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Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 8 months ago

 

 

Burton v Gore in 9 Rounds

 

Apparently, there has been a judgement rendered in the UK regarding the showing of An Inconvenient Truth in UK public schools, and it's a mixed blessing. A Judge Burton has listed nine points of "guidance" that British teachers must bring to the classroom in order to show the film.

 

Are the nine points fair?

 

That's a bit much for discussion in a list or blog format, so I (mt) set up this wiki. We'll see if this works out or fizzles, or worse, if it takes off too far and I get swamped by administrivia. Consider it an experiment.

 

 

 

Here are Judge Burton's nine critiques of Al Gore, with links to pages in this wiki that discuss each point individually.

 

Guardian article by David Adam, lists eight of Burton's nine points (thanks to Tom Adams for counting!):

 

  • The film claimed that low-lying inhabited Pacific atolls "are being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming" - but there was no evidence of any evacuation occurring
  • It spoke of global warming "shutting down the ocean conveyor" - the process by which the gulf stream is carried over the north Atlantic to western Europe. The judge said that, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it was "very unlikely" that the conveyor would shut down in the future, though it might slow down
  • Mr Gore had also claimed - by ridiculing the opposite view - that two graphs, one plotting a rise in C02 and the other the rise in temperature over a period of 650,000 years, showed "an exact fit". The judge said although scientists agreed there was a connection, "the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts"
  • Mr Gore said the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was expressly attributable to human-induced climate change. The judge said the consensus was that that could not be established
  • The drying up of Lake Chad was used as an example of global warming. The judge said: "It is apparently considered to be more likely to result from ... population increase, over-grazing and regional climate variability"
  • Mr Gore ascribed Hurricane Katrina to global warming, but there was "insufficient evidence to show that"
  • Mr Gore also referred to a study showing that polar bears were being found that had drowned "swimming long distances to find the ice". The judge said: "The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm"
  • The film said that coral reefs all over the world were bleaching because of global warming and other factors. The judge said separating the impacts of stresses due to climate change from other stresses, such as over-fishing, and pollution, was difficult

 

The missing point is this one:

 

  • Sea level rise of up to 20 feet (7 metres) will be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland in the near future.

 

===

 

LINKS

 

Here's the actual ruling, (courtesy of Gavin Schmidt, thanks).

 

This page links to the UK government teacher guidance referred to in the ruling.

 

An informal transcript of AIT is available. Linked pages

 

 

Inel has a good discussion with links.

 

William's blog

 

William points to an article on the motivation behind the court case.

 

Deltoid

 

New Scientist

 

There is apparently a detailed report from the Tyndall Centre already, according to a comment on Stoat. I haven't seen it.

 

====

 

 

 

The following  are quoted on the nine discussion pages, but here they are all together. According to the judgement:

 

1. Sea level rise of up to 20 feet (7 metres) will be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland in the near future.

In scene 21 (the film is carved up for teaching purposes into 32 scenes), in one of the most graphic parts of the film Mr Gore says as follows:

"If Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida. This is what would happen in the San Francisco Bay. A lot of people live in these areas. The Netherlands, the Low Countries: absolutely devastation. The area around Beijing is home to tens of millions of people. Even worse, in the area around Shanghai, there are 40 million people. Worse still, Calcutta, and to the east Bangladesh, the area covered includes 50 million people. Think of the impact of a couple of hundred thousand refugees when they are displaced by an environmental event and then imagine the impact of a 100 million or more. Here is Manhattan. This is the World Trade Center memorial site. After the horrible events of 9/11 we said never again. This is what would happen to Manhattan. They can measure this precisely, just as scientists could predict precisely how much water would breach the levee in New Orleans."

This is distinctly alarmist, and part of Mr Gore's 'wake-up call'. It is common ground that if indeed Greenland melted, it would release this amount of water, but only after, and over, millennia, so that the Armageddon scenario he predicts, insofar as it suggests that sea level rises of 7 metres might occur in the immediate future, is not in line with the scientific consensus.

 

2. Low lying inhabited Pacific atolls are being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming.

In scene 20, Mr Gore states "that's why the citizens of these Pacific nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand". There is no evidence of any such evacuation having yet happened.

 

3. Shutting down of the "Ocean Conveyor".

In scene 17 he says, "One of the ones they are most worried about where they have spent a lot of time studying the problem is the North Atlantic, where the Gulf Stream comes up and meets the cold wind coming off the Arctic over Greenland and evaporates the heat out of the Gulf Stream and the stream is carried over to western Europe by the prevailing winds and the earth's rotation ... they call it the Ocean Conveyor … At the end of the last ice age … that pump shut off and the heat transfer stopped and Europe went back into an ice age for another 900 or 1000 years. Of course that's not going to happen again, because glaciers of North America are not there. Is there any big chunk of ice anywhere near there? Oh yeah pointing at Greenland". According to the IPCC, it is very unlikely that the Ocean Conveyor (known technically as the Meridional Overturning Circulation or thermohaline circulation) will shut down in the future, though it is considered likely that thermohaline circulation may slow down.

 

4. Direct coincidence between rise in CO2 in the atmosphere and in temperature, by reference to two graphs.

In scenes 8 and 9, Mr Gore shows two graphs relating to a period of 650,000 years, one showing rise in CO2 and one showing rise in temperature, and asserts (by ridiculing the opposite view) that they show an exact fit. Although there is general scientific agreement that there is a connection, the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts.

 

5. The snows of Kilimanjaro.

Mr Gore asserts in scene 7 that the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro is expressly attributable to global warming. It is noteworthy that this is a point that specifically impressed Mr Milliband (see the press release quoted at paragraph 6 above). However, it is common ground that, the scientific consensus is that it cannot be established that the recession of snows on Mt Kilimanjaro is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.

 

6. Lake Chad etc

The drying up of Lake Chad is used as a prime example of a catastrophic result of global warming. However, it is generally accepted that the evidence remains insufficient to establish such an attribution. It is apparently considered to be far more likely to result from other factors, such as population increase and over-grazing, and regional climate variability.

 

7. Hurricane Katrina.

In scene 12 Hurricane Katrina and the consequent devastation in New Orleans is ascribed to global warming. It is common ground that there is insufficient evidence to show that.

 

8. Death of polar bears.

In scene 16, by reference to a dramatic graphic of a polar bear desperately swimming through the water looking for ice, Mr Gore says: "A new scientific study shows that for the first time they are finding polar bears that have actually drowned swimming long distances up to 60 miles to find the ice. They did not find that before." The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm. That is not to say that there may not in the future be drowning-related deaths of polar bears if the trend of regression of pack-ice and/or longer open water continues, but it plainly does not support Mr Gore's description.

 

9. Coral reefs.

In scene 19, Mr Gore says: "Coral reefs all over the world because of global warming and other factors are bleaching and they end up like this. All the fish species that depend on the coral reef are also in jeopardy as a result. Overall specie loss is now occurring at a rate 1000 times greater than the natural background rate." The actual scientific view, as recorded in the IPCC report, is that, if the temperature were to rise by 1-3 degrees Centigrade, there would be increased coral bleaching and widespread coral mortality, unless corals could adopt or acclimatise, but that separating the impacts of climate change-related stresses from other stresses, such as over-fishing and polluting, is difficult.

 

If you would like a wiki login, contact Michael Tobis, i.e. the mtobis account on the gmail service.

 

If I don't know you, you will need to convince me that you have some expertise on climate change in general, or one of the points in particular.

 

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