Monday, March 19, 2007

The Great Global Warming Inconvenient Truth

If I were to base all my views on climate change on either AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH or THE GREAT GLOBAL WARMING SWINDLE I certainly found the latter far more convincing. But it is not quite that simple. Both films perhaps raised more questions than they answered.

Al Gore's film should have had the subtitle MY NAME IS AL, AND I'M RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. Why else would it have included the often emotional and tear jerking autobiographical scenes which had littlle or nothing to do with climate change? As a docu-film it worked rather well and certainly held the viewer's attention, but its weakness stemmed from Gore's apparent obsession with one of his teachers.

We have all had teachers whom we revere, but Gore's reverance for one of his university teachers bordered on hero worship. You just got the feeling that the whole film was made with the intention of achieving an A grade and a pat on the back. On the face of it many of Gore's statistics were compelling, but you always got the feeling that they were being used selectively. The shots of glaciers breaking up pulled on the emotions until you learned from the Channel 4 film that this has happened every Spring down the centuries.

Indeed the Channel 4 film debunked many of the assertions made by Gore, not by polemics, but by scientists. And that was where it triumphed over Gore. Gore knows his script backwards. A polemicist he may be, but a scientist he ain't. Scientists barely figured in Gore's film. The Channel 4 film barely contained anyone who was not a scientist.

What both of these films need is a good 'fisking'. I'd love to devote an evening of 18 Doughty Street to showing both films in the presence of scientists from both sides of the argument and go through them both almost line by line. It's an idea I might well pursue if I can get copyright permission.


Anonymous said...

Will you be handing in the keys to your Audi?!

nadders said...

I am proud to be a heretic as is said in the Swindle film.

Sure I believe in not wasting resources, but given that even the global warming fanatics are now agreeing that factually CO2 goes up after higher temperatures (Ice core records etc all confirm this), why is everyone falling for the global warming line?

Lemmings come to mind.

The real clincher is that nuLab are the governmental champions of this. Given their record on truth saying, doesn't that guarantee its completely bullshit?

Anonymous said...

"I'd love to devote an evening of 18 Doughty Street to showing both films in the presence of scientists from both sides of the argument and go through them both almost line by line."
Excellent idea, though taking up half the evening with showing the films might be a bit much. Gore has shown a strong aversion to having any sort of debate with anynone on the other side, so he may well resist having his film being used in such a context.
You could do a lot of good by just having the debate, without the films, if you like - I'm sure Philip Stott would be up for it. He did well on the recent debate on America's National Public Radio, winning the debate on "Climate change is not a crisis" - see
If you're interested, the transcript is here (big PDF).

Devil's Kitchen said...

"Sure I believe in not wasting resources, but given that even the global warming fanatics are now agreeing that factually CO2 goes up after higher temperatures (Ice core records etc all confirm this), why is everyone falling for the global warming line?"

The way that this is supposed to work is that there is some mechanism which starts the warming (let us assume sun activity) and the CO2 merely provides a feedback system. So...

1) Sun warms earth
2) Earth gets warmer
3) Oceans (and man) release more CO2 into the atmosphere
4) Which traps more heat
5) Which further warms the earth, etc.

Now, whether I subscribe to this is another matter, of course...


Anonymous said...

Yes, Iain, hold a debate to
a) get the Conservatives off the Global Warming dustcart that Cameron thinks is a bandwagon
b) encourage more TV like this and Adam Curtis' 'The Trap; What happened to Our Dreams of Freedom', that blow the lid off crap political intiatives; then we might
c) get insight before rather than after too much damage is done.

Freddy said...

The thing is, even if CO2 provides a feedback to external warming, it is not a very strong one. The ice core records also show that, sooner or later, the temperature starts to go down again, and a few centuries later, CO2 follows.
Whatever is the external forcing, be it insolation, magnetic, or giant space rats - it clearly dominates the CO2 effect.

Anonymous said...


I think you have a great idea for a compelling programme.

Chestcracker said...

I was completely gobsmacked by the channel 4 programme. I was struck by the intuitivness of their arguments which were very persuasive and the fact they were made by academic climatologists rather than a self-adoring fantasist!!
The independant made an attempt of 'fisking' the programme last week. I have not read it. I was also intrigued by Mrs.T's contribution to the dissemination of the myth/truth.

Anonymous said...

It would have helped if The Great Global Warming Swindle had featured comments from the other side of the argument, because by presenting only the unheard thesis on climate change it left one wondering whether CO2 emission precedes or is triggered by temperature movements.

Graham said...

The recent IPCC report said that scientists were 90% sure that global warming was real and was caused by human activity. We're never going to be 100% certain of anything in this world. Personally I'd rather go with this scientific evidence than take the far more risky position of doing nothing.

Climate change is not a political initiative. It is real and happening now and it is already hitting the poorest communities in the world.

Anonymous said...

Al Gore is one of those lefties who try and win arguments by appealing to emotion rather than using facts and logic. Even Toynbee has the sense to try and back up what she says with statistics (falwed though they somtimes are).

Iain Dale said...

Graham, the point is though, that the 2500 "scientists" quoted by the IPCC were in fact nothing of the sort.

Freddy said...

Once you start talking about feedbacks, you need to recognise the importance of water vapour, which has far more greenhouse effect than all the others put together.
All the scare stories about 5C rises in temperature are based on the assumption that more CO2 leads to more water vapour and hence more greenhouse effect. What the warmers don't tell you is that they don't look at any further effects of higher water vapour. The most obvious of these is that there will be more clouds, leading to more incident sunlight reflected back to space before it ever gets to the surface of the planet.

Anonymous said...

"encourage more TV like this and Adam Curtis' 'The Trap; What happened to Our Dreams of Freedom'"

I confess I forgot to watch this programme but wasn't it partly an attack on Thatcherite free-market capitalism as well as socialist statism?

Freddy said...

Anon 9:33
"it left one wondering whether CO2 emission precedes or is triggered by temperature movements."
Watch the C4 program again. It, and the ice cores, are very explicit: CO2 comes after temperature change by several centuries.

Freddy said...

