back to article Judge rules Gore's film an inconvenient catalogue of errors

A UK judge has ruled that schools are allowed to show Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, but only if the film is accompanied by guidance highlighting the areas where the ex-vice president of America strays off the scientific terra firma, the BBC reports. Mr Justice Burton said teachers could show the film, but must highlight nine …

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A pity

This shows the problem with polemical documentary. Because of a few sloppy sequences thrown in for dramatic effect, we get (in the public mind) a big question mark thrown over the whole issue of anthropogenic influence on climate.

Shame.

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A clarification on a clarification

9 assertions which aren't supported in a mainstream science film is hardly bad going, and certainly isn't a catalagoue of errors.

The fact that IPCC contributors over at RealClimate praised the general scientific accuracy of the film is still encouraging.

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Coat

Title

Yes Michael, that's because there's a big question mark over anthropogenic influence on climate.

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Alarmist Comments

> He added that scientific consensus held that that kind of sea level

> rise would be possible if Greenland's ice melted, but that that melt

> would happen "after, and over, millennia".

How is a documentary comment about sea level rises related to ice melt 'alarmist' ? Its *happening* for chrisakes. Its happening *now*. It is a *fact* that coastal regions are suffering unprecedented erosion due to higher sea levels, and its also a *fact* that there are smaller islands which have begun dissapearing under the waves. We just don't tend to hear about this stuff because only poor people live in these places.

Ice melt rates have recently accelerated:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3922579.stm

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/09/060920-greenland-ice.html

Aw heck, just chuck 'greenland ice melt' into google to see the piles of info out there on this.

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Dan
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Counter-argument?

Would it not have been helpful to include a requirement to spend equal time on the counter-argument? There is, after all, still hot debate on whether climate change is man-made or not. (All right, not among the mass public, but there appears to be some within the scientific community).

Other than that, I'm sure the caveats will get lost on their way to most classrooms.

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So behind the times...

A UN report to be published next month will show that total green house gas concentrations have passed 450 ppm CO2 equivalent, the level at which many scientists say that global warming will pass 2 degrees C globally, triggering 'serious' climate change problems, like the melting of the greenland ice sheet.

And ten years sooner than predicted by the IPCC.

We all know that the arctic sea ice is at record low levels (2.3 million square km less ice than 'normal' for this time of year), far worse than the worst case scenario from the IPCC. Tough for those polar bears...

I have also seen a report (lost the URL) which suggests the world is twice as sensitive to global temperature rise as is generally predicted, so we actually passed the 'dangerous' level of temperature rise 40 years ago...

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Legal fees ?

Anyone know who paid the rest of his fees ? 66 grand is whopping heck of a lot for Mr Dimmock to find and presumably it wasn't the school that funded the case ?

I'm genuinely interested to know the answer.

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cor
Paris Hilton

The un-Bearable lightness of being.

Well at least no-one is blaming the rain forest for all the pollution. Oh, wait... George W. what's that?

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Jobs Horns

equal time

If they are going to show Gores film (complete with dodgy science and analysis) then it should be right and proper that they show "the great global warming swindle" directly following it. Let the b&@@ers then make their minds up.

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Victory for truth

Meteorologists don't believe in anthropogenic global warming. Why is that people who are paid to study weather without bias don't believe humans are causing global warming?

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Thumb Up

Good.

Good. The Gore film has plenty of unsubstantiated claims and dubious conclusions (increased CO2 levels always leads to warming being the biggy). Many of his points, presented as fact, remain unproven and are the subject of continuous research and debate. See commentators such Richard Lindzen (Prof. Meteorology at MIT). He made plenty of valid points (glacial retreat for example) but unfortunately his presentation was so subjective the film only has merit as a political broadcast.

He should have made it clear that many of the claims are unproven and are the subject of heated debate. At least then, with some objectivity, his thesis would have been balanced.

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who cares if it's man made or not..

fact is - it's happening and no-one - rabid tree-hugger nor fundamentalist christian - can argue with that.

So we, as a species are or are not the primary cause - so what. Can we move on from trying to assuage our guilt (or defend our egos) and get on with dealing with it.

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Gold badge

Re: Legal fees

Let that be a lesson to you. If the government breaks the law, it will cost some enlightened citizen a small fortune to actually have somebody do anything about it. Better to let the government just get away with it. Now run along children, I have an ID scheme that needs to drive a coach and horses through the DPA.

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Why equal time?

