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Who do you believe about vanishing Arctic ice: Al Gore or CU's Mark Serreze?

In Copenhagen for the UN climate conference, inconvenient truther Al Gore suggested that

the Arctic Ocean could be almost free of ice by 2014

. Problem is, Dr. Wieslav Maslowski, the scientist whose work Gore cited in connection with this prospect,

subsequently disputed the assertion

, which Gore's office admitted had been mentioned as a ballpark figure in conversation with the former veep several years earlier.

In covering this dispute, the Associated Press sought a neutral party to address the topic, choosing CU's Mark Serreze of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder. "It's possible but not likely," Serreze said of Gore's scenario. "We're sticking with 2030."

Anti-Gore bloggers have ridiculed Big Al for this gaffe, but they've ignored a couple of salient points. First, Gore's language wasn't definitive: He said "some models" suggested that there was a "75 percent chance" of the north polar ice cap disappearing in "five-to-seven years." Secondly, Serreze's date is only about twenty years away, and that can hardly be considered good news for the planet.

But why let an environmental bummer get in the way of a little Gore bashing?

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