Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Court Orders UK Schools to Warn of Errors and Bias in Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth'

There are some interesting developments in Great Britain related to the distribution of Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' to 3500 schools, thanks to the lawsuit of a parent who thought his child was being brainwashed. From NewsBusters:

UK Court : Schools Must Warn of Bias in 'An Inconvenient Truth'

By Lynn Davidson October 4, 2007 - 08:07 ET

Conveniently, the American media is largely ignoring a significant statement from a UK High Court judge who said Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” promotes “partisan political views” and the schools should treat it as such.

As a result the British government was forced to rewrite their website and their “guidance” and will need to issue a warning before showing the film.

As NewsBusters reported, truck driver, part-time school official and father of two Stewart Dimmock brought a High Court action to ban the film from UK schools, claiming it is “unfit for schools” because it contains scientific inaccuracies, “sentimental mush” and is politically biased.

The movie was distributed to more than 3500 schools for children aged 11 to 14-year-olds in “Climate Change Packs.”

Even though the wire services AP and UPI covered this story, it has largely gone unreported in America, unlike in England. UK’s Daily Mail covered the story in this October 3 article (bold mine throughout):

Schools will have to issue a warning before they show pupils Al Gore's controversial film about global warming, a judge indicated yesterday.

Mr Justice Burton is due to deliver a ruling on the case next week, but yesterday he said he would be saying that Gore's Oscar-winning film does promote 'partisan political views'.

This means that teachers will have to warn pupils that there are other opinions on global warming and they should not necessarily accept the views of the film.

The article actually addressed the lack of facts backing up "An Inconvenient Truth":

But during the three-day hearing the court heard that the critically-acclaimed film contains a number of inaccuracies, exaggerations and statements about global warming for which there is currently insufficient scientific evidence.”

This is rather amazing news, considering how the movie is thought of as environmental scripture. While it was a win for science, it wasn’t a total success. Hearing about “An Inconvenient Truth’s” scientific inaccuracies won’t stop the British government from continuing to teach it to kids:

Children's Minister Kevin Brennan said last night: 'The judge's decision is clear that schools can continue to use An Inconvenient Truth as part of their teaching on climate change in accordance with the amended guidance, which will be available online today.

'We have updated the accompanying guidance, as requested by the judge to make it clearer for teachers as to the stated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change position on a number of scientific points raised in the film.'

So, to avoid being accused of using scientifically inaccurate material by the courts, instead of stating that many of Gore’s “facts” were debunked by scientists, the government simply directed teachers to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which happened to be a primary source for Gore’s movie.

That’s a slick dodge.

The lack of US media attention isn't surprising. The media don’t have a good record reporting the movie’s fallacies, why would they report a judge calling it partisan?


By way of further developments, today’s TimesOnline reports that the High Court ruled “that An Inconvenient Truth can be distributed to every school in the country but only if it comes with a note explaining nine scientific errors in Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film.” (“Al Gore told there are nine inconvenient truths in his film”).

The judge said some of the errors were made in “the context of alarmism and exaggeration” in order to support Mr Gore’s thesis on global warming.

He said that while the film was dramatic and highly professional, it formed part the ex-politician’s global crusade on climate change and not all the claims were supported by the current mainstream scientific consensus.

The Court identified the following errors:

Error one
Al Gore: A sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland “in the near future”.

The judge’s finding: “This is distinctly alarmist and part of Mr Gore’s ”wake-up call“. It was common ground that if Greenland melted it would release this amount of water - “but only after, and over, millennia.”

Error two
Gore: Low-lying inhabited Pacific atolls are already “being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming.”

Judge: There was no evidence of any evacuation having yet happened.

Error three
The documentary described global warming potentially “shutting down the Ocean Conveyor” - the process by which the Gulf Stream is carried over the North Atlantic to western Europe.

Judge: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it was “very unlikely” it would be shut down, though it might slow down.

Error four
He asserted - by ridiculing the opposite view - that two graphs, one plotting a rise in C02 and the other the rise in temperature over a period of 650,000 years, showed “an exact fit”.

Judge: Although there was general scientific agreement that there was a connection, “the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts”.

Error five
Gore: The disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was expressly attributable to global warming.

Judge: This “specifically impressed” David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, but the scientific consensus was that it cannot be established that the recession of snows on Mt Kilimanjaro is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.

Error six
The drying up of Lake Chad was used in the film as a prime example of a catastrophic result of global warming, said the judge.

Judge: “It is generally accepted that the evidence remains insufficient to establish such an attribution. It is apparently considered to be far more likely to result from other factors, such as population increase and over-grazing, and regional climate variability.”

Error seven
Hurricane Katrina and the consequent devastation in New Orleans to global warming.

Judge: There is “insufficient evidence to show that”.

Error eight
Referred to a new scientific study showing that, for the first time, polar bears were being found that had actually drowned “swimming long distances - up to 60 miles - to find the ice”.

Judge: “The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm." That was not to say there might not in future be drowning-related deaths of bears if the trend of regression of pack ice continued - “but it plainly does not support Mr Gore’s description”.

Error nine
Coral reefs all over the world were bleaching because of global warming and other factors.

Judge: The IPCC had reported that, if temperatures were to rise by 1-3 degrees centigrade, there would be increased coral bleaching and mortality, unless the coral could adapt. But separating the impacts of stresses due to climate change from other stresses, such as over-fishing, and pollution was difficult.


Anonymous said...

The Brits oviously were not impressed with ALGO's Nobel Peace caliber 'intellect'.

T.R. Clancy said...

Yes, and apparently the British courts apply higher standards than the Nobel committee, too.