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Swindled!

By William and Gavin

On Thursday March 8th, the UK TV Channel 4 aired a programme titled “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. We were hoping for important revelations and final proof that we have all been hornswoggled by the climate Illuminati, but it just repeated the usual specious claims we hear all the time. We feel swindled. Indeed we are not the only ones: Carl Wunsch (who was a surprise addition to the cast) was apparently misled into thinking this was going to be a balanced look at the issues (the producers have a history of doing this), but who found himself put into a very different context indeed [Update: a full letter from Wunsch appears as comment 109 on this post]

So what did they have to say for themselves?

CO2 doesn’t match the temperature record over the 20th C. True but not relevant, because it isn’t supposed to. The programme spent a long time agonising over what they presented as a sharp temperature fall for 4 decades from 1940 to 1980 (incidentally their graph looks rather odd and may have been carefully selected; on a more usual (and sourced!) plot the “4 decades of cooling” is rather less evident). They presented this as a major flaw in the theory, which is deeply deceptive, because as they and their interviewees must know, the 40-70 cooling type period is readily explained, in that the GCMs are quite happy to reproduce it, as largely caused by sulphate aerosols. See this for a wiki-pic, for example; or (all together now) the IPCC TAR SPM fig 4; or more up-to-date AR4 fig 4. So… they are lying to us by omission.

The troposphere should warm faster than the sfc, say the models and basic theory. As indeed it does – unless you’re wedded to the multiply-corrected Spencer+Christy version of the MSU series. Christy (naturally enough) features in this section, though he seems to have forgotten the US CCSP report, and the executive summary which he authored says Previously reported discrepancies between the amount of warming near the surface and higher in the atmosphere have been used to challenge the reliability of climate models and the reality of human induced global warming. Specifically, surface data showed substantial global-average warming, while early versions of satellite and radiosonde data showed little or no warming above the surface. This significant discrepancy no longer exists because errors in the satellite and radiosonde data have been identified and corrected. New data sets have also been developed that do not show such discrepancies. See-also previous RC posts.

Temperature leads CO2 by 800 years in the ice cores. Not quite as true as they said, but basically correct; however they misinterpret it. The way they said this you would have thought that T and CO2 are anti-correlated; but if you overlay the full 400/800 kyr of ice core record, you can’t even see the lag because its so small. The correct interpretation of this is well known: that there is a T-CO2 feedback: see RC again for more.

All the previous parts of the programme were leading up to “so if it isn’t CO2, what is it?” to which their answer is “solar”. The section was curiously weak, and largely lead by pictures of people on beaches. It was somewhat surprising that they didn’t feature Svensmark at all; other stuff we’ve commented on before. Note that the graph they used as “proof” of the excellent solar-T connection turns out to have some problems: see figure 1c of Damon and Laut.

Along the way the programme ticked off most of the other obligatory skeptic talking points: even down to Medieval English vineyards and that old favourite, volcanoes emitting more CO2 than humans.

It ended with politics, with a segment blaming the lack of African development on the environmental movement. We don’t want to get into the politics, but should point out what the programme didn’t: that Kyoto exempts developing nations.

[Also: other discussion at InTheGreen, Stoat, The Guardian and
Media lens.]
[Update: What Martin Durkin really thinks!]
[Update for our german readers: A german version of the "swindle" film was shown on June 11 on German TV (RTL); here is a german commentary by stefan.]


558 Responses to “Swindled!”

  1. 451
    Robin Levett says:

    Leo #449:

    Can we not expect them to learn from experience? this isn’t the first time they’ve got burned by Durkin.

    The problem is that they are still defending Durkin – Hamish Mykura wrote to the Independent defending it as a “polemical film which contributed to the climate change debate”; and went on to defend the use of the fraudulent 20th century temperature graph.

    They should stop being “half-knowledgeable media types” and actually learn a little about the subject upon which they are commissioning films so that they can actually judge whether they actually contribute anything. It’s not as if there are no resources out there available to the lay reader.

    They should also learn that “polemical” isn’t supposed to mean “dishonest”.

  2. 452
    Hank Roberts says:

    Leo — you police the difference. When you see people referring to that program or hosting copies of it, after you’ve understood the problems with it, point them out. You have to make up your own mind and you can read the science and decide who is giving you honest answers regardless of their politics.

