RealClimate logo

Swindled: Carl Wunsch responds

Filed under: — group @ 12 March 2007 - (Türkçe)

The following letter from Carl Wunsch is intended to clarify his views on global warming in general, and the The Great Global Warming Swindle which misrepresented them.

Partial Response to the London Channel 4 Film “The Global Warming Swindle”

Carl Wunsch 11 March 2007

I believe that climate change is real, a major threat, and almost surely has a major human-induced component. But I have tried to stay out of the `climate wars’ because all nuance tends to be lost, and the distinction between what we know firmly, as scientists, and what we suspect is happening, is so difficult to maintain in the presence of rhetorical excess. In the long run, our credibility as scientists rests on being very careful of, and protective of, our authority and expertise.

The science of climate change remains incomplete. Some elements are so firmly based on well-understood principles, or for which the observational record is so clear, that most scientists would agree that they are almost surely true (adding CO2 to the atmosphere is dangerous; sea level will continue to rise,…). Other elements remain more uncertain, but we as scientists in our roles as informed citizens believe society should be deeply concerned about their possibility: failure of US midwestern precipitation in 100 years in a mega-drought; melting of a large part of the Greenland ice sheet, among many other examples.

I am on record in a number of places complaining about the over-dramatization and unwarranted extrapolation of scientific facts. Thus the notion that the Gulf Stream would or could “shut off” or that with global warming Britain would go into a “new ice age” are either scientifically impossible or so unlikely as to threaten our credibility as a scientific discipline if we proclaim their reality [i.e. see this previous RC post]. They also are huge distractions from more immediate and realistic threats. I’ve paid more attention to the extreme claims in the literature warning of coming catastrophe, both because I regard the scientists there as more serious, and because I am very sympathetic to the goals of my colleagues who sometimes seem, however, to be confusing their specific scientific knowledge with their worries about the future.

When approached by WAGTV, on behalf of Channel 4, known to me as one of the main UK independent broadcasters, I was led to believe that I would be given an opportunity to explain why I, like some others, find the statements at both extremes of the global change debate distasteful. I am, after all a teacher, and 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).

I wanted to explain why observing the ocean was so difficult, and why it is so tricky to predict with any degree of confidence such important climate elements as its heat and carbon storage and transports in 10 or 100 years. I am distrustful of prediction scenarios for details of the ocean circulation that rely on extremely complicated coupled models that run out for decades to thousands of years. The science is not sufficiently mature to say which of the many complex elements of such forecasts are skillful. Nonetheless, and contrary to the impression given in the film, I firmly believe there is a great deal to be learned from models. With effort, all of this is explicable in terms the public can understand.

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, my intent was to explain that warming the ocean could be dangerous—because it is such a gigantic reservoir of carbon. 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 in many different ways, some unexpected.

Many of us feel an obligation to talk to the media—it’s part of our role as scientists, citizens, and educators. The subjects are complicated, and it is easy to be misquoted or quoted out context. My experience in the past is that these things do happen, but usually inadvertently — most reporters really do want to get it right.

Channel 4 now says they were making a film in a series of “polemics”. 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—clearly 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 already had a reputation for distortion and exaggeration.

The letter I sent them as soon as I heard about the actual program is below. [available here]

As a society, we need to take out insurance against catastrophe in the same way we take out homeowner’s protection against fire. I buy fire insurance, but I also take the precaution of having the wiring in the house checked, keeping the heating system up to date, etc., all the while hoping that I won’t need the insurance. Will any of these precautions work? Unexpected things still happen (lightning strike? plumber’s torch igniting the woodwork?). How large a fire insurance premium is it worth paying? How much is it worth paying for rewiring the house? $10,000 but perhaps not $100,000? There are no simple answers even at this mundane level.

How much is it worth to society to restrain CO2 emissions — will that guarantee protection against global warming? Is it sensible to subsidize insurance for people who wish to build in regions strongly susceptible to coastal flooding? These and others are truly complicated questions where often the science is not mature enough give definitive answers, much as we would like to be able to provide them. Scientifically, we can recognize the reality of the threat, and much of what society needs to insure against. Statements of concern do not need to imply that we have all the answers. Channel 4 had an opportunity to elucidate some of this. The outcome is sad.

162 Responses to “Swindled: Carl Wunsch responds”

  1. 51
    Beth says:

    I found (yes through research LogicallySpeaking)a blogspot that might be useful for those who are not climate scientists, but who want to be able to respond to doubts that rise among colleagues and the general public as a result of the swindle-show.

