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Film review: 'Not Evil Just Wrong'

By Mark S. Lawson - posted Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Not Evil Just Wrong is a feature length documentary by two Irish film makers, Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, which follows in the footsteps of The Great Global Warming Swindle - a film released in 2007 - in pointing to the absurdities and gross contradictions in the current scare over global warming. Not Evil Just Wrong is available to the public from October 18, 2009 (you can find details at the website).

The documentary, along the way, and as an illustration of how actions taken with the best intentions can cause immense damage, has a crack at the cancer scare that caused the insecticide DDT to be banned. That ban, sparked by Rachael Carson’s book Silent Spring is held to be responsible for millions of deaths in developing countries.

Now that the World Health Organisation has removed the ban DDT is being reintroduced. Spraying a little on the walls of bedrooms has proved extremely effective in reducing the disease at very little risk. But such is the horror the chemical still invokes that activists cannot see use of the chemical in terms of a risk-reward trade off. Its dangerous, you get cancer if you look sideways at a can of it, and anyone who has a different view is in the pay of the chemical companies. The film shows American activists in Africa urging people, including a women who lost her child to malaria, not to use the chemical.


Most of the documentary is not about this sort of wild-eyed, immune to reason activism. The aside to DDT is to illustrate just how heartless the environmental mind set can become in putting principle before people, particularly if the principle is based on a misunderstanding. Instead it spends a lot of time with an ordinary American couple who want to get on with their lives and give their children a better future. The sort of people Al Gore is asking to make sacrifices, in part by cutting back on energy use. The ordinary couple I found to be wearing after a time. OK, they’re the salt of the earth, I get it! But they have a point when they say they are not the ones travelling around in a private jet.

Al Gore has in fact reportedly made millions from his campaign to make people consume less, only pausing to commemorate Rachel Carson who certainly meant well but perhaps is now best left to the historians.

The program interviews activists attending an environmental conference, asking them just how they would respond to the questions of ordinary people about why they should have to make sacrifices.

The best response from these activists, who also don’t seem to be making any sacrifices, was that “we are all in this together”. Another said she would like to “kick them”. The leading scientist for the sceptics, Professor Richard Lindzen at MIT, also notes that the IPCC members are constantly collecting frequent flyer miles, all in the name of selling the message that we are harming the environment.

What of the science behind all these requests to cut back? The directors spend most of the screen time picking at major inconsistences in the global warming story, such as the scientists who once claimed that global cooling was on its way who are now pushing global warming.

Then there is the infamous hockey stick graph with which climatologists could find no fault before businessman Stephen McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick managed to identify a major flaw that completely invalidated it. (The IPCC has since dropped the hockey stick from its publications, without bothering to explain why.)


McIntyre then went on to find a major fault in the data sets put out by the Goddard Institute of Space Science which purported to show that the current decade is the hottest recorded in America. In the corrected data, GISS having admitted the mistake, the 1930s are the hottest. After being shown up by an amateur one would expect GISS director, the redoutable Professor James Hansen to be at least a little apologetic and humble. Instead, in a priceless moment in the film, Prof Hansen says that reference to the episode is “clouding the issue”.

Not Evil Just Wrong drags a little here and there, but is a handy counter to the the very pro-green film The Age of Stupid. Devout activists will not be convinced but then they won’t be convinced by anything. It may, however, make a few in the middle ground think again. It is worth seeing.

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About the Author

Mark Lawson is a senior journalist at the Australian Financial Review. He has written The Zen of Being Grumpy (Connor Court).

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