    Remember — “Just because you’re on their side, doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” People lie to get political support. Read the science instead of the rhetoric and be willing to say ‘ouch’ when it conflicts with what you wish the world were like.

    Nature isn’t fooling.

  3. 453
    Leo says:

    Actually, I imagine C4 are rather pleased with this film. Viewing figures for the first transmission matched the drama on ITV1. But I bet they’re kicking themselves they didn’t cram it full of 4×4 ads.

    They should stop being “half-knowledgeable media types” and actually learn a little about the subject upon which they are commissioning films so that they can actually judge whether they actually contribute anything. It’s not as if there are no resources out there available to the lay reader.

    Perhaps they should, but they’re not going to are they? So we need some other way to deal with it.

  4. 454
    Mike Donald says:

    #445 to #452

    Gents,
    Sorry for messing up the link stream. My original comment wrongly implied that C4 had received taxpayer’s money so I asked RealClimate to delete it which they kindly did. But in today’s Guardian

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2039587,00.html

    Quote

    Channel 4 is awaiting the results of a financial review by Ofcom, in which it has been lobbying for a public subsidy of £100m to fund its digital ambitions.

    Unquote

    After such vile misrepresentations in the programme I don’t want to give C4 money. If people want to believe in flat earths, 9-11 conspiracies etc that’s harmless to me but GW tripe is different. We’re all on the same planet (at least physically) and these programmes help delay effective action so it impacts on you, me, all of us. And the poorest in the world are already being hurt. So I want to get back at them.

    Aim straight for their wallet, do not pass Go, do not collect £200. Now what’s your MP’s address?

    Regards

    Mike

  5. 455
    Mike Donald says:

    Chaps,

    And reading the Guardian article further we find the following

    Quote
    But Channel 4 is not a privatised broadcaster. – yet. It’s more important than that. It is owned and operated by the Channel 4 Television Corporation, whose board is appointed by Ofcom in agreement with the culture secretary.
    Unquote

    And the culture secretary is Tessa Jowell who represents the safe Labour seat of Dulwich and West Norwood. Place your bets on the financial overruns to Channel 4!

    Regards

    Mike

  6. 456
    Jim says:

    Almost exactly 29 minutes into the documentary, a graph is shown of sunspot activity and temperature. Curiously, the curves don’t end at the same point. The solar activity curve ends around 1978, and the temperature curve continues until approximately 1985. I believe that they deliberately truncated the data right at the point that it would have diverged. What’s worse is that this happens to be the most recent 20+ years’ worth of data, which is the best example of a warming anomaly. This appears to me to be an egregious error (lie) of omission. This is, in my mind, their worst failure. It represents their central counter-argument, and it’s based upon altered/truncated data.

  7. 457
    Leo says:

    Let’s keep this in perspective.

    This film has been widely criticised. It is full of holes, has been easily knocked down as insubstantial. It has failed to change the now orthodox view that AGW is a real threat.

    Whether you believe any of its contents or not, it is definitively NOT making governments lessen their plans for reducing CO2 emmissions. That much is pretty clear.

    Nobody (not even Durkin) ever suggested it’s the last word on the subject. And importantly nor is the current consensus.

    Debate about the detail of GW theory will and should continue. Clearly nobody can claim to fully understand all the processes involved. But still, Mankind is acting on the best information we have.

    As science continues to hone theory about what is happening to this planet we will adjust our behaviour to match. Mankind has proved to be very good at preserving its interests, I see no reason to doubt that will continue.

    Whatever we think of this film, it’s a small part of a much bigger picture. A vanishingly small percentage of the world’s population have even heard of it. Don’t let’s give it more credit than that.

  8. 458
    P. Lewis says:

    MI: V synopsis. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to Mike’s Times link (noted above) and to convince one of the more rabid of the Durkin believers to see the error of their ways.

    Good luck!

    This message will self-destruct, in time.

    Never underestimate the power of the televisual medium … advertisers don’t, for a reason: witness, for example, the success of the general pseudoscience in attracting about half the population to the unrequired and generally ineffective creams and lotions.

