When I went around to the barnyard to look in on Henny-Penny, founder and recording secretary of The Holy Order of The Sky is Falling (Al Gore, Pontiff), I found her pacing about, with a steely look in her eyes.
Me: You don't look happy.
Ms. H-P: I'm not. I'm a free-range chicken and I am ranging this yard to think out a solution to a new threat to the human race. One of the Pontiff's people just called to tell me about a molecule that people overdose on and die of every day. We'll have to get the EPA to do something about it.
Me: What's the molecule?
Ms.H-P: Dihydrogen monoxide.
Me (stifling a laugh): Sounds toxic, but that's actually just another name for good old H20, water.
Mrs. H-P: Are you sure? That would be a great relief, but why would the Pontiff's people become so alarmed?
Me: As we've discussed before, your Pontiff believes a lot of things that aren't true. You'll recall his recent interview on National Public Radio when he said the temperature at the core of the earth is "millions of degrees." If that were true, the planet would have burned to the size of a charcoal briquet eons ago. The sun's temperature is only about 10,000 degrees.
Ms. H-P: I hardly know what to believe any longer.
Me: Here's something you can believe and it's good news, for it means that your worries that the sky is falling and that the planet is warming at an alarming rate may soon be over. As you know, The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, every six years publishes a report that's supposed to be an authoritative assessment of scientific evidence of climate change.
Ms. H-P: Yes
Me: Recently, the IPCC was forced to retract its claim that Himalayan glaciers are melting rapidly. The claim was based on a non-peer-reviewed report by the World Wildlife Fund. The Daily Telegraph in London then did an investigation of other IPCC claims and came up with some lulus.
Ms. H-P: Such as?
Me: Such as the IPCC's claim that mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was declining. It turns out that one of the two sources it quoted was an article published in a popular mountain climbers' magazine, based on anecdotal evidence from climbers who had noticed changes.
The other source was a dissertation for a Master's degree written by a Swiss student who quoted interviews of Alpine guides.
This raises doubts about the accuracy of the entire 2007 report. The IPCC claims everything it publishes is rigorously peer-reviewed. Yet, one writer of the report, Professor Richard Tol, of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin, told the Telegraph, "This is essentially a collection of anecdotes."
The IPCC's report of disappearing mountain ice claims were shown in a table titled "Selected observed effects due to changes in the cryosphere produced by warming" between 1900 and 2000. Professor Tol told the Telegraph, "There is no way current climbers and mountain guides can give anecdotal evidence back to the 1900s, so what they is complete nonsense."
Ms. H-P: Oh dear. Does this mean the sky will stop falling?
Me: I don't think it ever was.
Ms. H-P: But what does it mean for Pontiff Gore and THOOTSIF?
Me: It means your pontiff should retire. As for THOOTSIF, it means you can concentrate on laying real eggs.