12. 07. 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

So that’s it: any residual idea that Channel 4’s notorious documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle” has the remotest vestige of good science about it is now permanently scotched. A new analysis of data on the energy radiated from the sun over the last 25 years shows that solar activity has been decreasing, not increasing, during that time – which is exactly the same time as the Earth has been getting hotter, with ten of the last twelve years the hottest on record.

The idea that rising emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are being caused by rising temperatures from increased solar radiation – rather than the other way round – is now as dead in the water as Alistair Campbell’s literary pretensions. Professor Lockwood’s data (published on Tuesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society) must also be the final blow to the professional reputation of the lying, bullying, over-rated little git that is Martin Durkin – the producer of “The Great Global Warming Swindle”.

If I sound a touch bitter, it’s because I am. It’s down to dorks like Durkin (including, I’m sorry to say, my old friend David Bellamy, who has turned into another of those flat-earth denial merchants) that an almost unbelievable 56% of people in the UK still believe that there’s a major scientific controversy about what’s causing climate change – according to the latest Ipsos MORI opinion poll. These people have a lot to answer for.

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12. 07. 2007
Francis Meynell

Regarding bitterness over the '56% believers of scientific controversy' statistic, the media could have used equally valid alternative headlines, when reporting the very same Ipsos Mori poll:
E.g. "Is climate change exaggerated? Most Brits disagree, new poll suggests. 75% of people in the UK disagree with the statement that climate change has been 'exaggerated' and causes 'too much fuss.'"
See -
http://www.desmogblog.com/be-skeptical-of-the-latest-skeptical-uk-pollster-headlines

Public buy-in might not be as bleak as the media headlines would like to portray. Also, only the gentlest of pushes at an open door may be all that's necessary to galvanise greater participation in addressing global warming. Why the media chose not to focus on the better news could be the most depressing thing about that 56% statistic.

12. 07. 2007
Chris

I am not disheartened by the 56% statistic, it shows people are at least interested in global warming - and I think that it is true that there is a controversy over global warming; but that it is obvious on which side the vast majority (including the most reasoned and respected) of scientists fall.

To deny that there is a controversy is what those like Durkin want you to do - leading to claims of religiousity and censorship - they want to identify, and be identified, with the iconoclasts throughout history who were proved right against the establishment (although, of course, not with those who were proved utterly wrong).

It's a difficult, and often infuriating challenge, to deny that the anti-global warming supporters have any scientific basis for their arguments, without giving them unwarranted recognition and publicity on one side, and avoiding claims of dismissing them without taking them seriously on the other.

13. 07. 2007
Phil Korbel

I was hosting a climate change debate on a community radio station just yesterday (in the run up to our Party Without Pollution www.w4e.org.uk, tomorrow)and one of the panel kept insisting "that there is a mass of evidence on either side". It took some slightly fraught explaining to knock that one on the head...not just about the nature of peer reviewed papers but also the inherently conservative nature of what the IPCC say. And my debater - not otherwise unintelligent - also gave great credence to the idea that because the GGWS was on TV 'that it must be true'.

So if 'dork' has some connotation of stupidity then let's not under-estimate how media savvy the guy is. I can think of plenty of more appropriate epithets Jonathan but perhaps not on a respectable blog such as this!

19. 07. 2007
Guy

Re both Jonathan and Phil K's comments above about Martin, and having worked closely with him before, I can confirm quite a bit of the above.

Yes, he is media savvy. Yes, he is deceitful. Yes, he will do anything to make a programme that will grab headlines. "Lying, bullying, over-rated little git" - tick, tick, tick.

On the other hand, when it comes to calling him a dork - other than the rather handy alliterative qualities - I would never think of him in those terms. He is, in fact, an extremely affable and charming man, and has put out some excellent programmes over the years. He is an energetic and inspirational figure in his company and has put WAG TV on the map. Sadly, from personal experience, he is prepared to do anything to further his own interests and the popularity of his programmes at whatever cost, and I for one will never trust him again.

More importantly, however, his approach to science is wholly unscientific. All you need to do is to compare his work in this field with a real documentary such as David Sington's superlative "Global Dimming" contribution to the Horizon series two years ago (you can watch it here - "http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=39520879762623193"). Other than the occasional rumbling soundtrack, the science was solid, the data reliable and the experts were genuine - none of which can be applied to Martin's documentary. David spent over two years making the programme. Martin's was probably cobbled together in 6 weeks.

The GGWS was an appalling piece of television. Regurgitated scaremongering, unreliable sources, full of misleading science and dubious scientists (several of whose credentials have been successfully demolished by George Monbiot in "Heat" and others), designed purely to achieve ephemeral popularity to make a few bucks.

And at what cost? Potentially, enormous. Every time someone like Durkin comes along and "scotches" the credence in one of the world's greatest moral battles, it gives the general public a breathing space - time to say "well, there we go, we can all relax" and carry on behaving as we were. Like it or not, as Phil also pointed out, there are many people who believe that just because it is on TV, it must be true.

Each push towards the apathy and the inertia that the Durkins and the Bellamys of this world foster require a far, far greater push in the other direction by the campaigners such as JP and Monbiot in order to regain the public's conscience and their trust.

Let's hope that this is indeed the death knell for Durkin's reputation as a scientific documentary maker, and that Channel 4 will review their future collaborations with him accordingly.

Yours,

G d'A

20. 07. 2007
Fiona

Durkin attacked the scientific arguments - but you're attacking Durkin's character. I don't know if he's right or wrong - I'm not a scientist, but I do want to hear the arguments on both sides. Porritt's sixth-form apoplexy doesn't make the concern about global warming sound any more convincing, just even more hysterical.

23. 07. 2007
spamlet

Bit difficult to follow arguments from both sides, when one side is trying to con you just for the sake of it - Durkin - and the other side is presenting you with the facts - which are, necessarily, scientific.

You could find the answers here:
http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn11462

but, as you still seem to prefer clinging to Durkin's straws rather than taking notice of almost everybody else, I very much doubt that you will bother.

S

10. 09. 2007
elizabeth

I agree with Fiona 20th July. It is so very important to persuade us by reasoned argument rather than by abusive remarks (a tendency to be found increasingly alas).
And what about Hans Svensmark's research?

15. 05. 2008
Laurie

Please read Heat by George Monbiot and tell all everyone you know to do the same!

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