US climate scientists reject criticism of Gore’s movie

Climate scientists in America have rejected criticism by Robert C. Balling Jr., a professor of climatology at Arizona State University, of the global warming movie An Inconvenient Truth produced by former Vice-President Al Gore.

Doubts about melting glaciers: On an industry-backed website, Tech Central Station, Balling posted a purported fact-check of the film titled "Inconvenient Truths Indeed," claiming the movie was "not the most accurate depiction of the state of global warming science," casting doubts on its claims about melting glaciers and intensifying hurricanes.

Dismissive reaction of criticism: Balling’s critique inspired this dismissive reaction from Eric Steig, an isotope geochemist at the University of Washington: "Some people believe the earth is flat, too." Steig e-mailed his reaction from Greenland, where he is conducting field research on the ice.

Rebuttal on each of critic’s claims: Judd Legum, research director at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, rebutted each of Balling’s claims on the Think Progress Web site. For instance, some of the most dramatic images in the film show the rapid retreat of glaciers all over the world, including the melting snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Declining atmospheric moisture not the reason: Balling said the snowpack retreat on Kilimanjaro is caused by declining atmospheric moisture, which has been going on for more than 100 years, not global warming. Legum replied that scientists had shown that the Kilimanjaro glacier previously survived a 300-year drought and its retreat could not be fully accounted for by changes in atmospheric moisture, especially the shrinking that has occurred in recent decades.

Rebuttal could have been stronger: Steig confirmed the facts in Legum’s rebuttal. "All those points are accurate," he wrote in an e-mail. "Some of them could probably have been stronger; that is, Balling is even more wrong that Legum indicates."

Movie presents scientifically valid view: Climate scientists who have seen Gore’s film said that overall it presented a scientifically valid view of global warming and did a good job of presenting what was likely to occur if human-induced greenhouse gas emissions continued unabated.

NASA climate modeller agrees: Dr Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeller for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was pleased the film didn’t say: "You’re all going to die, woo-hoo."

Movie plays it relatively safe: Schmidt, who stressed his views were his own, not NASA’s, said the movie played it relatively safe by saying, "These are the things that have happened so far. These are the things that are likely to happen should we continue on the trajectory we’re on, and these are the moral consequences of it."

Reference: Digest of latest news reported on website of Climate Change Secretariat of United Nations Framework on Climate Change Control (UNFCCC). 22 July. Address: PO Box 260 124, D-53153 Bonn. Germany. Phone: : (49-228) 815-1005, Fax: (49-228) 815-1999. Email: press@unfccc.int
http://www.unfccc.int

Erisk Net, 27/7/2006

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