    RealScience has been a great help, and has made any confusion much clearer. I have read Lindzen and Ian Clark’s take on climate change. The reason being, that it is necessary to look at a problem from all sides. There are some pretty plausible points in their arguements for those that don’t know the science terribly well. RealScience has been a Godsend and so has the site link below.

  2. 52
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. 19:

    Also, a documentary that intends to influence policy should include economics as well as climate science. The part of Swindle that was most convincing was the potential effect on the developing world of limiting cheap energy.

    It was also one of the most fraudulent. Durkin was angling for crocodile-tear sympathy by propagating numerous fallacies, myths and falsehoods.

    For one thing the people who will suffer (are already suffering) by far the most as a result of global warming are those who live in tropical regions. Admittedly one can’t say that the worldwide severe droughts that are currently in evidence in most tropical countries are definitely caused by global warming, in the same way you can’t prove that an individual smoker who dies of lung cancer wouldn’t have got lung cancer anyway; but you can say that statistically the two are linked in both cases. And in the most conservative projections, severe droughts and severe floods will both become far more frequent and far more severe in the tropics over the next few decades.

    Second, the villages it covered are a long way from any electric grid. Installing centralised national grids there would hardly be cheap electricity, it would be incredibly expensive. Kenya can’t afford a national grid. Durkin didn’t mention that.

    If a hospital in the tropics that is miles away from the nearest electricity grid and its existing solar generator isn’t powerful enough to supply the it with the electricity it needs, the cheapest solution by far is to provide it with a much larger solar generator. Plus then they don’t have to buy any fuel either. But Durkin forgot to mention that as well.

    Third, the reason the people they showed suffer from smoke exposure in those huts is because their huts don’t have chimneys or proper stoves! The solution to that is to install chimneys in their huts, with proper stoves, which is what the NGOs are doing. That costs thousands of times less that spending trillions on installing and trying to maintain electricity grids in remote and fairly sparsely populated parts of Kenya. But Durkin’s didn’t mention that either.

    Fourth, there is *no* target under Kyoto for developing countries to reduce their emissions, which is the main reason the US Government gave for not signing up to Kyoto. It was not the environmentalists who wanted developing countries to have targets, as Durkin claimed it was. it was the US government. Furthermore, under the Kyoto offsetting mechanism, countries in the West are funding measures to create efficiency savings in developing countries, for instance by modernising factories. So the idea it put forward that Kyoto is somehow a conspiracy to prevent developing countries from developing is fraudulent.

    Fifth, any requirement that ends up in “Kyoto Mark II” (or whatever it ends up being called) relating to developing countries, will be based on their achieving efficiency savings, with help from the West, not on stopping them from growing – see
    which states: “On 14 and 15 February more than 100 legislators and officials from 13 countries met within the walls of the US Senate to discuss the future of international climate policy. At the close of the meeting they issued a statement setting out the components which they say will be essential for an international agreement on climate change when the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012, [which includes] emissions targets for all countries, according to historical responsibility and development needs. Developed countries must lead, with targets for developing country targets recognising their need for economic growth.”

  3. 53
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. #51 There’s a more up to date version at

  4. 54
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. 49, there are very few errors; they are minor; and they are errors rather deceptions.

  5. 55

    I sympathise with Wunsch, but wonder how he allowed himself to be swindled? All it takes is a cursory google search to realise that Durkin has form, and those who have followed the career of this Frank Furedi cultist know that the man is a brazen liar.

    And yet Channel 4 executives, despite knowing all about Durkin’s past, continue to commission him to make documentary films. The reason for this is that controversialism sells, and many people these days appear to have very short memories. It’s all about viewing figures and advertising revenue, stupid!

    Durkin and his comrades in the organisation formerly known as the Revolutionary Communist Party (which was neither revolutionary nor communist) are attempting to control the science outreach market in the UK, and have brought on-side some pretty senior figures within the research community. Thinktanks such as Sense about Science and the Science Media Centre are viewed as respectable media outfits by many jobbing scientists and media workers, and even the veritable old Royal Institution is falling prey to Furedi’s followers.

    Scientists dealing with the media really should know better, and not be so naive as to believe that they can express a “nuanced” view in a documentary film made by hacks as thoroughly amoral as Martin Durkin. The alternative is for scientists to cultivate working relationships with writers and broadcasters they can trust. And demand from their employers more media training workshops and suchlike. Scientists are creative people, quite capable of getting together to make their own films and sell them to the networks. They should work with journalists who are themselves scientists.

