Global Warning: The Inconvenient Truth

Get a group of scientists together to discuss issues of worldwide consequence, and one topic — human-caused climate change — is likely to emerge as the most prominent.

Last week, I participated in a symposium on “Nanotechnology Governance: Environmental Management from a Global Perspective” at Vanderbilt University. Between speakers, a common point of discussion was the dire need for solutions to counteract global warming; a common conclusion was that the only technology that may offer more than stopgap measures is advanced generation nanotechnology — especially molecular manufacturing.

An Inconvenient Truth is the name of a new documentary film opening this week. Here is what Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig says about it:

On Wednesday, May 24, in select theaters in New York and LA, a film by Davis Guggenheim about Al Gore’s global warming slide-show will open. I have seen the slide-show. It is — by far — the most extraordinary lecture I have ever seen anyone give about anything. And I’ve now seen the film, An Inconvenient Truth, twice.

I will rarely ask favors of those who read here. But this is one. No issue is as important. I doubt you will ever see an argument as compelling. And though this is a beautiful and passionate film, it is, in the end, an argument that gets built upon the ethic that guides at least some conversation in places like this — facts, reason and a bit of persuasion.

Meanwhile, attacks from industry have already begun. Lessig has some amusing commentary about that:

My favorite [spin] so far are two ads released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. (Both are here.) The first is totally empty and hilarious, with the slogan (and who could make this up):

CO2: They call it pollution. We call it life.

The second has more substance, charging the biased media with not reporting the fact that there were scientific studies showing that the ice caps were in fact thickening, not thinning. That claim has incited a strong rebuke from the scientist quoted in the ad:

“These television ads are a deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate,” Davis said. “They are selectively using only parts of my previous research to support their claims. They are not telling the entire story to the public.”

CEI: They call it truth. Scientists call it lies.

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