Climate Change Denial

March 9, 2007

THE GREAT CHANNEL FOUR SWINDLE

George Marshall @ 2:39 pm

Last night Channel Four kindly gave an hour and half and a large budget to the international network of professional climate change deniers. ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ was a propaganda gift to the various vested interests who seek to undermine the fragile political and social will to take action on this global crisis.

And it was sometimes very convincing, as strongly worded opinions often are when they are not subject to any verification or external challenge. For example, there are excellent rebuttals against the contention that global warming is correlated to cosmic rays (for example see… ) At the bottom I list the growing number of well referenced and detailed rebuttals of the scientific claims in the programme.

There was only one scientific advisor on the programme, Martin Livermore, whose sole scientific qualification is that he is the Director of a web-based think tank, The Scientific Alliance. The Alliance was set up by in 2001 by Robert Durward, the fiercely anti-green director of the British Aggregates Association, and Foresight Communications, a Westminster public relations and lobbying company, to “counter scare-mongering by the so-called green lobby”. (For more…)

The Scientific Alliance has no affiliation with any recognised scientific body but, like most of the contributors to the programme, it does have very strong links with the US public relations and lobbying organisations that have been so effective in setting the Bush agenda on climate change.

The writer and presenter of the programme was Martin Durkin. Although it was written in a highly personal and opinionated style- speaking freely of “lies”, and the “shrill frenzy” of “scare stories” – we never saw Durkin or discovered his personal credentials. As George Monbiot has revealed Durkin is closely affiliated with the Revolutionary Communist Party which has a strong ideological opposition to environmental science (more on Durkin and the RCP.

In 1997 Channel Four was forced to issue a humiliating public apology over a previous series of anti-environment programmes directed by Durkin called “Against Nature”. The Independent Television Commission found that “the views of the four complainants, as made clear to the interviewer, had been distorted by selective editing” and that they had been “misled as to the content and purpose of the programmes when they agreed to take part.”

For this programme Durkin drew up a dream team of scientists who have built personal careers as media pundits debunking the peer-reviewed work of their colleagues. There are few of them, but they are well supported by the Washington lobbies and kept very busy with media debates, documentaries and opinion pieces. (I have personally debated with five of them in media debates).

Is it any surprise then, that they were so persuasive. Most of the people on the programme are professional communicators who are more familiar with the chat show than the lab. Of course they give good interviews – it is what they do for a living.

And let us not forget that we all want to believe them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to believe that the science is unsettled, that all that carbon dioxide that we are pumping into the atmosphere really has no effect, and that we do not have to worry about the future.

It would be entirely possible to put together a similar programme, with a string of credible former academics, to argue that smoking does no cause cancer, that HIV does not cause AIDS, or that black people are less intelligent. However, Channel Four would not dare broadcast the programme and we would not believe them if they did. Is it not a reflection of the deep public ambivalence about climate change that these dissenters are given such a prominent and uncritical showcase and that we are so keen to listen to them?

Make up your own minds from their track records. Here is a little more information on some of the people who appeared on the programme:

Fred Singer. Despite the caption on the programme, Singer has retired from the University of Virginia and has not had a single article accepted for any peer-reviewed scientific journal for 20 years. His main work has been as a hired gun for business interests to undermine scientific research on environmental and health matters. Before turning to climate change denial he has argued that CFCs do not cause ozone depletion and second hand smoke does not cause cancer (more… ). In 1990 he founded “The Science and Environment Policy Project”, which aggressively contradicts climate science and has received direct funding from Exxon, Shell, Unocal and ARCO. Exxon is also among the funders ($20,000 in 1998 and 2000)

Patrick Michaels is the most prominent US climate change denier. In the programme he claimed “I’ve never been paid a nickel by the old and gas companies” which is a curious claim. According to the US journalist Ross Gebspan Michaels has received direct funding from, among others German Coal Mining Association ($49,000), Edison Electric Institute ($15,000), and the Western Fuels Association ($63,000) an association of US coal producing interests (more…). The WFA is one of the most powerful forces in the US actively denying the basic science of climate change, funding, amongs other things, the Greening Earth Society which is directed by Patrick Michaels. Tom Wigley, one of the leading IPCC scientists, describes Michaels work as “a catalog of misrepresentation and misinterpretation”. (More on Michaels…)

Philip Stott was captioned as a Professor at the University of London although he is retired and is therefore free of any academic accountability. Stott is a geographer by training and has no qualifications in climate science. Since retiring Stott has aimed to become Britain’s leading anti-green pundit dedicating himself to wittily criticizing rainforest campaigns (with Patrick Moore), advocating genetic engineering and claiming that “global warming is the new fundamentalist religion.”

Patrick Moore is Stott’s Canadian equivalent. Since a very personal and painful falling out with Greenpeace in 1986 Moore has put his considerable campaigning energies into undermining environmentalists, especially his former friends and colleagues. Typical of his rhetoric was his claim in the programme that environmentalists were “anti-human” and “treat humans as scum”. Throughout the 1990s Moore worked as lead consultant for the British Columbian Timber Products Association undermining Greenpeace’s international campaign to protect old growth forest there. Whenever he has the chance he also makes strong public statements in favour of genetic engineering, nuclear power, logging the Amazon, and industrial fishing- all, strangely, lead campaigns for Greenpeace (more on Moore..)

Piers Corbyn has no academic status and his role in such programmes is to promote his own weather prediction business. He has steadfastly refused to ever subject his climatological theories to any form of external review or scrutiny.

Richard Lindzen. As a Professor of Meteorology at the credible Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lindzen is by far the most reputable academic among the US climate deniers and, for this reason, he is heavily cited by sympathetic journalists such as Melanie Phillips and Michael Crichton. His arguments though are identical to the other deniers – for example an article in the Wall Street Journal (June 11 2001) he claims that “there is no consensus, unanimous or otherwise, about long-term climate trends or what causes them”.
He is strongly associated with the other people on the programme though co-authored reports, articles, conference appearances and co-signed statements.

Tim Ball was captioned as the University of Winnipeg. In fact he left in 1996 since when he has run political campaigns through two organisations he helped found: the Natural Resources Stewardship Project and the Friends of Science which, according to their websites aim to run “a proactive grassroots campaign to counter the Kyoto Protocol”; and “encourage and assist the Canadian Federal Government to re-evaluate the Kyoto Protocol”. Ian Clark is also on the board of the NRSP.

REBUTTALS OF THE ALLEGATIONS IN THE PROGRAMME

I have received a lot of postings from people criticising me for not dealing with the specific allegations in the programme. I am not qualified to do so, but here are links to people who are. I am not going to accept any more postings making this point. This website is a discussion of why we find it so hard to come to terms with climate change, not a bulletin board for people who people who are still not prepared to accept the conclusions of 20 years of research by every scientific insitution in the world.

1. Sir John Houghton, one of Britain’s leading climate scientists and former chair of the IPCC. Link… He states baldly that virtually every allegation was false.

2. The Royal Society. In a press release the Royal Society is very critical of the programme and concludes that “Those who promote fringe scientific views but ignore the weight of evidence are playing a dangerous game. They run the risk of diverting attention from what we can do to ensure the world’s population has the best possible future” link….

