Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's starting to get gorey

For Big Al:

Al Gore may have won over Hollywood with his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. But the scientific world is proving a much tougher audience for his relentless campaign to raise public awareness of climate change.

There is a rising chorus of concern, extending even to "moderate" scientists with no political axe to grind, over the former US vice-president's tactics and advocacy.

The nub of their concern is a belief that he has over-egged his case. That, in trying to sell to the public the dangers of complacency in combating global warming, he is guilty of a number of convenient untruths or distortions.

The main charges are that he has skated over the Earth's history of climate change and that his talk of impending doom ignores that change is a slow-motion process.

Even a top adviser to Mr Gore, the environmental scientist James Hansen, admits the former vice-president's work may hold "imperfections" and "technical flaws".

The creeping unease among scientists has emerged in talks, articles and blog entries over the past few months. Among the critics is Robert Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University, Queensland. In a blog late last year, Dr Carter joined other geologists in ticking off Mr Gore over his perceived failure to acknowledge the globe's long history of climate change.

"Nowhere does Mr Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet," Dr Carter wrote. "Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change."

An emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, Don Easterbrook, told the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America that he did not want to "pick on Al Gore".

"But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data."

Professor Easterbrook disputed Mr Gore's claim that "our civilisation has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this". Nonsense, Professor Easterbrook said. He flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts were up to "20 times greater than the warming in the past century".

Getting personal, he mocked Mr Gore's assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. "I've never been paid a nickel by an oil company," Professor Easterbrook said.
That's just page 1 of 3.

While scientists might not be making money from climate realism, Gore makes money from alarmism. He owns a carbon trading business.

The UK government is sending a copy of his imperfect and flawed documentary to every school in Britain.

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