The boring truth

Yes indeed, time to weigh in on the great issue of the day: Mr Justice Burton vs Al Gore.

My first point was going to be, that it was a poor idea to have judges deciding science. Its still a point, but possibly not a major one in this case, because it looks like the amended guidance notes, which contain the core of what needs to be said to correct the film, were “agreed during the case” – exactly who agreed them is unclear, especially on the govt side, but at least it wasn’t just the judge.

[Update: IPCC and Gore get 2007 peace Nobel "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change". IPCC, good. Gore... I'll reserve my opinion for now]

Wiki is shaping up for a fine edit war on this (though amuingly, the page prot state a bit earlier was only tangentially related); meanwhile Inel is in my opinion too kind to Gore/AIT. James is rather more acerbic and has the good taste to ref me. mt, with usual boldness, has set up a experimental wiki just for the Nine Points of Doom.

Before I go on, I’m going to give my opinion on what is the heart of the problem, and indeed with so much greenpeace-type stuff too: that the basic truth about GW is too boring to present to a mass audience and so people feel a need to sex it up. The bottom line, if you want to know whether its getting warmer, is to look at the temperature record. Which shows its getting warmer. There, are we done now? No of course not, too dull. So we need… The Snows of Kilimanjaro melting. Or charismatic megafauna drowning. Or whatever. Yes I know that a simple straightforward presentation of the IPCC SPM, which could be done in about the same time, would have audiences running away screaming. Its a problem.

But what would also be a problem would be if all the good guys felt obliged to get trapped into defending AIT to the death. I hope that doesn’t happen (Myles Allen on R4 last night didn’t). It should be clear that AIT is a partisan film, not a source for the science; for that we have the readily available IPCC (or wikipedia, if you want a readable summary). AIT is in some danger of becoming a cuckoo overshadowing what it is supposedly explaining. Skeptics can find it very convenient to attack the film, and thereby pretend they are attacking the basic science.

Realise that this judgment has been badly, consistently and lazily reported. The core of the judgment is I have no doubt that Dr Stott, the Defendant’s expert, is right when he says that: “Al Gore’s presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate.” It goes on to discuss “errors” (note the quotes – back to that later) but the overall judgment is the above. Of course, thats not interesting enough, the angle has to be controversy, so even the grauniad has Gore’s climate film has scientific errors – judge and I’m sure elsewhere is worse.

Onto the “errors” question, which turns out to be pleasingly ambiguous. Para 17iii says “There are errors and omissions in the film”. But 18, this has become “some of the errors, or departures from the mainstream” and by para 23 this has become “‘errors’” (note internal ‘ quotes). It remains like this, except for a brief removal of the scare quotes in para 34. Which means that whenever Burton talks of the 9 errors, he writes “9 ‘errors’” – which is to say, he is not calling them errors, merely noting that others have called them errors. Assuming this is deliberate, then we are entitled to deduce from the judgment that he thinks there are at least 2 errors (from para 17) but not that he asserts that there are as many as 9.

The Nine ‘Errors’

Time to have a look at the “nine ‘errors’”. For this we want the judgment and the final guidance notes. Italics below is from the notes.

Note: in most cases, Gore doesn’t actually *say* mistakes but *implies* them. Thus, on sea level rises, he does *not* (as I recall; happily the judgment includes transcripts) actually say “sea level will rise 20 feet within X years”, he merely talks about what might happen if sea level did rise by X. Technically, this saves him. Either the judge has missed this subtlety or (rather more likely) has decided that this is mere equivocation: Gore is clearly giving the impression that this is likely “soon”.

1. Although many of the examples in this scene are well chosen to illustrate the effects of human induced climate change, the causes of the recession of snows on Kilimanjaro are complex and related to local factors. It cannot be established that this is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.

K seems to be a complex case; plough through the RC take if you like. I think the bottom line is that whether snowless K is from GW or not is unclear, but that its certainly not a good example to use for attribution. K isn’t good evidence *for* GW. But the retreat of glaciers worldwide is. So we’re back to sexing it up: Gore’s basic point is fine; the icon he uses isn’t. As the guidance notes says.

