Al Gore's Climate Reality Project held its second annual 24 Hours of Reality broadcast today, with live online presentations about climate change from all 24 time zones. The event started at 8 p.m. EST on Nov. 14 and had attracted 3.2 million online viewers as of its halfway point on Thursday morning.


At the same time, the climate-change doubting site Watt's Up with That held its own online event, featuring 24 hours of live broadcasts intended as a "counterpoint" to Gore's event. As of 10 a.m. the morning of Nov. 15, the event had attracted about 9,000 viewers. (Update 11/15/12, 8 p.m.: As the 24-hour events concluded, the Climate Reality Project broadcast had exceeded 15.7 million views. The Watts Up with That broadcast totaled just over 16,000.)


In an op-ed for Forbes, James Taylor, senior fellow for environmental policy at the Heartland Institute, which has a long history of denying the effects of climate change, called the Watt's Up broadcast "the televised debate Al Gore has been avoiding for years."


Much of the Climate Reality Project's broadcast has focused on the theme of "dirty energy = dirty weather." It has been positioned by the organization as a "24-hour trip to examine how humans are warming the planet and 'dirtying' the weather. The day-long event comes as climate change emerges as a more serious political topic in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy."


"2012 was an extraordinary year for extreme weather event," Gore said in a press statement. "This year has seen consistent worldwide record-breaking temperatures, historic droughts in the Midwest, and of course Superstorm Sandy, which alone affected millions of people and caused an estimated $50 billion in damages... In addition, the North Polar Ice Cap reached a record-low summer ice cover — less than half of what existed just 30 years ago. It becomes more and more obvious every day that Dirty Energy is changing our climate and causing Dirty Weather. We are already paying the price for inaction, and that must change before we cause much worse damage."


In his own press release, Watts Up founder Anthony Watts called Climate Reality's broadcast "yet another example of what has been called 'Tabloid Climatology' trying to use the once forbidden 'weather is not climate' meme. Now almost any weather event seems to be used as 'proof' of a global warming influence where just a few years ago the idea was laughed at by climate activists."


The hashtag #DirtyWeather is trending today on Twitter. Last year's 24 Hours of Reality event attracted a total of 8 million online views and 90 million tweets.


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What if climate-change doubters held a debate and nobody came?
Al Gore's 24-hour Climate Reality broadcast has attracted millions of online viewers. A competing broadcast by climate doubters had just thousands.