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  1. Had the film kept politics and the dramatization out, there would have been a far greater acceptance by the masses. I can’t blame NSTA for refusing to endorse what could have been a true documentary To get the point across, release an edited version and get the reaction you are seeking. Politics should stay out of scientific research and the reporting of results.

    [Response: I don’t know who these “masses” are you’re referring to, but the film seems to have pretty good acceptance. There is very little politics in the film (basically just an oblique reference to Gore’s pain over the Presidential election, leading into “And so I started giving the slide show again…”). As for dramatization, if that gets people into the theater and helps keep them awake long enough to pay attention to the science, so much the bettter. Most of the film is about science, and it does a good job of that. –raypierre]

    Comment by Don Williamson — 15 Jan 2007 @ 11:28 AM

  2. It’s a great idea to provide this link for science teachers to get a free copy of An Inconvenient Truth. Since the deadline is very soon, it’s important to get the word to as many K-12 science teachers as possible, as quickly as possible. I plan to contact the science coordinator for my local school district to see if he or she can pass the message along to science teachers in the district; others might want to do the same.

    Comment by Steve Jenkins — 15 Jan 2007 @ 11:45 AM

  3. Canadian teachers would almost certainly like to take advantage of an offer like this if US teachers don’t know on what side their bread is buttered, but the application form for a “free” copy ( who actually pays for these reproductions?) is designed to apparently preclude any out of USA teachers from applying and this is short-sighted.

    [Response: As I understand it, these are the same 50,000 DVDs that producer Laurie David originally offered to NSTA. The physical cost of a DVD is trivial, but I don’t know if David had to pay anything to Paramount for rights. It could be that the implied cost of rights (a true opportunity cost, so far as Paramount is concerned) were donated, but I haven’t been able to find any details about the financial arrangement. I absolutely agree with you that Canadian teachers need this film every bit as much as American ones. Hopefully, there will be a second round if this one gets a good response. –raypierre]

    Comment by Vern Johnson — 15 Jan 2007 @ 12:07 PM

  4. I wrote a comment some months ago, calling attention to this absurdity. I’m pleased to see you highlight it, and I hope your readership includes many science teachers. Hopefully, in addition to taking advantage of the link you provide for a free copy of the DVD, these teachers will, enmass, challenge the leadership of their professional organization.

    [Response: Indeed, I noticed and appreciated your comment when I was catching up on the comments of the past few weeks. We ought to have publicized the DVD giveaway earlier, but better late than never. –raypierre]

    Comment by Bill Durbin — 15 Jan 2007 @ 12:09 PM

  5. The Federal Way School District Board of Directors in Federal Way, Washington, has acted to curtail showing of this film. Technically, the Board decreed that in order to get permission to show it, teachers must also have someone provide opposing viewpoints to the film. However, I think anyone can see that this will effectively prevent it from being shown in anything like a fair light, if it is shown at all.

    I am happy to report that in my own school district, Northshore School District (Bothell, Kenmore, Woodinville, WA) that with the consent of a school principal, the film can be shown.

    Whatever the shortcomings of An Inconvenient Truth, it deserves a viewing by students. Yes, the film appears to be accurate. It shortcomings come in the area of policy prescriptions. No mention is made of the benefits of nuclear power to reducing green-house gas emissions, and no mention is made of the future need for people living in places like Bangladesh to be able to migrate freely as their country is inundated. The film seems to say that if we act quickly, we can prevent the worst effects of global warming. However, it is clear to me that such action will not be soon enough to prevent significant rise in sea level as the ice cap of Greenland and Antarctica melt. We must plan for rising sea levels, not keep pretending that we can still prevent it.

    [Response: Should “An Inconvenient Truth” have done more to indicate the nature of the changes in our economy that would be needed in order to head off the worst effects of climate change? This is an interesting and valid question, as is the question about whether the film should have talked about the need (or possibility) to adapt to that part of climate change which is already inevitable. I myself don’t see any part of the film that could be cut out without compromising the presentation of the science, or the essential drama of the presentation. So should the film have been made longer? Or was it wise to just concentrate on the science, which, in comparison to the wealth of possible different policy alternatives to solve the problem, is relatively settled? Without having an answer in hand, I’d hope we could all agree that if everybody at least understood the science underpinning the forecasts of global warming, we’d all be ahead of the game. –raypierre]

    Comment by Gene Hawkridge — 15 Jan 2007 @ 12:19 PM

  6. The article in the Seattle Post is very disturbing.

    Comment by John Cross — 15 Jan 2007 @ 12:21 PM

  7. This film is as much political and biographical in nature as it is scientific. Though I agree that we need educational materials to illustrate climate change, this isn’t it. This film, thought its conclusions are essentially correct, treats science the same way that people who believe in Bigfoot do.

    Though I firmly advocate educating the public on anthropogenic global warming (see links to my newspaper articles elsewhere on this site)I do not recommend this film to do it.

    Comment by martin_hackworth — 15 Jan 2007 @ 12:37 PM

  8. I would think an Inconvenient Truth has made 90% of the money it will make. Maybe instead of giving away 50,000 copies to teachers it might be a better idea to wave restrictions on copying the movie. The original goal of the movie was to educate as many people as possible about global warming wasn’t it? Heck why not post it on YouTube.

    [Response: The financial aspects of the film industry are a mystery to me, but while Gore and the director may be in it for education, Paramount is definitely in it for the money, at least in part. The film appeared briefly on YouTube in an unauthorized posting, but was removed at the request of Paramount. Usually film companies count on eking out a second wave of profit from the DVD release, then go on to deeper discounting. My hope is that after the first wave, the discounting will be deep and fast on this one, but that’s in the hands of the beancounters at Paramount Note that I’m not against profit. It cost money to produce and distribute a film like this, and there’s considerable financial risk involved. In the spirit of free markets and capitalism, if there’s money to be made by making films that educate the public, it increases the pool of capital available to make such films. That shouldn’t be the only way to produce educational materials, but it does open up an additional avenue. –raypierre]

    Comment by PeterW — 15 Jan 2007 @ 12:43 PM

  9. There’s nothing wrong with controversy in science, and political disagreements are inevitable and complicated when political decisions must be made about issues with scientific and technical content. Citizen-scientists don’t have more or less right than any other citizens to express their political views, but as scientists, we hold a responsibility to clearly and forthrightly identify the limits of the science we describe. Perhaps this film can provide an example — both good and bad — of how to do this.

    One would hope that these incidents may further provide an opportunity to discuss both the need and limitations of scientific discussion of policy issues, clearly exposing the damaging nature of the “war on science” of recent years.

    Yes there is controversy about global warming, but the legitimate controversy is over what to do about it rather than whether it exists. Focusing the debate where it belongs would be an extremely beneficial outcome.

    Comment by Doug Kelley — 15 Jan 2007 @ 12:48 PM

  10. When you talk to average Republicans, they equate it with Michael Moore’s films. That’s going to affect half the country. Since they don’t and refuse to understand the issue, it’s easy to make this claim. It’s also difficult selling my novel “Warm Front” that answers Crichton. “Global warming is an issue. Where is the plot?” one agent said. Yet Crichton, albeit a famous novelist could sell the “greedy NGO eco-terrorist hype” plot effortlessly in New York. It’s very telling.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 15 Jan 2007 @ 12:59 PM

  11. Censorship of any kind is ridiculous. Thanks for the blog and for alerting us to the 50,000 free DVDs.

    Comment by teacher ocean — 15 Jan 2007 @ 1:22 PM

  12. I have to disagree with the basic thrust here. I don’t approve why you, as a scientist, readily ignore the non-scientific sidebars and the scientific errors in Algore’s partisan movie so it can/should be shown as “objective scientific truth” in a high school science class. It seems compromising the science is no big deal as long as the political bent is in the right direction and more converts can be gained.

    At the same token, I would be willing to show it (I’m a teacher pro tem) along with counter arguments (or at least pointing out the deficiencies and uncertainties) as a decent, if less than perfect, representation. Arm the students with the facts, not necessarily evenly balanced, and let them decide. (btw, I fall on the same fence over the evolution, creationism, intelligent design stuff, although I’m not sure what this has to do with anything.)

    On the other side of the coin I agree that NSTA shouldn’t be so paranoid and insecure to not allow or even support its use, done appropriately. Outright censoring of the film seems pretty stupid. NSTA’s support of “Clouds of Global-Warming Hysteria” does seem hypocritical, and their motives seem a bit murky — I don’t like that either. Though I doubt Exxon-Mobil is anywhere near the boogyman implied…

    [Response: Your reference to “Algore” is a red flag right up front with regard to your objectivity. Care to tell us precisely what “scientific errors” exist in the movie (other than the minor issues already pointed out by us?) –mike]

    Comment by Rod B. — 15 Jan 2007 @ 1:26 PM

  13. The US education system is being increasingly run as a corporation, at least here in California, and it should come as no surprise whatever that the NSTA comes down on the side of a large corporation with regards to this issue. I’m surprised that anyone is surprised actually.

    Likewise, I think it should come as no surprise when parents demand that this film not be shown in schools. My wife and I are raising our children to fully understand the impending catastrophe (we are homeschooling and have a strong natural science core) and have made significant reductions in our (already tiny) carbon foot print. But my wife was just the other day discussing AGW with a neighboring mother of school-age children, who said that she herself was terrified at the prospects for AGW and was concerned about what discussion of this future would have on her children, so she didn’t mention it.

    There are MANY families in the country doing exactly the same thing, which is a combination of anxiety management and steadfast denial. In part this is “spare the children” thinking. Also in part it is not wanting to accept that a way of life is ending and that the future for our children, how (or even if) they will live and work as adults, is unclear. Likewise there is an element of intellectual laziness born of too much TV and not enough critical thinking. And I suppose another element is guilt, because if parents found the need to explain all this to their children then they will likewise have to admit to having played their part in the run-up to the disaster, and then have to explain why they aren’t changing how they conduct themselves, and then have to explain how these realities play against “I would gladly entertain any sacrifice for my children” when it appears increasingly likely that the world these children will inherit from their parents is, for all practical purposes, laid waste by greed, laziness, galloping indifference and callousness.

    So, indeed, let’s not talk about it. Better to just go ahead with what one knows and imagine that it will all “work itself out”. What is less clear is what impact this attitude will have on kids who are certainly picking up on what is happening. If they fail to accept that inaction was a good approach then the anger and disappointment they will harbor may itself become a national phenomenon. How they will act on those feelings is anyone’s guess. I hope they willingly become the change we need in the world and work to undo the sins of their fathers, and no doubt many will. But I fear too that many will break along with the shattering of their dreams and turn upon their surviving elders and their grand schemes with the fury of those that are shorn of all hope, and lost.

    I’m fairly certain few in the denialist camp have thought that far ahead.

    Comment by cat black — 15 Jan 2007 @ 1:46 PM

  14. In the USA there really is a issue with regard to climate change and the political right. As the USA consumes 25 % of all fossil fuel resources with 3% of the worlds population and the American way of life is non negotiable or so the politicians tell then I would deduce that a certain amount of vested interest is being leveraged in this arena although I have read that a lot of people in the USA want somehing done about climate change but enough people in power see it as a threat of some kind to the american way of life.

    Comment by pete best — 15 Jan 2007 @ 2:01 PM

  15. Amazing discussion for me. RC baseline : “Climate science from climate scientists”. RC new policy : “Climate science from Al Gore”.

    I understand the net gain for Al Gore. Not for RC.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 15 Jan 2007 @ 2:33 PM

  16. I teach physics at an independent school and have been informally talking to my students about climate change for years. Often there will be a student who tries to politicize the discussion, but I won’t go there during class time. Outside of class anything goes if the student starts the discussion.

    Our science department did get a copy of the movie, and I bought my own copy. I’ve now seen it three times with different groups.

    Recently, at the request of one of my students, I wrote an article that should be in a student publication next month on basic points of climate change driven by increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. At the end of the article I offered to discuss the issues further with anyone interested. The article is really in response to a previous article written by a student that got absolutely every factual point about climate change wrong. In a bit of web searching I found a website that seemed to be the source of all of the misinformation. I talked to the student about the lack or references and the generally poor scholarship. Now our students will get another set of information with citations.

    Last year our Environmental Science teacher asked me for a good source of information on climate science that students could readily follow. I told him about, along with a few other sources. I’ve been reading journal articles on this topic for about 10 years, and RealClimate is a great resource for filling in the gaps that I can’t otherwise bridge.


    Comment by Bob Reiland — 15 Jan 2007 @ 2:39 PM

  17. I find it very enlightening to read the broad spectrum of opinion on this subject and as a layman with little scientific background. However I think that I have a reasonable grasp of what is happening to the globe climate wise. I recently visited the Athabasca Glacier in the Rocky Mountains between Banff and Jasper in Canada, I live within a few hundred miles of the place. I was absolutly astounded by how much retreat this glacier has made since I last saw it ten years ago. Thousands of feet in ten years.
    The education we receive as adults is just as critical in my view as it is when we are children. because as adults who believe we are responsible for our own behaviour, it behooves us to be open and to continue learning about what is going on around us, I realize this is probably sounding a little like “preaching to the converted”. but I think that the tool that we are currently using “the internet” might just help those few who lead the many,(just look at any government in the world)to gain a broader perspective as well.
    One source of knowledge is a very dangerous thing in my opinion, and the role that “Media” plays could really help! When the mindset finally kicks in that we are all members of a spieces co habit a rather small spot in the universe. The earth is the only one we have for the foseeable near future, I seems that preparing for worste case is better that pretending that all is well. or that the observable sign are nothing to worry about.

    regards Michael Mott

    Comment by Michael Mott — 15 Jan 2007 @ 2:49 PM

  18. Rod B: Your comment highlights the problem. You feel that there are counter arguments out there that should be highlighted so I would request that you point them out.

    I am afraid that in the rush to present “balanced” arguments the media has given the impression that “the truth is out there” – i.e. there exists a solid counter argument that, for whatever reason, has not been brought to light. However I have never seen such an argument (and I have spent quite a while tracking down various ones).

    Comment by John Cross — 15 Jan 2007 @ 2:52 PM

  19. I couldn’t get their search to find anything if I designated “global warming” specifically. Maybe they removed it?

    [Response: I think I also tried some searches under things like “climate change,” but it also depends on which search box you are using. The NSTA site seems to have different search engines for different parts of their site, which don’t share a general search space. There actually is some useful information buried in some of the Earth Science material, and some of the joint workshops between NSTA and NASA have touched on what look to be worthwhile subjects regarding climate change (notably on arctic ice). But the main problem is that whatever climate change information there may be on the site is disorganized and hard to find. It really needs to be improved and collected under a single rubric, rather like they do with evolution. Perfectly aside from whatever is going on with regard to the ExxonMobil funding issue, the second-rate coverage of Earth Science on the site is generally consistent with my impression that modern Earth Science is not well understood or held in particularly high regard by much of the K-12 education community. It’s often viewed as a poor cousin to physics, centered more on weather and rocks than physics of climate, and a kind of ghetto for the math-challenged student. NSTA should be leading the charge to change that, and global warming provides an excellent focal point for introducing quantitative physical concepts governing climate of planets. –raypierre]

    Comment by Mark A. York — 15 Jan 2007 @ 3:08 PM

  20. I was surprised that there was little, if any, content on AGW as a likely cause of some of the problems that are shown in the archived PowerPoint presentations from the NSTA web seminars on such provocative topics as “The Oceanâ��s Role in Weather and Climate”, “Hurricanes”, and “Coral Ecosystems” from people who, I would think, have impeccable credentials (e.g. from NOAA). see and

    Comment by Ed G. — 15 Jan 2007 @ 3:36 PM

  21. We are screwed. The Artic ice is melting and all we can come up with is 50,000 free copies of An Inconvenient Truth? Does anyone else besides myself see the absurdity in this whole thread? God forbid Paramount release the rights. I know the situation is serious, but this thread gave me a good laugh. If mankind had even small chance of saving ourselves this video would be free on YouTube.

    Comment by Paul M — 15 Jan 2007 @ 3:39 PM

  22. Dear RC

    Maybe all of the worlds meetings on climate change, the stern report and an inconvenient truth and the rest of it has led to this:,,1989997,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1#article_continue

    Maybe the current US administration might cut some CO2 after all nationally.

    Comment by pete best — 15 Jan 2007 @ 4:10 PM

  23. This is a fascinating, albeit sometimes depressing, discussion. I’ve begun giving talks to local schools (7th and 8th graders, Rochester, NY area) about energy issues, and the teachers I’ve spoken/worked with have no problem with using An Inconvenient Truth as a resource.

    When I talk about the future of electricity generation, all I have to do is show them the presentation slide that details how much CO2 is emitted by coal plants and I instantly have their attention. They find it inconceivable that we adults could do something so obviously boneheaded as generate 50% of our electricity that way (a view I share most days). I usually wind up issuing a generational apology by the end of my presentation.

    And I always make sure to point them and their teachers to to RC for all their climate science needs.

    Comment by Lou Grinzo — 15 Jan 2007 @ 4:14 PM

  24. Fifty years ago I never believed the end of the world theories. The mercury levels in fish and the near extinction of polar bears, among other things have convinced me. The human race is in a whole lot of trouble.

    Comment by BirdAdvocate — 15 Jan 2007 @ 4:28 PM

  25. Unfortunately, the 50,000 DVD giveaway is restricted to certain states, including Florida.

    As for the NSTA, I am not renewing my membership! Get Exxon out of Education!

    Comment by Todd Albert — 15 Jan 2007 @ 4:35 PM

  26. Maybe we just need to all understand that different groups endorse different understandings of science. Real Climate and other science groups endorse Al Gore’s movie, National Review endorses Michael Crichton, and a writer for Reason Magazine, with no training in science, endorses Roger Pielke Jr in today’s Boston Globe.

    Sometimes we have to just agree that there are many ways of knowing.

    Comment by Thom — 15 Jan 2007 @ 5:02 PM

  27. The biggest scientific problem I found
    with AIT is the continued use of the
    paleoclimatic correlation between
    CO2 and proxy temperature.

    Since there is now consensus that
    temperature led CO2, and since there is
    good evidence that the increased
    windiness of glacials caused the
    drops in CO2, the correlation
    is irrelevant to industrial age CO2.

    Ignoring this fact is dishonestly
    misleading the public.

    [Response: If the argument was simply that CO2 and temp are correlated in the past and therefore that temperatures will rise if CO2 does, you would be correct. However, this is not what is claimed by either the scientific community nor Al Gore. The statements in AIT are that the CO2 and temperature curves ‘fit’ and that the relationship is complex, but causal in both directions. This is based not just on Vostok curves themselves, but from tons of ancilliary evidence that demonstrates that CO2 (and methane and N2O) changes explain just under half the temperature changes seen in the glacial records. The pacemaker for the ice ages is the insolation variability due to orbital forcings, which are amplified by GHG feedbacks. Thus good correlations are to be expected, as are slight lags in CO2. -gavin]

    [Response:Look here for another way to say the same thing. David]

    Comment by Al Bedo — 15 Jan 2007 @ 5:05 PM

  28. I am in the wine business. Many of RC’s readers may have seen the story in USA Today about the PNAS paper by White, Diffenbaugh, Jones, Pal and Giorgi about the implications of climate change for premium winemaking in western North America. I get lots of questions about AGW and wine. So, in relation to #15 by Charles Muller, I would observe that the way into the science of the AGW discussion for many lay people *is* AIC. I would ask Mr. Muller to 1)propose another means of putting the discussion at the fore and 2)other than what loyal RC readers already know about ways AIC may have “pushed” the science, what about the basic argument is fundamentally flawed? (see Andrew Dessler’s blog for a report about AIC training in Nashville. Worth a read.) The only better thing I can think of as a means to communicate to a large cross section of America is primetime combination of Americam Idol and Survivor. mike, gavin and raypierre on one team would compete with s. fred, Pat Michaels and Richard Lindzen. I want to sign up to be Simon Cowell, and I suggest that by the next AGU meeting, we can have all the details worked out.

    Comment by David Graves — 15 Jan 2007 @ 5:59 PM

  29. It’s a good film but it is not the only game in town. Tom Brokaw’s show on the Discovery Channel was far more appropriate for the science classroom.

    [Response: The Brokaw/Discovery Channel documentary was excellent, and would be very useful in the classroom. Perhaps someone in this forum can provide a link to where this can be purchased. -mike]

    Comment by Drake Milton — 15 Jan 2007 @ 6:43 PM

  30. re #26 [different views] People don’t really have “different views of science” like they might have different views regarding — oh, say– race horses. Either the data and sound scientific theory are there, or they ain’t. And if it’s there and you have another view about reality, then you’re not a scientist. Rather you’re a kook, like those people who come up with perpetual motion machines all the time despite the laws of thermodynamics. Wacky science isn’t real science. And lumping bonafides like Jim Hansen and the folk behind RC into the same category as Michael Crichton is way more than I can take.

    [Response: Reminds me of the famous quote by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” -mike]

    Comment by cat black — 15 Jan 2007 @ 7:13 PM

  31. re my #12 and its response, and #18
    Isn’t Algore a term of endearment?? No, I am not a fan of Mr. Gore in a number of areas and don’t try to hide it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t objectively assess his movie or anything else he professes or does. One counterpoint: I think he got a sound bite bum wrap over his “invention of the internet” thing. While, true, he didn’t invent it, he was in fact extremely influential and supportive in making what the internet is today, back then as a Senator driving the White House’s Office of Telecommunications Policy and the National Science Foundation.

    I am satisfied with the “anamolies” in Al Gore’s movie that RC pointed out. There’s likely more, but aren’t these enough? I simply think an educator ought to point out the chinks, counterpoints, and slight discrepancies, not just espouse the unmitigated dogma. Now it doesn’t have to be a 50-50 balance. I don’t even know how to figure the balance arithmetic — what is it if 1) “most scientists say this” and 2) “some [equally capable even if secular] scientists say otherwise”? It is pure religious fervor to deny, or not even be able to find… for heaven’s sake!, credible opposition. The only way not to be able to find counter arguments out there is to dumb them down and classify them as sinful and therefore without merit where ever seen. Maybe censor them if we can. A scientist who permits no iota or vestige of contrary analysis is mis-titled. And, btw, I see a preponderance of distinctly unbalanced reporting of GW in the media.

    re #14 by pete: It astounds me how climate science and global warming can be either a right- or a left-defined issue. Though I have to admit that it seems to be. Likewise I fail to see the connection between climate science and the “3% of the people using 25% of the resources” so-called issue. Maybe the left wants us to get down to 3% resource use (then we’ll all be equal and all will be fair, I guess) and think GW is a nice fitting means to the end. Though that also strikes me as an odd non sequitur.

