First he won the Oscar -- then the Nobel Peace Prize. He's being called a "prophet."
Impressive, considering that one of former Vice President Al Gore's chief contributions has been to call the debate over global warming "over" and to marginalize anyone who disagrees. Although he favors major government intervention to stop global warming, he says, "the climate crisis is not a political issue. It is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity".
Give me a break.
If you must declare a debate over, then maybe it's not. And if you have to gussy up your agenda as "our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level," then it deserves some skeptical examination.
Everyone has heard that Earth's atmosphere is heating up, it's our fault, and it's a crisis. No wonder 86 percent of Americans think global warming is a serious problem and 70 percent want the government to do something now.
But is it a crisis? The globe is warming, but will it be catastrophic? Probably not.
In "An Inconvenient Truth," Gore says that "sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet."
But the group that shared last week's Nobel Prize, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says in a hundred years, the oceans might rise7 to 24 inches .
Gore also talks about drowning polar bears. He doesn't mention that the World Conservation Union and the U.S. Geological Survey say that today most populations of polar bears are stable or increasing.
And while man's greenhouse gasses may increase warming, it's not certain that man caused it. The most impressive demonstration in Gore's movie is the big graph of carbon-dioxide levels, which suggests that carbon levels control temperature. But the movie doesn't tell you that the carbon increases came after temperatures rose, hundreds of years later.
I wanted to ask Gore about that and other things, but he wouldn't talk to me. Why should he? He says "the debate is over."
"It's absurd for people to say that sort of thing," says Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute.