The British judge's ruling about showing An Inconvenient Truth in government classrooms is now public. He lists nine major errors in the Goreic Treacle. Here they are, with my commentary in italics:
1) Gore asserts that we face a twenty foot rise in sea levels "in the near future." But according to the IPCC at the time Gore made his movie, the maximum predicted rise was twenty inches in the next century, with the balance of opinion being about one foot. This is not a simple misstatement by Gore (So you can stop dancing to "Stonehenge"): He claims that the twenty-foot rise in sea levels will flood Florida; such would in fact require the full twenty feet. Shockingly (), Gore got the twenty foot figure from a speech at the Davos, Switzerland economic summit several years ago. The speaker was not a climatologist, nor even a scientist. For what it's worth, the IPCC has now revised their figure down to about seventeen inches maximum, with the balance of opinion (according to the IPCC) at less than one foot. We can reasonably expect that figure to be revised (down) even further.
2) Gore asserts that low-lying Pacific atolls have already been evacuated due to rising sea levels. As the judge notes, to date not one atoll has in fact been evacuated. In fact, none are even threatened with flooding, chicken-little stories and native scams notwithstanding.
3) Gore asserts that the Gulf Stream — the thermohaline cycle that I've previously mentioned — is threatened due to melting glaciers. If it shuts down, Europe could be plunged into deadly cold. As I noted, there isn't a single scientific model that even comes close to predicting that result. It's simply not possible given present and foreseeable conditions. Were we at the end of a great ice age, however....
4) Gore asserts that graphs of rises in temperature and CO2 levels match exactly. Only if you look at them at a low resolution. In fact, the rises in temperature are out of phase with the rises in atmospheric CO2 by a couple hundred years; the temperature rises actually lead the increases in atmospheric CO2. The cause is temperature-induced "outgassing" of CO2 from the oceans. Gore fell victim to sloppy analysis and post-hoc reasoning, and so got it exactly backwards.
5) Gore asserts that the reduction in snow cover on Mt. Kilimanjaro is due to global warming. No, it's due to drought — less snow is falling on Kilimanjaro in recent years — and no link has been established between that situation and global warming, much less man-made global warming.
6) Gore asserts that the drying-up of Lake Chad is also due to global warming. Again, no such link has been established. The lake has always been shallow, so shallow that its size has always fluctuated seasonally. Here, too, drought is the major culprit.
7) Gore blames Hurricane Katrina on Global Warming. Hurricane experts don't. In fact, the last two "calm" hurricane seasons have led to published studies arguing that global warming triggers upper-atmospheric conditions that tend to weaken (tear apart) hurricanes. And, the last twenty years have been calmer than in previous hurricane cycles. Maybe Al should have a look at the movie "Key Largo," and then check out the history of that storm and the many others like it.
8) Gore asserts that polar bears are drowning because they have to swim long distances to find ice. The judge notes that the only four drowned bears have been found, and they were killed in a storm. Gore uses a picture of two polar bears on an iceberg as evidence that they're being stranded and starved. In fact, that picture was of two bears playing on an iceberg (according to the original caption). Gore is simply lying about the picture. Also, the top government biologist in Nunavut, tracking thirteen populations of polar bears (there are only thirteen, so he's being thorough), says that eleven of the thirteen populations are stable or growing.
9) Gore argues that coral reefs are bleaching because of Global Warming. Coral reefs regularly bleach and recolor. When waters around the reef warm, the cold-water bacteria die and the reefs turn whitish. Then warm-water bacteria move in and the reefs develop a new color. Conversely, when the water cools around a reef, the warm-water bacteria die and the reefs remain thus bleached until cold-water bacteria move in. In other words, the bleaching of coral reefs is normal, it is cyclic, and it happens both as a result of warming and cooling.
It should be noted, just to be clear, that the judge relied heavily on IPCC and other scientific sources for his determinations (kind of ironic, given the news that Gore and the IPCC will share an award). Also, the movie is still mandatory in British classrooms; the ruling simply requires that the schools shall make it clear to their little victims that Gore's movie is not, um, definitive.
I put that last bit too kindly. Al Gore is a crank and a liar. (I am suppressing any attempts, here, at amateur psychoanalysis.) Back in his political days (as if those are over!), one of Gore's favorite debating tactics was to make up "facts" on the fly. As a tactic, it was brilliant, because his opponent would have no idea what Gore was talking about and would therefore look uninformed compared to Gore's pseudo-encyclopedic genius.