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.]

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558 comments on this post.
  1. Sonny Khan:

    For those of you who want to complain to Ofcom about it here is a model complaint I found on http://portal.campaigncc.org/node/1820 :

    Model complaint to Ofcom and Channel 4
    Submitted by jimroland on 9 March, 2007 – 20:20
    The following complaint has been profferred as a model for anyone else who wishes to complain.

    It was drafted by someone who used to work for the Advertising Standards Authority and the ITV internal regulator.

    Feel free to use it in your responses to Ofcom and Channel 4, and forward it to anyone else who was outraged that Channel 4 aired the programme with no caveats. A copy of the Broadcasting Code items apparently breached appears at the foot.

    (I’ll be adding that it appears Channel 4 profited handsomely by broadcasting this with a bumper crop of advertisers, in spite of the apparent breaches, so I hope Ofcom will fine them for more than this profit.)

    You can complain via:

    Ofcom: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/complain/progs/specific/

    Channel 4: >http://help.channel4.com/SRVS/…

    Dear Ofcom

    I am making a formal complaint about the Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle.

    This programme is grossly irresponsible in misleading Channel 4’s viewers about the impact of climate change and the need for action. In doing so I believe it breached the Broadcasting Code clauses: 5.5, 5.6, 5.7, 5.8, 5.9, 5.10, 5.11 and 5.12.

    The programme maker and all the sources used are well known for their lobbying against climate science. Indeed the presenter Michael Durkin has a previous ruling against him for a similar breech of the Code with Channel 4’s ‘Against Nature’. It is clear therefore that this team requires stricter regulation and I urge you to require pre-clearance for any further programming from this source.

    Here are the specifics of my complaint:

    Breach of clause 5.5: Man made climate change is clearly a matter of industrial, political and public policy controversy. The Great Global Warming Swindle failed to show due impartiality towards the science of climate change and failed to represent opposing views.

    Breach of clause 5.6: Channel 4 made no indication of The Great Global Warming Swindle being part of a linked series of programmes and it is not part of any series that a viewer can identify.

    Breach of clause 5.7: The Great Global Warming Swindle repeatedly expressed views as if they were facts.

    Breach of clause 5.8: The professional and career track record of Michael Durkin where at no point explained to viewers nor was he introduced nor did Channel 4 add a caveat at the end of the programme.

    Breach of clause 5.9: The programme comprised personal views (presented in the guise of facts) and no balancing views were included.

    Breach of clause 5.10: The personal views in The Great Global Warming Swindle were not signalled as such.

    Breach of clause 5.11: Climate change is clearly a matter “of national, and international, importance” and Channel 4 should be heavily censured for failing to apply the Code in this context.

    Breach of clause 5.12: As for 5.11, given the gravity of the issue Channel 4 is seriously failing in its duty by not complying with your ruling that a “wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes. Views and facts must not be misrepresented.”

    I am not a person who leaps to censorship or to stifle genuine scientific debate. But this programme falls far short of that, being merely the last gasp of lobbying by the US petroleum industry. Channel 4 has a track record of breaching Ofcom Codes and I urge you to exact the most severe punishment available to you for what I can without exaggeration call ‘a crime against humanity’.

    Yours sincerely


    Relevant Broadcasting Code clauses:

    The preservation of due impartiality

    (Rules 5.5 to 5.12 apply to television programme services, teletext services, national radio and national digital sound programme services.)

    5.5 Due impartiality on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy must be preserved on the part of any person providing a service (listed above). This may be achieved within a programme or over a series of programmes taken as a whole.

    Meaning of “series of programmes taken as a whole”:

    This means more than one programme in the same service, editorially linked, dealing with the same or related issues within an appropriate period and aimed at a like audience. A series can include, for example, a strand, or two programmes (such as a drama and a debate about the drama) or a ‘cluster’ or ‘season’ of programmes on the same subject.

    5.6 The broadcast of editorially linked programmes dealing with the same subject matter (as part of a “series” in which the broadcaster aims to achieve due impartiality) should normally be made clear to the audience on air.

    5.7 Views and facts must not be misrepresented. Views must also be presented with due weight over appropriate timeframes.

    5.8 Any personal interest of a reporter or presenter, which would call into question the due impartiality of the programme, must be made clear to the audience.

    5.9 Presenters and reporters (with the exception of news presenters and reporters in news programmes), presenters of “personal view” or “authored” programmes or items, and chairs of discussion programmes may express their own views on matters of political or industrial controversy or matters relating to current public policy. However alternative viewpoints must be adequately represented either in the programme, or in a series of programmes taken as a whole. Additionally, presenters must not use the advantage of regular appearances to promote their views in a way that compromises the requirement for due impartiality. Presenter phone-ins must encourage and must not exclude alternative views.

    5.10 A personal view or authored programme or item must be clearly signalled to the audience at the outset. This is a minimum requirement and may not be sufficient in all circumstances. (Personality phone-in hosts on radio are exempted from this provision unless their personal view status is unclear.)

    Meaning of “personal view” and “authored”:

    “Personal view” programmes are programmes presenting a particular view or perspective. Personal view programmes can range from the outright expression of highly partial views, for example by a person who is a member of a lobby group and is campaigning on the subject, to the considered “authored” opinion of a journalist, commentator or academic, with professional expertise or a specialism in an area which enables her or him to express opinions which are not necessarily mainstream.

    Matters of major political or industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy

    5.11 In addition to the rules above, due impartiality must be preserved on matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy by the person providing a service (listed above) in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes.

    Meaning of “matters of major political or industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy”:

    These will vary according to events but are generally matters of political or industrial controversy or matters of current public policy which are of national, and often international, importance, or are of similar significance within a smaller broadcast area.

    5.12 In dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes. Views and facts must not be misrepresented.

    The prevention of undue prominence of views and opinions on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy

    (Rule 5.13 applies to local radio services (including community radio services), local digital sound programme services (including community digital sound programme services) and radio licensable content services.)

    5.13 Broadcasters should not give undue prominence to the views and opinions of particular persons or bodies on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy in all the programmes included in any service (listed above) taken as a whole.

    Meaning of “undue prominence of views and opinions”:

    Undue prominence is a significant imbalance of views aired within coverage of matters of political or industrial controversy or matters relating to current public policy.

    Meaning of “programmes included in any serviceâ�¦taken as a whole”:

    Programmes included in any service taken as a whole, means all programming on a service dealing with the same or related issues within an appropriate period.

  2. P. Lewis:

    Re #46, Comment by Steve Reynolds

    On the front page of the IPCC’s 4th SPM, prominently displayed, since 5 Feb, have been the words

    Text, tables and figures given here are final but subject to copy-editing.
    Corrections made as of February 5th, 2007

    Hands up! How many of you have read page 1? In fact, IIRC, the initial release had pretty much the same text about being subject to copy-editing, but with the issue date of 2 Feb.

