So Al Gore didn’t invent global warming? Who knew?

If there’s one characteristic of denialists of all stripes, it’s that they have a strong tendency to personalize their dislike of their particular bete noir science. For instance, anti-vaccine activists tend to attack Paul Offit as though he were the Dark Lord of Vaccination. Creationists tend to attack Charles Darwin (who, being conveniently dead, can’t defend himself) and Richard Dawkins (who, being one of the most vocal atheists in the world, makes a convenient target because creationists are almost invariably motivated by religious objections to evolution). Climate change denialists tend to attack, more than anyone else, Al Gore. The reason, of course, is that cranks can’t attack the science using good science and, of course, it’s far easier to attack a person than well-supported science. After all, all people have flaws that can be ridiculed or used as the basis of ad hominem attacks. In the case of Al Gore, he’s been called a hypocrite, a liar, scientifically ignorant, and all manner of other things by the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) denialist set. You would think from the vitriol and concentration on Al Gore that he were the equivalent of what Charles Darwin is with respect to evolution. Indeed, I was recently in a rather heated discussion on Facebook with an AGW denialist whom I’ve discussed before, and he kept coming back again and again to Al Gore, claiming there were numerous errors in his book and film, as though, even if there were (and there are not), that would say anything at all about the science behind AGW.

Yet, even though Gore is the most famous popularizer and activist for AGW, contrary to the impression you might get based on what his enemies say about him, Al Gore did not invent AGW, nor was he the first to sound the alarm. The alarm began to be sounded over 50 years ago:

These videos are a couple of weeks old, but they’re really good. Heck, even I didn’t know that the idea that CO2 emissions are contributing to a significant warming of the earth’s climate dates back more than 50 years.

Who knew? Al Gore didn’t invent global warming.