Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Hot on the heeels of the Nobel Peace Prize, the call is on for Gore to run for President in 2008. Naturally he has categorically denied that he will. Nowhere is this call stronger than at where you can buy a signed copy of this poster by Nashville artist J. William Myers

Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth' was the subject of a recent court case in the UK, which tried to prevent the film's distribution to secondary schools throughout England and Wales, on the grounds that the film was politically biased and contained a number of significant errors of fact.

The full legal account of the case can be found here

The best overview of the case and the significant points it raised is Convenient Untruths on the Real Climate site. [Posted 15th October 2007]

It begins: 'Last week, a UK High Court judge rejected a call to restrict the showing of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth (AIT) in British schools. The judge, Justice Burton found that "Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate" (which accords with our original assessment). There has been a lot of comment and controversy over this decision because of the judges commentary on 9 alleged "errors" (note the quotation marks!) in the movie's description of the science. The judge referred to these as 'errors' in quotations precisely to emphasize that, while these were points that could be contested, it was not clear that they were actually errors (see Deltoid for more on that).'

Who brought the case against the film?

Revealed: The Man Behind Court Attack on Gore Film
[Observer Oct 14th 2007]
Stewart Dimmock, who brought the case against 'An Inconvenient Truth' admitted he had recieved support from the Scottish-based New Party of which he is a member. The party has been funded to the tune of £1m by Robert Durward, a 'quarry magnate' who has also established a controversial lobbying group, The Scientific Alliance with political consultant Mark Adams of the public relations firm, Foresight Communications to promote biotechnology, genetically modified food, and climate change skepticism. [Wikipedia]

Three articles from 2003 in The Scotsman about the New Party and Durward:

New Party's paymaster: I'm no fascist : THE man bankrolling the launch of a new political party branded as fascist by the Scottish Tories yesterday broke his silence to reassure potential supporters: "I'm not a dictator - I just sound off a bit about things that annoy me."

Doubts grow over validity of new party: THE future of what was proclaimed to be Britain's newest political party appeared to be in serious doubt last night, with its plans to contest the Scottish parliamentary elections in May in disarray.

The rich recluse masterminding Britain's new party: WEALTHY, opinionated and with an axe to grind, the man bankrolling the launch of what is billed as Britain's newest political party is hardly the sort of person to keep his views to himself.

Similar efforts and groups are common in North America. The film and Al Gore have been the subject of sustained lobbying and disinformation campaigns by people who wish to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming. This extract from an article on a Canadian website and its accompanying sensitive graphic, is a prime example of the genre, in which the writer proceeds to riddle himself with errors.

Gore Nobel prize a travesty after court finds his film error-riddled

Canada Free Press website on October 17th 2007

'The dust is settling and much cynicism about the Nobel Peace awards has appeared throughout the media. A majority are not very complimentary, particularly about Al Gore who won the prize along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In taking this action, the Nobel committee have set at least two new precedents.

'Al Gore’s Prize is probably the first in history where the recipient’s work was found seriously deficient and misleading in a courtroom a week before the award. [Ed: Emphasis added: This is patently untrue]

'Some media articles made reference to this coincidence, but missed the more important point. It’s likely the committee had already made their decision when the court decision was made, but the deficiencies and problems were already well documented.

'This suggests either very poor research by the committee, lack of knowledge of climate science, or a purely political purpose to the award. Ironically, this underlines the problems of climate science. Most people don’t understand the science. It is so politicized that the proper scientific method of disproving the hypothesis is thwarted. Gore’s levels of appeal to emotionalism and fear have successfully overcome the facts. The Nobel committee has endorsed this approach.'

The author is Dr. Tim Ball who is Chairman of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project.
His bio reads: 'Dr. Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Ball’s extensive science background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and the human condition, make him the ideal head of NRSP as we move into our first campaign, Understanding Climate Change.'

Copy on the NRSP website reads in part: 'Impractical and exorbitantly expensive policies directed towards ‘global climate control’, unrealistic emission standards and so-called ‘green energy’, promoted by ideologically-driven ‘environmentalists’, are being widely accepted and vigorously promoted by mass media and politicians at all levels of government. Rational debate on these issues is virtually non-existent and alternative points of view are not given a proper hearing. Many Canadians have never heard ‘the other side’ of issues such as climate change and alternative energy and they have been conditioned to believe the other side is always suspect.'

Meanwhile, the success of 'An Inconvenient Truth' has turned Gore into a media player of substance whose major connections are itemised below.

Al Gore has become a major presence in the Bay Area

San Francisco Chronicle (13th Oct 2007)

'From the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton Hotel room where he was persuaded to make his slide show into the Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" to the Palo Alto environmental think tank [Alliance for Climate Protection (ACP)], that will receive his Nobel Prize cash award, part-time San Francisco resident Al Gore has become a major presence in the Bay Area.

'And that's not even mentioning Current TV, the Emmy Award-winning TV network he co-founded that's across the street from AT&T Park; his senior advisory role at Google; or the seat on the board of directors he has held at Apple Corp. since 2003. Or the stock options from both tech companies that have made him wealthy.'

Gore is Chairman of the Board of the ACP and 'has contributed some $5 million in residuals and profits from 'An Inconvenient Truth' to the organisation. He says he will contribute his Nobel share - $750,000 - to them also.

