A reaction to the government's plan to send a copy of "An Inconvenient Truth" to all English secondary schools
Earlier this year, it was announced that the government planned to send a DVD of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” to all secondary schools in England. This film is a slick, professional polemic, in which a high-profile politician aims to persuade his audience of impending catastrophe using a combination of incomplete science and emotional imagery. The Scientific Alliance deplores such an unbalanced approach to educating children, particularly when dressed up as recognized fact. We call on the government to rethink this ill-considered idea and avoid politicising the teaching of science.
Martin Livermore, director of the Scientific Alliance, said “Al Gore, David Miliband and many other politicians would appear to be convinced both that recent climate change is man-made and that we can control it. However, the distribution of this one-sided and flawed film to impressionable teenagers is highly irresponsible. At a time when we should be encouraging young people to become interested in science and fostering a healthy degree of scepticism, the government is trying to close down the debate. Teaching only one side of any debate is unprecedented and bodes ill for the future of our society.”
“An Inconvenient Truth” contains a number of convenient distortions and misrepresentations, combined with heart-tugging pictures of disasters which the viewer is intended to associate with human-induced climate change, even though no causal link has actually been established.
“We are perfectly happy for anyone to see Al Gore’s film and make up their own mind, but this is difficult when his views are being presented as established fact,” said Martin Livermore. “It would be much better to show the Gore film in conjunction with the recent Channel 4 documentary, ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’, which presented an opposing but equally plausible view. This would allow pupils to use their own critical faculties, and we would fully support such an approach. To promote only one point of view on such a contentious issue is not only wrongheaded but it would appear to be in clear breach of the 1996 and 2002 Education Acts.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. On 2nd February, it was announced by the Environment Secretary, David Miliband and the Education Secretary, Alan Johnson, that the government would be sending a copy of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” to every secondary school in England (http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/latest/2007/climate-0202a.htm).
2. Sections 78 and 79 of the Education Act 2002, state that it is the duty of any Secretary of State to ensure that the curriculum in maintained schools is “balanced”.3
3. Sections 406(1)(b) and 407(1)(a) of the Education Act 1996, state that it is unlawful to circulate to schools any partisan propaganda material tending to the political indoctrination of schoolchildren.
4. The Scientific Alliance is a membership-based organisation which campaigns for an evidence-based approach to environmental issues and policy-making.
5. For further comment or interviews, please call on 01223 421242 or 07984 033354