I did feel a little uncomfortable being (I think) the only person amongst around 350 delegates limiting myself to polite clapping rather than a standing ovation. But then, this is a conference for people who have (or are considering) betting the bank on renewables. They desperately need Al Gore's message on climate change to be true.
His message? It was couched in his usual cataclysmic terms: "We need to ensure the survival of our civilisation. . . Scientists have been warning us of this catastrophe for years." He also had all the professional and emotional graphs and video clips duly tailored for his audience - right down to an interview with a farmer 35 miles south of Edinburgh who has experienced a lot of rain recently who said, "The climate is definitely changing"! He was careful to mention Joseph Black (1728-1799) who discovered carbon dioxide and whose plaque marks his residence in Sylvan Place in Sciennes.
He was effusive in praise of Scotland, the Scottish Government and the First Minister Alex Salmond for ground breaking leadership on climate change. In fact he was profuse about Alex Salmond, repeatedly returning to this theme. Actually, I think the Scottish Government has shown leadership and boldness. It is just that I have more than a few doubts about the scientific basis for that direction of travel.
Here is not the forum for in depth analysis of the figures he presented. You can rest assured that it was the usual mix of facts, assertions and half truths:
- We have raised the temperature 1degree with coal and oil
- 97-98% of published climate scientists support his assertions
- He quoted two current scientists Jim Hanson and Kevin Trenberth. Such reliable authority!
- The melting of the icecaps has produced significant sea level rise
- The reason much of the world is not following Scotland's lead is because of money being poured in by big carbon in the same way as the tobacco industry opposed smoking restrictions
- Oh, and he referred to those like me who questioned his view as "deniers" and as being people whose objective is to sow doubt.
"There was one dissenting voice in the short question-and-answer session after the speech. Edinburgh city councillor Cameron Rose queried the consensus on climate change, telling Mr Gore that other respected scientists disagree. But Mr Gore responded with an analogy that a man with chest pains would take the health advice of 98 doctors and ignore the two that said there is nothing to worry about."
Later, Mr Rose, a Conservative councillor, said: "His apocalyptic terms just do not ring true. He said we're fighting for the survival of our civilisation. The evidence is not there for that kind of interpretation. There are other reasons to focus on renewable energy, such as cleaner air and energy security."