"that the 2500 "scientists" quoted by the IPCC were in fact nothing of the sort."
Absolutely right, and needs to be said loud and often.
The only way the greenies managed to get us into this mess was by pretending that this was science.
The more you dig into the subject, the more you will find that it is so far from real diligent science as to be quite unbelievable.

Anonymous said...


As the Al Gore film is now in the 'public domain' of our educational system, perhaps something along the lines of an educational review might be easier to arrange.

Anonymous said...

The debate definitely needs to be coaxed out into the open.

On the one hand we have the IPCC report and the Al Gore film, the results of which governments are going to tax everyone, or at least use it as an excuse for revenue raising.

On the other hand, there is a very credible argument that says this is a naturally occuring event, and if governments want to raise taxes then they must be used wisely to offset the damage that this natural event is likely to inflict, although history tells us that we tend to adapt to it anyway.

So, believe in man made global warming and give governments carte blanche to tax, or

Take it as a natural event and force governments to act with restraint.

There is a lot at stake here, especially for the taxpayers.

Newmania said...

DK mentions the positive reinforcement theory which like any element of positive reinforcement will geometrically alter the prediction of any models . It is only a theory and a model though.

New Statesman carries a piece on how some of the people quoted on the C4 programme were unhappy but I saw a confident defence of the programme by the Director in the DT on Sunday.

The problem is that by resisting state and superstate use of the green ticket to gain further controls and revenue is that one becomes an outright denier by default . I believe sensible precautionary tax neutral ideas with minimal impact on freedom are a worthwhile policy agenda.

Irwin Selzer had this to say in the Times on Sunday

,…………… lurking in the flurry of political activity are some sensible ideas. It does make sense to put a price on carbon, so that the users of energy bear the costs they are imposing on society. It does make sense to shift the tax burden from growth-stifling income taxes to pollution-creating activities. It does make sense to allow polluters to trade carbon credits internationally so that the cost of reducing emissions can be minimised. It does make sense to consider the costs of any emission-reducing plans. It does make sense to consider the impact of any programme on economic growth and jobs — some pollution is worth bearing if it is more than offset by the wealth it creates.

Its up to us , the sceptics to sort the wheat from the chaff but the Green movement have not helped by consistently lying.

Anonymous said...

By far the best sceptical website is Climate Audit by Steve McIntyre, a Canadian statistican who utterly demolished the famous "hockey stick" graph. The site has lively debate, occasionally also by scientists from the AGW side. The maths involved can be a bit daunting but it's well worth looking at the discussions archived under Favorite Posts to get a feel for the depth of the sceptic argument.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see most commenters knocking the Al Gore film, yet raving about Martin Durkin's "documentary". Personally I would treat every item in a Durkin documentary as requiring further investigation before placing any faith in it. After all, Durkin has a track record of misleading viewers.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

Alas this is the classic problem. Cold hard scientific fact versus emotional pandering. Most people are too stupid and ignorant to understand the science behind the case against man-man climate change.

You can easily tell the CC-industry is not based on facts. They insist on stating the heretics, like me, don't believe in climate change. This is disingenous in extremis. No one has denied there is climate change...there is, will be and always has been. Its just a case that we know that poxy hairless apes, who have showed up recently in earth history, aren't to blame for the rise in temparature.

Anonymous said...


Which is exactly why we need the debate.
In the open, in public, with free participation by all.

Anonymous said...

As I've pointed out on The Difference Magazine Blog, irrespective of whether or to what extent mankind is responsible for any present change in global climate, the real issue is how we are going to end our dependency on the world's finite reserves of fossil fuels and to achieve energy security without damaging either our economy or our ability to compete internationally.

Freddy said...

Balders : "After all, Durkin has a track record of misleading viewers."
Really ? Please provide some justification for that assertion.
If you are referring to his previous program in the late 90s some time, I understand that of the 150-odd complaints from the greens, only four were upheld. The complaints were about misleading participants in the program, i.e.,not telling them that the program was going to be skeptical.
So, do you have any facts to back up your claim ?

Guido 2.0 said...

...the Channel 4 film debunked many of the assertions made by Gore, not by polemics, but by scientists.

Wow! Actual *scientists*, you say?

It was unfortunate, of course, that the show in question used such grubby tactics to distort the views of its contributors, but at least the fall-out has brought to our attention a richly promising character with a fair bit of form in apparently misinterpreting scientific evidence for television. Martin Durkin, the show's writer, director and executive producer, responded to complaints from respected scientists by telling one "Never mind an irresponsible piece of film-making. Go and fuck yourself." (source)

Alex said...

There's a difference between seeming scientific and being scientific. Whilst Al Gore does tend to play the card, it's taking it a little far to say one is 'emotion' while the other is cold hard fact. George Monbiot has a nice analysis of exactly what's wrong with the 'science' of the channel four documentary at

Anonymous said...

So whether or not climate change is a fact rests on two film reviews.

Chris Paul said...

Have blogged the end of Meacher HERE. Hope the graphic is forgiven at Meacher Mansions because I have a lot of time for the old chump.

Freddy said...

Strongly agree with Cassander about ClimateAudit and Steve McIntyre, who is overdue for a knighthood, in my humble opinion.
In terms of the level of debate there - well, I took science A-levels and have a maths degree, so I may not be the best person to judge about how daunting it is. But there is plenty of stuff there - in particular , the warmers' refusal to release data and working justifying their assertions - that does not need any great science training to understand.

Chris Paul said...

Monbiot IS NOT a scientist. Gore is not even a graduate is he? At least he didn't finish his Harvard Law degree. Both charlatans sorry to say. gets things right some of the time. But full of silver spoon aristocratic Old Stoic blether sad to say.

Anonymous said...

Well, Iain I wrote this:

Unfortunatly science and entertainment does not mix because the caveats, what ifs and side explanations just get in the way of the "message".

Guido 2.0 said...

For the record:

Iain Dale IS NOT a scientist. He is a charlatan, though.

(Still waiting for an answer or five, Iain.)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps instead of watching a couple of films that seem to have opposing agendas, you do a little bit of your own research? Have a look for some scholarly articles and make up your own mind, instead of being fed lines.

