The British government decided that it would be a good idea to send copies of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth to all schools, with then Environment Secretary (now Foreign Secretary) David Miliband declaring that “the debate over science is over.” Well, it may be, but not in the way Gore portrays it. A truck driver and school governor, Stuart Dimmock, took the government to court, alleging that the film portrays “partisan political views,” the promotion of which is illegal in schools under the Education Act 1996.
The judge has decided that this is indeed the case and that the Government’s guidance notes that accompanied the film exacerbated the problem. For the film to be shown in schools, therefore, several facts would have to be drawn to students’ attention:
In order for the film to be shown, the Government must first amend their Guidance Notes to Teachers to make clear that 1.) The Film is a political work and promotes only one side of the argument. 2.) If teachers present the Film without making this plain they may be in breach of section 406 of the Education Act 1996 and guilty of political indoctrination. 3.) Eleven inaccuracies have to be specifically drawn to the attention of school children.
The inaccuracies are:
* The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
* The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
* The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.
* The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.
* The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.
* The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
* The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
* The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.
* The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.
* The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
* The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.
This is a far better result than refusing to allow the film to be shown at all. It requires that students be told by teachers that Al Gore is factually inaccurate, misleading and – in one case – making things up. These inconvenient truths for the former Vice President have been covered up or obscured by the hype surrounding his film. Students will now realize that there are significant shortcomings and inaccuracies in the way the global warming scare has been presented to them. This is a victory for honest debate, a victory for science and a victory for education.