    If Wunsch is unhappy about the over-dramatisation of climate change science – as I believe he should be – then he needs to be a lot more proactive, and not merely give a few soundbites to experienced journalists with heavy-duty political agendas. There’s little room left for nuance and subtlety in public discourse, and we are left with no choice but to put up or shut up. So which is it to be?

  6. 56
    Ed Sears says:

    To 35 Beth
    My suggestion, especially as you have just been studying, is to look at some university-level textbooks on the Earth system and on climate. They will give you a far more coherent presentation of how the theory fits together than you will get from reading a running argument (sorry discussion) between hundreds of participants on a blogsite. I find it very helpful to think in terms of the Earth as a self-regulating living system (James Lovelock 1972), made up of 4 main components: atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and lithosphere (top 100-200km of crust and mantle). There are constant exchanges between the different components, of which the carbon cycle is one we are particularly concerned with. The coming together of tectonic plate theory, pictures of the Earth from space, and Gaia theory/Earth system science has been a revolution for the earth sciences and our level of awareness of the world around us, just as humanity’s impact on the planet is accelerating. And loads of the satellite imagery is available on the internet. This surely is something exciting and accessible enough to appeal to children. For a first stop for children and the weather and atmosphere, how about
    (it’s a lightning detector)
    and for you :
    Stephen Marshak (2005) Earth:Portrait of a Planet (2nd ed). Norton, NYC.
    O’Hare, Sweeney, Wilby (2005) Weather, Climate and Climate Change: Human perspectives. Pearson, Harlow, UK.

  7. 57
    Gareth says:

    Re: #46/47 – Michael Moore

    His role in this is to produce another Great Global Warming Swindle, using the same participants (expect, perhaps, for a rather chastened Prof Wunsch). I see him puffing around in the wake of Tim Ball, trying to nail down his CV. How many years were you a professor, Tim?

  8. 58
    Deech56 says:

    RE #51:

    Beth, good choice of sites. One thing nice about Coby’s site (I use this site all the time when talking to…uh…global warming skeptics) and is the wealth of sources that are cited. When one can go back to the original papers, it is always much better (and it always helps to check a reference of two – I have found examples of blatant cherry picking in an article on DDT written by Steven Milloy). I am in the life sciences field, so not anywhere near an expert on climate, but I can recognize good science when I see it, and a site like RealClimate, unlike Mr. Milloy’s site, passes with flying colors.

    I would also recommend the Pew Center for Climate Change (ironically, the Pew family made their fortune in oil – Sunoco). They have a brief blurb about the AR4 and a link to the report.

  9. 59
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Michael Moore or Frontline or NOW could do a docu on how climate science and climate scientists have been suppressed and hoodwinked and intimidated, and how the American public has been misled by politicians and the media (as when the well-oiled media use the “balanced format” or the “silent treatment,” even after the science is pretty well settled for scientists and extremely well settled for policy-makers and the public). And all the oil and coal money behind much of this.

    That ought to open some eyes. Many people already know the basic ideas behind GW; they just thought it had been disproved, or not yet proven.

  10. 60
    Nigel Williams says:

    Professor Wunsch, thank you for your commentary. You must be feeling pretty glum and possibly angry but I think you will find that your reputation has only been enhanced by the sorry fools at WAGTV and their cronies. No damage at all. Keep the faith, as a scientist. Leave politics to the politicians, and the slow dawning of reality to the masses.

    Unfortunately science cannot change human nature. It will eventually occur to most of them that it has four legs, it wags its tail, and it barks. Its probably a dog. Eventually.

    Go well!

  11. 61
    Bob Arning says:

    Re #19:
    Also, a documentary that intends to influence policy should include economics as well as climate science. The part of Swindle that was most convincing was the potential effect on the developing world of limiting cheap energy.

    I think this is something we need to guard against. As soon as the hard science gets mixed with economics/politics/morality in the same program, those who disagree with the politics, etc will start to close their minds to the science. Keep the science separate and win that battle. Then others can do what’s needed in other areas.

