It was a tough weekend for Al Gore. Not only did “An Inconvenient Sequel” continue its nosedive at the box office, but the climate change documentary also drew a scathing rebuttal from a leading climate scientist.
Climatologist Roy W. Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, released Saturday an 81-page e-book on Amazon titled “An Inconvenient Deception: How Al Gore Distorts Climate Science and Energy Policy.”
“After viewing Gore’s most recent movie, ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,’ and after reading the book version of the movie, I was more than a little astounded,” Mr. Spencer said on his blog, Global Warming. “The new movie and book are chock-full of bad science, bad policy, and factual errors.”
Mr. Spencer said the sequel, like its 2006 predecessor “An Inconvenient Truth,” implies repeatedly that naturally occurring weather episodes are the result of human-caused global warming — for example, a shot in which the former vice president stands ankle-deep in a flooded Miami street.
“That flooding is mostly a combination of (1) natural sea level rise (I show there has been no acceleration of sea level rise beyond what was already happening since the 1800s), and (2) satellite-measured sinking of the reclaimed swamps that have been built upon for over 100 years in Miami Beach,” said Mr. Spencer.
Mr. Spencer isn’t new to the warming debate — he’s a well-known climate skeptic — but there’s no disputing his credentials: He’s an award-winning former NASA senior scientist for climate studies who continues to work with NASA on the U.S. Science Team.
The author of three previously published books on climate change, Mr. Spencer said he wrote the point-by-point rebuttal in two weeks after the Aug. 4 wide release of “An Inconvenient Sequel,” which took another plunge last weekend at the box office.
The movie earned $331,007, a 59 percent drop from the previous weekend’s gross of $816,150, for a total to date of $3 million. Meanwhile, the per-screen gross plummeted from $1,468 to $644, according to Box Office Mojo.
The former vice president has not commented publicly on Mr. Spencer’s rebuttal, but another prominent scientist, climate “consensus” leader Michael E. Mann, praised the film in a July 26 review for Nature.
“Nobody (and given my experiences with climate deniers, I speak with some authority here) has been more vilified for their efforts to communicate the climate threat than Al Gore,” said Mr. Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State.
Mr. Mann, co-author of the “hockey stick” theory of global temperatures, said the Tennessee Democrat “has a genius for joining the dots in the global mapping of climate impacts.”
“It is astonishing that we’re still mired in a political debate about whether climate change even exists when, with each passing year of insufficient action, the challenge of averting a catastrophe becomes ever greater,” he said. “Knowing that Al Gore is still optimistic is a shot in the arm at a time of uncertainty.”
What’s not in dispute is that “An Inconvenient Sequel” so far has failed to replicate the success of the original, which earned $24 million at the box office and won the 2006 Academy Award for best documentary feature.
While Mr. Gore has tirelessly promoted the film, and critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave the sequel a positive 77 percent approval rating, only 48 percent of audiences say they liked it.
“Would I still recommend ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’? Sure, although I doubt there is much one could glean from this movie that couldn’t be obtained by rewatching ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’” Salon critic Matt Rozsa said in an Aug. 15 review.