Sunday, September 02, 2007

The British State and Al Gore

Today the Daily Mail reports (not online) that more than 500 civil servants are going to spend an afternoon watching Al Gore's film an Inconvenient Truth. The two screenings at the West End Vue will cost £2,675. The wage bill will be £21,000 for the two-hour running time. Is there any other body on Earth with the warped mindset necessary to indoctrinate itself?

This isn't the beginning of the British public sector's love affair with Gore's film though. As a study I carried out for the TaxPayer's Alliance revealed East Hampshire Council have been showing their staff Al Gore's film too. Here's the press release for an earlier preview screening with David Miliband sounding like Al Gore's press agent:

"Opinion formers from across England today attended a preview screening of Al Gore's new climate change film.

Speaking at a preview screening of the former US Vice-President's film, 'An Inconvenient Truth', Environment Secretary David Miliband said he wanted to give opinion formers and leaders from communities across the country the chance to see the film.

Mr Miliband said the film, which vividly portrays the threats and dire consequences of un-checked climate change, could help spread the message amongst those who can make a real contribution in tackling this threat."

It was announced in February that Al Gore's film is to be sent to every secondary school. This has faced a legal challenge but, unfortunately, I hear that challenge has failed:

"Al Gore's climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth will be sent to every secondary school in England, Environment Secretary David Miliband and Education Secretary Alan Johnson announced today."

This always seems to be justified in the same way by DEFRA. "The debate over the science of climate change is well and truly over, as demonstrated by the publication of today’s report by the IPCC." That completely misses the point. Regardless of the state of the scientific debate over climate change's existence there is clearly still a debate over the scale of the problem. The estimates given in Al Gore's film of the extent of sea level rises, for example, are radically different to that given by the IPCC. Equally, Al Gore's proposed response has been dismissed by William Nordhaus - who The Economist called the '"father of climate change economics":

"First, the [UK Treasury’s] Stern proposal for rapid deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions would reduce the future damage from global warming by $13 trillion, but at a cost of $27 trillion dollars. That’s not a good deal. For an even worse deal, the DICE-2007 model estimates that the Gore proposal would reduce climate change damages by $12 trillion, but at a cost of nearly $34 trillion. As Nordhaus notes, both proposals imply carbon taxes rising to around $300 per ton carbon in the next two decades, and to the $600-$800 per ton range by 2050. A $700 carbon tax would increase the price of coal-fired electricity in the U.S. by about 150 percent, and would impose a tax bill of $1.2 trillion on the U.S. economy."

Al Gore's film isn't an attempt at presenting a balanced view of the current state of knowledge. It's a radical political manifesto and that our state is actively disseminating it is truly depressing.


Meg said...

I'm a little curious about British law-- on what grounds do you think the movie should've been kept from secondary schools? It's not religious, and if you bar movies in government-sponsored schools just because they're not entirely based on uncontested fact, you lose most of the documentaries we do show to students. What's the principle you're thinking of here?

Matthew Sinclair said...

Oh, I don't know the law around it. I'd guess there's some kind of proscription against one-sided politics in schools.

My "unfortunately" may have been misleading so I apologise for that. I just meant that it was unfortunate that the distribution will still be going ahead.