    I whole-heartedly support the notion that NSTA do a significantly better job of arranging and providing climate/global warming science. If Exxon fights them (which I intuitively doubt, as opposed to NSTA’s paranoia maybe) they just have to stand their ground and maybe lose some funding or otherwise change their name and/or mission.

    Comment by Rod B. — 15 Jan 2007 @ 7:17 PM


    Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist David Horsey’s take on the Federal Way school district board’s decision.

    Comment by David Aldrich — 15 Jan 2007 @ 7:35 PM

  33. I feel like showing the Al Gore movie is not at all the best way to teach a science class. If it were there would not be education degrees simply DVD players with all the best science movies cued up to play. Obviously people teach and don’t show movies because it is better. Discussions, experiments, etc. are better ways to learn. Of course sometimes movies are good usually because you have a supply teacher coming in or you and and the students just need an hour with the lights off to seperate yourselves from the hectic environment created by 35 students being forced to learn. Also I don’t think this movie would be the one I would show, a more concise shorter film would be better suited for a classroom.

    This very generous offer, should be taken, but the movie should be available in the library or the student body adminstration could show it after school on a movie night. If one of my classes asked to watch it I would probably show snippits or show it at lunch hour.

    Another problem is the controversy, regular schools try to stay away from any controversy because it gets you fired. You said it was similar to the Darwin vs. ID debate which most schools still try to steer clear of. The theory of evolution is still in debate after about 140 yrs and they have so much supporting evidence it can’t compare to anything Real Climate or the IPCC could come up with in our lifetimes.

    [Response: A science teacher who had taken, say, Dave Archer’s global warming class at U. of Chicago wouldn’t need “An Inconvenient Truth”. He or she could present the same material in a way that was much better integrated into the curriculum. The world is not ideal, though, and there are plenty of science teachers out there (esp. in middle schools) who don’t have science degrees in the areas they are teaching in, or at least are not as current on the science as Gore is in the film. It is for these that the film would be most valuable. Even for completely savvy teachers, the engaging style of presentation in the film might be an aid to getting discussion going. On the subject of controversy and evidence for evolution vs. evidence for CO2-induced global warming, I’d say both are well supported but that in some ways the case for anthropogenic global warming is a bit more straightforward. That’s because its mostly physical science rather than biology. We have quantitative mathematical representations of far more of the process, and ways of testing individual bits in a more straightforward way (as in laboratory measurements of infrared absorption by CO2). Evolution proceeds slowly, and while there are definitely cases where it can be observed in action, reading the fossil record presents difficulties that are in some ways more challenging than reading the paleoclimate record. There are cases where the difficulties are comparable (e.g. figuring out Cretaceous CO2 levels, or making sense of satellite measurements of tropical lapse rate trends) but on the whole, we know how to take a reductionist approach to climate better than we know how to take a reductionist approach to biology. –raypierre]

    Comment by Geordie — 15 Jan 2007 @ 9:56 PM

  34. Re 18:
    >…there exists a solid counter argument that, for whatever reason, has not been brought to light. However I have never seen such an argument (and I have spent quite a while tracking down various ones).

    Try looking here:

    for a well documented summary (of the climate science and economics) of why warming may be much smaller than some estimates, and why moderate warming is not likely to be especially serious.

    [Response: In the present context, we’re discussing the scientific validity of the link between likely CO2 increases and substantial warming, so it’s just the “scientific” (and not the economic) parts of the above linked article that are on the table. With regard to that, one should note that this article appeared in an economics journal not a science journal, and I seriously doubt whether the supposedly scientific section of this article would have passed muster in a peer reviewed scientific journal, where it would have been read by atmospheric scientists. Among other things the article complains about are that cosmic rays aren’t taken into account in models, and that nobody has yet “solved” the Navier-Stokes equation. Smoke and mirrors. I have approved this post not because it has any useful information, but so that readers can amuse themselves by shooting down the errors in the reasoning. Note also that a statement like “warming may be much smaller than some estimates,” even if true, doesn’t address the basic issue on the table. The question isn’t whether we might get lucky and duck a bullet, but whether there is a significant chance that the more dire predictions might come to pass. –raypierre]

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 15 Jan 2007 @ 10:35 PM

  35. In looking over the blog responses, I came across an excellent and detailed discussion of the circumstances surrounding NSTA and the attempted DVD donation at . This is particularly illuminating with regard to the analysis of the flaws in NSTA’s response to Laurie David’s Op-Ed. What is particularly telling is that in 2003 — fully two years after the policy supposedly went into effect regarding product endorsements and distributing unsolicited material — NSTA distributed 20,000 copies of a Conoco/Phillips video. That’s pretty damning in itself, but according the the above referenced write-up, the video quotes at least one well-known global warming skeptic.

    Comment by raypierre — 15 Jan 2007 @ 10:54 PM

  36. Someone in this thread placed a link to Cathy Young’s article in “Reason”. I quote the following:
    “Similarly, those on the left who embrace environmentalism as their substitute religion don’t want to hear about scientific and technological solutions to climate change — from nuclear power to geoengineering, the artificial manipulation of the global environment — that do not include stepping up regulation and curbing consumption.”

    I’m not sure who these people are who “embrace environmentalism as their substitute religion”. I’ve been teaching ecology courses for several years and have yet to run into a student who regards environmentalism as a substitute religion. Most of the students, who might be construed as “those on the left”, are eager to hear of possible “technological solutions”. I detect a growing bitterness among students concerning, not only the misinformation presented in the media in the interests of balance, but the discouraging environmental legacy being left them. They ask serious questions about “technological solutions” and whether these will result in contributing to the serious environmental problems they will be facing.

    Comment by Hugh Curran — 15 Jan 2007 @ 10:58 PM

  37. Unfortunately, regardless of the merit of the film’s content, the presenter is a former politician who a substantial portion of the politically active American population voted against not that long ago.

    Given this, it’s not surprising that many people consider the film and the choice to screen it as being political.

    I think that there is room for someone to make another film on the same topic that is explicitly designed for the classroom and using a presenter who is less likely to get political hackles up.

    Of course this is a monumental duplication of effort. But in reality it may be the only effective way to get such a product into the education system. Or for the information to be made available to the wider right-wing public.

    [Response:As noted above, the US population is only ~4% of the worlds estimated people count, and consumes 25% of the energy. Also, in other countries, the DVD is distributed to schools (politics is not an issue, as far as I know). So in the future, Americans may risk bumping into people from outside the US who know much more about Al Gore’s view and about climate change, but I suppose that will only be embarrassing for the person… In addition to conveying scientific messages, the film may also assist shaping our world view and affect modern culture(?). It’s a good starting point for discussion, and prompts people to start to think. Isn’t that what we want to happen in schools? -rasmus]

    Comment by Craig Allen — 15 Jan 2007 @ 11:15 PM

  38. I’m a biologist and journalist by profession and training, albeit not at the Ph.D level by any means. Al Gore is a professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism as well as a former Senator and Vice-President. He’s a forward thinker, but alas much reviled in a large political camp.

    Did anyone catch the key quote in the SP-I Federal Way story?

    Here’s what I chose to portray the so-called argument in my blog post.

    “Condoms don’t belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He’s not a schoolteacher,” said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. “The information that’s being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. … The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.”

    NASA versus the Raelians shouldn’t be a choice at this stage of the game but sadly it is.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 15 Jan 2007 @ 11:43 PM

  39. >a substantial portion … voted against
    Hey, the majority of voters that year preferred Bush or Nader to Gore.

    Makes no never mind.

    The film isn’t an icon, Gore isn’t a founder,
    and this
    isn’t a hockey stick.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jan 2007 @ 11:45 PM

  40. Ray,

    “Earth Science is not well understood or held in particularly high regard by much of the K-12 education community. It’s often viewed as a poor cousin to physics, centered more on weather and rocks than physics of climate, and a kind of ghetto for the math-challenged student.”

    Certainly. It was in my day too, and that was back in the temporary “cooling” period. Too dumb for Physics general ed. I’m seeing specific faces from 1970 as I write this. Dead on.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 15 Jan 2007 @ 11:48 PM

  41. For those in the Bay Area, there will be a session on learning how to communicate about climate change on Feb 18 at the AAAS National meeting. With video….:)

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 15 Jan 2007 @ 11:51 PM

  42. Science films are great for getting students interested in science – everything from Stephen Hawkings’s “Brief History of Time” to the film on insect life, “Microcosmos” and the close relative, “Winged Migration”, as well as “An Inconvenient Truth” are worth showing as introductions in science classes. Films help to get students interested in the material, after which they will be willing to put in the long hours of effort needed to become familiar with complex topics – so there’s no reason at all that NSTA should have refused to distribute this film.

    Perhaps this NSTA press release is relevant: Oct, 2002 â�� The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and ExxonMobil Foundation announced today the funding of a new program in Arizona, â��Building a Presence for Scienceâ��. ExxonMobil also has a member on the group’s corporate advisory board… no special interests allowed?

    After looking up some of the other ‘educational materials’ offered through NSTA and following their web support links, I came across this ‘teaching scenario’ on oil spills:

    “Two days later, there is a loud group working at the back of the room. It’s the economists. As they approach, the teacher observes that they are not a happy bunch. “There is too much writing to this job, and statistics are boring! We are stuck trying to write an Environmental Impact statement. There are too many regulations.””

    Really, the more I look the worse it gets. “NSTA Recommends: Ice Ages of the Future!”… and on and on. They also recommend a book by Kenneth Green, “Global Warming: Understanding the Debate”; he’s cited by Senator Inhofe (along with Pat Michaels) as a signatory of this statement:

    “”There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

    As the tobacco industry says, “You’ve got to get to them when they’re young.”

    Comment by Ike Solem — 16 Jan 2007 @ 1:06 AM

  43. Continuing my thoughts in #35, and the sentiment in #28 …

    Climate change is the ultimate theme in terms of reality drama, so how about this concept:

    A five episode series, designed for TV screening and to be remade every year. It would cover the science, the politics, the economics, the personalities involved, the behind-the-scenes cloak and dagger, and the real world impacts on environment, communities and society. Enough happens with this juggernaught in each and every year to keep us all gripping our seats in anticipation of each exciting annual instalment. How will it end? Will we wake up in time to turn it around? Is it going to be the catastrophe that some predict? Or does it turn out to all be a big beat-up after all and destined to be assigned to the science scrap-heap along with phlogiston and Piltdown man.

    It would be a kind of popular version of the IPCC report only delivered more regularly, more digestibly and without all the watering down.

    And the denialists would make for great comic relief!

    Mr Gore what do you think? You could sponsor it, but then let it be made independently.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 16 Jan 2007 @ 1:13 AM

  44. I’m not cynical enough yet. Good finds, those. So that’s — education, they call it?
    “… The first two days of this unit are spent gathering background information on oil spill disasters by investigating the Exxon Valdez spill … it is not a current event, it has the advantage of being well documented and the results of clean up efforts can be evaluated. Some mistakes were made ….Amy wants more information about how many birds were lost and what the cost per bird was.”

    Well, the above is snipped from the info our teachers get provided for free.

    It’s as bogus as the stuff we were being fed in the 1950s, on its face.

    And scientific info? Available to those with paid subscriptions or a better library.
    Let kids look at current sources instead of the old news? Not the way to raise them Right.

    Long-Term Ecosystem Response to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill –
    CH Peterson, SD Rice, JW Short, D Esler, JL Bodkin â�¦ – Science, 2003

    Exxon Valdez: The Disaster Continues — Unger, ScienceNOW 16 May 2006

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jan 2007 @ 1:32 AM

  45. If I were a science teacher, I would not show the film to my students unless it was part of a wider debate. A principal reason is that Al Gore is a politician and not a scientist. Whether or not you agree with what he says in the film, you have to question his own motives. Politicians are generally more interested in saving their own careers rather than the world, and for Gore I believe the subject is a convenient emotive hobby horse.

    In addition, the bias in the film is shocking. There are quite a few examples. The most significant is during the most dramatic part of the film – the graph of historic CO2 variations against temperature changes. You have to ask why Gore ‘forgot’ to mention that historically, temperature rises have preceded CO2 rises. This is just one example. As a scientist, I can not accept this type of economy with the truth as a way to teach science.

    [Response:This is a non issue. All the record tells us is that warming started without CO2 as a cause, but once CO2 started rising, it amplified the initial warming. The climate sensitivity to CO2, as deduced from the glacial climate and CO2 levels, is consistent with all the rest of the estimates. You need lower CO2 in order to create an ice age, and you need it to rise in order to get out of it. David]

    In fact, you devalue the quality and credibility of Realclimate by supporting the film. It is apparent to me that the reason you support it is because it provides the conclusions you want, irrespective of the credibiity of the presenter or the quality of the arguments.

    [Response:As to credibility and self-interest, I’d say there’s more self-interest on the denial side of the global warming argument. If there were a way to get rich by advocating cuts in CO2 emissions, State of Fear would have had a more believable plot. As it was, the eco-terrorists were reduced to generating a tsunami, although I can’t remember exactly how Crichton spun that as to their advantage. As to the quality of the arguments, I’d say they’re better than the quality of many of the “despise Al Gore” comments to this post. David]

    Comment by PHE — 16 Jan 2007 @ 2:49 AM

  46. Rasmus, Regarding your response to my #37 post.

    Clearly we do need this to be discussed in schools and throughout the wider community. I just don’t think that AIT has the capacity to do this in the US to anywhere near the extent necessary. We can poke fun at a few schools that ban it, and we can wring our hands over the motives of the NSTA. But the fact is that a documentary presented by a former Democratic Presidential candidate was always going to be seen as political and will not be readily accepted by people on the right of politics. It doesn’t matter that the science is pretty good, or that it is well made, or that the message is important. If a substantial proportion of the most sceptical segment of the population refuses to watch it, that reality has to be faced. It doesn’t matter if scientists and environmentalists think this is an sad state of affairs. It just is. That fact needs to be taken on board and addressed in future attempts to get the message across, whether by Mr Gore or anyone else.

    The seemingly compromised nature of the NSTA is an issue unto itself and should be pursued as a separate although obviously interlinked issue. But don’t let that be an excuse to ignore the inability of the AIT format to get market share with the global warming message.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 16 Jan 2007 @ 5:29 AM

  47. RE: 22 “Dear RC
    Maybe all of the worlds meetings on climate change, the stern report and an inconvenient truth and the rest of it has led to this:,,1989997,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1#article_continue
    Maybe the current US administration might cut some CO2 after all nationally.
    Comment by pete best â 15 Jan 2007 @ 4:10 pm ”

    Pete, your URL is messed up, but by going to
    I eventually got to a recent British Treasury report on the cost of global warming by Sir Nicholas Stern. The report says that says that doing nothing will eventually prove more costly than trying to avert catastrophe. The report is available at:
    PS: I am not the same person as Ed G.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 16 Jan 2007 @ 6:25 AM

  48. Well i’m no science teacher, but i am a science graduate which is just as good and an industrial analyst (mining, don’t stone me yet!). I agree with what y’all are doing here, but Al Gore’s movie is a dogs breakfast. Greenhouse thugs beating up mister sun rays, fun, but “lets skip over the science” as Al says. Glaciers retreating?, well how bad was the industrial revolution in 1900, bad, maybe but if the shit has been hitting the fan since 1850 we are screwed because there were so many less people then than there are now. Hell glaciers have been retreating in New Zealand since 1750, of course it is a shame about those other glaciers around the world…

    [Response:Glaciers have been retreating, at least in the north, since the end of the little ice age, but the accelerated retreat in recent decades is due to warming in recent decades, which is due to greenhouse gases. ]

    Kilimanjaro suffers from lack of ice (deforestation?), lake chad dissapears, a shallow lake to start with, but now surrounded by an exponentially increasing population of ‘peasant’ farmers draining it for irrgation etc.

    [Response:Kilimanjaro is melting, as are almost all of the rest of the glaciers of the world. Good evidence for warming on a global scale. There may be other factors involved at Kilimanjaro but the larger truth remains. No problem there. ]

    Tuvaluans feeing to New Zealand, rubbish, we get less tuvaluans every year than fijians or samoans, yet Gore says they all fled over here relying on American lack of knowledge of the pacific region. How about this for a poll, a TV straw poll (not very scientific granted) showed many Americans thought New Zealand was in the mediterranean, ha!

    [Response:Tuvaluans are evacuating because of rising sea levels. What does it matter about Fijians and Samoans?]

    The real problem with Global warming is this. We have a lot of people, too many in fact and they are draining the worlds resources, the only country taking action on this is China, go figure.

    Anyway to cut a long story short, there are enough falsehoods in Gore’s movie to make it unworthy of viewing by learning students, it doesn’t mention the absorbtion qualities of carbon dioxide or what makes it special compared with other atmospheric constituents.

    [Response:To cut a long response short, What falsehoods?]

    Oh yeah the Kyoto protocol is a load of junk. Growing trees to offset carbon dioxide production. Only works if you cut them down and make them nto furniture and houses, otherwise you just make it worse. Everyone knows the ocean is the only carbon sink worth it’s salt and it’s reacting big time as anyone who knows the “red tide” off florida will tell you.

    [Response:I agree that reforestation is a dicey way to offset carbon emissions. That doesn’t make Kyoto junk. Also, red tide has nothing to do with ocean absorption of CO2. ]

    Keep up the good work but when it comes to the Al Gore movie turn off those blinkers, I don’t think you were looking hard enough for the errors you claim aren’t there.

    [Response:My opinion is that poor Al just can’t get an even break. Even people like you who seem to share his basic perspective have this need to swift-boat the guy with confusion and obfuscation. David]

    Anyway, keep up the good work

    Comment by Matt — 16 Jan 2007 @ 6:35 AM

  49. To those who don’t get the whole carbon dioxide following the raising temperature trend I think there is a really easy explanation for it.

    Once there was a dinosaur and his loving partner. They loved the warmth. the world warmed up and hey produced lots of little babies. So did all the other dinosaurs and the trees flourished and rotted and created massive plumes of methane.

    The dinosaurs replicated in the favourable conditions until they overwhelmed their environment and then the carbon levels spiked. Gradually natural cooling conditions reduced the favourable breeding conditions and the dinosaurs faded, yippee all was well again and millions of years later i made them into a sculpture.

    Anyway, it is perfectly logical for a carbon spike to follow a temperature increase, because in the past many creatures found the temperature increase to be a favourable situation to increase population and reduce sinks by way of foraging. We really don’t know what the population on the earth was say a million years ago so the logic can be maintained.

    However this is bad for us because the same logic would show that we have a lot of carbon increase, due to increasing population, to come due to technological favourible conditions for breeding. Like I say, too many humans and no sane answer to the problem.

    Comment by Matt — 16 Jan 2007 @ 6:48 AM

  50. Re “Response:As noted above, the US population is only ~4% of the worlds estimated people count, and consumes 25% of the energy.”

    The United States also produces 25% of the world’s goods and services. Concentrating only on US resource use gives a distorted picture.

    [Response: But, given that we have a monster trade DEFICIT, we also consume more than 25% of the worlds goods and services. Your argument would be relevant only if we were exporting a substantial part of that 25% of the worlds’ production. Which raises the interesting carbon-accounting question: If we import a few megatons of rubber duckies from China, and China has burned coal to manufacture them, whom should the carbon emissions be credited against? –raypierre]

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Jan 2007 @ 6:50 AM

  51. #48, yeah but that 25% includes a lot of services which is just a dude sitting in front of a computer or something which contributes greatly to GDP but not to pollution perse, it is the other industries and cars etc that are the problem. Sometimes you get more for less and less for more, the US gets both and has the most opportunity to decrease pollution regardless

    Comment by Matt — 16 Jan 2007 @ 6:53 AM

  52. Can’t help but agree with Number 45. You guys have real science and real useful data not to mention some awesome links(although some of them are restricted to non affiliates such as myself), but instead you seem to rely on something which dusts over the truth because you have to rely on the opinions of everyone to be changed by media to get what you (we?) want. The truth is that far too many sites have been able too take global warming to task due to this movie. However, on balance I think the movie helped more than hindered the ‘fight’ against global warming, that is assuming we can fix it of course.

    Comment by Matt — 16 Jan 2007 @ 7:09 AM

  53. Re: #47

    “Everyone knows the ocean is the only carbon sink worth it’s salt and it’s reacting big time as anyone who knows the “red tide” off florida will tell you.”

    Not quite sure what the ocean as a carbon sink has to do with this.

    It seems that phytoplankton blooms are mostly the consequence of adding large amounts of nutrients to the water, often the result of a natural upwelling, as seems to be the case of the Floridian red tides.

    Though pollution runoff probably aggravates the problem.

    Comment by Fernando Magyar — 16 Jan 2007 @ 7:16 AM

  54. PS As a disclaimer i am a hypocrite just like Gore. He flies everywhere to do his silly slide show, well one digger at the minesite i work at consumes over 1000000 litres of diesel (yes that is 1 million) per annum. I love that machine, it fills a 150 ton truck in 1 or 2 scoops and my friend who is six feet 3 inches doesn’t have to bend over when he stands in the bucket. Just beautiful.

    Anywhoo Do you see what we are up against in the fight against global warming, that is one machine feeding approximately 80000 trees with carbon dioxide (pretty rough estimate)

    Comment by Matt — 16 Jan 2007 @ 7:22 AM

  55. Re #48, thats not really a fair perspective is it. On average the USA per head of capita consume some 20 tonnes per head of capita.