3. In the Sunday 11th issue of the Observer, six leading climate scientists from four universities criticise the conclusions of the progamme. They say: “we defend the right of people to be sceptical, but for C4 to imply that the thousands of scientists and published peer-reviewed papers, summarised in the recent international science assessment, are misguided or lying lacks scientific credibility and simply beggars belief” link…

4. In 13th March edition of the Guardian, George Monbiot takes out the claims of the programme one by one. Link… On his website full scientific references are given for his article which, unlike the Swindle, was checked by professional climate scientists before publication

5. Realclimate, an excellent blogsite run byclimate scientists in large part to deal with climate skeptic arguments also goes through the allegations point by point link…

6. It took a long while for Sir David King the UK government chief scientist to catch onto the damage done by this programme but at long last he has pulled together a very well argued science based analysis and refutation. Link…
I have to say that anyone reading this who still wants to believe that the Swindle film was based on strong science really is desparate to believe that climate change is not happening- there is a reason why this website is called Climate Denial after all.

7. One of the few real scientists to appear on the programme (that is to say he really does do climate science rather than working for a public relations company) was Professor Carl Wunsch, professor of physical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the Independent Wunsch claims that “They completely misrepresented me. My views were distorted by the context in which they placed them….I am the one who has been swindled…The movie was terrible propaganda. It is characteristic of propaganda that you take an area where there is legitimate dispute and you claim straight out that people who disagree with you are swindlers. That is what the film does in any area where some things are subject to argument.” link…

According The Times when the director Durkin was challenged by Dr Armand Leroi from Imperial College on his use of dubious data in the programme he replied by e-mail saying “you’re a big daft cock”. When Dr Leroi persisted Durkin wrote back telling him to “Go fuck yourself”. Maybe those people who have written posts to this item complaining about the “character assassination” of Mr Durkin would like to drop him a line and congratulate him on his reasoned engagement in the scientific debate link…

Well no surprise that Durkin lied to the participants about the programme and then edited what they said to misrepresent their views. This is exactly what he did last time he got a major programme and it led to the public humiliation of Channel Four, The question is this: what reputable broadcaster would ever give another major commission to this man. Obviously the same channel that thinks that subjecting an Asian woman to racist bullying makes good entertainment.

Let’s answer that last question another way. If you want a painful laugh, have a look at Channel Four’s own website on the programme link…

On the left side of the page is the information about the rubbish in the Swindle film. On the other side are links to other pages on climate change including “Explore the issues around the greatest challenge of our time”, which tells us that “little doubt exists among the scientific community that human activity is changing the climate…For the first time in our history the whole human species is under threat from the alarmingly powerful forces of climate change” Another featured link take us to “Environmentalism: A brief history of this powerful movement”.

OH FOR GODS SAKE! So even Channel Four don’t believe this programme. How unspeakably shallow and cynical can the media be?

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65 Responses to “THE GREAT CHANNEL FOUR SWINDLE”

  1. Mike Sparrow says:

    A very nice article. I managed to watch about 2/3 of the programme before having to switch it off. It raised a couple of interesting points e.g. the difficulty in getting a less “interesting” scientific result published, the influence of the sun on climate, but did so in such a biased way it was incredible. Many of the graphs shown were plain wrong (e.g. the temperature plot showing the so called medieval warm period and little ice age in comparison to modern day temperatures) and many of the statements showed a complete lack of understanding of the basic science (e.g. the comment about the CO2 sinks/sources being larger than anything emitted by humans. The whole point is that before the system was in balance – the extra we are adding is not being fully absorbed by the system and is therefore causing temperature rises). There were many other such examples…I also thought that this programme was equivalent to showing something about how HIV doesn’t cause AIDS…

  2. Gareth Kane says:

    I watched the whole thing and spotted a number of massive holes in the argument which you can see here. I was particularly offended by the idea that the green movement wanted to keep Africa in poverty.

  3. Susan Ballard says:

    I fell asleep during the programme having heard all these tired old arguments from the same old faithfuls before.

    However, I am concerned, like George, that the programme provides a let-out clause for so many people I meet who would understandably prefer not to believe in any personal responsibility for the situation we’re in.

    I’m hoping that the programme will attract rebuttals from creditable scientific institutions which will debunk each inaccuracy bit by bit. Some hard scientific input would help me because I often use the graph showing the rise in temperature plotted against CO2 rise and if I’m honest, I’ve never really understood why temperature rise leads CO2 rise. It would help to have a simple scientific explantion up my sleeve.

  4. Mari says:

    Hi George, great to hear the real story behind these guys. There’s a few people here who will need convincing http://community.channel4.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/9250037634/m/1120034157/p/2

  5. David Rees says:

    This is a spectacular victory for the climate deniers. It has very effectively removed my utter conviction that climate change is a real thing, mostly because I have no special training in climatology and so have to take at face value the assertions of both camps and make my own decision, based mostly on how frequently I hear climate info that seems to make sense. If I took a couple of months off to study the matter, I might possibly be able to form an independent opinion…but independent of what, or whom?

    The piece very effectively stimulated scepticism that people with some scientific training hold dear. For example, the correlation between CO2 and temperature rise cannot be denied from the illustrated graph. My reaction was …”but which is cause and which is effect?” The programme first allowed me to place a sceptic’s marker in the flow of logic and then reinforced it. This is really effective reinforcment, since the idea was my own, even if the reinforcement was not. I have been manipulated. Or have I? The stakes are so high for both camps that I could be persuaded that either camp would find it difficult to play the game with a straight bat.

    Thank you for presenting a rebuttal to this programme.

  6. tstngtms says:

    Martin Livermore had nothing to do with the show. I suggest you research this further or it is just akin to the kettle calling the pot black

    [George writes: on the morning that the show was broadcast Martin Livermore told George Monbiot on the air during a live interview on Radio Ireland that he had been scientific advisor to the programme. I am careful never to make any allegation without the evidence to back it up]

  7. Lucy Dale says:

    Dear George

    Thank you for your response to the documentary. As a non-scientist I am in no position to verify the evidence and I was wondering whether you could point us in the direction of some further information about the claims that CO2 emissions lag behind temperature rise and fall, rather than drive it. I found this to be quite convincing during the documentary. If it weren’t for the ridiculous green bashing, the patronising views on development and the previous blunders of the producer, I would have found the science of this programme convincing (albeit one-sided). I worry that this programme may hood-winked many non-scientists like myself.

    Thanks,
    Lucy

  8. Steve Latham says:

    Dear David Rees,
    I can understand your position. Indeed it will take a lot of time to fully understand all of the arguments. It’s not impossible, but probably too much to ask of most laypersons. So, what I think you should do instead is to look at these few proponents (there aren’t very many more), and look at their predictions. They (in general) don’t make very many predictions because (1) they aren’t using valid climatological arguments and (2) their goal is to obfuscate/confuse, not to enlighten. But there are a few predictions that they’ve made (particularly the only real scientist there, Lindzen). You can compare their scant predictions to the many that real climate science has made. Even back in the late 1980′s, the much less sophisticated GCMs available did a good job of predicting what would happen to our climate up to this point. They did very well at predicting, for example, the effect of the Pinatubo eruption. They do a good job of explaining stratospheric cooling in the face of surface warming. There are other predictions and I’ll have to leave you to look them up. Note that the predictions (wrt climate) of the small group of dissenters are always changing and that they are wrong. This could be taken to the extreme in response to Susan Ballard’s question: is the warming planet causing CO2 increase today? No, contrary to the predictions of a simple historical correlational analysis, CO2 increase is leading temperature increase in the present.

  9. Jim Talbot says:

    Sorry, but I think your analysis is no less biased. Just because someone is retired does not diminish their standing and the worth of what they have to say. One probably has to go back that far to find the original, unbiased science upon which many of their statements are based. This was what I based my own paleoecological studies on, and I remain unconvinced by the current global warming arguements.

    [George writes: Jim, I entirely agree that someone who is retired still merits respect and recognition. But I contend it is a serious misrepresentation to caption someone in a documentary as the University of London or University of Winnipeg, giving the appearance that they are an active scientist and can speak on behalf of that organisation, when they actually retired years ago. We are led to assume that the person is accountable when clearly they are not. Many years ago I worked for a university- does that entitle me to credit myself with that name when, in reality, I am working for a social change organisation? And, as I argue in the article, many of the people in this documentary are not actually scientists but are full time political campaigners. Fine, no problems with that, but people should be able to know what they are]

  10. John says:

    Dear George

    I work in the newly rising carbon industry, like yourself, and I recognise that, if the claims of the climate sceptics are taken seriously, we both are in danger of losing our jobs.

    However, I think your personal attack on the commentators of this programme is not justified…except maybe for professional reasons. Political campaigners exist also in pro-climate policy circles. It’s not about who they are but what they say

    To my view, climate science is far from explaining climate change. If we understand why climate is changing at present, we still cannot understand why climate was changing in the past. As I see it, we simply cannot explain fully why this change is happening. As humans, the truth is simple yet disappointing: WE DON’T KNOW. A university professor will say he knows to get his funding or his paper published, you and me will say we know to get our money and feel nice we work for a good cause. Humans might be contributing to a change, but a change would happen even without human contribution.

    Climate policy, as declared in the UK and EU, is more about energy security than climate concern. The latter is just a nice way to say to the oil & gas lobbies ‘no thank you i have mine’.

    Having said that, I don’t think that climate denial can undermine environmental policy and decarbonisation of modern economies. Sustained growth requires increased productivity for energy, that we can only get from non-fossil sources. We should not forget that emissions from many developed economies had started declining before any climate policies came into force.

    Having contributed to academia I have to sadly accept two things: publication bias and prejudiced funding. Both are more true than anthropogenic climate change

    I regret to admit that human science has been so arrogant and vain as human nature itself. If our ancestor scientists knew that the remarkable combustion engines or electrical appliances they invented would cause so much harm, surely they wouldn’t have done so. But they DIDN’T KNOW. If we knew that CFCs would plug a hole in the ozon layer, we wouldn’t have used them in the first place. But NOBODY KNEW. Climatologists of the 70s proclaimed the anthropogenic ice age, but finally they DIDN’T KNOW. I’m afraid that a similar fallacy is happening with climate science, WE THINK WE KNOW BUT WE DON’T KNOW.

  11. Whatever the heated arguments flying around concerning climate science, no one can be in dispute over our declining non-renewable resource pool; it can be measured. In the end, whether the changing climate is entirely or only partly down to our industrial-age activities and expanding population is really a moot point. We all know one thing for certain: that we have to start preparing now for a low-carbon economy. And we might as well get a head start on the future for the sake of social stability. The people who really worry me are the ‘future deniers’, who happily chirrup away about the fact that there are still plenty of energy reserves under the ground. Whether the reserves will endure for 40, 50 or 200+ years, the changes in our collective lifestyle will ultimately be monumental. After years of perplexity, I finally grasp the biblical significance of: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”.

  12. Julian Todd says:

    It’s worth noting that desmog was on the case before the program was aired, probably lead to it by the participation of their bete noire, Tim Ball.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/channel-4-now-ashamed-of-its-experts

    Accordingly, Channel 4 chose to alter its website, rather than stand up to their challenges about the credentials of the experts, suggesting that they knew they had no credibility.

  13. Peter Winters says:

    I confess I couldn’t bring myself to view the programme, as I assumed from the trailer that it would be complete rubbish. From these reviews, I am glad I didn’t bother!

    .. but it does seem as though Channel 4 (& commercial TV in the UK) is going to the dogs. See below a link with regard to a police investigation about some of their dodgy activities. Maybe it is caused by a funding crisis that they cannot afford proper documentaries?! I wonder if this programme was sponsored in any way by Exxon etc. In many fields, PR is a growth industry compared to more traditional advertisng.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,,2029900,00.html

  14. Tim Dougall says:

    Your response here seems to be an attack on the various people who took part in the programme, rather than any attempt to discuss the points raised.

    Your attitude smacks of fundamentalism to me. If green campaigners have previously been using a graph showing C02 levels lagging temperature by 800 years in an attempt to convince the world of the truth of man-made global warming, it is they who are guilty when it comes to propaganda. About time someone pulled them up on it.

    The stream of derogatory comments from people who didn’t watch the programme and aren’t qualified to comment on the scientific principles may now continue…

    [George writes: I am not qualified to critique the science in the programme. I am not a scientist. Someone who is well qualified is Sir John Houghton, one of Britain's leading climate scientists, and former chair of the IPCC. A copy of his critique... is at http://www.jri.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=137&Itemid=83 Sir John says quite baldly that the key statements of the programme were false. There is also a range of critiques of this programme (and the arguments in it) on http://www.realclimate.org, an excellent scientist led site.

    This has nothing to do with green campaigners- this is an argument of a handful of contrarians against the consensus of 2,500 highly qualified experts.
    It is entirely legitimate to criticise individuals if an argument depends on their credibility. If you can argue with strong evidence that an individual is not what he or she seems to be and has a track record on being paid to promote arguments that are palpably false, I would say there is a pretty good grounds for not believing them.]

    http://www.jri.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=137&Itemid=83

  15. George Strum says:

    I did not see the programme, but have had a pracae from a friend. I am a very sceptical of the climate change lobby; why? Because when I was young, the science was that we were enterring a new ice age. The science was wrong, it would appear. Why, less than 30 years on is the science right this time? I have a degree in physics – I like science and scientists. But they are not God and and are fallible. Each year from the age of 16 I was told in Physics that what I was being taught was “how it was” in physics. the next year, a the more complex “truth” was explained. On to University and the same. I am now just sceptical, period. And so you we all be. What you cannot deny, is that the worlds resources are limited and pollution is damaging. That’s where our effort should be – the climate will have its way and I doubt there is much we can do about it.

  16. George K says:

    An apt quote from your friend …

    “Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen” Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC

    And a few more apt quotes …

    “No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits…climate change provides the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world” Christine Stewart, former Canadian Environment Minister

    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and
    hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series
    of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. H. L Mencken

    The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to
    rule it. H. L. Mencken

    Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.
    Andre Gide, Nobel Prize winning novelist

    [George writes Nice quotes George, I agree with all of them which is why I include them. Stewart by the way strongly believes in the science. But I also know you are writing this to disagree with my posting, sop just to point out, Sir John Houghton is not my 'friend'- he is the fomer head of the British Meteorological Office and chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Of course I am sure that you have a lifetime of scientific research to argue with his conclusions. You cannot have it every way. If the arguments on the programme are real science, then surely we should listen to people who are also real scientists. Or do you believe anyone who tells you that smoking doesn't cause cancer or that you can eat Big Macs every day and not get ill. So why are you so keen to believe these people? There is a reason this site is called Climate Denial.]

  17. Dan J says:

    Good summary. I watched it, and it is sad to see that those who want to say the whole thing is a hoax have only the stale, old arguments. Even the debate about the moon landings being a hoax are more exciting.

  18. Hi there

    This was a truly shocking piece of television which says much about the decline of the principles on which Channel 4 was founded. Here is a piece I wrote for http://www.madcomments.co.uk/ discussing the problems with the programme and the background of the great Mr Durkin…

    The great Channel 4 swindle

    In which a highly respected national broadcaster continues to screen sensationalist rubbish while claiming that the controversy proves its importance.

    Not content with stirring up an international racism row by allowing the disgusting spectacle of Big Brother to be broadcast, Channel 4 has decided to once again embrace the controversial by screening an entirely one-sided debate refuting the arguments for man-made climate change. Why? For too long now the channel has relied almost entirely on controversy to guarantee audiences. This is useful if it provokes debate. But when broadcasting an entirely one-sided argument on one of the most important issues of the day then should they not take more responsibility for their actions?

    Problem one with last night’s The Great Global Warming Swindle (if we ignore the sensationalist title) is that it entirely failed to reflect scientific reality, in that there is never unanimity and that one counter-theory does not render a theory false.

    Problem two is that Channel 4 showed the climate change dissenters without giving any idea of what proportion of scientists those dissenters represent. They mentioned it was a minority, but how small? Further, as Zoe Williams in a response to the programme in today’s Guardian points out, why do they suggest that simply by being in a minority is it more likely that they are right?

    Indeed Williams makes a very interesting point when discussing one of Channel 4’s so-called “experts”: “Nigel Calder, incidentally, is billed as the “ex-editor of the New Scientist”; to clarify for a second what they mean by “ex”, he was the editor of a non-peer-reviewed journal that, under his relatively short tenure beginning 1962, was five years old. That’s like accepting the ex-editor of a student fanzine as a leading authority on Mahler’s experiments with harmonic dissonance.”

    Another major problem was that Channel 4 failed to emphasise the fact that the theory that the sun causes changes in temperature on earth is not inconsistent with the theory of man made global warming – the issue simply being the extent to which the sun or human-created co2 emissions each affect global temperatures.

    Further, was the amazing suggestion that people employed in climate change related posts – journalists, activists etc are claiming that the issue exists solely to protect their high-paid jobs. This argument is so childish it doesn’t even deserve repost.

    And finally came a bizarre argument that the environmental lobby is trying to scam the developing world out of developing. Taking the example of a woman who lived in a mud hut, the programme asked why she didn’t have a fridge or a cooker. Surely the answer to these questions lie more in the dealings of the World Bank than the climate change lobby.

    At this point it’s worth looking into the track record of Martin Durkin, the man responsible for last night’s programme. In 1997 Durkin made a series for Channel 4 called Against Nature, which targeted environmentalists, presenting them as ‘the new enemy of science’ and as comparable to the Nazis. They were responsible, the series argued, for the deprivation and death of millions in the Third World.

    In the aftermath, Channel 4 was forced to broadcast a prime-time apology after the Independent Television Commission ruled: “Comparison of the unedited and edited transcripts confirmed that the editing of the interviews with [the environmentalists who contributed] had indeed distorted or misrepresented their known views. It was also found that the production company had misled them…as to the format, subject matter and purpose of these programs.”

    This was not all though. Undeterred, Channel 4 made further use of Durkin’s services. As Private Eye noted, mocking Durkin’s involvement with the channel, in February 2000: “What does Channel 4 do with programme makers condemned by the TV watchdog, the ITC, for using underhand editing techniques? The answer is, er, hire them to make another programme…”

    So, next up ‘Modified Truth: The Rise and Fall of GM’ broadcast in March 2000 – again on Channel 4. Here Durkin presented GM food as perfectly safe and as much needed to feed the starving in the Third World.

    Following the broadcast, multiple signatories from the Third World complained in a joint letter that the programme was a propaganda vehicle to support the monopoly control and global use of genetically modified food. What’s more, two scientists critical of genetic engineering who were invited to contribute to the programme, both subsequently complained that they were misled about the content and were not given a chance to reply to attacks on their positions.

    Just what is going on here? Why does Channel 4 continue to use the services of Mr Durkin? The answer sadly is audience figures – for which the channel appears happy to sacrifice its already dwindling credibility.

    The problem with this kind of one-sided programming is obvious. Exactly how much harm the programme – and Channel 4 itself – has done to the climate change lobby may be seen in the coming months. Let’s hope it’s not too much.

  19. Wendy Simons says:

    Your article has just convinced me about the validity of the program. You have tried to defamate these scientists, professors and weather experts, that I find disgusting. Instead of defamation show us your line by line proof of the evidence given in this show.

    By the way I noticed you only tried to discredit six of the experts, what about the other TEN of which two are with the IPCC itself. DISGUSTING article!

  20. Wendy Simons says:

    For those that missed the program watch it free here, then comment!

    http://www.jonhs.net/freemovies/great_global_warming_swindle.htm

  21. Alastair Brand says:

    Interesting – I forced myself to watch this programme, but they managed to undermine some good points with a couple of glaring errors.

    The worst one was the claim that man-made CO2 emmissions run at 6.5 gigatonnes per annum. OOPS, WRONG, it was 6.5 gigatonnes of carbon, not CO2 (1 tonne of carbon equates to 3.67 tonnes of CO2 by the way) So the actual figure for CO2 was around 24 gigatonnes for 2004, higher than that for subsequent years. I guess that is kind of nitpicking if they used the same measurement for natural sources, but it still leads to underestimating the flow of CO2 through the atmosphere.

    They also seemed to be as keen on ignoring figures that did not back up their own argument; an accusation they were quick enough to lay against the other side. For example, not one mention was made of the reduction in temperature of the thermosphere, a key point of global warming theory predicted years ago by greenhouse theory.

    I’m not saying that the case is cut and dried – but to me (as a well read layman) the balance of the evidence points out to a high probability that man-made (or to be more accurate – human influenced) climate change is real.

  22. Andy Arthur says:

    Is it just me, or am I not alone in finding the constant references to personalities rather than the science counterproductive.

    Please leave the character assassinations to the politicians, from whom we expect little better, and let the scientific arguments speak for themselves.

    Let us see the numbers and we can all make up our own minds.

  23. Nick Greenacre says:

    I too am somewhat unconvinced by the poorly understood science which is popularly referred to as ‘conclusive’ regarding carbon led global warming. This documentary raised potential answers (plus a few others) to questions that were already in my mind.

    George, thanks for the link, but it should be noted that Sir John Houghton agrees that the evidence of carbon-led heating IS completely back to front. He just disagrees that this is a core argument.
    Surely it should be!

    Given the abundence of anecdotal evidence on this isssue, I think it entirely reasonable that C4 produce a documentary biased towards alternative, possibly more objective, science.

    A dissapointing number of the respondents to this site (and others) say that they did not even watch it or that it made them angry to the point where they turned off.
    May I say that this should be a scientific debate rather than an high stakes episode of the x-factor based on personalities.

  24. Dan White says:

    After watching the programme, and as a result scouring the interent for the various arguments, there really is only one correct answer – WE DO NOT KNOW. As ‘John’ posted earlier, “we simply cannot explain fully why this change is happening”. To me, that is the most sensible comment to come out of the debate.

