Geoff has written two posts recently advancing the common AGW Skeptic argument that since Gore isn’t carbon neutral this proves he doesn’t really believe what he is saying.
I think I’ve made myself very clear that I completely disagree with the logic of Geoff’s arguments because they are arguments by analogy. I think my latest comment sums up my position well:
The real challenge is to take an analogy that we all agree actually fits Gore’s situation — I see no one arguing over mine at the moment — and still be able to prove your point. Until you can do that, there is no reason for anyone to buy your argument by analogy.
I even offered a counter analogy of a household of 6 billion people and Gore claiming that it’s a good idea to use your shoe to stamp out termites but is really more focused on getting everyone in that 6 billion jointly owned house to tent and spray the house. Later on I added:
But I’m curious. What did you think of my argument that my analogy is closer to Gore’s actual beliefs and that therefore it’s only fair to tackle it and see if you can still prove your point?
Doesn’t that just make sense? And if the argument fails with the ‘better analogy’ and only works with the ‘worse analogy’ doesn’t that pose a problem to the original analogy no matter how many people liked it?
In short, the AGW Believer argument that Gore’s house and carbon footprint proves he doesn’t really believe in global warming definitely falls into the arguments without merit category.
So of course this all means I disagree with Geoff’s conclusion, right?
As it turns out, I think — arguments by bad analogy aside — Geoff’s conclusion is largely correct.
While I have problems with arguments by analogy, I think if you poked around in the mind of your above average AGW Skeptic (like Geoff is) I think you’d find that what’s really going on is that they have an overall impression – one that is hard to put a finger on – that there seems to be an overall disconnect between the imminent doom many AGW Believer’s preach and how they act. Therefore they have latched on to Gore’s mansions and overall carbon footprint as ‘symbolic’ of the problem.
I disagree with ‘symbolic arguments.’ But I think they are basically correct when their gut tells them that something isn’t right.
A Better Example
Let me give you a better example. There was recently a massive blow up within the AGW Believer community over the fact that the authors of Superfreakonomics advocated use of Geo-Engineering. 
I think this story is particularly humorous for a number of reasons. Allow me to quote myself:
As it turns out, the authors of SuperFreakonomics are fully in the global warming religious camp. There is simply no doubt about this. So why is their book causing such a massive stir in that religion? It’s simple, they believe in global warming more so then the current keepers of orthodoxy and so they are trying to change that orthodoxy to match their more radical beliefs.
The debate can be summarized quite easily: The authors believe global warming due to carbon emissions is a man made problem and is imminent. Thus they are ready to start exploring ways to geo-engineer the earth to create global cooling so as to give us more time to change the direction of our battleship and get our carbon emissions under control.
In other words, they are global warming radicals. … That’s why I find it so ironic that they are be branded as global warming deniers when in fact they are really just too radical for the current orthodoxy.
The current orthodoxy is appalled by their behavior. If word gets out there is a way to cool the earth down via geo-engineering, the growing (actually dropping due to the recession) support for controlling carbon emissions may collapse and we’ll never get it under control.
Yes, this is what the debate is over. It’s really not over anything else but control of the orthodoxy. It’s, by the way, a worthwhile and productive debate in my opinion.
Now I just can’t see around this logic. It goes like this:
1. AGW Believers often (usually?) preach imminent doom by heat death.
2. If you really believe in imminent doom for the whole planet due to Anthropogenic CO2 caused global warming, then you will agree with the authors of Superfreakonomics.
3. The AGW Believer community overwhelmingly condemned the authors of Superfreakonomics.
4. Therefore, the AGW Believer community actually doesn’t believe in imminent doom.
The IPCC Report
In fact, I find further support for this point of view within the IPCC report. I mentioned that I tried to read it and got bored. But it’s interesting that they do not present an imminent doom scenario. In fact, they give ‘percentage chances’ of various different scenarios, most of them quite far off compared to my remaining life span — though arguably ‘imminent’ geologically speaking. Try to not fall asleep as you read it for yourself. Note that there is no imminent doom mentioned and time frames are over the entire 21st century for the shortest range predictions.
Which brings me to my point: Do most AGW Believers actually believe in imminent doom? I think not.
Do they Actually Claim Doom is Imminent? Or is that an AGW Denier Strawman?
If I weren’t an AGW Skeptic myself, I might be tempted to say “No, wait, you’re missing this Bruce. AGW Believers have never actually said ‘doom is imminent’.”