    France,UK,Germany only consume around 9 to 10 tonnes per head of capita and they are trying to curb their emissions further. All we are saying is that the USA should do the same as they are the most technologically advanced nation on the earth. Maybe some R&D dollars should be spent on new technology research and maybe energy efficiency. It cannot do any harm can it as Oil and Gas are scheduled to run out this century and this sort of thing can only mitigate problems on both fronts, energy security and climate change.

    Win win is it not ?

    Comment by pete best — 16 Jan 2007 @ 7:53 AM

  56. re: #12. If the use of a widely-used word like ‘Algore’ is a red flag relative to objectivity how does this Web site fit into that scheme of things? http:// [edited]


    I fully expect to make some easy money from this post as I’ve bet a friend that RC will not post it.

    [Response: That would seem to have been a good bet on your part, since you are probably aware that you have been flagged for ‘trolling’ at RC and most of your comments have been eliminated based on the rules clearly spelled out in our comments policy. In this case, both items #5 and #8 would be relevant. -mike]

    [Response: This might have been overly strong. I don’t believe it is the case that the poster has been flagged for ‘trolling’, but he has had a number of comments, such as this one, caught in our moderation queue because of language used. He, as anyone, is welcome to comment as long as it fits with our comments policy. Commenting on one of my RC colleague’s political leanings based on unrelated, off-site material is not fair game. That’s why this one was edited. We’ll leave it at that. -mike]

    Comment by Dan Hughes — 16 Jan 2007 @ 10:13 AM

  57. As this discussion shows, even for the more attentive than average person, ideas about climate change are a random collections of truths, half truths, and outright wrong stuff covered with mush. The issue, in schools and in the public arena is to teach a relatively simple, first order, picture of what has happened, is happening and will happen in a malestrom of mis-information, cheerfully spread by the Exxon elf core.

    Good luck.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 16 Jan 2007 @ 10:44 AM

  58. Matt,
    I don’t know how to put the correlation between temperature and CO2 convincingly enough for you stop believing misinformation about it, but it is a strong supporting measurement not a theory. The case is not that a single correlation between CO2 and explains global warming. The physics of greenhouse gases are so well established as to be essentially indisputable, and the correlation is a demonstration of that effect that, along with other measurements, helps set parameter values for the physics.

    You may be alluding to the question of how quickly and strongly greenhouse gases affect temperature; this is so-called “climate sensitivity”, and there’s plenty of posts on this site about it and research elsewhere. That is not an open-and-shut question, and is in fact why the climate science community is certain that we are contributing strongly to warming, but is not exactly sure the path warming will take or magnitude of the warming by 2100 (2C to 10C is nearly an order of magnitude!).

    Al Gore did adopt a dramatic tone in the movie – and it made the movie entertaining. He (or the director) also cast himself as a lonely crusader for the truth, which I found annoying and did not think added much to the drama of the story. Certainly he’s not a scientist, and that’s worth taking into account. But if you look at any of the claims the movie is making, they are either unanimously supported (melting of icecaps, retreat of glaciers, 2C to 10C of warming) or at least plausible (e.g. rapid melting of Greenland ice sheet – note that there have been several papers recently observing that the ice sheet is melting faster than any models would predict). That’s what the review here on RealClimate says – the facts are correct. It’s one thing to claim that the movie takes an overly dramatic tone or too much sense of doom and gloom – that’s an opinion, and you’re as entitled to yours as anyone else. But to say it’s full of lies and distortions is to claim that scientists are lying and distorting.

    Comment by Eric E — 16 Jan 2007 @ 11:12 AM

  59. The “swiftboating” of Al Gore is an interesting story. There were Republicans at work, of course, but what made the smears work were the bloc of liberal reporters who simply decided that Gore was corny, stiff, and outré and who repeated the made up and distorted stories about him without checking or publicly correcting the stories once they’d been disproved. And it was fashionable among some on the left in 2000 to pretend that there were no differences betweeb the major party candidates. As the saying goes, “Thanks, Ralph”.

    Even though his climate views have been vetted and re-vetted, it’s still fashionable to put him down. Old habits die hard.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 16 Jan 2007 @ 12:32 PM

  60. I think the global warming controversy is all about fear. Many teachers, I think, would be reluctant to show this film to their students because the idea of AGW is pretty damn scary to them. The film scared the hell out of me even though very little was new to me. The film somehow made it all real and immediate. The idea of showing it to their students, especially to those who haven’t yet amored themselves with the idea that it can’t possibly be all that bad (younger children), is probably out of the question for many teachers.

    Yet, I think either the various scientists involved in this blog underestimate the problems AGW will cause or you are a hell of a lot braver than I (or are really good at keeping any hint of panic out of your public correspondence). Paul Hirt wrote a great book about the U.S. Forest Service’s failure, while working within the relatively simple (sorry to any of my profs who may read this post) science of forest management, to maintain the health the U.S.’s national forests. The title is even better than the book itself. “A Conspiracy of Optimism”. I’m sure the assurances many of the NFS scientists told themselves are repeated among climate modelers over a beer at conference socials. But I’m not sure society will be able to put enough good ideas together to avoid some of the really bad effects of AGW (wars over water and ag lands, increased classism in many countries, etc.).

    So, in the end, if we are to accomplish avoiding the worst; the only hope is to make the hard decision and assure that our kids realize their generation has been given this one task above all others. Show’em the movie. They’ve got to reduce AGW as much as possible.

    Comment by Andrew Sipocz — 16 Jan 2007 @ 12:42 PM

  61. I for one will not be showing this movie in a Science clasroom. While one could say I can use it as a bad example of how partisanship can influence science, I just don’t think it’s even a good example for that.

    It is frightening to see things like Eric E and his the “science is settled” statement above. I am not sure such a statement is ever valid, and it certainly isn’t in this instance. None the less I have seen people make this knid of a statement on both sides of the issue. The people who say carbon dioxide definitely is the cause of warming in the atmosphere have an awful tough time explaining the Paleo climate record; indeed they can’t do it. While the people who say carbon dioxide is an effect of warming not the cause can explain the record but don’t have a decent theoreticl explanation of why this should be so. If you want handle this issue using science, you really better be a whole lot less certain than you are now.

    Astronomers right now also seem to be attributing the climate changes on earth very differently than climate modelers, some one must be wrong here, but if history is any indication it is almost certainly… everyone.

    Comment by Paul N — 16 Jan 2007 @ 1:42 PM

  62. Good pointer to Paul Hirt’s “A Conspiracy of Optimism” — thanks!
    It’s available online from the publisher at 10% of original price:

    Which law describes our risk — Occam’s, or Murphy’s?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jan 2007 @ 2:04 PM

  63. Hello, Did my previous comment not get through. Because comments about dinosaurs and babies seem to be making it through :)

    Comment by teacher ocean — 16 Jan 2007 @ 2:19 PM

  64. Paul N wrote in #61: “It is frightening to see things like Eric E and his the ‘science is settled’ statement above. I am not sure such a statement is ever valid, and it certainly isn’t in this instance.”

    The science is settled. There is no scientific doubt whatsoever that human activities, principally the burning of fossil fuels, are increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane, and other so-called greenhouse gases. There is also no scientific doubt whatsoever that the anthropogenic increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases is causing the Earth’s atmosphere/biosphere to warm. There is also no scientific doubt whatsoever that this anthropogenic warming of the Earth is already causing observable changes to the Earth’s climate and biosphere.

    This is not only the “consensus” of the world’s scientific community, it is the essentially unanimous agreement of the world’s scientific community.

    This is, to use Al Gore’s word, the truth.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Jan 2007 @ 2:50 PM

  65. Raypeirre,
    In comment 33, you do a disservice to both evolution and AGW by comparing the quality of the evidence supporting each. Their only similarity is the false controversy which in both cases stands outside their respective sciences.

    The fact of evolution (as opposed to theories like natural selection or hypotheses concerning mechanisms) is as fundamental to biology as any physical law. There is plenty of very good quantitative biology, but it is used to understand evolution not as proof of it. The fossil record is the product of evolution and lends insight as to how it operated. The difficulties lie in the incompleteness of the record and the complexity of life, not in evolution. That life has evolved permeates all of biology and helps make it comprehensible. Although evolution stands on a foundation of 150+ years of scientific activity that we do not fully comprehend it should be no surprise.

    AGW is another kettle of fish altogether. How is human civilization changing the earth’s climate? That is a focused question that can be answered through earth science and the study of climate. In the last 10 years the data has moved consistently towards greater certainty that AGW is occurring. In that context, the deniers at least do not challenge the fact that climate changes over time.

    Comment by Dstopak — 16 Jan 2007 @ 3:32 PM

  66. I am an English teacher in the UK, but was trained in the United States, having just recently moved over here last summer. I have been following the threads posted here, and wanted to make a comment regarding the way climate change is presented, both in the classroom, and at home.

    In the UK, it has been my observation, that children, families, parents, educators, and the rest of the public at large, have a much larger understanding of what climate change is. The BBC has spent vast amounts of time/energy/money on the topic of climate change, produced some amazing documentaries regarding the way animals and plants are having to die or adapt to these changes, and the link below will take you to their climate change site (where, by the way, RC is mentioned as a weblink).

    Upon asking my students, year seven (age 11), what they knew about climate change, I was both amazed and impressed. What they have to look forward to in the future, with all the known and unknown effects of climate change, is part of their curriculum, and on a grander scale, is part of the culture (at least as far as I can tell). There is something to say for a government who gets on the “We’ve got to get our heads ’round this climate change issue” bandwagon, and one who has dragged it’s feet.

    Leaving politics aside, however, it has been my experience, in a rural high school in New England, where I was a teacher trainee, that students deserve, as preparation for the adult world, to know what lies ahead of them. Far too many of the students I taught in the States were not quite sure what climate change meant to them. They, of any generation, should know what lies ahead for them.

    Yes, there is politics in this video. Yes, there will probably be parents who are against showing the video. However, discussions around the evening dinner table (or in the car on the way to another team sporting event, the drive-thru, what-have-you) that focus on climate change could be just what the US, the UK, and the rest of the developed/developing world need. We’ve got to get our heads ’round this topic, put energy/time/money/peoplepower into coming up with solutions. We’ve got to prepare our students for what seems like an inevitable future. I’m doing my part, as are every teacher worth their salt. We could use a little support from the community, our leaders in government, and those in the sciences.

    Every day, I look at my students, and wonder what the future holds for them. In between grammar lessons, checking homework, and trying to get them to actually understand some Shakespeare, I find myself, as an educator, worried about what lies ahead for them.

    I say, show the video (with parental approval, if necessary), and let the discussion/debates begin! Fear of the unknown, and not being willing to accept the challenges that Climate Change will bring, really shouldn’t get in the way of educating our children. It is their right to know, and our duty to accept our responsibilities to them.

    Now..back to my never-ending stack of marking..

    Comment by Thom P. — 16 Jan 2007 @ 3:43 PM

  67. Re #61: “The people who say carbon dioxide definitely is the cause of warming in the atmosphere have an awful tough time explaining…”

    Your problem, I think, is with the words “the cause”, as if there were, in the entire 4 billion year history of the Earth, one and only one cause of warming. That’s simply not so: there are a many things that potentially affect the climate – everything from variations in the Earth’s orbit to continents moving around – and in prehistory quite a few of them have happened. Some (maybe all) of those have in turn changed the CO2, which through feedback has amplified the effects of the original change.

    All that’s pretty well understood, I think. The uncertainty about the details of paleoclimates seems to owe much more to the lack of preserved evidence (“fossils” in the largest sense) than to inadequacies in theory. When science doesn’t know for sure what may have changed, it’s hard to pin down definite causes.

    The case is different today. We know beyond any doubt that atmospheric CO2 has increased due to human activity, and just need to figure out exactly what the effects of this _known_ change will be.

    Comment by James — 16 Jan 2007 @ 3:49 PM

  68. As a piece od science education, AIT is not particularly valueable. I watched it in the company of intelligent and educated (but not in science) adults. They all have troubles telling the difference between the established scientific facts, assumptions, exaggerations and errors. About a dozen times I had to stop the film and answer questions, mostly “Is this really true?!” (BTW, my answers were mostly affirmative.)

    Unfortunately, there’s often more to the story than just that. E.g. “Is it true that 6 meters sea level rise will submerge a third of Florida?” I didn’t check but I would assume it is. This would be a perfectly useless piece of information until we knew, with some precision, when we should expect such a disaster. We don’t really know but the goal (to scare the viewer) is achieved.

    So, if one is looking for a way to raise the level of awareness by mixing together the truth (which is most of the film) with everything else then that’s the way to go. Ideally I would have someone in the class to provide a critical view on the film. That would move the presentation closer to the realm of science per se.

    [Response: It would certainly be useful to have a study guide, as an aid to teachers using the film in class. For examples, we at RC basically think Gore’s use of the Pleistocene ice ages to document the effect of CO2 on climate is fair, but there’s a lot more to delve into there, given that CO2 is in some sense an amplifier of the ice age cycles, rather than the sole cause. Many things in the film provide good motivation for deeper study. –raypierre]

    Comment by Sashka — 16 Jan 2007 @ 4:29 PM

  69. Re: 45 (comment)

    David, with all respect, I believe there are issues.

    First of all, an issue of integrity. Al Gore probably knows more than he says but he chooses to say only what suits his purpose. I call it selective truth because the truth that was inconvenient to him he chose to omit. In my mind, the difference between selective truth and a lie is mostly in sematics.

    Second, there is a scientific issue. The scale of the chart has been mentioned in RC’s review. As I said before, I’m firmly on the side of Eric’s colleagues who thought the chart was very misleading.

    [Response:If a temperature / CO2 plot showed no correlation, then it would be damning for the global warming forecast. There are very few phenomena in nature that are as well-behaved as the ice core CO2 / temperature record. I find it very compelling evidence for a role for CO2 in climate. Every wiggle lines up nearly perfectly. I’m reminded of the Rodney King trial in L.A. He was beaten by a gang of police, and it was all captured on a horrifying videotape. The strategy for the defence (of the policemen) was to show the video to the jury over and over, and analyse it frame by frame, until the jury became sort of numb to the essential bottom line, that these police were stomping this helpless man lying on the pavement. David]

    Third, you write All the record tells us is that warming started without CO2 as a cause, but once CO2 started rising, it amplified the initial warming. Could you clarify how does the record tells us that? I thought all the recod tells us is that CO2 lags behind the temps. The conclusion about amplification we pull out of the models, not from the record. Am I wrong? If I’m right, I’ll have to say that models are not to be trusted in this case especially and refer to Wally’s paper for the reasoning.

    [Response:Models can calculate the observed (inferred from proxies) temperature change LGM to present, if they account for the lowered CO2 concentration, and the albedo of the ice sheets, with about the same climate sensitivity as is inferred from present-day climate change. If the climate sensitivity were zero, the hindcast glacial climate would not be cold enough. David]

    Comment by Sashka — 16 Jan 2007 @ 5:06 PM

  70. The British Treasury report on the cost of global warming again: This report puts it into terms that everybody can clearly understand, namely dollars. I haven’t read much of it yet, but so far I have read that AGW will cost 5% to 20% of GDP if we do nothing, but fixing it now will cost only 1% of GDP. I haven’t read far enough to find out how they figured that yet. I recommend that we all read the report.
    The report is available at:

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 16 Jan 2007 @ 5:17 PM

  71. Hello again everyone,

    I also enjoyed Al Gore’s film, and thought it was, generally, an excellent review of the matter. The only note of caution was that there was a tendency to overdramatise, for instance, seeing New York flooded, whilst this is not impossible over a long time frame, several hundred or a thousand years, the impression that it might just be around the corner was a bit misleading. It was obvious from talking to others though how little people really understood about this issue, as much of the information contained in the film was completely new to them. Of course, I live in a country where the last 10,000 hours of peak hour broadcasting on our two major television channels (the last three years) , has had absolutely no information on global warming at all, it might as well not exist as an issue (could it be that about one third of all advertising revenue in these hours is car or oil related?)

    But whatever the flaws in the film they were vastly outweighed by the good information. It was entertaining as it needed to be to attract a large and possibly disinterested audience and Al Gore came over as a personable, intelligent, humane and liberal human being, which of course, automatically disqualifies him from being President of the USA. As a point of departure for discussion, surely this film can be seen as nothing but fair? But really, chaps, isn’t there something wrong, and sinister, in your society, that schools cannot take up an offer to have free copies of this film for school science and discussion, without seeing it as a threat? From these shores, the concerns of the NSTA appear absurd, but worse than this, illiberal and form of intellectual censorship – it reeks of political expediency. Having said that, my children are no longer at school, and what discussion or information our New Zealand children have had in their schools, I don’t know. If our TV is any indication, it might be just as bad as in the US.

    The American nation has, along with this nation and all the others in the world (you are not unique, but the problems are rather more exaggerated in the US), a lot of growing up to do, and fast. This inability of our social structures, including your schools apparently, to debate in a knowledgable way this matter with the urgency it demands, is the wonder of our age. When we, humanity, have had more means of communication, more resources and more means of understanding than ever in our entire history of civilisation to deal with the problems that beset us, yet refuse to use them, then our children, and grandchildren, will just shake their heads in utter bewilderment “Just what were they thinking?” – the answer being of course, not much.

    Don’t forget though there are other resources. David Attenborough produced an excellent BBC documentary “Are we changing the planet Earth?” and a subsequent follow-up, which I haven’t seen. This documentary certainly wasn’t shown on our TV, see above, but I saw it at a special screening in Wellington on Climate Change Day. I don’t suppose there are free DVDs, but it has been posted to the web, such as here . Perhaps this would seem a more politically acceptable resource. I can’t really see anyone accusing David Attenborough of political bias, but possibly some will try. Perhaps his being a Brit might make it seem like foreign propaganda?

    Comment by John — 16 Jan 2007 @ 6:04 PM

  72. Sashka, you write:
    > I’m firmly on the side of Eric’s colleagues who thought
    > the chart was very misleading.

    That’s not what Eric wrote, and you can check it. Your beliefs are strong but your references are missing.

    [Response:OK, I’ll come clean, there is a dicey aspect to the CO2 / temperature plot from ice cores which is that temperature is not linear in CO2, but goes as the log of the CO2 concentration (so that each doubling leads to the same temperature change). Showing both variables on linear scales sort of implies that the future will follow the same linear relationship as looks to the eye to be the case in the past. Also, the changes in climate over the ice ages were driven primarily by ice albedo, with CO2 contributing a bit less than half of the radiative forcing. Still and all, in spite of the fact that the world is complicated, I maintain that the plot is a convincing demonstration of the importance of CO2 in climate. And, I say, there is nothing in that plot, leads, lags, or whatever, to cast any doubt on the global warming forecast. I think showing it is fair and reasonable. David]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jan 2007 @ 6:08 PM

  73. For information: the following appeared in the Scotsman newspaper, 4th Dec 2006
    “EVERY schoolchild in Scotland is to be offered the chance to see former US vice-president Al Gore’s film about the dangers of global warming under a scheme by energy company ScottishPower.

    The firm, a major windfarm developer which also runs the coal-fired Longannet power station, is prepared to commit “tens of thousands of pounds” to the project and is currently in negotiations with the Scottish Executive to secure its backing.

    ScottishPower, which has also given copies of Mr Gore’s book of the same name, An Inconvenient Truth, to hundreds of its staff, plans to pay for cinema screenings for older children in primary schools and all secondary pupils. The firm is currently discussing with the Executive how pupils could be bussed to cinemas, and to cinema owners about times for screenings. …”
    I’m not sure how much progress the proposal has made.

    Comment by Roy Turnbull — 16 Jan 2007 @ 7:06 PM

  74. I will be showing AIT as part of a unit on global biological change in my college level introductory biology course. Students will be watching the documentary in small groups outside of the large lectures that make up the principle part of the course. I will provide them with worksheets and online quizzes to help them explore the ideas in the film and to explore areas where the film might have done a better job (I am in agreement with RC’s assessment of the overall veracity of the film).

    Once all the students in this class of 250 have had a chance to see the film I will introduce the topic in lectures. Since, the students will have absorbed much of the background information (that is my hope at least) on the topic from AIT, I will be able to focus on topics of data collection, analysis, interpretation, and model building in greater detail. My hope is that this documentary makes my job of focusing on the biological consequences of global warming a lot easier.

    I would appreciate any links to materials on discusing the documentary from credible sources. Any comments from others who have attetmpted to use AIT as a teaching tool at the undergraduate level would be appreciated.

    Also, could the the folks at RC explain to me why the changes in temp caused by changes in the earth’s orbit are initially responsible for increases in CO2 concentrations. Is this due to ocean warming and the release of dissolved CO2 at higher temps? I haven’t come across a clear explanation of this that’s stuck in my mind.

    You can contact me at aristotleszoo at yahoo dot com.

    [Response: The exact mechanisms that cause CO2 to change through the glacial cycles are still not fully quantified. Vegetation on land decreases in the cold phases, and so that is a source of CO2, implying that the oceans must be a large sink. The way CO2 gets sequestered in the ocean depends both on its solubility (greater in a cooler ocean) and on the biological pumps (mainly soft organic matter falling through the thermocline). However, the solubility change is probably not sufficient on its own, and so some change in biology was also required. This is still pretty uncertain. However, David is the expert on these things, so he would be the one to ask for more details. – gavin]

    [Response:Yeah, still an unsolved problem. CO2 seemed to act as a positive feedback to climate change paced initially by orbital wobbles. The question is whether ocean or biosphere CO2 will amplify the climate change from our CO2 in the future. At present, the biosphere and ocean are absorbing excess CO2, acting as a stabilizing negative feedback. David]

    Comment by Pete — 16 Jan 2007 @ 7:08 PM

  75. RE #71 [NY flooding] IIRC, the point being made in those animations was not that NY is going to flood Real Soon Now, but rather that if all the land-based ice on either Greenland or the WAIS were to melt the resulting added water to the world’s oceans would raise sea level 21 feet, which is a known fact and widely reported. We don’t know that the ice is melting at a significant rate right now, or if it might in the future, but as we are talking about GLOBAL WARMING and the possibility of ICE MELTING in general it seems to me that asking what this might imply for civilization is a valid question, regardless of when it might happen. And mapping out the real impacts of a 21 foot increase in sea level is easy to do; you just take a topo map, run a plot around the 21 foot elevation contour, and see what you get. I know most people don’t do that sort of thing to kill time of a Saturday, but that’s why we have professional graphic artists and high-performance computers.

