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More on Gore and Global Warming

Yesterday I blogged about Al Gore blaming the media for inaction on global warming. Some of you asserted, albeit quite politely, that I am an idiot for disagreeing with Gore.

I may well be an idiot, but let me clarify a bit.

I acknowledge that I should have put a finer point on my objection to what Gore said. And it probably didn’t help that my objection was written in a glib tone: “I would argue that he is, um, wrong.” So here I will try to put a finer point on it, without the glib.

Here is how Gore was quoted in the article I linked:

“I believe that [media misrepresentation] is one of the principal reasons why political leaders around the world have not yet taken action,” Gore said. “There are many reasons, but one of the principal reasons in my view is more than half of the mainstream media have rejected the scientific consensus implicitly – and I say ‘rejected,’ perhaps it’s the wrong word. They have failed to report that it is the consensus and instead have chosen … balance as bias.”

Are we really to believe that the media’s portrayal of global warming is “one of the principal reasons” that political leaders have been slow to act? To me, the implications here are that:

1. The media’s portrayal of the issue was so compromised that it failed to sound the alarm (an implication that I would reject); and

2. Media portrayals of world problems are what typically push political leaders to react (an implication that, with notable exceptions, I would also reject).

Perhaps my objections are merely a function of my own bias as a journalist — and, more specifically, as a contributor, former editor, and longtime reader of the New York Times, which despite the claims of the academic study cited by Gore, has hardly been skeptical toward the human contribution to global warming.

I think I was also taken aback by the timing of Gore’s comments. He has just won a war of sorts (by having recently claimed, in a very big way, the global stage on the issue) only to turn around and lament a battle he feels he lost. In other words, the media is all over the issue now (as has been noted here and here and here); so I’m not sure why Gore — a guy with a a good sense of humor — chose to look back in anger rather than looking forward. Maybe his hate-love relationship with the media has something to do with it.