Scientists say Gore got it right

Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer

The AP contacted more than 100 top climate researchers by e-mail and phone for their opinion. Among those contacted were vocal skeptics of climate change theory. Most scientists had not seen the movie, which is in limited release, or read the book.

But those who have seen it had the same general impression: Gore conveyed the science correctly; the world is getting hotter and it is a manmade catastrophe-in-the-making caused by the burning of fossil fuels.


Robert Corell, chairman of the worldwide Arctic Climate Impact Assessment group of scientists, read the book and saw Gore give the slideshow presentation that is woven throughout the documentary.

“I sat there and I’m amazed at how thorough and accurate,” Corell said. “After the presentation I said, `Al, I’m absolutely blown away. There’s a lot of details you could get wrong.’ … I could find no error.” …

While more than 1 million people have seen the movie since it opened in May, that does not include Washington’s top science decision makers. President Bush said he won’t see it. The heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA haven’t seen it, and the president’s science adviser said the movie is on his to-see list.

Via David Roberts.

Comments

  1. #1 Dano
    June 27, 2006

    Quick!

    Someone launch a Swift Boat-style website to take down Corell!

    John A, tighten up that resume. Per, get out those writing samples. na_g_s, polish that…er…never mind.

    Best,

    D

  2. #2 z
    June 27, 2006

    I was with Corell in Da Nang, when he said “Me and John Kerry are going to slander our good fighting boys in order to undermine the American mission to liberate Vietnam, then I hope someday to aid Al Gore in destroying the US economy by dreaming up some wacky thing like global warming”, and I will testify to that under oath.

  3. #3 Zeno
    June 27, 2006

    Quick! Someone launch a Swift Boat-style website

    Oh, damn! I tried and failed: I am Al Gore’s truth squad.

  4. #4 ben
    June 27, 2006

    Most scientists had not seen the movie, which is in limited release, or read the book.

    But those who have seen it…

    … were politically motivated to buy what Gore said?

  5. #5 Rob Knop
    June 27, 2006

    … were politically motivated to buy what Gore said?

    Insofar as “denial of good science” has become a political issue, YES.

    And, indeed, an important part of the Republican power base (i.e. fundamentalism) insists on the denail of good science.

    If some politicians are going to turn the denial of good science into a political platform, then those who don’t want to deny good science have been forced into “playing politics”… and those who don’t want to deny good science can then be accused of having a pre-existing political bias in favor of accepting the evidence for global warming.

    There aren’t two reasonable sides to this issue. Going in biased in favor of paying attention to the science is like going in with a “bias” that 2+2 is closer to 4 than 17.

    -Rob

  6. #6 Steve Sadlov
    June 27, 2006

    Politically incorrect musing….

    Gore’s geographic power base, in the areas dominated by demographics such as Urban Gold Coast, Money Brains and Power and the like, includes media, lawyers, corporate HQ types, and the technical people who support them.

    Bush’s geographic power base, in the areas dominated by demographics like Guns and Pick Up Trucks, Corn Belt, and the like, include small business people, agribusiness people, work-from-home non-HQ types, and the technical people who support them.

    And …. there are many scientists and engineers who are either spiritually agnostic or non fundamentalists of various creeds, who voted for Bush. There are many non scientists and non engineers who range from fundamentalist Christians to Gaia worshippers, who barely passed their Freshman year general ed science for non science majors courses, who voted for Gore.

    Moral of the story – stereotypes are stupid.

  7. #7 Tim Lambert
    June 27, 2006

    Dano:

    >Someone launch a Swift Boat-style website to take down Corell!

    Senator Inhofe is [on the case](http://www.epw.senate.gov/pressitem.cfm?party=rep&id=257909).

  8. #8 Carl Christensen
    June 27, 2006

    errr, Sadlot, it’s funny that the right-wingers are the ones who espouse “Creationism” & “Intelligent Design” as science though. That says a lot about the base of the Repuke party.

  9. #9 nanny_govt_sucks
    June 27, 2006

    Among those contacted were vocal skeptics of climate change theory. Most scientists had not seen the movie, which is in limited release, or read the book.

    But those who have seen it had the same general impression: Gore conveyed the science correctly;

    So, “vocal skeptics” were contacted, but they may not have seen the movie, and therefore would not have been able to give their impressions.

    Isn’t it likely that “those who have seen it” were already on the AGW bandwagon and were not part of the skeptic crowd at all?

    Without knowing the breakdown of who actually gave the impressions, the post above is meaningless.

  10. #10 Carl Christensen
    June 28, 2006

    well the Inhofe rebuttal (skeptics) are the usual cast of idiots — Lindzen, that Alabama cracker, etc. At least the scientists quoted as approving the Gore movie are a new lot.

  11. #11 Tim Lambert
    June 28, 2006

    Well nags, if the vocal skeptics haven’t seen it, they can’t possibly make an informed criticism of the film, can they? It seems reasonable for Borenstein to restrict the sample to those who have seen the film.

  12. #12 Thomas Palm
    June 28, 2006

    I would expect the vocal sceptics to make sure to see the movie as soon as possible. How else can they try to find errors in it to discredit the message? The ones who don’t watch it would more likely be the “ivory tower” scientists who just don’t care about politics. The only reason for a vocal sceptic to avoid seeing it is if he doesn’t believe he can find any significant errors and prefers to say that he can’t comment because he hasn’t seen it rather than having to admit that it’s basically correct.

  13. #13 david
    June 28, 2006

    >Moral of the story – stereotypes are stupid.

