Watts Up With That takes aim at Gore, shoots foot instead

Al Gore’s “blog” has the following entry:

The study in question is [link fixed] “A Zooarchaeological Test for Dietary Resource Depression at the End of the Classic Period in the Petexbatun, Guatemala” (Emery 2008). Funny thing- the passage cited by Gore does not pertain to what Emery finds, but rather is describing the conceptual models that amount to what might be called the conventional wisdom regarding the Maya collapse. However, Emery’s study actually concludes:

These results of these studies of changing diversity and hunting efficiency provide proxy evidence of resource availability changes over the Petexbatun occupational history. Early occupation of the region is associated with reduced hunting efficiency as defined by increased diversity and reductions in the proportion of large-bodied prey, particularly reduction in the proportion of the favorite species (white-tailed deer). This result is corroborated by other paleoenvironmental evidence for very early environ-
mental changes in the Maya lowlands.

However, the results of this study do not support a hypothesis of resource depression associated specifically with the “collapse” period in the region. Species heterogeneity was stable during the periods immediately before, during, and after the collapse of the political elite in the Petexbatun polity and overall hunting efficiency (representing nutritional availability) rose over these periods despite a drop in the efficiency of harvest of white-tailed deer.

Rather than justifiably take issue with Gore for selective or non-reading in furthering his cause, Watts Up With That? boldly snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by instead pushing a guest post that bizarrely claims:

Gore is advocating the abandonment of the IPCC doctrine and barracking for the study and understanding of climate dynamics that ignores totally the IPCC/AWG doctrine and focuses on all the other variables, especially how climate dynamics are driven by atmospheric/oceanic oscillations, the natural internal dynamics of the climate system and the role of the Sun in climate dynamics.

I’m sure there was much elbowing of ribs and satisfied chortling accompanying this precious attempt to make Gore appear to be arguing against his own position, but the flaws in the gambit couldn’t be more clear. Gore’s position can be summarized as “X-caused Z was bad, so we should avoid Y-caused Z”. The Watts-Mackey misrepresentation is “X-caused Z occurred, so we should only focus on X-caused Z and ignore Y-caused Z”. It’s a non sequitur that is almost beautifully absurd, akin to the proposition that due to the existence of naturally occurring forest fires, no one can make the case that we should take care not to start one ourselves.

Had Watts or Mackey actually read the study that Gore obviously failed to, they could have made a much more damning point by claiming that prevailing wisdom previously attributing at least partial anthropogenic causation to the Maya collapse through resource poverty has been shown to be overstated and perhaps non-existent, much as they believe anthropogenic climate change will be. Of course fact-based discussion isn’t a WUWT strong suit…

The Mackey post eventually goes completely off the rails, claiming that planetary-solar-lunar gravitational dynamics are the drivers of past, current, and future climate- completely ignoring GHG forcing.

4 responses to “Watts Up With That takes aim at Gore, shoots foot instead

  1. I would think the depletion would have occurred over a long period, and have bottomed out — then you’d see the symptoms of collapse beginning to show up.

    That’s what Catton calls “overshoot” in the book by that name.

    Is there an argument made for why they’d expect with the Maya to see a rapid depletion that continued right up to or through a collapse?

    I’d imagine they’d have had the resource depletion, then a period of ‘hanging in the air past the edge of the cliff’ Wile E. Coyote style.


  2. 1) The “study in question” link is broken.

    2) Combining Diamond’s “Collapse” with:

    Brian Fagan’s “The Long Summer” (2004), p.229-238, and “The Great Warming (2008), p.138-152

    They think that a series of major droughts contributed to the collapse, unsurprising for a civilization that had enough water issues in the best of times to invest in huge waterworks.

    3) What I can’t tell is the fraction of calories coming from hunting versus farming, as studying the former matters to the extent it was a major source during the collapse period, but if most people were fed by crops, it doesn’t matter so much.

    4) Both Diamond & Fagan seem to think that Mayan cities collapsed at least in part because of drought that sharply lowered carrying capacity.

    I.e., this is relevnt to the US Southwest…

  3. Could many members of our culture be fixated on the fantasy of limitless economic growth? Are we suffering from a sort of illness, something like amnesia, that is resulting in our forgetfulness with regard to the necessity of the finite Earth and its frangible environs to the preservation of life as we know it, a functional global political economy and the human species? Alternatively, have we been mesmerized by a modern rendition of the ancient Tower of Babel? Or have all of the above somehow been occurring?

    Perhaps we are forever forgetting about Earth and its environment because too many people, especially the economic powerbrokers, their bought-and-paid-for politicians and their minions in the mainstream media, are worshipping a “totem”. At least to me, there appear to be many too many people for whom the economy, in and of itself, is the primary object of their idolatry. This behavior is observable, obvious and flagrant. In many instances, these worshippers make what they evidently believe are rational arguments that suggest manmade financial and economic systems are somehow essential to, and an integral part of, God’s Creation; that indicate the growth of the global economy will occur from now on, even after the Creation is ravaged and its frangible climate destabilized by unbridled overproduction, unchecked overconsumption and unregulated overpopulation activities of the human species. Aside from the “Economic Colossus” nothing else matters much to them.

    Today, it appears that the financial system of the economic powerbrokers is collapsing like a “house of cards” and the real economy of the family of humanity is threatened. Experts in political economy are saying internally inconsistent and contradictory things. Communications about financials and the economy are generally confused and in disarray. Confidence and trust in the operating systems of finance and the global economy have been undermined by the invention of dodgy financial instruments and unsustainable business models as well as by the promulgation of con games and Ponzi schemes. Transparency, accountability and honesty in business activities have been largely vanquished. A great economic system is being undone by con artists, gamblers and cheats. In such circumstances, does the manmade colossus we call the global political economy remind you in some ways of a modern Tower of Babel?

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population,
    established 2001

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