  9. 459
    Leo says:

    …Although I can’t help being slightly alarmed by the fact that:

    Gore makes a film with some holes in that says “we’re doing the right thing by being worried” and gets an oscar.

    Durkin makes a film with some holes in that says “we’re not doing the right thing by being worried” and gets lynched.

    The fuss about TGGWS isn’t really about science is it?

    [Response: Gore did not fake any images, quote people out of context or generally say anything that the mainstream scientific community was not already saying. There is no equivalence. -gavin]

  10. 460
    Ken Winters says:

    Re: 459 Gore’s movie was most certainly attacked. It was attacked in OpEd pieces, anti-AGW web-sites, Blogs, Talk radio, and even by members of the US Senate. His weight was criticized, his motives were questioned, etc., etc. The difference is that in this case, the scientific mistakes (intentional or otherwise) of Durkin’s movie are far too significant to ignore. If the truth is important, and it is, then Durkin’s movie needs to be taken to task for it’s numerous errors and misleadings.

  11. 461
    P. Lewis says:

    The fuss about TGGWS isn’t really about science is it?

    In so far as it’s about the misrepresentation of science, for what seems like the gazillionth time on this thread alone, it is precisely about science.

    Scientists care (or should) about how their science is used and abused.

  12. 462
    Leo says:

    Gavin,

    I understand that Durkin is flying in the face of the weight of scientific opinion. I understand also that his arguments don’t stand up. What I don’t understand is the vitriol that has been directed at him. It disturbs me.
    He’s said some things that are perhaps misguided, perhaps deliberately contentious. Regard him as a clown or a random nutter if you will. But to set him up as some kind of evil mastermind is taking things a bit far – and quite likely to turn him into a hero for the real nutcases.

  13. 463
    Leo says:

    for what seems like the gazillionth time on this thread alone, it is precisely about science.

    Of course discussion in this thread is mostly about the science. I meant the main media furore/ blogfests which are linked to above.

  14. 464
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #462 “I understand that Durkin is flying in the face of the weight of scientific opinion. I understand also that his arguments don’t stand up. What I don’t understand is the vitriol that has been directed at him. It disturbs me.”
    There are at least three reasons for it:
    1) Durkin, explicitly in the title of his programme, is claiming that the vast majority of climate scientists are liars and frauds.
    2) As has been amply demonstrated here and elsewhere, he used deliberately distorted and misleading material – it’s not a question of honest mistakes.
    3) This is an extremely serious and urgent issue – it’s about people’s lives and the beauty and diversity of the natural world. Telling lies in order to convince people there’s no need to act is wicked. Compare with the “vitriol” directed (quite justifiably in my opinion) at those claiming HIV does not cause AIDS, or that vitamin supplements are better treatment for AIDS than ARVs.

  15. 465

    [[I understand that Durkin is flying in the face of the weight of scientific opinion. I understand also that his arguments don't stand up. What I don't understand is the vitriol that has been directed at him. It disturbs me.
    He's said some things that are perhaps misguided, perhaps deliberately contentious. ]]

    You seem to have missed the point that Durkin didn’t just show a controversial point of view. He lied about it. He distorted data. He altered charts. He quoted people out of context. That’s why people are enraged at him. There’s nothing morally wrong in being an AGW skeptic. But Durkin’s documentary was dishonest.

  16. 466
    Mike Donald says:

    #464
    Very well put Nick.

    I’ve been attempting to become a member of C4 Forums basically to spread the word on RealClimate.org. After all we’re mainly talking to the converted here.

    http://community.channel4.com

    Regards all

    Mike

  17. 467
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 462, 463, 464, etc.
    A dishonest man has always been villified, and Durkin has shown himself beyond all doubt to be dishonest. He has also thrown down the gauntlet to the scientific community–calling them “swindlers”. He distorted peoples’ positions. He distorted the science. Calling him a lying sack of organic matter is probably charitable.
    If the nutcases choose to glorify him, well it is their prerogative to glorify one of their own. I don’t think we can care what the nutjobs think. All we can do is try to expose them, isolate them and marginalize them. We do this by sticking to the high road in terms of our adherence to truth, but I don’t think it is reasonable to ignore a frontal assault on the integrity of science.