  12. 62
    James says:

    Re #59: [Michael Moore or Frontline or NOW could do a docu on how climate science and climate scientists have been suppressed and hoodwinked and intimidated…]

    Which I would think would be extremely counterproductive. If you want to make a factual documentary that will inform the general public, you don’t have it produced by people with a reputation that associates them, and thus your documentary, with a particular political viewpoint. Still less do you pick someone (Michael Moore) who has a well-deserved reputation for being… how can I say this politely? …more concerned with goals than factual accuracy? That’s exactly what the makers of “Swindle” did, except that their reputations are (apparently) nowhere near as large.

    I think a much more effective tactic would be to get several people, with different but moderate political views, to cooperate. The message has to be that it’s not a political issue – indeed, that it’s too important for political considerations.

    Likewise, you’d be better off leaving out e.g. rants about evil capitalist oil & coal interests, for after all (as I keep pointing out to friends whining about rising gas prices) if people didn’t buy their products, they wouldn’t be in business long :-)

  13. 63
    Wang Dang says:

    Is Carl Wunsch a “non-skeptical heritic” as described by Roger Pielke Jr.? Or does he fit nicely into the consensus?

  14. 64
    Wang Dang says:

    Re #48
    Here is a review of “Day After Tomorrow”. They review the movie and the physics, in this case both are bad. They also do Inconvenient Truth and Who Killed the Electric Car as well as many others.

  15. 65
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Re 52:
    >…the reason the people they showed suffer from smoke exposure in those huts is because their huts don’t have chimneys or proper stoves! The solution to that is to install chimneys in their huts, with proper stoves, which is what the NGOs are doing.

    I’ll bet the people in China and India prefer the industrial jobs they are getting (and eventually homes with heating and air conditioning) to having NGOs help them add a chimney to their hut. Your ambitions for developing peoples seem rather low.

  16. 66
    Scott Vinson says:

    Re #30: Not only 159 planned coal fire power plants in US but who knows how many smaller ones starting up in varying applications, like the nursery greenhouse boiler highlighted in this Cleveland Ohio newspaper business section article (with nary a mention of CO2 emission):

    Prompting my published response as letter-to-editor:

    If these smaller units catch on nation/worldwide before gasification/sequestration/renewable alternatives beats them out, how much more of world’s vast coal resources’ C will be converted to atmospheric CO2?

    Thanks to RC contributors for helping this math teacher and father of two try to make sense of the competing dynamics and for providing helpful information in the push for legislation to level the playing field for development of truly clean coal and renewables.

  17. 67
    s.ball says:

    AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH was accessable on video google. Paramount decided to take it off!

    DISCOVERY CHANNEL GLOBAL WARMING. Been online on video google. They took it off.

    THIS BULLSHIT SWINDLE is accessable on video google — over 100.000 hits i urge every single beeing here to make the right decision and not misslead the public!

    Inform the public make the info avaiable for FREE!

  18. 68
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    RE: 1)

    …”thus my response is that it is NOT sensible to subsidize insurance for people who wish to build in regions susceptible to coastal flooding”..

    The logic escapes me in your statement. MOST people live near the shoreline and if we should not subsidize insurance, which I am not sure
    where you are deriving that from as Florida does not subsidize insurance, then by the same logic that you apply, there should not be money spent on maintaining the shoreline, which
    is subject to wave erosion and other factors.

    What would be the point of spending money on maintaining the shoreline
    if people could not use it? And to legislate where a person could live
    is a form of governmental control used in communist countries.

    The government wastes money hand over fists to begin with, and to even state that people should not be helped with government money rather than some congressman’s pork barrel project in comparison makes zero sense in the overall scheme of how things work with money allocations in the government.

    Living inland does not assure that one escapes risk factors such
    as flooding because the groundwater can not handle a heavy rain in x amount of time or because the natural land shape has been changed to allow for human dwellings….

    There is a trade off for everything.

    Rising Sea Levels and Moving Shorelines
    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
    November 16, 2004

    …”Billions of tax dollars are being spent to restore and protect our wetlands, maintain our beaches and waterways, and rebuild coastal infrastructure. For example, the State of Louisiana is proposing to spend $14 billion over the next 40 years to restore coastal barriers along the Mississippi River delta.”….”More than 155 million people (53 percent of the population) reside in U.S. coastal counties comprising less than 11 percent of the land area of the lower 48 states.
    “…”Close to 350,000 homes and buildings are located within 150 meters of the ocean. Within 60 years, one out of every four of those structures will be destroyed.”

  19. 69
    pete best says:

    I just hope that this is not true, however I feel that is could well be.

