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Jewish World Review
Oct. 23, 2007
/ 11 Mar-Cheshvan 5768
Politicization of science, and the prostitution of journalism
Adam Penenberg, the reporter for Forbes Digital who uncovered the spectacular
fabrications of New Republic writer Stephen Glass, was asked by his editor if there
was anything in Mr. Glass's story "Hacker Heaven" that checked out.
"There does appear to be a state in the union named Nevada," Mr. Penenberg replied.
The day before Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a British judge gave a
Penenberg-like endorsement of accuracy to Mr. Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth,"
for which he won the prize.
High Court Judge Michael Burton was required to pass judgment on the film because a
parent objected to it being shown to his children in school. The judge found nine
Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gore, put a positive spin on Judge Burton's
ruling: "Of the thousands of facts, the judge seemingly took issue with only a
handful," she said.
Some of the errors Judge Burton found are relatively minor. Polar bears aren't
drowning because they have to swim long distances, as Mr. Gore claimed. And global
warming isn't the reason why the snow on top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa is
But two are huge.
In "An Inconvenient Truth," Mr. Gore claimed sea levels will rise by 20 feet over
the next 100 years if nothing is done to curb global warming. But the current
"worst case" scenario envisioned by the scientists who took part in the UN's
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is 23 inches. It's more likely global sea
levels will rise by no more than a foot (about what it did in the last 150 years)
the IPCC scientists said.
Judge Burton also found erroneous Mr. Gore's claim there is a direct correlation
between the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the rise in global
temperatures over the last 650,000 years. This undermines Mr. Gore's thesis that
the activities of man are chiefly responsible for global warming.
Recent developments have not been kind to global warming alarmists. In August, the
Goddard Institute for Space Studies acknowledged that the hottest year on record in
the United States was not 1998, as previously claimed, but 1934. Only one year in
the last five is among the ten hottest. Two adventurers from Minnesota who planned
to hike to the North Pole in May to highlight concerns about global warming had to
turn back because of extreme cold.
ABC "reporter" David Wright fretted on the evening news that "even the Nobel Prize
is not going to be enough to silence the naysayers, some of whom still believe that
man is not responsible for global warming."
Indeed, on the very day the Nobel committee bestowed the honor on the former vice
president, one of those naysayers told meteorology students at the University of
North Carolina that the movie Mr. Gore made about global warming was "foolish," and
"We're brainwashing our children," said Dr. William Gray, 78, a professor of
atmospheric science at Colorado State University.
Dr. Gray is considered by many to be the world's foremost expert on tropical storms.
He was scornful of Mr. Gore's claim that rising global temperatures were causing
more, and more powerful, hurricanes. There were 101 hurricanes between 1900 and
1949, when global temperatures were cooler, Dr. Gray noted, but just 83 from 1957 to
2006. (This was an error Judge Burton missed.)
Dr. Gray's scorn is shared by Dr. Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin,
considered to be the father of scientific climatology. When asked in an interview in
June what he thought of Mr. Gore's documentary, Dr. Bryson responded: "Don't make me
throw up. It's not science. It is not true."
Al Gore refuses to debate skeptics, perhaps because he knows he cannot defend his
alarmist claims. In March, a debate was held at the Cooper Union in New York City
between three prominent supporters of Mr. Gore's thesis, and three skeptics. In a
poll taken before the debate, two thirds of the audience said global warming was a
crisis. At debate's end, the audience sided with the skeptics, 46 percent to 42
But, say journalists like Mr. Wright, we should ignore the opinions of scientists
such as Dr. Gray and Dr. Bryson, and the facts themselves, because five Norwegian
political appointees gave the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Gore.
Mr. Wright sees the Nobel as a vindication for Mr. Gore. I see it as further
evidence of the politicization of science, and the prostitution of journalism.
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