Dan said:

"Would it not have been helpful to include a requirement to spend equal time on the counter-argument? There is, after all, still hot debate on whether climate change is man-made or not. (All right, not among the mass public, but there appears to be some within the scientific community)."

Well, if you weighted the time according to the weight of scientific evidence (rather than commercially/politically inspired FUD), you might get 5 mins counterargument.

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Re: Legal Fees

Dunno if you heard the news on BBC radio 4 yesterday. He was asked who had funded him, he admitted getting backing but refused to name his backers. I think they should be named as it is in the public interest.

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Counter-argument?

Dan,

its the opposite way round: the existence of man-made climate change is effectively settled scientifically (not the _effects_, but its existence.). Most sceptics have been won over recently - eg. the last 5 years. Even the likes of Bjorn Lomborg, etc. no longer deny it -- hes changed his line to saying its 'not worth doing anything about' (shades of Bush).

However the political spin has been to _claim_ there is much more scientific doubt than there is. About 50% of the population think that the scientific case is unproven; about 98% think its proven.

Can you point for example to recent scientific literature that shows the case unproven?

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Jobs Horns

@andy

The great global warming swindle was proven to be almost completely bogus using manipulated and out of date information, edited beyond recognition interviews and directed by a man with his own agenda therefore completely discrediting it.

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Paris Hilton

How good are predictions?

A general question on all the different claims and counter claims. Given they Met Officer can't predict with any accuracy what the weather is going to be next week, let alone in 10 years plus is my guess any better then anyone elses? If so, I predict that the world temperture (whatever that means!) will be 0.7825634892456841 C higher then it was on my last birthday.

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Various points

equal time:

Only if they have equal validity. We don't give equal time to the Raelians that we have for the NHS natal nurses. David Ike isn't given equal time compared to "Stars on Sunday".

There isn't any debate on whether man is making the change. There's a small ammount of debate (rather than denial) about how much "most" is wrt man's contribution and there's a slightly larger debate about what the consequences and a whole slew of debates (not gone in to because of the denial being so loud) about what we can do about it and how it will work.

CO2 is a greenhous gas. We produce lots through burning fossil fuels. We can work out how much because the companies selling have figures on how much they are selling each year. Any attempt to show this isn't having a major effect on the earth is having to do a lot of work.

As to the ruling, please find me a documentary from the TV that *isn't* alarmist or makes scientifically dubious claims.

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IT Angle

@Andy Wager

No, because that was a load of crap and was found to be crap.

@Dan

No, there is no substantial debate in the science community. There is some right wing nuts that have a problem with what the consequences of global warming. They have spent a lot trying to manufacture an illusion of debate. But we actually got through most of the debate 10-15 years ago. Sorry you missed it, it was entertaining the first time, these repeats are becoming a bit of a boor though.

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Silver badge

Equal time != Balance

Any factual or analytical errors in Gore's film should be highlighted to the audience. But that doesn't mean the counter arguments should be given equal time, anymore than Creationism versus Evolution, as the scientific community isn't split 50:50 on the issues.

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Coat

I'll get my coat

On second thoughts, if it's getting warmer, I'll leave it at home.

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Coat

Swindle? Ha

Perhaps if the "Great global warming swindle" is taken under the same scrutiny as Gore's film, and is found to contain only 5 factual errors, then we can watch that in schools. However, considering the scientific consensus for global warming, I doubt that the film would be allowed. Simply reading the wikipedia article on the film (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Global_Warming_Swindle) essentially debunks the film - and wikipedia is relatively unbiased!

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@Leo Rampen

"wikipedia is relatively unbiased!"

that exclamation mark just gets me

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Dead Vulture

Meh

Can all the Americans in this thread out themselves first, please then get their coat and hail a taxi? There is no point in discussing climate change with people that dogmatically refuse to admit to anything that might be interpreted as threatening the American Way of Life.

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Green issues

Whilst I am sure these are important to someone, I suppose I would find more credibility if it wasnt always used as a ruse to raise taxes.

Quite why the focus is *always* on CO2, produced by every living cell as part of respiration, yet little is mentioned about CH4, mustnt upset the farmers again, no taxes to be gained there. Selectivity in the data presented effectively discounts most of the discussion for me, as I see it as someone with something to gain from omissions.

So, I quite agree a balanced discussion would be most welcome, with figures that do not originate from the treasury, failed american politicians (with a reputation for exaggeration, did he still invent the internet ?) or other vested interests.

