Al Gore is now a Nobel laureate sharing the peace prize with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). With the Oscar winning movie An Inconvenient Truth and many public appearances, Al Gore has brought Anthropogenic Global Warming to the media forefront. A British court has ruled that there are at least nine untruths in The Inconvenient Truth. As a result the movie can be shown in British schools but only with a disclaimer noting the less than accurate items. What the heck is going on?
It would appear to be politics. Politics and science mixed in a way that political science professors may have to start teaching. This is not the type of thing expected when dealing with settled science.
It is fairly obvious that Al pushed the honesty envelope in his documentary. His urgent plea to stop global warming before sea levels rise over 20 feet in the near future, flooding out large areas of the world was a bit over the top. While such a rise in sea level is possible, Dr. Susan Solomon of the IPCC stated that the melting of the polar icecaps, “may take millennia.” When listening to the webcast of the Fourth Annual IPCC Report I found her comment comforting. Millennia such a great term, as in more that a thousand years, plenty of time to plan wisely, which is a good thing.
Another reason to suspect that Al Gore may be just a bit overly dramatic comes from Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS). Dr. Hansen has had plenty of air time in the media. While protesting on National Public Radio (NPR) that his freedom of speech was being violated by the Bush administration (nearly all administrations actually) he made an odd comment that stuck in my head. That Al Gore wanted him to overstate the urgency of combating global warming, or words to that effect. This was when Al was just the VP before the Oscars and Nobel prizes.
Al Gore is getting so much press and so many awards it seems impossible for the other side of the debate to get any real airtime. What about the global warming pragmatists; guys that feel common sense approaches are better? Where are they in the media mix?
There is one, middle of the road economist making some headway in the media. Bjorn Lomborg, Author of Cool It – A Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, made it to Colbert Report on Comedy Central, (many skeptics view this as the definitive venue for climate debate). Lomborg has a pragmatic approach to combating global warming which seems to make him a target for the “fix it now!” crowd. While I do not agree with Lomborg on all issues, money spent on renewable alternate energy research is well invested. Lomborg also has a sense of humor which is sorely missing in the climate change crowd.
Since the debate seems to be so political, perhaps courageous cable networks like Comedy Central can level the climate change playing field by providing equal airtime. Let’s face it Comedy Central, Al Gore has been on the Daily Show enough. Give the other side more time. If nothing else a little more humor could offset some of the fear mongering. With all the funny business that Al Gore has been up to, taking the debate to Comedy Central seems like a plan.