A CALL TO COOL THE HYPE
March 14, 2007
Criticisms of Al Gore and his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists who occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, says the New York Times.
The concern is not over the existence of climate change, or the idea that the human production of heat-trapping gases is partly or largely to blame for the globe's recent warming, says the Times. The question is whether Gore has gone beyond the scientific evidence. For example:
- The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that the world's seas in this century would rise to a maximum of 23 inches --contrasting Gore's depictions of 20 foot rises in several major cities.
- The National Academies contradicted Gore's portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium; instead, saying current highs appeared unrivaled since only 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.
- Biologists have faulted Gore for his portrayal of global warming as spreading malaria, saying the claims are unsubstantiated by research.
Admittedly, says James E. Hansen, an environmental scientist, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a top adviser to Gore, the former vice president's work may hold "imperfections" and "technical flaws," but he has the bottom line right: humans are causing catastrophic global warming.
But others disagree. "Nowhere does Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet," says Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia. "Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change."
Source: William J. Broad, "From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype," New York Times, March 13, 2007.
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