    Very worrying maybe but also a sign of defeat.

  20. 70
    Ed Freer says:

    It is all very well Carl Wunsch having problems with the programme, on an issue I am as yet decided about. However, I would like to point out a few things:

    1)I would be very surpried if Channel 4 haven’t covered their backs during the research of the programme and any correspondence with Carl. Durkin has run into trouble in the past and the lawyers would have surely been involved from he begining.

    2)I am sure Carl would stand by the quotes he said. Yes the producer can cherry pick the best, but that is how TV works and also how the press and this website works.

    3) If he is convinced that he has been unfairly treated, he should persue legal action. By not doing so, we just have a letter on the internet, but no recourse for the production company, which in my view is as bad as choice editing.

    As mentioned, I am still undecided about the whole debate, but feel as I am sure many do, that attacking scientists is not the way. Instead it should be about debating the science. The debate at the moment seems to focus on sites like this one attacking anything that might disprove elements of the man-made global warming and essentially preaching to the converted and the on other side, just as bad, preaching to their converted. I’m afraid this does neither side any good.

    If global warming (man-made) is happening, everyone needs to be involved in the debate and convinced, at the moment shamefull libel from all sides is stopping any prospect of this.

    What a sad state of affairs.

  21. 71
    Alex says:

    BBC News ran a chunk of TGGWS last night without much comment, (including the dodgy graphs) although they did interview an actual climate scientist afterwards. They also spoke with Paul Reiter, the Pasteur Institute guy who appears in it, who turns out to be a microbiologist.

  22. 72
    Chris Mooney says:

    The misrepresentation of scientists, and the misuse of their reputations to bolster dubious causes, is wrong. But this episode might also contain a lesson about how scientists in highly politicized areas, like this one, should realize how easily their words and their work can be twisted and distorted…

  23. 73

    [[Prof. Wunsch says:The ocean is the major reservoir into which carbon dioxide goes when it comes out of the atmosphere or to from which it is re-emitted to the the atmosphere. If you heat the surface of the ocean, it tends to emit carbon dioxide. Similarly, if you cool the ocean surface, the ocean can dissolve more carbon dioxide.

    This is frankly a minor, technical point that is pretty much impossible to interpret out of context. Perhaps he said other brilliant things that ended up on the cutting room floor, but I don’t buy his complaints here.]]

    Professor Wunsch knows, and any climatologists know, that the oceans are presently a SINK for CO2, not a SOURCE. Wunsch was talking about how natural climate cycles like the ice ages go. The cherry-picked quote makes it look like he’s saying the CO2 is coming from the ocean. It’s fundamentally dishonest.

  24. 74
    Kurre says:

    This all makes me laugh. If the Swindle is correct as is my personal belief then all that will happen is that the politions and such groups will all be patting thems selves on the backs saying “we saved the world, Global warming didn’t happened”

    If it isn’t correct surely we’re all donald ducked anyway?

  25. 75
    Vinny Burgoo says:

    Re #7
    “Even simpler: provide the footnotes to Mr. Gore’s slideshow. Without a current version of that online _with_links_to_sources_ it’s just another opinion piece, even though the climate scientists say they agree with what he’s saying.”

    Yes, they agree even though Mr Gore misrepresented some of their forecasts and misunderstood some of the science.

    I know it’s not quite as bad as deliberately misrepresenting an individual’s actual words, as Channel Four seems to have done, but misrepresenting scientific predictions in order to generate urgency (as Gore did with his 20-foot sea-level rise) or to make a particular course of action look more sensible (as the Stern Report did with the economics of rapidly cutting carbon emissions) is still sharp practice and I have been surprised that reputable climate scientists have been willing to endorse it. Surely scientists should have nothing to do with hype and hyperbole, no matter how worried they are by the problem?

    Such partiality doesn’t excuse Channel Four’s actions but it does to some extent explain it. When the Establishment condones sharp practice, those who feel locked out of the debate are more likely to do a little book-cooking themselves – especially when, as is the case in Britain if not in America, everyone with any clout acts as if not just the science but the politics of climate change is done and dusted and all we ever hear is “Global warming is the greatest threat to mankind ever, we’re all doomed, we’re all guilty, only bicycles and wind farms can save us now.” As global warming certainly isn’t the greatest threat to mankind ever, and isn’t even the greatest peril we currently face (see poverty, water wars, the Return of the Nuke, etc.), it’s not surprising that people throw the baby out with the bath-water and come up with tosh like The Great Global Warming Swindle.

