The denialists gain publicity not because their claims are necessarily substantial but because of the inappropriate idea – promoted by the media - that a ‘debate’ is being held where pros and cons of a scientific argument are being evaluated. For the most part it is not a debate – climate scientists overwhelmingly endorse the warming hypothesis. This doesn’t mean the science is settled – it does mean there is widespread backing for the notion that anthropogenic global warming is a reality.
The denialists claim that those supporting the global warming hypothesis are motivated by greed for grants and that their case is being delivered as a quasi-religious crusade.
Mr. Average Joe in the street listens to the denialist case because of the ‘debate’ fallacy and because he or she is aware of past propensities of those in the environmental movement to ‘cry wolf’. He is also subject to irresponsible assertions by the denialist camp and by an irresponsible mass media that promotes such views.
Last night I watched BBC TV’s Channel 4 show The Great Global Warming Swindle which denies anthropogenic global warming. It is a polished, well-presented instance of denialism. The basic claim is simple - climate change is not being driven by anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The evidence isn’t there or the evidence that is there contradicts the hypothesis. Climate change is occurring but it is natural and driven by solar and cloud activity. Global warming is a swindle engineered by climate scientists seeking to sell science by creating extreme stories and who benefit from larger research budgets. Its all a ‘lie’ and a ‘conspiracy’.
The film thus attacks the global warming orthodoxy. The arguments are familiar – the film apparently took 10 years to make so, in fact, many of the arguments have been addressed and thoroughly refuted. The film ignores all evidence and views supporting the global warming hypothesis and the extensive literature setting out these refutations.
But I think the film is worth viewing – if for no other reason that I am certain this that it will have an impact and this needs to be accounted for and understood. It already has had some impact as this morning’s editorial in The Australian makes clear:
That climate change politics represents the new front line for anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation campaigners is not new. This is why the Government is right to reject climate change demands that risk economic wellbeing, both for Australia and the developing world. And it is why Labor must be careful how it handles the debate. While Australian commercial television networks are jumping on the climate change bandwagon with sophisticated graphics showing tornadoes ripping through Sydney Harbour Bridge, debate is increasing about the quality of the science underpinning global warming hysteria. A recent Channel Four documentary in Britain, The Great Climate Change Swindle, presents a coherent argument for why governments must hasten slowly in responding. The British documentary highlights the anomaly that temperatures are rising faster at the earth's surface than in the upper atmosphere, directly contradicting the greenhouse hypothesis. It also highlights the fact that ice core data relied on by global warming alarmists actually shows world temperature increases occurred hundreds of years before corresponding rises in the level of atmospheric C02, again contradicting greenhouse theory. The program puts forward evidence to show the world's climate is controlled by clouds, which are controlled by cosmic rays, which are in turn controlled by the sun.The Australian is my newspaper but it is disappointing to again see it give credence to thoroughly discredited viewpoint since it weakens the case against dealing with what is almost certainly a very real problem.
The very polemical director of The Great Climate Change Swindle, Martin Durkin, is discussed here. He is a film maker with a history of producing extreme, dubious documentaries.
Critiques are here , here with, guess what, claims of misrepresentation from Carl Wunsch here. The Guardian and RealClimate provide a thorough debunking of this show's claims. John Quiggin comments on the strange mix of left and right wing politics that created the film here.