2. Pupils watching this segment might get the impression that the graph plotting CO2 against temperature over 650,000 years proves that recent rises in temperature are caused by CO2. The latter conclusion is accepted by the great majority of the world’s climate scientists, but cannot be proved by reference to this graph. Closer examination shows that, for most of the last 650,000 years, temperature increases precede CO2 increases by several hundred years. and then goes on to say that the relationship goes both ways.

Oh no, not this one again. As far as I know the best explanation of the CO2-T in the deep cores comes from Eric Wolff; there is a longer RC version. The bottom line: the skeptics are completely wrong to say explicitly (as they do) that the CO2-T lag *disproves* GW. Gore’s presentation is largely correct, and about as good as can be done within the space. The ice core record doesn’t *prove* GW but is entirely consistent with it.

I think the judge should probably have left this one alone. It will be a bloody good school class and teacher that manage to make sense of the notes.

3. There is insufficient evidence to establish clearly that particular one-off weather events, such as Hurricane Katrina, are attributable to climate change. However, the IPCC concludes that it is likely that there has been an increase in intense tropical cyclone activity in some regions and more likely than not that humans have contributed to this

I agree with all that.

4. It is generally Accepted that the evidence remains insufficient to establish a clear attribution for the drying out of Lake Chad

Dunno. Sounds fairly likely though.

[Update: G points me to "Biasutti, M. and Giannini, A. 2006: Robust Sahel drying in response to late 20th century forcings. Geophys. Res. Lett., 11, L11706. doi:10.1029/2006GL026067.", see-also here, so Gore may be somewhat or at least arguably right -W]

5. It is not clear which study Gore is referring to when he talks about Polar Bears drowning.

Bears again, argh. As far as I can tell they aren’t much use as an example yet, though they might be for the future.

[Update: In the comments, C argues that there is a perfectly good study supporting Gores position -W]

6. The IPCC assess that it is very unlikely that the “ocean conveyor” (also known as the “meridional overturning circulation” or “thermohaline circulation”) will undergo a large abrupt transition this century, although it is very likely to slow down. Most scientists would regard talk of an imminent ice-age as speculation.

Gore talks about this, again in a prediction-free way intended to imply trouble, but I forget his words (see para 27). The guidance is correct; Gore was probably misleading.

7. The IPCC reports predict that, if the temperature were to rise by 1-3C, there would be increased coral bleaching and widespread coral mortality unless corals could adapt or acclimatise, but while there is increasing evidence for climate change impacts on coral reefs the IPCC concluded that separating the impacts of climate change-related stresses from other stresses such as over-fishing and pollution was difficult.

Not my thing.

8. Pupils might get the impression that sea-level rises of up to 7m (caused by the complete melting of Greenland or half of Greenland and half of the West Antarctic shelf) could happen in the next decades. The IPCC predicts that it would take millennia for rises of that magnitude to occur. However, pupils should be aware that even smaller rises in sea level are predicted to have very serious effects. or Burton: “This is distinctly alarmist, and part of Mr Gore’s ‘wake-up call’… not in line with the scientific consensus.”

Yeah, I think Gore was misleading on this, and said so before.

9. It is not clear what “Pacific nations” Gore is referring to in the section dealing with evacuations to New Zealand. It is not clear that there is any evidence of evacuations in the Pacific due to human induced climate change.

Indeed.

[Worth knowing -W]

Comments

  1. #1 pough
    2007/10/11

    Here in BC we get to be told by Gruff Editorial that Gore’s movie was Pure Fantasy, which is kind of amusing. I haven’t seen AIT, but I’m guessing he made more than 9 points…

    http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/editorial/story.html?id=50e42b47-ca21-47c1-bbb1-caf456348677

  2. #2 guthrie
    2007/10/11

    I thought part of the point was that a few years ago they thought it much more likely that the ocen conveyor might stop. New research since then has shown that it is very unlikley, rather than possible. As for the polar bears, reports i have seen have the judge saying that the only evidence he has says that a couple of bears drowned. Unfortunately this is not the whole story, and on that topic I am fairly sure the judge has dropped the ball.