    (I hope Professor Wunsch sues Channel Four, by the way.)

  26. 76
    Michael says:

    In my opinion it’s obvious that, when the mankind continues producing CO2 on that level we are doing it now, the global temperature will raise and natural disasters will appear more often. So it must be the objective to reduce the CO2-pollution – and every nation in the world should take part in it.

  27. 77
    Diogenes says:

    Can’t take criticism, I see.

    Typical of the P. C. crowd.

  28. 78
    Diogenes says:

    I’ll try submitting this a second time.

    Global warming deniers are much more likely to have a background in the mathematical sciences than those warning about the dangers of global warming.

    Is that because it is much harder for those who understand the mathematics behind the data to misinterpret the facts in their favor?

  29. 79
    Dan says:

    re: 79. Simply false. For example, read the list of authors of the IPCC summary. Furthermore, the climate scientists are the ones who publish in peer-reviewed journals, as opposed to deniers who espouse their opinions (as opposed to facts) on web pages, newspaper od-ed pages, science-fiction novels, and other “grey” journals.

  30. 80
    Dan says:

    Absurd typo in my 79. I have no idea why I typed “espouse”. I meant “spew”.

  31. 81
    Diogenes says:

    [Furthermore, the climate scientists are the ones who publish in peer-reviewed journals, as opposed to deniers.]

    That line will only sway those who don’t know that most “peer-reviewed” journals, especially in heavily politicized academic fields, are a closed shop – they only publish those articles that fit the journal’s orthodoxy.

    Deniers are denied the chance to publish PRECISELY because they deny the politically correct orthodoxy.

  32. 82
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Diogenes, care to provide even one iota of evidence for that calumny, or are you afraid to illuminate your own face with your lantern?

  33. 83
    Dan says:

    re: 81. Sorry, but there is absolutely no proof whatsoever to back up your highly political, unscientific opinion. That is simply not the way science is done. Read about the scientific method. Science is not a political field. And writing in capital letters does nothing to prove that it is either. Sorry if the data do not produce the results you want them to, apparently. Attacking the science and methods just because you think that is utterly wrong. Read the IPCC reports. They were written by scientists, not politicians or others with vested interests.

  34. 84
    Diogenes says:

    [Diogenes, care to provide even one iota of evidence for that calumny, or are you afraid to illuminate your own face with your lantern?]

    How can I convince you that a journal refuses to publish articles by “deniers” because they are deniers, if you want to believe they refuse to publish deniers because the deniers are incorrect?

    Actually, the deniers are incorrect. Politically incorrect.

  35. 85
    Diogenes says:

    Ray, if a journal refuses to publish articles by “deniers”, is it because they are deniers, or because they are incorrect? Does it even matter? You decide.

  36. 86
    Dan says:

    re: 85. You are hiding from the question. It is quite simple to answer. All you need to do is get one article from a “denier” that was denied. You made the accusation, you get it from them. Or you can’t prove it. Game, set, match, end of story.

  37. 87
    Bruce Hall says:

    The problem has been one of exaggeration on both sides of the debate. Exaggerating disaster from global warming on one side to exaggerating that nothing is happening on the other.

    Climate change is the only constant. The issue is the extent to which man can influence the climate… regionally and globally. A thorough, although mind-numbing examination, was done by the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. I spent an entire Friday evening reading it and then re-read the parts that gave me a headache. “Nothing is ever as simple as it first seems.”

    These are the scientists involved:

    This is the problem in a nutshell:

  38. 88
    Ike Solem says:

    Regarding the original topic, Carl Wunsch had this to say in a March 2006 piece for the Royal Society:

    Thus at bottom, it is very difficult to separate human induced change from natural change, certainly not with the confidence we all seek. In these circumstances, it is essential to remember that the inability to prove human-induced change is not the same thing as a demonstration of its absence. It is probably true that most scientists would assign a very high probability that human-induced change is already strongly present in the climate system, while at the same time agreeing that clear-cut proof is not now available and may not be available for a long-time to come, if ever. Public policy has to be made on the basis of probabilities, not firm proof.

    That’s not the view the film wanted to present, so it wasn’t included. I looked through Prof. Wunsch’s recent work on ocean heat (for example ) and the main issue still seems to be a lack of sufficiently comprehensive data from the oceans, which are the major long-term influence on climate. This is the central issue in funding climate science – the money doesn’t go into the pockets of climate scientists, but rather to fund the expensive satellite and ocean monitoring systems that are needed to collect data.