    Given such warnings on the front of that document, one should expect there to be typographical and transcription errors, particularly considering the amount of redrafting the final agreed text had to go through to meet the requirements of all interested parties by the self-imposed press deadline. There are over 50 drafting and draft contributing authors listed on the cover of the 4th SPM, each, no doubt, having editorial input and with varying degrees, also no doubt, in English language abilities. Added to that will undoubtedly be the slew of subeditors making their contributions. Errors are to be expected.

    The 4th SPM is not peer-reviewed work; it is a distillation of published peer-reviewed work these last 4 years or so that will make up AR4. For anyone even to try to seek to compare the IPCC’s 4th SPM transcription/copy-editing errors with possible (and definite) errors in method in peer-reviewed publications (and I’m not saying you are) is ludicrous. Of course, if there are errors perpetuated from the original peer-reviewed work from which AR4 will be drawn and from which this 4th SPM was put together, then it is for the authors of those studies to issue errata, corrigenda, retractions, etc., in the journals in which their work was originally published. That would be a matter for them, not the IPCC. The IPCC would then, no doubt, respond.

    As I said in #29

    Errors are a fact of life: confess/retract/amend and move on; don’t retreat and hope people forget and then use your results as scientific fact.

    So, yes (at least in my mind), the IPCC have been about as upfront as possible with regard to acknowledging copy-editing errors in their document for policymakers. I can’t think of anything more prominent than putting that disclaimer and the date of amendment on the front page of the report.

    But all this is to divert attention from that scandalous piece of TV on C4.

  3. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    RE “Temperature leads CO2 by 800 years in the ice cores,” I don’t think they are claiming no correlation, but rather that if A causes B, then B cannot cause A. That’s very faulty logic.

    I use this example in class: Which causes which — re education and income? And students answer that better education leads in general to higher income. Then I pose this situation: What if parents have higher incomes, won’t their children be able to get better educations, in general?

    As for GHGs following temperature rises, that is just what I’ve been bleeping about many times: surely we are headed for a spiralling out of human control situation, if we do not reduce drastically. The initial warming, caused by our GHGs, could trigger nature to emit GHGs, causing further warming, causing further emissions, causing further warming. This is indeed a much more serious situation that simply GHGs causing warming (and no positive feedbacks involving GHGs) — which implies that we can more leisurely consider whether or not to reduce, and just how little to reduce, and, afterall, it’s sorta nice not to have to shovel snow.

    We are on a runaway train, shovelling coal as fast as we can, headed for a big cliff. There will be a point, beyond which even if we reduce our GHG emissions to zero, the train will not be able to stop in time and it’s over the cliff for many of us & much of earth’s biota.

  4. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    And they’re talking about being swindled out of what? Couldn’t be money, because measures to reduce GHGs save money. Couldn’t be freedom, because once you’re off the grid, you’re a lot freer than the matrix guys plugged into the grid. So what are we swindled out of???

    But just for the sake of argument, supposing we do have to pony up some money at some point, after we’ve reduce our GHGs by 3/4ths and technology has not come up with any more new conservation/efficiency or alternature measures. What’s a few bucks, compared to losing lives — that’s the cost of not mitigating AGW, when it is indeed happening.

  5. Max Anacker:

    The arrogance of thinking that puny man is changing global climate is only exceeded by the stupidity of believing we can – and must – urgently do something to stop it. Colin is right (comment #47). We need impartial reports by scientists not scare stories. Unfortunately impartial reports don’t sell as well as scare stories, and don’t produce funding for more research (and more scare stories). It’s really all about money, and that’s what makes the world go around.

  6. Charles Muller:

    #12 and response

    Gavin, I don’t understand your answer. The CCSP report you mention does indicate a divergence between models runs and satellite / radiosonde date over Tropics, as Al Bedo suggests it. So, this issue is open, as it is concluded.
    Tropical Temperature Results (20°S to 20°n)
    – Although the majority of observational data sets show more warming at the surface than in the troposphere, some observational data sets show the opposite behavior. Almost all model simulations show more warming in the troposphere than at the surface. This difference between models and observations may arise from errors that are common to all models, from errors in the observational data sets, or from a combination of these factors. The second explanation is favored, but the issue is still open.

    I would also be interested to know if models and satellites/sondes converge on Antarctica, more broadly 60°S and poleward. Any information about that ? RSS or UAH database suggest a cooling trend 1979-2006 in lower troposphere, but most AR4 ensemble models runs indicate a sustained surface warming for this zone, already significative for the runs 2010-30, as well as of course for the rest of the century. Some say ozone play a particular role, but I don’t perceive why it should lead here to a cooling trend in lower layers of the atmosphere.

    (Maybe Christy-Spencer are supposed to be “conservative” in their estimate, but the South Pole and low latitudes trend mentioned above appears as clearly in RSS analyze, look at maps thereafter)

  7. Steve Reynolds:

    Re 52:
    > I can’t think of anything more prominent than putting that disclaimer and the date of amendment on the front page of the report.

    Directly stating what had been corrected and why would help improve transparancy.

    Using a file name with a different date than the original would also be useful.

  8. AndrewM:

    This is what you are up against. From Christopher Booker, a respected UK journalist who has campaigned relentlessly against government interference and bureaucracy:

    A turning point in climate change

    Only very rarely can a TV documentary be seen as a pivotal moment in a major political debate, but such was Channel 4’s The Great Global Warming Swindle last Thursday. Never before has there been such a devastatingly authoritative account of how the hysteria over global warming has parted company with reality.

    With the aid of almost every top scientist in the field, from Professor Richard Lindzen, of MIT, and Roy Spencer, the former top climate expert at Nasa, to Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, Martin Durkin’s superbly professional film showed how the evidence is now overwhelming that the chief cause of climate change is not human activity but changes in radiation from the sun.

    Almost the only point he did not include was the evidence now accumulating from observers in many parts of the world that a significant degree of “warming” has recently been taking place all through our solar system, from dwindling ice fields on Mars, to Jupiter, and even as far out as Neptune’s moon Triton and Pluto.

    Yet it is at just this moment, when genuine scientists are at last hitting back against the hysteria, that our own political establishment, led by Tony Blair and David Cameron, is lining up with the EU, the UN and that self-promoting charlatan Al Gore. They propose measures that threaten not only to undermine the prosperity of the developed world but to rob billions of people across Africa and Asia of any chance to escape from the deprivation that kills millions every year.

    Truly, this pseudo-religious madness has become by far the most important and all-pervasive political issue of our time.

    Yup, I’m as speechless as you are.