    Sure, animating a total ice melt and flooding the former site of the World Trade Center freaks people out. Well hey guess what, that kind of sea level rise IS freaky! It’s HORRIFIC! The atmospheric experiment we’re conducting is utterly INSANE! That’s not drama, that’s the whole, entire, complete, unredacted TRUTH of the thing, don’t you think? What part of “we will be living on a different planet” isn’t dramatic to you, regardless if it’s 30 years or 300? What part of that should be left out for more sober (meaning undramatic) discussion? It’s easy to be sober about something when you can push it out far enought to be Someone Else’s Problem. Well it’s OUR problem, and a lot of thoughtful people are looking at an ice-free Earth anytime in the next 500 years as a BIG PROBLEM. Right NOW.

    Comment by cat black — 16 Jan 2007 @ 7:10 PM

  76. I think the reply of Rasmus to #37 illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding of a sort of thinking prevalent in the US. Many (perhaps most) people in the US would not be the least bit embarrassed to discover a foreigner is more knowledgeable about an aspect of the US, or about anything, for that matter. There is a proud anti-intellectual and anti-rational tradition in the US that shows no signs of waning. Facts are mutable; opinions are not. Which is why there is little point in responding to many of the comments on this thread (not including comment #37, I hasten to add, which makes a good point).

    Comment by S. Molnar — 16 Jan 2007 @ 7:15 PM

  77. Alex Tingle has created the neatest sea level rise toy. Alas, only 14 m max.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 16 Jan 2007 @ 7:54 PM

  78. I don’t have time to read through all 77 comments to see if anyone has already mentioned this. To see the other side of this story please go to On their homepage they have their statement about why they didn’t think that they are the appropriate organization to distribute An Inconvenient Truth. Also, they have a link to the other site where teachers can get the DVD for free.

    We showed AIT to the entire school at the independent day school where I teach. After the video the first thing the students brought up was the politics. They had a hard time getting passed it. This is in a blue state, very progressive school. Any teacher who shows this video really need to do a lot of work beforehand to help students sort though the politics and science.

    [Response: I in fact mentioned the NSTA response in my article, but it’s hardly a very satisfactory response. Take a look at the link in my Comment 35 above. NSTA winds up looking pretty bad. I’m really having a hard time understanding your remark about sorting out the politics from the science. What “politics” are the students seeing in this movie? There’s really very little. Please explain. –raypierre]

    Comment by Susan — 16 Jan 2007 @ 8:12 PM

  79. cat black wrote: “Sure, animating a total ice melt and flooding the former site of the World Trade Center freaks people out.”

    One thing that “freaked me out” was a single line in the global warming fantasy movie “The Day After Tomorrow”. It wasn’t the fantastic scenes of a giant tsunami washing over New York City and freezing solid in minutes. It was much simpler and might have gone by many viewers unnoticed:

    The protagonist’s son is on a trip with some other students in New York City when the waters begin to rise. He calls his father in Washinton DC to let him know that he is (so far) OK, and mentions in passing that none of the toilets are working because the water has risen to the point where the sewers are all flooded and backed up.

    I realized right then that for New York City to become uninhabitable, it is not necessary that sea level rises many meters and puts entire buildings underwater.

    The sea level only has to rise enough for the sewers to be flooded, and all the toilets in the city to be backed up, for millions of people to be forced to evacuate.

    [Response:On a similar line, on Tuvalu, the limit point was salt water incursion into the groundwater preventing agriculture. It wasn’t kids wading to school or anything like that. Who’d have thought of it? David]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Jan 2007 @ 8:13 PM

  80. Rather than taking the opportunity once again to talk past each other instead of to one another, I would ask for the writer of the very first comment what politics exactly should be edited from the documentary to achieve this “greater acceptance by the masses”.

    Comment by K W Wilkison — 16 Jan 2007 @ 9:27 PM

  81. A short conversation with our home insurance agent informed me that insurance companies are getting ready for severe storm and flooding effects along the Gulf and East coasts of the USA, along with severe restriction or termination of coverage in coastal regions. Permissible coverage is being moved back to 1000 from 500 feet from the coast, and south Florida properties are no longer insurable, except through state funds. For some reason the companies are squinting especially hard at NYC.

    The changes are here, manifesting themselves already.

    Comment by Pavel Chichikov — 16 Jan 2007 @ 9:34 PM

  82. Re #79: But if the toilets are backed up, people would be forced not to evacuate!

    Comment by S. Molnar — 16 Jan 2007 @ 9:37 PM

  83. Showing schoolchildren only one side of a controversial subject is proselytizing – not educating, and shouldn’t be allowed. Kudos to NSTA for taking its responsibilities seriously.

    Showing Al Gore’s piece in tandem with the opposing view would be both useful and stimulating. The best presentation that I have seen from the “non-believers” side is “Climate Catastrophe Cancelled” a 25 minute video (I think that it it also available on DVD) created by the Friends of Science Society in collaberation with the University of Calgary. Like “An Inconvenient Truth”, it deals with the subject in readily understood layman’s language and holds the attention of even the most blase viewer. It is available for somewhere south of $20.00 from Friends of Science

    [Response: What you’re suggesting would be about as useful as calling in somebody to show “the other side” of the theory of gravitation. It may indeed be a useful exercise to bring in somebody dressed like Ptolemy and have the students learn why epicycles are a bad idea, but I really don’t think it’s a particularly efficient way to learn about science. As is also the case for evolution, the “controversy” is purely manufactured. –raypierre]

    [Response: Very interesting that you raise the issue of the so-called collaboration between the “Friends of Science” and University of Calgary. -mike]

    Comment by Lee Morrison — 17 Jan 2007 @ 12:01 AM

  84. Gavin,

    You didn’t mention the NSTA distributed “Fuel-less, you can’t be cool without fuel” video.

    More info

    You might want to update your original post just in case the connection isn’t obvious enough. ;-p

    [Response: (Note by the way that “group” isn’t “gavin.” “group” is truly the RC group mind, which sometimes chooses to speak through one of us more than another of us.) The “cool without fuel” video is mentioned in some of the links we provided in the article. NSTA defends itself by saying that this wasn’t distributed directly through their web site, but rather through a link to an oil-industry web site. At this point I can’t check that, or the nature of the link, since the NSTA and their petro-collaborators have evidently cleansed their respective sites of damaging evidence (see the report in the link I provided under my comment #36 above). –raypierre]

    Comment by wacki — 17 Jan 2007 @ 12:47 AM

  85. Eldridge Moores, the estimable UC Davis geologist, (oops, earth scientist) has recently proposed that the University of California amend its high school admissions criteria to include some required study of earth and atmospheric sciences. In my opinion, this is a proposal whose time has come, or is more likely overdue. Any opportunity for increases in critical thinking skills in general would be a bonus! And as for#78, I am wondering what about the film is overtly “political”? Would a presenting figure with the stature in popular culture of say the late Carl Sagan somehow “sanitized ” the “political” from the film?

    [Response: One does want to be careful not to spread the curriculum too thin. As compared to European secondary school science teaching, the US curriculum is already too broad and too shallow. A firm grounding in chemistry and physics should be the first priority. (I am of the camp that says biology is hard, and should be done after chemistry and physics). Rather than a separate requirement on Earth science, I’d rather see Earth science problems brought into the physics curriculum at appropriate points. Radiation balance of planets fits in very well with the study of E&M, and introductory quantum concepts. The dry adiabatic lapse rate is a very nice application of basic thermodynamics. –raypierre]

    Comment by David Graves — 17 Jan 2007 @ 1:43 AM

  86. Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation into the future.

    But, how we can stop this global warming in year of 2007. As we are moving towards the advanced level
    It is not possible to stop global warming the year of 2007.

    How we can spread among the people about the Globalwarming Awareness2007 Mision,
    I think the seo contest is the best thing that they are doing for the Globalwarming Awareness in 2007.
    They had given the keyword phrase as Globalwarming Awareness2007, so many people will keep this keyword as a major keyword and try to get top there website top in google, yahoo and msn.

    Globalwarming Awareness2007

    Comment by Arshad — 17 Jan 2007 @ 1:48 AM

  87. Thank you for your interesting articles in Real Climate. Interesting to see that you do present controversial points of view in your regular articles, with appropriate commentary.

    In this particular article it seems evident that truth in general is always going to cause a stir in terms of acceptance, rejection or outright banning. However, it is always the responsibilty of those who study in their area of expertise to pass their peer reviewed articles on to the people who care to know about these things. It is also the responsibilty of people to find out ALL the information in whatever form to be able to make informed decisions. This inevitably incurs costs as this type of investigation involves highly skilled personel, with expensive equipment. In this case, a film has presented an aspect on global warming, in a form which in entertaining yet uses facts and verified data, with a particular point of view. I personally have seen it, and was pleased to have had the opportunity of seeing it. As an ex science teacher in South Africa, I am sorry that the opportunity is not presented to us to take advantage of the offer of the free DVDs, as so much is not known about global warming scientifically, only as cliche’s. I did like to see debate in the classroom, with all the differing points of view presented, so that people can make their own minds up. At least this can bring up that debating opportunity. We as South Africans have learnt the consequences in our past of bannings and one sided education. So, together with other points of view, this movie would be much appreciated. A good movie.

    Comment by Anne Bindoff — 17 Jan 2007 @ 2:05 AM

  88. Thank you for your articles, free to those who care to subscribe. I am an ex science teacher in South Africa. I saw the movie, and was entertained, but also saw it as an interesting medium to convey interesting correlations. Yes, there were gaps, but because I am interested in the subject and I have myself investigated broadly.

    This movie would be greatly appreciated in South Africa especially if given away for free. We do advocate/promote continuing education lifelong education, as this is very liberating, in contrast to the history of selective education and bannings. Debate is promoted. The responsibilty is up to the individual to investigate if he/she cares to.

    Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Anne Bindoff — 17 Jan 2007 @ 2:24 AM

  89. It is time to move beyond these silly discussions about whether anthropocentric global warming is happening, and focus on what we can do to minimize it. That would be a constructive part of the educational discussion. “Kids run hot/cold on global warming”, a column by Katherine Ellison in the December 23 Los Angeles Times, talks about children of our age and their anxiety about global warming. It quotes a child psychiatrist who suggests giving information about positive things kids can do (fluorescent bulbs, for example) to reduce global warming, rather than just wallowing in fear and helplessness. One quote from a kid: “yeah, well, it really sucks, but nobody’s going to give up their car, so we’re screwed.”

    Comment by Al S. — 17 Jan 2007 @ 3:33 AM

  90. RE: #51 You need to take a wider view. All these people ‘sitting on their ass[es]’ have jobs of this nature because society is affluent (and hence consuming and polluting) enough to support them. It’s the same problem with all those arguments that say we’re going to ‘tech out’ of the problem – in order to do scientific research (or marketing or graphic design or whatever) you need scientists, the scientists need to be well fed and rested in warm rooms to keep them thinking straight, they need light so that they don’t have to stop working at sundown, society needs to be comfortable enough not to mind them doing this rather than e.g. hunting gazelle etc. etc. When the road is flooded and the trucks can’t get the bread to the supermarket, when the power lines blow down and the simulation data gets wiped, when most of the public money is going on defending us from an increasingly aggrieved and water-hungry southern hemisphere – you ain’t gettin’ no hydrogen fuel cell technology. Or a beautifully designed ad campaign for running shoes, for that matter.

    It’s rather like (hey look at that) a positive feedback! The deeper into the pit we go the less spare time we will have to dig ourselves out again.

    Comment by Matt Bright — 17 Jan 2007 @ 5:14 AM

  91. Regarding the issue of what the ice cores say about CO2 and temperature, here is a graph of the Vostok and EPICA Cores showing the deuterium temperature proxy record and the carbon dioxide values.

    There is also a good discussion of how this data is collected at Ice Cores and Climate Change.

    The complete pdf is at (“Eight glacial cycles from an Antarctic Ice Core”)

    It’s also worth looking at this paper by Lonnie Thopson et. al on the mid-to-low latitude glacial records and the warming observed at high altitudes, which mirrors the warming observed at the poles:

    Apparently, the argument that Sashka and others are trying to make is that “CO2 lags behind temperature, so CO2 cannot be responsible for temperature increases”, but the notion is rather that orbital forcing leads to a positive feedback which results in more CO2 release; this is similar to how the increase in atmospheric CO2 in the 20th century has led to an increase in atmospheric H2O vapor, itself a greenhouse gas that is also helping to warm the surface. The processes were much slower during the glacial/interglacial period; the current rate of CO2 increase is something like 30 times faster then anything seen in the ice cores.

    Current CO2 levels are also well above anything seen during the glacial-interglacial cycles of the past 3 million years, which means that the paleoclimatology of that period is of limited use in understanding what kind of future we are heading into.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 17 Jan 2007 @ 5:15 AM

  92. I retract any statement about “red tide” I think i was thinking about another interesting worldwide problem concerning nitrgen rich run off. Of course if any of you eat meat you are particularly responsible for this.

    I also do not deny Carbon dioxide is responsible for warming and the natural patern is altered, i really only dislike the movie because it seems to draw the right conclusions for the wrong reasons, now i’ll have to watch it again because i know this movie gets me pretty wound up with its smoke and mirrors. ” My daddy shut the tabacco farm” sure, after a member of your family died, nice analogy to waiting though, i’m not convinced he capitilised on that.

    Anyway, show it in schools, my accounting teacher showed us total recall once cause it was abot resourses and arnie plus guns equals cool.

    Comment by matt — 17 Jan 2007 @ 5:26 AM

  93. An update concerning post 73.
    The Scottish Executive today announced that all school children in Scotland will be shown the Al Gore film, see:

    You will see from the blog following the ‘Scotsman’ newspaper report that quite a lot of Scottish adults are also in need of education regarding climate change!

    Comment by Roy Turnbull — 17 Jan 2007 @ 6:13 AM

  94. Re “Third, you write All the record tells us is that warming started without CO2 as a cause, but once CO2 started rising, it amplified the initial warming. Could you clarify how does the record tells us that?”

    The record doesn’t tell us that. Basic radiation physics tells us that. If you put more CO2 in the air it will warm the ground. What part of that do you not understand?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 17 Jan 2007 @ 6:37 AM

  95. Hey just an aside, an astronomist needs to use a space telescope to see distant stars in the infrared due to atmospheric saturation, does this not imply that atmosheric saturation of CO2 for the purposes of heat absorbtion is maxing out a bit? or is this just a topic concerning resolution?

    Comment by matt — 17 Jan 2007 @ 6:45 AM

  96. hey ray pierre, you think biology is hard now, just wait and see. If the UK researchers on Quantum mutation have their way we might see the need for quantum mechanics in biology to explain periods of mutation for evolution knocking good ol classical biology right on the noggin. Everyone will be begging to learn chemistry and newtonian physics just so their heads don’t explode :)

    Comment by matt — 17 Jan 2007 @ 6:49 AM

  97. Re#82 ROTFL

    Comment by Fernando Magyar — 17 Jan 2007 @ 7:17 AM

  98. Gavin I would also like to mention the above statement where you say the graphs used in the movie are causal in both directions regarding co2 and temp. are a little weird. Firstly intuitively causality is a one way street, but more importantly Al Gore never makes the point about amplification, this is something you have added from your own vast knowledge of the topic and I think that is part of the problem with the movie. If you know a lot about it then you can understand what actually said or what he meant where as a lay person has a choice to take it at face value what he says or say, “yo the temperature graph peaks way before the carbon dioxide peak” for a lay person this is an unavoidable conclusion based on what he is showing us. It is things like this that get on my wick ever so slightly, yet it bothers you not one bit (well it probably does) that millions of viewers will never see your explanation of why this is including a great deal of science teachers due to their not frequenting these message boards. Of course now I’m going to have to watch the film again with my wee black book and take down all the strange instances where this type of thing occurs. Then armed with more instances I’d like to comment more fully on why AIT failed regular joes like myself.

    Comment by matt — 17 Jan 2007 @ 8:52 AM

  99. Re: 91

    Apparently, the argument that Sashka and others are trying to make is that “CO2 lags behind temperature, so CO2 cannot be responsible for temperature increases

    Apparently you didn’t trouble yourself with reading what I write. I said nothing of the sort. What I said in fact was that the conclusions about the role of CO2 are based on the models that are used outside their range of applicability. It doesn’t mean that the conclusion is necessarily wrong but the logic is clearly distorted here.

    this is similar to how the increase in atmospheric CO2 in the 20th century has led to an increase in atmospheric H2O vapor, itself a greenhouse gas that is also helping to warm the surface.

    Has it? Could you point me to the documented research showing that atmospheric H2O content actually increased over the last century. Do we really have a reliable network for such measurements, sufficient for drawing statistically valid conclusions?

    Comment by Sashka — 17 Jan 2007 @ 9:53 AM

  100. matt, the saturation is at the center of the absorption lines and bands. As the concentration grows, absorption increases at the wings of individual lines and at the edges of the absorption band. This is well known stuff and the subject of an entire sub-branch of spectroscopy. It is also the reason that one can approximate the increase in forcing by CO2 as being proportional to the logarithm of the concentration, rather than being linear as it is for say methane, where the atmospheric absorption is not (yet) saturated at line center.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 17 Jan 2007 @ 10:43 AM

  101. Lee Morrison wrote: “Showing schoolchildren only one side of a controversial subject is proselytizing – not educating, and shouldn’t be allowed.”

    Global warming is not a “controversial subject” any more than evolution is a “controversial subject”. There is nothing whatsoever “controversial” about the scientific content of An Inconvenient Truth. Those who claim that there is “another side” to this issue — that there is a “controversy” about the scientific reality of anthropogenic global warming — are lying, or have been duped by liars. It’s as simple as that.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Jan 2007 @ 11:15 AM

  102. Thanks Dr Rabbett I was pretty sure this was the case however I raised the issue as it is a fav amongst denialists, not to mention the optical limitations due to the carbon look like a pretty thick bandwidth anyway on most astronomy sites. I suspect this was a matter of scale that i was viewing the site. Anyway I should have known this, back to my spectro i’ve got 45 minutes before my shift is up and i’ve spent all night reading this post

    Comment by matt — 17 Jan 2007 @ 11:15 AM

  103. RE:#77
    The sea level rise toy severely underestimates land loss in the U.S.A. Gulf Coast area at least. I think this is probably due to the area’s extreme flatness and that the model uses NASA elevation data. Jim Titus of the US EPA has a good publication here on land loss and sea level rise.

    For example, very little of Galveston Island in Texas is more than 5 feet(1.5m) above sea level and almost none of the non-elevated portion (the City itself lies ontop of fill material) of the Island is above 10 feet MSL (3m). Yet even 4 meters of sea level rise according to the “toy” leaves much of the Island remaining. The EPA’s model (Titus) uses topographic maps as its base data source. There is a link to these maps for the entire U.S. coastline at the web site.

    However, even the EPA model underestimates land loss in my opinion. For example, most of the Everglades in Florida is nothing more than a thick layer of peat sitting on a limestone base. Most of the base itself is below sea level and even a small rise in sea level could cause degradation of the peat mat and catastrophic land loss.

    In my part of the world we ran a huge experiment to determine the effects of catastrophic sea level rise. The Cities of Houston and Texas City pumped out so much ground water that an area about 80 miles (128 km) in diameter sunk up to 15 feet (4.5m). Areas along the sea were devastated. I don’t have links on hand, however google Houston Galveston Area Subsidence District or USGS Subsidence Report and you’ll find some great resources about this event. Generally, more land was lost to erosion versus direct inundation. For example, SE Texas’ beaches retreat inland about 1,500 feet (455m) for each foot (0.3m)of sea level rise. The take home message. Reports on land loss due to rising sea levels present severely conservative land loss estimates in my opinion and someone needs to develop a model that takes shoreline erosion and movement into account.

    Comment by Andrew Sipocz — 17 Jan 2007 @ 11:36 AM

  104. re Comments: Moderators, I tried a post here a couple of days ago which evidently didn’t make it. I realize you guys do way more stuff than to spend time with this, but… any insight if I (inadvertently) violated the Comment Policy? or anything else?


    Comment by Rod B. — 17 Jan 2007 @ 1:55 PM

  105. It is funny that a website that supposedly prides itself only scientific objectivity posts an article about the lack of DVD’s about global warming getting to students. Al Gore’s movie, (and it is his movie, the movie would be nothing without him) is a propaganda hit piece, and should not be shown to anyone under the collegiate level. Younger students lack the ability to see through the propaganda. There could be a new course, Film Propaganda, where An Inconvient Truth is shown with Farienheit 9/11 and Reefer Madness are shown.
    Why is Gore’s movie propaganda? The first clue is the constant repetition of the scientific “consensus” surrounding global warming. Even if this were true (which it is not) this is a subtle ploy to eliminate debate that its claimaints cannot win. Why? Science is not consensus, but only fact. Facts are not determined by agreement, but through the scientific method. In no part of this method is agreement necessary. Therefore, the only reason that one would claim consensus is to “prove” that their claims were correct, since it would fail the stronger standard derived from the scientific method.
    My earlier post on the Artic ice article begin to poke at several gaping holes in the Climate Change paragon. There are even more holes, if one is willing to look for them. To find some of them, told far better than I can, search for a paper presented at the Washington Roundtable on Science and Public Policy by William M. Gray, Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.
    All in all, cheap propaganda should not be placed in our schools. The city of Seattle has it right. We should applaud them.