    [TAR was much the same. As for bears... Gore was dumb enough to say what he said; there is indeed more story but its very complex & Gore didn't cover it -W]

  3. #3 Adam
    2007/10/11

    “that the basic truth about GW is too boring to present to a mass audience and so people feel a need to sex it up. The bottom line, if you want to know whether its getting warmer, is to look at the temperature record. Which shows its getting warmer. There, are we done now? No of course not, too dull”

    This is by far the more interesting factor of this story, to me rather than dissecting the individual points. The problem is more pronounced than you put. Most people’s reaction to “it’s getting warmer” is/was “good, I like it warm”.

    So the follow-up is, “is that a problem?” and if so, “what?”. It’s when you try and go down this line that you run into problems and much dispute.

  4. #4 Eli Rabett
    2007/10/11

    Don’t think you have ever written so much in a single post. Mostly me wonders why the hell the government let the plaintiff bring in Carter as an expert.

    [Indeed, if only the testimony were public there might be some fun available -W]

  5. #5 PJ
    2007/10/11

    Gore got his ice age stuff wrong, or at least presented in a misleading way, giving the false impression that CO2 changes initiated and ended our ice ages, which is poppycock. a scientific study confirming that warming 19,000 years ago increased CO2 not the other way around. The science is in – CO2 lagged warming in paleo-climate by 1,000 years:

    http://physorg.com/news110121579.html

    Deep-sea temperatures warmed about 1,300 years before the tropical surface ocean and well before the rise in atmospheric CO2, the study found. The finding suggests the rise in greenhouse gas was likely a result of warming and may have accelerated the meltdown – but was not its main cause.
    … The best estimate from other studies of when CO2 began to rise is no earlier than 18,000 years ago. Yet this study shows that the deep sea, which reflects oceanic temperature trends, started warming about 19,000 years ago.

    “What this means is that a lot of energy went into the ocean long before the rise in atmospheric CO2,” Stott said.

    But where did this energy come from” Evidence pointed southward.

    Water’s salinity and temperature are properties that can be used to trace its origin – and the warming deep water appeared to come from the Antarctic Ocean, the scientists wrote.

    “In addition, the authors’ model showed how changed ocean conditions may have been responsible for the release of CO2 from the ocean into the atmosphere, ”

    -end quote -

    Gore’s biased presentation shouldn’t be shown in schools at all. A better presentation that includes the other factors driving climate change, both in the paleoclimate and today, would be more suitable for students than Gore’s shock-and-awe.

  6. #6 bigcitylib
    2007/10/11

    Of the nine it seems the science changed on 1) and 6) (you stop numbering after 3))since the movie came out, so I’m not sure you can blame Gore for that.

    [Fixed the numbering. On 6, no, THC is pretty much the same, see the TAR. 1 - hard to know, what attribution do you think Gore was using? -W]

    As for the “too boring” thing, in Canada we have 1) a very serious beetle infestation ravaging our Western forests and possibly endangering our Western lumber industry and 2)the possibility that we’ll be fighting either Russians or Americans one day over some of our Northern Islands if they find oil in the Arctic 3). From our perspective that’s pretty exciting, although I’m not sure Al could have predicted this stuff a couple of years ago.

  7. #7 Douglas Coker
    2007/10/11

    Ahh! We’ve been working on the same issue today. I’ve e-mailed you my thoughts on the New Party (who are they?) challenge to Gore’s AIT. Use as you see appropriate – I’m not inclined to post the whole thing here.

    Here’s a very brief summary of my position. THE NEW PARTY HAS PARTLY SUCCEEDED IN A PROPAGANDA WAR ON GORE’S AIT. GORE’S MOVIE STANDS UP TO SCRUTINY AND HE CAN ONLY BE CHALLENGED ON A COUPLE OF MINOR CAUSALITY AND TIMESCALE POINTS. AIT SHOULD BE CHAMPIONED AS A GREAT INTRODUCTION TO GLOBAL WARMING. IT HAS HUMOUR, PASSION, WARMTH AND LOADS OF USEFUL INFORMATION.

