The other day I was listening to criticism of Bill Maher for being anit-vaccine. In the course of that I heard a very good analogy. Being anti-vaccine is on par with being a global warming denier. Almost all of the scientists and people educated in those areas take it as solid well established facts.
Really? REALLY?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Global_Warming_SwindleReactions from scientists
The IPCC was one of the main targets of the documentary. In response to the programme's broadcast, John T. Houghton (co-chair IPCC Scientific Assessment working group 1988–2002) assessed some of its main assertions and conclusions. According to Houghton the programme was "a mixture of truth, half truth and falsehood put together with the sole purpose of discrediting the science of global warming", which he noted had been endorsed by the scientific community, including the Academies of Science of the major industrialised countries and China, India and Brazil. Houghton rejected claims that observed changes in global average temperature are within the range of natural climate variability or that solar influences are the main driver; that the troposphere is warming less than the surface; that volcanic eruptions emit more carbon dioxide than fossil fuel burning; that climate models are too complex and uncertain to provide useful projections of climate change; and that IPCC processes were biased. Houghton acknowledges that ice core samples show CO2 driven by temperature, but then writes that the programme's assertion that "this correlation has been presented as the main evidence for global warming by the IPCC [is] NOT TRUE. For instance, I often show that diagram in my lectures on climate change but always make the point that it gives no proof of global warming due to increased carbon dioxide."
The British Antarctic Survey released a statement about The Great Global Warming Swindle. It is highly critical of the programme, singling out the use of a graph with the incorrect time axis, and also the statements made about solar activity: "A comparison of the distorted and undistorted contemporary data reveal that the plot of solar activity bears no resemblance to the temperature curve, especially in the last 20 years." Comparing scientific methods with Channel 4's editorial standards, the statement says: "Any scientist found to have falsified data in the manner of the Channel 4 programme would be guilty of serious professional misconduct." It uses the feedback argument to explain temperatures rising before CO2. On the issue of volcanic CO2 emissions, it says:
A second issue was the claim that human emissions of CO2 are small compared to natural emissions from volcanoes. This is untrue: current annual emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production are estimated to be around 100 times greater than average annual volcanic emissions of CO2. That large volcanoes cannot significantly perturb the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere is apparent from the ice core and atmospheric record of CO2 concentrations, which shows a steady rise during the industrial period, with no unusual changes after large eruptions.
Alan Thorpe, professor of meteorology at the University of Reading and Chief Executive of the UK Natural Environment Research Council, commented on the film in New Scientist: "First, let's deal with the main thesis: that the presence or absence of cosmic rays in Earth's atmosphere is a better explanation for temperature variation than the concentration of CO2 and other gases. This is not a new assertion and it is patently wrong: there is no credible evidence that cosmic rays play a significant role...Let scepticism reign, but let's not play games with the evidence."
The Royal Society has issued a press release in reaction to the film. In it, Martin Rees, the president of the Royal Society, shortly restates the predominant scientific opinion on climate change and adds:
Scientists will continue to monitor the global climate and the factors which influence it. It is important that all legitimate potential scientific explanations continue to be considered and investigated. Debate will continue, and the Royal Society has just hosted a two day discussion meeting attended by over 300 scientists, but it must not be at the expense of action. 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.
Thirty-seven British scientists signed a letter of complaint, saying that they "believe that the misrepresentations of facts and views, both of which occur in your programme, are so serious that repeat broadcasts of the programme, without amendment, are not in the public interest. In view of the seriousness of climate change as an issue, it is crucial that public debate about it is balanced and well-informed".
On 5 July 2007, The Guardian reported that Professor Mike Lockwood, a solar physicist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, had carried out a study, initiated partially in response to The Great Global Warming Swindle, that disproved one of the documentary's key planks — namely that global warming directly correlates to solar activity. Lockwood's study showed that solar activity had diminished subsequent to 1987, despite a steady rise in the temperature of the Earth's surface. The study, to be published in a Royal Society journal, used temperature and solar data recorded from the last 100 years.
In a BBC interview about this study, Lockwood commented on the graphs shown in the documentary:
All the graphs they showed stopped in about 1980, and I knew why, because things diverged after that ... You can't just ignore bits of data that you do not like.
Volume 20 of the Bulletin of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society presented a critique by David Jones, Andrew Watkins, Karl Braganza and Michael Coughlan.
The Great Global Warming Swindle does not represent the current state of knowledge in climate science… Many of the hypotheses presented in the Great Global Warming Swindle have been considered and rejected by due scientific process. This documentary is far from an objective, critical examination of climate science. Instead the Great Global Warming Swindle goes to great lengths to present outdated, incorrect or ambiguous data in such a way as to grossly distort the true understanding of climate change science, and to support a set of extremely controversial views.
