Nobel prize winning Al Gore shouts at BBC journalist

Fascinating insight into the real Al Gore by BBC journalist Roger Harrabin, see this quote from near the end of his article, “The heat and light in global warming”.

[And after the interview he and his assistant stood over me shouting that my questions had been scurrilous, and implying that I was some sort of climate-sceptic traitor.]

Click on for full text in case BBC link goes dead.

The heat and light in global warming
ANALYSIS
By Roger Harrabin
BBC Environment Analyst
I have spent much of the last two decades of my journalistic life warning about the potential dangers of climate change, but when I first watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth I felt a flutter of unease.Not because the central message – that climate change is happening and almost certainly caused by mankind – is untrue; but because in several points of the film, Mr Gore simply goes too far by asserting or implying facts that are contentious.

This leaves the film open to attack by the ever-dwindling band of sceptics who do not want to accept that climate change is anything to do with humans, and indeed a successful attack is exactly what has happened in the UK.

Because although Mr Justice Burton agreed in Wednesday’s High Court ruling that An Inconvenient Truth is mainly based on consensus science, his judgement will be trumpeted more for finding that the film was studded with green “errors”.

The judge listed nine areas where Mr Gore had swayed from the scientific consensus position, and it was the “errors” that made the headlines in the media.

The man who brought the complaint, Stuart Dimmock, expressed his delight that this “shockumentary” had been exposed.

Mr Dimmock is a member of the “New Party”, apparently funded by a businessman with a strong dislike of environmentalists and drink-drive laws.

When asked on the BBC’s World Tonight programme who had under-written his court costs, he paused long and loud before saying that “someone on the internet” had offered him support.

Political moves

It always looked likely that Mr Dimmock would make some headway with his court case because, as the judge observed, when the film was first circulated it did not supply teachers with the material needed to help pupils distinguish which of Mr Gore’s factoids were still subject to serious mainstream debate.

The film was made as a polemic, not an educational tool for children. The government would have been on safer ground if it had chosen Sir David Attenborough’s climate change programme which passed the BBC’s own anguished impartiality test.

In the event, ministers seized on the slick, powerful and informative Gore movie as a tool to persuade children, and presumably by extension their parents, to worry about the climate.

And this points to the essentially political nature of the film, and the decision to show it in schools.

There is now a strong political consensus throughout Europe that climate change is a dangerous problem needing urgent solutions; but politicians consistently tremble when they tentatively advance any of those solutions towards a public confused by the noisy media debate about climate change.

A recent poll by Ipsos Mori showed that 82% of people were personally concerned about climate change, but a majority (56%) believed that many leading experts still question if human activity is contributing to climate change.

This latter conclusion is simply wrong – all the world’s major scientific institutions believe the man-made climate change theory – but the Gore court judgment will confuse people even more.

Impotent truth

So why did the vice-president, who reveals himself in the movie to be a master of factual recall and presentation skill, produce a film in which assumptions became assertions and worst-case scenarios became the norm?

The answer lies in the conflicted politics of climate in the US.
Remember that Al Gore, an environmental science graduate, has been trying to alert the public to climate change for a quarter of a century.

Along with that other failed Democratic candidate John Kerry, he launched Senate hearings on climate in the 1980s. Then he signed the Kyoto Protocol 18 years ago on behalf of the US, only to see President Clinton refuse to back it.

He then spent impotent frustrating years in the White House, and later outside it, watching climate sceptics – some well-meaning scientists, but many in the pay of the oil industry – discredit the global warming theory.

The sceptics knew that they did not need to win the battle of climate facts, they just needed to keep doubt alive.

Smoothing the wrinkles

An Inconvenient Truth is a response to that often cynical campaign, attempting to put climate change beyond doubt and remove ambiguity from presentation of the scientific facts.

The problem is that climate science is a massive and messy field; and although even the White House now accepts that the climate is changing and humankind is more than 90% likely to blame, there are still wrinkles in the science, signposts that point in the opposite direction to the one we expect.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deals with these wrinkles by expressing its prognoses in bands of uncertainty: the climate is likely to warm by between 1.8C and 4.0C by the end of the century.

But movies are not made of piffling equivocations like this, so Mr Gore dispenses with many of them.

Mr Justice Burton takes exception with nine such simplifications, or “errors”. He notes that Mr Gore attributes to climate change the melting of the snows of Kilimanjaro, the demise of polar bears, the drying of Lake Chad and bleaching of coral reefs.

Correctly identifying the scientific consensus, the judge says debate is still open on these issues, as it is over hurricane frequency, also instanced by Mr Gore.