    I’m not shouting, CAPS are for emphasis only.

    Douglas Coker

    [Hmmm well I fear I disagree somewhat, its misleading on a number of important points, so I don't think you can call it a great intro, and I'm definitely advising against championing it -W]

  8. #8 cce
    2007/10/12

    The criticism of Gore on the Polar Bears is entirely unwarranted. Gore’s account is completely consistent with the study he is referring to, which was appropriately titled “Observations of mortality associated with extended open-water swimming by polar bears in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea”:

    Abstract:
    “During aerial surveys in September 1987-2003, a total of 315 live polar bears were observed with 12 (3.8%) animals in open water, defined for purposes of this analysis as marine waters >2 km north of the Alaska Beaufort Sea coastline or associated barrier islands. No polar bear carcasses were observed. During aerial surveys in early September, 2004, 55 polar bears (Ursus maritimus) were seen, 51 were alive and of those 10 (19.9%) were in open water. In addition, four polar bear carcasses were seen floating in open water and had, presumably, drowned. Average distance from land and pack ice edge for live polar bears swimming in open water in 2004 (n=10) were 8.3±3.0 and 177.4±5.1 km, respectively. We speculate that mortalities due to offshore swimming during late-ice (or mild ice) years may be an important and unaccounted source of natural mortality given energetic demands placed on individual bears engaged in long-distance swimming. We further suggest that drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open water periods continues.”

    The whole hubbub over the “storm” supports Gore, and is a misreading of the paper. The authors were arguing that decreased ice cover will lead to increased wave height, and thus drownings such as those observed will only become more common.

  9. #9 PeteB
    2007/10/12

    I know it will be used as propoganda by the usual suspects, but in terms of education, evaluating a film against the scientific concensus (in this case the IPCC report) is a good exercise in critical thinking – surely we should encourage this in pupils as a good skill for life. If pupils just accepted without question AIT, how would they be able to evaluate, for example, TGGWS rather than just accept that without question.

  10. #10 Ian Hopkinson
    2007/10/12

    PeterB – and they might also be directed to the fantastic range of reporting for a single base document!

  11. #11 MarkUK
    2007/10/12

    I don’t know, but I’ve read quite a few reports about Tuvalu moving its population to new Zealand..

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E07E7DB153AF933A15754C0A9679C8B63&n=Top/News/Science/Topics/Global%20Warming

  12. #13 inel
    2007/10/12

    William ~ thanks for combing through the ‘errors’ with a fine scientist’s toothcomb. The way the AIT case story is reported initially and thereafter is of interest to me, so I am glad you have done the nitpicking on the science.

    PeteB’s sentiment sounds fair enough, but there is no time in the school year for, say, a thirteen-year-old, let alone a teacher, to read through the complete IPCC AR4 reports looking for evidence that supports or disagrees with AIT. (TGGWS is obvious: kids can intuitively tell when adults are lying.)

    MarkUK is right: there is loads of information about Tuvalu’s predicament w.r.t. climate change in the Tuvalu island nation’s own list.

    Going back as far as:

    TUVALU: Going down

    Source: Copyright 2002, Guardian
    Date: 2/16/2002
    By: Patrick Barkham
    The evidence before their own eyes – and forecasts for a rise in sea level of up to 88cm in the next century made by international scientists – has convinced most of Tuvalu’s 10,500 inhabitants that rising seas and more frequent violent storms are certain to make life unliveable on the islands, if not for them, then for their children. A deal has been signed with New Zealand, in which 75 Tuvaluans will be resettled there each year, starting now. As the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean creeps up on to Tuvalu’s doorstep, the evacuation and shutting down of a nation has begun.