From all the evidence i have come across, global warming may be overplayed by scientists, certainly from an economic point of view (have a look at some articles by Lomborg, they make sense, whilst at the same time not necessarily denying that man climate change is taking place).

We will never be 100% certain about the possible impacts of causes of climate change, all we can do is make a judgement on the facts, but by the seems of it, most people have no idea about the facts.

Anonymous said...

Freddy, in "About Nature" the Independant Television Commission found that Durkin had misrepresented and distorted interviewees' views by editing the interview footage in a misleading way. That is effectively misleading viewers by giving the impression that person A believes one thing when in fact they don't.

Then there was his 1998 documentary on breast implants, which the BBC rejected as it ignored any contradictory evidence. One of Durkin's own researchers quit the production claiming that "the published research had been construed to give an impression that's not the case".

He continued this approach with "Modified Truth" in 2000.

What is required is an agenda-free, open debate on the subject. And Durkin is no better than Gore when it comes to having an agenda.

And a closing thought. If we were to follow the advice of the MMGW faction, and they got it wrong, then the worst that would have happened is that we'd have altered our lifestyles, paid more tax and cut our CO2 emissions. If the other side of the debate is wrong, and we follow their advice then we might well be in deep sh*t; emphasis on the might.

The Remittance Man said...


You are probably correct in stating that neither film is a truly balanced view on the subject (living where I do I have not had a chance to see either, so I am guessing).

What is significant, however, is that Channel 4 decided to air the "Swindle" documentary at all. Thanks to that channel's willingness to buck the consensus, true debate is now back on the agenda.

That this alone scares the anthropogenic warming fundamentalists is surely an indication that even they know their arguments might not be as water tight as they would have us believe.

Anonymous said...

A debate recently held on warming crisis was recently held in New York. The audience who were initially 29% sceptical ended up voting 46% - 42% for scepticism. The radio audience were even more decisive.

I think we are seeing the catastrophic warming tide going into a deep ebb. If so the Tories, who rode the crest of the wave in are seriously in danger of being beached.

This is particularly the case if they support an Act which binds future governments to impractical & extremely economicly damaging mandatory CO2 cuts. This Act will be repented at inordinate leisure.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a scientist but I am an historian, and Durkin's historical explanation for why politicians began to 'push' the agenda of climate change was pathetically flawed.

He identifies two historical reasons for why 'climate change' was driven forward by a political agenda. The first is that Margaret Thatcher, in her struggle with the miners, sought to 'discredit' fossil fuels. The second is that after the effective collapse of communism, western marxists adopted a new agenda of environmental struggle and transformed themselves into a devastatingly effective lobby.

The first of these arguments is patently ludicrous. Durkin argues that through Thatcher's mediation, (due to her struggle with the miners), funding for climate change science increased. Even if this were true in the UK (Durkin provides no real evidence), why was there a concurrent increase in funding for climate change science in America? Are we expected to believe that funding for academic science in the USA in the late 80s and early 90s was driven by a parochial struggle between british miners and the british government? Doesn't this seem far fetched? Wouldn't a simpler explanation be that the issue became a concern because of scientific analysis, rather than through political mediation?

The second argument, that post-marxists embraced environmentalisn and now influence government policy globally also requires a significant suspension of disbelief. Durkin argued that many who were Marxists before the fall of the Berlin wall subsequently became an incredibly effective lobbying group who have great influence over western governments. How did these people enact this transformation? How did they go from being relatively insignificant in western politics to controlling the policy of western governments? Doesn't it seem unlikely? Yes, it does. Because Durkins historical argument was a tissue of lies, with no substance.

Finally, shouldn't we question Durkin's central assertion that politics drove sceince rather than science drove polticis? Why would the government's of western industrilaised countries, who rely greatly on fossil fuels for the growth of their economies, and who are among the leading emmiters of fossil fuels, create an ideology which threatened to completely undermine the status quo? What is the benefit?

Anonymous said...

neil craig, Parliament can't bind future parliaments, so if this law turns out to be a pup it can be scrapped. In fact it happens frequently.

Thatcher-right said...

I am (or at least was) a scientist and the standard procedure for scientific investigation can be described as follows:

1) Observe an effect (global temperatures are to be rising),

2) Construct a model as to how this effect is coming about (human-created carbon dioxide…),

3) Make predictions based on the model (if it is human created carbon dioxide then the temperature rises will be greater at the poles then at the equator, or whatever),

4) Test the predictions by measurement,

5) When the model makes lots of correct prediction it gains widespread support.

So far I've seen steps 1), 2) and 5) and nothing of 3) or 4). That is why I remain a sceptic (or is that a heretic).

If you're looking for global disasters I'd not overlook the possibility of meteors impact or volcanic activity. Both of these are going to happen – we just don't know when.

Anonymous said...

Googling "green party capitalism" led me to this gentleman
I think he is not a typical. The Greens are stuffed with failed Reds.

On the other hand Mr Gurkin is also a Red, but a thoughtful one & I think he does overestimate the influence of Thatcher for that reason. It is however a matter of record & not a bad one, that Thatcher did understand the argument for banning CFCs & persuaded Reagan to accept it.

You are correct Parliament can repeal any binding targets. Nonetheless this would require at least the major party to totally reverse themselves & thus admit to having been idiots. I believe that the case against catastrophic warming will, probably when undeniable cooling starts again, be so undeniable & the economic damage so severe that such an admission will come, but it will not be quick or easy.

Anonymous said...

lagwolf 10.22. You say, "Most people are too stupid and ignorant to understand the science behind the case against man-man climate change."

I am neither stupid nor ignorant, but I am simply not equipped by training or experience, nor do I have the time, to sit down quietly, evaluate the arguments on both sides and reach a reasoned conclusion.

But when I see how the global warming people will brook no contradiction and brand their opponents as heretics, I smell a rat.

Rush-is-Right said...

I just heard some pinko warbling away on World at One calling for more and faster cuts in carbon emissions. Who is this "*-hole?" I asked myself?

"That was Tim Yeo" said the announcer.

If that guy is a Tory, then I'm a Stalinist

The Remittance Man said...