  9. cokane:

    ” Why can’t the funding be completely without strings, i.e. “Here you are Mr. Scientist, here is a lot of money, go away and tell us the truth, no politics, just truth”? ”

    That’s how most government granted research works. Really, this is how the theory of global warming came about, through no-strings-attached kind of research.

  10. Dave Rado:

    This is what you are up against. From Christopher Booker, a respected UK journalist who has campaigned relentlessly against government interference and bureaucracy:

    But The Telegraph has long had an incredibly anti-AGW, anti-environment agenda – not so long ago they gave 52 entire pages to the noon-scientist Christopher Monckton’s ill-informed diatribe, so I would have been surprised if they hadn’t had some coveraage of this sort.

  11. BarbieDoll Moment:

    Re 24 (13)

    …”I also understand why the *real scientists* of RealClimate try to keep political discussion out of this blog as much as possible and attempt to keep the focus on the science of global warming.”…

    I appreciate your amusement although the source of it escapes me as the point I made had to do with the power of a person, not any political relations of climate scientists…

    ” Real people have significantly more power than any scientists”

    The onus and burden for instilling individual mentality, conclusion inferring, action or non action, belief, and a logical rational thinking process would not fall upon a climate scientist.

    Not unlike a physician, they provide information. What one chooses to do with that information (believe, seek out other opinions, conduct personal research, choose alternative treatment paths, become a non complaint patient, ect) is an individual action, reaction, and process.

    The crux of my statement in relation to the power of the people is most assuredly reflected in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of our government which are responsible for enacting changes in current law or to remedy situations that constituents wish to be changed.

    Which I previously stated and point out in my prior posting.

    [edit] The EPA was sued by environmental groups/attorneys all the way to the Supreme Court regarding the responsibility of the EPA/government to regulate CO2. And certainly there are climate scientists who have testified for both sides.

    However, that too, would have nothing to do with politics regarding a climate scientist because he was requested by an attorney to testify as an “expert” for said attorney’s case.

    It’s a routine practice of the establishment to subpoena experts to testify on their behalf because the attorney feels that the testimony of the expert would support their litigation and arguments.

    Regardless, the arguments and stance offered within any case, is a reflection of the litigants, not the expert witnesses.

    More commonly, this is merely another form of mental compartmentalization, which most people practice in the medical or scientific fields, in order to function in their job capacities in order to operate without bias, preformed conclusions, speculations, and assumptions while carrying out their job functions.

    Furthermore, many scientific and medical employers prohibit the espousing and engagement of their employees in activities in conjunction with an employees status as their employee that would not reflect the feelings or standing of the said establishment and or employer.

    Glad to have provided some amusement in your day.

  12. Ike Solem:

    Regarding the issue of temperature changes in glacial-interglacial transitions and CO2 time lags, keep a few things in mind: (1) the current rate of CO2 increase is some 30X higher than anything recorded in the ice cores, meaning that what took 1000 years in the past is happening in about 35 years now; (2) we are in the interglacial now, not coming out of a glacial period, so the comparison is of limited use in understanding the current situation (similar to trying to understand how changes in global ocean circulation will affect climate), and (3) the ‘solar issue’ is often poorly reported; the orbital solar forcing is the one that drives the ice ages, and that relies on the changes the distribution of sunlight on the surface of the Earth due to changes in the Earth’s orbit over thousands of years, not on changes in solar energy output.

    The fact that CO2 reliably tracks temperature and doesn’t vary randomly in the ice core records should be a clue that the two are closely related – and we also know that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to fossil fuels by looking at the carbon-14 content (nil in CO2 produced from ancient fossil fuel deposits). CH4 also tracks temperature with a similar time lag. This also explains why we come out of glacials at all – because the orbital forcing alone is far too low to account for the observed warming.

    By the way, note that when cows and other ruminants release methane, they are getting the carbon for the methane from grasses, which photosynthetically fixed the CO2 from the atmosphere (and the methane gets converted back to CO2 within a few decades in the atmosphere) – so it’s a different proposition from using buried fossil fuels for transportation.

    As far as the political and public relations issues, it seems a lot like the tobacco campaigns aimed at disconnecting lung cancer and cigarette smoke, rather than the ongoing attempts to prevent evolution from being taught in schools – the only way to slow global warming and associated climate change is to stop burning coal and oil, and instead rely on renewables for energy – and it’s a rather large economic disruption for the fossil fuel industry. The methods used are similar to those of the tobacco campaigns – for example, CO2science.org digs up local temperature records that show cooling and presents them as evidence that the planet isn’t warming – rather like digging up a 80-yr old ‘lifetime smoker’ without lung cancer and claiming that that proves there is no link between cancer and smoking.

    Incidentally (#60), much of the earlier work on climate, weather and the oceans was actually funded by the military, who wanted in-depth knowledge of the oceans, as well as information about how infrared was absorbed by the atmosphere. Some of the earliest evidence of global warming at the poles was collected by US submarines that measured the declining thickness of Artic sea ice. It’s also noting that most of the early work on global warming predates any concern about rapid climate change, but was simply aimed at understanding the glacial cycles and the behavior of the oceans and the atmosphere.

    From the comments and discussion, it also seems that the film avoided discussing the polar regions and the high-altitude glaciers, where the evidence is pretty incontrovertible that decades-old predictions of the effects of global warming are becoming reality.

  13. BarbieDoll Moment:

    Muzzling discussion of polar bears
    March 7, 2007

    …”Check out this FWS polar bear 1″ notice http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/environment/library/FTApprovalPerham.PDF and this FWS polar bear 2″notice http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/environment/library/FTHohn.PDF sent from the regional office in Alaska to the director of Fish and Wildlife stating that workers will not comment on these issues. In one case “an official representative” from the department will travel with the worker and is allowed to speak on the topics, someone who “is knowledgeable on the administration’s position on climate change and related issues.”…

    The House bears down on Fish and Wildlife policy on climate change
    March 9, 2007

    …”The congressmen asked for all documents related to foreign travel and all records and communications on the administration’s policy on climate change, polar bears and sea ice. Deadline for compliance is March 23.”…

  14. rasmus:

    Watching the film on YouTube, it strikes me that some of the graphs (e.g. one allegedly from NASA GISS, http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/) look differently to what I remember them as. And Lindzen points out that the temperature between the Poles and the Tropics affects the storminess – as he state, the text books say – but he forgets that increased temperature also enhances the rate of evaporation. These are just a couple om impressions, but there are more… (mostly addressed elsewhere at RC.)

  15. P. Lewis:

    Re #57

    Using a file name with a different date than the original would also be useful.

    Since when you hit the download link you go to the latest edition of the report with the last revision date prominently on, I see no benefit. I think it’s a non-issue.

    If you think it is important, and you obviously do, then contact the IPCC about it. I’m sure they’ll be happy to receive your comment, and they may agree with you.

