laugh at his comment. But the press was determined to make Gore a liar, and so they feigned a deep concern about his latest troubling comment (just as they do now with Clark). Indeed, the New York Times never even reported Gore’s explanation; incredibly, they never even told their readers that Gore had said he’d been joking.

He also goes on to cite some rather warmed-over global-warming denial stories that simply don't hold water. For instance, Thompson says:
Polar bears who drowned swimming to look for ice? Again, no evidence: four bears have drowned - but because of a storm.

Of course, there isn't a lot of evidence of bear drownings because their bodies sink. But the population numbers tell us all we need to know -- they're in stark decline. Moreover, the broader scientific evidence is clear that polar bears are headed for extinction. Does Thompson need bear corpses washing up on shores before he can figure that out?

But his bottom line is the same we've been hearing from the right ever since the Gore nomination made the news, to wit:
But there is a more fundamental objection to awarding Gore the peace prize that goes beyond issues of character. Climate change is a threat to the environment, not to "peace" and international order. The prize has gone to some sleazy recipients in the past, but at least you can make a case that their actions staved off bloodshed.

This is, of course, complete blithering nonsense, because it takes even the shallowest and dullest of thinkers a few moments' rumination to figure out that global warming is going to profoundly affect the world's natural resources, and humans have a long and steady history of waging wars primarily over those natural resources.

And in fact, the scientists have been clear about this as can be:
Food and water shortages fueled in the future by global warming could spur conflicts and even wars over these essential resources, the authors of a new study warn.

History suggests the controversial idea might be on track.

Changes in climate, such as temperature and rainfall, can significantly alter the availability of crops, livestock and drinking water. Resource shortages could, in turn, prompt people to turn to war to get what they need to survive, several experts have warned.

A new study, detailed in the August 2007 issue of the journal Human Ecology, suggests this was the case in the past. The authors reviewed 899 wars fought in China between 1000 and 1911 and found a correlation between the frequency of warfare and records of temperature changes.

“It was the oscillations of agricultural production brought by long-term climate change that drove China’s historical war-peace cycles,” wrote lead author David Zhang of the University of Hong Kong.

Similarly, several top retired American military leaders released a report in April warning of the national security threat posed by global warming, predicting wars over water, refugees displaced by rising sea levels and higher rates of famine and disease.

Al Gore has a habit of bringing out the worst in conservatives -- especially their eagerness to smear and their self-imposed ignorance about the nature of science and how the world really works.

No doubt, if they were ever self-aware enough to recognize this, though, they'd just find a way to blame Gore for it.

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