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Coat

I see the Yanks are out

"man made climate change is lie", "Gore made up evidence", etc. etc.

What is it about the Yanks that they can't accept the evidence everyone else accepted 15 years ago?

The real problems with this verdict are:

1) politicians and media pundits don't seem to be held to the same standards. Where is the alternative viewpoint to Mr "we don't torture*" Bush whenever he tells a porky about climate change?

2) if anything the film underplays the extent of the problem and the impact of feedback loops. Greenland for one is look *very* bad and the judge is wrong when he says 7 metres will take millennia. Current best thinking is 2m this century if the feedback works out as it looks it might. You can't take the IPCC word on sea level rise since they EXPLICTLY exclude this effect that is actually already happening.

[* where torture actually means kill, if you're a neocon]

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S

generalities

There's a good to be said about this topic, much of which has been waded through before. As a Phys grad with some environmental and meteorological exp, admittedly no specialist, there seems to be a gradual take-up of both of belief in first the changing environment, the significance of the speed of the changes and the likelyhood that these changes are significantly due to human-driven processes.

It is interesting to look at the lifetime of scientific ideas and thier take-up by the wider population. A large part of the difficulty in developing a clear(er?) picture of the current and future climate change, its causes and effects, is the number and influence of the interested and affected parties. Much of what I have read/heard/seen on the subject is quite hideously biased or based on unsound, even non-existant, science. Obviously, this occurs on both sides.

The issue deserves to be looked at with as objective an opinion as possible. Objective opinions need also to be given greater emphasis in order to increase the value of debate.

IMHO it will benefit children to see the Gore film, the ~Swindle film, information directly from scientific comm and in seeing what they can determine for themselves. They could then be taught how to (and the reasons why it is useful to) evaluate the validity of any of the claims that are made.

Does objectivity sell fewer newspapers? probably. Should we all invest a little more in significant debate. Yep. Is this issue going to be solved anytime soon? Nope. Do I over use the word significant? Yes, I like it very much. It makes me feel significant.

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Rob
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Well I for one...

..welcome our new man-bear-pig overlords.

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RK
Dead Vulture

scientific consensus...

' He added that scientific consensus held that that kind of sea level rise would be possible if Greenland's ice melted, but that that melt would happen "after, and over, millennia" '

er, "scientific consensus" recently re-consensed to the opinion that their models were inadequate and that ice-cap melting was happening much faster than they had forseen. thus, it stands to reason that the aforementioned "consensus" opinion is also incorrect, thus throwing the basis of the judge's assertion into doubt.

but hey, it makes for good headlines, since we all know that global warming is simply a leftist commie feminist scare-tactic to try to force us to change our lifestyles into something a bit more ecologically sound. god forbid.

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Hmmm

If a person who defends themselves in court has a fool for a client, what does a person who goes to a judge for scientific knowledge have for a pupil?

The oncoming (and already started) Greenland melt IS a huge threat and the idea that it will take "millennia" is laughable.

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Bob Wheeler

Climate science and weather forecasting are completely different things.

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For Anon, Meh

I am an American, but I don't "dogmatically refuse to admit to anything that might be interpreted as threatening the American Way of Life." Sorry, but just because the loudest and/or most promoted voices in the media from over here are admittedly dogmatic, that doesn't mean we all are.

However, I suppose it would take someone who was dogmatically opposed to folks from over here to assume that.

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Anonymous Coward

"The Planet" is in TROUBLE

I have just seen "The Planet" which also states that Global Warming IS happening, at a much more accelerated rate than previously credited.

I agree with the poster who says 'Who CARES who or what caused it; let's DO something about it!' ! ! !

'Response and Responsibility' begins by recycling your own garbage.

Going that extra mile means occasionally picking up litter on the streets!

We must create a global community stance that we are ALL responsible.

Bear in mind that RIGHT DOWN TO THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL in Nature, a bird never fouls its own nest.

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Anonymous Coward

meanwhile in the US of A...

This puts it into the right context: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/09/24/literal_truth/

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Postmodern science

This is not the first time that a judge has been asked to rule on a matter of science. Which is to say, a judge has had to decide (aka judge) what is and what isn't reasonable to believe.