Well the admission may come quicker than you think. Say Cameron looses the next election. Then he and his cabal get the wellie and a new "real tory" leadership takes over and reverses all the blue-green claptrap currently being observed.

I'm not saying it will happen, merely that it could.

The Remittance Man said...


So, you are potentially intelligent enough to understand the science if you had the time, training etc etc.

That still doesn't disprove Lagwolf's ascertion that most of the population is too thick to do so (personally I think an awful lot of them are too stupid to tie their own shoe laces). All you have done is provided some evidence that you are not one of the dimwits.

Welcome to the minority :-)

Anonymous said...

Martin Durkin, the director of The Great Global Warming Swindle, wrote an article in the Telegraph to answer critics of the film.

Anonymous said...

Some of the most entertaining and occasionally enlightening posts on this subject always seem to start "Im'm not a .., but I am a ...". So here is my contribution..

I'm not a climatologist, but I am a control systems engineer and the concept of unrestrained positive feedback in the climate system seems very dubious (see DK's post). True positive feedback is inhearently unstable and once excited such a system will "run-away" until some system limit is reached. Positive feedback in nature is very, very rare (think of nuclear fision, which only stops when the all fuel is used up).

So to suggest that human produced CO2 is acting as some sort of unrestrained positive feedback trigger is either deeply flawed (there is no evidence for positive feedback run-away from other CO2 surges in the earth's history) or deeply worrying (as the trigger has already been pulled there is nothing we can do to stop it short of removing vast quantities of existing CO2 from the atmosphere - which is impossible).

It is more likely that there are (many) other factors in the environment providing negative feedback to the system, thereby limiting any effects of self-excited warming from any particlar source.

I have read quite a few of the supposed "expert" sites and very few have contained anything even vaguely conclusive or convincing on the nature of the climate control system, which is indicative of the immature state of the science. I am therefore yet to be convinced that (within the functioning of the whole system) CO2 has any significant effect on global temperature. I'm not saying that it doesn't, just that no one has produced anywhere near an accurate enough model to make sort of those claims.

My guess is that the system is extremely stable with lots of negative feedback and that significant long-term changes only occur through variations in the prime movers (such as solar radiation) rather than in changes to the secondary control mechanisms (human induced CO2 levels). But without a decent model of the control laws, it is all guesswork and anyone that "believes" they know the answer (one way or the other) is just being religious.

Anonymous said...

"The way that this is supposed to work is that there is some mechanism which starts the warming (let us assume sun activity) and the CO2 merely provides a feedback system. So...

1) Sun warms earth
2) Earth gets warmer
3) Oceans (and man) release more CO2 into the atmosphere
4) Which traps more heat
5) Which further warms the earth, etc."

Yeah, but they haven't worked out what it is which actually changes the whole frigging planet's temperature trend from downwards to upwards and vice-versa. Until this factor is identified, why are we worrying about CO2, which even if it does contribute to further warming in a feedback system, is a minor effect when compared to the unknown force which stops the planet from heating up (ie it /overrides/ the co2 warming feedback loop!)

We should be worrying about THAT process, not the bloody CO2.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I look forward to your programme. I know it is hard for politicians to accept that widely held concepts such as theoretical physics might be beyond debate, but hopefully you can start it by getting someone to give a little lesson in simple schoolboy physics, i.e. explain the following

1. how the temperature of the earth arises from heating from the sun, and that if we know the temperature of the sun we can derive the theoretical temperature of the earth if it was a black body with no atmosphere,

2. how the earth reflects quite a lot of the radiation of the receives from the sun so only a proportion of the heat reaching the earth actually heats it up, so the theoretical temperature of the earth is lower than it would be without that reflection,

3. that the actual temperature of the earth is quite a lot higher that it otherwise would be predicted to be and that is because some of the radiant energy from the earth is absorbed by certain molecules in the atmosphere, primarily water carbon dioxide and methane.

This much has been generally accepted by the physicists for nearly 200 years, although a few readers of your blog mighht like to criticise it as a heresy.

Bearing all that in mind, the "Swindle" programme looks very threadbare because it tries to link everything to variations in the temperature of the sun. The link between the sun and the earth's temperatures is well understood but to say that it is the only factor is poor logic false - a bit like saying thet if I can prove empirically that my car speeds up going downhill and slows down going uphill, then my brake and my accelerator have no effect.

On the other hand, the Gorites have been somewhat over-emotional in their exposition of the facts and one-sided in their view of the consequences. There clearly has been an increase in the amount of CO2, and it is not hard to see where it comes from, but the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 is much less than worldwide man-made CO2 emissions, which means that quite a lot of the CO2 is being absorbed being naturally. It is quite reasonable to think that there are natural negative feedback systems in place (otherwise past temperature variations might have caused the earth's temperature to shoot up), and the burden of proof is on the Gorites to prove that there will be a disastrous consequence, which they have so far failed to do.

Anonymous said...

Graham says: "Climate change is not a political initiative."

It's not? But I say it is a political initiative by the left to further extend the tentacles of state control. It's a political, not a scientific, argument.

"It is real and happening now and it is already hitting the poorest communities in the world."

The climate has been changing for millions of years. It has absolutely nothing to do with mankind.

It's easy to spot lefty Typhoid Marys such as yourself because they always cite "the world's poor". That's supposed to be a killer argument, but actually, it's garbage.

In this age of industrialisation and plenty, why are the world's "poorest communities" poor? Usually because they don't have the will to kill corrupt leaders and insist on their country being run properly. They are poor because they are passive.

Formerly poor countries that took responsibility for themselves are improving their lot day by day, week by week, year by year. India is getting 35m new jobs over the next two years, and they now apply for more technology patents than any country in the world except the United States and Germany. China sells its products to the world and the average Chinese now has access to Ikea stores and the wonders of flatpak furniture. They're all busy with home improvement projects. Indonesia welcomed multinationals,including companies that needed cheap labour and those factories have raised hundreds of thousands of families out of poverty and allowed workers to afford to keep their children in school instead of hauling them out to work at begging or peddling. Mexicans are now so politically savvy that President Calderon won the election on a promise to take Mexico "further into the global economy".

So, please, Graham, don't try to tell us we can save humanity by returning to the Stone Age. If you're looking for ignorant people to preach to, you're on the wrong blog.

Anonymous said...

James c maxwell:
You obviously posted your long missive as I was drafting mine, but I think you are spot on. There is some obvious logic in saying that the reason we are here on this planet after millions of years when just about everything else we know of in the universe is completely uninhabitable is that we had the good fortune to be on a planet that recahed a state of relative stability and that implies some sort of self correcting feedback in the ecosystem, at least over the last few million years.

The only think that seems to be growing unconstrained is the political discussion on climate change.

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of people in Britain have little idea about science - either knowledge of scientific facts and theories, or of the scientific method. The majority of MPs also have little idea - I believe no more than about 50 have a degree in a scientific subject. The majority of journalists likewise have no idea about science. Most pressure groups either have little idea or ignore what they know in favour of dogma.

Therefore the 'debate' in this country about scientific matters, whether it be global warming, GM foods, avian flu or any of the other issues that arise, is generally between people who know very little about science(and occasionally features people who are trying to sell something). The media, desperate for stories, gives space to people who are the most hysterical. The debate is characterised by straw men being knocked down. People who know what they are talking about have their words taken out of context, twisted and sensationalised. They then decide to say nothing, not to share their knowledge except through academic journals that go unread by non-specialists; the level of public debate drops again.

Until the public in general, and more specifically the lawmakers and the media, have a better understanding of science, things will not change. Meanwhile, the number of students taking science degrees falls, and the government closes science departments at universities. You'd think the Enlightenment never happened.

Anonymous said...


"The recent IPCC report said that scientists were 90% sure that global warming was real and was caused by human activity


Climate change is not a political initiative. It is real and happening now and it is already hitting the poorest communities in the world."

However the IPCC report is completely without credibility. The worst condemnation I have seen came from one of the contributors to "Global Warming Swindle", Professore Reiter of the Institut Pasteur, in a memorandum to a House of Lords committee.

The basics are that the "emminent scientists" authoring the IPCC reports are nothing of the sort, are rarely specialists in the areas they write about and often make basic errors which make parts of the IPCC reports simply wrong. Among the "scientists" are professional environmental activists. Some of the lead authors had fewer publications than friends of mine had before finishing their PhDs and D Phils, some contributing authors were less published than frineds of mine were during their BAs!

Even after that the reports were twisted, any mention of doubt was removed, the UN admitted as much, and said that it was "at the request of individual scientists, governments and NGOs". Appalling science!

So the report is not the views of scientists but politicians, so you are wrong, it is a political initiative.

The response to "global warming" is already hitting the poorest in the world, when they find it hard to get investment in cheap electricity generation, by fossil fuel.

Pogo said...

Just one minor "point of order"...

The 2007 IPCC report hasn't been published yet, only the "executive summary" - which is a document written largely by politicians for politicians. My sceptical scientist colleagues reckon that the delay between the two is so that the fictional bits invented specially for the summary can be incorporated into the report proper!

Anonymous said...

Neil Craig, I followed you're link and you are correct. And I am not denying that many environmental campaigners are former (or current) Marxists. The point I am making is that are we supposed to believe that these failed revolutionaries have somehow transformed themselves into a devastatingly effective lobby who exert great influence over political decision making? How does this tally with their general political ineffectiveness in the west before the Berlin wall fell?

Instead, I see the political reaction to climate change as being led by science, rather than vice versa. I also find it interesting that opponents of climate change from the right have leapt on Durkin's bandwagon, even though he is a former Marxist/Communist.

It goes to show Cameron's dictum that people are interested in the message rather than the back story is true. Especially when it tallies with what they want to here.

Anonymous said...

The problem arises when two of the 'warming swindle' scientists are now retracting their entire story as being misinterpreted.

What was their interpretation then?

Those representing them suggest it is nothing of the sort and they are represented legitimately.

It's getting more intruiging and interesting by the day and I look forward to seeing a head to head of a wider audience of scientists and not a small section of such.

My belief is that Human Global warming is on the run.


Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, Graham, and as far as the poorest of the poor are concerned, I would add to what Richard Dale said to note that because they can't get cheap heating oil, "the world's poorest" people heat their huts with dried cow dung. This gives out highly toxic emissions that can't escape in these airless little huts, and can kill babies and small children. And it certainly makes everyone else's eyes sting, so you can imagine what it does to their lungs overnight.

So even your "world's poorest communities" argument isn't worth a pile of cow dung.

You people are so transparent.

Anonymous said...

I am an environmental scientist, but have not been involved in climate change research.

My field is the movement of toxic substances through the ground. For predictions of the movement of such contaminants to be credible, the mathematical models used have to be validated against experimental measurements made under appropriate conditions.

It's this that I find lacking in the climate change models. In fact, they may be incapable of being properly validated because of their large scale (the earth's atmosphere and seas) and their scientific complexity. So the predictions made inevitably have question marks against them.

In brief, I find it impossible to reach a conclusion as to the possible importance of man-made carbon dioxide in global warming, based on current work.

Anonymous said...

William Gladstone: "What is the use of electricity?"

Michael Faraday: "Why sir, there is every possibility that you will soon be able to tax it!"

Gordon Brown: "What is the significance of global warming?"

Ed Balls: "Why Gordon, you are already using it to raise new taxes!"

Anonymous said...


Now will you look into why politicians are so happy to jump on the bandwagon when it is obviously not as clear cut as they think. It makes every politician that utters the phrase "gravest threat"..."most pressing issue" "we must take a global lead on the issue" and anyone proposing tax rises to combat this issue is an obvious fraud.

This is important because the public are not daft and have never bought into this like politicians, they remain concerned by migration, NHS, education, Iraq and sleaze.

Anonymous said...

"I'd love to devote an evening of 18 Doughty Street to showing both films in the presence of scientists from both sides of the argument and go through them both almost line by line."

Great idea Iain. Presumably you would have a proportionate reflection of scientists represented so you'd have nine scientists who represent the vast majority who speak the truth and say, one, from Sense about Science or the Exxon Research Dept

Anonymous said...

At Last Some Sanity said: "Now will you look into why politicians are so happy to jump on the bandwagon when it is obviously not as clear cut as they think."

I don't believed for one minute that the intelligent ones believe a word of this. Tony Blair might and David Cameron, neither of whom emits much intellectual wattage, but I believe more enquiring minds, like William Hague and David Davis, for example, will be more sceptical.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, the brilliant David Davis.

Anonymous said...

in Milton Friedman's Free to Choose he makes a good case for the American Socialist Party being the most powerful party in 1930s US politics. He did this by comparing their programme with then current 1970s America where Medicare, Amtrac, printing money etc were presaged in their manifestos but not those of the big parties. The reason he gave for this was that they really believed in this & the successful parties believed in winning. Thus the latter temporised & the political middle ground always moved their way.

He was slightly exaggerating but it was a fair point. It is difficult to dispute that Mr Cameron is not primarily interested in winning.

I believe the "green" agenda is being sold in the same way. There are other factors such as the inherent desire of the media for scare stories to sell papers & of politicians to justify more government money, regulations & employees.

You will note that though they may have been wrong the socialists were more admirable than the machine politicians. This makes me think that the individual can have a real influence, in good causes as well as bad, which is why I do this.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, the brilliant David Davis. What is your academic record Verity, because I would think Cameron blows you out of the water?

Anonymous said...

Neil, interesting points you make. I haven't read that work of Friedman's, so I won't comment in respect of those points.

What I would say is that the point you make about the media seeking a narrative of climate change, which has had significant impact on political policy in all three mainstream parties recently, is certainly valid. But the counterpoint of that is that Channel 4 commissioned this documentary as a reaction to that narrative, rather than as a reaction to the 'science' of climate change.

The problem, as I see it, is that the science of climate change is complex and produces multiple and hetereogeneuos results, none of which are utterly definitive. This has provided an opportunity for polemicists on either side of the debate to cherry pick information that overlays their existing ideological and theoretical viewpoints.

The final problem is the belief that the non-scientific community, i.e the general public, can or should choose between two disparate accounts, neither of which recognises the sheer complexity or messiness of the scientific situation. An added tension has been added to this by politicians turning green issues into electoral questions, thereby 'forcing' a public debate.

Anonymous said...

Alex - well, I didn't go to Eton, for a start, but I doubt whether Cameron could best me in an argument - although he is slick and has been schooled in making facile statements that sound as though they have substance. And he has been trained by his handlers to project an air of authority and he has been trained in debating skills. But intellectually, no, Cameron could not get the better of me.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a fascinating CV. Did you go to the University of Hard Knocks?

Cameron went to Brasenose College, Oxford, and obtained a first class degree (I believe). I think that is generally better received by propsective employers.

Anonymous said...

Still no answer on your academic record Verity? Are you keeping your cards close to your chest?

That must be tempting if they are a pair of Jokers.

The Druid said...

What ever the merits of Gore's powerpoint on steriods and the C4 ├ępater les verts film there IS a scientific consensus on GW.

The people of Tuvalu would disagree. Your smug scepticism is a luxury they can ill afford Iain. Their island nation is sinking already:

For less emotional evidence one need look no further than the Climate Change Science An Analysis of Some Key Questions published by the US National Academy of Sciences after a request by the Bush White House:

But there is plenty more evidence as a skim through Science or other refereed journals will show.

The debate now is how damaging will it be and what will the consequence be for humanity both social and economically. And most importantly, as even George Bush notes, how can we deal with it technologically.

Anonymous said...

Alex, You obviously can't read too well - Verity was talking about Cameron's intelligence not his academic record... Not sure what your point is but in my experience Verity consistantly makes intelligent and articulate observations.. DC is a bit of a let down to his greatest fans in this regard.. Dave nice but dim..

Anonymous said...

Druid - Of course there is concensus on GW - anyone can use a thermometer.. But the debate is about if it is caused by man, or even influenced by man and if it is, if there is any point in attempting to do anything about it.

neil craig said...

Druid the Tuvalu island is not sinking & links make it clear that it is not doing so it is merely that they are afraid of future rises. It is a circular argument to hold up fears ae being proof that fears are justified.

It seems, nonetheless to be a staple warmers argument as one of the claims Gore makes in his film is that some south ses islnders have alsready had to be relocated to New Zealand because of the disappearance of their islands. The New Zealand government has said it is a fabrication.

Anonymous said...

Alex - I am not a public figure and I do not answer questions on the internet about my background.

Cameron went to Oxford. I wonder if his admission had anything to do with coming from Eton? And membership in the Bullingdon Club. He certainly sounds like a mature young man, when he wasn't taking drugs, of course.

I think Cameron comes across as not terribly bright. On the same level as Tony Blair - although, on the evidence, Blair may be a bit more of a thicko. I believe most of Blair's work (perhaps all) was in pleading publically funded briefs. Cameron got a job as a pr man for a TV company. They're both, essentially Jaguar salesmen who should be working on the showroom floor in LA.

Neither of them has the vision nor the mental rigour to lead a nation.

The Druid said...

Vision and mental vigour Verity? You mean like Harold Wilson? Umm.

As for him and Tone being salesmen. Well isn't that what parties need in the age of consumerism?

Crossfire - please read the linked report.

Neil - it is sinking or rather the sea is rising. Sopoanga's speech to the UN says it all for me. Not a surprise given that the polar ice caps are melting and the Greenland ice sheet etc is shrinking. For instance, the rapid break-up of the Larsen ice shelf stunned scientists with its rapidity. While it was predicted to break up, it didn't calve as normal it broke up in 35 days. To put it in context the shelf was bigger than Luxembourg. Where is all that water now?

In Peru the Qori Kalis glacier is retreating at 32 times the rate it was in the 1960''s and 1970's. This glacier provides many Peruvians with their freshwater, and its disappearance is causing real problems.

Plenty more examples out there.....

On GW those of us who have concluded that man is having an adverse impact on the environment could well be wrong. I hope I am. But there are an awful lot of main stream scientists who think that it is.

