Monday, August 20, 2007

Leading The Follower

In her LA Weekly review of Leonardo DiCaprio's sky-is-falling eco-documentary The 11th Hour, Judith Lewis wastes no time in repeating the libel that scientists who disagree with prevailing orthodoxy are bought and paid for. But no matter, I was struck more by this bit in the first paragraph: "The last [eco-documentary] featured Al Gore, won an Oscar, and miraculously shifted the tide of public opinion toward the climate change yea-sayers."

Pardon me? The idea that global warming was having trouble gaining purchase with the public till An Inconvenient Truth came out with such unimpeachable evidence that even doltish Americans struck their colors is absurd. It's the sort of vainglory you hear from activists, who love to exaggerate their importance in shaping public opinion, but a journalist, no matter what her politics, should know better.

The public believed in and took the threat of global warming seriously for years before Al Gore's movie came out. I thought everyone knew this, but after coming up against Judith Lewis's smugness, I guess I should link to research that shows 75% of Americans believed in human-made global warming a decade ago, just in case.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a difference between "believing" in global warming and being moved to vote on it. I don't think it was very high on the list of concerns that Americans cited in previous elections. Hasn't it moved up substantially since "An Inconvenient Truth" came out?

11:08 PM, August 19, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Judith Lewis claims An Inconvenient Truth shifted public opinion toward belief in climate change--"miraculously" so, in fact. That shift had happened years ago and wasn't particularly miraculous. Scientists noted there was solid evidence for global warming, the media reported it, the people believed it.

As far as the film changing how people vote, the answer's probably very little. While the film was a rallying point for people who wanted to build up the issue, if you look at polls from years ago, the public already believed it was important and wanted political action.

However, as far as it being a priority, it still ranks relatively low. Poll after poll taken lately shows the War in Iraq, terrorism, national security, immigration, health care, the economy, jobs and education rank higher. No poll I'm aware of shows the environment or global warming to be a high-priority issue among Republicans, Democrats or independents.

12:06 AM, August 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would distinguish "generally approving of a theory and thinking something someday should be done about it" to being scared right now.

Sometimes you have to look beyond what journalists say to divine what they mean. This points to declining educational standards but thats another gabfest

6:12 AM, August 20, 2007  

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