    This is the political situation that scientists have no excuse for not actively participating in – the need for funding data collection. It’s important to explain to the general public why their tax dollars should go into funding such research.

    There also seems to be a new tendency for climate contrarians to compare themselves to Galileo… but George Monbiot puts it well:

    “Were it not for dissent, science, like politics, would have stayed in the dark ages. All the great heroes of the discipline – Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein – took tremendous risks in confronting mainstream opinion. Today’s crank has often proved to be tomorrow’s visionary.
    But the syllogism does not apply. Being a crank does not automatically make you a visionary. There is little prospect, for example, that Dr Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang, the South African health minister who has claimed Aids can be treated with garlic, lemon and beetroot, will be hailed as a genius. But the point is often confused. Professor David Bellamy, for example, while making the incorrect claim that wind farms do not have “any measurable effect” on total emissions of carbon dioxide, has compared himself to Galileo.”

    It’s also essential that scientist explain the basics of scientific reasoning to the general public (poor science education is a real problem) so that they have some chance of independently evaluating all manner of scientific claims, such as the basic notion of Lindzen, Pielke et. al that “adding CO2 to the atmosphere doesn’t warm the planet, or has a miniscule effect”.

    One way of getting this across that incorporates all the contrarian harping on solar influences is to explain that the climate is sensitive to a wide variety of influences, and that changes in any of those influences can have a large effect – volcanism, solar forcing, albedo, and, most significantly, large additions of CO2, CH4 and N2O to the atmosphere as a result of human activity.

  39. 89
    W. M. Bourke says:

    “In the long run, our credibility as scientists rests on being very careful of, and protective of, our authority and expertise.” Yes, if scientific credibility is to be reduced to rhetorical capacity. But in the longer and shorter run the credibility of scientists ought to shift toward the credibility of their efforts scientifically to verify and falsify particular hypotheses. That credibility doesn’t depend on their being protective of their authority or expertise, but on the contrary virtue of adopting a disinterested (even playful?) view of the hypotheses they advance.

    I trust that the Great Swindle documentary approached the anthropocentric climate change “hypotheses” with the kind of polemical fervour with which the they have been advanced. What a shame, and what a surprise. Having not yet seen the film, I cannot say how Carl Wunsch’s virtue has been compromised. But the examples he adduces to distinguish his views from their use in the film look fairly modest.

  40. 90

    [[How can I convince you that a journal refuses to publish articles by “deniers” because they are deniers, if you want to believe they refuse to publish deniers because the deniers are incorrect?

    Actually, the deniers are incorrect. Politically incorrect. ]]

    So you can’t name any actual instances, in other words?

  41. 91
    timethief says:

    I strongly support Tamino’s suggestion above. I believe that Real Climate and legitimate AGW researchers and scientists take on the challenge of doing an authoritative documentary for global distribution. I urge you to press forward with this as it’s very much needed.

  42. 92
    Marco says:

    Any reasons why my comment was not posted?

  43. 93
    James says:

    Re #85: [Ray, if a journal refuses to publish articles by “deniers”, is it because they are deniers, or because they are incorrect?]

    You know something? Anyone who wants to invest the necessary time and energy can start a scientific journal. Indeed, there are a number of on-line journals these days, so you don’t need to pay for printing & mailing. Just line up an editor & some people willing to do peer review, and solicit papers.

    So if there really are a bunch of “deniers” who can’t get published in the current journals, why don’t they start their own? I suspect it’s because they are so few that after the peer reviewer slots are filled, there won’t be anyone left to write the papers :-)

  44. 94
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    Top meteorologist pours scorn on TV’s debunking of global warming
    Mar 14 2007

    “THE world’s top climate change expert has dissected The Great Global Warming Swindle, calling it “bad science”.

    Sir John Houghton, who lives in Aberdovey, Gwynedd, said the television programme, directed by Martin Durkin on Channel 4, “discredited the science of global warming”.

    Sir John is the former head of the Met Office who chairs the Scientific Assessment Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

    He said, “Last Thursday’s programme purported to debunk the science of Global Warming describing it as ‘lies’ and an invention of hundreds of scientists around the world, who have conspired to mislead governments, and the general public. The material presented was a mixture of truth, half truth and falsehood put together with the sole purpose of discrediting the science of global warming as presented by the main world community of climate scientists and by the IPCC.”