    I came to this page to look for an accurate disection of the subject, but what I got is akin to kids bikering in a playground. I’ll guess I’ll have to keep looking for a proper adult discussion of the subject.

  25. JAMES LOVELOCK says:

    THE EARTH IS HAVING THE LAST WORD IN THIS ARGUMENT AND SADLY IT WILL NOT BE LONG BEFORE WE ALL START MOVING TO COOLER PLACES — THE DENIERS WILL PROBABLY JUMP THE QUEUE. SORRY TO SEE YOU BAD MOUTHING PATRICK MOORE.

  26. James Nicholls says:

    What an extraordinary approach to ‘moderating’ you have on this blog. Normally (i.e. by bloggers who engage in democratic debate), the term is taken to mean excluding offensive or libellous material, not censoring people who don’t agree with your points. Maybe you should rename your site ‘dissent denial’: more accurate than ‘climate denial’ and less nonsensical(who exactly is denying that climate exists??)

    [George writes: Dear James, this site is concerned with the psychological response to climate change not a discussion of whether it is happening or not. I believe strongly, like every government in Europe, and every major scientific institution that climate change is largely caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases and I see no reason why I should allow my site to provide yet further debate of this. I allow dissenting commwents when I think they add something interesting to the blog, not when they want to rant about their personal views on climate change].

  27. Ben Collins says:

    Having just watched the programme on ‘More 4′ I must say that what seems now to be essential for all of us is for the scientific community to give the public some well argued responses. Critically it seems to me, we need a proper scientific response to the claim of deniers that it is temperatuire rise of the oceans (ny increased solare radiation} that is relesing CO2 into the atmospher.

    It is really very imporatant that the global warming campaingers( and I am one of them) can feel their campaigning is based on science that has been subject to proper scrutiny.

    As a science teacher,(and environmentalist) dealing with inqusitive questions from children daily, I would not be modelling true scientific methodoly if I where to state categorically that CO2 rise in the atmosphere is causing the temp rise of the earth’s surface. I couldm’t because I know that C02 in water and air moves in and out of solution according to temperature.

    I hope we get to hear from the scientists soon – perhaps on this blog?

  28. Josie says:

    Thanks very much for doing this work George. I am currently drafting a formal complaint about the programme and I was wondering if you had quick answers to any of these questions concerning the interviewees in the programme ?-

    Both Singer and Stott are described in many places on the internet as “Professor Emeritus” of their respective universities. I understand that this means that they have left but are still in some way affiliated? Could you explain what this means? Are they accountable to universities or not?

    Do I understand correctly that Ball is currently not in any way affiliated to a university?

    Do you know of anyone else who was falsely captioned other than those mentioned?

    Thanks!

  29. Louise says:

    Philip Stott is an emeritus professor of Biogeography at the University Of London.

  30. Diana says:

    Dear George,
    Thank you for this enlightening article and all the information about those people appearing in the film … what a nightmare, really, the www is a good but dangerous place at the same time. I belong to those who went to see the film on google video and was completely confused afterwards. I admit that my first reaction was a little bit of disapointment towards Al Gore’s movie … and now, I am glad to have made some more research around all this issue.

    Well, my conclusion: Stop politicians and scientists arguing about global warming right away as it makes their and our heads cook, what again leads to more warming up of our planet and let’s concentrate on saving what still is to be saved, fighting pollution, consumerism, poverty, educational issues …

  31. Douglas Coker says:

    George. Thanks for a very useful contribution to the by now (Tuesday) increasingly large number of authoritative rebuttals of Durkin’s dangerous denialist drivel. (Start at Real Climate and explore for those who’ve the time.)

    I’ve followed this global warming debate/issue for nearly 3 years now, subsequent to reading Mark Lynas’s High Tide. To really get a hold of the issue and get serious action to counter global warming we need an understanding of the science, the politics (oh yes!!), the psychology and a whole raft of lobbying/marketing ideas and techniques. It can be very time consuming and many, while broadly sympathetic to the need to urgently reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions, will not necessarily have a detailed understanding, especially of the science.

    I sympathise with those who found the documentary “somewhat persuasive”. I’ve had lengthy discussions with friends who know my position and are well educated (PhD types!!). They were clearly thrown by the content and challenged me as a result. How do you explain this and how do you explain that, etc? I did my best and there are, of course, plenty of places to send them to on the web for more information.

    But I see a pattern. I’ve been thrown on a number of occasions over the last 3 years by stuff from denialists, doubt sowers, carbon club lobbyists and the like. These people are persistent and refuse to go away. But on checking what they say these deniers turn out to be wrong, in most cases very wrong indeed. They are wrong in a number of ways and they have various motivations. Some are eccentrics with hobby horses, some are in the pay of “big carbon”, some have just made an honest mistake and some have very strong right-wing political affiliations and consequently are prejudiced against government and especially supra-government bodies like the United Nations which along with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988.

    So Durkin’s DDD is the latest case of a denier trying to pull the wool and he is wrong. I suspect that part of his and other denier’s motivation is to have us spend inordinate amounts of time going over the same ground ad nauseam. Ultimately Durkin and the like will not get away with this. But there is a danger that their activity will result in delays and mitigation of global warming will be hampered so leading to more danger, destruction and death.

    Yes death – adding to the Australian farmers who’ve committed suicide as a result of the “Big Dry”, the tens of thousands of Europeans who died in the 2003 heat wave, the Inuits who are drowning due to thinning ice, the many Africans perishing at sea as they try to escape a collapsing eco-system and so on … ! I look forward to the day international courts start to hear cases brought against knowingly reckless contributors to global warming.

    Douglas Coker

  32. Alex Rogan says:

    I hope Global Warming is real and human caused. That way I can help make mor eof it. I hate winter.

  33. merrick says:

    “If you want a painful laugh, have a look at Channel Four’s own website on the programme” – as an extra bonus, there’s a little Flash ad to win a day’s off-road driving with Volkswagen…

  34. JS says:

    It is clear that this “documentary” contained many untruths and presented many “experts” who are not scientists or have lobbying connections.

    But it did also present the views of some real scientists (like Ian Clark), and the challenge is to respond to the arguments of these scientists rather than to the rest of what was shown. I have not seen a clear and satisfactory response yet.

    Also, I am confused by the following statement made by John Houghton in his response (linked above):

    “3. That carbon dioxide content and temperature correlate so closely during the last ice age is not evidence of carbon dioxide driving the temperature but rather the other way round – TRUE. The programme went on to state that this correlation has been presented as the main evidence for global warming by the IPCC – NOT TRUE.”

    Can someone clarify this? I thought the fact that CO2 is the cause of GW was the main position of the mainstream view. If not, then what is the cause of GW — and why are we aiming to limit CO2 emissions?

  35. Dean Morrison says:

    The programme producer faked the graphs in the programme. This is quite simply fraud – if the denialists have to seek this low to make their case it shows they don’t have a real one in the first place.

    This is an overlay of ‘Nasa’ data according to Durkin with that from the Nasa website:

    http://img103.imageshack.us/img103/6634/sdodgygraphgm3.jpg

    This was picked up in the Independent today:

    http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/climate_change/article2355956.ece

    http://img408.imageshack.us/img408/9268/durkinfakegraphsym7.jpg

    I’ve commented on this at more detail on Ben Goldacre’s ‘Bad Science’ forum

  36. Nick Greenacre says:

    It is interesting that a lot is said of the money invested by interested parties.
    Surely this includes the trillion dollar climate industry, with it’s own batch of consultants, lobyists and scientists seeking funding.

