Note to Stoat

October 12, 2007 at 5:54 am | Posted in AIT, AR4, IPCC, Tuvalu, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

William ~ thanks for combing through the ‘errors’ with a fine scientist’s toothcomb 😉 The way the AIT case story is reported initially and thereafter is of interest to me, so I am glad you have done the nitpicking on the science.

PeteB’s sentiment sounds fair enough, but there is no time in the school year for, say, a thirteen-year-old, let alone a teacher, to read through the complete IPCC AR4 reports looking for evidence that supports or disagrees with AIT. (TGGWS is obvious: kids can intuitively tell when adults are lying.)

MarkUK is right: there is loads of information about Tuvalu’s predicament w.r.t. climate change in the Tuvalu island nation’s own list.

Going back as far as:

TUVALU: Going down

Source: Copyright 2002, Guardian
Date: 2/16/2002
By: Patrick Barkham
The evidence before their own eyes – and forecasts for a rise in sea level of up to 88cm in the next century made by international scientists – has convinced most of Tuvalu’s 10,500 inhabitants that rising seas and more frequent violent storms are certain to make life unliveable on the islands, if not for them, then for their children. A deal has been signed with New Zealand, in which 75 Tuvaluans will be resettled there each year, starting now. As the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean creeps up on to Tuvalu’s doorstep, the evacuation and shutting down of a nation has begun.

As Ian Hopkinson mentions up there, it’s a free-for-all when there’s a grand old chance for misrepresentation. The AIT case claimed by Dimmock sought to bring a complaint of political bias to bear upon the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, thus causing the government to recall the DVDs from schools. The crux of the matter, stated in the High Court judgment was:

The context and nub of the dispute are the statutory provisions described in their side headings as respectively relating to “political indoctrination” and to the ” duty to secure balanced treatment of political issues” in schools, now contained in ss406 and 407 of the Education Act 1996, …

Under normal circumstances, the failed attempt to block the distribution and showing of a film for breach of government guidelines relating to the handling of partisan political matters as they arise in class in secondary schools would be the simple story.

Furthermore, under normal circumstances, this political argument should cause any scientific misrepresentations to pale into insignificance in the bigger picture, which is that of whether or not the call to ban the movie in classrooms on political grounds was successful.

The way in which the nine ‘errors’ have taken on a fantasy life of their own outside the High Court room is fascinating to watch. The losers can easily make a success out of anything, because most people don’t check sources or facts. (Too boring. Far better to opine in blissful ignorance, I guess.) The lack of accuracy by people criticising Al Gore’s lack of accuracy is risible.

Not many people (outside the highly interested parties) care about this AIT case, much. In timely fashion, I am going to school this afternoon to watch ‘The Film’ with other parents in ‘The Theatre’. There I may have the chance to hear whether any of them were even aware of the court case …

I will continue being too nice to Al Gore, by your standards, but I also embrace the IPCC 😉

The IPCC and its many contributors deserve all the credit, imho, for improving our understanding of the science of climate change, while Al Gore gets a pat on the back for raising our awareness of the IPCC and climate change as a pressing concern. I consider the IPCC and Gore as symbiotic, er, in its original sense, defined as: “the living together of unlike organisms”.

If their work helps us all live together more peaceably in the long run, I may even honour them with a new descriptor: as panbiotic catalysts.

P.S. Mark Lynas has just published Science and Politics collide in the Grauniad, subtitled:

The presence of a few errors in Al Gore’s film should not undermine the thrust of his message

and, btw, he also points out:

Moreover, the judge was wrong on coral bleaching – which is unambiguously related to rising sea temperatures – and in downplaying the sea level impacts experienced by atoll states. As it happens, Gore’s statement on this subject was based on a photo I took in Tuvalu in 2002, shown in the film, at a time when increasingly severe flooding during high tides was already a reality, driving negotiations with New Zealand about evacuating the entire population.



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  1. It’s not just Tuvulu, there are lots of other islands at risk. Moreover they don’t have to go below sea level. As sea level rises, they become increasingly vulnerable to high tides and storm tides.

    William and James are being exceedingly silly.

  2. Thanks, Eli. Yes, I have found several examples of islands and atolls, inhabited and uninhabited, evacuated because submerged or partially inundated, and evacuation plans and intentions spelled out. They cannot be attributed 100% to climate change, but they do indicate geographical change, some of which may not have happened if we all trod more lightly on our planet with our luxurious carbon slippers 😉
    (William is addressing this topic in a narrow sense, arguing about specific technicalities. There is a wider human context within which this is playing out.)
    I posted one page of old stories on long-forgotten atolls than were submerged almost a decade ago, and William’s already giving me grief over it. He seems to think that evidence is only contained in scientific papers, yet forgets I have no access to those, but he does!

  3. “As sea level rises, they become increasingly vulnerable to high tides and storm tides.”

    And increased salinity of groundwater.

    Gore, even when wrong, is not misleading. OTOH, his critics, even when right, are misleading. GW is a threat to these islanders, whether due to SLR or to increased tides and storms.

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