Pin It

Global Warning 

Al Gore was in town last week to remind us all that we're ruining the planet. But do you think the concern about climate change is just a bunch of hot air?

Wednesday, Dec 20 2006
Last Thursday, more than 5,000 scientists packed two ballrooms of the San Francisco Marriott Hotel to hear former Vice President Al Gore's keynote speech at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting, the world's largest scientific gathering. In an impassioned address that was also interspersed with self-deprecating humor, Gore urged scientists to become more active in spreading the word about climate change, and warned that the American people were becoming "desensitized" to censorship of scientific data. Earlier this year, Gore released a well-received film on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, which challenges the Bush administration's refusal to admit the gravity of the climate change problem. Those federal officials insist the science behind global warming is too murky, and caution that environmental cutbacks will have a profound effect on the country's bottom line. Are you an apologist for global warming? Take our quiz and find out!

1) In his speech to the gathering of scientists, Gore said they needed to find a way to communicate the direness of the situation, and closed by declaring: "In the United States, the will to act is a renewable resource." Do you agree?

A) Yes, but it was his spot-on imitation of Bill Clinton that I'll remember most. Who else but Al Gore, master comedian, could make global warming funny?

B) Gore is asking scientists to communicate to normal people? Obviously, he and Tipper haven't invited enough nanophysicists to their Christmas parties.

C) I certainly do not agree. In the United States, oil is a renewable resource.

2) Gore's speech came only days after a report at the same conference said that the permanent Arctic ice sheet could melt away within 40 years, nearly two decades earlier than the previous estimate. What did you think of the news?

A) Wait, is the Arctic on the top or bottom? Let me rephrase that: Which ice cap is more important?

B) Forty years? Hell, I'll be almost 70 by then. Who's gonna complain about warm weather?

C) Good thing we found evidence of water on Mars, huh? When one planet goes, we'll just hop to the next one.

3) Which of the following quotes from prominent scientists who were in the audience for Gore's speech gives you the most hope for the future?

A) Dan Kammen, co-director of the University of California's Institute of the Environment: "Science is inherently a discipline of skepticism."

B) James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies: "Scientists have not done a good job communicating with the public."

C) Jerry Porter, atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: "(Gore)'s a deeper thinker about environmental issues than those of us in the environmental sciences."

4) Gore's views are shared by the Union of Concerned Scientists, who last week issued a statement signed by 10,600 researchers alleging political interference in hundreds of cases of scientists working for U.S. federal agencies. The UCS statement comes as a new federal directive is set to take effect that will require scientists to submit some data before publication for political review. What do you think the relationship should be between the government and its scientists?

A) Nonexistent. What does President Bush know about science? And, no, "bartending" is not a science.

B) Oh, please. When has this government ever interfered with or manipulated the research and data collection of well-trained analysts and experts? OK, wait, that didn't come out right ...

C) Hey, if "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" worked for the Army, it can work for NASA, too.

5) On the same day as Gore's speech, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. received permission from the state Public Utilities Commission to allow business and residential customers to make up for their carbon dioxide emissions by paying for forest restoration projects in California. Some experts, however, have decried this approach, arguing that so-called "carbon offsets" have little impact on global warming and don't break the bad habits of polluters. What do you think?

A) Gee, I thought the Catholic Church had outlawed the selling of indulgences centuries ago.

B) Makes perfect sense to me: Drive a Hummer, plant a tree.

C) Look, until they make hybrid cars and solar panels reasonably priced and easily obtainable, I have no patience for this argument. (Bonus point for adding: "And by 'reasonably priced and easily obtainable,' I mean 'something that all my stylish rich friends are doing.'")

6) Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard its first global warming case, wherein the state of Massachusetts argued that its 200 miles of coastline are endangered by the Environmental Protection Agency's failure to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions of new vehicles under the Clean Air Act. The Bush administration countered by warning that enforcement of the EPA regulation could have a dramatic financial impact, because 85 percent of the country's economy is tied to sources of emissions. What do you think the justices will decide?

A) Absolutely nothing.

B) That it's time to get that other 15 percent of the economy spewing some gas.

C) In the end, I'm sure the Supremes will do what our Founding Fathers, those glorious authors of the Constitution, intended them to do: legislate.

7) With so much controversy and political maneuvering on both sides of the global warming debate, the future appears hard to predict. What do you think the Earth will look like in 50 years?

A) Waterworld.

B) Well, if I had to compare the Earth to a celebrity, I'd hope it looks like Dick Clark.

C) I think we'll continue down this same path of sensible restraint, careful that those pesky scientists don't get too carried away with their "sky-is-falling" attitude. But don't listen to me — I'm just an optimist.

How to score:

Score zero points for every "A" answer, one point for every "B," and two points for every "C."

0-6 points: Yes, it's another El Niño winter. But winter is the new spring, you know?

7-10 points: Not sure where you stand on global warming? Then just make sure it's not too close to Al Gore!

11-14 points: Congratulations! You're a true apologist for global warming. Now go burn a copy of the Kyoto Protocol with that extra gasoline you keep in your second SUV.

About The Author

Matt Palmquist


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed