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Friday, May 11, 2007

Global Warming

As we understand the Somerset Wildlife Trust will be considering its response to this subject during this coming year it seems appropriate to pick up on a news item in the Independent on May 8th. The story goes back to March 8th when Channel 4 showed a film called "The Great Global Warming Swindle". It caused a bit of a stir at the time and subsequently a number of scientist both involved in the making of the film and simply observers have made very strong complaints about its content. In the spirit of trying to show in this blog the essence of such a story you will find below links to web sites giving the full account of some of the main responses to the programme.
I recommend anyone interested in getting a clear view of the value of the programme as a contribution to the ongoing debate to spend some time following up the links and making up their own mind on the programme.

(1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Partial Response to the London Channel 4 Film "The Great Global ...

See the full response at this web site:
Carl Wunsch 11 March 2007
Some extracts from Carl Wunsch's complaint to Channel 4

When approached by WagTV, on behalf of Channel 4, known to me as one of the main UK independent broadcasters …… this seemed like a good opportunity to explain why, for example, I thought more attention should be paid to sea level rise, which is ongoing and unstoppable and carries a real threat of acceleration, than to the unsupportable claims that the ocean circulation was undergoing shutdown (Nature, December 2005).
In the part of the "Swindle" film 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, ……..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.
……There is nothing in the communication we had (much of it on the telephone or with the film crew on the day they were in Boston) that suggested they were making a film that was one-sided, anti-educational, and misleading. I took them at face value---a great error. I knew I had no control over the actual content, but it never occurred to me that I was dealing with people who would deliberately distort my views.

(2) The Guardian 13th March 2007
Channel 4’s Problem with Science
By George Monbiot.
See this web site for the complete article: e
But there is one scientist in the film whose work has not been debunked: the oceanographer Carl Wunsch. He appears to support the idea that increasing carbon dioxide is not responsible for rising global temperatures. Professor Wunsch says that he was “completely misrepresented” by the programme, and “totally misled” by the people who made it.
This is a familiar story to those who have followed the career of the director, Martin Durkin. In 1998 the Independent Television Commission found that, when making a similar series, he had “misled” his interviewees about “the content and purpose of the programmes”. Their views had been “distorted through selective editing”. Channel 4 had to make a prime-time apology.

(3) The Guardian April 25th 2007

See this web site for the complete article:,,2064925,00.html

Move to block emissions 'swindle' DVD

David Adam, environment correspondent.
Dozens of climate scientists are trying to block the DVD release of a controversial Channel 4 programme that claimed global warming is nothing to do with human greenhouse gas emissions.
Sir John Houghton, former head of the Met Office, and Bob May, former president of the Royal Society, are among 37 experts who have called for the DVD to be heavily edited or removed from sale. The film, the Great Global Warming Swindle, was first shown on March 8, and was criticised by scientists as distorted and misleading.

(4) The Independent 8th May 2007
See this web site for the complete article:
C4 accused of falsifying data in documentary on climate change
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
The makers of a Channel 4 documentary which claimed that global warming is a swindle have been accused of fabricating data by one of the scientists who participated in the film.
Eigil Friis-Christensen, director of the Danish National Space Centre, has issued a statement accusing the film-makers of fabricating data based on his work looking at the links between solar activity and global temperatures.
Dr Friiss-Christensen said that a graph he had produced some years ago showing the link between fluctuations in global temperatures and changes in solar activity - sunspot cycles - over the past 400 years had been doctored.
"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," Dr Friis-Christensen said.

The film has also been referred to the regulatory watchdog Ofcom which is considering a complaint from 37 senior scientists that the programme breached the broadcasting code on the misrepresentation of views and facts.
The scientists who have written to Ofcom include Sir John Houghton, the former chief executive of the Met Office, Lord May of Oxford, a former government chief scientist and past-president of the Royal Society, and Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. In a letter to Mr Durkin they call for changes to the programme before the DVD version is released, even though DVDs are not covered by the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.
"So serious and fundamental are the misrepresentations that the distribution of the DVD without their removal amounts to nothing more than an exercise in misleading the public," they say.

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