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Thursday, Mar. 15, 2007 at 6:52 PM
For all those who like so many were persuaded and discomforted by the Chanel 4 'science' documentary': Great Global Warming Swindle', take heart...youve been conned by an experienced charlatan:Martin Durkin. Media lens takes a closer look at this con.
PURE PROPAGANDA - THE GREAT GLOBAL WARMING SWINDLE The Scientists Are The Bad Guys
On March 8, Channel 4 screened The Great Global Warming Swindle, a documentary that branded as a lie the scientific consensus that man-made greenhouse gasses are primarily responsible for climate change.
The film was advertised extensively on Channel 4 and repeatedly previewed and reviewed in newspapers. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Christopher Booker declared:
“Only very rarely can a TV documentary be seen as a pivotal moment in a major political debate, but such was Channel 4's The Great Global Warming Swindle last Thursday. Never before has there been such a devastatingly authoritative account of how the hysteria over global warming has parted company with reality.” (Booker, ‘A turning point in climate change,’ Sunday Telegraph, March 11, 2007)
Peter Hitchens commented in the Daily Mail:
“If you were worried about those snaps of polar bears clinging to melting ice-floes, sentenced to a slow death by global warming, you may now relax. They'll be fine. Channel 4 has paid in full for its recent misdemeanours by screening, last Thursday, the brilliant, devastating film The Great Global Warming Swindle.” (Hitchens, ‘Drugs?’, Daily Mail, March 11, 2007)
Doubtless like many who saw the film, the Financial Times’ reviewer was left bewildered:
“Not so long ago, the venerable David Attenborough on the Beeb was telling us that human-driven global warming was real and was coming for us. So that was settled. Now Channel 4, like a dissident schoolboy, is scoffing at the old boy's hobbyhorse and I don't know what to believe.” (’Slaughterhouse three,’ Financial Times, March 10, 2007)
The film opened with scenes of wild weather and environmental disaster accompanied by dramatic captions:
"THE ICE IS MELTING. THE SEA IS RISING. HURRICANES ARE BLOWING. AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.
“SCARED? DON'T BE. IT'S NOT TRUE."
This was immediately followed by a series of equally forthright talking heads:
"We can't say that CO2 will drive climate; it certainly never did in the past."
“We imagine that we live in an age of reason. And the global warming alarm is dressed up as science. But it’s not science; it’s propaganda.”
“We’re just being told lies; that’s what it comes down to.”
The commentary added to the sense of outrage: “You are being told lies.”
This was indeed superficially impressive - when several experts make bold statements on the same theme we naturally assume they must be onto something - but alarm bells should already have been ringing. This, after all, was ostensibly a film about science - about evidence, arguments, research and debate. Why, then, the language of polemic and smear?
The remarkable answer is provided by the film’s writer and director, Martin Durkin:
"I think it [the film] will go down in history as the first chapter in a new era of the relationship between scientists and society. Legitimate scientists - people with qualifications - are the bad guys. It is a big story that is going to cause controversy.
“It's very rare that a film changes history, but I think this is a turning point and in five years the idea that the greenhouse effect is the main reason behind global warming will be seen as total bollocks.” ('“Global Warming Is Lies” Claims Documentary,’ Life Style Extra, March 4, 2007; www.lse.co.uk/ShowStory.asp?story=CZ434669 U&news_headline=global_warming_is_lies_ claims_documentary)
Compare and contrast this with the aim as described in a letter sent by the makers of the film, Wag TV, to Professor Carl Wunsch, a leading expert on ocean circulation and climate who subsequently appeared in the film:
“The aim of the film is to examine critically the notion that recent global warming is primarily caused by industrial emissions of CO2. It explores the scientific evidence which jars with this hypothesis and explores alternative theories such as solar induced climate change. Given the seemingly inconclusive nature of the evidence, it examines the background to the apparent consensus on this issue, and highlights the dangers involved, especially to developing nations, of policies aimed at limiting industrial growth.” (http://ocean.mit.edu/~cwunsch/papersonline/channel4response)
"I am angry because they completely misrepresented me. My views were distorted by the context in which they placed them. I was misled as to what it was going to be about. I was told about six months ago that this was to be a programme about how complicated it is to understand what is going on. If they had told me even the title of the programme, I would have absolutely refused to be on it. I am the one who has been swindled." (Geoffrey Lean, ‘Climate change: An inconvenient truth... for C4,’ The Independent, March 11, 2007; http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/ climate_change/article2347526.ece)
We will hear more from Wunsch in what follows.
The film presented viewers with an apparently devastating refutation of the "theory of global warming". And these were not picky, esoteric criticisms. Durkin insisted that the world’s climate scientists are guilty of the most fundamental error imaginable: increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is not the cause of higher temperature, as the experts claim. Quite the reverse: increasing atmospheric CO2 is itself the result of rising temperature.
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