  16. Iain:

    Thought I’d email the Telegraph:

    Dear Sir,

    Christopher Booker’s choice to defer to the views of such figures as Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer is of course his prerogative. To refer to them as “…almost every top scientist in the field” is a fiction.

    Iain ___________

  17. Nick Riley:

    My take on the following posts;

    # 47 “I have no idea where the truth lies in any of this, but I come down on the sceptic side, because I believe if there really was a problem, the government would, as an example, drop VAT to zero on all energy efficient goods, cars etc, to encourage the masses to buy items that are good for the environment. Simplistic i know, but if governments can wage war for no reason, then they have the power to do this.”

    As Benjamin Disreali once said “England is governed by Parliament not by logic”

    #55 “The arrogance of thinking that puny man is changing global climate is only exceeded by the stupidity of believing we can – and must – urgently do something to stop it.”

    So “puny man” was not responsible for punching a hole in the ozone layer by emitting CFCs (in the tiniest of quantities compared to the total mass of the atmosphere).

    Actually that is what we need. Global agreement to limit CO2 greenhouse gas emissions directly- just like the Montreal Protocol has done for CFCs. Interestingly, the models that predicted in the 1970’s that CFCs would deplete ozone did not predict that the hole would develop. It was the shock of the discovery of the hole in 1985 that spurred international action to control CFC emissions. The models had not taken into account the role of Polar Stratospheric Clouds. So- a point that the skeptics miss is that models can actually underestimate how bad things can get. Prior to 1985 there were many arguments posed against limiting CFCs- that parallel what we hear today about not doing anything about GHGs- “too expensive- no alternative technology- will damage the economy- etc etc.

    Do we ever learn from history? I hope that we do not need to wait for a “shock” re climate change before we get appropriate and binding global action to reduce GHG emissions.

    Nick Riley

  18. Dave Pert:

    re 41 – cheers for those, Dave. Good sunday morning reading.It strikes me,as a non-scientist, that both sets of graphs are fairly meaningless unless we know whether the background cosmic radiation is a constant or not. Are there any hypotheses relating to this? Also, I’ve been looking at a couple of forums who take the opposite view to you guys. They cite that water vapour is a much more significant greenhouse gas than CO2. Could the current escalation in temperature have anything to do with the increase in atmospheric water vapour caused by the last 150 years of natural warming? It would seem to follow, at least to a layman like myself.
    re 42 – I hate to tell you, but you don’t get to decide when a question is open or not. Hindsight will be our ultimate judge. If there are people who oppose you, then the debate’s still open. It would be so convenient if it were otherwise. I come from an Arts background, and studied the philosophy of science whilst at Uni. If I remember correctly ALL scientific truths are, and should be, open to debate and eventual revision. I find the “we’ve decided, and so that’s the truth” attitude that I see on this board reasonably abhorrent. I have some respect for the peer review system, but I do not let this blind me to the fact that scientists are humans and will fall into camps, hold allegiances, play politics, and dismiss their opponents out-of-hand just like the rest of us. The peer review system is also compromised by the inconvenient truth that the majority of climate-research funding comes from bodies who are trying to prove a specific point. This is no “golden age” of research. Anyone who begs to differ will be, effectively, working themselves out of a job. People (and I include scientists in this generalisation)don’t tend to do this. I imagine that the cell-phone in my pocket, which gives my a mild headache after 20 minutes use, was proved to be safe for children by a series of peer-reviewed articles.
    re 44 – Thanks for likening me to a war criminal. Raised a chuckle on a dull sunday morning in Aberdeen. It strikes me that climate modelling is so tenuous that no court would ever entertain it as evidence.
    In general – Like I say, I’ve got an open mind. I sympathise with the pro-warming camp. You’re saving the planet. The glamour of that must be overwhelming. But what if you’re not? That also has to be considered. Like I said previously, humanity needs to clean up it’s act. Our squandering of resources is disgusting on a fundamental level,regardless of any apocalyptic consequences. This needs addressed, no question.
    Finally, please stop the Channel4-bashing. This is infantile, and smacks of pro-censorship. Channel 4 has a government mandate to produce challenging and controversial programming. It is obvious from this thread that it has sparked debate with this documentary. That can only be a good thing. It’s made me aware of some of the underlying issues that would otherwise have escaped me. This striving to “shoot the messenger” begs the question “what kind of world are you trying to save?”. One where the likes of myself get shown footage of random glaciers and hurricanes and are terrorized into doing our governments bidding, rightly or wrongly?

    Oh yeah, as a seasoned documentary watcher, I have to ask: how does the global-dimming thing fit into modern climate modelling? Just curious…..

    [Response: Global Dimming and Climate Models – gavin]

  19. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[Critique by Sir John Houghton of Channel 4 “Great Global Warming Swindle” ]]

    Houghton is one of my heroes, not just because he has the climate science right, but because he was willing to e-mail me, a complete stranger, electronic versions of the tables from his book “The Physics of Atmospheres” (2002 version). He is a gentleman as well as a scientist.

  20. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[I don’t know, I’ve got an open mind. Can anyone else here say that? ]]

    No. You are the only one. In fact, you may be the only one in the world. Lonely there at the top, isn’t it?

  21. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[Why can’t all you people who really know get together and present a totally unbiased and impartial, scientific paper on what is really happening, declaring all sources of funding etc? ]]

    That’s what the IPCC is all about. But the conclusions from there get called a fraud and a swindle by the denialists. Your mistake is in thinking that people want an unbiased review of the evidence. Most just want their own prejudices confirmed, and will ignore or denounce anything to the contrary.

  22. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[The arrogance of thinking that puny man is changing global climate is only exceeded by the stupidity of believing we can – and must – urgently do something to stop it.]]

    An individual man may be puny, six billion humans with an advanced industrial technology are not. We can, and must, urgently, do something to stop the increase in greenhouse gases that is heating up the world.

  23. Craig Truglia:

    1. The graphs posed are only decent proof. Numbers can be manipulated, as made note of in the film. Their numbers must be regarded with skepticism.

    [Response: The graphs were manipulated as well. The temperature changes claimed to come from NASA certainly did not: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp , the solar correlation used discredited calculations and were deliberately cut off around 1980 to hide the obvious disparity since then etc. – gavin]

    2. The documentary’s filmmaker is very biased and misrepresents certain things, mostly the accreditations of the scientists. For example, one scientist labeled as the former head of the National Weather Center was really the former head to the National Satellite Weather Center. Furthermore, he used leading questions and was uncritical of weather data collected over hundreds or thousands of years using in my opinion, questionable methods. The only sound measurements we have are from statellites since the seventies. Everything else declines in quality.

