Facts and fallacy in “Years of Living Dangerously”
Showtime premiered James Cameron’s “Years of Living Dangerously” on Sunday. It’s a big-budget documentary series about climate change. Anyone can watch episode one for free on YouTube.
Virtually everything said about climate change these days mixes fact with fiction. This series is no exception. The first episode stars Harrison Ford, Don Cheadle and Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter Thomas L. Friedman.
The list of Hollywood luminaries behind the series is long and distinguished. The opening credits list 25 executive producers and co-producers. They include Jerry Wientraub, James Cameron, Arnold Swartzwenegger, Daniel Assasi, Joel Bach, David Gelber and billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, among many others.
Episode one starts off like a scene from Top Gun with Harrison Ford flying in a fighter jet that collects greenhouse gas samples. It goes on to present three humanized climate change stories.
Harrison Ford investigates deforestation in Indonesia. Don Cheadle investigates the impact of a drought-closed meat packing plant in Plainview, Texas. Thomas L. Friedman slips across the border into war-torn Syria to investigate if drought triggered its civil war.
Is climate change real? Yes. Climate has been changing for billions of years. It’s not going to stop now.
Is global warming real? Yes. Is human-cause CO2 rising? Yes. Is CO2 a greenhouse gas? Yes. Have there been “increases in intensity and/or duration of drought”? No. Have there been “increases in intense tropical cyclone (hurricane) activity”? No. Has global land-sea temperatures risen in the last 15 years? No.
Some may disagree, but that’s what the IPCC says in its newest AR5 report released last September.
Deforestation is a serious human-caused disaster. It contributes 20 percent of all atmospheric CO2 emissions, according to interviewed scientists in the first episode. Losing large swaths of tropical rain forest ecosystems in Indonesia and South America is threatening the extinction of vast numbers of plant and animal species.
The two climate stories about drought blame them on human-induced climate change. That directly contradicts the assessment of the IPCC in their new report.
The IPCC has “low confidence” that past and current droughts have resulted from human-caused global warming. Not only that, but the IPCC says global warming won’t affect drought or hurricanes until late this century!
Claiming that droughts last longer and are more intense today because of CO2 emissions is not supported by the IPCC.
Have droughts triggered human hardship and social unrest? Yes. The demise of ancient Mesoamerican civilizations and the pueblo cultures of the southwestern United States are blamed on drought.
The Texan and Syrian droughts were bad, but not extraordinary.
The “Dust Bowl” droughts of the 1930s produced dust storms so big some blew all the way to New York City. That drought triggered a mass westward migration of displaced tenant farmers immortalized in John Steinbeck’s epic novel, “The Grapes of Wrath“.
Fifty eight percent of all existing state record high temperatures in the United States were set in the 1930s and 1910s. The highest temperature ever recorded on earth is 134°F set July 10, 1913 in Death Valley, California.
An unfortunate series misstep stigmatizes fundamentalist Christians as ignorant climate deniers.
Texas Tech climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, herself a Christian that converted her minister husband from climate naysayer to human-caused believer, is presented as a crusading scientist that goes around drought-stricken Texas converting the uninformed into enlightened believers.
A future segment called “The Preacher’s Daughter” in an upcoming episode will continue the negative stereotyping.
James Cameron’s new climate change series “Years of Living Dangerously” is very engaging. It uses Hollywood-generated drama narrated by big name celebrities to document the human effects of extreme weather.
Harrison Ford’s segment on deforestation is very eye-opening to anyone unfamiliar with what’s happening to earth’s rain forests.
Unfortunately, the other two segments on drought exchange scientific accuracy for alarmist rhetoric. They humanize drought effects very well but, quite frankly, what is presented is no different from what’s been happened naturally throughout human history.
Cameron, contrary to IPCC findings, erroneously links both droughts to human-induced climate change.
It’s hard to decide which is worse, enlightened misinformation or ignorant misinformation.