…after the talk, a couple of [the scientists] came up to me and said, you know, “He didn’t exactly get the science right.”
And this is exactly what should happen in a scientifically-oriented, scientifically-conscious society.
This story is a few days old now, at least, and my concern is about what’ll happen now (and probably has already): people on the Right, who tend to disbelieve environmentalist claims, will start saying “See! Filthy lies! All of it!” and people on the Left, who typically take the opposite view, will say “Oh, no it isn’t! You’re liars! Now you’re just mad because people see what a problem it is! Liars!”
NPR’s Science Correspondent, Richard Harris, sums up his views on Gore’s credibility by saying:
Gore is a lay person, he is not a scientist, and he’s careful to say that. But that said, he does get the big picture very well. Most scientists say he really can see the forest for the trees.
As Harris observes later on, Gore is very lawyerly on the subject, allowing conclusions to be drawn through omission and association, rather than direct assertion. Scientists are now calling him on it. However, these same scientists are appreciative of his efforts to draw appropriate levels of attention to the problem. In my mind, this is all just positive outgrowth from the conversation that Gore’s documentary started.
I hope we can all remember that there’s a scientific endeavour underneath all of the politically motivated trash talk and sensationalized presentations, and that we can all benefit from a committed group of people making critical and rigorous observations and studies of a very real environmental phenomenon.