  18. 468
    Leo says:

    #464, Nick

    OK, let’s be clear about this. It’s all political.

    The title of the programme is a piece of transparent posturing. I don’t believe that anyone tuning in could seriously believe this was going to be a thorough, evenly-weighted discussion of the facts. It is clearly an anti-establishment 2-fingered salute. It as good as says ‘this a political message’.

    Television is not science. Ever.

    Exactly how wrong Durkin is, and whether that wrongness is accidental or deliberate is in my view irrelevant. Being wrong is not a crime. Ideas are not crimes, although actions based on them may be. Durkin is not unilaterally changing policy on carbon emissions. He is not denying antiretrovirals to anyone.

    I would rather be uncomfortably warm for the rest of my short life than live in a world where people are afraid to be wrong. If we’re not wrong some of the time, we’re not trying hard enough. If we don’t allow people to be deliberately wrong some of the time, we’ll also deny others the chance to be right.

  19. 469
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #468 “If we don’t allow people to be deliberately wrong some of the time, we’ll also deny others the chance to be right.”

    OK Leo, let’s be clear about this: “being deliberately wrong” is a euphemism for lying. You are supporting Durkin’s right to lie. I never said this is or ought to be a crime; I said that with regard to this issue, as with regard to the closely parallel case of AIDS denialism, it is wicked. Many things which are wicked are not and ought not to be crimes.

    It’s not about whether you personally are going to be “uncomfortably warm”. It’s about the potential for millions of premature human deaths, and mass species extinctions.

    The claim I have quoted from you above is absurd: it simply does not follow that if we object to lies, this will obstruct the search for truth.

  20. 470

    [[Being wrong is not a crime. Ideas are not crimes, although actions based on them may be. Durkin is not unilaterally changing policy on carbon emissions. He is not denying antiretrovirals to anyone.

    I would rather be uncomfortably warm for the rest of my short life than live in a world where people are afraid to be wrong. If we're not wrong some of the time, we're not trying hard enough. If we don't allow people to be deliberately wrong some of the time, we'll also deny others the chance to be right. ]]

    You seem to be missing the fundamental distinction between “being wrong” and “lying.” Until you get that sorted out, you won’t understand why people are mad at Durkin.

  21. 471
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #469: Nick Gotts — Billions

  22. 472
    Julian Flood says:

    [[ why can't we assume that it hasn't been kick-started by solar radiation or some other 'forcing agent' just as it has in the past?]]

    [Because we've measured the isotope ratios and know that the new CO2 in the air is almost all from burning fossil fuels.]

    I can think of three processees which would alter the isotope ratios of atmospheric carbon. Four if you count burning fossil fuel. ‘Because we can think of no other reason’ is not good enough in a vital subject like this.

    We ‘know’ that the excess carbon in the atmosphere is anthropogenic: is there any paper on the web which explains this certainty? I’ve searched myself, but what little I’ve found so far has been unconvincing.

    Thanks in advance.

    JF

    [Response: This is as 'known' as anything in earth science. 13C ratios, 14C ratios, O2 measurements, known emissions, carbon uptake by terrestrial biosphere and ocean are all consistent with this and no other explanation. This is a slightly out of date description http://www.radix.net/~bobg/faqs/scq.CO2rise.html (but it's still valid) and this is good too: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/ Actually, this is a good test. If the data on this are unconvincing to you, then there is nothing that you will ever be convinced of. -gavin]

  23. 473
    Hank Roberts says:

    Nominating the above response by Gavin as a FAQ worth linking high and wide.

  24. 474
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. 454, Mike Donald – write to Ofcom. There’s a model letter to Ofcom here (where it says “Dear Ofcom”).

