A convenient omission: Colorado media figures ignore British judge's conclusion that An Inconvenient Truth is "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Following last week's announcement that former Vice President Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, numerous Colorado media figures and outlets noted that a British judge found nine errors in An Inconvenient Truth, the global warming documentary featuring Gore. However, in using the decision to criticize Gore's thesis on human-induced climate change, they failed to mention that the judge's ruling also stated that the film is "broadly accurate" and "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact."

Discussing a recent ruling by a British judge about the documentary An Inconvenient Truth (Paramount Classics, May 2006), featuring former Vice President Al Gore, several Colorado media figures and outlets -- including 630 KHOW-AM's Dan Caplis, Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Scott James, 1310 KFKA's Amy Oliver, and The Gazette of Colorado Springs -- stated that the judge found that the film contained nine errors without mentioning the ruling also stated that the film is "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact." The judge also said he had "no doubt" that the defendant's expert was "right when he says that: 'Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate,' " as Media Matters for America has noted.

In an October 16 editorial critical of Gore's winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, The Gazette wrote that "[t]he day before the prize was announced, an English judge had something to say about Gore's crowning achievement":

The judge said the movie has nine major errors. Now there's an inconvenient truth.

The errors "arise in the context of alarmism and exaggeration in support of (Gore's) political thesis," said High Court Judge Michael Burton. He ruled teachers must alert children to the errors.

We realize a judge is not a scientist, but many scientific advances we take for granted in criminal and civil cases were first vetted by judges before they were allowed into testimony. Maybe the legal system is a good arbiter of which global warming claims are legitimate and which are bogus. An independent analyst, so to speak.

In addition to The Gazette's claims, several conservative Colorado talk-show hosts asserted the judge found nine errors in the film but ignored the judge's finding that An Inconvenient Truth is "broadly accurate" and "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact." For example:

  • Before saying that he doesn't "trust" Gore, Caplis stated on the October 11 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show that "[a] British court has said if you're going to show this movie [An Inconvenient Truth] in school you have to do it with at least nine corrections and disclaimers. So, you know, at this point, I think to just assume that Al Gore's movie is nonpartisan and that it's scientifically accurate and that he's right in his theories would be way, way, way too naïveand premature."
  • On the October 11 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Ride Home with The James Gang, James, apparently reading in part from an online article from Britain's Evening Standard about the decision, noted that "there's a judge in London that has attacked nine errors in Al Gore's alarmist climate change film." Though James added that "Justice Burton said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, was 'one-sided' and would breach educational rules unless accompanied by a warning,' " he did not note, as the article did, that the ruling judge agreed "that Mr Gore's film was 'broadly accurate' on the subject of climate change."
  • While touting the dubious global warming theories of Colorado State University professor William Gray during the October 15 broadcast of 1310 KFKA's The Amy Oliver Show, Oliver stated, "By the way, judge in Britain ... found nine falsehoods in the Goracle's movie." At no point did Oliver elaborate on the decision by pointing out that the judge's findings in fact confirmed the overall scientific veracity of An Inconvenient Truth.

From the October 10 United Kingdom High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court) judgment:

The Film

17. I turn to AIT [An Inconvenient Truth], the film. The following is clear:

i) It is substantially founded upon scientific research and fact, albeit that the science is used, in the hands of a talented politician and communicator, to make a political statement and to support a political programme.

ii) As Mr [Martin] Chamberlain [counsel for the defendant] persuasively sets out at paragraph 11 of his skeleton:

"The Film advances four main scientific hypotheses, each of which is very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC:

(1) global average temperatures have been rising significantly over the past half century and are likely to continue to rise ("climate change");

(2) climate change is mainly attributable to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide ("greenhouse gases");

(3) climate change will, if unchecked, have significant adverse effects on the world and its populations; and

(4) there are measures which individuals and governments can take which will help to reduce climate change or mitigate its effects."

[...]

iii) There are errors and omissions in the film, to which I shall refer, and respects in which the film, while purporting to set out the mainstream view (and to belittle opposing views), does in fact itself depart from that mainstream, in the sense of the "consensus" expressed in the IPCC reports.

