Environmental News Archive

An almost weekly update of environmental news, particularly marine updates, with occasional splatters of transportation, indigenous, ideas of sustainability and sustainable development from around the world.


Did he forget some Inconvenient 'Truths'?

Al Gore comes under fire from scientists for alarmist views in film
March 15, 2007
Electric New Paper

HE has been lauded as America's most celebrated eco-warrior.

And his documentary, AnInconvenient Truth, has sent waves through the public, both in the US and in other countries about the hazards of global warming.

In fact, so lauded is former vice-president Al Gore (below) that he just won an Oscar for best documentary.

But a small group of scientists think he may be a real-life Chicken Little, the Disney cartoon character who believes that the sky is falling and goes to great lengths to convince those around him.

They have accused him of making exaggerated, and even erroneous, arguments to scare viewers into action.

At a recent annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, MrDonEasterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, said MrGore may have been a bit too fast and loose with the facts in the film.

'I don't want to pick on AlGore,' he said.

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

In the film, MrGore paints a picture of the future where global warming has caused temperatures to soar, ice caps to melt into the sea, oceans to rise, and hurricanes to batter the coasts, resulting in the death of millions.

While scientists agree that climate change is occurring and humans are largely to blame for the production of heat-trapping gases, they take issue that MrGore may have gone beyond scientific evidence to push his point, reported the New York Times (NYT).

Mr Richard Lindzen, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accused Mr Gore in The Wall Street Journal of 'shrill alarmism' because a report last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN body that studies global warming, portrayed climate change as a slow-motion process.

The UN panel estimated that the world's seas in this century would rise a maximum of 58cm, down from earlier estimates.

Mr Gore, citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 6m, implying, at least visually, that cities will soon be underwater.

Another report last June by the National Academies also seems to contradict MrGore's portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium.

The report said the current high temperatures were last seen in 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.


Mr Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said on a blog that Mr Gore's film did 'indeed do a pretty good job of presenting the most dire scenarios'. But he pointed out that the June report shows 'that all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400years.'

Still, Mr Gore has stoutly defended his work as fundamentally accurate.

In an e-mail reply to NYT, he said: 'Of course, there will always be questions around the edges of science, and we have to rely upon the scientific community to continue to ask and to challenge and to answer those questions.'

He added that 'not every single adviser' had agreed with him on every point, 'but we do agree on the fundamentals' - that warming is real and caused by humans.

Mr Gore has updated his book and presentation slides to reflect comments made by scientists who disagree on some of his views.

What's the truth behind award- winning exposes?