    Is everyone on the climate change gravy train really so clean?

  37. Nick Greenacre says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I am an avid environmentalist who believes that we must reduce the ammount of fossil fuels being consumed on a global level.
    If this carbon argument does it then I’m happy with using it as a vehicle to that end – But I am very worried that such a specific argument for CO led global warming may be proved to be wrong and inadvertently de-rail the whole environmental argument.
    I do understand the science of this and I really do see enough holes to sink it.

  38. Peter M says:

    What a weak debunking.

  39. Dean Morrison says:

    If you did understand science you wouldn’t talk about seeing ‘holes to sink it’ – thats’s the kind of thing that the creationists have been trying to do to the Theory of Evolution for years.

    The point about Exxon is that they fund lobby groups and front men – just like the tobacco industry and the Intlelligent Design lobby -none of them do any science as there isn’t any and they know it…

  40. Nick Greenacre says:

    Dean, take a breath and read my post again.
    EVERYONE funds lobby groups – on both sides of the argument…
    It’s an unpopular fact that the science involved in the calculation or prediction of global climatic shift is extremely complex as there are so many contradictory factors involved.
    Scientists theorise (upon their own speciality), then consultants collate and ‘theme’ the results by a process of addition or ommission. The net output is invariably poorly summarised for public digestion.
    The politicians are left in the position of going with the flow, so that they can stay in office. They may even believe in what they’re saying.
    It’s quite possible that everyone is right – which would explain alot.

    The tragedy is that it is now almost an act of heresy to examine the ridiculously simplistic message portrayed. The establishment of a middle ages style of ‘Grand Inquisition’ for scientists who will not toe the line will do no good to anyone.

    Lets just go ahead and economise with our use of global resources. If the result is that we avoid a global catastrophy, then so much the better.

  41. Nick Greenacre says:

    Character assassination of strangers is fun, but IF you really have an interest in the environment, then put in a heat exchanger, draft proof your house, double insulate your loft and for god’s sake don’t buy a Prius to go book burning in.
    * Believe it or not, you’re better off making your existing car last a couple more years than in buying an allegedly ‘clean’ one.
    * Campaign for tax breaks on train tickets.
    * Don’t force people from planes to cars – that’s actually 400% worse. The short haul market is the most polluting (per mile) and is where this is most likely to happen.

    People have been screaming at Exxon et al for ages. That only works if you stop buying from them as well.

    Lobby for that, I dare you…

  42. Jim David says:

    Anybody who has traveled in the northern US and southern Canada knows that global warming is an undeniable fact. Valleys that were once filled with thousands of feet of ice are now empty. Glacial moraines in the US midwest mark the terminus of once mighty glaciers that covered the land. Global warming on a grand scale has been occuring for thousands of years, long before the advent of the SUV! I agree with Al Gore’s aims of weaning us off ever more precious oil and stopping the dumping of crud into the atmosphere. I totally disagree with his promotion of lies, half truths, and hysteria to accomplish these goals. Your technique of discrediting the TV show is that of ignoring the message and destroying the messengers!

  43. Ken Arnold says:

    Wow – I have just read the first sentence and am afraid the tone of the review has been set. You have already proven the scientist’s charge of being shouted down and called names to be true! These men as a group appeared to strongly believe that Mother Earth’s climate is warming, yet you call them “deniers”! The only thing these believers are debating is the cause, and are heroically offering some science and logic to combat the outrageous claims and outright lies we are flooded with by those who stand to gain politically or financially.
    I’ll probably read the rest of the review, but I’m sure I know what to expect already.

    [George says: Ken sorry to tell you this, but in the past Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels and Dick Lindzen all argued that the evidence of the warming itself was inclusive- in other words that it was NOT happening. Among other things they argued that potential inaccuracies in the measuring methodologies - such as the "heat island" effect that makes urban areas hotter - was to account for the higher recorded land temperatures. After 2000 it became clear that this was no longer a tenable position and they started arguing against CO2 as the dominant cause. In the early 2000's a group of contrarians followed the lead of Bjorn Lomborg to argue that it is happening and is caused by CO2 but that it was not such a big deal and it would be too expensive to do anything about it. This is now the new skeptic position. I repeat my claim these are not dedicated scientists, they are exactly what I say- professional contrarians - and their arguments shift to find the best oppositional stance]

  44. Ed Derbyshire says:

    You might have mentioned that the scientist’s in the movie were working from an empirical science base, whereas the IPCC and its supporters are working from the post-normal science base. There will never be an agreement while the two sides definition of science is so far apart. What is settled science is from the post-normal school, while the empirical school is still looking for evidence.

  45. Rob says:

    As ever, the evidence for man-made global warming is overwhelming but we manage to block it out all the same. It’s just too scary: something we thought was harmless and is generated by virtually everything we do has turned out to be catastrophic for us in the long-term.

    Quite a few people have accused you of “character assassination” for pointing out that these are mainly fringe scientists, and that the documentary-maker has a poor track record for honest debate. I’ve come across this on other forums – in some ways it’s better to avoid anything that could be interpreted as sour grapes, regardless of how justified the criticisms really are. (Although “big daft cock” is now my favourite phrase ever. Damn, that was funny.)

  46. Nick Greenacre says:

    Rob, you do an excellent job of summation and are clearly an academic force to be reckoned with.
    Aren’t things so much easier when the three monkeys are in town (on the assumption that today’s ‘evil’ is intelligent, reasoned discussion).
    Surely the stifling [railroading] of the climate debate is what this column is all about. Well done in this.
    WHO are all these “fringe scientists” to which you refer? Do you know this for fact, or is it just a divisive fantasy that allows you to participate in the debate without actually adding anything?

    my apologies for such a mild critique, but that’s all I saw in your text – there’s really no point in leaving your opinion without any reasoning attached – or did we miss something deeper…

    keep the faith!

    As to my cock being big and daft, well… I never said it was smart.

  47. Stelios Artemakis says:

    Channel’s 4 documentary is basically trying to rebut Al Gore’s claims about the corellation of CO2 levels and global temperature by, among others, presenting the idea that solar activity drives the climate.
    But Gore’s graph, presented in the beginning, is in a complete different time scale: Hundreds of thousands of years as compared to the decades or hundreds of years in the other graphs.
    Take a closer look at Gore’s graph and you can easily see that there are local inconsistencies -CO2 going down while the temperature is going up etc. So why a 90 minute rebuttal when the two don’t necessarily cancel each other?
    I don’t really know who drives the climate -I’m not a climatologist- but I have not doubt that the documentary, if anything, is journalistic nonsense.

    Stelios Artemakis, MSc

  48. Danny says:

    George – great to see another calm and reasonable debunking of this programme. Judging by its popularity on YouTube, we sadly still have a way to go on this one. As you point out, we can’t blame people for wanting to believe this stuff, even if it is based on bad, bad science…

    I’m sure most people reading this are sick of the whole thing by now, but in case anyone’s still interested I’ve written a detailed rebuttal of the programme’s main points here:

    http://adaisythroughconcrete.blogspot.com/2007/03/ok-now-im-cross.html

    It’s neither calm nor reasonable, though. This sort of thing makes me a bit peeved, I’m afraid.

