Wp-Content Uploads 2007 08 Homer-1Al Gore’s making most of the climate news at the moment. Winning a Nobel Peace Prize and having a British judge find nine “errors” in An Inconvenient Truth has generated a lot of copy, and more hot air. Others have done a lot of footwork on this story: Deltoid looks at the nature of the “errors” and RealClimate examines the underlying science, but New Zealand has its own band of stalwarts banging away. Former ACT MP Muriel Newman, who runs a web site titled the NZ Centre For Policy Research, not content with fulminating against “political indoctrination” in NZ schools, has now written to the president of the Academy Awards demanding that Gore’s Oscar should be removed:

“With the release of the British High Court judgement overnight that found that ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ was littered with nine inconvenient untruths, it is clear that Al Gore embellished the truth to create dramatic effect (see the High Court Judgement Given that the Oscar Award was presented in the documentary category and not the drama category, the only appropriate action now is for the Academy to rescind the Award as it was clearly inappropriately classed as a documentary. The second Oscar for ‘Best Original Song’ is not affected by the Judge’s ruling. The truth, as inconvenient as it is to Al Gore, is that his so-called documentary contained critical distortions that are quite contrary to the principles of good documentary journalism. Good documentaries should be factually correct. Clearly this documentary is not.”

What a broadside. I’m sure the Oscar committee are quaking in their boots and rushing to consider such an urgent issue, raised by such an important and perceptive commentator. Set aside for a moment that “embellishing the truth for dramatic effect” is pretty much what film-making is all about, Muriel seems to have forgotten a few basic facts herself.

In her post on political indoctrination in schools she says:

Schools around New Zealand that are using Al Gore’s controversial film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ to promote the Government’s climate change agenda should be warned that a High Court ruling in Britain has just found that the film is unfit for schools.

Er, no. The judge found that “Al Gore’s presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate”, and expressly said that it could be shown in schools. The nine “errors” were to be addressed by some amendments to the teaching notes accompanying the film. No “critical distortions”. Not “unfit for schools”. I hope that Dr Newman’s research on other aspects of public policy is a little more thorough.

She contributed to a session on National Radio’s Nine to Noon with Maggie Barry yesterday (stream and podcast available to 23/10), featuring the UK lawyer involved in bringing the case, and Dr David Wratt from NIWA to provide a science reality check. Muriel’s bit is towards the end, and if you listen closely, you’ll hear her use a lot of the standard NZ CSC sceptic phrases. David W audibly sighs with frustration. Most amusing. Unless of course, Dr Newman is going to have a say in ACT policy, in which case tears are in order.

18 thoughts on “Crankwatch”

  1. I heard that Nine to Noon item, and thought David Wratt did a pretty good job of defending his position. For instance, he repeated that fact that the judge agreed AIT was “broadly accurate”, and he knocked down Newman’s suggestion that “The Great Global Warming Swindle” be shown for “balance”. (The judge’s remarks on what constitutes balance were very clear-headed.)

    However, one thing Newman said that Wratt missed (really, there were so many errors, I don’t blame him) was that old ‘But we can’t predict the weather next week, how can we predict the climate next century?’ canard. And then she went on to claim she was once a science teacher!

    Why are so many denialists libertarians? With Newman informing ACT policy, and Peter Cresswell of NotPC informing Libertarianz policy, it’s little wonder those parties are in the gutter.

  2. Eddie – I think the closer to a political extreme a person sits the harder it is to adapt to something that doesn’t fit into their ideology.

    To people of an unfettered free market bent, dealing with AGW is problematic so the science must be wrong (or it’s cheaper to adapt than reduce emissions, or some other canard: anything to avoid market interference).

    At least National are now making the right noises.

  3. It is interesting that her desperate need to justify her unquestioning belief in power of markets it has led her to forget her training in statistical analysis, which I assume it was some part of her mathematics degree (since climate is basically the weather on average).

    Next she will be arguing that the world has been cooling since 1998.

    Cheers Doug

  4. I also object to political propaganda in schools. Therefore, I propose that Economics be removed from the curriculum. Alternatively it should be replaced with courses on ecological economics. Let those budding minds learn about market failure. 🙂

  5. Actually, Doug, she also has a PhD (in mathematics education), so that makes her crankery even more baffling.

    I’m wondering about the think tank she’s running, though. This seems like an egregious attempt to insert climate denialism into little kids’ heads, and we’ll need to keep an eye on it.

    Just look at the timing. There’s the UK court case designed to either expel AIT from schools or have it ‘balanced’ with The Great Global Warming Swindle. And now this in the US, from former tobacco sweetheart Steven Milloy:

    I’m not saying they’re related; in fact, I doubt they are. But they’re all plugging into the denialist zeitgeist. When you can’t convince the grown-ups, propagandize the children. It’s Japanese history books and The Panda’s Thumb all over again.

  6. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I think this apparent surge of activity has a lot to do with that other, better-known surge and is likely to do about as well.

    Also, just to clarify: The nine “errors” weren’t errors at all, but in the judge’s view were assertions about the science that diverged from the consensus as expressed the AR4 and Peter Stott’s testimony. Thus the corrections to the “errors” were simply statements describing each divergence. The judge explicitly rejected any consideration of the plaintiff’s views (or more to the point, Bob Carter’s views) as to the state of the science on the nine points.

