W naukowej blogosferze trwa dyskusja na temat filmu Al’a Gore’a „An Inconvenient Truth”, którą rozpaliła decyzja brytyjskiego sądu, który oddalił pozew Stuarta Dimmocka wnioskującego o prawny zakaz upowszechniania filmu w szkołach ze względu na przekłamania dotyczące zmian klimatycznych.
Sąd uznał, że:
Al Gore’s presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate. (Prezentacja przyczyn i prawdopodobnych skutków zmiany klimatycznej w filmie jest w dużej mierze poprawna).
Jednocześnie sędziowie wskazali, dziewięć punktów rozbieżności między informacja z filmu, a stanowiskiem IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), które powinny stanowić wskazówkę dla nauczycieli wykorzystujących film w szkołach.
Film Gore’a, który dorobił się Oskara i miał wpływ na przyznanie pokojowego Nobla nie jest filmem naukowym, podkreślają życzliwi mu naukowcy. Dramatyzuje ewentualne efekty zmian, ale zasadniczo nie wprowadza w błąd. Gavin Schmidt z NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies i Michael Mann, dyrektor Penn State Earth System Science Center przygotowali komentarz dotyczący „dziewięciu błędów”, wskazując że zasadniczo Gore w błąd nie wprowadza. Dyskusja trwa nadal na blogu Deltoid:
Sea-level rise: Four votes for Gore. Shepherd and Rapley say he has scientific support but at the extreme end of uncertainty, while Connolley thinks that Gore is misleading on this point. The difference of opinion here seems to be about what Gore said or implied. The judge and Connolley think that although Gore doesn’t say it, he implies it will happen in the immediate future. While I would have preferred that Gore had said something like: „We don’t know how long the ice sheets will take to melt, maybe it will be 100 years, maybe it it will be a 1000”, I don’t think that it would have made much difference to the impressions gained by viewers of the movie. In any case, all the scientists agree that this is not an scientific error.
Island evacuation: Five votes for Gore. Tobis says it’s an editing error, while Connolley thinks that Gore is simply wrong. The differences here aren’t about the science but about how to interpret what Gore said. Connolley takes the strictest interpretation, while the others are more generous.
Thermohaline circulation: Three votes for Gore. Shepherd and Rapley say he has scientific support but at the extreme end of uncertainty, Connolley thinks that Gore is misleading on this point, while Parry says the judge is correct. Again, the difference is not about the science, but how to judge what Gore said. The people voting for Gore say that he is correct to say that it’s a possibility, while the ones saying that he is extreme/misleading think that his presentation makes it appear more likely than it is. I would have preferred that he had said that this was a possibility and not something that is likely, but I suspect that this would have made little difference to viewers. In any case, this certainly is not an scientific error.
Graph of CO2 vs temperature: Unanimous agreement that Gore is right and the judge is wrong.
Snows of Kilimanjaro: Three votes for Gore. Shepherd and Rapley say he has scientific support but at the extreme end of uncertainty, Connolley thinks that it is uncertain that the receding glacier is because of global warming, while Parry says the judge is correct. Once again the differences aren’t about the science, but how strictly you judge what Gore said. They all agree that mountain glaciers are receding worldwide because of global warming, and that there is scientific evidence that Kilimanjaro is also receding because of global warming. I think that there were better examples he could have chosen, but it makes no difference to his main point. In any case, this certainly is not a scientific error.
Drying lake Chad: Four votes for Gore. Shepherd and Rapley and Parry say that the judge is correct. Again, everyone agrees that there is scientific evidence that global warming is partially responsible for the drying — the differences seem to be about whether the evidence is strong enough fir Gore to use it as an example. In any case, this certainly is not a scientific error.
Katrina: Three votes for Gore. The other four agree with the judge. This one is also about how you interpret Gore. He never says that warming caused Katrina. Katrina is used as an example of the damage that stronger hurricanes could do and of the consequences of ignoring warnings from scientists. The scientists voting for the judge think he implies it. In any case, this certainly is not a scientific error.
Drowning polar bears: Five votes for Gore. Shepherd and Rapley agree with the judge, but they don’t seem to be aware of the study that supports Gore here. In any case, this certainly is not a scientific error.
Coral bleaching: Six votes for Gore. Parry says that the judge might be technically correct. I think that this one goes for Gore.
Overall, there were only three points where a majority felt that the judge was right: thermohaline, Katrina and Kilimanjaro, and none of these were scientific errors, but rather cases where Gore should have said a little more about what was going on.