New York Times asks Gore to "Cool the Hype"
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14 Mar 07
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New York Times asks
13 Mar 07 –– Part of Al Gore's scientific audience is uneasy. These scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism.
"There are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data," Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.
Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration.
Mr. Gore clearly has supporters among some scientists. In December, he spoke in San Francisco to the American Geophysical Union and got a reception fit for a rock star from thousands of attendees.
James E. Hansen, an environmental scientist, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a top adviser to Mr. Gore, concedes that Mr. Gore’s work may hold "imperfections" and "technical flaws." He pointed to hurricanes, an icon for Mr. Gore, who highlights the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and cites research suggesting that global warming will cause both storm frequency and deadliness to rise. Yet this past Atlantic season produced fewer hurricanes than forecasters predicted (five versus nine), and none that hit the United States.
Richard S. Lindzen, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, who has long expressed skepticism about dire climate predictions, accused Mr. Gore in The Wall Street Journal of "shrill alarmism."
Some of Gore’s detractors point to a report last month by the IPCC, which estimated that the world’s seas in this century would rise a maximum of 23 inches — down from earlier estimates. Mr. Gore, citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 20 feet and depicts parts of New York, Florida and other heavily populated areas as sinking beneath the waves, implying, at least visually, that inundation is imminent.
A report last June by the National Academies seemed to contradict Mr. Gore’s portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium. Instead, the report said, current highs appeared unrivaled since only 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.
The June report shows "that all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400 years," said Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.
Benny J. Peiser, a social anthropologist in Britain who runs the Cambridge- Conference Network, or CCNet, an Internet newsletter on climate change and natural disasters, challenged the claim of scientific consensus.
"Hardly a week goes by," Dr. Peiser said, "without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory," including some reports that offer alternatives to human activity for global warming.
Geologists have documented age upon age of climate swings, and some charge Mr. Gore with ignoring such rhythms.
"Nowhere does Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet," Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia, said in a September blog. "Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change."
In October, Dr. Easterbrook made similar points at the geological society meeting in Philadelphia. He hotly disputed Mr. Gore’s claim that "our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this" threatened change.
Nonsense, Dr. Easterbrook told the crowded session. He flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to "20 times greater than the warming in the past century."
He mocked Gore’s assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. "I’ve never been paid a nickel by an oil company," Dr. Easterbrook told the group. "And I’m not a Republican."
Biologists, too, have gotten into the act. In January, Paul Reiter, an active skeptic of global warming’s effects and director of the insects and infectious diseases unit of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, faulted Mr. Gore for his portrayal of global warming as spreading malaria.
"For 12 years, my colleagues and I have protested against the unsubstantiated claims," Dr. Reiter wrote in The International Herald Tribune. "We have done the studies and challenged the alarmists, but they continue to ignore the facts."
See full article by William J. Broad:
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