    Steve, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the value of stereotypes as that tend to fit many climate sceptics quite nicely. For example, there are the conservative well educated ones who apply their expertise in a non-climate field to the climate change problem. They ain’t got the foggiest idea about climate change, they do not understand that anthropogenic climate change is readily detectable from space, from surface based radiation measurments, or appreciate that global warming is proven beyond doubt. They persist in the stupid belief that somehow it is related to urban heat islands (despite about 85% of the globe being unpopulated), the satellite and radiosonde records showing warming, the lifting of atmospheric pressure levels, global sea level rise, etc etc. Of course, none of those stereotypical sceptics hang out on this website do they?

    David

  14. #14 Eli Rabett
    June 28, 2006

    Let me say something about right wing climate scientists. I am not a climate scientist. I know a LOT of climate scientists for various professional reasons. Many of them are on the right politically, some of them are on the FAR right politically. Without exception when they do science they play it right down the middle. What disturbs me is the small coterie of folk, most of whom became climate scientists by staying at Holiday Inn Express, who distort the science.

    Do I include Lindzen and Singer in this? No they have their own pathology, but note how they were quite willing to stick their ignorant noses into other areas where they were totally clueless.

  15. #15 nanny_govt_sucks
    June 28, 2006

    It seems reasonable for Borenstein to restrict the sample to those who have seen the film.

    And were these skeptics or bandwagoners? Borenstein won’t tell us. But he will mislead us into thinking that some skeptics may have responded by mentioning that they have been “contacted”, which means exactly squat.

    What is the breakdown, Tim? Why is Borenstein being so cryptic?

  16. #16 Craig Duncan
    June 28, 2006

    ThinkProgress does a good job debunking the Inhofe press release here.

    FWIW, I wrote a letter to my senators and representative protesting the egregiously misleading Inhofe press release.

  17. #17 Dano
    June 28, 2006

    What is the breakdown, Tim? Why is Borenstein being so cryptic?

    Why is na-g-s using the standard denialst tactic of quibbling/nit-picking/find anything to spam comments axis of argumentation?

    Wait: what am I thinking?

    Never mind.

    Best,

    D

  18. #18 nanny_govt_sucks
    June 28, 2006

    Dano, obviously this post is only news if a skeptic examines Gores film and finds no flaws. But we can’t tell if that happened from Borenstein’s cryptic wording in his article.

  19. #19 JB
    June 28, 2006

    “obviously this post is only news if a skeptic examines Gores film and finds no flaws.”

    Not so. While the respondents to the above survey obviously do not represent an unbiased sample, that does NOT mean their responses are neccessarily innacurate from a scientific standpoint.

    Suggesting that a climate scientist is incapable of separating the science in Gore’s movie from politics is just silly.

    Actually, a little thought will show just HOW silly the suggestion is. It is highly unlikely that a scientist who cares about his or her reputation (as most clearly do) would want to say anything at all about a movie that he or she thought was rubbish from the scientific standpoint. It would simply make the scientist look stupid or foolish, or both.

  20. #20 JJ
    June 28, 2006

    JB,

    “Not so.”

    Pretty much so.

    “While the respondents to the above survey obviously do not represent an unbiased sample, that does NOT mean their responses are neccessarily innacurate from a scientific standpoint.”

    True. Also true is that it does not mean that their responses are accurate from a scientific standpoint. Nor does it mean that (as is the implicit claim of the entire exercise) that Algore’s movie is accurate from ascientific standpoint.

    It does mean that this dog and pony show is irrelevant to the scientific standpoint (being an exercise in political polemics, not science). And in that context it also does mean that their response is uninteresting. I.e. ‘not news’, which was the claim being (correctly) made by NAGS.

    “Suggesting that a climate scientist is incapable of separating the science in Gore’s movie from politics is just silly.”

    Suggesting that those who are putatively capable of that separation infallibly perform it is similarly silly.

    “Actually, a little thought will show just HOW silly the suggestion is. It is highly unlikely that a scientist who cares about his or her reputation (as most clearly do) would want to say anything at all about a movie that he or she thought was rubbish from the scientific standpoint. It would simply make the scientist look stupid or foolish, or both.”

    Actually, just a tiny bit more thought will show just HOW silly that comment is. A scientist who cares about his *reputation* will ‘go with the flow’ so as not to *look* stupid or foolish. A scientist who cares about the truth will subordinate concern over his reputation and concentrate on not *being* stupid or foolish.

    JJ

  21. #21 Davis
    June 28, 2006

    So JJ, you’re essentially saying that *climate scientists* aren’t qualified to make *scientific* statements on *climate science*?

    Let me put this another way — what evidence do we have to suggest that their scientific judgment is being uniformly skewed by ideology in the way you suggest? If you’re making such a claim, the burden is on you to demonstrate it with something other than accusations.

  22. #22 JJ
    June 29, 2006

    Davis,

    “So JJ, you’re essentially saying that climate scientists aren’t qualified to make scientific statements on climate science?”

    No, I am not saying any such thing.

    “Let me put this another way — what evidence do we have to suggest that their scientific judgment is being uniformly skewed by ideology in the way you suggest?”

    The manner in which your bias caused you to misstate my position for the purpose of scoring debate points is a pretty good example of the phenomenon. I do not believe that ‘climate scientists’ in general are any more immune to this type of behaviour than you are … and the sort that flock to see a political polemic like Algore’s movie are likely quite a bit more susceptible.

    JJ

  23. #23 Carl Christensen
    June 29, 2006

    I love hearing right-wing hypocrites screech about the bias of scientists — as they watch Faux News, buy the latest Coulter & Hannity & O’Reilly & Limbaugh book, etc.

  24. #24 frankis
    June 29, 2006

    Have you seen the film JJ?