    Danny

  49. peter freeman says:

    I have been reading through the comments for and against the CH4 program but what bothers me is that the man made Global Warming idea – real or not has every politician wetting his pants and has killed off any public discussion on the subject. Some of the “green” solutions really worry me as they are not thought through to the basic fundamentals. Two examples. Wind power requires building of thousands of turbines but has anyone considered the pollution generated by constructing these monsters, wiring them into the grid and servicing them to say nothing about their lifespan – three in the sea close to me have been written off after only six year of use. Catalytic converters, when these were first suggested the motor industry were almost united in going for the lean burn engine instead. Well put down by the “greens” now we have the Cats which don’t work when cold, require precious metals which have to be mined ( has the pollution cause by this been quantified ? )and shipped to Europe and because of the restriction to gas flow they increase fuel consumption by up to 10%. Somehow we have to get common sense back into the equation.

  50. Stephen Bush says:

    Danny says in 49 he has written a detailed rebuttal of the program but his rebuttal starts with him saying I didnt watch the program. Sheesh.

  51. Natalia says:

    I think people like Wendy Simon (who posted some “disgusting” comments above) are the kind of ignorant disgraceful human beings that are going to allow all this nonsense to carry on. What the hell are you thinking? I guess some people like being the devil’s advocate. Fight and defend things that are worthy of it. Let’s try to be better people, take care of our planet and let’s stop being self centered idiots. Wake up. I know loads of people really want to believe that we are not responsible for destroying the planet..well..It’s very convenient isn’t? Shame on all the Wendy Simon’s in the world.

  52. Johnny S. says:

    Great response no. 52. A “disgraceful human being” just because of her belief? Shame on you, for believing you’re belief is more relevant than hers.
    It is possible for someone to believe that climate change due to CO2 may not be happening yet still believe in conservation and environmental protection (I happen to be one of those people, I’m not sure about Wendy Simon though).

    In the latest rebuttal article on this website I read the statement that it has been proven that in the last 15 years, carbon emissions have become more responsible than the sun for the extra warming on our planet. Ok. I’m positive that there are a lot of great scientists with great data that can prove this. I am just amused at how this type of statement can be perceived by the layperson or public. Essentially what this is saying is that we have become more influential than the thing that sustains our planet. Is this so hard to disbelieve?

  53. Johnny S. says:

    The statement does not say the last 15 years, rather, since early this century….my mistake.

  54. Dan R. says:

    If I were sick, and a vast majority of qualified doctors suggested a certain treatment, I’d probably take it. If my plumbing was leaking, and a vast majority of qualified plumbers recommended a certain remedy, I’d probably trust ‘em and pay for it. If at my future child’s parent/teacher interview I was told by the vast majority of teachers that my child was mis-behaved, I’d probably believe ‘em. If CO2 was accumulating in the atmosphere and oceans and a rate unprecedented in the last 600,000 years or so, and the vast majority of climate scientists were telling me that this was leading nowhere good, why would I suddenly bet on the minority?
    Wake up folks – I don’t like the implications anymore than you do. Until the majority of scientists tell us that it’s safe to release CO2 into the atmosphere at our current levels, we owe it to our kids, and our neighbour’s kids, to limit our CO2 output. It may be uncomfortable to swallow, but it’s as simple as that.

  55. Danny says:

    In response to Stephen Bush (comment 51):

    I HAVE watched the programme. I saw it on YouTube, and it made me feel quite ill. My blog doesn’t say I haven’t watched it, it says:

    “…if you’ve never heard of the programme, didn’t see it, or aren’t bothered about it in the least – hooray!”

    Just thought I’d clear that up. Although hopefully people have moved onto more interesting topics than this by now.

    Dx

  56. Natalia says:

    well number 53 (if we are calling each other by numbers) I respect people who have different beliefs than I do. I don’t respect people that don’t take responsabilities because is inconvenient. My point is that even if it’s not co2 that’s going to destroy us, this shouldn’t give us the license to behave so selfishly. We still should change our habits and stop living in the world of disposable. Our behaviour is wrong. Calling a well intentioned article disgusting, as wendy did, is just not right. So sorry number 53, i feel no shame I just feel sadness because wendy and you just don’t get it. We shouldn’t even be discussing this. Our relationship with the earth is complacient and selfish. Consecuences or not it shouldn’t be the way it is.

  57. Ken Arnold says:

    Interesting comments by Natalia. Often people try to muddy the issue “is global warming caused by man?” with the unassailable position of saving the earth from man’s gluttony. This may be innocent, as many times I’ve heard people confuse smog and other atmospheric poisons with CO2 (plant food!). In Canada, the lefties have tried to morph global warming into “climate change”, thereby allowing those who want to control your life to “See?!? I told you, we’re killing ourselves!” every time the temperature is above OR below it’s average. Thankfully, it seems like we are talking solely about warming again.
    It does appear that most people consider talking about it enough, and that real action is downplayed. Here in Canada the Liberals had 6 or 7 years to pretend to be committed to Kyoto and did nothing. Besides, warming will be good for Canada – we may be able to feed the whole world if we lose the permafrost …. and polar bears either reevolved very quickly after the warm period 800 years ago, or maybe even survived somehow.
    2 quick thought starters: since China will more than undo ANY potential good the developed countries will achieve, shouldn’t we be allocating resources on dealing with the predicted problems?
    Our winter started Oct. 26. We still have snow on the ground. There is a heavy snowfall warning for Thursday. This will get us to six months with snow on the ground. Two of the last 3 winters have been much longer than average. Is global warming really happening, or can anybody make a case for anything if you get to choose the starting point?
    Sorry to sound like such a fool and heretic. I’ve enjoyed everyone’s comments and perspectives and just want you all to know that I love this old planet as much as anybody – and I’ll put my “footprint” up against anybody living in a traditional North American lifestyle!

  58. Gary Ward says:

    I am a physicist, mathematician and teacher. I was peripherally aware of some arguments about global warming up until about 6 months ago, when I heard an environmental scientist’s talk about global warming. I have since heard David Suzuki speak and watched “An Inconvenient Truth.”

    While the evidence presented by the advocates for carbon dioxide led global warming and climate change sounds very convincing, I have not looked at the actual studies and the actual science. The arguments from this C4 programme fall into the same category for me. I have not seen the studies nor the acutal science. When I look at the tremendous population growth and resource use (a few simple mathematical calculations easily gives an alarming picture), it makes sense to me that greenhouse gases may lead or contribute to global warming and climate change, but I am still not absolutely convinced. I want to know all the HARD science and all the models that are being used.

    The reality of scientific study is that we tend to find what we are looking for. We set up experiments to find relationships, but more often than not, the experiments are set up in a way that are biased toward a result, whether the scientist is conscious of it or not. And the peer review process is far from perfect. If the bias is subtle, peer reviewers do not catch it. In many modern, complex studies, this is the case.

    Psycologically, people react to what is presented to them. Much of the information presented leads the populace to a market to satisfy their feelings of guilt. If we look at the past four decades this is more than evident. Marketers pick up on a single point and push it into the cultural psyche with bias, with the intention of making money. One only has to consider the effects of bran in the products in the US market in the 90′s as a single case. Another case was with Y2K. Doesn’t anyone remember this?

    I found this C4 programme while searching for carbon offset information. It was clear to me that the schemes behind carbon offsetting are money makers for someone. So we are back in the trap of someone cashing in on the guilt felt from biased marketing.

