Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby today offers a newish twist on the old “Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet, har, har, har” canard — he quotes Gore accurately but twists the meaning. Jacoby’s intent is to mock Gore on global warming. He writes:
In the worlds [sic] of Al Gore, America’s leading global warming apostle: “There’s no more debate. We face a planetary emergency…. There is no more scientific debate among serious people who’ve looked at the evidence.”
But as with other claims Gore has made over the years (“I took the initiative in creating the Internet”), this one doesn’t mesh with reality.
Yet as the incomparable Bob Somerby has meticulously documented, Gore’s claim meshes perfectly with reality. It was Gore, more than any member of Congress, who pushed for the funding and provided the vision needed to lift a tiny, military- and university-oriented network called the ARPANET into the communications tool we have today.
If, after all these years, you still have any doubts, read this Somerby post. Don’t worry about what might strike you as Somerby’s partisan tone — look at the evidence he’s dug up. Here’s a taste, in the form of an excerpt Somerby found in the Guardian from 1988, 12 years before Gore made his comments to CNN:
American computing scientists are campaigning for the creation of a “superhighway” which would revolutionise data transmission.
Legislation has already been laid before Congress by Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee, calling for government funds to help establish the new network, which scientists say they can have working within five years, at a cost of $400 million.
Also note that none other than Newt Gingrich, among others, has acknowledged the truthfulness of Gore’s claim. I’m not sure we’ve ever had a major political figure as frequently and casually lied about as Al Gore. This phenomenon surely cost him the presidency in 2000, and I imagine it’s got a lot to do with why he won’t get into the race this time.
By the way, Jacoby also quotes NASA administrator Michael Griffin’s controversial comments that global warming is nothing to get excited about. But he seems to have missed Griffin’s subsequent apology. Keep in mind that Griffin has never denied the reality of global warming. Thus his personal view that we shouldn’t do anything about it has no more value than my personal view that Terry Francona ought to give Jason Varitek more days off.
Monday update: David Bernstein expertly analyzes Jacoby’s anti-global-warming case. “Surely,” Bernstein writes, “if nine oncologists tell Jacoby that he needs a growth removed, and one tells him that the evidence of malignancy was not as strong as the others suggest, he would demand a strong argument for listening to the one over the nine.”