You can sense the mood on climate change shifting. Ever since Hurricane Katrina, the mainstream media no longer has a doubt. The problem is real, huge, and urgent: Something must be done. Every storm in the hurricane season just starting will strengthen the conviction. Washington will not be immune, but it has a lot of catching up to do. There is no sign of consensus on the issue. There is little sign, even, of intelligent discussion.
It will be interesting to see whether Al Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth, makes a difference. Gore's documentary, a polished live-action version of the presentation that he has been touring round the country for years, is winning glowing notices. Reviewers declare themselves gripped, charmed, and persuaded. If only this man were president, they more or less say. The same thing has doubtless occurred to Gore. The film would have to do very well to become a springboard for a presidential campaign, of course. Still, even if it falls short of that, the movie may change things.
Global-warming activists, Gore pre-eminent among them, are already regarded by most thinking people as having won the argument. The new movie will seal that victory. Science, facts, levelheaded analysis—inconvenient truths, calmly and convincingly presented—are all on their side, or so it is believed. Global-warming inactivists are going to find themselves regarded, even more than before, as purblind bigots. Their criticisms will be seen as not merely mistaken, but intellectually defunct. To oppose Gore's view of the subject will be to align yourself with, say, advocates of intelligent design. More and more, climate-change denial, or anything that can be characterized as such, will be viewed as a kind of shameful, strutting ignorance.