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Climate movie under fire for mistakes

Documentary contains inaccuracies that made it unsuitable to show at schools: critics

Environmentalists are criticizing the climate change documentary "Plus or Minus 2 Degrees Celsius" by media personality Sisy Chen for its mistakes, reports said yesterday.
The movie, a more Taiwan-centered counterpart to efforts like former United States Vice President Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," contained inaccuracies that made it unsuitable to show at schools, critics said.
Its premiere was attended by government leaders and by top business people.
One of the mistakes was that the movie insisted the melting North Pole would provoke a rise in the ocean level, while in fact only the melting of the South Pole could cause such a change, experts said.
National Taiwan University atmospheric sciences professor Gloria Hsu and other academics and environmentalists who watched the movie not only found that a lot of footage came from public television, but also that so much content was wrong or avoided the facts that it subtracted from the value of the whole movie.
Hsu said that even the title was misleading, since a drop in temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius was unlikely to cause any problems.
She also said that Taiwan was the 12th most densely populated area in the world, and not the second, as the movie claimed. In Asia alone, territories like Hong Kong and Macau and countries like Singapore and Bangladesh rated higher than Taiwan, she said.
Hsu also doubted the claim that Taiwan was being eroded at a rate of 2 percent a year. At this pace, the island would disappear within 50 years, she said, while Taiwan would not have been able to survive for at least 400 years and to have had aboriginals living here for more than 2,000 years.
The movie was also guilty of simplification by claiming that precipitation would double each time temperatures rose by 1 degree Celsius, Hsu said.
The Ministry of Education said that a thorough process was necessary before outside movies could be accepted as teaching materials.
Chen defended her documentary by saying the data all came from scientific bodies, and her main aim was to persuade the public to stop global warming by changing its behavior.
Some of the accuracy problems might have occurred during postproduction, she said, with some figures being simplified for easier understanding.
As to the North Pole melting, Chen said that the report was based on the threat posed to Greenland. The issue had been researched for seven years, though she said it was possible that her movie could be more careful with its science.
However, not a single statistic in the movie had been invented by its makers, Chen said, adding that academics at the Academia Sinica and National Taiwan University were responsible for providing the facts.
The title "Plus or Minus 2 Degrees Celsius" had been designed to put across the idea that everyone should make an effort to stop global warming by bringing down temperatures, Chen said.
Environmental groups said they would turn up at the Presidential Office today to demand President Ma Ying-jeou call a national convention on climate change.

Updated : 2021-10-19 04:29 GMT+08:00