Paul MacRae, October 14, 2007

I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.

–Al Gore, interview with Grist magazine, May 9, 2002

Hi. I’m Al Gore, and I used to be the next president of the United States.

This month, a British court found that my global-warming film An Inconvenient Truth was more political propaganda than a science documentary, and couldn’t be shown in schools in that country unless the teachers said very clearly that parts of it were based on ideology, not scientific facts.(1)

It seems the judge compared nine points I’d made with what the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had written and found I’d got them wrong. The IPCC is considered the world’s scientific authority on global warming, so maybe I should have stuck to what they said.

Anyway, it seems I may have exaggerated the science a bit, although I hasten to add: for the very best of reasons! If I didn’t try to scare you silly over global warming, you might not have listened. That was condescending of me and I’m sorry about that. Also, I’m a politician, not a scientist–it’s my job to exaggerate.

However, because I want my film to be shown to school kids everywhere, and because good scientists change their theories when the evidence shows they’re wrong, I’m going to be revising the movie and my speech (I only charge $175,000 to give the speech, by the way–that’s a bargain!) to correct the nine misconceptions identified by the British judge. So here’s where I got it wrong:

  • Sea levels aren’t going to go up seven metres in the immediate future due to melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps, although sea levels might go up maybe half a metre in the next century (which, I have to admit, isn’t that scary). Also, the Antarctic ice cap is actually increasing; I didn’t mention that because it kind of damaged my case. The maps with places like Miami and New York under water were pretty cool, though. I’ll be sorry to lose them.
  • The Pacific atoll islands aren’t in danger of sinking under the ocean, so whole island populations haven’t actually been evacuated like I said. In fact, sea levels are going down in that area. They could go up, though, in a century or two!
  • Most climate scientists don’t believe that global warming will shut down the Gulf Stream and cause another ice age, like I said. I value scientific consensus, so that part of my film is hitting the editing floor.

CO2/temperature chart has it backward

  • You know that big long chart showing temperature and carbon dioxide ri
    Gore wall chart
    Gore temperature chart. The white line is temperature, the blue line is carbon dioxide.
    sing and falling together over the last 650,000 years? Well, that was a bit of a nose-stretcher, too, since the temperature goes up several hundred years before carbon dioxide does, so carbon dioxide couldn’t be causing the temperature rise. Sorry about that, but you have to admit the chart was pretty impressive!
  • I said global warming was causing polar bears to drown. Actually, four of them have drowned that we know of, but it was due to a storm, not global warming, and all but two world polar bear populations are doing fine. My fault.
  • The glaciers on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa aren’t, as I said in the film and book, melting because of global warming. The Kilimanjaro glacier has actually been melting since the 1800s, so industrial carbon emissions can’t be the reason (some scientists think it’s surrounding deforestation). Sorry.
  • The drying up of Lake Chad might be due to reasons other than global warming. Who knew?
  • I said the world’s coral reefs are bleaching due to global warming. Oops! My evidence for this is apparently a bit on the slight side. Sorry.
  • I sort of more than implied that global warming was behind major weather events like Hurricane Katrina. Not even my good friend Dr. James E. Hansen of the Goddard Space Institute agrees with me on this, so that part of the movie and book goes. Too bad. Katrina made great footage for the movie. Apologies.

There’s another little nose-stretcher that the judge didn’t mention because it came after the ruling. When the media jumped out at us with this court case thing, my organization got a bit flustered and we said some silly things like: “Of the thousands of facts [in An Inconvenient Truth], the judge seemingly only took issue with a handful.”

It’s true there are thousands of facts in An Inconvenient Truth, but the handful the judge “seemingly” took issue with were kind of the most important facts, particularly the big long temperature-CO2 chart thingy. I’m going to hate to lose that because, without it, my whole argument pretty much falls down. Also, it looked really, really cool.

Right now the film is about 100 minutes long. With the nine cuts, the new film will be more like 40 minutes long, and most of it will be about me and my family and my battle not to look like I want to get drafted as president in 2012. Who knows? Now that I’ve got the Nobel Peace Prize (hey, Yassir Arafat wasn’t exactly known for telling the truth either, was he?), I might still be the next president of the United States some day!

But, the movie will keep that amazing picture of the earth from space, the beautiful blue dot, because that part is true. Too bad so much of the rest of my film isn’t, but that’s Hollywood! And politics.



1. The full text of the judge’s ruling can be found at

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