A former vice president and a former vice presidential nominee are engaged in a public battle over climate change, a tiff sparked by Sarah Palin's op-ed in Wednesday's Washington Post and furthered by Al Gore's rebuttal on MSNBC.
In a piece titled "Copenhagen's Political Science," the former Alaska governor charged that "leading climate 'experts'" have "destroyed records, manipulated data to 'hide the decline' in global temperatures, and tried to silence their critics by preventing them from publishing in peer-reviewed journals."
Gore bit back during an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell to air Wednesday afternoon. The former presidential candidate said "the deniers are persisting in an era of unreality. The entire North Polar ice cap is disappearing before our eyes ... what do they think is happening?"
Palin was referring to correspondence between some of the world's leading climate scientists. The e-mails were recently stolen from Britain's University of East Anglia and leaked on the Internet.
Skeptics of man-made global warming say the e-mails prove that scientists have been conspiring to hide evidence about climate change.
Last week, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, said the issue raised by the e-mails was serious and would be looked at in detail.
Palin also took to Facebook to allege that concerns over global warming are "doomsday scare tactics pushed by an environmental priesthood."
Gore said Wednesday that the scientific community has worked intensively on the issue for twenty years. "It's a principle in physics," he told Mitchell. "It's like gravity, it exists."
Palin said she's personally witnessed "the impact of changing weather patterns." But she said that "while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can't say with assurance that man's activities cause weather changes."
"This scandal obviously calls into question the proposals being pushed in Copenhagen," added Palin in The Washington Post. "Our representatives in Copenhagen should remember that good environmental policymaking is about weighing real-world costs and benefits — not pursuing a political agenda."
She added that, in light of the e-mail controversy, President Barack Obama should boycott the upcoming climate change conference in Denmark. "Without trustworthy science and with so much at stake, Americans should be wary about what comes out of this politicized conference," said Palin.
Gore attributed the partisan divide over climate change to the leadership of the modern Republican party, which he feels has adopted a stronger stance on denying global warming.
Gore emphasized that climate change should be a bipartisan issue. "It used to be," he said.
He cited Lindsey Graham as one example of a Republican leader who accepts the science.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell and Michelle Perry contributed to this report.