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Hi, fleg9bo,

This may be an issue that you have already thrashed out ad nauseam on the Retire Early CampFIRE board and I missed it because I don't go there very much any more.

Is it your theory that Al Gore saw a way to make big money from American gullibility? He created this fake global warming crisis with his movie and then capitalized on it with carbon credits? How do you account for all of those scientific organizations that agree that human activity is a factor in global climate change (warming or cooling)?

I will tell you my thinking and you can tell me yours if you are willing, because I really don't understand where you are coming from on this issue and it might help if I did.

Let me tell you a little about myself:

I am not a scientist. I am not the CEO of a big oil company. I don't own any shares of any “carbon credit companies” nor do I own stock in solar power or wind power companies. I plan eventually to own a hybrid car (as opposed to my Honda Civic), I would like to buy a wind generator for a home in Maine and I will continue to do what I can to reduce my use of fossil fuels.

I used to be a smoker…bear with me; this has a bearing on the topic.

This is more or less off the top of my head, just what I remember. When I began smoking doctors did cigarette ads. At least they called themselves doctors and they were dressed in white coats and they had stethoscopes around their necks. These “doctors” were smoking while they pitched their particular brand of cigarettes. Although critics said that smoking was a dirty habit and it made your clothes smell and it filled the air with noxious fumes, few said that it would KILL you.

As more people said that smoking would KILL you, the doctors on the TV changed their tune. They did not say that smoking was good for you. They said that if you did smoke, you should smoke this brand with the special charcoal filter that filters out all of that harmful stuff that might yellow your teeth or make you cough. (In a related, secret, development, cigarette manufacturers began to experiment with ridding cigarettes of the harmful stuff. Not filtering it out but removing it from the tobacco. They discovered that when they removed or reduced the harmful stuff, no one wanted to smoke the cigarettes. But their experiments also showed that they could increase the amount of addictive ingredients in cigarettes. Then, more people wanted to smoke the cigarettes. The cigarette manufacturers decided to increase the harmful and addictive ingredients in cigarettes. But they also began to pay scientists and doctors to show that cigarettes were not really harmful. They bought lots of advertising to show that great people smoked cigarettes and losers did not.)

Back in the world, doctors and scientists began to say that smoking would KILL you. But there were scientists and a few doctors who disagreed. Who knew they were shills for the tobacco industry? Who cared? I didn't. I sucked down that smoke and got my little jolt every time. I tried the heavy-duty filter and the special low nicotine tobacco and the combo cigarettes with low nicotine and heavy-duty filters. Bleahhh! They were awful. I continued to smoke Parliaments and Benson & Hedges when I could afford them.

More labs and scientists signed on to the smoking kills viewpoint. So many, in fact, that I could no longer find “scientific” support for my smoking habit. Warnings began to appear on cigarette packs. At first they were relatively benign and they did not apply to me. “Warning: If you are pregnant smoking might not be a good idea.”

Then came “Warning: Some doctors think there might be a connection between smoking and some forms of cancer.” But I was waiting for “Warning: Smoke this next cigarette and you will fall over, dead.” I had my addiction and that far outweighed the mild warnings that could somehow make it past all of the smoke and mirrors that the tobacco industry put up through lobbyists and “scientific reports” and campaign contributions to their Capitol Hill enablers.

I ended up quitting because my then-wife (a non-smoker) made it so difficult for me that the inconvenience of it outweighed my addiction. Believe me, she had to make it pretty inconvenient for me.

I never understood all of the scientific mumbo jumbo that bombarded me on both sides of the smoking issue as I was growing up. I didn't need to. The tobacco industry helped me toward cigarettes with a lot of advertisements showing cool people smoking. Then they helped me love cigarettes by pumping them full of addictive ingredients. Then they let me know that there were two sides of the “debate” over the harmful effects of smoking because for every scientist who said it was bad they had one who said it was good.

You wrote: “If you had a profitable company that provided an important product and you were under attack from people who were using GW as an excuse to get big government to take more control over your sector, you'd defend yourself too.”

Do you see how apt that is when applied to the tobacco industry?

Now, to come back to Al Gore and carbon credits and oil companies and the effects of burning fossil fuels on the climate:

Just as no one said that smoking was good for you (or the opposite, non-smoking was bad for you) I don't hear anyone saying that the burning of fossil fuels is good for the planet.

I said earlier that I am not a scientist. But what little I have read about the scientific research that shows that human activity is a factor in climate change makes sense. The more I hear about the dire consequences of ignoring global climate change the more concerned I become.

But I also hear the siren song of the companies who want me to ignore the warnings about the relationship of human activity (specifically the burning of fossil fuels) and global climate change. “Love your SUV,” they sing. “Oil, oil, oil,” comes the refrain. “China uses oil, why shouldn't we?” “Al Gore just wants to scare you, don't worry, be happy.”

I get flashbacks to my smoking days. No one is going to put a warning label on that SUV or gas pump that says, “Burn this and the balance tips. Burn this and then, no matter what you do, 50 years from now the earth is a cinder.” All you get is research showing that there are dangers.

So, as evidence mounts, I find that I care less about the size of Al Gore's house or the fact that he is a principal in a company that deals in carbon credits. I want to pay attention to the dangers, not who warns me about them.

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