  25. 475
    Peter Geldard says:

    As a total layman here, I watched the programme and then decided to look into the claims myself. Well – I guess I am a pretty average bloke and a living part of the “great unwashed” as us non academics have been referred to. To me the arguments put forward have some validity but probably not as much as the arguments that the current trend of temperature rising is caused by man. However, those in the know in this are really not helping themselves. There is simply too many unknowns to make statements which contain the amont of uncertainties of the IPCC reports. Where this leads to is “the end of the world is nigh” journalism and to be quite frank, the general public are sick to death of CO2 CO2 and more CO2. Our government policy makers view global warming as a cash cow to milk more taxes, we see local authorities wasting tax payers money employing a graduate on £50,000 as an “global warming environment officer” etc etc. In short the general public are quite frankly sick to death of having this whole thing rammed down our throats. There is also a lack of good quality information for people without a science degree and that is where this programme scored points – it was easy for a layman to understand – which is something the science community have failed to do. From my understanding water vapour is a bigger greenhouse gas than CO2 – should we reduce that also !!!!! To finish I certainly think that man is not helping the planet with our over reliance on fossil fuels, but lets not blame the worlds ills on CO2 For a layman it is hard to understand how a part of our atmosphere that is 0.03 -0.06 % is causing so many problems. I certainly believe that part of the warming we see is natural but probably being helped somewhat by mankind.

    [Response: Water is a feedback not a forcing, Calculating the greenhouse effect etc... The answers are out there... - gavin]

  26. 476
    Leo says:

    #468.469.470.

    deliberately wrong

    uncomfortably warm

    I take those words back.

    From everything I have read, I don’t actually believe Durkin is lying. I think he believes what he says.

    I don’t think he’s right, but I think his conviction is genuine.

    That is why I defend his right to voice the opinion of a significant minority, however misguided I may think they are. Just as I would defend the right of stalinists, fascists, anarchists, scientologists, jihadis and teenagers to voice their opinions.

    Science works by consensus, not coercion. The consensus has not been changed by this film. Is that not enough?

    (‘Uncomfortably warm’ was facetious and deserved the contempt it received.)

  27. 477
    Isaac Held says:

    Re #475:

    Dear Peter,

    We appreciate your desire to understand this problem more clearly. Let me address one specific point that you raise.

    You find it remarkable that CO2 is such a powerful warming agent and yet is such a small fraction of the atmosphere. You are not alone in finding this strange, and you are right to focus on this question at the start. Humanity is changing the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere too (we can even measure these changes) but these changes are tiny because there is so much oxygen. But we can and are changing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere profoundly. The main point to realize here is that most of the atmosphere — the nitrogen and oxygen molecules and the argon atom — do not interact significantly with radiation at all. After these three, water vapor and carbon dioxide are the next in line. If you can accept this fact (which has been very well established for over a century), then it might be less strange to you that carbon dioxide and water vapor are the big players in setting the temperature of the Earth.

    The reason why water vapor changes are thought of as a consequence of CO2 changes, and not a separate forcing agent, in discussions of climate change is a bit more involved. But first things first, and before tackling this issue, you first have to convince yourself that gases that make up a small fraction of the atmosphere can be the dominant greenhouse gases.

  28. 478
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. 475

    Hi Peter

    As a total layman here, I watched the programme and then decided to look into the claims myself.

    From what you’ve written subsequently you seem to have been looking at disinformation sites with a policy agenda rather than scientific articles that egenuinely attempt to explain the science of climate in an honest way. If the articles on realclimate are too technical, try the ones on Wikipedia. Start here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change

    Our government policy makers view global warming as a cash cow to milk more taxes

    The following scientific bodies are all calling for much stronger action to reduce emissions than any government has considered so far:

    Academia Brasiliera de Ciências (Brazil)
    Royal Society of Canada
    Chinese Academy of Sciences
    Academié des Sciences (France)
    Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (Germany)
    Indian National Science Academy
    Accademia dei Lincei (Italy)
    Science Council of Japan
    Russian Academy of Sciences
    Royal Society (United Kingdom)
    National Academy of Sciences (United States of America)
    Australian Academy of Sciences
    Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts
    Caribbean Academy of Sciences
    Indonesian Academy of Sciences
    Royal Irish Academy
    Academy of Sciences Malaysia
    Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand
    Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
    NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS)
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
    National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
    State of the Canadian Cryosphere (SOCC)
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    Royal Society of the United Kingdom (RS)
    American Geophysical Union (AGU)
    American Institute of Physics (AIP)
    National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
    American Meteorological Society (AMS)
    Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS)

    See here and here and here.

    Surely you don’t think these scientific bodies all want to milk you for your taxes?

