A Convenient Lie

al goreAl Gore’s movie on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, opens nation wide this weekend. Locally, you can see it at The Flicks in Boise. The response from the right-wing media, the White House, and congressional Republicans is to wage their usual misinformation campaign. Bush leads the way by continuing to maintain that there is no scientific consensus as to whether global warming is manmade or naturally caused.

QUESTION: I know you’ve said you are not planning to see Al Gore’s new movie, but do you agree with the premise that global warming is a real and significant threat to the planet?

BUSH: I think it’s – I have said consistently that global warming something is a serious problem. There is a debate over whether it’s manmade or naturally caused. We ought to get beyond that debate and start implementing the technologies necessary to enable us to achieve a couple of big objectives. One, be good stewards of the environment, and two become less dependent on foreign sources of oil for economic reasons and for national security reasons.

Bush repeats this convenient lie even though the recent report from the National Academy of Sciences states,

“Surface temperature reconstructions for periods prior to the industrial era are only one of multiple lines of evidence supporting the conclusion that climatic warming is occurring in response to human activity…”

It is informative to see how these misinformation campaigns are waged. In this case, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) prints an article by global warming sceptic Richard Lindzen claiming that there is no consensus on global warming within the scientific community. Lindzen specifically attacks the Associated Press for an article claiming that the nation’s top climate scientists praised Gore’s movie for its accuracy. Lindzen’s claim rests on the following:

More recently, a study in the journal Science by the social scientist Nancy [sic – Naomi] Oreskes claimed that a search of the ISI Web of Knowledge Database for the years 1993 to 2003 under the key words “global climate change” produced 928 articles, all of whose abstracts supported what she referred to as the consensus view. A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all, and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus view. Several actually opposed it.

What Lindzen doesn’t tell his readers is that Peiser’s critique of Oreskes’ study is completely flawed and filled with errors as Peiser, himself, admits. The errors in Peiser’s work are described in amazing detail here and here.

The lie takes on official sanction when the Republicans on the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works issue a press release (using taxpayer dollars to do so) titled “AP incorrectly claims scientists praise Gore’s movie. The press release repeats the lie of a lack of consensus over global warming and cites the Lindzen article as evidence.

Think Progress does a good job of pointing out the web of lies as they spread, but it is likely that most Americans will remain confused about the issue. That alone is reason enough to recommend Gore’s movie to everyone you see.

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