    [Response: Quite right – facts are established through the scientific method. But who is to judge whether scientific data and conclusions are really convincing? I would argue the most critical and able judges for that are the scientific colleagues, trained in the field and always looking to find a weak spot in their competitors’ arguments. So once a consensus arises on a particular issue, this means that practically all colleagues, including the most skeptical ones, have become convinced that the scientific data are indeed compelling. That’s not a proof, but it is definitely a pretty strong test for a scientific case being solid. -stefan]

    Comment by Victor Amoroso — 17 Jan 2007 @ 2:13 PM

  106. You might be interested in Vice President of the Federal Way School Board’s (David Larsen) response to the hub-bub in the Seattle Times this morning, justifying and clarifying his position.
    The inconvenient truth about School Board’s film decision

    Here’s an excerpt explaining why he believes the issue is controversial:

    I am not an atmospheric scientist so I will not venture on their turf, but the global-warming issues include the following: What is the cause of global warming? Do humans contribute to global warming? To what extent? What does the future hold?

    We need only to look in our own backyard to find that our official state climatologist and the official Oregon state climatologist agree and disagree on many of the above issues to varying degrees. On some issues, they are polar opposites.

    I wish he would actually name the climatologists he’s referring to so I could research their published papers and positions. But I’m afraid Mr Larsen and company come off as woefully uneducated on the subject. The reasoning seems weak and he seems to have been easily influenced by the contrarian press.

    [Response:The guy is George Taylor. Tenured but not a professor at Oregon State University, designated head of the Oregon Climate Service at OSU, but the Oregon State Governor’s office has stated: “George Taylor doesn’t represent the governor’s office, and he doesn’t represent the state of Oregon.” His counterpart in Washington, Phillip Mote,”surmises that Taylor is guilty of looking only at data that support his views, while discarding the rest.” Taylor has a Master’s degree in meteorology and has published 3 research papers in peer-reviewed journals in the last 17 years. It gets better, you can read lots more here. David]

    Comment by Julia R — 17 Jan 2007 @ 3:08 PM

  107. re: 99. Regarding the water vapor trend, you might be interested in these:

    1. “Century of data shows intensification of water cycle but no increase in storms or floods”
    “A review of the findings from more than 100 peer-reviewed studies shows that although many aspects of the global water cycle have intensified, including precipitation and evaporation, this trend has not consistently resulted in an increase in the frequency or intensity of tropical storms or floods over the past century. The USGS findings, which have implications on the effect of global climate change, are published today in the Journal of Hydrology.”
    “A key question in the global climate debate is if the climate warms in the future, will the water cycle intensify and what will be the nature of that intensification,” said USGS scientist Thomas Huntington, who authored the study. “This is important because intensification of the water cycle could change water availability and increase the frequency of tropical storms, floods, and droughts, and increased water vapor in the atmosphere could amplify climate warming.”
    For the report, Huntington reviewed data presented in more than 100 scientific studies. Although data are not complete, and sometimes contradictory, the weight of evidence from past studies shows on a global scale that precipitation, runoff, atmospheric water vapor, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, growing season length, and wintertime mountain glacier mass are all increasing.

    And 2.
    “Global changes of the water cycle intensity”.

    [Response: Tom Huntington talked about this paper here last year: – gavin]

    Comment by Dan — 17 Jan 2007 @ 3:19 PM

  108. Julia R wrote in #104: “But I’m afraid Mr Larsen and company come off as woefully uneducated on the subject.”

    Well, this is after all an administrator who apparently thought it was a legitimate request that any presentation about the scientific reality of anthropogenic global warming be given equal weight with the belief that the Earth is 14,000 years old, and with Biblical prophecies about the “end times”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Jan 2007 @ 3:29 PM

  109. Re79:
    >David’s response: On a similar line, on Tuvalu, the limit point was salt water incursion into the groundwater preventing agriculture.

    Has this been attributed to AGW? I thought the amount of sea level increase (at least so far) due to AGW was very small.

    [Response:I’m not sure whether there’s a local subsidence at Tuvalu. It could be. There was an island in the Ganges River delta which washed away a few weeks ago, which definitely sank largely because of lcoal subsidence. David]

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 17 Jan 2007 @ 3:54 PM

  110. Back to the topic:

    I think I’m a bit of a contrarian here, but I can’t really get offended about not using A.G.’s AGW movie in the science classroom.

    First, even if the movie is entirely fair and objective, let’s face it, he is a partisan (although I share most of his views), and moreover, not a trained scientist in the field. It is only natural that his presentation will meet with resistance.

    Second, I do think a graph showing a linear, rather than logarithmic, correlation between future C02 increase and temperature increase, is at best unfortunate. If the denialists were to present a similarly misleading representation, I think RC-minded folks would be pretty quick to jump on it, and justifiably so.

    Third – and I apologize for my lack of references here – but it didn’t seem to me that a couple of Gore’s claims regarding impacts of AGW were somewhat hyperbolic (correct me if I’m mistaken). If we are going to mention that heatwaves will be more frequent and more intense, shouldn’t we also note that cold snaps will be less frequent and less intense? And that polar amplification, in addition to the fact that the temperature change will have greatest effect on night-time low temperatures, means that heat-wave impacts might be less catastrophic that might appear to be the case at first blush? I’m also uncomfortable with claims of up to 1 million extinctions by 2050. I admit that I haven’t read the science behind this, but where does this number come from? How can attributions regarding any extinction be made with confidence, when they all probably involve multiple factors, and when, even apart from AGW, human habitation and pollution has put such extroardinary stresses on ecosystems.

    [Response: With regard to Gore being a “partisan” it is a sad state of affairs when people will ignore a truth just because of who is saying it. Maybe that’s reality, but it’s not justifiable or right, and the NSTA sullies itself by going along with it rather than fighting it. In the film, Gore did not use a linear extrapolation of temperature vs. CO2, so that comment is unfair. A linear extrapolation of temperature with CO2 would mean if you double CO2 you double temperature (i.e. since the physics works in Kelvins, that would mean doubling CO2 takes us from about 285K to about 570K — ouch!). Gore did not do that. He showed a graph which showed CO2 and temperature going up and down in concert over the Pleistocene. Like his continental drift analogy this TELLS YOU MAYBE SOMETHING IS GOING ON that requires further study. The conclusion he is hinting at — that CO2 plays a big role in the warming coming out of an ice age and the cooling going into it — cannot be inferred from the graph alone, but is a fair description of the results of the other science that has been done on the problem. This is, in my view, a scientifically legit use of the graph to condense a lot of information and motivation into a short segment. As for “hyperbole”, what Gore is doing is just what Judge Posner (a Reagan appointee to the bench) advocates doing in public policy when there are potentially catastrophic consequences: paying more attention to the really bad things that might happen, rather than hoping that things work out OK. For Gore to be justified, there doesn’t need to be a certainty of these things, just a realistic possibility. –raypierre]

    Comment by Dan Allan — 17 Jan 2007 @ 3:54 PM

  111. Re 105

    For starters, yes, science is based on facts. But there has to be agreement about the meaning of those facts. When that happens, it is a scientific consensus. There is a consensus about the meaning of the facts related to global warming. Note that consensus is not the same thing as unanimity. As in an earlier post, I urge you to do some background reading on this site.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 17 Jan 2007 @ 4:52 PM

  112. I did see several responses about the ice core temperature – CO2 lag.

    Indeed, CO2 lags temperature with 600 +/- 400 years for a glacial-interglacial transition and with many thousands of years at the start of an ice age. As there is an overlap (a transition needs 5,000-15,000 years), this allows climate models to include a (huge) feedback of CO2 on temperature. But are the models right in this case?

    First some point from engineering: If there is a lag between a gliding change (temperature) and a lagged (positive) feedback (from CO2), after the lag time, the feedback would influence the original change, by speeding up the first and when the maximum is reached, some overshoot should be visible. None of this is true if you plot the temperature/CO2 data of the last LGM-Holocene transition from the Epica Dome C ice core. CO2 simply follows temperature, without any visible influence on it.

    Next, there is one period in the Vostok ice core, where the lag of CO2 is thus large, that temperature (and methane levels) reached its minimum and ice sheet buildup its maximum, before CO2 levels start to decline. The subsequent decline of 40 ppmv in CO2 level has no measurable effect on temperature (within the accuracy of the measurements). See:
    This points to a small influence of CO2 on temperature (for a 40 ppmv change).

    Thus the ice core temperature-CO2 correlation doesn’t tell anything about the influence of CO2 on temperature. And projecting the pre-industrial trend on the current higher CO2 levels is not appropriate…

    [Response: Ferdinand, you have not understood (or may not have read) anything about the interpretation of the CO2 ice core and temperature record we have written on RealClimate, and certainly not what has been published in the literature. Used carefully in conjunction with a bit of physics, the record provides a very valuable confirmation that the Earth’s sensitivity to CO2 is really in the range of that of the models. What you have written above is just nonsense, and it is nonsense we’ve gone over here many times before. –raypierre]

    Comment by Ferdinand Engelbeen — 17 Jan 2007 @ 5:25 PM

  113. I sort of agree with old Frosty re “in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.”

    My main complaint with the film was that Gore did not mention anything about potential positive feedbacks leading to much greater warming, and possibly a mass extinction level epoch. While scientists have to be cautious in their claims, requiring 95% certainty, environmentalists, potential victims, and people lving in the world can and should look at less certain dangerous possibilities. Now, of course, when runaway warming maxima does hit earth in some billions of years, everything will burn up (it’s just not much of a concern right now), but even during runaway warming minima (if it happens this time around) things could get a lot hotter than implied in Gore’s film.

    I didn’t take the film as political strategy at all (though that may have been a minor consideration), but more like an apology for not speaking out more during his vice-presidency and campaign. Gore is a very decent gentleman. I know Gore worked hard to make government energy efficient – to the tune of saving us tax-payers over a $billion a year (one of two back page stories about global warming to get into the Chicago Trib in 1995, the same year scientific studies were coming in at 95% certainty re AGW). And I realize the vice presidency is more “behind-the-scenes,” but I think he does probably regret not speaking out more (also during his campaign) on this most important (hot-potato) issue. Also, I’d like to thank Gore for his EARTH IN BALANCE, and daring to tell Ted Koppel that GW-denialists are getting money from fossil fuel industries — leading to Koppel’s pro-con Nightline program, “Is Science for Sale” (disputing Gore’s claim), sponsored by Texaco, showing that at least the media are for sale.

    So the fact that the film was pretty conservative in its claims should make it excellent for those tender minds; they can learn about runaway warming in college.

    And BTW, there is another film about GW that could also be used in school, though I haven’t seen it and don’t know how good it is (I read it’s making the rounds of churches). Can’t remember the name.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 17 Jan 2007 @ 5:37 PM

  114. In the film and in his recent speeches, Gore expresses what I would characterize as “optimism” that humanity can, and will, change its fossil-fuel-burning ways and prevent catastrophic warming. Perhaps a “can do attitude” is a more appropriate characterization than “optimism”.

    So, in order to present students with a “balanced” view of the subject when An Inconvenient Truth is shown in schools, perhaps the students should also be given a presentation of the pessimistic view of James Lovelock and others who believe it is probably too late to prevent a global catastrophe, and that humanity has no future.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Jan 2007 @ 6:05 PM

  115. Re:#78
    I discussed AIT with three classes of tenth graders and some mixed groups of grades 9-12. One of the first observations was about Al Gore was a sore a looser and that they felt he should have left the footage of event surrounding the 200 election out of the film. They felt it affected his credibility. I didn’t go into this in depth with the students because I wanted to get by that issue and ask what they had learned from the film about science. I have no clear idea about why the students zeroed on that except that kids (and adults) as research shows are drawn toward things that provoke an emotional response. Knowing the population at my school I would guess that 80-90% of the parents voted for Gore in 2000 so this is not a political thing. I was not responsible or showing the video. If I had shown it as part of a science class I would have prepared certain activities that would have focused on the science but still allowed the students to question what they were viewing since I would always like to them to be skepitcal.

    As for the NSTA bashing, I have been a member of the NSTA for almost 20 years. It is an extrmemly valuable resource for science teaching. I (a rabid environmentalist) have never felt that they are pushing a political agenda (unless you think that opposing the teaching of intelligent design in the school as a political issue). As science teachers we all have choices about what to present in out classrooms and view any materials with an eye toward validitiy and bias. I have used the materials with opposing bias’ in lessons and I’m glad they are available. I may be unique in that regard and maybe the issue that should be discussed is how we prepare science teachers, lack of quality science teachers, and lack of funding for quality educational materials. Attacking the NSTA, when the video is available through other venues that they have published on the their website, very inexpensively for purchase, and probably for rent at video stores is petty.

    [Response: Nothing would have gotten 50,000 copies into science teachers’ hands faster and more effectively than simply distributing it through NSTA. This would help make up for NSTA’s nearly complete lack of attention to the global warming issue. You can draw your own conclusions about the reasons NSTA has been so unhelpful to teachers regarding global warming. What matters to me is that the NSTA change this, and start helping teachers teach about the issue. If they continue to be as unhelpful as they have been, I, and a lot of people, are going to start thinking that NSTA’s critics are right about their having been scared into submission by their funding sources. What I say to them: Make my day — prove me wrong. Meanwhile you can take a look at the history given in , and say whether you think criticism of the NSTA is petty. –raypierre]

    Comment by Susan — 17 Jan 2007 @ 6:25 PM

  116. Scotland just decided to make the DVD available to all public secondary schools and to encourage them all to show it. Educators in the schools are saying they won’t just be showing it out of context but will build it into the curriculum and use it as one resource amongst many to address climate change. Scottish Power, one of the largest energy suppliers, is covering some if not all of the cost of distributing the DVD to schools.

    Comment by Nigel Goddard — 17 Jan 2007 @ 6:42 PM

  117. RE#29

    It’s a good film but it is not the only game in town. Tom Brokaw’s show on the Discovery Channel was far more appropriate for the science classroom.

    [Response: The Brokaw/Discovery Channel documentary was excellent, and would be very useful in the classrom. Perhaps someone in this forum can provide a link to where this can be purchased. -mike]

    Comment by Drake Milton � 15 Jan 2007 @ 6:43 pm

    Check this link

    Comment by Sr. El Bryzck — 17 Jan 2007 @ 7:45 PM

  118. Re: #112

    Has anyone ever come up with a scientifically plausible mechanism whereby atmospheric CO2 concentration could go up and global average temperature not go up (and if so then any evidence that the mechanism actually operated to create the observed lags)? Given that the basic physics behind the CO2 – temperature relationship is said be rock solid, it seems to me that anyone insisting on the contrary must by sitting a some research or insight that is going to be scientific dynamite when they get around to publishing it.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 17 Jan 2007 @ 8:10 PM

  119. Re # 115
    Susan, I suspect the comments of your high school students about Gore being a loser are a reflection of the current American culture – if you are not the winner, of American Idol, Survivor, the Superbowl, the Presidency, whatever, you are a loser and basically scum. This attitude seemed to get its start a decade or two ago with the presentation of trash-talking on television shows aimed at young people. But, it has permeated political talk shows and certain cable “news” shows, etc. As other posters have noted on this thread, since the 2004 U.S. presidential election, it has been virtually impossible to hear Al Gore’s name associated with anything other than losing the election. Even if teenagers aren’t watching Hardball with Chris Matthews, Meet the Press, or the Fox News Channel, they hear the comments about Gore and that is the message that sticks with them – he is a loser. Sad but true.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 17 Jan 2007 @ 8:47 PM

  120. I showed AIT to my students a few days after it came out on DVD. Most of the 11th graders were and shocked. It scared the fool out of my 9th graders. Their response was that “the movie was boring in a good way”.
    They asked me why I showed them the movie. My response was that as a teacher this was the single most important piece of relevant science that I could give them for the entire year. They needed to know how Global Warming would affect them. In 50 years I’ll probably be dead and they will be the ones living on the earth. What I found most surprising was one parent who refused to allow her daughter to watch “that piece of political propaganda”.
    I followed the movie up with a day of discussion & information from the October 2006 Scientific American article on Mass extinction. A few weeks later we watched a Nova Science Now had web based video on mass extinction. Maybe something clicked because many students have started to brag about how they are recycling at home now. I’m proud of them.

    Comment by Kathleen Stringer — 17 Jan 2007 @ 9:08 PM

  121. Re # 83 I have to question your assertion that “Climate Catastrophe Cancelled” was produced “in association with the University of Calgary.”


    “Calgary Foundation, University of Calgary Launder Oil Industry Donations
    12 Aug 06
    A report in the Globe and Mail (Canada’s reputable national newspaper), reports today on the slick funnelling of oil industry money into an astroturf campaign to attack climate change science…

    The following excerpt explains how (the group is question is called the Friends of Science and “Mr. Jacobs” is a retired oil-explorations manager who is one of the group’s founders).

    “There was plenty of money for the anti-Kyoto cause in the oil patch, but the Friends dared not take money directly from energy companies. The optics, Mr. Jacobs acknowledges, sould have been terrible.

    This conundrum, he says, was solved by University of Calgary political scientist Barry Cooper, a well-known associate of (Canadian Prime Minister) Mr. (Stephen) Harper.

    As is his privilege as a faculty member, Prof. Cooper set up a fund at the university dubbed the Science Education Fund. Donors were encouraged to give to the fund through the Calgary Foundation, which administers charitable giving in the Calgary area and has a policy of guarding donors’ identities. The Science Education Fund, in turn, provides money for the Friends of Science, as well as Dr. (Tim) Ball’s travell expenses, according to Mr. Jacobs…”

    As a graduate of the University of Calgary, I know full well that it has benefitted from Alberta’s oil industry. But I’m quite confident the Science Education Fund and Friends of Science do not reflect any official position of the university as a whole, nor do they reflect the views of the majority of the U of C faculty (esp. the science faculty) on the subject of AGW. And I’m willing to be the U of C had no formal involvement with “Climate Catastrophe Cancelled.”

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 17 Jan 2007 @ 9:33 PM

  122. I showed this video to my science classes while we were studying heat. I had a few students who completely shut down when Gore made the joke about being the former next President of the United States. In their mind, that joke was not only in poor taste but dishonest and therefore, they couldn’t trust anything else he had to say.

    MY students were much more interested in the power point presentation than in the personal stuff.

    I wish they would make a version of just the slide show.

    Comment by Lisa — 17 Jan 2007 @ 10:04 PM

  123. Ray, I think you were selling Dan Allan a red herring there. Since without a greenhouse effect the temperature of the earth would be ~ 255K, doubling CO2 in a completely linear response would only move global temperature another 30 degrees or so to what, 315 K. Hot enough when you remember that that is an average. Move it up to 560 and you will cook the water out, leaving Venus II.

    [Response: It depends what he meant by linear extrapolation of temperature. I have no idea what he had in mind, and was just making a guess. Even going with your guess,you’ve haven’t taken ice-albedo feedback into account. If you took out the CO2, the Earth would go into a Snowball state, and the albedo would drop the global mean temperature to more like 220K. Anyway, neither my (uncharitable) interpretation of what he might have had in mind nor your more charitable one corresponds much to anything Gore actually did in the film. (unless I missed something that went by fast; I haven’t examined the film frame by frame) –raypierre]

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 17 Jan 2007 @ 10:09 PM

  124. Hi, you may prefer these sea level rise maps and animations. The details are here

    I agree that James Titus’ work is a treasure and have said so.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 17 Jan 2007 @ 10:15 PM

  125. Why did you delete my comment of yesterday? I read this website all the time it was a valid comment I am not a crank. I include my email and would appreciate an explanation.

    Comment by Regina — 17 Jan 2007 @ 10:28 PM

  126. # 118 Craig response to #112 Ferdinand
    During a glacial / interglacial transition, orbital / regional forcing is the first input for climate change. As far as I understand, GHGs, ice albedo, vegetation albedo, mineral dust are the feedbacks of this initial forcing and all these feedbacks (not just GHGs) contribute to the 5°C +/-2 °C difference.

    So, the problem is not to deny that an increase in GHGs implies an increase in surface temperature. But to quantify more precisely this link, that is climate sensitivity to GHGs, mainly CO2 for our concern. And climate sensitivity is not really “rock solid physics” for the moment, because water vapour, lapse rate and nebulosity are so difficult to simulate.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 17 Jan 2007 @ 10:32 PM

  127. re #122 [shutdown] That’s really interesting, you know. Al Gore is certainly entitled to state his opinion regarding his own political career (and the shoddy treatment he received from the corporate running dog media) just as James Hansen is entitled to mention his mistreatment at the hands of the Bush administration, as indeed he has and no doubt at the risk of his career. These people have real lives and aspirations and have been personally damaged simply because their message is unacceptable, and their experiences in the face of POWER have in large part driven them to ACT in desperate ways that today educate us to problems both in the presentation of climate change as well as in the politics of governance where science intersects with policy and the corporate agenda.

    Like it or not, the political atmosphere right now is poisonous and anyone who sticks their head up fully expects to be shot down, and IMHO is entitled and even obligated to point out when this happens.

    Now, if a student wants to “shutdown” because the crisis of global climate is tangled up with the politics of corporate greed and political duplicity, then all that tells me is that they’ve already taken sides and are going with the power. Probably cannot be helped, human weakness being what it is, but it means that the challenge we have ahead of us is just that much harder. We do not have another seven generations to get under this issue, we probably don’t even have two generations. What wakes me in the middle of the night is the thought that we might not even have ONE, and that right now is all we’ve got.

    Comment by cat black — 17 Jan 2007 @ 10:40 PM

  128. RE 122:

    MY students were much more interested in the power point presentation than in the personal stuff…I wish they would make a version of just the slide show.

    It’s called personalization and I note that a similar technique is used all the time to persuade. In fact, some, lacking science credentials but writing about science anyway, rely heavily upon the technique in order to persuade for a certain point of view.

    A clue for you might be: if the students shut down, their minds were made up. You being a teacher and all, this may cause you concern and should be impetus to reflect upon how the material is presented and why students’ minds are already made up (ancillary: how effective is the pedagogy if this is the result)?



