Scientists OK Gore’s movie for accuracy

The former vice president’s movie — replete with the prospect of a flooded New York City, an inundated Florida, more and nastier hurricanes, worsening droughts, retreating glaciers and disappearing ice sheets — mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press.

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. —Seth BorensteinScientists OK Gore’s movie for accuracy (LA Daily News)

But the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released a statement that said,

The June 27, 2006 Associated Press (AP) article titled “Scientists OK Gore’s Movie for Accuracy” by Seth Borenstein raises some serious questions about AP’s bias and methodology.

AP chose to ignore the scores of scientists who have harshly criticized the science presented in former Vice President Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”

In the interest of full disclosure, the AP should release the names of the “more than 100 top climate researchers” they attempted to contact to review “An Inconvenient Truth.” AP should also name all 19 scientists who gave Gore “five stars for accuracy.” AP claims 19 scientists viewed Gore’s movie, but it only quotes five of them in its article. AP should also release the names of the so-called scientific “skeptics” they claim to have contacted.

If a reporter called up 100 scientists to ask them whether they had seen the latest Jim Carrey movie, there’s a good chance that those scientists who were fans of Jim Carrey would be among the first to see that movie. Just imagine a headline that uses the same numbers: “Four out of five scientists surveyed ignored Gore movie” or “Survey: 19% of Scientists Support Gore’s Doomsday Flick.”

Protecting the environment is important, but can we do it without the alarmist and armageddonist factoids?

2 thoughts on “Scientists OK Gore’s movie for accuracy

  1. Evan, you might be begging the question a bit. I haven’t seen the movie, and I’m not a scientist, so I can’t offer an opinion about whether this movie is accurate.

    But the article might simply prove nothing other than that people who agree with Gore’s opinions are more likely to see Gore’s film or read Gore’s book. (In fact, the article includes a paragraph that pretty much states Bush’s allies won’t bother to see the film.)

    Gore’s movie is certainly likely to be an accurate portrayal of the scientific evidence in favor of the global warming doomsday scenario. But Gore and other environmentalists have defended exaggeration and emphasis on doom and gloom, in order to promote change. A journalist’s job is to find the truth, not turn a blind eye to exaggeration or hyperbole — whether in a public relelations press release of a huge industrial corporation, or in the popular culture produced by environmentalists.

    Some time ago [like 15 years ago], I interviewed a University of Virginia scientist, though I can’t for the life of me remember why. I remember him mocking a coal company’s comic book, produced in a clumsy attempt to get kids to think of the coal industry as fun and harmless. Anyway, I couldn’t remember his name, but I think I found him through Google: Patrick J. Michaels. He’s been an outspoken critic of exaggeration and selective reporting where environmental issues are concerned. (See Michaels’s review of Gore’s movie.)

    Full disclosure… I’ve blogged about the global warming doomsday scenario before, as well as the population bomb scenario, and after following those issues I’m something of a skeptical agnostic when it comes to doomsday scenarios.

    Smoking is a good example, Evan, of evidence finally triumphing after decades of legal wrangling on behalf of the tobacco companies who didn’t want their livelihoods threatened. But consider what would happen if Washington were to act on the current fears about MySpace predators — the result would be significant restrictions on freedom of speech on the internet. The same goes for what would happen if Washington acted on what the public has been told about video games.

  2. This is one of the issues that I don’t like about both Democrat and Republican. Look at how they play on our fears. Even independant centrists create a culture of fear–fear to go beyond the confines and limits of the political center.

    Many people have debated the smoking issue for the same “alarmist and armageddonist” issues. Does that mean the Surgeon General is against all reason?

    From my perspective, the issue is not about whether the methodology is hurtful. Is Al Gore a scientist? No. But, if an article uses poor methodology, but his movie uses sound methodology, does the article take away any of the truth value of the movie? The issue is that bureaucrats of Washington are reluctant to do anything about a pervasive concern that scientists have expressed, for what I see as the fear for the stability of the economy.

    What could it hurt for Washington to step in, like it did with smoking, and turn the tides of destructive industrial practices?

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