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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
UK scientists defend Gore film
By Roger Harrabin
BBC Environment Analyst

Al Gore in promotional still
The movie can be viewed in UK classrooms
Two of the UK's leading climate scientists have hit out at the judge who made the controversial ruling last week on Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth

Professor Chris Rapley, head of the Science Museum (and also a Gore science adviser) and Professor John Shepherd from the National Oceanography Centre accuse the judge of misleading the public by ruling that Gore had made "errors".

The professors have no grouse with Mr Justice Burton's main conclusion that Al Gore's film should be accompanied by guidance notes in class. And they agree that Gore presented some climate extreme scenarios.

But they say the judge's comments themselves were liable to misinterpretation. The trouble, according to the professors, was that the judge referred to "errors" in the film.

He put the word "errors" in inverted commas because the points were debatable rather than wrong. But the professors say the judge should have known the error word would be repeated in the media without its inverted commas.

They say in general Gore's film presented an exceptionally high standard of scientific accuracy. And they warn that the judge himself expressed unwarranted confidence on several issues subject to considerable scientific uncertainty.

Professor Rapley, former head of the British Antarctic Survey, told BBC News that the atmosphere over climate science was so confrontational that some scientists were reluctant to discuss uncertainties in their work for fear that they would be seized on by others anxious to discredit the whole theory of manmade climate change.

This, he said, was very unhealthy - and would lead to bad science.

Mr Justice Burton was asked to rule on whether An Inconvenient Truth could be shown in UK schools. He agreed that it could, provided the "one sided" film was accompanied by guidance notes for teachers.

The case was brought by school governor Stewart Dimmock, from Dover, a father of two, and who is a member of the New Party.

Mr Dimmock did not want the movie distributed to schools. He called the Oscar-winner a "shock-umentary" and objected to children being "indoctrinated with this political spin".

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