    Nonetheless, this is not a huge criticism. After all, the film does not pretend to be balanced, unlike Michael Moore’s Bowling For Columbine. Its filmmaker is no more questionable than Al Gore from An Inconvenient Truth. So, why should we automatically discredit what a lot of scientists say, because the filmmaker is nutty? We seriously give Al Gore’s and Moore’s ideas consideration, and ignore the messenger. Thus, we should care more about the arguments and science given, and not the filmmaker. The only reasopn people are so critical is because this is a right wing documentary. Quite frankly, we need to be objective.

    [Response: No. we are critical because they were wrong on a huge number of issues and implications – not because they are partisan. – gavin]

    Nonetheless, the film still has a lot to teach you. Furthermore, the arguments used against it from the press amount to ad hominems. Realclimate.org attempted a scientific refutation. Their slogan is “Climate science from climate scientists.” I will disprove their counter-arguments, not to show my brilliant understanding of the subject (I am not a climate scientist,) but the very poor understandings being peddled by “talented” scientists.

    Their article can be found at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/03/swindled/

    1. They try dodging the fact that CO2 does not correlate with temperture:

    “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. . . . 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.”

    So, the sulfate aerosoles stopped cancelling out the warming magically between the 40s and the 70s, but not before the 40s or after the 70s? This is nothing more than adapting the old logic of the disproven global cooling theory of the 70s. Nevertheless, one need look no further than the fact that there is data (Christy and Spencer’s satellite data, balloon data, antarctic temperatures) that show cooling until around 1998. So, their neat and tidy aerosal explanation is not air-tight. Quite frankly, neither is the solar only theory (at least using the solar data used in the film.) Data is easily manipulated and exceptions easily construed. We should avoid gross simplifications, but I do find it funny that when a skeptic makes such a simplification that they are called out for it, when climatology is chock full of them (and very poor ones.)

    [Response: All single factor explanations are wrong. The only way to assess this is to have all factors weigh in and then see which (if any) dominate in any particular time. The factors over the 20th C are dominated by greenhouse gases but until recent decades variations in other components were still important. The difference between aerosols and CO2 is that CO2 accumulates, while aerosols are related to current emissions – implying that the CO2 effect will dominate in time. See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/05/planetary-energy-imbalance/ for some idea of what the factors look like in time and how the modeled temperature responds. – gavin]

    2. They claim that the troposphere is warming more than the surface…

    “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.”

    If you bothered reading the next paragraph of that report it said: “For recent decades, all current atmospheric data now show global-average warming that is similar to surface warming. . . . The majority of these datasets show warming at the surface that is greater than the troposphere.” Thus, the troposphere is not warmer “indeed” than the surface. [edit]

    [Response: Over short periods (such as the satellite record) even the models show that you can’t expect monotonic behaviour. Indeed the model trends span the range of observed trends making any ‘discrepancy’ very hard to detect. Given the history of corrections to the satellite data, the significant difference between UAH and RSS products and problems with the radiosondes, claims that this disproves models are specious. -gavin]

    3. They claim that the ice cores, which don’t show an increase in CO2 until a change in temperature first, is misleading:

    “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.”

    They add in an article they link at, “The reason has to do with the fact that the warmings take about 5000 years to be complete. The lag is only 800 years. All that the lag shows is that CO2 did not cause the first 800 years of warming, out of the 5000 year trend. The other 4200 years of warming could in fact have been caused by CO2, as far as we can tell from this ice core data.”

    “COULD in fact”??? Yet, this is the “correct interpretation”??? This makes NO sense. First, whatever made the world warm is STILL happening before the increase in CO2. Second, the most they can be claiming is that the world got warm naturally first for 800 years, and then the other 4200 years were caused by a new runaway CO2 warming. However, this is just guessing and does not explain why the CO2 would stop warming at year 5,001. What independent force stops the warming then? The fact is, they are coming up with seemingly logical excuses that do not hold up to even the most unintelligent (mine) scrutiny.

    [Response: You would benefit from reading about Milankovitch forcings. The changes in the ice cores are (on these timescales) driven by wobbles in the Earth’s orbit that affect the seasonal distribution of solar radiation. These are independent of anything else going on. The carbon cycle, particularly in the ocean responds to these changes over a long time period – related to the ocean mixing time – and subsequent changes in CO2 also make it cooler and so on. This is a classic and well-known feedback. Your conceptual problem is that (as above) you need to accept that climate is not driven by any single factor, but that all need to be accounted for – including human behaviour. CO2 is leading now because we are changing it very directly and no amount of ice core data will shift that understanding. – gavin]

  24. Iain:

    “They cite that water vapour is a much more significant greenhouse gas than CO2. Could the current escalation in temperature have anything to do with the increase in atmospheric water vapour caused by the last 150 years of natural warming? It would seem to follow, at least to a layman like myself.” Dave.

    Dave, you’ve found realclimate, there is a good article about water vapour to be found right here. You might find that you have it backwards.

    [Response:Water Vapour: Feedback or Forcing? – gavin]

  25. Ray Ladbury:

    Re 47, 55. Colin and Max, I make it a point to try to reach out to skeptics. If my extended hand is met with the back of yours, at least I am none the worse for it.
    First, to address Max’s complaint. Actually Max, humans have had a tremendous effect on the planet. Humans caused extinction of all the large animals on Madagascar and in Australia. They may have played a role in the advance of deserts like the Sahara through overgrazing. There is strong evidence that in addition to “global warming”, we also influenced climate by dumping aerosols into the atmosphere (this is what called the cooling that skeptics often trumpet as “proof” that scientists don’t know what they’re talking about). You need to remember that we are talking about 6 billion puny humans, not just a few. A carpenter ant in isolation looks harmless, too, but a few tens of thousands can take down your house.

    Now to address Colin’s post. First, the reason science and politics cannot be divorced is precisely because science is a human activity, and politics is how groups of humans get things done (polis–“the people” is the root of politics). The difference is that scientists have agreed to be bound by certain rules, and rule #1 is that the evidence prevails. Now, they can argue what the evidence means for a long time. Ultimately, however, a consensus emerges when there is just too much evidence for one particular theory to argue convincingly against it. There will still be “skeptics” and contrarians who argue against it–hell there are still particle physicists who don’t believe in the unification of the weak nuclear and electromagnetic forces. But rule #2 in science is that a strong consensus prevails–and experience shows that that consensus is very rarely wrong. (Note: Science is only about 300 years old, and medical science is really only about 100 years old, so don’t go all flat-earth and spontaneous-generation on me.)
    In a way, science works like markets–some buyers are willing to pay too much or too little, just as some sellers have unreasonable expectations. Ultimately, though a price is agreed and those willing to sell and buy can do so. It is the best method we’ve come up with to determine a “fair” price.
    Likewise, it is hard to look around you and argue that science doesn’t work. This is just science working normally. There is no more controversy over climate change within the scientific community than there is over evolution or relativity. It is just playing out under the spotlights and microscope of media attention.
    One expert can be wrong, as can two. However, when nearly ALL the EXPERTS–people who have studied a field for decades–agree, and you reach the opposite conclusion and are not an expert, then you have to consider the possibility that they understand the field of their expertise better than you do.

