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Public Underst Sci. 2011 Nov;20(6):796-809.

Truth and opinion in climate change discourse: the Gore-Hansen disagreement.

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School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.


In this paper, I discuss the "inconvenient truth" strategy of Al Gore. I argue that Gore's notion of truth upholds a conception of science and policy that narrows our understanding of climate change discourse. In one notable exchange, Gore and NASA scientist, James Hansen, disagreed about whether scientific statements based on Hansen's computer simulations were truth or opinion. This exchange is featured in An Inconvenient Truth, yet the disagreement is edited from the film and presented simply as an instance of Hansen speaking "inconvenient truth". In this article, I compare the filmic representation of Hansen's testimony with the congressional record. I place their exchange in a broader historical perspective on climate change disputation in order to discuss the implications of Gore's perspective on truth.

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