A public forum entitled “Debunking “The Great Global Warming Swindle"” was held at the Australian National University in Canberra on 13 July 2007, at which scientists from the Australian National University, Stanford University, USA, and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies exposed what they described "as the scientific flaws and half-truths in the claims of climate change skeptics"Criticism from two scientists featured in the programme
Carl Wunsch, professor of Physical Oceanography at MIT, is featured in the Channel 4 version of the programme. Afterwards he said that he was "completely misrepresented" in the film and had been "totally misled" when he agreed to be interviewed. He called the film "grossly distorted" and "as close to pure propaganda as anything since World War Two", and he lodged a complaint with Ofcom. He particularly objected to how his interview material was used:
"In the part of The Great Climate Change Swindle where I am describing the fact that the ocean tends to expel carbon dioxide where it is warm, and to absorb it where it is cold, my intent was to explain that warming the ocean could be dangerous—because it is such a gigantic reservoir of carbon. By its placement in the film, it appears that I am saying that since carbon dioxide exists in the ocean in such large quantities, human influence must not be very important—diametrically opposite to the point I was making—which is that global warming is both real and threatening."
Filmmaker Durkin responded:
"Carl Wunsch was most certainly not 'duped' into appearing in the film, as is perfectly clear from our correspondence with him. Nor are his comments taken out of context. His interview, as used in the programme, perfectly accurately represents what he said."
Although Wunsch has admitted that he finds the statements at both extremes of the global climate change debate distasteful he wrote in a letter dated 15 March 2007 that he believes climate change is "real, a major threat, and almost surely has a major human-induced component".
Wunsch has said that he received a letter from the production company, Wag TV, threatening to sue him for defamation unless he agreed to make a public statement that he was neither misrepresented nor misled. Wunsch refused, although he states he was forced to hire a solicitor in the UK.
Following Wunsch's complaints, his interview material was removed from the international and DVD versions of the film.
On 7 December 2007, Wunsch restated his critique on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Lateline programme after the film was screened, saying: "It's not a science film at all. It's a political statement." In the same interview, reacting to what he claimed were new and further distortions by Durkin, Wunsch said:
"Durkin says that I reacted to the way the film portrayed me because of pressure from my colleagues. This is completely false. I did hear almost immediately from colleagues in the UK who saw the film who didn't berate me. They simply said, "This doesn't sound like you, this seems to be distorting your views, you better have a look at this".
Ofcom ruling on Wunsch complaint
Ofcom divided Wunsch's complaint into three parts, ruling in his favour on two parts and against him on one part.
Ofcom agreed with Wunsch that he was misled as to the programme's intent, ruling that he wasn't given sufficient information about the polemical nature and tone of the programme to allow him to give informed consent for his participation.
Ofcom also found that Wunsch's general views were misrepresented:
"The Committee did not consider that the editing of the programme presented Professor Wunsch as denying that global warming is taking place. However it noted that the programme included his edited interview in the context of a range of scientists who denied the scientific consensus about the anthropogenic causes of global warming. In the Committee’s view Professor Wunsch made clear in his full unedited interview that he largely accepted this consensus and the seriousness of the threat of global warming (albeit with caveats about proof) and therefore found that the presentation of Professor Wunsch’s views, within the wider context of the programme, resulted in unfairness to him."
However, Ofcom did not uphold Wunsch's complaint that the programme misrepresented his views in relation to the oceans and CO2:
"The Committee noted from the unedited interview that Professor Wunsch had referred to the greenhouse effect on a couple of occasions. However, in the Committee’s opinion Professor Wunsch’s comments in this respect had not been primarily to warn of the dangers of warming the ocean (as Professor Wunsch had suggested in his complaint). Rather the references had been used to make the point that the relationship between carbon dioxide and atmospheric temperature is complicated. In the Committee’s view, it was entirely at the programme maker’s editorial discretion to decide whether to include these comments in the programme."
Eigil Friis-Christensen's research was used to support claims about the influence of solar activity on climate, both in the programme and Durkin's subsequent defence of it. Friis-Christensen, with environmental Research Fellow Nathan Rive, criticised the way the solar data were used:
"We have concerns regarding the use of a graph featured in the documentary titled ‘Temp & Solar Activity 400 Years’. Firstly, we have reason to believe that parts of the graph were made up of fabricated data that were presented as genuine. The inclusion of the artificial data is both misleading and pointless. Secondly, although the narrator commentary during the presentation of the graph is consistent with the conclusions of the paper from which the figure originates, it incorrectly rules out a contribution by anthropogenic greenhouse gases to 20th century global warming."
In response to a question from The Independent as to whether the programme was scientifically accurate, Friis-Christensen said: "No, I think several points were not explained in the way that I, as a scientist, would have explained them ... it is obvious it's not accurate."