    Comment by Dano — 17 Jan 2007 @ 10:43 PM

  129. RE#99, etc.

    The water vapor feedback issue was discussed at (Busy Week for Water Vapor, RC) , to quote from a paper on observations:

    “Moreover, the increase in downward clear sky infrared is correlated with an increase in atmospheric temperature, and also an increase in the water vapor content of the surface layer of the atmosphere. Using a simple radiation model, the authors conclude that about a third of the increase in downwelling infrared is due to the increase in atmospheric temperature,and the rest is due primarily to an increase in the water vapor content of the low level atmosphere”

    This example can also be studied using models based on the solid physical notion of dependence of water vapor content on temperature; here’s a recent paper on this: Isaac Held and Brian Soden 2006 which has this interesting statement:

    “In many popular, and in some scientific, discussions of global warming, it is implicitly assumed that the atmosphere will, in some sense, become more energetic as it warms. By the fundamental measure provided by the average vertical exchange of mass between the boundary layer and the free troposphere, the atmospheric circulation must, in fact, slow down. This large-scale constraint has little direct relevance to the question of how tropical storms will be affected by global warming, since the mass exchange in these storms is a small fraction of the total tropical exchange.â��

    This means that the oceans will be absorbing more heat as a direct consequence of the atmosphere getting moister…I think. (I used to implicitly assume that the atmosphere would get more energetic until I read that paragraph… though it can be seen that a planet with a dry atmosphere would have very strong wind patterns – so perhaps “the atmosphere can store more energy as latent heat” is the right phrase – but storms themselves can get more energetic, kinetically.) In any case, it seems that the models and the observations are converging on the issue of H2O in the atmosphere…so the answer to #99 is yes.

    As far as mechanisms for amplifying warming as the world transitioned from glacial to interglacial, there are many possibilities…methane from newly exposed high-latitude peatlands could have played a role – but it seems worth remembering that current rates of atmospheric CO2 increase are far greater (30X) then anything seen in the ice cores.

    To get back to the original topic, the film is perfect for science classes – it shows that physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics are fundamental to understanding the planet we live on, and for the NSTA to refuse to distribute it when they distribute many other films that discuss fossil fuels is ridiculous – assuming that the real intent of that organization is to promote science education, that is.

    Translating these very complex notions into more easily comprehended material is exactly what the film being discussed does.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 18 Jan 2007 @ 2:22 AM

  130. I am glad the NSTA turned Laurie David’s offer down. She also wanted an endorsement from them, which they don’t do, so David instead had her one-sided diatribe published in the Washington Post.

    To mail a DVD probably costs around a dollar. That multi-millionaire David would refuse to pay the postage to do this implies a stinginess of spirit that runs contrary to her environmental concerns.

    Lastly, that RealClimate (of all places) would entertain only David’s side of the story without publishing any of the NSTA’s response to this David-generated controversy, surprises me. I expected better.

    Comment by Paul G — 18 Jan 2007 @ 3:43 AM

  131. Re “this is similar to how the increase in atmospheric CO2 in the 20th century has led to an increase in atmospheric H2O vapor, itself a greenhouse gas that is also helping to warm the surface.

    Has it? Could you point me to the documented research showing that atmospheric H2O content actually increased over the last century. Do we really have a reliable network for such measurements, sufficient for drawing statistically valid conclusions?”

    Do a Google search on “Clausius-Clapeyron law.” As the world warms, more water vapor enters the atmosphere, all else being equal.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Jan 2007 @ 6:32 AM

  132. Re “Has anyone ever come up with a scientifically plausible mechanism whereby atmospheric CO2 concentration could go up and global average temperature not go up (and if so then any evidence that the mechanism actually operated to create the observed lags)? Given that the basic physics behind the CO2 – temperature relationship is said be rock solid, it seems to me that anyone insisting on the contrary must by sitting a some research or insight that is going to be scientific dynamite when they get around to publishing it.”

    I suppose if you could demonstrate that relative humidity went down as CO2 went up, so that the water-vapor feedback was negative, that could do it. I don’t know what the mechanism for accomplishing that could possibly be, though.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Jan 2007 @ 6:49 AM

  133. Cathy Young’s article in “Reason”. I quote the following:
    “Similarly, those on the left who embrace environmentalism as their substitute religion don’t want to hear about scientific and technological solutions to climate change — from nuclear power to geoengineering, the artificial manipulation of the global environment — that do not include stepping up regulation and curbing consumption.”

    General media quotes like the above are disturbing because they rely upon the classic “strawman” form of argument, ie. grossly distort a person or persons statement, prove the absurdity of the distorted statement, then assert the distortion is equivalent to the unstated and actual position of the victim. Such debating techniques, in my opinion, belie the writer’s own lack of confidence in the factual and logical foundation of their own statements. These are mechanical debating tricks, not sincere attempts to engage in a constructive and respectful dialogue.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 18 Jan 2007 @ 7:33 AM

  134. If it hasn’t been mentioned beforehand, this suggestion by the Weather Channel’s Heidi Cullen is interesting:

    “If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn’t agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns….”

    Comment by jhm — 18 Jan 2007 @ 7:55 AM

  135. Re: 131

    All else is never equal in reality. Have you ever heard of feedbacks? The question was very specifically asked about observations. Yet you find it appropriate to answer with the reference to the law. How about staying on the subject?

    Comment by Sashka — 18 Jan 2007 @ 9:42 AM

  136. It appears to me that the “political” connotation must arise any time human actions impact anything, so any science issue relating to sustainability necessarily is political. I’d be hard pressed to find an area of 21st century science education, at least at the primary and secondary levels, that doesn’t have political aspects. In my view, the “it’s political” rationale for avoiding discussion of AGW and other science issues in schools is lame and is a pretty fair gauge of the poor state of our overall science education in the U.S. I suppose I find it funny that a journalist and educator who also was an elected official should not be allowed to present a science-related program, but some of the opponents are happy to have theologians do it. In a way, Gore as an informed politician is in one of the best positions to address AGW because he has experience with the realities of making change in a discordant society. He also has perspective on AGW’s potential social impact, particularly the prospect of war in a well-armed and increasingly stressed and starved world. I also would venture that anyone who has followed climate change seriously for as many years as Gore has likely would come to his essential position, with some allowance for differences in optimism. It would be an interesting experiment to produce another AIT with the same information but with a different narrator–a younger Charlston Heston, for example–and see what arguments against showing it pour forth then. Maybe the question is whether people prefer the story with the tiger, or the story without the tiger.

    Among the previous comments that bother me the most are these two about/from children: “I detect a growing bitterness among students concerning, not only the misinformation presented in the media in the interests of balance, but the discouraging environmental legacy being left them.” “One quote from a kid: “yeah, well, it really sucks, but nobody’s going to give up their car, so we’re screwed.”” I fear the reaction that could come from that sort of anger on the one hand and fatalism on the other would contribute to a positive feedback loop of increasingly negative consequences. “I wonder if Honorius, watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill, truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall.”

    Comment by ghost — 18 Jan 2007 @ 10:02 AM

  137. Re: 122 and Gore as the “former next president of the US”.

    I can’t understand why students would feel this was dishonest. The term “the next president of the US” is used regularly during presidential campaigns. It was regularly applied to both Bush and Gore during the 2000 presidential race by their respective partisans, starting with the conventions.

    Gore’s comment was meant as a wry self deprecating joke about himself, and anyone who lived through that election and the controversy about Florida’s electoral vote would know that. Gore would certainly be within his rights to claim that he should have been president rather than Bush. After all, he did get a plurality of the popular vote. But as far as I can tell, he has never maintained that or publicly questioned the legitimacy of Bush’s presidency since he conceded the election. Of course, some of Lisa’s students may not be up on their history, but, if so, that would have been a good time for her to teach them some.

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 18 Jan 2007 @ 10:53 AM

  138. In looking over the comments of those who have raised some objections to showing A.I.T. in science classes, once I discount the outright Gore-haters and Swift-boaters, I notice two underlying sources of discontent:

    * Gore doesn’t tell the whole story with all its caveats and complications (e.g. with respect to the correlation between ice-core CO2 and temperature, or the juxtaposition of Katrina footage with a general discussion of global warming consequences, or in the use the somewhat speculative (but entirely possible) amplified sea-level rise).

    *The film is not “pure science” but is in part a work of advocacy.

    There is of course some truth in both of these statements, but I believe neither objection is a valid reason for shying away from showing the film in class.

    With regard to the “whole story” point, some readers seem to think we’re advocating that this film be the one and only classroom resource for teaching about anthropogenic global warming. However, nobody is going to learn everything they need to know about the subject from one film, or even on PhD thesis, one IPCC report or one lifetime! Education is an ongoing process, and A.I.T. should be the starting point for further study,not the be all and end all. It’s especially suitable as a starting point since it’s a great motivator, and while it may leave out some caveats, it does a remarkably good job of getting the big picture right and pointing students in the right direction. Anybody pursuing the question of just how exactly to interpret the ice core record will be lead into some very good science and very interesting questions. This contrasts with the outright misleading material put out by skeptics’ organizations, which when followed up lead to dead-ends and bad science.

    With regard to advocacy, well of course there’s some advocacy there. Most of us who have studied the issue seriously can’t help but being alarmed at what is likely to happen to the planet, and this makes it humanly impossible to avoid showing a certain amount of passion about action. Does anybody really think Gore, the producer, the director would make a movie like this just because of some vague curiosity about radiative transfer? No, of course they want you to actually do something, though they refrain from saying just what that should be. That said, the places where advocacy intrudes is more in a matter of tone than actual screen time. It really is mostly about the science.

    But even insofar as there is some advocacy there, why should that prevent showing it in school? Schools and society as a whole are legitimately into advocacy big-time, when there is an important issue at stake. Back in WWII there was that “Is This Trip Necessary” gasoline conservation campaign. Who’s into advocacy in schools more than the abstinence crowd? Or the campaigns against drugs, alcohol or smoking? Or bullying? It’s true one needs to be cautious with what one advocates, hopefully limiting it to advocacy of practices that are actually effective and defensible, but advocating carbon consciousness in students strikes me as every bit as legitimate as advocating avoidance of drugs. There is a legitimate concern about whether the advocacy aspects of A.I.T. make it unsuitable for science classes per se, but that’s a judgement call. I would defend the view that the rather modest advocacy aspect of A.I.T. combined with the inextricable interplay between science and policy issues in global warming make the film suitable for science classes.

    Perhaps the best solution would be to show the film in mandatory assemblies outside science classes, as one reader suggests, and then have follow-up discussions in science classes, history classes, economics classes and even (where allowed) theology or religion classes.

    Comment by raypierre — 18 Jan 2007 @ 11:14 AM

  139. Anyone not concerned about climate change these days must be living in a not-so-parallel universe. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has been providing material to science teachers for years on this issue, so it was a surprise to find ourselves criticized for not being willing to endorse the DVD, An Inconvenient Truth.

    Promotion was never the issue. We offered the production company a link to NSTA’s website for teachers to request a copy; our mailing list so they could mail the DVD; we would promote the DVD’s availability through our communications channels, , and create an online message board for teachers on climate change. They never responded to any of these.

    It seems that they wanted the NSTA logo on the mailing and mass distribution, which, to my mind, would look like an endorsement. Our Board of Directors, in 2001, passed a no public endorsement policy for three reasons:
    – We would have to hire experts to conduct a peer review for each request;
    – Once we started endorsing, we could anticipate a flood of requests on a wide range of scientific topics; and
    – We’d need more staff just to handle the process, and between staff and process: It’d be a budget buster.

    But this incident has reminded us that it never hurts to review guidelines, so NSTA has asked an expert panel from the environmental, science,and science education communities to audit all of our corporate partnerships over the past five years.

    If you’d like to see how we handled this current issue, please visit

    Gerry Wheeler, Executive Director
    National Science Teachers Association

    [Response: I would have hoped NSTA has some in-house ability to judge the credibility of science on a level that would have made it obvious that A.I.T. is sound science. If your vetting procedures are so fastidious, how did you manage to distribute a 19-part Conoco-Philips funded co-produced video that featured comments by scientifically discredited skeptic Balling? If you are so careful about endorsements, how did you wind up endorsing the book by Kenneth Green, who ekes out his politically motivated agenda at the American Enterprise Institute? It’s incredible that you should be surprised that the NSTA’s reputation should take such a big hit from its decision over A.I.T. You can hardly be surprised that to a lot of the outside world it looks like all excuses and cover-up. That’s all water under the bridge now. The main thing is that, so far as a lot of us have been able to tell by looking around the NSTA web site, the resources provided for teaching about global warming seem to be thin and poorly organized. If they’re there, they are exceedingly hard to find. The important thing is to move forward, and the best way to move forward is to provide a central place on your site where you collect pointers to resources available for teaching about global warming. If you do that effectively, I’m sure that people will forget the gaffe over A.I.T. in a year or two. If funding is short, perhaps BP/Amoco, which at least in its public stance has more credibility on global warming than ExxonMobil, could be cultivated as a source. –raypierre]

    Comment by Gerald F. Wheeler — 18 Jan 2007 @ 11:33 AM

  140. #129 Ike
    Thanks for the link. As Raypierre explained in his precise comments, observations of Philipona et al. concern surface energy budget, not TOA energy budget. So, this work does not deal directly with water vapour feedback as we discuss it for AGW (but Soden 2005, discussed in the same RC article, is more interesting). I’m going to read Held & Soden 2006 piece. But according to the abstract, it is a model intercomparison, not the observations required by #99 question.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 18 Jan 2007 @ 11:53 AM

  141. I think this would be a great lesson for Jr/Sr Science classes – if only to watch the movie then discuss/quantify the amount of carbon dioxide Al Gore contributed to the atmosphere with all his airplane flights, limo rides, and fancy computer equipment.

    Comment by Mikael — 18 Jan 2007 @ 12:54 PM

  142. I have to say that I am rather disappointed in RC. I would have hoped that “real climate scientists” would choose to pick their battles more carefully. How do you expect to convince any but the hard-core converted of your scientifically based arguments by picking on the NSTA and, by association, on science teachers in general?

    I am sorry, raypiere, but to someone not involved in your little tiff, the “excuses and cover-up” that you refer to appear mostly to be reasonable statements. Furthermore, your continued harping on this point and wild insinuations give the appearance of a fanaticism bordering on paranoia.

    So, what is the casual reader left with? Just this: watch out and toe the party line or the global warming Nazis will come after you. (Perhaps climate scientists fail to realize that there is plenty more science out there than just climate science.) I fail to see how this is a winning position to take.

    Comment by Brian — 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:05 PM

  143. Brian wrote in #142: “I am sorry, raypiere, but to someone not involved in your little tiff, the ‘excuses and cover-up’ that you refer to appear mostly to be reasonable statements.”

    I believe that the “excuses and cover-up” that raypierre refers to include the fact that while NSTA Executive Director Gerald Wheeler says that NTSA adopted a “no public endorsement policy” in 2001, in 2003, Gerald Wheeler himself acted as executive producer of a 10-part video funded by ConocoPhillips, which promoted fossil fuels; twenty thousand copies of that video were distributed; and an April 2003 news release quotes Mr. Wheeler thus with regard to that project (emphasis added):

    “The partnership between the National Science Teachers Association and ConocoPhillips has produced a very valuable tool for our nation’s science teachers. ‘The Search for Solutions’ video series brings their students vivid, real-life examples of the nature of science and technology, a much-needed resource.”

    Science teacher and journalist John Borowski has also documented that sections of the NSTA website regarding NSTA’s additional “partnerships” with ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute have been removed since Laurie David’s op-ed publicized NSTA’s letter declining to distribute free copies of An Inconvenient Truth because it would upset their “funding sources”.

    “Excuses and cover-up” are an entirely appropriate characterization of Mr. Wheeler’s and the NSTA’s behavior, which as Mr. Wheeler’s comment above illustrates, continues to this day.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:28 PM

  144. RE#142… the global warming Nazis? Well, here is NSTA’s response to this issue (via email):

    “Dear Colleague: Thank you for your recent e-mail expressing your opinion about the National Science Teacher Association’s decision in regard to the DVD “An Inconvenient Truth.” We value each and every comment we have received from our members and friends.

    First and foremost, we want to ensure that you have the most current and accurate information about the issue. Ms. Laurie David, producer of AIT, asked NSTA to distribute 50,000 copies of the movie to its members. The NSTA Board of Directors stood by its 2001 NSTA policy prohibiting endorsements and decided not to mass distribute the DVD to members without their consent or request because it would constitute an endorsement.

    As you will see in the letter that NSTA sent to Ms. David on Thursday, November 30, 2006 ( ) we provided her with several options to publicize the availability of the DVD to both our members and the wider universe of science educators worldwide via our communication channels. We also invited Mr. Gore to participate at the NSTA National Conference in March. This information and more is available on our website at We encourage you to read these documents.

    Linda Froschauer
    President 2006-2007
    National Science Teachers Association

    Gerald Wheeler
    Executive Director
    National Science Teachers Association”

    However, NSTA endorses many books and films (see #20, #35, #42, etc.) and did distribute the ConocoPhillips film, in apparent violation of their 2001 NSTA policy prohibiting endorsements. Taken right from the NSTA website, 2003 is this quote:

    “Houston, Texas, April 22, 2003 – ConocoPhillips [NYSE:COP] is continuing a long tradition of promoting excellence in science learning through the newest release of its Search for Solutions video series….The Search for Solutions video series was distributed recently to more than 20,000 science teachers in the United States free of charge.”

    Comment by Ike Solem — 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:33 PM

  145. Science teacher and journalist John Borowski writes:

    Will 10,000-14,000 teachers return home with more oil and coal propaganda after attending the NSTA national conference March 29-April 1, 2007, in St. Louis? Know this: teachers go to these conferences for ideas and materials. The ongoing joke about attending a NSTA conference is this, “Bring two suitcases: one for your clothes and one for all the freebies!”

    I am an environmental science teacher of 26 years and I have a steamer trunk of materials from NSTA’s past conferences:

    Project Learning Tree’s Energy module, supported by API’s Red Cavaney who wants ANWR opened, opposes the Kyoto Treaty, and wants more public land opened to energy exploration.

    Lesson plans, coloring books, free coal samples from the American Coal Foundation – minus any substantive discussion, let alone mention of climate change.

    Lessons and videos from a group that was called the “Greening Earth Society,” funded by the Western Fuels Association. The message of the film was firm and academically clear: There is no human-induced climate change.

    If NSTA Executive Director Gerald Wheeler is reading the comments posted here, I would like to ask him how the NSTA justifies the distribution of the materials listed above at its conferences, in light of its alleged “non-endorsement” policy dating from 2001?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:37 PM

  146. RE#140,

    Charles, see comment #22 by Tom Huntington at

    There is plenty of evidence that atmospheric water vapor in increasing. For your convenience from above:

    Held, I.M., and B.J. Soden. Submitted. Robust responses of the hydrological cycle to global warming. Submitted to J. Clim. 2005

    Johannessen, O.M., K. Khvorostovsky, M.W. Miles, and L.P. Bobylev. 2005. Recent Ice-Sheet Growth in the Interior of Greenland. Science 310:1013 – 1016.

    Kundzewicz, Z.W., D. Graczyk, T. Maurer, I. Piskwar, M. Radziejewski, C. Svensson, and M. Szwed. 2005. Trend detection in river flow series: 1. Annual maximum flow. Hydrol. Sci. J. 50:797-810.

    Milly, P.C.D., K.A. Dunne, and A.V. Vecchia. 2005. Global pattern of trends in streamflow and water availability in a changing climate. Nature 438:347-.

    Philipona, R., B. Dürr, A. Ohmura, and C. Ruckstuhl. 2005. Anthropogenic greenhouse forcing and strong water vapor feedback increase temperature in Europe. Geophys. Res. Lett. 32:L19809, doi:10.1029/2005GL023624.

    Schwartz, M.d., R. Ahas, and A. Ahas. 2006. Onset of spring starting earlier across the Northern Hemisphere. Global Change Biol. 12:343-351.

    Soden, B.J., D.L. Jackson, V. Ramaswamy, M.D. Schwarzkopf, and X. Huang. 2005. The radiative signature of upper tropospheric moistening. Science 310:841 – 844.

    Trenberth, K.E., J. Fasullo, and L. Smith. 2005. Trends and variability in column-integrated atmospheric water vapor. Climate Dynamics 24:741-758.

    Zwally, H.J., M.B. Giovinetto, J. Li, H.G. Cornejo, M.A. Beckley, A.C. Brenner, J.L. Saba, and D. Yi. 2005. Mass changes of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and shelves and contributions to sea-level rise: 1992-2002. Journal of Glaciology 51:509-527.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:40 PM

  147. Exxon’s PR: Exxon-Backed Pundit Compares Gore To Nazi …

    Mr. Wheeler, would you respond to the comments on the Exxon Valdez program you make available? See #44 above.

    Both for Mr. Wheeler and Ray — seems what’s missing is a module that ought to accompany any program the NTSA offers, whether it’s an industry PR piece or science. That would be “what are the statements made here; where are the cites for them found; what is the quality of the sources used; what are the more recent cites since the program was made; what can we learn from the way science is done on this issue?”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:40 PM

  148. Re: 118

    Has anyone ever come up with a scientifically plausible mechanism whereby atmospheric CO2 concentration could go up and global average temperature not go up

    Lindzen did a lot of work where he tries to show that actual sensitivity to CO2 forcing is a lot lower than what the GCMs suggest. Needless to say, he is not a part of the consensus.

    [Response: Lindzen proposed in the 80’s that convection would adjust the lapse rate more than the moist adiabat would, weakening global warming and eliminating the possibility of runaway greenhouse on any planet. That turned out to be wrong. Lindzen proposed in the 90’s that convection would dry out the troposphere, leading to negative water vapor feedback. That turned out to be wrong. Lindzen proposed (based on exceedingly weak microphysical arguments and even weaker observational evidence) that cloud fraction feedbacks would strongly damp tropical warming. It’s certainly worth working harder on cloud fraction, but so far independent researchers trying to follow up Lindzen’s “Iris” idea have not found any significant support for it and much against it. It’s not utterly impossible, but it’s no more likely (indeed probably less likely) than the possibility that other cloud feedbacks could amplify warming beyond current expectations. The paleoclimate record argues strongly against any pronounced cloud stabilizing feedback. If you like, you can view Lindzen’s IRIS feedback as potentially, as a wild-card, extending the range of forecasts somewhat deeper into the lower end. It does not reduce the prospects that the more threatening higher-end scenarios are right, though. –raypierre]

    Comment by Sashka — 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:59 PM

  149. re: 142. Goodness. If NTSA is unable to support the sound science presented in AIT yet has no issue distributing a Conoco-Philips funded co-produced video or endorsing a book with AEI ties, it is essential and vital that actual climate scientists such as those at RC speak up. It is essential for true science education for climate scientists to point out where the train has clearly jumped the tracks. That NTSA has kow-towed to a very small yet vocal minority funded by large corporations with vested interests is simply a horrible reflection on the state of science education. Of course the reference to “Global warming Nazis” speaks volumes about your non-objective perspective about science.

