Global Challenges vs Global Warming. An Inconvenient Truth * * *

I finally got to see “An Inconvenient Truth” On the upside I think Al Gore comes off like the fine, sincere, bright fellow he is.    A movie like this around election 2000 would have given Florida, and the Presidency, to Al Gore.   The film’s creative use of graphics and video is also very impressive.  This is educational media used in compelling fashion and all presenters should take note of this approach which cleverly blends animation, video, and lecture.

Unfortunately the fundamental premise of this film – that global catastrophe is looming just around the corner – is misguided and not supported by the science Gore claims he holds so dear.   As the film suggests, global warming is well established and it has become clear that much of that warming is a result of human processes (anthropogenic warming).   However, the film strongly implies that castastrophic sea level rises and weather conditions are “likely” when science says only that they are “possible”.   Many things are possible and it’s very foolish to allocate resources without addressing “how likely is this to happen?”.

The science Gore abuses to support the wild claims comes mostly from IPCC reports which actually suggest that sea levels will probably rise at most a few feet *over the next century*.  The best estimates suggest that global climate change is not creating catastrophic sea level rises and killer storms.

What is certain is that we have many current global catastrophes.  They are the hunger, disease, and bad water supplies that plague hundreds of millions of people on earth right now, killing tens of thousands of people *daily*.

First let’s solve those problems, which are much cheaper and easier to solve than global warming and have much clearer and immediate positive benefits.

Clear thinking people should work towards prioritizing issues of global concern and then solving as many of those significant global concerns as possible given the constraints of money, politics, and human ignorance.  Drive less?  Sure.   Support wise resource use?  Of course.   We should apply common sense principles to all problems and wiser use of resources is important.   It’s just not the world’s most pressing problem.  Not by a long shot.

Rather than simply jump on another alarmist bandwagon of the many that litter the historical landscape I’d hope folks will ask themselves “If I could allocate a billion dollars to solving some global problems, what would be the best use of that money?”

Need a hint? It’s been done here:  Copenhagen Consensus 

Must be Good to be Google

Just in from my “biting the hand that is going to feed me at next week’s Google Party” department:

It must be great to go unchallenged in your sector, especially in the hyper-competitive big money internet extravanza.

Over at WebMasterworld people are doing their usual fawning over the greatness of Google search, this despite the fact that Yahoo and MSN are close in quality according to most objective analyses, that history suggests dominance is often short lived, and that search dominance really does not bode well for anybody except Google.  I posted the following comment over there:

I still use mostly Google out of habit but I predict that Yahoo’s recent move to bring social network and tagging information into the results will be successful and may even land them on top until Google relaxes it’s “no human ranking” approaches.

This thread surprises me as most objective measures indicate that Google  is the best, but not by much and certainly not always best if compared to good vertical search tools.  Habit is driving SE choice, not careful analysis of result sets.

Also, I think there will be legal battles when Vista launches over default search in future versions of IE browsers, MS will win most of them, and Google market share will go down with new users.

Search dominance is not healthy for users or webmasters – this community should recognize that more than most.