The Great Global Warming Swindle (2007)
THE GREAT GLOBAL WARMING SWINDLE
The film brings together the arguments of some scientists who disagree with the prevailing consensus that carbon dioxide released by human activity is the cause of rising global temperatures today.
That Earth's climate is changing and always has done is not disputed by anyone. That it is warming now is also not disputed by anyone. But some people think that the warming is our fault, whilst others believe we have nothing to do with it.
The film argued that rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide have nothing to do with climate change. Further, the present single-minded focus on reducing carbon emissions may have the unintended consequence of stifling development in the third world, prolonging endemic poverty and disease.
Research, presented in this film, apparently showed that the effect of cosmic radiation, and solar activity may explain fluctuations in global temperatures more precisely than the carbon dioxide theory.
Earth's 4.5 billion year history is one long story of climate change. This fact is pretty much accepted by those who think global warming is a natural process, and by those who think it's caused by man.
In more recent history there has been: a mini ice age in the seventeenth century when the Thames froze so solidly that fairs could regularly be held on the ice; a Medieval Warm Period, even balmier than today; and sunnier still was the so-called Holocene Maximum, which was the warmest period in the last 10,000 years.
Those who think global warming is a natural process point to the fact that in the last 10,000 years, the warmest periods have happened well before humans started to produce large amounts of carbon dioxide.
A detailed look at recent climate change reveals that the temperature rose prior to 1940 but unexpectedly dropped in the post-war economic boom, when carbon dioxide emissions rose dramatically.
There is some evidence to suggest that the rise in carbon dioxide lags behind the temperature rise by 800 years and therefore can't be the cause of it.
In the greenhouse model of global warming, heat from the sun's rays is trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. If it weren't for these gases, Earth would be too cold for life.
Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun within the earth's atmosphere. This is the greenhouse effect. Traditional models predict that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases lead to runaway heating.
If greenhouse warming were happening, then scientists predict that the troposphere (the layer of the earth's atmosphere roughly 10-15km above us) should heat up faster than the surface of the planet, but data collected from satellites and weather balloons doesn't seem to support this.
Those who think global warming is a natural process say that the troposphere is not heating up because man-made greenhouse gases are not causing the planet to heat up.
For some people, the final nail in the coffin of human-produced greenhouse gas theories is the fact that carbon dioxide is produced in far larger quantities by many natural means: human emissions are miniscule in comparison. Volcanic emissions and carbon dioxide from animals, bacteria, decaying vegetation and the ocean outweigh our own production several times over.
Others would argue that carbon dioxide isn't the only greenhouse gas and that human emissions could tip up a finely balanced system.
New evidence shows that as the radiation coming from the sun varies (and sun-spot activity is one way of monitoring this) the earth seems to heat up or cool down. Solar activity very precisely matches the plot of temperature change over the last 100 years. It correlates well with the anomalous post-war temperature dip, when global carbon dioxide levels were rising.
In fact, what is known of solar activity over the last several hundred years correlates very well with temperature. This is what some scientists are beginning to believe causes climate change. Others feel that solar activity only explains the fine details of temperature change.
So how does the sun affect the earth's temperature? The process scientists suggest is that as earth moves through space, the atmosphere is constantly bombarded by ever-present cosmic rays. As these particles hit water vapour evaporating from the oceans, clouds form in the atmosphere. Clouds shield Earth from some of the sun's radiation and have a cooling effect.
When solar activity is high, there is an increase in solar wind and this has the effect of reducing the amount of cosmic radiation which reaches Earth.
When less cosmic radiation reaches Earth, fewer clouds form and the full effects of the sun's radiation heats the planet.
But is the effect of solar activity really enough to explain away global warming caused by the greenhouse effect? This is still a moot point.
The Great Global Warming Swindle should be seen by everyone interested in the global environment, especially those who have seen the Al Gore movie. --Professor William M. Gray, meteorologist
The Global Warmers have had their day. For years they have blamed ordinary folk for just about every environmental disaster known to man. But now, at last, the truth is out. Watch The Great Global Warming Swindle and be amazed. --Editorial, Sunday Express
The Great Global Warming Swindle is a documentary film that argues against the scientific consensus that global warming is "very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (man-made) greenhouse gas concentrations". It has been described by both its original broadcaster Channel 4 and the British regulator Ofcom as "a polemic".
The film, made by British television producer Martin Durkin, showcases scientists, economists, politicians, writers, and others who are sceptical about the scientific theory of anthropogenic global warming. The programme's publicity materials assert that man-made global warming is "a lie" and "the biggest scam of modern times." It's original working title was "Apocalypse my arse", but the title The Great Global Warming Swindle was later adopted as a reference to The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, a mockumentary about British punk band The Sex Pistols.
The UK's Channel 4 premiered the documentary on 8 March 2007. The channel described the film as "a polemic that drew together the well-documented views of a number of respected scientists to reach the same conclusions. This is a controversial film but we feel that it is important that all sides of the debate are aired." According to Hamish Mykura, Channel 4's head of documentaries, the film was commissioned "to present the viewpoint of the small minority of scientists who do not believe global warming is caused by anthropogenic production of carbon dioxide."
Although the documentary was welcomed by global warming sceptics, it was criticised heavily by many scientific organisations and individual scientists (including two of the film's contributors). The film's critics argued that it had misused and fabricated data, relied on out-of-date research, employed misleading arguments, and misrepresented the position of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Channel 4 and Wag TV (the production company) accepted some of the criticism, correcting a few errors in subsequent releases. However according to Bob Ward (former spokesman for the Royal Society), this still left five out of seven of the errors and misleading arguments which had been previously attacked by him and 36 other scientists in an open letter.
The British broadcasting regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), received 265 complaints about the programme, one of which was a 176-page detailed complaint co-authored by a group of scientists. Ofcom used this complaint in its deliberation, and delivered its ruling on 21 July 2008. It ruled that the programme had unfairly treated Sir David King, the IPCC and Professor Carl Wunsch. Ofcom also found that part 5 of the programme (the 'political' part) had breached several parts of the Broadcasting Code regarding impartiality. Ofcom said that the rules on impartiality did not apply to the scientific arguments in parts 1-4, because global warming caused by human activity was a settled fact: "In this respect it could be said that the discussion about the causes of global warming was to a very great extent settled by the date of broadcast ( 8 March 2007 ). [...] In Ofcom’s view the link between human activity and global warming also became similarly settled before March 2007. [...] Having reached this view, it follows that the rules relating to the preservation of due impartiality did not apply to these parts.". Regarding the programme's accuracy, Ofcom noted that in its role as regulator it: "had to ascertain – not whether the programme was accurate - but whether it materially misled the audience." On this basis Ofcom ruled that: "On balance it did not materially mislead the audience so as to cause harm or offence." On 4 and 5 August 2008, Channel 4 and More 4 broadcast a summary of Ofcom's findings, though it will not face sanctions.