    Comment by Dan — 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:59 PM

  150. RE the personal stuff Gore includes, I think that’s the heart of it (everyone should know all about GW by now anyway).

    He and his family were tobacco growers; his sister died from lung cancer; they came to the understanding that their business was harmful (while most tobacco companies and even smokers would simply ignore the evidence); they got out of the business. That is heroism. That is what we need to do, get out of the business of pumping GHGs into the atmosphere. And we don’t even need to be very heroic and reduce our living standard to do so — at least up to 75% reductions. If we could be one-tenth as heroic as Gore and his family, perhaps we might lick this problem.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 18 Jan 2007 @ 2:03 PM

  151. Just popped in to say thank you to Raypierre for noticing my piece on the NSTA and their duplicitous actions regarding the film. I spent quite a bit of time on that, and I’m happy to see it put to good use.

    Although my piece was aimed specifically at the process by which the film was rejected for distribution, Shelley Batts over at Retrospectacle makes a sound argument for the film’s inclusion in Science Curricula, basing her thoughts on (wait for it) the science, rather than the political PR campaign against science by the current resident of the White House.

    Don’t take my word for it. Go ask …y’know… a scientist. Scienceblogs is full of them.

    Comment by JanieBelle — 18 Jan 2007 @ 2:07 PM

  152. Typo re: 148. Should read “NSTA” both times. My apologies.

    Comment by Dan — 18 Jan 2007 @ 2:45 PM

  153. Re #150: Do you (or anyone else reading this) actually have a copy of the 2001 non-endorsement policy? I was unable to find it on the NSTA site, nor have I seen it quoted anywhere else during the course of this imbroglio. Being a picky sort, I wonder if the policy a) exists and b) actually did bar sending out the DVD under these circumstances.

    Also, it may be that there is a major practical difference between the NSTA sending out the DVD to its entire mailing list vs. selling the list to the producers for them to send out independently, which is that the list that is sold is smaller and potentially far smaller if the NSTA requires a positive opt-in. Does anyone know how big the for-sale list is? As well, the NSTA would have charged for that list. One begins to understand why the producers got upset when this is the kind of option the NSTA gave them.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 18 Jan 2007 @ 3:16 PM

  154. Raypierre does not provide a link to NSTA endorsing AEI scholar Kenneth Green. Here it is:

    Comment by Thom — 18 Jan 2007 @ 3:41 PM

  155. Several comments have been made about how AIT could be used in the classroom. My husband is a high school social studies teacher in Seattle and is planning to show AIT as a part of an economics unit – understanding the economic costs of environmental issues – both costs and benefits of addressing these issues and costs of ignoring them. So it’s not just science teachers using this fabulous film.

    Comment by Julia R — 18 Jan 2007 @ 3:55 PM

  156. As Thom points out above, NSTA endorses Global Warming: Understanding the Debate by Kenneth Green of the American Enterprise Institute on the “NSTA Recommends” section of its website.

    Here are some of Kenneth Green’s contributions to the “debate”, from his articles found on the American Enterprise Institute’s website:

    “Environmentalists, who have long espoused a version of humankind as an energy-powered cancer on the Earth, see greenhouse-gas controls as a way to starve out the tumor of humanity.”

    “Temperance fiends of all stripes — who’ve hated fossil fuels, cars, large houses, urban sprawl, highways, rich people, fat people, industrial economies, airplanes, meat consumption, non-recycled paper, and just about everything else that might make someone smile — see energy rationing via greenhouse-gas controls as the answer to their prayers.”

    “One-worlders and other socialist sorts have seen the potential for finally giving the U.N. control over all the commanding heights of the world by giving them control of a key driver of development.”

    “Alarmist climate scientists are increasingly the object of derision by people with enough power to reach even the general public. Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, for example, has educated millions of readers about climate science.”

    “While the would-be greenhouse gas police will continue to wave away critics, the inconvenient truth is that greenhouse gas reduction is not simply a matter of plugging in compact fluorescent bulbs or driving hybrid cars — it’s a matter of having the government impose controls over virtually all energy-related aspects of our daily lives.”

    “Here’s the plain truth: There is significant evidence that human actions may well be a major factor in global warming — but it is not conclusive, and there are still fundamental questions to be answered.”

    I would like NSTA Executive Director Gerald Wheeler to explain why the NSTA endorses a book by the author of the above comments, recommending it to science teachers via the NSTA website, while NSTA asserts that endorsing An Inconvenient Truth would violate its policy.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 18 Jan 2007 @ 4:52 PM

  157. Hi RealClimate, I am a big fan of your site and I am hoping someone there can help out. I am in Melbourne, Australia and we continue to get these type of articles in our press.

    I feel I have the understanding to show that what this guy has written is tripe, but with no credentials in the field, probably wouldn’t get it published. Is it possible for someone there to whip up a response and send it to The Age?

    Comment by Tosh — 18 Jan 2007 @ 5:03 PM

  158. Re: 148 (comment)

    I wonder whether Lindzen agrees with your assessment that it turned out to be wrong. Also, didn’t you propose another feedback mechanism in the “Radiator Fins” paper?

    [Response: Lindzen no longer defends either the negative water vapor feedback or the super-adiabatic lapse rate feedback. Among other things, the 1980’s paper on the convective lapse rate feedback had a major error in the radiation calculation, which allowed the emissivities to become bigger than one for very moist atmospheres (a physical impossibility for actual atmospheres). That wasn’t the main problem with the hypothesis, but it’s worth keeping in mind that being smart does not protect you from making major errors — a remark that I think sums up Lindzen’s whole approach to climate change rather well. I don’t know that he has ever formally withdrawn his support for the hypotheses in print, but he was on my IPCC chapter in the Third Assessment Report and did not raise any objections to either the standard adiabatic picture of tropical lapse rate or the general idea that fixed relative humidity turns out to be an approximately correct picture of what water vapor does. He still gives talks on the Iris cloud feedback idea, so he hasn’t given up on that (yet) but I haven’t seen anything new that really addresses the problems with the idea. I don’t know of any independent cloud experts that have found any real support for the idea that warming will cause a reduction in cloud fraction, and quite a number have examined it. The data and the physics are difficult though, so I wouldn’t say that the Iris idea is as dead as his other ideas. Just not very well supported, if at all. There’s more literature on this than would reasonably fit into a comment, and I’m aware that we ought to do a RealClimate piece on the Iris one of these days. It’s just not much fun,it’s messy, and there are more interesting things to talk about — like the piece on recent discoveries in the Eocene arctic which I keep promising but never seem to get around to! –raypierre]

    [Response: I forgot to respond to your question about the Radiator Fin paper. You’re a good reader! I’m gratified you know about this. That paper was an attempt to clarify the way subtropical water vapor affects the climate,and so I considered some rather extreme and peculiar limits. I like extreme and peculiar limits, because a lot of issues are best revealed in the extremes. In the one I focused on in that paper, there are circumstances in which increasing the water vapor content of a dry part of the atmosphere can indeed have the perverse effect of cooling the entire tropical atmosphere and reducing the maximum temperature of the tropics. However, in my later Chapman water vapor article from the millennial variability book (available on my web site), I pointed out why the Earth’s real tropics isn’t in this regime. I also pointed out there that in the other extreme limit — where the subtropical relative humidity increases from its present value, which it has plenty of room to do — the warming can be amplified far in excess of what standard climate models predict. The point of that is that water vapor effects actually have a great potential to alter climate in the catastrophic change direction. Still, as an example of a physically possible situation where increasing a GHG can decrease a surface temperature, this one serves. It’s quite similar to the more familiar case of the stratosphere, which cools in response to increased CO2. The conclusion that the Earth’s atmosphere is not in the regime described in my JAS paper is based on pretty robust reasoning. –raypierre]

    Comment by Sashka — 18 Jan 2007 @ 5:12 PM

  159. #138 and #142. I am sorry to see that the decline of RC from scientific objectivity to political subjectivity continues to accelerate. Perhaps frequent visits over to here might assist with slowing the decline. Based on the opening statement in #138 I did a search on the thread for ‘hate’ and got no hits. How does one rationally/objectively determine that a post reflects hate of Al Gore if the words are not in the post? I don’t know how to do a search for ‘swift-boating’. How does one objectively determine that a post contains ‘swift-boating’? And all the while mike continues to make subjective judgements based on a reader’s post containing the word ‘Algore’. And all at the same time RC insists that the political leanings of its leaders should have no place in RC. The political leanings of the leaders of RC have been made very clear by the leaders themselves. And that in itself is proof of the decline of the scientific content of RC.

    This thread would have much-better served the scientific basis of RC if a discussion of a peer-reviewed paper was the subject.

    Comment by Dan Hughes — 18 Jan 2007 @ 5:22 PM

  160. === Post # 139 raypierre commented: ====

    [Response: (long verbatim quotation deleted by raypierre. Scroll back to comment –raypierre)]


    Raypierre, do you have expertise on the policies and procedures of the NSTA or are you just spouting whatever comes to mind?

    Did you ever ask whether Laurie David followed correct procedures in asking for AIT to be offered to teachers?
    Or was she just itching for a fight (which the public already knows she has a tendency to do)?

    From what I’ve read, she simply e-mailed the NSTA, was rejected, then recounted her biased view of the issue in the Washington Post. And she’s too cheap to cover the postage when offered a legitimate avenue to get AIT into classrooms.

    Your slur against the NSTA and their corporate funding verges on slander and demeans this site also. I am VERY disappointed in the intimidatory stance you have taken on this issue, especially on this site.


    [Response: I’ve provided links to all the sources, including Laurie David’s op-ed, the NSTA response, and further analysis of NSTA’s activities. People can read this for themselves and judge whether the situation is as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be. Also, people can look at the NSTA web site for themselves and pass judgement on whether the coverage of global warming is adequate. They don’t have to take my say-so. In fact, if there are NSTA members out there reading this, I would be very interested to hear about NSTA materials or activities relating to climate change which they have used. Please defend NSTA not just by repeating their official policy statement, but by showing concrete examples of the way they support teaching about climate change. I would love to be proved wrong, but even if it is the case that NSTA has resources that I haven’t found, it is a pretty firm conclusion that their web site does not make it particularly easy to find them. The object is not to “intimidate” NSTA, but to cause things to get better in this regard. That requires less defensiveness on the part of NSTA, and more constructive response to the issues people have raised. –raypierre]

    Comment by Paul G — 18 Jan 2007 @ 5:46 PM

  161. “And BTW, there is another film about GW that could also be used in school, though I haven’t seen it and don’t know how good it is (I read it’s making the rounds of churches). Can’t remember the name.”

    Re: #113 – As a Catholic I can tell you that the Church is beginning to develop a perspective toward and teaching about global climate change, led by statements of the Pope. The impact of climate change on the undeveloped world is of particular interest.

    I regret to say, though, that public figures like Gore are not acceptable spokesmen on the issue for many Catholics because of postitions they have taken toward other social issues.

    Therefore, if there are other materials and other spokesmen (grammatical gender intended) who are not involved in tangential issues, please do hunt them down.

    You can contact me at:

    Comment by Pavel Chichikov — 18 Jan 2007 @ 5:56 PM

  162. Lynn Vincentnathan wrote: “there is another film about GW that could also be used in school, though I haven’t seen it and don’t know how good it is (I read it’s making the rounds of churches). Can’t remember the name.”

    Pavel Chichikov wrote: “public figures like Gore are not acceptable spokesmen on the issue for many Catholics because of postitions they have taken toward other social issues. Therefore, if there are other materials and other spokesmen (grammatical gender intended) who are not involved in tangential issues, please do hunt them down.”

    I think the film that Lynn was thinking of may be The Great Warming. It is narrated by singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette and actor Keanu Reeves.

    The website for the film has an “information kit” for “churches or synagogues” that are considering showing it, with letters of endorsement from several religious leaders.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 18 Jan 2007 @ 6:10 PM

  163. Re: #160 –
    “I think the film that Lynn was thinking of may be The Great Warming….

    “The website for the film has an “information kit” for “churches or synagogues” that are considering showing it, with letters of endorsement from several religious leaders. ”

    The film looks interesting. Evangelicals are considered allies in many cases, but an endorsement of the film by the National Council of Churches might not go over well with many Catholics.

    A friend of mine sits on the committee for Social Communications, which meets in the Vatican. The Catholic Church can mobilize literally millions of people if motivated.

    This is going to be tough – but one has to start somewhere, some time.

    [Response: Of the many global warming talks I’ve given this year and last fall, one was at the Sheil Catholic Center, which is the student/faculty Catholic association at Northwestern University. The experience was very gratifying. The turnout was great, they gave me two hours to talk so I could cover both science and ethics, and still stayed around for another hour for questions and discussion. I found a great deal of common ground with this very devout bunch. It is important for groups to be able to work together on things they agree on, even if there are other areas where they are completely at odds. –raypierre]

    Comment by Pavel Chichikov — 18 Jan 2007 @ 6:42 PM

  164. #146
    Thanks for new references here and in the other post. Alas, except Soden 2005, that’s not of real concern for water vapour trend in the different layers of the troposphere. Hydrological cycle, rivers flow or ice melting does not tell us if there is an increase in WV unsaturated absorption band, mainly in middle and upper troposphere (even Soden 2005 methodology from T2-T12 channels is limited to clear sky conditions, but for sure, it’s an interesting preliminary result).

    Comment by Charles Muller — 18 Jan 2007 @ 7:01 PM

  165. re:158. The very use of the term “Algore” is nothing but pejorative. You can easily research the origins of the term. To imply otherwise is quite disingenuous to say the least. Especially when the original post (post #12) failed to provide any scientific comment or criticism about AIT. Interesting that you did not criticize that but you complain about the political responses to it. The science behind global warming is quite sound and solid. Political views are irrelevant to the overall sound scientific results and conclusions as presented in AIT. Al Gore or anyone else presenting factual information about global warming should be cheered, not jeered.

    Comment by Dan — 18 Jan 2007 @ 7:11 PM

  166. Re #150: I have read that several years passed between the death of Gore’s sister and the cessation of the family’s tobacco farming. I’m not certain that this is true (and I hesitated to give ammunition to the Philistines before I remembered that truth is irrelevant to them), but if so, it puts a different light on that part of the film. All autobiographies are works of fiction to some extent, of course, and personal history is distinct from science, but I see this as a legitimate concern. We (North Americans) live in a culture where figures from popular culture command much more respect than legitimate authorities. I would prefer to see a lecture by raypierre at a chalkboard rather than a celebrity-announced movie with whizbang graphics, but I’m not the intended audience; I’m afraid competence at science is rarely found in combination with good salesmanship.

    [Response: Ah, but you didn’t see me playing accordion and giving away compact flourescents last fall at the Evanston Farmers’ market! You should see what I can do when they pry the chalk loose from my fingers. –raypierre]

    Comment by S. Molnar — 18 Jan 2007 @ 7:45 PM

  167. Re Sashka’s comment 118 and Ray’s response:
    First, despite his efforts to discredit the consensus, I doubt it is fair to say Lindzen is not part of it. He was part of the IPCC process and, I assume, had some agreement with the output in the TAR.

    Second, more Lindzen. He’s an interesting character to me because he actually does seem to do some climate science unlike most of the other ‘sceptics’. At least I thought he did. This is from some sceptic meeting in Finland:
    In this slide show, he doesn’t refer very much to recent work.
    Down at slide 38 he refers to his own work in 1981. It’s hard for me (a non-climate scientist) to figure out what he’s saying exactly, but it seems like he’s saying that old results regarding heat transfer obviate the assumptions used in GCM’s. Ray, are you referring to this idea in your comment and, if so, is this a common problem with Lindzen? In another presentation at that meeting he defends his Iris hypothesis (rhetorically at least) from “unfounded attacks”.

    Comment by Steve Latham — 18 Jan 2007 @ 8:20 PM

  168. === Re: raypierre’s comment to Post # 160 ===

    Raypierre, you provided a link to the NSTA site, however, you failed to accurately quote any of their responses nor allow them some benefit of the doubt before swallowing Laurie David’s story lock, stock and barrel.

    Before tarring the NSTA and all teachers, it is incumbent upon YOU, not the NSTA to offer a compelling arguement before making gratuitous slanders against them.

    I assume you are not a member of the NSTA, and I assume you don’t intend to become one, so since you know so little about the organization, it would be nice to see you take the effort to learn more about them (other then a quick browse of their website) before condemning them on Real Climate.

    Ignored has been my question why Ms. David could not afford the sum of approximately $1.00 per DVD for mailing. She can afford it and if her commitment to the environment is so strong, her stinginess about postage might be less.

    Also ignored is Ms. David’s role as producer of AIT. Igniting false controversy benefits her financially and since you are as quick to level slurs at the NSTA, I have to question Ms. David’s blatant self-promotion in this matter.


    Comment by Paul G — 18 Jan 2007 @ 8:38 PM

  169. Paul G wrote: “Before tarring the NSTA and all teachers …”

    Neither Raypierre nor anyone else here has said anything about “all teachers” and you know it.

    It would be nice to see you take the effort to learn about the NSTA’s “partnerships” (their word) with oil companies and the American Petroleum Institute to produce, endorse and distribute materials that promote fossil fuel extraction and use; and about NSTA Executive Director Gerald Wheeler’s clearly disingenuous claims about a “no endorsement” policy when NSTA has not only “endorsed” such materials, but he personally has been the executive producer of a ConocoPhillips video; and about NSTA’s distribution of oil industry materials to teachers at their conferences; and about NSTA’s admission in their letter to Laurie David that they would not be willing to distribute the Gore film because it would “put at risk” their relationship with their oil company donors; before you call criticisms of these actions “gratuitous slanders”.

    There is nothing “false” about this controversy.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 18 Jan 2007 @ 9:06 PM

  170. A film making the church rounds, the National Council of Churches contemplating, and finally the Pope makes a declaration. I guess that settles it — AGW is now a full-fledged religion. Pity. It once was a decent science.

    My use of the term Algore is more of a friendly barb, not a true pejorative — though I do disapprove. You guys need to lighten up. This particular thread is appropriately (in this instance) quasi-political (how to convince and sway people) and related to the science, but not the science per se. I said the scientific discrepencies in AIT ought to be mentioned, even if they are “only minor” as Mike pointed out, along with the showing for science students.

    [Response:The Pope now also admits that Galileo was right. Does that make heliocentrism a new religion? –raypierre]

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Jan 2007 @ 9:11 PM

  171. About my comment above, I meant post 148, not 118. And I see Ray has already answered part of my question in answer to another post by Sashka. Thanks for your efforts here, Ray, in spite of our straying from the topic at hand.

    Comment by Steve Latham — 18 Jan 2007 @ 9:20 PM

  172. I was browsing in a branch of the Los Angeles Public Library yesterday and happened upon the global warming atmospheric sciences section. Next to Al Gore’s book was two thin volumes entitled Global Warming: the other Side of the Story. I didn’t read much beyond the publisher: I believe it was the Ayn Rand Institute offshoot press in San Diego. Very fringy self-publishing. I didn’t notice Ross Gelbspan’s books either.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 18 Jan 2007 @ 9:50 PM

  173. “false controversy benefits her financially and since you are as quick to level slurs at the NSTA, I have to question Ms. David’s blatant self-promotion in this matter.”

    Very telling and quite Crichtonian. That’s the damage SOF has done all the way to the White House.

    What’s false is the denial of a proven problem. Solutions are open for debate but not the premise. That Marohasy crowd in OZ is the same way.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 18 Jan 2007 @ 9:55 PM

  174. ==== Post # 169 by SecularAnimist ====

    “There is nothing “false” about this controversy.”


    Everything is false about this fake controversy cooked up by Ms. David. It is telling you ignore her direct and sizeable financial conflict of interest in this issue.

    Because of Ms. David’s direct financial stake in AIT, one should be doubly cautious in her financially conflicted role of advocate. This should be self-apparent to anyone yet not a *single* post here has mentioned her financial stake in the film.

    Your other slurs against the NSTA (and all teachers who are members) belies your prejudices on this issue SecularAnimist. We should ignore your opinions also (though feel free to express them).

    And in regards to post # 173 by Mark A. York, Mark, you too appear to be in deliberate denial concerning Ms. Richard’s sizeable and blatant financial interest in this self-promotion of her film. She attempted to circumvent the normal procedures for having material approved for schools and then cried fowl because the NSTA wouldn’t play (foul) ball her way. Good for the NSTA for standing up to this bully.

    Lastly, and still unanswered is why Ms. David can not afford $1 per DVD for mailing. Anyone??


    [Response:The issue wasn’t the $1 per DVD of mailing, but rather full access to the membership of NSTA and getting the NSTA’s help in putting the DVD directly into the hands of science teachers. The offer to sell the commercial mailing list didn’t address that issue. The issue was also the asymmetric and unjust treatment of A.I.T. relative to the way NSTA. has treated certain materials produced by the oil industry — materials that, in places, do a far less fair job of describing the global warming issue than does A.I.T. I’ll leave it to Mark York and other readers to address the comment regarding the suggestion that David makes a big profit by trying to give away 50,000 free copies to people who might otherwise have bought the DVD (to be shown to students whose parents might otherwise have bought the DVD). Rather than hear people taking defensive potshots at Laurie David, I’d rather hear people address the fundamental issue raised by the problems David had with NSTA: Just what, if anything, is NSTA doing to help science teachers communicate valid information about global warming. I’m still waiting to hear anybody say anything substantive and positive addressing that question –raypierre]

    Comment by Paul G — 18 Jan 2007 @ 11:37 PM

  175. Re: 158

    Thank you very much, Ray!

