Daily Sentinel's Silbernagel repeated distortion about judge's ruling regarding An Inconvenient Truth

Daily Sentinel's Silbernagel repeated distortion about judge's ruling regarding An Inconvenient Truth

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Bob Silbernagel of The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction omitted key details about a British judge's ruling regarding the global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth in stating in an October 20 editorial that an "English judge ruled 'An Inconvenient Truth' cannot be shown in British schools unless 11 different inaccuracies in the film are pointed out to students." In fact, the judge found nine -- not 11 -- errors, and Silbernagel omitted that the judge also ruled the film is "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact."

In an October 20 editorial, Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction editorial page editor Bob Silbernagel omitted critical information about a British judge's ruling that Silbernagel stated former vice president and Nobel laureate Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (Paramount Classics, May 2006), "cannot be shown in British schools unless 11 different inaccuracies in the film are pointed out to students."

However, Silbernagel omitted that while Justice Michael Burton stated in his October 10 ruling that the film contained nine -- not 11 -- errors, the judge also stated that Gore's film is "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact." Burton further stated that he had "no doubt" that Gore'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 Colorado Media Matters has noted.

From Bob Silbernagel's editorial "Wood stove, energy fight are beginning to heat up," in the October 20 edition of The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction:

The wood stove in the Silbernagel living room was stoked for its first fire of the season last week, a small blaze just to take the edge off a chilly evening without turning on the furnace.

[...]

But maybe you're wondering about the Silbernagels' complicity in contributing to global climate change based on our choice in heating fuels. I can only say that we expect a commendation from Al Gore any day now.

I checked the Internet for an indication of how wood heating compares in CO2 emissions. Everything I found gave it high marks.

[...]

Not that that climate change worries are the reason we have a wood stove. That wasn't a consideration when we bought our house, complete with the stove. Saving on heating bills and a preference for wood fires were.

There is another side to wood burning, of course. That involves air quality. It's why Mesa County gives dail recommendations for burning, depending on weather conditions.

All of my firewood reverie comes at a time when energy issues were much in the news.

The aforementioned Mr. Gore has just been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts regarding climate change, especially with his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth."

That award came in the same week that an English judge ruled "An Inconvenient Truth" cannot be shown in British schools unless 11 different inaccuracies in the film are pointed out to students. The mistakes, according to the judge, include the claim that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro are evidence of global warming and the statement that the Antarctic ice sheet is melting.

The judge, I'm guessing, won't be invited to Gore's Nobel celebration. But a variety of scientists, some of whom have studied global warming for decades -- who believe the Earth is warming and that humans are contributing to it -- also believe Gore and others have significantly overstated the potential impacts.

In Burton's ruling the judge cites the defendant's statement that Gore's 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 [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] IPCC." While he did find inaccuracies in the movie, the judge ruled that the film "is substantially founded upon scientific research and fact."

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.

23. 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.

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