  45. 95
    John Gribbin says:

    A nice analysis of the Channel 4 programme can be found at:

  46. 96
    Rob says:

    it is very difficult to separate human induced change from natural change, certainly not with the confidence we all seek. In these circumstances, it is essential to remember that the inability to prove human-induced change is not the same thing as a demonstration of its absence. It is probably true that most scientists would assign a very high probability that human-induced change is already strongly present in the climate system, while at the same time agreeing that clear-cut proof is not now available and may not be available for a long-time to come, if ever. Public policy has to be made on the basis of probabilities, not firm proof.

  47. 97

    Professor Wunsch’s letter does not square with what he was clearly told in writing earlier by the producers at Wag TV, the producers of “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” as is evident from the following email letter sent to him originally. Needless to say, he makes no mention of this letter nor of its contents.

    From: Jo Locke
    Sent: 19 September 2006 16:22
    To: Carl Wunsch
    Cc: Eliya Arman
    Subject: Climate Change Documentary

    Dear Professor Wunsch,

    Many thanks for taking the time to talk to me this morning. I found it
    really useful and now have the issues much clearer in my mind.

    I wanted to email you to outline the approach we will be taking with our
    film to clarify our position. We are making a feature length documentary
    about global warming for Channel Four in the UK. The aim of the film is
    to examine critically the notion that recent global warming is primarily
    caused by industrial emissions of CO2. It explores the scientific
    evidence which jars with this hypothesis and explores alternative
    theories such as solar induced climate change. Given the seemingly
    inconclusive nature of the evidence, it examines the background to the
    apparent consensus on this issue, and highlights the dangers involved,
    especially to developing nations, of policies aimed at limiting
    industrial growth.

    We would like to do an interview with you to discuss the notion that
    there is a scientific consensus on the effects of global warming on the
    Great Ocean Conveyor Belt, the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift.
    It has been widely reported that Britain and Western Europe could soon
    be plunged into a mini ice age, and we would like to show that it is
    simply not true that they will shut down. We would like to talk to you
    about the numerical models and whether they give us a realistic
    perspective of the impact of climate change on the oceans. We would also
    like to talk to you about the ‘memory’ of oceans, and how it can take
    varying amounts of time for a disturbance to be readable in the North
    Atlantic. Fundamentally, we would like to ask you whether scientists
    have enough information about the complex nature of our climate system.
    Do the records go back far enough to identify climate trends, and can we
    conclusively separate human induced change from natural change?

    Our filming schedule is still relatively fluid at the moment, but we
    hope to be in Boston around the second week of November. Please don’t
    hesitate to contact me or my producer, Eliya Arman, if you have any
    further questions, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Yours sincerely,

    Jo Locke
    Assistant Producer
    2d Leroy House
    436 Essex Road
    London N1 3QP
    t 020 7688 5191 f 020 7688 1702

  48. 98
    Dr_Cruel says:

    I’m not convinced that CO2 emissions are warming the planet, so consider me in the “deniers” camp. But I must admit also to being compelled by Dr. Wunsch’s scholarship. His testimony on the Channel 4 show was against sloppy science and rhetorical flourish, as opposed to hard science and simple objective truth, and he seems just as keen to skewer those who employ the former over the latter regardless of where they fall on the debate.

    My mind is not yet entirely made up on the issue, and I must say as a layman I’m very skeptical of environmentalists since the 80’s, but I’ll be watching carefully what Dr. Wunsch has to say on teh issue from now on, and give greater weight to his conclusions. And shame on the show’s producers for taking his comments out of context.

  49. 99
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #98: Dr_Cruel — I suggest you read

    W.F. Ruddiman
    Earth’s Climate: Past and Future
    W.H. Freeman & Co., 2002(?)

  50. 100
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 97, David Theroux, claiming Dr. Wunsch “makes no mention of the letter or its contents”

    You’re flat wrong. You mislead people.

    — didn’t you read what he wrote? —

    In the opening post of this thread, he refers to (and a link is provided to) his letter, where he wrote and quoted:

    “… I am the one who was swindled—please read the email below
    that was sent to me (and re-sent by you). Based upon this email
    and subsequent telephone conversations, and discussions with
    the Director, Martin Durkin, I thought I was being asked
    to appear in a film that would discuss in a balanced way ….”

    —— You can look this stuff up ——-