  26. Colin:

    Comment 50: re Colin 47
    “First of all, they are ‘scientists’ not ‘scientologists’: see Wikipedia on the Church of Scientology.” Ouch! I assume you were not meaning to be patronising and yes I do know the difference. Now if only i could type ;-)

    Comment 55: Comment by Max Anacker

    Wow! I hope you are one of those scientist guys and not scientologists :-)

  27. hopp:

    Your “rebuttal” of the documentary seems very weak to me. You concentrate on the easier, more obvious points and ignore the more difficult ones. You don’t show any sense of uncertainty, despite the vast complexity of the matter in question. The reply to this documentary here and elsewhere has been 98% political above all. I consider myself a radical green, but not at the cost of rationality and free speech. The calls to censor these views are nonsense, compared to the much more wild and non-scientific stuff that has been printed in the name of raising GW awereness (a central green politician in my country even managed to mention the asian tsunami and GW in the same context). The role of the sun is the central question here I feel (not pretending to be a scientist). Because it offers a very logical and plausible explanation. “Even” the recent IPCC report admits that there is “10% possibility” man is not affecting the climate. And how do you really count it’s 8% or 17% or 24%. It either is, or isn’t. The figure is arbitrary, yet quoted over the world as some sort of statistical certainty.

    Also it is true that Global Warming “hysteria” started as a very strong and fastly growing political movement some 17-18 years ago, when there was only very little data to back-up the hypothesis. And we do know how much Greenpeace have utterly lied and spread misinformation about nuclear energy.
    Since then (the early 1990’s) government funding and man made GW being real have gone together, hand in hand. It is a very valid question to ask, whether this has affected the research. If there is no problem (or severe doubt whether a problem exists) then there will be less funds available, and unemployed climatologists out looking for jobs.

    Also censorship of disagreeing peer reviews in the IPCC report strikes me as something that is foreign to science and open minded thought. Your comments on that?

    The question about computer models being unpredictable, the role of water vapor etc. are also valid ones. And how much do we really know about cloud formation, cosmic rays etc.? All these things from sun to CO2, to whatever (because the world is very complex) should be somehow put together into one model. Now the models only can predict so much, or very little to be more exact.

    The AGW (and I’d agree with the pre-cautionary principle) agenda doesn’t come across as very scientific. Even reading the IPCC paper, it is true, you keep asking yourself “isn’t this an assumption, how have you proven this, aren’t these factors too complex to assess” etc.

    Yet.. the agenda is driven forward with 100% certainty and scientific disagreement is looked upon like it was some sort of environmental form of holocaust denial, while non of these scientists in the film are actually getting paid for it, they aren’t getting any grey corporate dollars like the greenpeace-minded lobby are claiming to. To the contrary it should be underlined, that these IPCC scientists do have a personal financial agenda to “prove” that no doubt or disagreement exists any longer on man made GW. The more central the agenda becomes, the more funds, more job opportunities, more recognition they will be getting. It would a career suicide for them to radically change the course, even if reasons for scientific doubts kept arising. You don’t have to mislead people, it’s enough to concentrate on certain aspects and keep feeding them into computer models that give the right answers. That’s what’s been happening partly. You don’t get a sense of overall picture from the IPCC reports. Water vapor, sun etc. uncertainty is wiped under the carpet.

    From a purely rational point of view, you should say the GW is a hypothesis, and one that is extremely hard to verify or substantiate. At the same time playing Russian roulette isn’t wise, that much is true.

    Yet there is too much religious approach to this question, too much political agenda.

    Personally I don’t trust anyone who claims to speak for the truth.

    Science should be about constant research, doubt, self-criticism. I have seen very little of that on this website, or other scientific (or portraying to be such) AGW websites. Science seeks answers. Here it is the other way around. The answer has been “self-evident” from the beginning, even when there was next to no data to back it up. An answer that cannot be valsified, only verified. In any case time will tell, because China, India, Indonesia, Brazil etc. are growing at a speed that will make EU and USA a small player in the Global AGW battle. Today 30% of Global CO2 emissions. In 2023 it could be 14% (USA+EU combined that is).

    The man made GW conviction is bordering on religious, that much is true from the critics. Not driven by pure science, but political motivation above all and you should come out clear on it (that there is the anti-west angle, despite west in todays world attributing only to 1/3 of the global total). Don’t cloud the pre-cautionary principle into a cloud of scientific assumptions, that remain just that in the larger picture, a hypothesis.

  28. Colin:

    Comment 71:

    “Your mistake is in thinking that people want an unbiased review of the evidence. Most just want their own prejudices confirmed, and will ignore or denounce anything to the contrary.” Comment by Barton Paul Levenson

    Good point – I just want an unbiased view from the people that understand these things better than me and then we can direct funds into resolving the problem, if indeed there is a problem that can be resolved.

  29. Colin:

    Comment 59: (Why can’t the funding be completely without strings) “That’s how most government granted research works. Really, this is how the theory of global warming came about, through no-strings-attached kind of research.”

    Comment by cokane

    Are you serious? So why is eveybody doing research into Man Made Global Warming and not just Global Warming or is this something else I don’t understand?

    I am genuinely interested and open minded enough to be converted to the MMGW camp.

  30. Colin:

    Comment 75: Thanks Ray, I think that was a good answer, and I do accept that people know more than I do, especially those who are experts in their field, however, you must remember that eugenics, abhorrent as it is, was an academic discipline at many colleges and universities prior to the 1930’s and had many prominent advocates.

    Could you or anybody else explain the following taken from the National Geographics web site?

    “Earth is currently experiencing rapid warming, which the vast majority of climate scientists says is due to humans pumping huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    Mars, too, appears to be enjoying more mild and balmy temperatures.

    In 2005 data from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide “ice caps” near Mars’s south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row.”

    I know this work has been dismissed by many climate scientists, but I don’t understand why.

    Thanks for broadening my knowledge

    [Response: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/10/global-warming-on-mars/ – gavin]

  31. Nick Riley:

    Re post #77
    The science of GW actually goes back to the 19th Century.

    As regards the rise of GW in the socio-political arena of modern history, it is clear that it entered popular culture during the 1960’s hippy movement. The following is from Jimi Hendrix (1967)- “Up from the skies”

    “I have lived here before the days of ice and of course this is why I’m so concerned. And I come back to find the stars misplaced and the smell of a world that is burned. A smell of a world that is burned. Yeah well, maybe, hmm…Maybe its just a… change of climate?”