Example in December 2004 Science published an analysis by Naomi Oreskes of nearly one thousand peer reviewed journal papers published between 1993-2003 which concluded that man is contributed to GW. She then concluded:

" Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect."

That's a pretty substantial consensus by anyone's standard.

As in other contexts we allow our preconceived prejudices and faith in a cotton wool coated version of reality (its going to be OK etc) to prevent us facing up to the actual unpleasant reality and the difficult choices we need to make. This argument applies equally to other pressing problems.

Anonymous said...

As my esteemed collegue Mr Maxwell has entered the debate, let me add my own thoughts on the matter.

Scientific process is one of disproof, not proof. Climate change models can never be proved, even if they are made to match ovservations accurately. Given the complexity of the system and the lack of understanding of the main parameters, it should possible to produce other models that produce the same observations, all of which have radicallly different boundary contitions and dynamics.

I therefore look forward to Human Induced Climate Change sceptics producing a credible, but equally unverifiable, climate model showing that additional CO2 actually reduces global temperatures.

Sadly this debate has been hijacked by non-scientists, more interested in increasing taxation or returning the world to a Socialist Year Zero, than in trying to get a better understanding the science.

Daily Referendum said...

I would like to add something worthwhile to the debate but most points have been covered. So I'm going with my gut feeling and saying: Climate change my arse.

Anonymous said...

There are some earlier comments about sea level rise and global warming.

The March 2005 magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry reports the following findings:

"Sea levels have been rising for 18,000 years...Following an inital large increase, the increase has been steady at around 20 cm per century, with no acceleration in recent years."

"sea levels in the Maldive [Islands] have increased by only 1.1 mm/year since 1800 and actually fell by 20-30 cm in 1970-75, remaining relatively constant since...[The scientistleading this project] criticised modellers' selective use of observed data to 'create' a rise."

Anonymous said...

Verity, for someone who questions Dave's intelligence, your intellectual poverty is hard to stomach. You say that "in this age of industrialisation and plenty, why are the world's "poorest communities" poor?" By the same rationale, why haven't you managed to get a degree from a prestigious university? Either structural forces work against little people like you, and the world's poor, or they don't. Which way will you have it?

Stop bleating about Eton and sustaining inverted snobbery, because it's a pathetic cover for your own failings. And on a sub-note, you can only join the Bullingdon once you are at Oxford, so it is improbable that it greased Cameron's route there.

And for the record, I have a first class degree from Oxford. And don't start squealing about how its not fair and Ivory Towers. Just admit you haven't got an equivalent degree from an equivalent university because you weren't smart enough to get one and you didn't work hard enough.

Anonymous said...

A review of The Great Global Warming Swindle by a US professor of environmental sciences:

'The Great Global Warming Swindle' Relies on Science
S. Fred Singer

Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" has met its match.

A new documentary is out, and it goes where Gore's film dare not tread: to the scientific heart of the matter.

"The Great Global Warming Swindle" is a far-reaching documentary recently shown on British television, and it has also been viewed by millions of people on the Internet.

That's where the similarities end, however.

In spite of its grand title, "The Great Global Warming Swindle" is based on sound science and draws on the statements of real climate scientists, including me.

"An Inconvenient Truth" mainly records a politician.

"The Great Global Warming Swindle" relies on the following scientific premises:

There is no proof at all that the current warming is caused by the rise of greenhouse gases from human activities, such as the generation of energy from the burning of fuels.

Observations in ice cores show that temperature increases have preceded and not resulted from increases in CO2 by hundreds of years, suggesting that the warming of the oceans is an important source of the rise in atmospheric CO2.

As the dominant greenhouse gas, water vapor is far, far more important than CO2, yet not well handled by climate models — and, in any case, not within our control. Greenhouse models can also not account for the observed cooling of much of the past century (1940-75), nor for the observed patterns of warming — what we call the "fingerprints."

For example, the Antarctic is cooling while models predict warming. And where the models call for the middle atmosphere to warm faster than the surface, the observations show the exact opposite. But the best evidence we have supports natural causes — changes in cloudiness linked to regular variations in solar activity.

Thus the current warming is likely part of a natural cycle of climate warming and cooling that's been traced back almost a million years. It accounts for the Medieval warm period around 1100 A.D., when the Vikings were able to settle Greenland and grow crops, and the little ice age, from about 1400 to 1850 A.D., that brought severe winters and cold summers to Europe, with failed harvests, starvation, disease, and general misery.

ttempts had been made to claim that the current warming is "unusual"; a spurious analysis of tree-rings and other proxy data tried to deny the existence of these historic climate swings; but this so-called "hockey-stick" result, that earth temperatures have been constant until recent decades, has now been thoroughly discredited.

If the cause of warming is mostly natural, then there is little we can do about it. We cannot influence the inconstant sun, the likely origin of most climate variability. None of the schemes of mitigation currently bandied about will do any good; they are all irrelevant, useless and wildly expensive; these include the control of CO2 emissions, whether by rationing or by elaborate cap-and-trade schemes, uneconomic "alternative" energy, such as ethanol and the impractical "hydrogen economy," massive installations of wind turbines and solar collectors, and proposed projects for the sequestration of CO2 from smokestacks or even from the atmosphere.

Ironically, all of these schemes would be ineffective even if CO2 were responsible for the observed warming trend — unless we can persuade every nation, including China, to cut fuel use by 80 percent!

Finally, no one can show that a warmer climate would produce negative impacts overall; the much-feared rise in sea levels does not seem to depend on short-term temperature changes as the rate of sea-level increases has been steady since the last ice age, 10,000 years ago.

In fact, many economists argue that the opposite is more likely — that warming throws off net benefits, that it increases incomes and standards of living. All agree that a colder climate would be bad. So why would the present climate be the optimum? Surely, the chances for this must be vanishingly small and the history of past climate warmings bear this out.

But the main message of "The Great Global Warming Swindle" is much broader. Why should we devote our scarce resources to what is essentially a non-problem and ignore the real problems the world faces: hunger, disease, and denial of human rights — not to mention the threats of terrorism and nuclear wars? And are we really prepared to deal with natural disasters; pandemics that can wipe out most of the human race, or even the impact of an asteroid, such as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs?