    As Ian Hopkinson mentions up there, it’s a free-for-all when there’s a grand old chance for misrepresentation. The AIT case claimed by Dimmock sought to bring a complaint of political bias to bear upon the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, thus causing the government to recall the DVDs from schools. The crux of the matter, stated in the High Court judgment was:

    The context and nub of the dispute are the statutory provisions described in their side headings as respectively relating to “political indoctrination” and to the ” duty to secure balanced treatment of political issues” in schools, now contained in ss406 and 407 of the Education Act 1996, …

    Under normal circumstances, the failed attempt to block the distribution and showing of a film for breach of government guidelines relating to the handling of partisan political matters as they arise in class in secondary schools would be the simple story.

    Furthermore, under normal circumstances, this political argument should cause any scientific misrepresentations to pale into insignificance in the bigger picture, which is that of whether or not the call to ban the movie in classrooms on political grounds was successful.

    The way in which the nine ‘errors’ have taken on a fantasy life of their own outside the High Court room is fascinating to watch. The losers can easily make a success out of anything, because most people don’t check sources or facts. (Too boring. Far better to opine in blissful ignorance, I guess.) The lack of accuracy by people criticising Al Gore’s lack of accuracy is risible.

    Not many people (outside the highly interested parties) care about this AIT case, much. In timely fashion, I am going to school this afternoon to watch ‘The Film’ with other parents in ‘The Theatre’. There I may have the chance to hear whether any of them were even aware of the court case …

    I will continue being too nice to Al Gore, by your standards, but I also embrace the IPCC ;-)

    The IPCC and its many contributors deserve all the credit, imho, for improving our understanding of the science of climate change, while Al Gore gets a pat on the back for raising our awareness of the IPCC and climate change as a pressing concern. I consider the IPCC and Gore as symbiotic, er, in its original sense, defined as: “the living together of unlike organisms”.

    If their work helps us all live together more peaceably in the long run, I may even honour them with a new descriptor: as panbiotic catalysts.

  13. #14 inel
    2007/10/12

    P.S. Mark Lynas has just published Science and Politics collide in the Grauniad, subtitled:

    The presence of a few errors in Al Gore’s film should not undermine the thrust of his message

    and, btw, he also points out:

    Moreover, the judge was wrong on coral bleaching – which is unambiguously related to rising sea temperatures – and in downplaying the sea level impacts experienced by atoll states. As it happens, Gore’s statement on this subject was based on a photo I took in Tuvalu in 2002, shown in the film, at a time when increasingly severe flooding during high tides was already a reality, driving negotiations with New Zealand about evacuating the entire population.

  14. #15 Eli Rabett
    2007/10/12

    I do love a cup of irony with my morning coffee. Thanks to the Nobel Peace Prize committee.

  15. #16 Simon D
    2007/10/12

    Two thoughts on points 4 and 7 below.

    4. The shrinkage of Lake Chad is from lower discharge by the main inflowing river. Research (e.g. Coe and Foley, 2000) suggest it is roughly 50/50 due to irrigation and lower rainfall. The question is whether the drying of the Sahel is due to climate change. If the answer was 50%, that gives a 25% responsibility for the shrinking of Lake Chad (assuming non nonlinearities with irrigation). So maybe not the best example, but not way off.

    7. Gore doesn’t actually say anything specific about corals in the film, but implies warmer waters is killing corals (via bleaching). There is pretty strong evidence that climate change has radically increased frequency of bleaching events. I wouldn’t present things the way Gore does, but he is not wrong.

    Either way, I think we’re better off just teaching kids science, rather than showing them movies partly about science.

  16. #17 Douglas Coker
    2007/10/12

    Thanks for the link to commentary on the New Party. Ignore or monitor/challenge? The abs on the polars bears is v useful. My comments can be seen over at Grains of Sand http://jebin08.blogspot.com/ Currently top item.

    The Tyndall Centre has published a very useful commentary on the “errors”. Lengthy so won’t post here but I can e-mail to William if anyone interested. Not up at the TC site yet as far as I can see.