    So the programme was also wrong about Mrs Thatcher being responsible for beginning the awareness of GW in recent history.

  32. Dean Morrison:

    I’ve overlaid the graph on Durkins prog referred to in the original post with the Nasa data it’s supposedly based on:


    Now remember we aren’t comparing two different datasets – the Durkin Graph is supposed to be based on the Nasa one – i.e it should be the same…

    You’ll notice that the amount of warming pre-1940 has been grossly exaggerated – thus diminishing the appearance of warming post 1970’s

    The labels ‘1940’ and ‘1975’ are nowhere near where they should be.

    A ‘little ‘artistic licence’ perhaps? – B****cks – this is out and out deception in a programme which accused the entire scientific community of lying about global warming. A scientist that did this would be disowned by his colleagues – and never trusted again.

    Before CH4 come up with their ‘interesting polemic’ and ‘presenting both sides of an argument’ and ‘controversy amongst scientists’ (shrug of the shoulders) defences – could I point out that holocaust deniers use exactly the same fraudulent graphs to make a case for their interesting ideas. So when does David Irving and his chums get 90 minutes to present their case unchallenged??

    Another complaint winging its way to OFCOM I’m afraid…

  33. David Kidd:

    This article was taken from Mr. Monbiot’s Blog. It gives a lot of background and explains how this program came about.
    The Revolution Has Been Televised
    Posted December 18, 1997

    “Channel 4’s Against Nature series turns out to have been made by an obscure and cranky sect

    By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 18th December 1997.

    There has never been a series on British television like Channel 4’s Against Nature, which ended with a debate on Tuesday night. The environmentalists it interviewed were lied to about the contents of the programmes. They were given no chance to respond to the accusations the series made. They were misrepresentated to the extent of falsification. One couldnâ��t help suspecting that Against Nature was driven not by healthy scepticism but by shrill ideology.

    If this were so, where might it have come from? At first we thought the Far Right might have been involved. But, over the last three weeks, another picture has begun to form. Against Nature IS the product of an extreme political ideology, but it comes from a rather different quarter: an obscure and cranky sect called the Revolutionary Communist Party.

    Frank Furedi, the series’ key interviewee and a protagonist in Tuesday’s debate, has been described as the father of the modern RCP. He is a regular contributer to the RCP’s journal, Living Marxism. Of the two main contributers to the third programme, one, John Gillott, is Living Marxism’s science correspondent. The other, Robert Plomin, though not RCP, has recently been interviewed sympathetically by the magazine. Martin Durkin, the director of the three programmes, describes himself as a Marxist: the only brand of Marxism which follows the line the series takes is the RCP’s. The husband of his deputy, Against Nature’s assistant producer, is the co-author of the RCP’s manifesto and Books Editor of Living Marxism.

    Line by line, point by point, Against Nature follows the agenda laid down by the RCP. Greens, both the series and Living Marxism maintain, present themselves as radicals, but are really doom-mongering imperialists, engaged in the deification of Nature and the rejection of human progress. Global warming is nothing to worry about, while sustainable development is a conspiracy against people. Greens have plotted with the film industry to make science terrifying. Genetic engineering and human cloning are not to be feared but cherished, as they will liberate humanity from nature.

    The ideologues in the series have some strange bedfellows, but the RCP has always been good at making selective alliances, whether it is promoting anti-environmental ideas, or campaigning against a ban on landmines and in favour of the Bosnian Serb forces and the Hutu militias. Its members are controversialists, but more than just that: the principle targets for their attacks are alternative outlets for radical action.

    I had scarcely broached this subject on Tuesday night’s debate when Martin Durkin began – and I do not exaggerate – screaming. I was a McCarthyite and a despicable conspiracist. What on earth did his personal political views have to do with this series?

    Well, rather too much. The RCP and its associates can make as many programmes as they like as long as they do so openly and honestly. Indeed, among its perversities and cheap controversialism, the RCP has some interesting and provocative views, which are worth hearing and debating. But Martin Durkin and his commissioning editor, Sara Ramsden, maintain that Against Nature is not a polemic, but a well-balanced documentary series. There was no presenter; instead we were instructed, in true documentary style, by an authoritative voice-over. The RCP/Living Marxism interviewees were not captioned as such, but presented as independent experts.

    It’s an extraordinary coup for a tiny group of cranks: three hours of prime time propaganda. But how on earth did they pull it off? It is inconceivable that Channel 4’s top decision-makers also belong to the party. But many television executives hate environmentalism. They see it as a grim memento mori at the bottom of the picture, spoiling the good news about cars, clothes and consumerism. So when the film-makers suggested an all-out assault on environmentalists, their proposal fell on fertile ground. The revolution, as the RCP sees it, has been televised.”

    Obviously the Brits too have their deniers. Every country does: my own country Australia certainly does. We have been held hostage by a backward conservative administration that has only changed its rhetoric because it has detected a groundswell of popular acceptance with an election coming up.

  34. Albert:

    Who is Claude Allegre?

    [Response: Con Allègre, ma non troppo – gavin]

  35. Jeff Weffer:

    One significant problem with the 800 year time lag and the comments that increasing CO2 then provided the feed-back to fully lift the world out of the ice ages is that the increase in CO2 is so small.

    CO2 increased by only 100 ppm over the period of 5,00 years as the ice ages started to end. This is far too small to provide the warming feed-back that is proposed. In fact, CO2 has increased by a further 100 ppm in the last century and we have not seen anything like the temperature increases which ended the ice ages.

    The Antarctic warmed by over 10C as the last 4 ice ages ended. CO2 increased by 100 ppm (with a very long lag-time of course.) No model or global warming theory I have seen can explain that discrepancy.

    [Response: This has been discussed ad nauseum elsewhere on this site, just do a few appropriate key word searches and you should have your answer. In particular, note that the radiative forcing associated with increased co2 is logarithmic, so the warming impact of a 100 ppm increase from 180 ppm to 280 ppm (the approximate glacial/interglacial difference) is far greater than that a 100 ppm increase from 280ppm to 380 ppm (the approximate pre-industrial/current difference). This has to do with the saturation of absorption bands within the IR window as greenhouse gas concentrations increase). -mike]

    Another question? what is the time-lag for increased CO2 to warm the surface. Since CO2 is absorbing EM radiation (photons in the IR frequency), shouldn’t global warming be near instantaneous (operating at the speed of light.) Certainly there is not a time-lag of 800 years or even 10s of years.