    Comment by Sashka — 18 Jan 2007 @ 11:37 PM

  176. RE#164,
    Since when is a peer-reviewed article in Science an “interesting preliminary result”? Here is the abstract and a brief press release is available here for the 2005 Soden et al paper, “The Radiative Signature of Upper Tropospheric Moistening”. What’s missing, in your opinion?

    Climate models and basic theory suggests an intensification of the global hydrologic cycle; for a discussion see by Thomas Karl, NOAA, 1997 That was a decade ago – and the other references given are very relevant to the issue of water in the atmosphere. Things at NOAA have changed since then; their global warming faq page could use a lot of updating.

    Are you saying that the intensification of the hydrologic cycle and the issue of water vapor feedback are unrelated?

    [Response: We’re a bit off topic here, but to set the record straight, the intensification of the hydrological cycle and the issue of water vapor feedback are indeed somewhat unrelated. The reason is that the water vapor feedback depends mostly on mid to upper level water vapor, whereas the hydrological cycle (i.e. rainfall) depends mostly on low levels where most of the water is. They’re obviously not completely unrelated, but they can go in different direction. Also, the intensity is a rate of water flux through the system, whereas the water vapor feedback depends on the amount left behind in the atmospheric reservoir — a different thing with different units. Much observation and data does support the positive water vapor feedback and the correctness of the way models handle water vapor dynamics. As to the strength of the hydrological cycle, the recent Held and Soden paper (discussed in my piece with Rasmus on the Vechhi et al paper) does say that the AVERAGE hydrological cycle in some sense gets weaker as the climate warms. That does not preclude precipitation in extreme events from getting stronger, or even from getting stronger at a rate faster than Clausius-Clapeyron would suggest. Midwest precip in fact appears to be trending that way right now. It doesn’t even preclude precip over land from intensifying, since land precip is a small part of the total. I can’t remember at this point what launched this thread, but I hope this information helps to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. –raypierre]

    Comment by Ike Solem — 19 Jan 2007 @ 1:36 AM

  177. #176
    Ike, Ray
    sorry for going on with this offtopic discussion.
    Yesterday I was seeing Lindzen at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) invited by our never-ever-published-anything-on-climate-sceptics Claude Allegre and Vincent Courtillot.
    His presentation was nearly a copy of a presentation he gave five years ago in Paris. 30-40% polemics, some old outdated observations. I asked him if he sees that there is a contradiction between his strong negative feedback Iris (and so 0 positive net feedback) hypothesis and observed climate change in the tropics (notably tropical temperatures of about 3C cooler than today during the LGM based on UK37,MG/CA/Noble Gases etc etc observations). Lindzen answered that he does not believe in paleo observations mumbling something about the Eocene. Moreover, Ray, he was citing you with a statement that “there is no physical 1st order process/explanation that would lead to rising water vapour in the troposphere when there is warming”.
    By the way, from a pure marketing point of view the Iris feedback sounds much better than water vapour feedback.

    [Response: That’s a really dishonest and deceptive misquote of my work that Dick made. What he’s referring to are some things I wrote which merely pointed out that the increase of water vapor aloft with temperature is not a direct consequence of Clausius Clapeyron as it is for the boundary layer. That’s just because the air aloft is not in direct proximity to the water vapor reservoir. However, both in the IPCC chapter (and elaborated much more in my papers, esp. in the water vapor chapter for the Caltech general circulation book) I state that this only means one has to think harder to see that something like the fixed relative humidity behavior must be right. In particular, if one phrases the problem suitably in terms of certain statistics of temperature along trajectories, one indeed recovers the clausius-clapeyron behavior. One gets it exactly, if one takes as a “zero order” model that the statistics of air trajectories remain fixed as the climate warms. Changes in the trajectory statistics can then lead to deviations from the ideal behavior (in principle), but in practice we find that they just compensate other deviations due to the changes in vertical structure of temperature. It’s all pretty robust. I referred to the basic idea as the “zero order” model, which captures the fixed-RH behavior. I don’t know what Lindzen means about “no first order model,” except that maybe we don’t know how to compute the correction from first principles yet. Given that we do know how to compute the main part of the effect, Lindzen is being dishonest, but at this point who’s surprised? –raypierre]

    Comment by Georg Hoffmann — 19 Jan 2007 @ 7:36 AM

  178. #176 and comment
    OK for me, Raypierre, and thanks for your precisions. Ike, I just wrote “preliminary result” because Soden 2005 is one but few measure of upper tropo WP / RH (and clear sky conditions exclude nebulosity, so it’s hard to make a statement on interannual trends). Sea Coleman 2006 (global) or Minschwamer 2006 (tropical) for recent reviews. But that’s off-topic, I leave here.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 19 Jan 2007 @ 8:01 AM

  179. Off-topic, but just a bibliographical precision to Georg post : Courtillot did published on climate topics, contrary to Allegre. For example :

    On long-term variations of simple geomagnetic indices and slow changes in magnetospheric currents: The emergence of anthropogenic global warming after 1990?, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. (2005) 232, 273-286

    Massive pollution following the largest historical basaltic fissure eruption: modelling the climatic effects of the 1783-1784 Laki event, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. (2005) 236, 721-731

    (Otherwise, I’d be happy to fully understand the link between LGM tropical temperature and Iris effect, but I think this discussion must go back to never-ever-published-anything-on-climate-topics Al Gore). :D

    Comment by Charles Muller — 19 Jan 2007 @ 8:44 AM

  180. Moderator: I’m not sure if this is an appropriate comment. My apologies if it isn’t

    I opened the New York Times this morning to see amazing images from their report on the wind and rain storms sweeping Europe. My first thought was I have to get to the library this weekend to collect the weather map and articles from last two or three weeks. Perhaps I could put together an activity about tracking the effects of currents and air masses. I am not a science teacher, but rather a science editor who works for a publisher of school textbooks. Indeed, I am working on a new edition of a high school earth science textbook this year. I think that climate change should be a big part of that revision in the same sense that evolution is or should be a big part of any biology textbook. Then again, I wonder what would a teacher who has the textbook still in his or her classroom five years from now think about such a story. How does one get a fix on a moving target?

    NYT link (I have Times Select, so I can’t tell if this is behind the wall, but I don’t think it is):

    Comment by science ed — 19 Jan 2007 @ 9:48 AM

  181. I’m trying to write a good letter to the higher ups in the federal government about climate change. So far I its a rambling of everything I know about it and I’m trying to make it more cohesive. I mentioned McCain’s Climate Stewardship act in it, although it isn’t very strong I think its commendable that he is making an effort to try to do something about reducing carbon emissions. You guys seem extremely knowledgeable on the subject. Would any of you be able to look over the letter to help me write it effectively?

    Comment by Jason — 19 Jan 2007 @ 11:32 AM

  182. Just a brief point – the qualities that make for a good teacher / educator often do not correlate with the qualities that make a good researcher; attacking Al Gore for ‘not having published’ is silly in that respect. Some scientists are great at both aspects (Feynman, for example – but Dirac wasn’t known for teaching).

    Thanks for the comment, Ray, and for your previous article on water vapor. Perhaps it’s the other direction; water vapor feedback (assuming the moisture increase in the mid-to-upper troposphere is robust) can positively affect the hydrologic cycle by increasing surface evaporation rates, according to “Effect of the water vapor feedback on internal and anthropogenic variations of the global hydrologic cycle, Hall & Manabe JGR 2000”. They use two models, one of which doesn’t include the water vapor radiation. It seems the main immediate effect is an increase in precipitation variability on large scales, though they do also show a greatly intensified hydrologic cycle. They summarize that “These model results demonstrate the importance of water vapor feedback both for internal variations in global-mean precipitation and for greenhouse-gas-induced intensification of the hydrologic cycle.”

    To get back on topic, how should high school science teachers explain this issue to their classrooms? Perhaps, “Global warming is expected to produce more variable weather and a greater chance of flooding in coastal regions, and there are several reasons why this is expected”; the teacher could prepare a simple experimental demonstration of how warm air over water results in more evaporation then cold air – and then begin a discussion of Clausius-Clapeyron and relative humidity.

    [Response: In the same spirit of getting back on topic, one of the things I would have done differently if I had been making A.I.T. is to incorporate some rudimentary description of water vapor and cloud feedbacks into the early material in the film on the basics of radiation balance and how it changes. I know Gore was trying to keep it simple, but I could envision an animation that describes (without saying just why) more water vapor coming out of the ocean and into the atmosphere, enhancing the greenhouse effect. Then the animation would add clouds, pointing out that they reflect light (cue animated arrows) and also have a greenhouse effect (cue more animated arrows), and that the delicate balance accounts for much of the uncertainty in the forecast — both on the high side and the low side. –raypierre]

    Comment by Ike Solem — 19 Jan 2007 @ 12:26 PM

  183. Paul G wrote: Your other slurs against the NSTA (and all teachers who are members) belies your prejudices on this issue SecularAnimist.

    I made no “slurs” against the NSTA. I stated several facts about the NSTA’s “partnerships” (their word) with oil companies and the American Petroleum Institute to produce and distribute “educational” materials that promote fossil fuel use and the industry’s views on global warming, and the NSTA’s endorsement on their website of a book about global warming by an author from the American Enterprise Institute who has, in fact, published “slurs” against proponents of actions to address climate change.

    And neither I nor anyone else has made any “slurs” or for that matter any comments whatsoever about “all teachers who are members” of the NSTA. Your assertion that I have done so, or that Raypierre has done so, or that anyone has done so, is simply a lie, and you know it.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Jan 2007 @ 12:28 PM

  184. Re: #170 – “A film making the church rounds, the National Council of Churches contemplating, and finally the Pope makes a declaration. I guess that settles it — AGW is now a full-fledged religion. Pity. It once was a decent science.”

    When the Pope wants to issue a religious opinion he clearly indicates it as such. He can see for himself when he vacations in the Alps how the glaciers have receded. He is also well-informed about how global climate change may affect the poor of the Earth, for example in the coastal regions of Bangla Desh.

    No doctrine of the Church need be altered for her to respond to the crisis of global climate change.

    Many if not most of the people on this planet belong to one religious confession or another. They have the same stake in this world and in this species as anyone else.

    “[Response:The Pope now also admits that Galileo was right. Does that make heliocentrism a new religion? –raypierre]”

    The Galileo affair (off-topic?) involved considerations for the Church which are understandably difficult for non-Catholics to comprehend. If I remember correctly John Paul II indicated that members of the clergy had incorrectly used Scripture as if it were a scientific text.

    [Response: The point of the Galileo comment is that a thing (e.g. global warming) isn’t transformed from science to religion just because people of faith decide that it’s true and important. Indeed, the interesting issue of how the doctrine of papal infallibility collides with the evolving scientific understanding of the natural world would be off topic, and I didn’t mean to get into that. –raypierre]

    Comment by Pavel Chichikov — 19 Jan 2007 @ 12:47 PM

  185. Re: # 183

    Well SecularAnimist, I take a different viewpoint on the issue then you do. However, as my posts are being deleted as I am not properly toeing the line, any comments by myself are probably moot.

    ExxonMobil’s contribution to the NSTA constitutes about 0.5% of the NSTA’s budget, while Ms. David’s financial stake in her own movie is likely far, far higher then that, yet a viewpoint totally supportive of Ms. David is touted here.

    In assessing this brouhaha, it is necessary, whatever one’s position, to properly assess all the information before coming to a conclusion. Unfortunately, this objectivity is sorely lacking on this thread.


    Comment by Paul G — 19 Jan 2007 @ 3:50 PM

  186. Paul G wrote: “Ms. David’s financial stake in her own movie is likely far, far higher then that …”

    You have yet to explain what you think “Ms. David’s financial stake” is in offering 50,000 copies of the DVD of An Inconvenient Truth to the NSTA free of charge.

    If anything, Ms. David stands to lose money on the offer since some of the recipients of the free copies might otherwise have purchased the DVD.

    Also, with regard to your previous, completely false accusation that I have made “slurs” against “all teachers” who are members of the NSTA, I would point out that I have quoted and linked to articles critical of the NSTA written by John Borowski, who is a science teacher of some 20 years, and a member of the NSTA.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Jan 2007 @ 4:13 PM

  187. In the corporate world, SecularAnimist, which Ms. David also belongs too, free giveaways are a common and effective promotional tool to increase overall sales.

    While I don’t doubt Ms. David’s environmental commitment, her financial linkage to the same movie she attempted to place in the shcools classrooms can not be discounted out of hand. This places her in a conflict of interest.

    If the movie AIT is to be placed in the schools classrooms, the push to do so should come from people with no direct attachment, financial or otherwise, to the movie. Also, proper procedures for accomplishing this with the NSTA must be followed.

    Concerning what you consider my false accusation that you had made slurs against all teachers, I simply pointed out that the NSTA is composed of teachers and that the unfair and unbalanced criticism of the NSTA is, by default, a besmirchment against all teachers who are members of this organization.


    Comment by Paul G — 19 Jan 2007 @ 4:58 PM

  188. re: 185. “…a viewpoint totally supportive of Ms. David is touted here.”

    It is not a matter of “viewpoint”. The science is sound and unequivocable. To deny the factual, peer-reviewed, consensus science is a direct insult to the thousands of climate scientists around the world. And a similar insult to the scientific method which has been followed and to science education as a whole.

    Comment by Dan — 19 Jan 2007 @ 5:26 PM

  189. For raypierre: For your eyes only, for this is indeed off-topic, but papal infallibility has been invoked only twice in the 2000 year old history of the Church, and involved religious doctrine exclusively, and not remotely any matter of physical science.

    I would not characterize the Church as anti-scientific, not even in Galileo’s day. Indeed, she had her own excellent scientists in his time, as she has to to this day. I know one of them personally. He holds a doctorate from MIT in astrophysics, and an undergraduate degree in geo-chemistry.

    With best wishes,


    Comment by Pavel Chichikov — 19 Jan 2007 @ 5:29 PM

  190. Paul G wrote: “Concerning what you consider my false accusation that you had made slurs against all teachers, I simply pointed out that the NSTA is composed of teachers and that the unfair and unbalanced criticism of the NSTA is, by default, a besmirchment against all teachers who are members of this organization.”

    Criticism of the actions of the executive leadership of the NSTA is in no way a “besmirchment against all teachers who are members of this organization.”

    Indeed, science teachers who are members of the NSTA have been complaining to the NSTA’s management about its decision not to accept the donation of 50,000 free copies of An Inconvenient Truth. See for example the comments posted by NSTA members on NSTA’s online discussion board — many of their comments about NSTA’s decision are considerably harsher than anything that has been posted here:

    It was certainly not a decision that was made by the NSTA’s membership as a whole, and no one here, including me, has suggested that the general membership of the NSTA is at fault in any way.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Jan 2007 @ 5:32 PM

  191. The controversy forcing NSTA’s corporate sponsorship policy out in the open is a good thing.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 20 Jan 2007 @ 2:58 AM

  192. Eli, the NSTA’s corporate sponsorship policy has always been out in the open. The information has been available to anyone who had any curiosity whatsover.

    Secondly, it is as important that Ms. David’s corporate and financial links to AIT be addressed.

    [Response:Virtually every piece written about this issue has described Laurie David as “a producer” of A.I.T., so it’s a bizarre fantasy to say her relation to the film is in any way concealed. Further, even if your dubious claim that she had any financial stake in stirring up this controversy were true, that wouldn’t actually change anything: It wouldn’t change the fundamental issue that SCIENCE TEACHERS had something to gain by getting free copies of this film, and the fundamental issues (matters of verifiable fact) she raised regarding NSTA’s corporate financing, the inconsistency of treatment of A.I.T. vis a vis other materials (esp. those favorable to oil industry views), and the possibility that NSTA’s decision was compromised by its funding. These are all issues that need to be on the table for public discourse, regardless of David’s motivation (though I myself don’t find the profit motivation argument at all credible). Surely, you’re not saying that profit is intrinsically bad, and that people should avoid a worthwhile activity just because it (gasp) might conceivably also yield some profit. Why, that would be downright anti-capitalistic! Besides, this is a case (in fact, the best of capitalism) where David’s profit motivation is completely aligned with her altruistic motivations: if giving away 50,000 free copies results in an increase in sales of A.I.T. beyond the profit loss from the donation, that means that not only do science teachers get to show the film for free, but that the action results in more total people seeing the film. If this action has the side result of Paramount not losing money on the donation, why that means there’s also more total money in the world to do good. What’s not to like? If your breed of vitriol is the best argument that can be presented in defense of NSTA, then NSTA indeed is in bad shape. I would not like to think that is the case. –raypierre]

    Comment by Paul G — 20 Jan 2007 @ 4:10 AM

  193. Re Dan (188). The two most fundamental conclusions of the IPCC TAR were: (i)”There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.” and (ii) “It is likely that the rate and duration of the warming of the 20th century is larger than any other time during the last 1,000 years. The 1990s are likely to have been the warmest decade of the millennium in the Northern Hemisphere, and 1998 is likely to have been the warmest year.” A careful read of the TAR shows that these conclusions are derived principally from two pieces of work: the hockey stick and computer modelling. Whichever way you look at it, these methods do not represent ‘facts’, but mathematical and statistical studies. The conclusions drawn from them are ‘viewpoints’, even if 99.9% of scientists were to agree. In reality, agreement is from rather less than 99.9%, even if you believe its a majority. And as has been argued many times, scienctific truth is not derived by a vote.

    [Response: The two statements about the IPCC TAR are a gross misrepresentation of both the conclusions and the methodology. As we have amply discussed elsewhere, it is not even of central importance to the forecast whether the 1990s were actually the warmest decade in the millennium (though there is a good and increasing liklihood that they really were. And, a computer model is nothing more than an embodiment of 200 years of independently tested pieces of the physical theory. If you’re going do dismiss any result that requires a computer to help with the calculations, you’re going to have to dismiss most of 20th/21st century science and technology. –raypierre]

    Comment by PHE — 20 Jan 2007 @ 6:46 AM

  194. Science teachers should have copies of AIT to show the kids, when they begin asking questions about the IPCC report in the news this coming month. Not as the last word, but as a snapshot from a year ago about what was known at the time, and a basis for learning how to check the statements against both contemporary sources and current research. First question is can you verify that what was said then was accurate at the time; next question is what’s new.

    If NSTA is serious about supporting science teachers and if the organization can walk away from the history of ownership by big business contributors, then they ought to be working very hard for the next week or two with the climate scientists to put together a teaching module about how to read, check and follow research.

    Not this stuff from the fuels lobbyists they’ve been distributing.

    The NSTA has not only removed the most embarassing material from their public page, as mentioned earlier in this thread

    they prevent the Internet Archive from showing people the history of the website. That’s something to be truly ashamed of, for a teaching organization.

    The history of what we used to say and believe and teach is important, as a way to know how what kids are being taught changes over time.*/

    Check it for yourself with that link. Don’t fail to follow the Archive’s link that shows you the robots.txt file — which lists the history of what they don’t want you to be able to see.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Jan 2007 @ 11:39 AM

  195. While NSTA’s corporate sponsorship program may have been known to many, I venture to say that the fuss stirred up by their refusal to distribute An Inconvenient Truth may have consequences.

    If a broad enough coalition forms (and I have some Rabett rousing time free, but organization would be needed) this can be used to get more appropriate materials into K-12 education.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 20 Jan 2007 @ 12:07 PM

  196. The NSTA/AIT incident has a parallel in the Heidi Cullen/Weather Channel kerfluffle. (See#134 in this thread.) The common element is that an attempt to bring information about AGW to a wide audience has met with a degree of pushback that at first blush seems surprising. However, upon reflection, the pushback shows how deeply held is the view/belief/dogma that 1) the science of AGW is not really science at all, but part of a vast left-wing conspiracy and 2) that public policy response to AGW is really a Trojan horse for a collectivisit/secularist attempt to destroy free market, personal liberty, all that we hold dear and the American way of life. And if the defenders of the actions of the NSTA’s board and executive director seem unable to realize that they abandoned the moral high ground long ago, when they bedded down with ConocoPhillips, Western Fuels, and Kenneth Green. Lost it for good, and Laurie David is now being attacked for pointing out the obvious.

    Comment by David Graves — 20 Jan 2007 @ 2:46 PM

  197. One of the issues that links global climate to biological activity is the coral reef issue. There has been a well-measured decline in living coral reefs over the past few decades, and while some uncertainty surrounds the issue, higher water temperatures are though to be involved. Some recent publications verify that this is the case.

    NSTA, in conjunction with NOAA, has now released “educational material” on this issue as well: NSTA press release, and the NOAA sponsorship is shown at Preview: Coral Ecosystems. The actual guide costs $6 – but none of the ‘preview materials’ mention sea temperatures or global warming.

    The actual situation is described in more detail at : Coral Reef Decline: Not Just Overfishing.

    See also : Global Warming may have Damaged Coral Reefs Forever.

    The pdf file is at Dynamic fragility of oceanic coral reef ecosystems, Graham, PNAS May30 2006 v103 n22 p8425

    I don’t think it’s just NSTA that’s skewing the science – the head honchos at NOAA are in this up to their necks as well. If someone wants to pay the $6 and see what the NSTA ‘teaching guide” says, I’d be happy to hear about it. This guide was probably prepared as a rebuttal to the above paper (guide prepared Sept 2006, paper published May 2006) – this just seems like an absolute perversion of scientific integrity on the part of NSTA and NOAA.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 20 Jan 2007 @ 3:56 PM

  198. I think this thread has run its course and it’s time to close it off. I was hoping to hear more from NSTA about what they propose to do to improve GW education at the K12 level, and I was also hoping to hear more about experiences using AIT in the classroom, or using other materials, but no more of that seems to be coming in. I think we’ve wrung out of this topic all the more we’re going to get for a while, it’s time to put it to sleep.

    Thanks to all who have contributed to the discussion. I will try to find some suitable lead-in to reopen a discussion on K12 global warming education in a few months, once the free AIT DVD’s have had time to go out. I will also keep my eye on developments at the NSTA and see if there’s anything notable regarding their GW educational activities that should prompt a new article.

    Comment by raypierre — 20 Jan 2007 @ 4:00 PM

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