    The CEOs of almost all of the Fortune 500 and Times Top 100 business are also calling for much stronger action to reduce emissions than any government has considered so far:
    : E.g. see here..

    Surely you don’t think the CEOs of almost every major corporation wants to milk you for your taxes?

    There is also a lack of good quality information for people without a science degree

    You’ve just looked in the wrong places. Try Wikipedia if you find this site too technical.

    and that is where this programme scored points

    Scoring points by lying is fraud.

    water vapour is a bigger greenhouse gas than CO2 – should we reduce that also !!!!!

    Water vapour levels can’t change unless the temperature changes. If you add a whole load of extra water vapour to the atmosphere it condenses again almost immediately. Climate change is caused by changes in the factors that influence the climate. Gavin’s link explains it in more detail. As does Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_feedback

    but lets not blame the worlds ills on CO2

    No climate scientist is blaming all of the world’s ills on CO2. What they are saying based on overwhelming evidence, is that if we don’t reduce emissions drastically and soon, there will be serious consequences.

    I certainly believe that part of the warming we see is natural but probably being helped somewhat by mankind.

    Most of the warming during the past 40 years is due to greenhouse gas emissions. Please read the linked articles before posting back.

  29. 479
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. 476

    Making up data isn’t voicing an opinion. If making up data isn’t lying in your book then we must be using different dictionaries. And Durkin has form.

  30. 480
    James says:

    Re #472: [We 'know' that the excess carbon in the atmosphere is anthropogenic: is there any paper on the web which explains this certainty?]

    There is an answer which is a lot simpler than isotope ratios and such, and to my mind a lot more convincing. There are various economic references where you can look up the amount of coal, oil, and natural gas that was mined/pumped every year back to the 19th century. From simple chemistry, you can figure out how much CO2 that produces, and a bit more simple math will tell you how that compares to the total CO2 in the atmosphere. Do the figures, and you will find a good match with the measured increase. (Actually the amount humans produce is rather larger, because some dissolves in the ocean.)

    So if you hope to invoke some non-human process to explain the measured CO2 increase, you not only have to tell us what it is, you have the problem of explaining what happened to all the CO2 that humans did produce. I would be very surprised indeed if you could come up with even a superficially-plausible explanation – at least one that doesn’t involve UFOs shipping it off to their home planet :-)

  31. 481
    Robert says:

    476: Umm, Leo, Politics works by concensus, not science.

    Science works by logic and speculation; leading to hypothesis, experiment, and replication; leading to theory and logic.

    Concensus isn’t required, as Einstein said: “200 scientists think I’m wrong? It would only take 1 to prove it.”

    cheers,
    Robert

  32. 482
    Mark A. York says:

    “200 scientists think I’m wrong? It would only take 1 to prove it.”

    That’s Crichton’s line. So name one who has a peer reviewed article that refutes AGW? I mean it only takes one. Got Milk?

  33. 483
    Leo says:

    Robert #479

    Science works by logic and speculation; leading to hypothesis, experiment, and replication; leading to theory and logic.

    Concensus isn’t required, as Einstein said: “200 scientists think I’m wrong? It would only take 1 to prove it.”

    but if nobody accepts that proof as valid it’s meaningless. Durkin believes there is proof that global warming is mostly caused by the sun. The weight of opinion is against him.

    He will doubtless (and indeed should) continue looking for that proof until he either changes his mind or changes concensus.

    The proponents of AGW theory must continue looking for holes in it and shoring it up with further research – the doubters will continue to doubt models and feedback theories until more supporting evidence can be found in the real world.

    That is where the science lies. Not in gagging opponents – That’s politics.

  34. 484
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 479: Robert, any real scientist knows you are wrong. Science must operate by consensus, precisely because any one scientist, no matter how brilliant, can be wrong.
    Consider two episodes from the history of science:
    In the 1600s, before there was a real global scietific community, Isaac Newton dominated English science. As a result, the English were obliged to adopt both his inferior notation for the calculus and his corpuscular theory of light. Both mistakes cost English science dearly, setting it back decades in both mathematics and optics relative to the Continent.
    Now, let’s talk about your hero, Einstein: the 200 scientists who opposed Einstein’s relativity were not a scientific consensus, but a vocal minority. Einstein prevailed because the evidence convinced the majority of scientists he was correct. Yet Einstein opposed quantum theory all his life–to his dying day. Here, HE was opposed to the scientific consensus based on the evidence available, and he did not prevail. Had he prevailed, he would have held physics back. Both incidents represent the value of scientific consensus. You should learn what that really means.

