Roger writing the LAWmag
Aug 2010

An Inconvenient Truth's Inconvenient Truth

When Stuart Dimmock saw An Inconvenient Truth, it tweaked with his memory that this was the same film he had seen on his son's curriculum.

Mr. Dimmock was no pushover. He was well aware of the education law in England as he was a school governor. But he also knew that school curriculum could not include political content. When he mentioned it to his British solicitor, the latter told him that the exact wording of the Education Act 1996 was to:

"... forbid the promotion of partisan political views (and) ... where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils while they are in attendance at a maintained school ... they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views."

An Inconvenient Truth is presented as slick as a Cirque de soleil act, as the charismatic Al Gore narrates against high definition, life-size screens showing dramatic back-drop images of tornadoes, earthquakes, dying polar bears and volcano eruptions, all to his deep Texan drawl announcing the end of the world as we know it, to full auditoriums. These movie halls are filled with spellbound audiences, filling themselves with popcorn and soda drinks in un-refillable containers all destined for landfill.

Albert Gore is the former Democratic Vice-President of the United States. What better crusade than the black carbon footprint of the factory down the street?

Shortly after the film was released to universal acclaim, public records revealed that the carbon footprint of the Gore's Nashville home (residential electrical bill) was one of the highest in the state of Tennessee and 18 times the national average.

But Gore, energy pig or not, had star power and those advantages worked both ways. Gore wanted to send out a feeler at the candidacy of the Democratic Party for US President. No bandwagon had more potential than global warming which, until the global recession hit, it was the global catastrophe de jour.

Gore brought all his media savvy to bear on the film, complete with hydraulic lifts and bigger-than-life images. Black background was used ad nauseum to add grim reaper effect. God forbid that the facts behind one of the most influential films of all time would be false.

While the significant advantage of giving proponents of global warming a loud and voluminous platform was objected to by no one (Gore won a Nobel prize for it), Dimmock thought that the film smacked of politics and bunk science. Indeed, he argued, if the science was bunk, the film was necessarily political. His application to remove the film from the curriculum of public schools was filed and ended up in the Courtroom of Mr. Justice Burton, who heard it on September 27, 2007.

In the judicial brouhaha, even the government's lawyer had to admit that An Inconvenient Truth was a political film. As the judge said in rendering decision in favor of Dimmock:

"[I]t is not simply a science film ... although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion ... but that it is a political film, albeit of course not party political."

Burton went on with the authority of his black gown completely lost under his silly white wig, to point out seven errors. Gore's film suggests that if Greenland melted suddenly, it would cover Manhattan.

The Court:

"This is distinctly alarmist.... It is common ground that if indeed Greenland melted, it would release this amount of water, but only after, and over, millennia."

Gore asserts that unspecified inhabited Pacific atolls are being inundated. And their inhabitants evacuated to New Zealand.

The evidence submitted to Burton's judicial scrutiny showed these dramatic evacuations as the fabrication of overzealous global warming script writers.

No such thing is occurring.

Gore speaks about an ocean conveyor, more properly known to science as the Meridional Overturning Circulation or thermohaline circulation. Against, his prop for this is Greenland as he implies scientists are "most worried about" a new ice age for Europe.

Burton, at para. 27 of the judgment:

"It is very unlikely that the ocean conveyor ... will shut down in the future, though it is ... considered likely that (it) may slow down."

Behind the narrator of An Inconvenient Truth, time-lapse images show the receding ice cap on top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest point, and the arid lake bed of Lake Chad. Both of these are caused, says Al Gore, by global warming.

But Burton's review of the expert evidence showed that science has not been able to attribute the raising ice cap on Mt. Kilimanjaro to human-induced global warming. Lake Chad has been subjected to the short-sighted over-population of its banks and over-grazing which, according to scientists, are the more likely causes.

Burton also takes Gore and the film crew to task for blaming Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans on global warming. Burton concludes that there is no scientific evidence to support that.

In the movie, images of a polar bear swimming into open sea while Al Gore's voice tells the audience that:

"A new scientific study shows that for the first time they are finding polar bears that have actually drowned swimming long distances up to 60 miles to find the ice. They did not find that before."

The lawyers for Dimmock and for the Secretary of Education sent their researchers far and wide and, Burton concludes:

"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."

Any argument which intend to form public opinion must be based on solid science, not speculation or self-serving interpretation. On this, a court of law was called upon to do the unpopular; what no one else could in this emotional and critical debate, but which had to be done. Much of the wildly popular film was science fiction, an inconvenient truth as environmental causes need all the help it can get.


Posted in Environmental Law