- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ann McElhinney’s low-budget documentary refuting the global-warming hype and hysteria arrives in Washington just in time to break Al Gore’s crystal ball. “Not Evil Just Wrong,” the feature-length film she made with her husband Phelim McAleer, coolly reveals how Mr. Gore’s disguise of hot fanaticism as cold fact arrives as the Senate begins to gear up for debate on “climate change” legislation.

“We know you can’t teach religion in school,” Ms. McElhinney says. “But there is a religion being enforced, a green religion.”

Her film illustrates just how schoolchildren have been indoctrinated with fear, loathing and foreboding, as Mr. Gore’s film attempts to recruit them as tiny prophets of doom.

Her camera shows children in Northern Ireland describing how the sea level rises when the ice caps melt and polar bears drown. “It may [happen] here and we will all die,” says a little girl on the verge of tears, trying hard to look as though she understands what she has been taught. Pipes up an earnest little boy: “And most of us can’t even swim.”

The emotional abuse of the children in the film, first shown to an audience the other night at the Heritage Foundation, illustrates the frightening tactics employed by certain environmental groups.

President Obama joins the hysteria from time to time, as in his doomsday remarks in September at the economic summit in Pittsburgh: “Rising sea levels threaten every coastline. More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent. More frequent droughts and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive. On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees … the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.”

But lately, even some environmentalists think the facts, like the children, have been abused by the politics of what now must be called “climate change,” since the globe is inconveniently cooling, not warming.

Gerd Leipold, a leader of Greenpeace, defends the tactic of “emotionalizing issues” to get public attention, but concedes that mistakes were made, as in the claim that Arctic ice will disappear by 2030.

Al and his like-minded cohorts insist that the argument is over, but it isn’t. The mistreated facts have been resisting Mr. Gore’s disguise and occasionally get a little relief. In 2006, a British court characterized Al’s Oscar-winning documentary as riddled with exaggeration and error, and said the film could not be shown to schoolchildren without counterarguments and balancing evidence.

The judge cited nine significant errors and misleading statements. Polar bears, for example, hardly face extinction, as Mr. Gore suggested, and their numbers have actually increased five-fold over the last half-century.

“Not Evil Just Wrong” demonstrates how the politics of environmentalism directly affects the lives and livelihood of men and women who live less stylishly than the sophisticated bicoastal greens who have made Al Gore their icon.

Ann McElhinney’s film focuses on people (not polar bears) whose paychecks and families are dependent on coal-generated energy, and whose interests are usually ignored in abstract statistics.

One mother proudly shows off her new house at the edge of a small town in Indiana, and worries that her good fortune is threatened by environmental activism that will destroy jobs and raise prices for gasoline and electricity. “I’m not the one traveling in a private jet,” she says. “When I have to go somewhere, I get in a car.”

The camera follows her when she drives to Al Gore’s mansion outside Nashville to deliver a letter to tell him her side of the story.

Elitism is the target this film hits with savage insight. It’s about who makes what sacrifices. Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an outspoken critic of what he calls the sloppy scientific evidence of global warming, observes wryly that environmental “experts” collect lots of frequent flyer miles delivering lectures telling others that they shouldn’t fly.

The makers of “Not Evil Just Wrong” have bypassed the Hollywood distribution system by organizing grassroots, private showings in homes, churches, schools and think tanks. On opening night they screened their documentary 6,000 times in 27 countries.

Ann McElhinney tells me how she was transformed from “really liberal” to environmental conservative when she saw mindless policies destroying lives in the developing world.

The film describes the tragedy of DDT, the miracle insecticide that almost eradicated the mosquito that carries the malaria virus. But DDT was banned after publication of Rachel Carson’s 1962 best-seller, “Silent Spring.”

Millions in Africa have died of malaria since, and after the World Health Organization lifted the ban, concluding that it had acted on unscientific science, the incidence of malaria plummeted. Hysteria has wounded the facts, but the wound may not be mortal.

Suzanne Fields is a syndicated columnist.