The judge says (again taking the IPCC as gospel) that there is little support for Mr Gore’s implication that the Gulf Stream will shut down soon, and that the great ice sheets will cause catastrophic sea level rise soon.

Here the judge is on slightly more contentious ground, because the IPCC science is itself out of date on Arctic melting, which is advancing at a pace that many worst-case scenarios had failed to predict.

Historical shifts

On the remaining point – Mr Gore’s implication that ice core records prove that CO2 rises drove shifts in Ice Ages – the judge is spot on.

The vice-president cleverly lures the viewer into making the calculation that CO2 drove historical climate change by presenting graphs and asking the audience if they fit.

Well, the graphs do fit – but what Mr Gore fails to mention in the film is that mainstream scientists believe that historically the temperature shifted due to our changing relationship with the Sun, with warmer climes unlocking CO2 from the oceans, which amplified global temperature rise.

I challenged Mr Gore about this in an interview for the BBC’s Newsnight programme in March.

He responded, accurately, that scientists believe that CO2 is now driving climate change – but that was not what his misleading historical graph showed.

And after the interview he and his assistant stood over me shouting that my questions had been scurrilous, and implying that I was some sort of climate-sceptic traitor.

It is miserable when such a vastly important debate is reduced to this. The film and the High Court row are, though, products of their time.

If the conservative IPPC forecasts are accurate our children may rue the years we spent squabbling over climate change rather than tackling it.

6 comments to Nobel prize winning Al Gore shouts at BBC journalist

  • Philip_B

    The irony is that the reporter in question, Harrabin, is the worst kind of global warming alarmist. He has produced a steady stream of global warming is killing, drowning, drying up baby seal habitats or similar claptrap.

    Even in this article he gives Gore a spurious legitimacy by saying,

    Remember that Al Gore, an environmental science graduate,

    Gore may well have such an honorary degree, but its not one he ever studied for or passed exams in like mere mortals.

    Otherwise, Gore’s paranoia must be far gone if he turns on such a fawning supporter as Harrabin.

  • SteveSadlov

    Here would be a creative yet telling bit of media art. Superimpose atop video of Al Gore Jr. expounding on “Kiler AGW,” audio of one of Hitler’s most fiery speeches.

  • AlJ

    Gore’s response is completely in character and consistent with an “expert” who repeatedly refuses to debate scientists or non-scientists. Quite predictable. Not unlike the Clinto blow up at the Wallace interview a few months ago. Which came first the chicken or the egg? In either case, after 8 years together they are birds of a feather.

  • nevket240

    Notice haw this “Goron” from the BBC “Bent British Communists” has to reinforce the mantra about consensus science. Then the shadow boxing bit about being in the pay of the oil companies.
    The Empire died when clowns like this became the public intellect. He got what he deserved.

    cheers.

  • MORE .. I actually heard Harrabin talking about this on the radio BBC WS Outlook I think. “My cameraman thought this was interesting so he kept running”, “Then we found that we have lost the tape“, The hottest news story of your life and they lost the tape ?

    Did someone mention British Bad Cience ?

    “ever-dwindling band of sceptics” hey that must be me ! and should include anyone who understands how science works.. it’s not a religion you question not accept

    WRONG “Remember that Al Gore, an environmental science graduate” – Gore studied English then switched to Government, (He did attend a few lectures which mentions ecology) the The BBC’s Harrabin studied English, (but it is the argument not the man)

    The public is simple so he made a simple simple film for them he says. Even though he has 25 years experience heaps of major untruths slipped in Hockey Stick, graphs 600 years out of sync Kilimanjaro snow melting inconveniently on many occasions in history etc

    Actually for Science it should be good for science. If the errors were small the educated little vandals in UK schools might say “whatever”, but when they see the obvious errors they should be able to rip the arguments apart and Un-close the debate.

  • Tony Edwards

    Not only did Al Bore not do much environmental work in his college days, I believe I’m correct when I say that he even managed to get a “D” in divinity, for heaven’s sake. As for him being active in climate change for a quarter of a century, about that time, the panic was all about cooling, so make your mind up, Al.
    Incidentally, another error in the flick has been exposed. Early on, he stands in front of a graph which he claims is from Thompson et al. and that it shows how the temperature has risen according to ice core sampling. In his book he also claims that the Thompson graph vindicates the Mann hockey stick. But when the Thompson paper is read, you find that he has published a version of the hockey stick alongside some of his oxygen isotope graphs to show a similarity. It is this graph (the hockey stick) which is being used to justify the hockey stick! Also funny is that the actual graph in the film shows drastic “cooling” due to the mislabelling of the y axis. Too silly.

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