Once upon a time the men of science (and it was mostly men then) could be relied to reason things among themselves. Of course they often held competing theories, but none was prepared to commit to them until it was unreasonable not to. Today we have the cart pulling the horse - truly science has become postmodern. In the one corner Big Science, aka commerce qua global monopoly capitalism; in the other the individual confronted by hierarchies, hegemonies, Big Media narratives that omit crucial facts, and needing peer support to feel secure in their beliefs, feelings, and dietary habits, and sexual proclivities. Consensus has become the important thing, not the theory. Truth is confused with theories, hypotheses, speculations, fantasies, phantasms, and assorted creatures of the night.

The effect of agreeing, which is to cause a consensus, has been inverted with its cause, namely convincing enough people of the truth of something. And convincing people has turned from rationally appraising the evidence favouring or disfavouring the thing to be believed, into manipulating or persuading or coercing people into acting as if they believed it, e.g. Gee, World War III's out there - I guess it must be all right, as there's no one out there protesting about it.

With things so arse about tit, perhaps more postmodern "science" should be inspected by the judges.

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Anonymous Coward

Who cares?

@Paul van der Lingen and Anonymous Coward

We should all care, if not simply for the reason that we "should" be doing something, think about the full context of your statement: "Can we move on from trying to assuage our guilt (or defend our egos) and get on with dealing with it."

How can you *do* anything about it if you don't know, understand, or care about what caused it? What are we going to do, build bubbles to cover our cities to keep the climate under control? Of course that would keep the American money machine churning out the big bucks for Mr Bush et al..

--Pete (sitting in his shorts in 30C weather on Thanksgiving in Canada!)

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Re: "the great global warming swindle"

...you mean that pseudo-documentary which has been shown to be full of deliberate lies and doctored graphs?

Try typing "great global warming swindle" into google sometime.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Ahem...

"Can all the Americans in this thread out themselves first, please then get their coat and hail a taxi? There is no point in discussing climate change with people that dogmatically refuse to admit to anything that might be interpreted as threatening the American Way of Life."

Hello. I'm an american, and I believe in global warming. I also believe Dubya is either an idiot or a self-serving liar - or, more likely, both. Oh, and I happen to be a Republican, at least nominally.

What I find harder to believe is that there are still pinheads who insist on lumping all people of a particular nationality into a single category for the purpose of more conveniently insulting them.

I'll leave my coat on its hanger and pass on the taxi for now, thanks.

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Coat

"Counter-argument?" by Dan. Posted Thursday 11th October 2007 15:17 GMT

"There is, after all, still hot debate on whether climate change is man-made or not."

I suppose if the Debate had been "Cool", it would contradict the Global Warming theory.

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the American Way of Life???

What _is_ the "the American Way of Life"??

I just got back from lunch at The Olde Ship where the waitress from bloody Britain asked be if I wanted "a glahss of woatah" and I had to run that thru my mind a bit to interpret it into something I understand (I don't drink the Stella Artois that the others with me drank).

Then last week I went to the Viet Namese Pho' restaurant, and earlier this week I went to a "comida autentica Mexicana" food restaurant, and the week before I went to a Persian restaurant and had Gormet Sabzi Polo. In each case I found Americans that were from another country.

Unfortunately some of those commenting are too concerned about "the American Way of Life" to worry about global warming.

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From a Yank...

Yeah, I have no problem eliminating CO2. There's a lot of compelling reasons -- without even considering global warming -- to make a push to an electric and hydrogen economy powered by Nuclear or Windmills.

Of course, if today's environmental zealots were in place in 1961, we still wouldn't have the environmental impact statements approved today for the first rocket launch, never mind achieving the goal of getting to the moon before the decade was out.

Is the economic and technical capability here today to displace 80% of our carbon usage with either nuclear or windpower within 15 years? Absolutely.

Do you think for one second the liberal dogmatics would accept hundreds of thousands of 100 meter tall windmills or the nuclear power plants needed to do so?

Hah! They'd throw a complete snit.

I do know a few facts. I know 11,000 years ago where I now live was under a couple hundred feet of ice. I know since the ice sheet retreated, there has not been a time the ecology of New England was not influenced by the activities of man. I know it snowed in my state in June, 1816. I know we've been breaking a lot of record temperatures recently...set in the 1930s. The same 1930s known for the dust bowl in parts of the great plains. I know when those dust bowl areas where known as the Great American Desert to the first American explorers of that region...and later as the best farmland conceivable...and then as a dust bowl...and then again as great farmland. Seems that things run in cycles, with a very long term trend towards a warmer planet (and the resulting rise in sea levels) whether modern technolgical man is present or not. Certainly many species and ecosystems will be affected by more rapid changes; however it's not like mammals would develop gills if the seas rose over 10,000 years instead of 1,000 years.

