The Scientific Activist

Yesterday, the AP released a story describing the general approval within the scientific community of the science behind Al Gore’s new documentary An Inconvenient Truth

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.

“Excellent,” said William Schlesinger, dean of the Nicholas School of Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University. “He got all the important material and got it right.”

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.”

Not everyone took the news so well, though, especially those who’ve made a career out of ignoring glaringly obvious scientific facts.

Not to be outdone, global warming denialist James Inhofe (R – OK) released his own press release via the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which he chairs. The release, entitled “AP Incorrectly Claims Scientists Praise Gore’s Movie”, is about as crazy as anything else Inhofe has had his hands on, but just for good measure, Tim Lambert of Deltoid takes it on point by point. His post is thorough and informative, so make sure you check it out.

The most disturbing aspect of this, to me at least, is that Inhofe is able to publish this junk as an official government press release. As our own President continues to skirt around the issue as well (to put it lightly), it’s informative to think about how the debate over global warming would play out in a rational democracy. And, no, it wouldn’t be a debate over whether global warming is happening or whether humans are at fault–that was so last century. Instead, the only legitimate debate we should be having now about global warming now is over what we need to do to stop it. As each prime minister hopeful from either side in the UK, for example, tries to prove that he is the real anti-global warming candidate, press releases like the one from Inhofe look, well, juvenile.

It’s time to grow up, kids.


  1. #1 Stefan Jones
    June 29, 2006

    “It’s time to grow up, kids.”

    Growing up. Yeah, that’s a tough one.

    I believe that fear of maturity — shorthand for accountability, responsibility, realistic self-appraisal, and a sober re-assessment of the myths and ideals one grew up with — is the searing painful national neurosis behind the greenhouse denial movement.

    Give up our big cars? Worry about where you throw stuff out? Being held accountable for the byproducts of your profitable business? Bummer, man!

  2. #2 Jorge
    July 4, 2006

    I am not optimistic that we can reverse the global warming. Science suggests that those trends, once in motion, are impossible to stop. The Earth is in the path of becoming an even more beautiful planet, so brilliant, like Venus! Who will be there in space to appreciate that beauty?

  3. #3 Dave the Admin
    July 4, 2006

    It’s a shame that I cannot see Al Gore’s movie without further adding to global warming by driving out of town some forty miles to the nearest theater in which it is offered. Even in my little bitty car, that’s eight bucks just for gas. I guess I’ll just have to wait until it’s on DVD.

  4. #4 Drew Thaler
    July 4, 2006

    It’s a shame that I cannot see Al Gore’s movie without further adding to global warming by driving out of town some forty miles to the nearest theater in which it is offered.

    Keep checking for new openings. Theater owners are noticing the movie’s potential and responding to it. Here in Cleveland, it was limited to one independent theater for a while but just recently (less than two weeks ago) a lot of the really big mainstream theaters here have started showings.

    Also, don’t be afraid to ask people at the theater near you if there’s a way to request it. There might be a suggestion box or email address.

  5. #5 SI Reasoning
    July 4, 2006

    I have a solution… try biking to the theater. 40 miles by bike is not that bad, you just have to take some time to map the route. Call local bike clubs and ask for best routes!

  6. #6 Nick Anthis
    July 4, 2006

    Forty miles, maybe, but probably not thousands of miles over the Atlantic, which is what I would have to do since it’s not showing anywhere in the UK from what I can tell. A greenhouse-gas-emitting plane ride to go see it would probably be a little counterproductive. Damn.

  7. #7 Nick Anthis
    July 4, 2006

    To all of the new people coming over from Daily Kos, make sure you check out the definitive post on this issue over at Deltoid

  8. #8 Daniel Johnston
    July 4, 2006

    This global warming issue is depressing. We don’t have time to argue about the validity of this issue. We must take global measures to begin to undo the damage caused. Yet, America is being led by an administration who is not only indifferent about this enviromental disaster, but has done and continues to do everything to make it worse. I’m sick of it, we can’t afford to let these ignorant people further compromise our future safety! America should lead the effort in protecting our planets future wellbeing.

  9. #9 Ben's Mom
    July 4, 2006

    Thanks Nick, I went and read the post over at Deltoid. You all are doing a great job exposing the fools who are trying to convince us that global warming is not our fault.

  10. #10 Nick Anthis
    July 4, 2006

    One little step at a time….

  11. #11 ThatTallGuy
    July 5, 2006

    You who are bemoaning the fact that you can’t go see the movie:

    You can. Just repay what you burn.

    The website associated with the movie ( points you to a “carbon calculator” at which you can repay based on the amount of pollution you generate.

  12. #12 gonzodon
    July 5, 2006

    I just hope that those of you upset about global warming aren’t also complaining about high gas prices.

    The U.S. is a country full of self-absorbed, status-conscious consumers. The U.S. is a country full of people that rarely act out of a sense of conscience, but will only repond to emergencies. Given that, the U.S. is unlikely to reduce CO2 emissions until it simply becomes too expensive to live the easy-motoring, gas-guzzling, suburban sprawl lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to.

    Therefore, very high energy prices (which ARE inevitable, sooner or later, due to the inevitability of Peak Oil) are likely the only thing that will slow the production of greenhouse gases on our planet. Yet most of us still complain about high gas prices, and (predictably) blame it all on some Nefarious Big Oil Conspiracy.

    When global oil production hits its peak (in 5 years? 10? 20?), believe me, $2.75/gallon gas will be but a pleasant memory from the Old Days, when it was still possible to Let the Good Times Roll.

  13. #13 Fred Thayer (thinkman)
    July 5, 2006

    There is no point to the continuous flogging of major media for “rolling over” for Bush, and I fear my liberal/progressive colleagues are in a trap of their own making. There is so much competition/duplication/redundancy among major media now that ALL such organizations can no longer afford to do real coverage of anything. So long as kos joins the crowd of relying upon “market competition,” the media will fall more and more into understaffed chaos. Understaffing among newspapers, television and magazines leaves everyone at the mercy of Karl Rove handouts that cannot be analyzed in depth.

  14. #14 AnyMouse
    July 5, 2006

    The science behind that AP story is weak. They talked to only 100 people, and only a few of those had seen the movie or read the book. How many people who think Al Gore uses weak science will bother giving their money to him, his movie, or his book?

  15. #15 Nick Anthis
    July 5, 2006

    It wasn’t a particularly scientific study, but it was a lot more accurate than that junk coming from Inhofe’s office.

New comments have been disabled.