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October 12th 2009 print

Bob Carter

Not Evil Just Wrong reviewed

The film is not so much about the science of climate change as it is about explaining the sociology and politics of what is now perhaps the world’s greatest-ever scare campaign.

“Watch this film, and use the knowledge that you will gain to lobby your Senator to vote against the Australian emissions trading bill.”

Bob Carter

This documentary film is an examination of the human effects of environmental alarmism, with especial reference to the still hypothetical “problem” of human-caused global warming. The film is not so much about the science of climate change as it is about explaining the sociology and politics of what is now perhaps the world’s greatest-ever scare campaign.

Not Evil, Just Wrong examines the issue by interweaving three story lines throughout: first, that of an Ugandan woman who loses her son to malaria; second, the story of workers in a small American town whose employment and wealth is largely generated from the location there of a coal-fired power station, with mines nearby, both of which potentially face closure; and third, the story of the post-Vice Presidential career of Mr Al Gore, and his failure to answer the heartfelt concerns of a young US woman regarding the damage that his policies, if implemented, will wreak on ordinary Americans.

One of the greatest strengths of the film is the archival film footage that the producers have unearthed of some of the key players in the drama. For instance, it is fascinating to see Paul Erlich in grainy black and white asserting back in the 1970s that the world had “no chance of reaching the year 2000”. And Mr Gore lambasting his audience with such gems as “We live in an age of fear” because “global warming caused by burning fossil fuels is going to destroy us and our planet”.

Sensibly, at this point the narrator injects a note of reality with the remark “But is this threat real, and how costly to humanity are the proposed solutions?” The rest of the film addresses these questions.

New interview footage also plays an important part in the film. Besides being interested in hearing what they had to say, the voyeur in me was fascinated to see the background work or home setting of such legendary figures as NASA’s James Hansen (an orderly but paper-stuffed-full office), former U.K. Chancellor Sir Nigel Lawson (immaculate home study surroundings), and doyen of US atmospheric physicists Richard Lindzen (filmed amidst a chaos of books and papers like a squirrel amongst leaf litter).

In what has proved to be a sensational publicity coup for the film, footage of Stanford University’s Stephen Schneider, filmed with his agreement, was withdrawn after legal threats from the University. So, though we see archival footage of Professor Schneider, for his present views – and an explanation as to why why he shifted from being an “ice-age-cometh” alarmist in the 1970s to an “earth-will-be-burned-to-a-cinder” alarmist in the 1990s and beyond – we have to listen to an actor read his words against a blackened screen. Even those most trusting of academic authority must at this point surely be inclined to ask “just what has Professor Schneider got to hide?

After a relentless opening passage of environmental soothsayers intoning their messages of doom and catastrophe, the film settles into a description of how powerful has been the influence on the global warming debate of Mr Gore’s science-fiction documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth. Next is described the celebrated 2007 UK High Court case of Dimmock versus Her Majesty’s Secretary of State – in which a British truck driver challenged the government’s distribution of Mr Gore’s film for showing in all UK schools. The court found the film to be scientifically flawed, with 9 major errors, and ordered that if it was to be shown in schools then teachers were required to point out and discuss the errors that it contains. Regrettably, no such court order applies to the showing of An Inconvenient Truth in Australian schools, where it continues to masquerade as a science-based documentary.

One of the major errors in An Inconvenient Truth was the assertion that penguins and polar bears will disappear because of global warming. The “Not Evil” producers comment on this by showing powerful interviews with several young children (about 8-9 years old) holding pictures that they have drawn to express the polar bear calamity, and whose spoken views included that it will be “very sad” if penguins and polar bears disappear, “because polar bears are a good animal”.

One might be troubled at the involvement of such young children, and wonder whether they have in any way been “primed” with their views. But anyone with school age children or grandchildren, which is most of us, will recognize that the bewildered and troubled sadness that these children display about polar bears is entirely genuine, and has been inappropriately inculcated into them by propaganda and bad teaching.