2006 posting on News Hounds
whose slogan is 'We Watch Fox So You Don't Have To':

John Gibson had Susan Estrich on Big Story today (19th May 2006):
'Gibson brought up Gore's "huge fortune" from his early investment in Google, speculating that he could write a check to pay for the campaign and woudn't need to raise funds. He prodded Estrich for some estimates of Gore's wealth and she at first said "10's of millions" and then speculated that it could be 100 million adding that he has some strong ties in Silicon Valley.'

Read our extensive Previous Postings

I Bought Al Gore Lunch
click on this then scroll down again to this point
- article string will be attached below

Al Gore 2: An Inconvenient Truth
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Monday, October 15, 2007


Scientific American has always been one of my favourite magazines so was delighted to discover in the Generalist Archives - currently undergoing a major overhaul, of which more anon - an interesting correspondence with Gerard Piel, the former publisher and chairman of the magazine, who

sadly died on September 5th 2004, at the age of 89. A true ambassador of science, he traveled widely and was much loved and honoured for his pioneering role in the development of popular science journalism and for his global citizenship.

Read the magazine's own obituary on this important and gracious man.

I say gracious because in 1975, when I was 25 years old and he was 60, I wrote to him regarding our book 'An Index of Possibilities' to ask him whether he could possibly write something for us on the history of the magazine. To my astonishment (bear in mind he did not know me from Adam) he sent me a long three page letter on 29th May 1975, published here for the first time:The reference to the 'boys in the back room' was a suggestion that we might have ideas to contribute to the mag. A number were submitted (at present cannot find copies of the letters I wrote to him - the other half of the conversation). Again Gerard Piel was kind enough to respond as follows:


What Gerard Piel Knows

Obituary: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Obituary: Global Policy Forum

There is a fairly substantial entry for Scientific American in Wikipedia but just a poor eight-line stub on Gerard Piel. Hopefully someone out there will take this on.

Wikipedia says: The partners - publisher Gerard Piel, editor Dennis Flanagan, and general manager Donald H. Miller, Jr. - created ...the Scientific American magazine of the second half of the twentieth century. Miller retired in 1979, Flanagan and Piel in 1984, when Gerard Piel's son Jonathan became president and editor. In 1986 it was sold to the Holtzbrinck group of Germany, who have owned it since. Donald Miller died in December, 1998. Gerard Piel in September 2004 and Dennis Flanagan in January 2005.


X-ray portrait of a healthy young woman wearing a necklace. The 'density slicing' is not electronic in this case. The colours were produced by a new kind of photographic paper. A normal x-ray was printed on a special emulsion, using several exposures of different lengths, and gradually building up the various colours according to the shades of grey in the original negative. [Credit: Agfa Gevaert]

Gerard Piel was back in touch on the 26 January 1978 in connection with our newly-published book 'Worlds Within Worlds'.

He wrote: 'You put together a fantastic collection of pictures. It will make a great swipe file for generations of editors yet to come. Will the book have a publisher over here? We cannot tantalise our readers with reviews of books they cannot lay hands on. Especially this one.'

In fact the book was published by Secker & Warburg in London in 1977 and by Holt Rinehart Winston in the States (with a different cover) the following year.

The book was reviewed in the December 1978 Scientific American by the eminent Philip Morrison in his annual Christmas round up of science books for younger readers, alongside a book of Victorian science illustrations called 'Album of Science: The Nineteenth Century.'

I think I can rightly claim 'Worlds Within Worlds' was my original idea, inspired as I remember it, by an advert that appeared in an issue of Sci Am, which showed an early brain scan image. I thought a collection of scientific imagery would make a good book - and so it turned out. The book was produced by four of us - myself, John Chesterman, John Trux and Michael Marten and was designed by Richard Adams.

I believe this book was the first popular survey of the whole range of scientific imagery - heat, x-ray, satellite, hi-speed. micro - to be published. Certainly most of the scientists we contacted were surprised that anyone outside of their field would be interested in their work. What we saw was the beauty and artistry behind many of these images. In the early 1970s the popularisation of science was still in its infancy and such images were not widely seen at the time.

Our book was won an honourable mention at the Eighth Annual Children's Science Book Award presented by the New York Academy of Sciences at a ceremony on April 17th 1979 which we were unable to attend. Philip Morrison was one of the judges.

The book was serialised over six pages in the Sunday Times magazine. New Scientist described it as 'a large, colourful, eyecatching picture book and could be appreciated as a work of art alone on the strength of its pictures. It is supplemented however with a delightful and carefully thought out text which lifts it well out of the coffee-table league. The Observer called it 'one of the most enlightening pieces of pop science publishing in a long time.' Nature reviewed it under the title 'A Talent to Amuse' and concluded: 'An intelligent choice of pictures and words makes this a volume that will fascinate and inspire.'

British Book News (March 1978) said: 'This is a book in which the beauty of the normally unseen world is fascinatingly revealed. Until comparatively recently that world was unseen because our eyes are sensitive only to a very narrow range of wavelengths. However, recent developments in the use of radiations other than visible light for the recording of the world about (and inside) us have vastly extended our knowledge of this world. Within the last ten years, techniques have been perfected which have made visible things about which we could previously only theorise...This is truly a book which demonstrates that science need not be dull but is an excitging 'journey into the unknown' as the book's sub-title so rightly claims.'

One of the legacies of the book was the Science Photo Library, created in the mid-1970s by Michael Marten, which has grown to become one of the premier photo agencies of its kind in the world

Right: Coloured magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain from the side, combined with a coloured neck and skull X-ray.