    Douglas Coker

  17. #18 Magnus W
    2007/10/12

    Short of time, but when I where at the Goldschmidt conference in August I saw Malcom McCulloch hold a presentation called Coral Reefs and Global Change: the roles of increasing ocean acidity, ocean temperatures, sea-levels and direct Human Impacts. From what I remember he showed that increasing temp and CO2 where bleaching and also deth…

    “Increasing ocean acidity and the resultant decrease in the
    carbonate saturation state of seawater, has the potential to
    cause substantial reductions in coral calcification. Warming of
    the world’s oceans has also increased the frequency of
    unusually warm events resulting in widespread mass coral
    bleaching, such as occurred in 1998 and 2002. These effects,
    and the apparent lack of adaptability of corals, is more than
    counter-balancing any possible beneficial effects from climate
    change such increased calcification and reduced uptake of
    CO2 with higher sea surface temperatures as well as increased
    accommodation space for coral growth from rising sea levels.”

    Here are some publications, don’t have time to look in at it at the moment though…
    http://rses.anu.edu.au/research/ee/people/McCulloch/index.php?p=pubs

  18. #19 Alexander Ac
    2007/10/12

    If opposition to AIT is Durkins TGGWS – then I vote for AIT…

  19. #20 Steve Reynolds
    2007/10/12

    Alfred Nobel’s will specifies that the peace prize would go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

    What does climate change have to do with any of that?

  20. #21 Magnus W
    2007/10/13

    Steve, that’s a point that’s been raised often also after earlier announcements, however time moves on…
    “Times have changed and the challenges to peace today are very different from when Nobel’s will was written. The environment and climate change are issues that will, in the long term, have repercussions for all humanity and undoubtedly lead to conflicts over resources all over the place. Few issues are as important for world peace and I think it’s great that the the Committee has the foresight to see this.”

  21. #22 inel
    2007/10/13

    Dear William,
    FYI the AIT book itself is so-o-o-o boring (!), Marlo Lewis at the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote his own user manual, providing detailed (legal-style) arguments against Gore’s points. Very convenient for Lowndes in assessing the film, I would suggest.
    cei.org/pages/ait_response-book.cfm

    Many environmental sources do themselves (actually, all of us) a disservice when they present things larger-than-life. (Realise, though, that American culture is very different from British in this regard, and that’s just another piece of the puzzle.) I agree with you on this:

    the basic truth about GW is it is too boring to present to a mass audience and so people feel a need to sex it up.

    but I would add that there are powerful forces that “feel a need to politic it up” too. They are the ones behind this case, and to watch, imho.

  22. #23 ChrisC
    2007/10/13

    Hi William.

    With regards to point 7 (coral reefs):

    First I must stress I’m a meteorologist, not a reef biologist. But coral reefs abd their biology are a hobby of mine, and I’ve spent alot of time diving/snokeling on reefs and have read some of the literature on the subject of corals and global warming.

    On this subject, the literature is quite extensive. Buddemeier, Kleypas and Aronson (Pew Centre for Climate Change: 2004) argue that, while there are likely to be some positive effects on particular species in particular locations, the effects on coral populations overall will be extensively negative. However, the authors stress that corals as a whole are not facing extinction. Decimation is perhaps a better word, although certain species are at risk of extinction. On this, I think that Gore was broadly correct given the time constraints.

    A study attempting to attribute bleaching events since 1980 (Glynn, PW, Bulletin of Marine Science, 2001) investigated the bleaching and recovery of reef systems in response to sea temperature increases in a laboratory setting. The study concludes the following:

    “Branching species (Pocillopora damicornis and Pocillopora elegans) and massive species (Porites lobata, Pavona clavus and Pavona gigantea) were exposed to experimentally elevated seawater temperature, ∼1-2°C above ambient… All corals exposed to high temperature treatment exhibited significant declines in zooxanthellae densities and chlorophyll a concentrations. Pocilloporid species were the most sensitive, being the first to bleach, and suffered the highest mortality (50% after 50 d exposure).”

    I think this study, and others mentioned in AR4 WGII, as well as the coral bleaching event associated with the 1998 El Nino, shows quite robustly the effect of sea temps on corals, regardless of the other human impacts, such as fishing and coral harvesting.

    As such, my opinion is that point 7 is nit picking, and that, given the time allowed, Gore presented the material well in AIT.

