29 October, 2010

Godwin’s Law of Climate Change

Anyone who has been around internet discussion and debate for more than a few months (and if you haven’t, how the hell did you find this ’blog?) will be aware of Godwin’s Law, which states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

Neither Godwin’s Law, nor any of the published corollaries, say anything about the validity of such comparisons, they merely observe the likelihood. Be that as it may, there is the view that anyone who “goes Godwin” in a debate, does so out of desperation in a losing argument.
Disclosure: I have, in the past, fallen into this trap. In some instances I stand by what
I said and in others, it was a cheap debating tactic. I never said I was perfect. I never even said I was good.

I propose a Godwin’s Law of Climate Change, which would state that the longer a discussion of climate change goes on, the more likely it becomes that those who dispute human-caused climate change will attempt to turn the topic towards the behaviour of Al Gore.

It is somewhat amusing to see people who would usually defend the right of people like Rupert Murdoch to make as much money as they can by whatever means they can – and who would likely decry any criticism of such tycoons as ‘the politics of envy,’ – turn around and cite the money Al Gore has made from his carbon trading business and film, as evidence that climate change is all a money-spinning beat up. There are a few things that don’t stack up about this theory. One is that carbon credits would have to be the slowest get-rich-quick scheme ever. The other is that the success of An Inconvenient Truth was pretty damn unlikely. A film about the former vice president and his PowerPoint presentation? Oh yeah, that’s got ‘Box-office smash,’ written all over it! Steven Spielberg must have been kicking himself.

Is Al Gore a hypocrite for his use of air travel and big house? Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t. I don’t care. I’m not here to defend Al Gore. I’m saying he’s irrelevant. Climate change is an issue that exists independently of the existence, behaviour, or even girth of Al Gore. If you hadn’t heard of climate change before An Inconvenient Truth came out, then you really haven’t been paying attention.

If you want to debate the science of climate change, then let’s have that discussion. If you think carbon trading is bullshit, that’s a debate worth having. But if all you have to talk about is Al Gore, then you lose.


  1. "One is that carbon credits would have to be the slowest get-rich-quick scheme ever."

    Slow? The last I heard he's made $100 million since the year 2002. That's about $1 million per month. That too slow for you?

    But the big money would have been made if the USA had adopted cap™ since his investment firm is a major shareholder of the Chicago and Montreal Climate exchanges he would have become a billionaire in only a few years. Carbon trading will eventually become the single largest industry on earth, perhaps making gore the wealthiest man in the world. Of course there are many other green investments that Gore has, for example one company in which Al Gore invested (Silver Spring Networks) has contracts with utilities that received a combined subsidy of $560m from the US energy department in 2009. So he’s an insider who knows when there is a big subsidy coming along and makes sure he benefits. So if you didn’t realize that Gore is motivated by big green then I think it’s you who really haven’t been paying attention.

  2. Interesting that you choose 2002 as the starting point because Gore has been on about climate change since the 70s. So yes, I would call a 25-year wait for a return pretty slow, especially if it's all a deception based on greed.

    An insider who knows when a big subsidy is coming along and makes sure he benefits?
    Do you feel the same way about Dick Cheney's involvements with Halliburton?

    But thank you for illustrating my point. Whether carbon trading will do anything useful or not is a valid discussion to have, and it's another issue that the existence of Al Gore has no bearing on.

  3. Did you just compare Al Gore to Hitler?

    I've never used Hitler in any online argument for several reasons. Comparing everything and everybody to him only lessens his impact. If everybody who ever does anything anybody doesn't like is a nazi then we're all nazis to somebody and then how bad could they really have been?

  4. "Did you just compare Al Gore to Hitler?"

    Um... I suppose I did.