Framing Science


Something’s rotten in Denmark. Conservatives once again have sprung a media trap on Al Gore, but this time overseas. At the Wall Street Journal , “skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg and Danish journalist Flemming Rose complain that Gore, while touring Denmark, backed out of a scheduled interview. According to the duo, the newspaper Jyllands-Posten set up an “investigative interview” between Gore and culture editor Rose. To maximize conflict, the paper invited Lomborg to participate.

Rose and Lomborg claim that Gore agreed to the terms of the interview, but then pulled out at the last minute. If it’s true that Gore gave a greenlight to the interview, it wasn’t a smart move. And if he pulled out at the last minute, his judgment gets worse.

In recent years, Jyllands-Posten has built its reputation (and circulation,) around stirring conflict, all in the name supposedly of journalistic ideals. It features two notable Danish right-wing intellectuals as columnists, and the paper gained international attention in 2005 after its controversial publication of twelve cartoons depicting Islam and Muhammad. The most controversial of these cartoons showed Muhammed with a bomb in his turban.

So Gore was stupid to agree to the interview. Don’t go marching into a media situation where you can’t possibly influence the message, and where the news organization is likely to prioritze controversy and attention over accuracy or context in its reporting. It’s the same kind of blunder that caught Clinton earlier this year in his famous explosive interview on Fox News. It’s ironic that in this recent case, and in Clinton’s showdown, the topic was global warming, the most technical of scientific issues, where conflict should never trump context. Yet so the story goes at many media outlets these days, and not just in the U.S.

In the end, Lomborg is given yet another platform for his contrarian views. (See this Skeptical Inquirer Online column I did on Lomborg back in 2004). Always sketchy on the science but heavy on the self-promotion, Lomborg leads in the op-ed with the Gore conflict, and then moves to expound on his interpretations of the science and policy implications of climate change.


  1. Gore was never a very good politician.

  2. #2 KGrandia
    January 22, 2007

    It’s a tricky situation that Gore found himself in. I have seen it many times where you accept an interview on the understanding that you will be on as the sole interviewee, and then poof an arch enemy is thrown into the mix.

    Once you have an understanding of who will (or in this case, will not) be interviewed alongside you, it is not a “trap” it is simply bad form and narrow thinking on the part of the media outlet. That type of behavior by a media outlet might win them a short-term hit (meaning 5 minutes) of controversy, but it ruins their access and credibility to others in the future.

  3. #3 Wayne Hall
    January 23, 2007

    As I have said before, and seem to have to say again, the climate change movement will go from defeat to defeat while ever there remains this unwillingness to confront what is being proposed (and evidently done) in the name of “climate change mitigation”. We have all this dimension of the matter to use as ammunition against the contrarians and we are not using it. This is demoralising. A movement that cannot inspire loyalty cannot win.

    The masses supporting the contrarians are mostly ignorant of this whole dimension of the question. Their fanaticism is incited by the smell of “phoniness” that pervades the climate change movement on account of our covering up for “geoengineers”.

    We are in the grips of a “divide and rule” scenario. Those on our side who wish to keep ignoring this are not good friends.

    I some time ago sent Kevin Grandia all the information he needs to be able to judge the validity of what I am arguing.

  4. #4 Erich J Knight
    January 25, 2007

    Time to Master the Carbon Cycle

    Man has been controlling the carbon cycle , and there for the weather, since the invention of agriculture, all be it was as unintentional, as our current airliner contrails are in affecting global dimming. This unintentional warm stability in climate has over 10,000 years, allowed us to develop to the point that now we know what we did and that now we are over doing it.

    The prehistoric and historic records gives a logical thrust for soil carbon sequestration.
    It makes implementing Terra Preta soil technology like an act of penitence, a returning of the misplaced carbon.

    Energy, the carbon cycle and greenhouse gas management

    On the Scale of CO2 remediation:

    It is my understanding that atmospheric CO2 stands at 379 PPM, to stabilize the climate we need to reduce it to 350 PPM by the removal of 230 Billion tons.

    The best estimates I’ve found are that the total loss of forest and soil carbon (combined
    pre-industrial and industrial) has been about 200-240 billion tons. Of
    that, the soils are estimated to account for about 1/3, and the vegetation
    the other 2/3.

    Since man controls 24 billion tons in his agriculture then it seems we have plenty to work with in sequestering our fossil fuel co2 emissions as charcoal.

    As Dr. Lehmann at Cornell points out, “Closed-Loop Pyrolysis systems such as Day’s are the only way to make a fuel that is actually carbon negative”. and that ” a strategy combining biochar with biofuels could ultimately offset 9.5 billion tons of carbon per year-an amount equal to the total current fossil fuel emissions! ”

    Carbon Negative Bio fuels, Sequestration and Fertility Too

    This new soil technology speaks to so many different interests and disciplines that it has not been embraced fully by any. I’m sure you will see both the potential of this system and the convergence needed for it’s implementation.

    The integrated energy strategy offered by Charcoal based Terra Preta Soil technology may
    provide the only path to sustain our agricultural and fossil fueled power
    structure without climate degradation, other than nuclear power.

    Nature article: Putting the carbon back Black is the new green:

    If pre-Columbian Indians could produce these soils up to 6 feet deep over 20% of the Amazon basin it seems that our energy and agricultural industries could also product them at scale.

    Harnessing the work of this vast number of microbes and fungi changes the whole equation of EROEI for food and Bio fuels. I see this as the only sustainable agricultural strategy if we no longer have cheap fossil fuels for fertilizer.

    We need this super community of wee beasties to work in concert with us by populating them into their proper Soil horizon Carbon Condos.

    I feel Terra Preta soil technology is the greatest of Ironies.
    That is: an invention of pre-Columbian American culture, destroyed by western disease, may well be the savior of industrial western society.

    Erich J. Knight

  5. #5 Peter Lund
    January 26, 2007

    The most controversial of these cartoons showed Muhammed with a bomb in his turban.

    And the circumstances that followed clearly showed what an incorrect picture that painted of what people do in Muhammed’s name.

    Jyllands-Posten may have many faults but printing those cartoons was not one of them.

  6. #6 Erich J. Knight
    January 28, 2007

    A GOOD discussion and central data base, REPP-CREST Terra Preta Site & Mail List

    About the Terra Preta Discussion List and Website at | Terr

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