Former Vice President Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, is too “partisan” and “political” and riddled with misleading exaggerations and factual errors to be shown in public schools without an explicit disclaimer, a British High Court ruled on October 2.
The issue reached the courts after the U.K. Department for Education and Skills (DES) made a decision to purchase and distribute copies of An Inconvenient Truth to every public secondary school in the United Kingdom.
Stuart Dimmock, the father of a secondary school student who would have been subjected to the advocacy film, objected that the biases and factual errors in the film made it inappropriate for public schools without, at the very least, a disclaimer or the presentation of counter-evidence from the scientific community.
Political Message, Goals
The court began its discussion by noting, “It is now common ground that it is not simply a science film … but that it is a political film.”
The court referenced letters drafted by DES to be distributed to teachers suggesting, “The debate over the science of climate change is well and truly over. … Our energies should now be channeled into … moving to a low carbon future.” The DES letter justified its assertion about the science being settled by referencing Gore’s assertion that alpine glaciers atop Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro are retreating.
The DES letter added, “Children are the key to changing society’s long term attitude to the environment. Not only are they passionate about saving the planet but children also have a big influence over their own family’s lifestyles and behavior.”
Debate Isn’t Over
The court disagreed with the letter’s assertion that the debate “is well and truly over.”
Referencing nine specific topics on which Gore’s film misrepresented or lied about the science–and noting evidence suggests many others may also exist–the court found presentation of An Inconvenient Truth in public schools must be accompanied by a notice that science does not support many of Gore’s assertions, and that there are scientific views disputing Gore’s overall premise that humans are causing dangerous global warming.
Multitude of Falsehoods
The court singled out Gore’s assertions that sea levels may rise 20 feet in the foreseeable future due to West Antarctic and Greenland ice melt; that people are evacuating Pacific island nations due to sea level rise; that the oceanic “conveyor belt” is in danger of shutting down and triggering a new ice age; that changing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have historically caused changes in global temperature; that global warming is causing a retreat of Mount Kilimanjaro’s alpine glacier; that global warming is causing Africa’s Lake Chad to dry up; that global warming caused or contributed to Hurricane Katrina; that polar bears are dying due to receding sea ice; and that global warming is causing coral reefs to bleach and die.
The court noted evidence of “a long schedule of such alleged errors or exaggerations” in addition to the ones noted explicitly. However, the court limited its discussion to the exaggerations and errors that DES admitted to or that were explicitly refuted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Gore Team Attacks Parent
Gore refused to comment personally on the court’s decision, but Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider responded with a personal attack on Stuart Dimmock, the parent who objected to the film. Writing in a Washington Post online blog, Kreider said Dimmock will not say whether any person or group helped cover his expensive court costs and legal fees, and therefore his “motives are quite suspect.”
Kreider also justified Gore’s distortion of science by stating, “particular points had to be truncated and shortened from the original research” to fit in a 90-minute movie. “We acknowledge that the wording of the film here is unfortunate,” Kreider added.
“It is mean-spirited and reprehensible for a well-oiled, well-financed political machine to stoop so low as to make a bulldog assault on the integrity of a concerned parent simply because he objected to what a court of law determined to be a political, partisan, and factually erroneous film,” responded Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, in an interview for this story.
James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
For more information …
Download the full text of the British High Court’s October 2 decision here.