Not Evil, just Cynical

Climate scepticism is good business indeed. Especially if you’re a struggling film maker anxious to make a quick name and buck for yourself. An Irish duo, Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney are the latest to hop on the bandwagon with their movie, Not Evil, Just Wrong – it is, we are told, “a feature length documentary which shows how extreme environmentalism is damaging the lives of vulnerable people, from the ban on DDT to the campaigns on Global Warming”.

If you thought Martin Durkin’s mockumentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle was a vile piece of work, step to one side, Mr Durkin, McAleer and McElhinney have composted a steaming pile of propaganda that would by comparison make Swindle read like a chapter of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report.

The McAleer/McElhinney axis of Not Evil are now hawking this mockumentary around the internet, seeking donations so that “ordinary Americans” get to see a documentary “that finally tells the truth…so that those who use flawed science to raise our taxes and close our factories”. If their trailer clip on YouTube is any indication, this is a truly gruesome distortion, requiring epic levels of cynicism on the part of the filmmakers, who clearly reckon they’re onto a good thing here.

Publicity-wise, this crock of manure is playing a blinder. It got a big write-up in the Sunday Times a few days ago (McAleer is a former ST hack, which must help). According to the article: “The husband and wife team spent 18 months and $1m (€600,000) making Not Evil Just Wrong. It looks at the effects of banning DDT, a chemical used to stop the spread of malaria in the third world, because it was found to be poisonous to wildlife and the environment”.

McAleer described environmentalism as something middle-class people did to keep poorer members of society in their place and said their documentary shows the true cost of “global warming hysteria”. They quote McAleer as sagely observing about his mockumentary: “It asks: is there a disease and is the cure worse than the disease? The science isn’t settled. Global warming was invented five or 10 years ago.”

So much for TWENTY years of intense investigation by the IPCC since its foundation in 1988, over the course of these two decades the work of the Panel has involved collating and reviewing the work of literally tens of thousands of experts in a range of relevant scientific fields, from botany to geology, ecology, climatology and many more besides.

Over those twenty years they have produced four landmark Assessment Reports, each one tracking our advancing understanding of the science and mechanics of climate change. Yet in Laboratory Earth, the changes we can see with our own eyes are outstripping even the upper end of the predictions made in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, which was publicised in stages during 2007.

Runaway ice melting in the Arctic has shocked and stunned scientific observers. We were told there was a risk that the Arctic could be ice-free by 2080, then this was revised back to 2040. In a single week in September 2007 an area of Arctic sea ice twice the size of Ireland simply disappeared. Between 2005 and 2007, the summer ice mass on the Arctic shrank by over 20%.

The entire Arctic region is heating rapidly, with temperature rises of between 5-8 degrees C already recorded. The rapid disappearance of vast tracts of sea ice is having a huge impact on the albedo of the entire region, and this is creating a vicious cycle of warming that is now also destabilising the vast permafrost zones of northern Canada and Siberia.

Locked in this disintegrating permafrost are billions of tons of methane – which is, molecule for molecule, over 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. To anyone other than an imbecile (or someone so desperate for attention and money that they’ll stoop to anything) all this adds up to one thing: a full-scale catastrophe in the making, right before our eyes.

But hey, what would all those experts know, compared with the insights of McAleer/McElhinney. One of the Muppets featured in the trailer for their mockumentary actually says: “I don’t think it would be a bad thing for the Earth to warm up; in fact, ice is the enemy of life”. Jeeeeezus.

Clearly McAleer/McElhinney have spotted that the crazed US ultra-right, science-hating Creationist neoconservative market is so utterly undiscerning that it will lap up any garbage, as long as it portrays anyone who gives a damn about anything other than making tons of money as being some kind of pinko tree-hugger.

What is especially galling in this and similar propaganda pieces is the risible attempt on the part of the filmmakers to portray the world great polluters as the friends of the poor, compared to those smug middle class hypocrite eco types who want to plunge us all back into the Dark Ages, etc. etc. It’s a 180 degree inversion of reality of breathtaking cynicism. Evil, indeed.

McAleer/McElhinney have pedigree here. In 2006 they produced a documentary called ‘Mine Your Own Business, which they (incorrectly) touted as being “the world’s first anti-environmentalist documentary”. It portrayed environmentalist opposition to a gold mine in Romania as destroying “the human right to a job and development”.

The film was, surprise, surprise, part-funded by the mining company! With no hint of irony at all, this film was recently shown in Roswell, New Mexico, home of phantom aliens and beloved of X Files fans.

Their latest offering is a mockery of a film, a shabby, cynical and shameful effort, the antithesis of investigative journalism, which seeks to examine ALL the facts, weight the evidence, speak to all parties and rely on peer-reviewed rather than junk science and a handful of discredited cranks with grudges.

McAleer/McElhinney, shame on you both. If you’re looking for an alternate title for your nasty little polemic, can I suggest ‘Triumph of the Will‘, in honour of the master of black propaganda in film-making, Leni Riefenstahl. No doubt you are familiar with her work.

p.s. Ever fancied being an ‘Associate Producer’ on a movie? How about ‘Executive Producer’? Sounds even better. All you have to do is send Phelim and Ann your money, a mere thousand bucks and you’ll appear on their ‘Credits’ as an Associate Producer, and if you can manage ten grand, you get the fancier title of Executive Producer. But wait, you say, that’d be a lie, since you would in fact be neither. Well, McAleer/McElhinney are not the types to allow a lie or two or three to come between them and taking money from suckers.

ThinkOrSwim is a blog by journalist John Gibbons focusing on the inter-related crises involving climate change, sustainability, resource depletion, energy and biodiversity loss
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5 Responses to Not Evil, just Cynical

  1. DanFitzgibbon says:

    Heard the interview with Phelim McAleer on the Last Word, a perfect example of how not to promote your movie. I’d say for John it was one of the easiest debates he’s ever been in, (probably one of the more frustrating, I mean where do you start?)

    As to the giving away of titles for funding or expertise that’s how the movie industry works.

    On a positive note, three cheers for the Scotish scientists working on reducing flatulance in animals, now that’s progress.

  2. John Gibbons says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Dan. Your observation about this debate being both easy and frustrating is bang on the money. Since TodayFM replayed the whole thing in full on their highlights programme on Saturday morning last, I got to hear it the whole way through as well.

    Bottom line is I suppose everyone has to make a buck, and this pair have spotted a handy niche in the grey area of climate science to stir up the shite and make some easy money. Even still, I’d have honestly thought McAleer, even accidentally, might have picked up the bare scientific rudiments of the issue along the way. If he has, he’s certainly keeping that to himself.

    Maybe the kind of redneck audience he seems to be pitching this to in the US bible belt might start getting twitchy if they thought McAleer was anything other than a dyed-in-the wool Darwin-hatin’ Creationist. I’m actually pretty sure he’s less of an eejit than an out and out opportunist.

  3. Willie Clinton says:

    Heard John’s interview on the radio on Saturday, well it certainly had to be the livliest or at least loudest thing on the radio that day! McAleer was clearly enjoying the exposure of being on the radio plugging his film,and wasn’t in the least bothered with answering any of the facts being chucked at him by John Gibbons. Kind of clever really. Since most people listening probably wont know too much about the science end, maybe he’s onto something here

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