  23. #24 ChrisC
    2007/10/13

    Sorry, second cite should be:

    Hueerkamp et al, Bulletin of Marine Science, 2001. Glynn is a co-author, but not lead author.

  24. #25 inel
    2007/10/13

    Downes, not Lowndes, is Dimmock’s Counsel. My very own typo, sorry ;-)

  25. #26 Michael Tobis
    2007/10/13

    Regarding the Burton judgment about An Inconvenient Truth

    I’ve watched the relevant scenes, and though I find the polar bear sequence a bit silly, I can find nothing whatsoever wrong with what Gore says in substance or in emphasis in eight of the nine cases.

    The troublesome case is where Gore says:

    “that’s why the citizens of these Pacific nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand”

    There is certainly no case where all the inhabitants of a nation have evacuated, to date, although the prospect does not seem remote. This astonishing fact does not seem to faze the critics of the movie in the least.

    Now, I’d like to point out that ‘all’ is a word used very commonly and casually in middle-south educated language. It is used for emphasis, not as a logical qualifier. Indeed in another scene, Gore in discussing ice albedo speaks of the reflection of “all of that energy, over 90%”. It’s used a term of informal emphasis.

    Arguably, there is some subset of PAcific Islanders who have ‘all evacuated’ in the loose, emphatic sense of ‘all’. I can certainly imagine a context in which the statement, with a little slack for Gore’s vernacular, would be reasonable.

    That said, the sentence and the accompanying photograph seems spliced loosely into a discussion of sea level rise. It appears without context or preparation. It appears a sort of an orphan clip.

    I blame bad film editing. We can’t really know exactly what Mr Gore said about that matter from the context of the film, as it was almost certainly dropped in out of context. In at least that sense, it is an error in the film.

    The polar bear case, it seems, can be argued, though the maudlin animation accompanying it seems a bit distasteful.

    The others are simply slam dunks in Gore’s favor. I can see nothing wrong with what he said or how he said it.

  26. #27 Ian Hopkinson
    2007/10/14

    Of course, the first thing to do in protecting polar bears would be “not giving out permits to shoot them”.

  27. #28 WhiteBeard
    2007/10/17

    Of course, the first thing to do in protecting polar bears would be “not giving out permits to shoot them”.

    First, I’m not a hunter. Secondly, I would be unlikely to respond, save for the emphatic nature of your statement, and my intuition that it stems from an ideological position, possibly with an incomplete understanding of likely consequences.

    The head of the department in the Provincial Government overseeing Polar Bear hunting in Canadian made an interesting argument in a letter to the US Fish and Wildlife Service as part of their consideration of up-listing the Bears under the Endangered Species Act. It is the same one made in many areas of the world in efforts to protect threatened mega fauna.

    The animals provide a “cash crop” in an area of the world where there are few others; where a previous source of income (seal pups) have been outlawed; where a previous trade good (other furs) has fallen in value with a change in 1st world esthetics; and where circulating money comes mostly from salaries of governmental service providers or direct government (welfare) payments to individuals.

    The Bears are serious competitors for the subsistence food sources of the resident people, and a very real and deadly hazard to them. Where hunting is permitted, bear numbers are plentiful, and appears not to be a seriously limiting factor in population size.

    More bears may live with “trophy hunting” than without. I see your statement in the same light as the biodiesel mandate leading to deforestation for palm plantations.

  28. #29 Dean Morrison
    2007/10/21

    The links between the New Party, Scientific Alliance and their funder are made clear here:

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2190770,00.html

    ………

    “Team Gore” have also issued a rebuttal, and pointed out that judge didn’t actually use the word ‘errors’:

    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2007/10/an_inconvenient_truth_team_gor_1.html

    [Team Gore do indeed assert this, but they are lying through their teeth, as a glance at the judgement clearly shows: "17. I turn to AIT, the film. The following is clear: ... iii) There are errors and omissions in the film, to which I shall refer, and respects in which the film, while purporting to set out the mainstream view (and to belittle opposing views), does in fact itself depart from that mainstream, in the sense of the "consensus" expressed in the IPCC reports." -W]

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