It doesn't take much to be the funniest moment in an Academy Awards show that Washington Post television critic Tom Shales described as "alternately a bore and a horror." But I thought it hilarious when Al Gore won the Oscar for best documentary for "An Inconvenient Truth."
Documentaries ought to bear some relationship to reality. "An Inconvenient Truth" is a cheesy propaganda film. Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, who is to climate science what Tom Brady is to football, has described it as "shrill alarmism."
The thesis of Mr. Gore's movie is that man-made global warming threatens catastrophe if we don't take steps immediately to ameliorate it.
It's a perfectly respectable thesis. A large majority of the world's climate professionals believe it, as the forthcoming report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates.
But Mr. Gore takes it to a point beyond parody. "Nearly every significant statement Gore makes about climate science or climate policy is either one sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative or wrong," said Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
For instance, the IPCC predicts sea levels could rise by 7 to 23 inches in the next 100 years if concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere double. Mr. Gore talks about a sea rise of 20 feet, which should say all that needs to be said about his credibility.
Mr. Gore blames hurricanes on global warming. But Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the Hurricane Center in Miami, said global warming had nothing to do with the recent increase in hurricanes in the North Atlantic. Dr. Tad Murty, a hurricane specialist at the University of Ottawa, notes that in the world's other six ocean basins, hurricane activity is flat or declining. If global warming hypothesis were true, said Dr. Tim Ball, a former professor of climatology, severe weather incidents should diminish, because the contrast in temperature between warmer and colder regions the driver of extreme weather would lessen.
Mr. Gore blames the loss of the snow cap on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa on global warming. But temperatures at the top of the mountain have been falling, not rising. The snow cap has been shrinking because of the loss of moisture in the air, due chiefly to changes in land use at the base of the mountain.
"Gore's movie substitutes vivid images of the alleged effects of global warming for an accurate account of the scientific debate," wrote Joe Bast of the Heartland Institute. "We see glaciers calving into the sea, giant storms sweeping through resort areas, burning deserts, and even a cartoon polar bear swimming aimlessly, searching for a place to rest."
The problem, Mr. Bast said, is that "all of the events pictured in this movie have been occurring since before human activities could possibly have caused them.
Glaciers have calved into the seas for millions of years, storms obviously predate modern civilization and our emissions, and real-life polar bears know better than to head out into the open water during the Arctic summer."
For the record, the polar bear population is not declining, and the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica are thickening.
But Mr. Gore's Chicken Little film obviously struck a responsive chord with the Hollywood crowd.
"You'd think that a science-based, call to action film from a guy who flunked out of divinity school...would be received with a certain amount of skepticism, but in officially atheist Hollywood, Albert Arnold Gore Jr. is the second coming of Moses, Maimonides, Martin Luther, all rolled into one," wrote "David Kahane," a nom de plume for a screenwriter in Hollywood.
Gore-style alarmism is part scam and part theology. The big monotheistic religions all predict an Apocalypse when an angry G-d finally punishes mankind for our wickedness. Liberals tend not to believe in G-d, angry or otherwise. But belief in an apocalypse seems to satisfy some craving in the human psyche.
"When people stop believing in G-d, they don't believe in nothing," said G. K. Chesterson. "They believe in anything."
When I saw the Hollywood celebs on the red carpet in their tuxedos and designer dresses, I couldn't help but think of cave men chanting around a fire as they prepare to sacrifice your child to appease the thunder G-d.
That's your child, not theirs. For liberals, sacrifices are something other people make. If the first steps taken to combat global warming were a ban on private jets and limousines, support for Mr. Gore in Hollywood would melt as rapidly as he (falsely) claims the glaciers in Greenland are.