Yet politicians and the elites throughout much of the world prefer to toy with and devote our limited resources to fashionable issues rather than concentrate on real ones. Just consider the scary predictions emanating from supposedly responsible world figures: Britain's Labour Party chief scientist tells us that unless we insulate our houses and use more efficient light bulbs, the Antarctic will be the only habitable continent by 2100, with a few surviving breeding couples propagating the human race. Seriously!

I imagine that in the not-too-distant future all of the hype will have died down, particularly if the climate should decide to cool — as it did during much of the past century; we should take note here that it has not warmed since 1998.

Future generations will look back on the current madness and wonder what it was all about. They will have movies like "An Inconvenient Truth" and documentaries like "The Great Global Warming Swindle" to remind them.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (is your real name Fred?): Is that the Fred Singer who also says he is sceptical about the connection between CFCs and ozone depletion, and between ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer?

These are his affiliations:
1989- Director and President, Science and Environmental Policy Project, a foundation-funded, independent research group, incorporated in 1992, to advance environment and health policies through sound science. SEPP is a non-profit, education organization.
1993- Member of the board of the International Center for a Scientific Ecology.
1994- Distinguished Research Professor, Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.
2002 Advisory Board Member, American Council on Science and Health
Editorial Advisory Board, The Cato Institute
Adjunct Scholar, National Center for Policy Analysis
Adjunct Fellow, Frontiers of Freedom
2006- Member of the Science Advisory Committee for the Natural Resources Stewardship Project.
It should be noted that, according to Environmental Defense, October 26, 2005: [3]

The Cato Institute received $55,000 from ExxonMobil in 2002-2003.
The National Center for Policy Analysis received $105,000 from ExxonMobil in 2002-2003.
The Frontiers of Freedom organizations received $282,000 from ExxonMobil in 2002-2003.
The American Council on Science and Health received $35,000 from ExxonMobil in 2002-2003.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Alex, you are a hoot! You got a degree from Oxford. Why do I have a funny feeling you haven't got a job?

Anonymous said...

Iain. I tell you what would be interesting. Why don't you get some ordinary scientists on from the 90% who say mankind is having an impact. And then talk about the interaction between politics and science. Try and get a feel for how this debate has gone so wrong in the public sphere. Why this lack of trust? Is it the fault of politicians.
The "long form" of 18DS would allow them to really develop their ideas and explain things.

Verity, looks like you have plenty of willing page turners for your upcoming violin recital. Is it me or is it hot in here?

Anonymous said...

Alex, Why not try and string together a coherent argument rather than just bleating about your irrelevant degree ?

You notice you are the only one here talking about their education rather than their opinion - you seem very sad.

Anonymous said...

Crossfire, my argument is coherent. I've pointed out a serious inconsistency in Verity's posts. On the one hand Verity believes that poor people are poor through their own failings, (see post at 2.27 pm). On the the other, Verity implies that there is a matrix of privilege that maintains the status of an elite class (see post at 5.46 pm).

I don't think I need two explain why these two views are logically inconsistent.

So my second contention is that someone who claims to be more intelligent than David Cameron, (but provides no evidence of intellectual or academic achievement to rival his) ought to be able to maintain a logically consistent weltanschaung on a single comment thread.

In response to Verity- I'm not sure why you would think an Oxford graduate would be unemployed, (given they form a significant element in political, financial and media elites), but the answer is no.

Anonymous said...

Lets look at this alleged "consensus" (the word actually means almost total agreement not 50% + 1)

On the link you gave which you presumably chose because it represents this "consenus" in the best light we find:

"The IPCC's conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue"

Now that sounds like & indeed is meant to sound like support for tha alarmist case. However the heating over the last 50 years is about 0.3 C. "Most" of this could be 0.16 C. This is not catastrophic or even close to it. The "consensus" front is being maintained by spinmeisters who are fast on their feet & scientists who don't relish a fight & are carefully phrasing what they say accordingly.

I personally doubt if the effect is even as much as 0.16 C but clearly the people saying that have much more in common with my view that it is unimportant than with those who threaten increases of 3 C, 8 C, 11 C, 300 ft sea level rises, Norfolk being underwater by 2026, Holland by 2007, Antarctica being the "only habitable continent", South Sea Islands having already been evacuated & similar hysteria.

Unknown said...

The so-called science in the "Great Global Warming Swindle" programme has been completely de-bunked by Sir John Houghton here.

See also George Monbiot's analysis here and importantly the text of a letter from one of the scientists featured in the documentary - Carl Wunsch - which is posted in the comments section.

Anonymous said...

Alex says: "I don't think I need two explain why these two views are logically inconsistent."

You don't need to "explain" anything. No one needs your assistance in understanding anything. You are simplistically accepting of a fantasical scenario which has been debunked by impartial climatology and geo-scientists who don't have a leftist political agenda.

Al Gore's a well known fantasist. He dropped out of law school. He dropped out of theological college. He invented the internet, by the way, quite an achievement for someone without a technological/mathematic background. His fortune comes from his tobacco plantations (and federal tax breaks) and the fact that he is one of the largest private investors in Occidental Petroleum. Now he flies all over the world lecturing people on climate change with the implication it is the fault of mankind rather than the sun. Just as Dave, another scion of wealth and privilege, takes a jet to fly for 90 miles.

The inconvenient truth is that Al Gore does not have a close relationship with reality. And neither does David Cameron.

Pogo said...


Your cited "debunking" contains the memorable comment "For the best and latest statement of the science, you are referred to the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report published in February 2007"

The "Summary for Policymakers" IS NOT A SCIENTIFIC DOCUMENT... It's written by politicians for politicians.

Anonymous said...


Gore never claimed to have invented the internet. He said in an interview on CNN in 1999 "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the internet".

When people like you started twisting this and pretending he had said something else, internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Robert E Kahn issued the following statement
"As the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time.
Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his role. He said: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." We don't think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he "invented" the Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening. We feel it is timely to offer our perspective."

Incidentally, you forget to mention that he graduated from Harvard in 1969 with a degree in government. Then he went to Vietnam. He dropped out of Law School to run for Congress.