Al Gore’s Exaggerated Truthby Doug Mataconis
This morning New York Times reports that many scientists are concerned that Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth exaggerates many aspects of the global warming debate:
Hollywood has a thing for Al Gore and his three-alarm film on global warming, â€œAn Inconvenient Truth,â€ which won an Academy Award for best documentary. So do many environmentalists, who praise him as a visionary, and many scientists, who laud him for raising public awareness of climate change.
But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Goreâ€™s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism.
For example, there are Gore’s five-alarm warnings about the link between global warming and hurricanes:
Still, Dr. Hansen said, the former vice presidentâ€™s work may hold â€œimperfectionsâ€ and â€œtechnical flaws.â€ He pointed to hurricanes, an icon for Mr. Gore, who highlights the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and cites research suggesting that global warming will cause both storm frequency and deadliness to rise. Yet this past Atlantic season produced fewer hurricanes than forecasters predicted (five versus nine), and none that hit the United States.
Â And then there’s the fact that, even though it is warmer now than it has been in the recent past, we really don’t know what that means:
[A] report last June by the National Academies seemed to contradict Mr. Goreâ€™s portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium. Instead, the report said, current highs appeared unrivaled since only 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.
Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said on a blog that Mr. Goreâ€™s film did â€œindeed do a pretty good job of presenting the most dire scenarios.â€ But the June report, he added, shows â€œthat all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400 years.â€
Are we in the middle of a recurring cycle or is this a long-term trend ? After all, as recently as the 18th Century, the Northern Hemisphere was in the middle of what has been referred to as a “mini ice age”, with blizzard-like storms a common occurrence in New England as last as April. As these scientists pointÂ out the fact is that we really don’t know what we’re dealing with.
That doesn’t matter to Al Gore, though, it’s clear that, for him, global warming is a political crusade, not a scientific inquiry. Seen in that light, his shrill alarmism is entirely understandable.