At about this point, the film segues into an interview with Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, who proceeds to score a number of Maradonna-quality goals. First, Mr Moore rightly explains that the numbers of polar bears are not decreasing, and that the main threat to them today remains human hunting. Then, in passing, he delivers one of the most important lines in the film – which is that the modern climate change that we observe (warming from 1979 to 1998, and cooling since) all falls “well within natural variations that have occurred in the past history of the earth”. And finally, he adds, it would not be at all a bad thing were the earth to chance to warm again, for biodiversity is much greater in warmer climes and lower latitudes. Score: Mr Moore, three – IPCC zero.

The story line returns to Mr Gore, who is known to be an avid admirer of Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, to the degree that he wrote a Foreword for a recent reprint of the book. The publication of Silent Spring is seen by many as having led directly to the development of the modern environmental movement. An important part of the book was the demonization of the insecticide DDT, at that time a powerful public health tool in wide use, especially in USA, to kill mosquitos and reduce malaria. A worldwide ban on the use of DDT ensued, and Not Evil examines the consequences, which were ugly.

As related by Patrick Moore, “Millions of people died over the last 40 or 50 years” as a result of the ban on DDT use in third-world countries, and “malaria sky-rocketed in countries like Uganda, Mozambique and South Africa”. Sam Zaramba, from the Ugandan Health Ministry, relates that 370 children die from malaria every day in his country; it is estimated that between 500 and 800 million people currently have malaria worldwide, mostly in poor countries. Regarding this, Mr Zaramba asks sadly “who anointed free-earth, save the earth, global warming crowd, anti-DDT crowd, that the blacks and the other third world people suffer with malaria and mosquitos?

In one of the most astonishing sequences in the film, two American women are shown berating a Ugandan mother for her wish that DDT be re-employed, in the process claiming that malaria had never occurred in the US, and therefore DDT could not have been used there either. Not Evil cuts to historical pictures during the late 1940s-1950s of vehicles spraying fog-dense clouds of DDT insecticide through American urban streets. Next, reassuringly, a US Professor of Public Health, Don Roberts, relates that these treatments stopped the transmission of malaria in the US, and produced no known later environmental consequences.   

The sequel to this particular sub-story is that South Africa reintroduced the use of DDT in the late 1990s. The consequent dramatic reduction in deaths from malaria led to the World Health Organization removing the ban on DDT in 2006, saying that “DDT is one of the best tools we have against malaria”, and “presents no health risk”. The film leaves hanging the question: to whom should be attributed the moral blame for the tens of millions of people that died in the interim?

The scene now changes to coal-mining middle America. 75% of US energy generation comes from coal-fired power plants. 7 million jobs, and 3-4% of all employment in the US, are associated with electricity generation, coal mining and coal transportation.

Mr Gore is shown on the stump yet again, this time demanding of a US Senate committee that a moratorium be instituted on the building of new coal-burning power plants, and that all US energy be generated from renewable energy sources within ten years (in his full statement, not shown in the film, Gore accepted that power plants fitted with carbon dioxide capture and storage facilities might be built). This, of course, is an engineering impossibility, and that even were you to allow nuclear energy to be classified as a “renewable” source – itself another controversial issue.

Mr Gore’s demands, like Australia’s recent RMET bill that requires 20% of Australian energy to be generated from renewable sources by 2020, are simply the dreams of green fairies.

As an interlude, the film also aired the views of the aptly named lobby group “Plane Stupid”, which pressures people against using short-haul air transport. Leo Murray, spokesman for the group, commented that “The truth is that the measures which the science is demanding to prevent catastrophic climate change will affect the American way”, thereby demonstrating perfectly the confused thinking – combining zeal, impracticality and stunning scientific ignorance – that marks the committed warmaholic.

