Quick Roundup 142

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Al Gore (Predictably) Chickens Out

Be sure to read all about (via HBL) the Jyllands-Posten (Yes. That Danish newspaper.) interview of Al Gore by "skeptical environmentalist" Bjorn Lomborg that never happened. Not only does this speak volumes about Gore, but the article brings up hard questions about some of his outrageous claims and goals.

The interview had been scheduled for months. The day before the interview Mr. Gore's agent thought Gore-meets-Lomborg would be great. Yet an hour later, he came back to tell us that Bjorn Lomborg should be excluded from the interview because he's been very critical of Mr. Gore's message about global warming and has questioned Mr. Gore's evenhandedness. According to the agent, Mr. Gore only wanted to have questions about his book and documentary, and only asked by a reporter. These conditions were immediately accepted by Jyllands-Posten. Yet an hour later we received an email from the agent saying that the interview was now cancelled. What happened?

One can only speculate. But if we are to follow Mr. Gore's suggestions of radically changing our way of life, the costs are not trivial. If we slowly change our greenhouse gas emissions over the coming century, the U.N. actually estimates that we will live in a warmer but immensely richer world. However, the U.N. Climate Panel suggests that if we follow Al Gore's path down toward an environmentally obsessed society, it will have big consequences for the world, not least its poor. In the year 2100, Mr. Gore will have left the average person 30% poorer, and thus less able to handle many of the problems we will face, climate change or no climate change.

Clearly we need to ask hard questions. Is Mr. Gore's world a worthwhile sacrifice? But it seems that critical questions are out of the question. It would have been great to ask him why he only talks about a sea-level rise of 20 feet. In his movie he shows scary sequences of 20-feet flooding Florida, San Francisco, New York, Holland, Calcutta, Beijing and Shanghai. But were realistic levels not dramatic enough? The U.N. climate panel expects only a foot of sea-level rise over this century. Moreover, sea levels actually climbed that much over the past 150 years. Does Mr. Gore find it balanced to exaggerate the best scientific knowledge available by a factor of 20? [bold added]
Perhaps Heidi "Lysenko" Cullen would be willing to help Al Gore "get the facts out" about global warming by honoring her recent invitation to global warming skeptics to appear on her television show.

She should start by hosting this interview, no holds barred. She could even get a longer time slot for the interview and -- since she is obviously so concerned about making a buck off global warming -- she could have her studio done up with chain-link fencing, allowing her to bill the extravaganza as a cage match between Al Gore and Bjorn Lomborg.

Somehow, I doubt even that much will happen.

Businesses Less Brave than Gore

Galileo blogged yesterday about corporate capitulation to global warming hysteria.
[T]he automobile manufacturers favor controls on the utilities and oil companies, and the oil companies favor controls on the automobile manufacturers and utilities. The utilities just want to make sure all sectors of the economy face controls, so that their industry is not singled out.
Here is a blatant example of how the imposition of government force in the economy has far-reaching and very undesirable effects. In fact, it would be in the best interests of all of these companies to unite against global warming legislation. But since the government can regulate any of them basically at will, it is easy for the advocates of global warming hysteria to break their ranks. It's a simple case of arguments versus threats.

"Democracy" in Mississippi

My socially-conservative home state has just made California look like a bastion of capitalism by successfully threatening the insurance industry with lawsuits and criminal investigations unless they covered flooding damage that was not included in policies of homes destroyed by the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina along its coast in 2005.
For State Farm, the nation's largest home insurer and the biggest in Mississippi, the settlement allows for "a just, speedy and efficient resolution," as a spokesman, Phil Supple, put it.

It would also remove a major public relations headache. While State Farm and the other insurers may have had some strong legal arguments, they have been widely perceived as uncaring. In many cases, residents whose houses were reduced to concrete slab foundations received just a few thousand dollars in payments. Some received nothing.

Under the settlement, 300 homeowners who lost everything will receive their full insurance coverage. Mississippi officials said 1,000 others would receive at least half, with the opportunity to negotiate for more.


State Farm got a vivid picture of the hostility toward it in the first jury trial a little more than a week ago. [U.S. District Court Judge L.T. Senter Jr.] abruptly declared that State Farm had failed to prove its case and the jury quickly came back with a decision requiring it pay $2.5 million in punitive damages to a couple in Biloxi who lost everything in the storm. The judge also awarded the couple the full value of their insurance policy -- $223,000. State Farm had maintained it owed them nothing. [bold added]
The whole state seems to have rejected a long-term sine qua non for its eventual recovery, rule of law, in favor of the short-range expedient of rifling the assets of a large corporation. The sentence in bold says it all: The populace there is overwhelmingly unable to appreciate the importance of rule of law, so public whim trumped the fact that agreements had been made between consenting parties.

On top of this, the kind of devastation unleashed by Katrina was hardly unprecedented. Camille did much the same thing with its storm surge in 1969. Why did anybody in this lawsuit not hold policies that covered flood damage? And if such policies weren't available, why did these people build on that coast? And why should anyone else assume their risk? In short, why should State Farm (or anyone else who has money) "care" about people whom nobody forced to build on the Gulf Coast?

Until more people ask questions like these more often, anyone with money is subject to be robbed of it for the sake of those who do not have it, even if through their own fault.

-- CAV


Today: (1) Corrected two typos and added some clarifications to Katrina section. (2) Added hyperlink and HT to story on Al Gore.

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