Is there no discipline, no craft, no field of human endeavor this man has not mastered?
Politician-cum-statesman. Atmospheric scientist. Peace monger. Internet inventor. Logician. And now lecturer on the shortcomings of journalism.
This past Monday morning, as NBC turned its iconic peacock green and launched 150 hours of propaganda pandering to the perfervid environmentalist crowd, sending correspondents to both poles and the equator aboard carbon-spewing jets for live stand-ups, former Vice President Al Gore, the guru of global warming, was conspicuously interviewed by the network to kick off the whole thing.
To the interviewer's credit, she asked Gore about an op-ed in the previous week's Wall Street Journal by John Christy, one of the scientists who participated in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Gore.
"There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why," wrote Christy. "As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don't find the alarmist theory matching observations."
He noted that if the whole world adopted California's planned vehicle emissions standard of 43 miles per gallon that it would reduce the "projected" global warming by 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.
Christy suggested there are far more productive and effective means to improve the human condition than wrecking the economy with carbon footprint reductions.
"My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short," he concluded. "The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today."
But did Al Gore answer the simple, rational argument about costs and benefits? No. He launched into a lecture on the foibles of journalism.
To wit: "Well, he's an outlier. He no longer belongs to the IPCC, and he is way outside the scientific consensus."
Sounds like he's now an apostate, excommunicated from the global warming faith.
"But, Meredith (Vieira), part of the challenge the news media has had in covering this story is the old habit of taking the on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand approach," Gore preached. "There are still people who believe that the Earth is flat, but when you're reporting on a story like the one you're covering today, where you have people all around the world, you don't take ... you don't search out for someone who still believes the Earth is flat and give them equal time."
He then argued that there is "a very strong scientific consensus, that is as strong a consensus as you'll ever see in science, that the climate crisis is real, human beings are responsible for it ..."
There once was a "consensus" that the Earth was flat. Everyone believed it. Until some guy decided to go east by sailing westward. There was a consensus that the Earth was the center of the universe. Until Copernicus and Galileo were proven mathematically correct. The famous recant notwithstanding.
The question becomes: On which side of the consensuses are we now? Besides, how does one op-ed piece constitute "equal time" to 150 hours of preening network programming?
Gore does have some journalism credentials. I'll grant him that. He spent a couple of months in Vietnam reporting for an Army newspaper and spent a couple of years reporting for the Nashville Tennessean before quitting to go to law school and quitting that to run for Congress.
But for Gore to say the debate is over and the press should stop quoting the so-called deniers is tantamount to saying the doctrine is inviolate and anything to the contrary is heresy.
If Christy is an outlier, what is 77-year-old Colorado State University professor Bill Gray, besides being the foremost authority on hurricanes and a man who has studied atmospheric science for more than half a century, who has actually flown into hurricanes?
Gray has labeled global warming a huge hoax and predicts that in less than eight years the planet will begin to cool again. He says there is no direct observable proof of global warming, merely unproven models.
For this he has seen his research funding dry up.
If you don't do penance by going on a fossil fuel fast, you, too, may be shunned.
If journalists who report on the views of the global warming skeptics are polluting the minds of the youth of today, well, pass the hemlock, Socrates.
Thomas Mitchell is editor of the Review-Journal and writes on the role of the press and access to public information. He can be contacted at 383-0261 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.