I also know humanity has adapted to those great changes in climate over a geological blink of an eye.

I also, unfortunately, know the left will not accept bold solutions that would address both the concerns over pollution while also maintaining and improving our quality of life. To the left, we must feel guilty about our lives, and we must flagellate ourselves for the simple act of breathing.

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Dear Deniers

The judge quite clearly expressed that the movie does not have to be banned from schools, because the nine inaccuracies were rather unimportant and that the movie's four main messages are very well and truthfully documented: Climate change is man-made, temperatures will rise further due to it, climate change will affect our lives negatively and that it is possible for countries and individuals to do something about it.

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Silver badge

@ Steve Browne

Gore never claimed to have invented the internet, he claims to have invented the TERM "Information Superhighway".

I thought everyone in IT would know that old chestnut!

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Just a couple of minor tidbits...

"and directed by a man with his own agenda therefore completely discrediting it" - Uhm, are you saying that Al Gore DOESN'T have 'his own agenda"??? Use that brush on BOTH sides of the isle if you want to use it.

And if I recall, at one point, the "consensus" was that the world was flat. I think we have pretty well PROVEN that the world is, in fact, round.

And a lot of folks around the world are forgetting that the say media idiots that were are jumping all over the current "global warming" band wagon are the very SAME media idiots that were all over the "new ice age" band wagon back in the seventies.

Everyone seems to forget that the Earth has heated up and cooled down an uncountable number of times over it's history. At one point, we had some very nice jungle on the polar caps. At other points, we pretty much had a solid ball of ice covering this little planet of ours. I, for one, am NOT going to loose a whole lot of sleep over the fact that it is heating up right now.

Heck, did you ever stop to consider the fact that we just might still be coming out of the last little ice age?

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@Alastair McKinstry

You should read Bjorn Lomburg more carefully he has never denied Man made climate change. I quote; "This chapter accepts the reality of man-made global warming" (p259) The Skeptical Environmentialist, 1998, By Bjorn Lomburg.

The whole issue needs much more open minded debate and the realisation that none of us really know what we are talking about. Take for example the issue of the Ice Calving in Antarctica. Much has been made about this terrifying development in Global Warming.

Well here is what the British Antartic Survey have to say about it.

"Unlike in the Arctic, where there has been a significant decline in observed sea ice extent over this period, there has been little change in the overall extent of Antarctic sea ice. However, at a regional scale, sea ice cover has declined substantially in the seas to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula but loss of ice here has been compensated by increased ice cover in other parts of the Antarctic6."

All we ever hear is the bad stuff though. They go on to state that they predict increased snow fall in the central Antarctic core and state that whilst atmospheric temperature above Antarctica has risen below 8km, above this height temperature has fallen.

The list goes on and on and that's one example.

I'm glad that someone has finally pointed out that it's no all as straight forward as Al Gore wants to brainwash us into thinking it is.

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Hot off the presses

Greenland ice cap melting faster than expected

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gtpmTPNQONWGgmgxaUoJVxAc_3kQ

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Anonymous Coward

Title

"Bear in mind that RIGHT DOWN TO THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL in Nature, a bird never fouls its own nest."

Never met a pigeon, apparently. They crap right where they roost.

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global warming skeptics

I am fascinated by the global warming skeptics in this group.

- They write well and have clearly benefited from an above average education

- They employ sophisticated analytical and rhetorical devices

- And yet, they refuse to analyse the scientific evidence pointing to man's impact on the climate (or refuse to accept the consensus in the scientific community)

- In spite of lacking the knowledge or background to challenge the scientific consensus, they seem to consider their opinion to be on par with the opinion of the climate scientists ("so what if the scientists say the world is heating up, I say it is just a cycle and it's my word against theirs").

- Some of them even suggest that their opinion might be worth more than the scientific community's! Like the guy who compares himself to Ptolemy the only one to believe the world is spherical when when everyone else thought it was flat.

- None or very few of them advance a better safe than sorry argument along the lines of "I don't believe the earth is warming but since the consequences of that are so grave, I will go along with whatever suggestions the lefties have to fix the problem". How certain do you have to be that a given danger does not exist before you will expose your kids to it? 50% certain? 90% certain? I am not sure what the number is for them but clearly it is high enough when it comes to global warming.

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