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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Movie review: episode two

Obligatory disclaimer...
The Great Warming: Age of Uncertainty

The girls and I watched disc two of the series yesterday, and here are our thoughts.

In contradiction to the title, this episode shows no uncertainty at all. It begins with a projection to the year 2050, and proceeds to describe a world of climactic chaos and destruction. The language is in present tense. Had I not caught the reference to the year at the very beginning, I would've thought they were talking about right now. As it is, several moments of distraction had me make that exact error, sending me to the rewind button trying to figure out what why this was making no sense.

There was one section that seemed out of place to me - as much for what I found to be a bizarre statement made by the expert talking about it - was human sacrifice by the Moche. When he said that we "rarely find evidence of human sacrifice," I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Evidence of human sacrifice is plenty, especially in South America. These links are just a few of the ones I was able to find online. If they could miss such an obvious error, how sloppy is the rest of what is being said?

It is believed that the Moche disappeared after what seems to have been a period of 30 years of floods, followed by another 30 years of drought. I'd seen a documentary show about them several years ago, and there's plenty of physical evidence of their ritual sacrifices. Their temples were literally awash with human blood. The Moche apparently believed that their sacrifices would appease the gods and provide stable weather conditions. For a moment, I thought they (the makers of this movie) were going to find some way to blame this period of climactic variance on AGW somehow, but instead a connection was made between the practice of human sacrifice to appease weather gods 1500 years ago, to what we're doing now. I didn't quite get what they were trying to say and, to be honest, I have no desire to re-watch the movie to figure it out.

In this episode, everything is the fault of AGW, and our spewing carbon into the air (again, the terms carbon and carbon dioxide seem to be used interchangeably).

Water levels rise in one area, it's because of AGW.

Water levels drop somewhere else, it's because of AGW.

The weather is really hot, it's because of AGW.

The weather is really cold, it's because of AGW.

There are a lot of extreme storms? AGW.

No storms? AGW.

Flooding? AGW.

Drought? AGW.

On it went.

There were a lot of stories of past cataclysmic storms. Storms that couldn't possibly be blamed on AGW, but did cause a lot of devastation. These where then somehow correlated to predicted AGW storms, as well as recent extreme weather, which is also blamed on AGW. I have to admit, I didn't quite catch the correlation unless, perhaps, it was to illustrate how devastating these sorts of extreme weather events can be.

They then go on to predict what the weather will be like in the future but, like the beginning scenario painted for 2050, the terms used are ones of certainty. Not, "this might happen," or "we believe this will happen," but "this will happen," and "this is how the world will be like." I used the rewind button a few times in these sections because of the terminology.

And it's all because of carbon/CO2 and AGW.

Even when the odd person they speak to expresses the tiniest bit of disclaimer, such as "I don't know if it's global warming, but..." it's quickly brought back to AGW. You would think that absolutely nothing else effects weather and climate patterns, and that computer model predictions are infallible.

This episode did end on a vaguely positive note. It did acknowledge that people are trying to make a difference and trying to cause less damage to the earth. Which is perhaps ironic, since one of the problems identified was high intensity mono-culture agriculture (from the damage to land, to pollutants from the heavy equipment used), only to include the production of corn-based ethanol as one of the improvements people are making. It was just a tiny bit in the conclusion, but they did acknowledge that humans can actually do good things, too.


Something else I wondered about in the movie. Among the things blamed on AGW is increased health problems, including asthma and other respiratory illnesses, because of smog. They spoke to a woman in Toronto who is a runner, and has asthma. She described how she would run a marathon, then the next day she would be out of breath just climbing stairs. She blamed it entirely on smog. This one had my kids and I looking at each other funny.

She has asthma.

She runs a marathon.

She can't breath the next day.

It's because of smog.


I would guess that, having asthma, if she ran that same marathon in the middle of nowhere, with no smog at all, chances are she *still* wouldn't be able to breath the next day. I'm not saying that smog isn't a bad thing, but... I mean really. She just ran a @#%!$^ marathon and is surprised she can't breath the next day? I know people who run. Marathons, half-marathons, 50k events... all in cities, with smog. They don't have asthma. They can breath just fine the next day. They may not be able to walk much because of the blisters, but they can breath.

It seems that people will find a way to blame *anything* on AGW.


  1. Here in Perth, Western Australia we have one of the highest asthma rates in the world, yet Perth never experiences the smog and haze you find in most cities. Our air must be the cleanest of any large urban center in the world.

    I don't know what causes asthma, but I know its not smog.

  2. I don't think anyone knows for sure what actually causes asthma, though we do know what can make it worse.


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