Gore’s ‘Climate Reality’ Flops

Published September 15, 2011

On Wednesday evening Al Gore reminded Americans that nobody can annoy and alienate people through name-calling, condescension, misrepresentation of facts, and paranoid conspiracy theories quite like Al.

In “24 Hours of Climate Reality,” first airing Wednesday at 8:00 pm Eastern Time, Gore presented an hour-long sequel to his movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” followed by 23 hours of semi-reruns of essentially the same presentation. Gore and his new presentation served up the usual taken-out-of-context anecdotal climate anomalies and appeals to polarizing, discredited sources of alleged authority to argue humans are causing a global warming crisis. 

So what happens when scientists report global soil moisture has improved throughout the 20th century and droughts have become less frequent and less severe? No worry, Al Gore can find someplace where there still is a drought and then claim global warming is to blame. Sweep those facts about improving soil moisture and fewer global droughts under the rug.

How do we account for the fact that global hurricane frequency is in long-term decline? No worry, Al Gore can highlight some of the fewer hurricanes that still do occur and claim they were parented by global warming. Heck, Gore can even claim global warming is making them stronger, even though there is no long-term trend in accumulated cyclone energy. If Gore can make the presentation “Hollywood” enough, perhaps people will forget to check the facts.

Except there’s a problem here; people do check the facts. It’s no coincidence that public belief in a human-caused global warming crisis peaked in 2008, shortly after Gore released “An Inconvenient Truth.” But public opinion also plunged dramatically in the years thereafter. If you claim global warming is causing more hurricanes, more tornadoes, more droughts, a shut-down of the oceanic conveyor belt, etc., but none of these claims are supported by real-world facts, people begin to realize that you are selling snake oil.

I discuss Gore’s presentation more in-depth in my weekly Forbes.com column here.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.