Al Gore has been attacked again in an article by William Broad in the SMH.
The first thing to note is that this article comes from the New York Times, but is an abbreviated and badly truncated version. The original has about 770 more words. It brings the issue back into some balance towards the end in a section that the SMH has seen fit to prune.
This article has been thoroughly debunked at RealClimate by Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt at Gristmill by Dave Roberts and Andrew Dessler and at Deltoid by Tim Lambert. Dave Roberts describes the article as possibly:
the worst, sloppiest, most dishonest piece of reporting I’ve ever seen in the NYT. It’s got all the hallmarks of a vintage Gore hit piece: half-truths, outright falsehoods, unsubstantiated quotes, and a heaping dose of innuendo.
So the job of debunking the article has been very thoroughly done. I’ll restrict myself to two comments.
First, whereas Broad says that Gore is being doubted and questioned by mainstream scientists, he actually cites a string of sceptics or deniers (Quiggin has taken to calling them delusionists). In fact Kevin Vranes and Roger Pielke Jr are not climate scientists at all.
Second, when anyone gives the upper limit of 58 centimetres as the forecast rise in sea-level by 2100 citing the IPCC they have blown their credibility. The IPCC gave 58cm as the upper limit from such things as glacial melting and thermal expansion, but specifically excluding melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets because they are too hard to quantify. On the 7.30 Report Dr Barrie Pittock who used to head the CSIRO and is a leading contributor to the IPCC put prospective melting at between 50 centimetres and 1.5 metres by 2100. As a rule of thumb, he said, a metre will see the coastline retreat by 100m.
The 7.30 Report cited a study done for the insurance industry that found 700,000 building at risk nationwide, nearly 250,000 of them in Queensland, including much of the Gold Coast.
All that Gore did was indicate what would happen if the Greenland ice sheet melted, or half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica without stating a time frame, namely a rise of 6 metres or 20 feet. The following night on the 7.30 Report NASA scientist James Hansen said that the last time both ice sheets melted the sea rose at the rate of a metre every 20 years.
The question is raised as to why do the denialists do it? I liked Uncle Milton’s comment on John Quiggin’s post on Channel Four’s program The Great Global Warming Swindle.
GW denialists exist for the same reason that people exist who believe that: the moon landings were a hoax; Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were murdered by the British secret service; AIDS is not caused by the HIV virus; no planes flew into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon on September 11 2001 (they were instead bombed by the United States government); Elvis Presley is still alive; and so on.
Some people choose to believe what they want to believe, regardless of the evidence. In fact, the more evidence that is presented that shows them to be wrong, the stronger their beliefs become.
Just as it is impossible to persuade Mr Mohammed Al Fayed that his son was not murdered by the secret service (any and all evidence to the contrary being part of the conspiracy) the more scientific evidence is presented of the existence of human-induced global warming, the more GW denialists believe that GW science is merely a political conspiracy, or the product of scientists conforming to peer pressure, etc.
Since these types of beliefs are impossible to falsify, they can be maintained for as long as the believers have the energy or interest to maintain them.
It is quite irresponsible journalism to print this stuff. Broad partly covers himself by giving Al Gore a response and printing a wholesome endorsement from Michael Oppenheimer at Princeton. But the impression is left that Gore has overcooked his case and is an alarmist. Moreover mainstream science is questioning his facts. And so the meme is repeated.
I’ll give the last word to Nexus 6 whose patience is being severely tested by ‘wingnut central’ aka the Oz editorial writer:
I gotta admit, though, these crazies have got some staying power. They’re like the Terminator; no matter how much you kick their arse, blow them up and rain destruction on them (using such weapons as logic, good science and an association with reality), they still keep on coming.