  35. 485

    [[the general public are sick to death of CO2 CO2 and more CO2.]]

    I know just what you mean. During the Blitz, all we ever heard about was air raids, air raids, and more air raids. Like we didn’t have any other concerns.

  36. 486

    [[That is why I defend his right to voice the opinion of a significant minority, however misguided I may think they are. ]]

    Straw man argument. No one is saying he should be suppressed. We’re saying he should quit lying. If he wants to honestly argue against AGW, let him. It’s dishonestly arguing that we’re annoyed about.

  37. 487

    [[476: Umm, Leo, Politics works by concensus, not science.
    Science works by logic and speculation; leading to hypothesis, experiment, and replication; leading to theory and logic.
    Concensus isn't required, as Einstein said: "200 scientists think I'm wrong? It would only take 1 to prove it."]]

    Ideas make the scientific consensus because they’ve panned out. The scientific consensus is part of how science works nowadays, and it seems to be working fantastically well to anyone following it. What do you propose to replace it with?

  38. 488
    Julian Flood says:

    Re: 472 response. Thank you, that’s excellent. I’ll go away and think about it. Incidentally, I can think of reasons why isotopic signatures would change without invoking the burning of fossil fuel — it’s a bit of the argument I find unconvincing because of the ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ nature of the point.

    Thanks again.

    JF

  39. 489
    Hank Roberts says:

    >why isotopic signatures would change without invoking the burning of fossil fuel
    Many isotope signatures change over geologic time in many ways. Fossil carbon shows up in the PETM event for example.

    And you can imagine reasons like, if the sun had quit producing C14 in our atmosphere 200 years ago, that would explain the current excess of C12. But we’d have noticed a change like that for other reasons.

  40. 490
    Hank Roberts says:

    In other science news, plate tectonics turns out to be wrong, Wrong, WRONG …. well, no. This is how science works:
    http://scienceblogs.com/highlyallochthonous/2007/03/rebellious_mantle_refuses_to_t.php

  41. 491
    Leo says:

    #486 – BPL

    Straw man argument. No one is saying he should be suppressed. We’re saying he should quit lying.

    ǟ – Dave R

    As I said above, I don’t believe him to be lying. I believe he is genuine in his convictions.

    If you are going to call him a liar, you need proof that he is being disingenuous.

    There are comments above suggesting complaints to ofcom. This is surely about censure and future censorship. The fact that he ‘has form’ should be an indication that his work needs to be approached with care, nothing more. What journalist doesn’t colour their work with their own opinions? I think Durkin has consistently done this more openly than most.

    I still think he’s wrong. I still don’t think he’s evil or dangerous.

  42. 492
    Dave Rado says:

    If you are going to call him a liar, you need proof that he is being disingenuous.

    I could give hundreds of examples, but one is enough to prove the point – see
    here
    .

    What he has done more than most is not air opinions but distort facts.

  43. 493
    Dave Rado says:

    Also (re. #491), when I referred to Durkin’s “form” I was not referring to him colouring his work with his opinions. The Independent Television Commission (ITC, Ofcom’s predecessor) published the following ruling on Durkin’s “Against Nature” series of programmes:

    “Comparison of the unedited and edited interview transcripts confirmed that the editing of the interviews with these four contributors had indeed distorted or misrepresented their known views. It was also found that the production company had misled them, when it originally sought their involvement, as to the format, subject matter and purpose of the programmes. No mention had been made of the critical position the programmes intended to adopt, for example in correspondence.”

    With regard to the “distorting or misrepresentation” the ITC referred to, one of many such edits Durkin made was to edit out the word “not” in the following statement by one interviewee:

    “I do not believe that these problems are caused mainly by population growth.”

    So his form is for intentional distortion/misrepresentation of the truth. Opionions have nothing to do with it.