    While I was reasonably convinced about carbon dioxide emissions (and other “greenhouse” gases) contributing toward global warming and climate change, I am now back to a skeptical position and WILL look in more detail at the science behind both sides of the debate.

    If you want to argue with me or try to convince me that your position is right, you better have real numbers and exact information about the studies that give the numbers. I will not listen to the emotional, biased arguments of those of you who do not know what you are talking about except for how you feel.

    I, for one, do not want to spend the rest of my life paying someone or sacrificing my lifestyle and integrity for others who want to make money off of me by using alarmist tactics to sell products. I also do not want my children to have to inherit a dangerous world to live in nor to have to take on the responsility to try to fix problems created by their ancestors. I can happily carry on with my life with my head in the sand were it not for these two motivations. So now I want to know the truth, not the emotional, illogical, and often ridiculous, arguments of campaigners for biased points of view.

    For those of you who have contributed on the side of real information in this discussion, I thank you. For those of you who have made statements about another person, ridiculed another’s beliefs, or have just downright insulted someone, I ask you to take a look at your own biases and at what you ACTUALLY KNOW about this topic. Do some more research. What you are doing by making biased statements is only adding to the problem because your responses only detract from the credibility of your argument.

  59. lone ranger says:

    Who was jailed for claiming the earth was round?
    Who really knows what is going on?
    The media lies, can’t trust them.
    People have agendas, always have.
    What can someone do from their trailer park anyway?
    Hi 0 Silver, away!

  60. mij says:

    I totally agree with Gary Wards assessment.
    We all need to do more research on the facts of global warming.
    One thing I find common about his comment was the fact global warming is a money-maker.

    I think scientists on both sides on this issue should have televised debates on this subject. This would surely weed out some of the junk science we all have heard.

  61. Dave says:

    What worries me the most about your attempted rebuttal here, along with so many arguments against the climate sceptics, is that it is largely based on a personal attack. Even your section titled: “REBUTTALS OF THE ALLEGATIONS IN THE PROGRAMME” is little more than a continued attack on individuals. I have spent some time studying many of the arguments on both sides of this debate, and unfortunately, so much of the science is bad. As a particular example, take the computer modelling. I happen to be a modeller myself, albeit in a different field. Computer models rely on being stable about input paramaters. One of the key input parameters to most climate science models is the amount of feedback changes have to the environment, and these we do not understand. With negative feedback it is likely that changes to the environment will be minimal, with positive feedback we get extreme results. I routinely see climate change proponents publishing results from computer models that rely on positive feedback. Any engineer will tell you that positive feedback systems rarely exist in nature because they are fundamentally unstable, previous extreme climate events, like Krakatoa, would have been likely to cause instability yet they didn’t.

    Carbon is trapped in the earth in many ways, through life, limestone, and many other mechanisms. The greenhouse effect is maintained and regulated in many ways, through water vapour, dust, and various gasses. It is clear that the climate is changing at present, like it has throughout the history of the planet, what is not clear in any of the evidence I have yet to see is why. The fact that I continue to see sensationalist papers from proponents that claim to finally develop a solid link between humans and climate change tells a lot. The fact that when these papers are read they fail to establish a solid link is more interesting still.

    I find myself, at least at the moment, a sceptic. I am not biased enough that some good science might persuade me the other way, but at the moment the evidence I have seen clearly makes me feel that we are not responsible for current climate changes. Nevertheless, if we are, I have faith with the ingenuity of man. We are already seeing people with technology to trap large quantities of CO2 at the bottom of the ocean. If atmospheric CO2 levels become a genuine problem, I think we can fix them – without resorting to communist ideals by making Carbon more important than money, and then rationing it to the proletareat.

    [Dear Dave- I often refuse skeptic e-mails, but I accept this one because it is thoughtful. I'm afraid that it is also wrong. All my reading of the science is that the positive feedbacks from climate change will greatly outweigh the negative. I would also say that it is simply not true that positive feedbacks do not exist in nature- the rapid transition between glacial and inter-glacial climate regimes are exacerbated by positive feedbacks until the climate reaches a new equilibrium. This is exactly what will happen with climate change.

    And once again, I say that when a self styled scientist is deliberately opposing and criticising the well founded opinion of his peers it is entirtely legitimate to question his motivations and personal background. This is a personal blog and I make no bones that I don't like these people, so of course it reads as an attack, but you will find plenty of very moderate and well balanced opinions on wikipedia and http://www.realclimate.org. As for Martin Durkin, I think he is a disgrace as do many professional journalists.

    Your last two lines contain two key arguments for people who do not want to face up to climate change: that technology will save us, and that there is a leftist political motivation. Sorry to say, neither are correct- they are excuses for not taking immediate action- George]

  62. Frits W. van Dijk, NL says:

    I do not care what causes the warming up effects. Time will learn who is right. Once famous scientists thought the earth was flat. Now every school boy knows better. But as the energy situation develops to a “five PAST twelve” scenario, it is very clear to me that we should be very economical with the (energy and other) resources of our home planet!

  63. JJG says:

    I did not see this programme however, I find it strange that someone who obviously believes Climate Change and it’s links to human behaviour to be an inescapable truth would be so opposed to this programme being shown or made. Channel 4 is not a publicly funded body and so there can be no public outrage as to how it spends its money. What happened to debate anyway?

    20 years ago we we’re talking about a new ice-age, didn’t happen so everyone changed their tune to global warming, everyone was pleased about that so suddenly it’s climate change.

    Climate Change is the product of a strong global economy. People didn’t care about it when they had other stuff to care about, and we can watch it dissappear as a public or political issue as the new CC of the Credit Crunch takes headlines and becomes the new apocolypse chosen by the BBC.

    Climate Change is not an issue, problems arise when climates begin to stagnate. That is a real sign of danger and problems in ‘the environment’

    ‘The environment’ is spoken about these days as if it is an entity that first of exists, and not only that, can die.
    :( ‘We’re killing the environment’ said the teacher to the impressionable class of children.

    It was once said that just because the sun has risen everyday since the beginning of time, is no proof that it will rise tomorrow. This does not seem immediately relevant but it is an example of how we cannot know all the variables in certain issues. Climate change for me is one of these issues.

    I’m not a religious person but I believe Going Green is to some a new religion, the perfect religion where you don’t actually NEED to do anything, anything you do is a bonus, and if you don’t stick to it no one cares, and there are no consequences.

    If the climate is changing, and it is, obviously, there is nothing we can do. If you live in Bangladesh, at the apex of three rivers, you’re gonna flood, so move. Or, since it’s going to take f*cking years for anything to happen, perhaps some kind of wall is in order?

    I haven’t read all the comments or even the entire article, but I saw a youtube video critising another for giving BAD tips for going green :( so decided hysteria needed to be averted.

  64. Elwood says:

    i must confes, i didnt read the all of the article. i stopped after reading this

    “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to believe that the science is unsettled, that all that carbon dioxide that we are pumping into the atmosphere really has no effect, and that we do not have to worry about the future.
    It would be entirely possible to put together a similar programme, with a string of credible former academics, to argue that smoking does no cause cancer, that HIV does not cause AIDS, or that black people are less intelligent.”

    I can see were your going with this statment but the last part about “black people are less intelligent.” turned me off. I dont understand how comparing the people on that show to racists helps your argument

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