    That said, the judge was wrong entirely on about half of them and substantially wrong on the rest. Reading between the lines a little, I think what happened is that Peter admitted that the nine points diverged, although to be fair I think his evidence wasn’t submitted until after it was clear that the main decision was going to go in favor of the government.

  7. How appropiate that Al Gore and his alarmist non scientific movie AIT be mentioned here under the Cranks section. Well done Gareth you got something right for once.

    Poor old Al couldn’t defend a stolen election so he mounts a crusade to save the world from the evil doer that is CO2. This same hypocrite with a carbon footprint the size of a small South island town.

    Should his dreadful movie be shown in schools, only if there is balance. Hey, they teach creationism but they still have to teach the theory of evolution. Is this just more brainwashing of the young, probably. Some teachers in the US are refusing to follow the govt curicculim as they fear it has a ‘dumbing’ effect upon thier students. So hey, I guess Al’s movie fits right in then.

    As for the peace prize, who was the second nominee, George Bush ? lol…….

    You guys in here crack me up. Whoops must go, forgot I’ve had my 5 liter SUV idling in my driveway for the last 10 minutes. Cya.

  8. Batnv,

    Rather than Geo. Bush as runner up I suspect that it was only the unreasonable requirement of the Nobel Committee for a recipient to be living (poor old Rosalind Franklin) that prevented the awarding of a prize to Augie Auer.

  9. Hi Gareth, glad you missed me. Cooling actually !! Parallel universe, are you sure it’s truffles you’re growing in the valley or is it really magic mushrooms ??

    Doug, like Al, why on earth would Augie (if alive) be worthy of the NPP ?? Face it fellas Al’s nomination was purely political just like the whole AGW business which it is, has become.

    Gareth I sincerely hope your truffles are frost hardy and Doug if your still in Otago you stock up on those winter wollies fella cause you know what happened to the brass monkey.

  10. Hi bat,

    All mushrooms are magic.

    The sort of frost that would worry my truffles doesn’t happen here, and isn’t likely to, either.

    I wouldn’t attempt to grow them if I were in your universe, of course. And I’m not.

  11. Bats,

    yes of course climate change now a political issue.

    The science is settled and only fools and frauds deny this. I see even NZCSC is sliding towards the Idso type “extra CO2 will be good for us” argument.

    What the world now needs is a political solution to encourage rich CO2 emitters to make unpalatable lifestyle changes – to persuade rich nations to subsidise the decarbonisation of poor nations.

    Why should the poor care? Things can hardly get too much worse for them but a few bad years of failed crops etc for rich nations will let them know – as the Dead Kennedys put it – how the niggers feel cold and the slums got so much soul.

    Sounds like a potential source of bigscale conflict nicht whahr?

    Given that then a high profile polly who advocates early intervention to avoid conflict sounds exactly like what Alfred had in mind when he set up the fund.

  12. Hi Gareth, pleased to hear your truffles can take a beating but don’t get too cocky about the possiblity of an unusual or untimely frost. You just never know.

    Doug, hey dude, did Gareth send you some of his mushrooms to consume ? You seem to be hallucinating somewhat.

    “The science is settled and only fools and frauds deny this.”

    No Doug, only gullible idiots believe this. You just keep off of them mushrooms Doug and things will become much clearer for you. Doug, not judging a book by its cover but, are you a Greenie ?, you sure do look like one in your pic.

    And don’t balme your precious ficticous AGW for the failed crops, blame Monsato !!

  13. Bats,

    naturally one can judge people by their appearance. How very very mature of you. But, just for you, I can arrange a private showing of *all* my rings. Some in places I doubt you even have. And your degrees are from which Universities?

    What, pray tell, is a “greenie”? Do you mean a member of the political party? Or do you mean someone who can do maths and understands that the finite surface area of the planet means that if rich nations maintain their rates of consumption then poor nations will forever be poor and become progressively more so.

  14. Doug I wasn’t judging you, it was merely a question based on a sterotype appearance of one.

    And whooa dude, a bit too much info you keep them rings to yourself. :o)

    So you got yourself some degrees eh. Good for you Doug. Are you trying to say that your degrees make you right on your AGW belief ? A journalist may have a degree in journalism however it doesn’t mean that whatever they write is true. A recent court case in the US tell all in my opinion. One of the major networks (sorry slips me which one) was taken to court by a couple of former employees for lying to the public. The employees lost the case because as the judge said, nowhere does it state the the networks have to be truthful !!

    What, you never heard of a Greenie ? I think your just playing with me on this Doug.

    If your so worried about the poor nations why do you support the IPCC. They are the ones who don’t want the poorer nations industrialising for fear of creating more evil C02 emissions.

  15. Play with you bats?
    God forbid. One blanches at the thought of where and with whom you have been.

    My point about “greenie” still stands. It is an amorphous label. What does it mean to you? Or is it mere newspeak – a thoughtchunk piece of nominative determinism that allows you not to think?

  16. Doug don’t know about you but I tend to hang with people who are able to see through all the BS we’re fed and think for themselves.

    Greenie to me means someone who sincerely believes in enviromental issues to do with preseving the planet.

    “What the world now needs is a political solution to encourage rich CO2 emitters to make unpalatable lifestyle changes – to persuade rich nations to subsidise the decarbonisation of poor nations.”

    This is the kind of comment I would aliken to a greenie.

    Oh and believe me, I think alright, for myself. Unlike some in here.

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