But this argument doesn’t work for me. Why? Because I’ve already seen An Inconvenient Truth. As I mentioned, this was my introduction to AGW. And it absolutely left me with the impression that CO2 was about to cause imminent doom. (I’ll let Geoff supply us with more quotes that prove that AGW Believers have gone out of their way to make us think doom is imminent. This one major example is enough for me.) The simple fact is that this has gone on unimpeded by that community. Therefore, they are all guilty of it to some degree. (I’ll make individual exceptions if the person has gone out of their way to distance themselves from Gore’s rhetoric.)
In short, I think the real reason Geoff and AGW Skeptics feel like there is a gap between Gore’s rhetoric and his actions is because, well, there is.
It’s unfortunate that the AGW Skeptic/Denier community has chosen an irrational argument to ‘prove their point’ because I think they are basically correct in their conclusion and their bad arguments are undermining their correct conclusion: that Gore has intentionally created a feeling that things are worse than they are even by the models he accepts.
Gore Only Lies By Omission, So It’s Okay, Right?
Now I do believe in balance, so let me partially defend Gore on this front even while I explain why ultimately it doesn’t help for me personally. Gore isn’t actually stupid, contrary to what conservative’s believe. Gore is in fact a pretty savvy politician. If you honestly believe that AGW is going to ruin the earth — and I believe that is precisely what Gore believes — the only way to wake people up and get them acting now is to create alarm. And unfortunately, human beings often only care about imminent problems. If Gore were to be completely truthful with us, and admit we’re probably many decades away – maybe even centuries, before human kind is in any kind of threat of going extinct, I suspect that this would undermine everything he actually does believe.
So Gore smartly — yet dishonestly — leaves that fact out. He never actually claims doom is imminent. He never gives a time frame at all. He simply leaves you with the impression the world is about to explode. This rhetoric approach has been copied by AGW Believes all over the place. It’s very frustrating.
Should we give the AGW Believers partial credit? I mean Gore never actually does say doom is imminent nor give a time frame. And couldn’t we say that the real concern of AGW Believers right now isn’t the extinction event that is decades or centuries off (according to their models) but rather is the million ton freight train that becomes harder and harder to stop every moment as it accelerates away from the station? So isn’t Gore’ ‘doom rhetoric’ accurate in a sense? Isn’t it true that the tipping point of doom is imminent according to the models and isn’t it true that Anthropogenic CO2 growth will take a very long time to stop? Can we defend Gore on the grounds that the ‘imminent doom’ is considered by that community as justifiable because they believe the ‘tipping point of doom’ is imminent?
I admit that these are hard questions. Leaving out ‘facts’ is required for any presentation. If it wasn’t required, then we could simply trust everyone to learn all pertinent facts for themselves (which in this case requires getting a PhD in Climate science.) And I know from dealing with Mormon history that sometimes there are ‘issues that aren’t issues.’ If presented wrong, they become issues, but if presented right, they aren’t issues at all. But if I am not specifically presenting on that particular issue, I usually don’t have time to explain the whole thing, so I am forced to just ‘leave it out’ for now.
Yet even having said this, I just can’t muster up support for Gore on this. Here’s the honest facts for myself:
1. After watching his movie, I was left feeling scared and that my children were going to die of heat stroke while they watched the ocean’s boil. This isn’t going to happen. (Maybe my great-grand children at the earliest.)
2.AGW Believers are a one trick pony. The only thing they’ve got in their court is a scientific consensus and a peer reviewed model that says we’ve got problems. (Granted, this is more than the AGW Skeptics have.)
3.Therefore, the only thing AGW Believers really have is good faith, because none of the rest of us understand their scientific models.
Given this situation, the very last thing AGW Believers should ever do is put me in a position where I feel one way (see #1 above) and then find out it’s wrong. It eliminates the one and only thing they’ve got in their favor. The AGW community should put a muzzle on Gore.
 Geo-Engineering: Geo-Engineering is doing things to the planet to control the temperature, like putting massive mirrors in orbit around the earth to reflect back the heat or putting stuff into the atmosphere that blocks the sun a little bit. It’s cheaper than the massive cap-and-trade policy being proposed (what isn’t?) and more to the point, it actually can be done right away. If doom is imminent, this is our only hope. In the doom imminent scenario, Cap and trade is too little too late at this point.
 Incidentally, this was the very post that Bookslinger was referring to when he said he’d seen my global warming arguments before and he found the sophomoric. Note that it’s a summarized version of what I’ve published on M*. I think summaries of arguments just don’t do the argument justice.