INTERVIEW - Gore's Warming-to-Disease Link Seen Too Strong
Author: Timothy Gardner
"The science parts of the film that I think are strongest are about the sea ice and glaciers where ... I think he is up to date," Dr. Ralph Cicerone told Reuters on the sidelines of a science scholarship meeting in New York.
In the film, "An Inconvenient Truth," Gore presents pictures, computer simulations and studies on the effects of emissions of heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide. Most scientists say climate change could cause big changes such as floods, heatwaves, and a rise in sea levels that could swamp low-lying islands by 2100.
Cicerone, an atmospheric scientist who has taken greenhouse gas samples from car tailpipes to cow pastures, said he liked the film overall and that it was better than he had expected.
Cicerone himself has visited the crossroads of politics and climate change. In 2001 he led a National Academy of Sciences study on climate change requested by President George W. Bush. The study concluded that human action was helping to cause climate change.
Still, Bush withdrew from the international Kyoto Protocol on climate change, saying it would hurt the economy.
Cicerone took issue with some of Gore's conclusions in the film. "There were some issues where scientists are not ready to say yet that the linkage (with global warming) is as clear as perhaps he is," said Cicerone. "For example, the spread of certain diseases over the world."
MIGRATION OF DISEASE
"There are certainly medical experts who say that the spread of certain diseases is being caused by climate change, but the evidence isn't that solid yet," said Cicerone.
Gore has long said that global warming can lead to the spread of infectious disease epidemics and can hurt the health of the elderly and urban poor. He says mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other pests move into new areas as the Earth gets warmer and potentially infect people with illnesses such as West Nile virus.
"In the movie Mr. Gore made it sound like (the link) is pretty solid. I don't think it is," said Cicerone.
Dr. Paul Epstein at the Harvard Medical School is one medical expert who makes the link between climate change and the spread of malaria and asthma. He says warming increases the range of parasitic insects like mosquitoes and whip up dust from storms.
Cicerone said if Gore decides to run for the presidency the impact of the film could be diminished.
"I think people would rather be led by somebody that doesn't have a personal interest in it," Cicerone said.
Gore has brushed aside talk of another run at the presidency and said his personal goal is to help stop global warming.