[...]

22. I have no doubt that Dr [Peter] Stott, the Defendant's expert, is right when he says that:

"Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate."

Mr [Paul] Downes [counsel for the claimant] does not agree with this, but to some extent this is because the views of the Claimant's expert, Professor Carter, do not accord with those of Dr Stott, and indeed are said by Dr Stott in certain respects not to accord with the IPCC report. But Mr Downes sensibly limited his submissions to concentrate on those areas where, as he submitted, even on Dr Stott's case there are errors or deviations from the mainstream by Mr Gore. Mr Downes produced a long schedule of such alleged errors or exaggerations and waxed lyrical in that regard. It was obviously helpful for me to look at the film with his critique in hand.

In the event I was persuaded that only some of them were sufficiently persuasive to be relevant for the purposes of his argument, and it was those matters -- 9 in all -- upon which I invited Mr Chamberlain to concentrate. It was essential to appreciate that the hearing before me did not relate to an analysis of the scientific questions, but to an assessment of whether the 'errors' in question, set out in the context of a political film, informed the argument on ss406 and 407. All these 9 'errors' that I now address are not put in the context of the evidence of Professor Carter and the Claimant's case, but by reference to the IPCC report and the evidence of Dr Stott. [italics in original, emphasis added]

From the October 11 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show:

CAPLIS: The reason that I haven't seen his movie is I don't trust Al Gore; he doesn't have credibility in my eyes. So, given the importance of global warming, I'm going to study that, but I'm going to study that from other sources because I simply don't trust Al Gore. So in terms of whether his movie should qualify him for the Nobel Prize -- listen, I'm not an expert on that. But, you know, I look around and I see respected experts -- including, shoot, a judge in Great Britain yesterday, 'cause they were going to distribute Gore's movie in the schools there, it was ruled no. You can't -- this movie's political in nature with a lot of unfounded statements, and at least that British court has said if you're going to show this movie in school you have to do it with at least nine corrections and disclaimers. So, you know, at this point, I think to just assume that Al Gore's movie is nonpartisan and that it's scientifically accurate and that he's right in his theories would be way, way, way too naïve and premature. But hey -- you know, I just, you know, I don't trust Al Gore.

From the October 11 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Ride Home with The James Gang:

JAMES: What do I know? I'm just a rube disc jockey. In fact, there's a judge in London that has attacked nine errors in Al Gore's alarmist climate change film. Controversial documentary on climate change has been sent to thousands of schools. So in Great Britain they just ordered this, shipped it off to the schools. "Has been 'criticised' " -- with the proper British "s" rather than "z" -- "has been criticised by a high court for being alarmist and exaggerated. Mister Justice Burton said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, was 'one-sided' and would breach educational rules unless accompanied by a warning. Despite winning lavish" -- wait a minute. The liberals should be all right; the liberals love warnings, because you're not responsible or smart enough on your own to figure out that, oh, smoke may cause cancer. They have to put warning on everything, these liberals, so they should be all right with Al Gore's film carrying a warning, shouldn't they? "Despite winning lavish praise from the environmental lobby and an Oscar from the film industry, Mr. Gore's documentary was found to find 'nine scientific errors' by the judge." So the judge has actually looked at this and deemed there to be nine scientific errors.

From the October 15 broadcast of 1310 KFKA's The Amy Oliver Show:

OLIVER: This is Dr. Gray. This is a guy who knows climates. He says, "We're brainwashing our children. They're going to the Gore movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and being fed all this. It's ridiculous." By the way, judge in Britain said -- found nine falsehoods in the Goracle's movie. "In his first appearance since the award was announced in Oslo, Mr. Gore said -- Al Gore, 'We have to quickly find a way to change the world's consciousness about exactly what we're facing.' But Dr. Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicized, said a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures -- related to the amount of salt in ocean water -- was responsible for global warming that he acknowledges has taken place." Yes, there's been global warming. But are we so arrogant to believe that humans are the only cause?

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.