  44. 494
    Julian Flood says:

    Re 489:

    Sorry, what do you mean by fossil carbon? Do you mean high weight isotope depleted carbon? If so, one wonders whether a low isotope signature is some feature of warming events — does it show in other events that we know about, or is it just a feature of sudden spikes like the PETM and the current one?

    The science gets more fascinating the more we learn.

    Thanks!

    JF (still working through the first two references…)

  45. 495
    Leo says:

    Dave,

    #493

    My point is that those are comments made nearly a decade ago about a different programme. By all means be alarmed. By all means treat his current film with suspicion because of it. But you cannot use this as proof that he is lying now.

    #492

    This is speculation. It shows that there is an error, and attempts to explain the error. It does not prove the error was intentional.

    If you are to discredit Durkin’s portrayal of the science involved here (I presently believe this thread has already discredited the science – I’m not questioning that) you will have to be more rigorous than he has been. Not less.

  46. 496
    Dave Rado says:

    Leo, so if I take a graph and change parts of the data in it so that it appears to back up the point I want to make, that’s an error? I don’t understand your definition of “error”.

  47. 497
    Mike Donald says:

    #486 #491 #492
    Well lying is a state of mind so unless you can do a Vulcan mind probe on him you can’t be sure. But as the voiceover in TGGWS said
    Quote
    It is the story of the distortion of a whole area of science.
    Unquote. 3min50sec

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4520665474899458831

    Thanks Durkin. I couldn’t put it better myself!

    Cheers

    Freud

  48. 498

    I am interested by the satellite discrepancy of atmospheric temperature. The atmosphere over the entire longwave spectrum by a braodband calculation would give an identical emitting temperature. The Earth will always appear the same temperature from space. (1) Window regions of the spectrum will get hotter as the surface and atmosphere warm. (2) Greenhouse regions will become increasingly opaque as greenhouse gases increase shifting them upwards into the colder atmosphere. The net affect of (1) and (2) MUST be neutral, as the outgoing radiation will only be reduced if the planetary albedo increases (i.e. incoming shortwave flux is reduced). If this is not true then the Earth would be ‘out of balance’. Even a 0.1K discrepany would result in an Earth-Atmosphere system warming or cooling at a significant rate. The longwave spectrum must have undergone a broadening. Shortwave absorbed by the atmosphere and Earth’s surface must equate to the outgoing radiation at the top of the atmosphere precisely.
    Temperature retrieval of the upper atmosphere depends on the chemical profile. A Fixed pressure output, may produce discrepances due to the height of the atmosphere increasing by to order of 40 metres for a 1′C surface temperature rise. This may sound small, but calculations at a constant pressure level would reduce the temperature in the upper atmosphere by as much as 0.45K, as the lapse rate at the tropopause is near dry rate (-g/cp) = -9.81K/km. One must note that the tropical 100hPa level is far colder than the polar or midlatitude 100hPa temperature. Then we have the retrieval theory dilema where an initial input requirement is a temperature a-priori (or guess), in order to give a reliable temperature profile.
    Any of the above factors could have potentially caused a error in the satellite temperature retrieval.
    It is true that upper tropospheric temperatures should be increasing at a rate greater than that of the surface. If the atmosphere was saturated then the rate of warming would be 40% greater by a simple calculation using thermodynamics and a fixed relative humidity. This is due to process known as separation of saturated adiabats. If however, the upper troposphere underwent a drying this affect would be reduced, by dynmical changes. The distrubution of water vapour in the vertical is an essential component to the vertical temperature profile.

  49. 499
    Leo says:

    Leo, so if I take a graph and change parts of the data in it so that it appears to back up the point I want to make, that’s an error? I don’t understand your definition of “error”.

    If he deliberately and knowingly manipulated the data to make it fit his argument when in reality it did not, then yes he is lying.

    But I don’t think we can say for certain that that is what happened.

  50. 500
    Hank Roberts says:

    Climate change is wiggly, Leo.

    Durkin said he presented smoothed data — losing the wiggles in the real data.
    “‘The original NASA data was very wiggly-lined and we wanted the simplest line we could find,’ Mr Durkin said.”
    When people look at the real data, seeing the wiggles, they can tell that he was wrong.

    And you say “Oops, no foul?”


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