After a brief discussion on the explosive subject of population control, the film moves into a more scientific gear with a description of the history of the famous “hockey stick” of global temperatures – the pin-up picture of the IPCC’s 2001 report, which showed little temperature change for 500 years before 1900, followed by a steep rise in the 20th century and projected beyond. Thanks mainly to the efforts of Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick, this diagram is now known to comprise statistical chicanery; it is acknowledged to be, at best, scientifically worthless. Viewers unaware of the mighty scientific and political tussle that accompanied this affair will be enlivened to learn of it, and to see excellent interview footage of the two Canadian knights who slew the mighty hockey stick dragon.

Not Evil” is not lacking in humour, and one delicious moment occurs when Jim Hansen, the US’s chief global warming alarmist, says “I’m not going to use McIntyre’s name. I don’t think it’s appropriate, and I don’t think he deserves the publicity”, and then goes on to explain that the public does not have the scientific background to interpret whether or not the flaw found in NASA’s temperature record by “that fellow from Canada” was significant, claiming with astonishing chutzpah that all McIntyre was doing was “confusing the public”!

Towards the end of the film, Patrick Moore scores another impressive and fourth goal, by stressing the little acknowledged fact that the much vaunted IPCC-advice, on which the Australian and other governments rely for setting their global warming policy, comes from a very narrow coterie of meteorologists, geographers and environmentalists; little input is provided from experts in geology (the custodian science of climate change through time), geophysics and astrophysics, which amounts to ignoring more than half of the major fields of expertise that are relevant to climate change. It has been shown repeatedly that most earth scientists see contemporary climate change as being caused by natural forces; and that climate continues to constantly change today, just as it has during the entire 4.6 billion year history of planet Earth, surprises no well-educated scientist.

The title Not Evil, Just Wrong is cleverly crafted, and based upon a statement made in the film about those environmentalists who were responsible for the banning of DDT. Undoubtedly, this thought may be fairly applied to many sincere environmentalists. And yet, “not evil, just wrong” is less accurate as a description of the many interested parties who are now gathered around the issue of human-caused global warming, in order to make money, or draw influence, from it. Ignorance of the law is no defense against culpability for a criminal offence, and neither should ignorance of science, however sincere, be a defence for the moral crimes that are being, or are about to be, perpetrated in the cause of “saving the world” from imaginary global warming.

The greatest hurt of anti-carbon dioxide taxation, and related measures, will be imposed on third-world countries. As Nigel Lawson points out, those calling for massive carbon dioxide reduction are in fact “The enemies of poverty reduction in the developing world”. But, as he added, the man in the street in western countries is also going to be disadvantaged, and has yet to understand that the environmental rhetoric around global warming will cause “an increasing cost of energy, slower rate of economic growth and less prosperity all round than would otherwise be the case”.

It is true that there exists an imaginary risk of environmental and economic damage from human-caused global warming. Back in 1990 that was a good question to raise; but after spending around $100 billion and almost 20 years researching the matter, we now know that the answer is that any human-caused effect on global temperature is immeasurably small.

In contrast to this small (and still hypothetical) risk of damage from human-caused climate change, there exists a certainty that gross socio-economic damage is already resulting from global warming activism, and is set to get worse. Real, not imaginary, doom and gloom scenarios will indeed come true should we be foolish enough to follow the warmaholics’ demands. For, as the film’s narrator at one point observes, it is simply not possible to run a modern industrialised society on boutique energy sources such as solar power and wind power.

The key issue for all Australians is how the compelling arguments made in this film against environmental alarmism in general, and global warming alarmism in particular, can be made to register with a majority of federal Senators, before they again consider the introduction of environmentally futile carbon dioxide taxation measures (aka emissions trading legislation, aka the CPRS bill) in November this year.

Not Evil, Just Wrong considers many matters that relate to emissions trading legislation in powerful fashion, yet the film is as much or more concerned with people as it is with science. For, in the end, it is people, and especially poor people, who are going to be hurt by the current propaganda campaign against the environmentally beneficial trace gas that carbon dioxide in fact represents.

Planet Earth’s climate, indifferent to puny human interventions, will simply continue on its majestic way – irrespective of ministrations that we might or might not attempt. Watch this film, and use the knowledge that you will gain to lobby your Senator to vote against the Australian emissions trading bill.