    [Response: No mystery there. The cooling factors that keep the peak ice ages colder are (in order of importance), the ice sheet expansion (increasing albedo), CO2 drop, CH4 drop, N2O (drop), vegetation change and dust load increases – all of those feedbacks matter. The GHG changes explain about 40% of the effect – not all of it. But the dominant change is related to the ice sheets which are strongly controlled by the insolation changes (Roe, 2007 is a good demonstration of that). The time lag for GHG increases to have a warming effect is the ocean mixed layer timescale – a few decades (as you can see over the 20th C), but that will be clear only in the absence of other effects. Since other changes will be occurring at the same time (which they must be or the CO2 wouldn’t have changed in the first place), you can’t expect an instantaneous response. On the longer timescale though the impact of the GHGs is clear which is why the last glacial maximum is such a common target for assessing climate sensitivity. – gavin]

  36. Colin:

    I don’t mean any disrespect, Gavin, but http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/10/global-warming-on-mars/ points to an opinion on this website, whilst 1 link leads to Duke University physicists report, which states:

    “Applying their analytical method to the solar output estimates by the Columbia group, Scafetta’s and West’s paper concludes that “the sun may have minimally contributed about 10 to 30 percent of the 1980-2002 global surface warming.

    This study does not discount that human-linked greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, they stressed. “Those gases would still give a contribution, but not so strong as was thought,” Scafetta said.

    “We don’t know what the Sun will do in the future,” Scafetta added. “For now, if our analysis is correct, I think it is important to correct the climate models so that they include reliable sensitivity to solar activity.”

    Is it any wonder that people like me are confused by the whole debate over whether man is to blame or can do anything to control the climate?

    [Response: S+W’s study is incorrect, but even if we discuss that, you can always find another ‘confusing’ reference that we haven’t discussed. This is a real problem, and one where there is not an obvious answer. Integrating the amount of differing opinions available even in the peer-reviewed literature (let alone the – ahem – less quality-controlled stuff on websites) is a full time job and even the scientists who do this for a living find it difficult to keep up. So as a layman, it’s tricky. That’s why the assessment process is so important – I’ve often said that the public shouldn’t listen to any one scientist (even me), but the assessments (IPCC, NAS etc.) are generally much more considered and take into account all the different factors. That’s why we generally refer people to those rather than to my opinion or something in a peer reviewed paper. You don’t have to believe me, but we really do try and give the considered opinion of the community here, not an agenda-driven cherry pick of the science. – gavin]

  37. Craig Truglia:

    Gavin, your responses detract from your original propositions. Essentially, all 3 of your counter-arguments are that “no one factor contributes to global warming.” This is very true and I agree with that. However, that is precisely the problem with the man-made global warming proposition: that largely one factor can be isolated and attributed to global warming. Your responses, though logical, do not really denounce the points made by an unscientific documentary with scientific claims.

    Furthermore, it is concerning that you ignored the following:

    Me: If you bothered reading the next paragraph of that report it said: “For recent decades, all current atmospheric data now show global-average warming that is similar to surface warming. . . . The majority of these datasets show warming at the surface that is greater than the troposphere.” Thus, the troposphere is not warmer “indeed” than the surface.”

    [Response: Over short periods (such as the satellite record) even the models show that you can’t expect monotonic behaviour. Indeed the model trends span the range of observed trends making any ‘discrepancy’ very hard to detect. Given the history of corrections to the satellite data, the significant difference between UAH and RSS products and problems with the radiosondes, claims that this disproves models are specious. -gavin]

    Regardless of your issues with UAH’s dataset, you still ignore that the study you sight to “prove” that trophospheric warming is “indeed” greater than surface warming says in plain English the complete opposite.

    I am more than happy to admit that the documentary has its flaws. But, you and others here have to admit that your counter-arguments to the documentary are flawed as well…sometimes blatantly such as in the above example. If this whole issue was more science and less ideological bickering, I think we would see more level-headed and balanced responses from both sides. This is not something I see, but not being a scientist (while those on this espouse of being such), it is pretty concerning that you cannot even link to articles that agree with you or your own articles that definitively in theory show that the 800 gap is from a clear cause. I believe the writers of this article should issue a retraction, admit their mistakes, and issue a valid response or not at all. The 3 points above, as the main ones taken to deswindle the swindlers, are shoddy at best and poor at worst.

    [Response: The points were raised in the programme as if they were obvious contradictions that mainstream scientists were ignoring. We point out that the supposed contradictions are nothing more than well worn talking points that sound to the layman that they might have something to with the issue at hand. The lag issue is a complete red-herring, the sfc/trop issue is more ambiguous but the data spread and model spread overlap and so there is no contradiction. The temperature trends over the 20th Century are well matched by climate models and it takes five minutes googling to show that those trends are best matched by using all relevant forcings. These are not serious scientific points worthy of debate – they are mere talking points designed to snare the unwary. You should be able to spot the difference. -gavin]

  38. Dean Morrison:

    “Watching the film on YouTube, it strikes me that some of the graphs (e.g. one allegedly from NASA GISS, http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/) look differently to what I remember them as. ”

    You’re not the only one that noticed this – the simplest way to compare is to superimpose the two:


    Where you can see that amongst other things they’ve greatly exaggerated pre 1940 warming to play down the dramatic recent warming.

    – well and a few other things of course – I’ve commented in more detail on Ben Goldacre’s ‘Bad Science’ forum:


  39. Ray Ladbury:

    Re 80. Colin, when you talk about climate on other planets you need to be aware that each planet has it’s own climate forcers that are important for it. Thus, just as there is little danger of Earth experiencing a runaway greenhouse effect as Venus did, what happens on Mars may tell us little about what is going on here on Earth. In particular on Mars, in the absence of liquid water, dust beomes one of the driving factors, with hellacious dust storms blocking out sunlight at odd intervals. The “warming” on Mars occurred bucause of a paucity of these storms during the period in question. (Note: this is a shortened version of the reasoning in the post Gavin cited, just in case you don’t have time to read it thoroughly.) The sure sign that the warming on Mars is no smoking gun is the fact that the experts on Martian climate haven’t pounced on it to show how much smarter they are than their colleagues looking at climate on Earth.;-)
    The reason why most climate research these days is looking at greenhouse gases and anthropogenic causation is mainly because there is simply no other credible hypothesis. We can and do measure solar radiation. We measure galactic cosmic rays (guess what–no change in the past 30 years aside from what’s expected from the solar cycle). And so on. As Sherlock Holmes said, “When you eliminate everything that is impossible, whatever is left, no matter how seemingly improbable must be the answer.” That’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Also, while most of the current research is looking at this cause, it is by no means the only research going on. The quickest way for a scientist to get famous is by discovering something his or her colleagues haven’t thought of. Lindzen and Svensmark think they have done so, but they have yet to produce sufficient evidence (any, really) to persuade experts that they are right.

  40. Colin:

    Comment 81

    I thought Up From the Skies was about Hendrix’s feeling of alienation, hinting at a possible belief in people from other worlds. He begins by wanting to talk to the people who live in the 60’s / 70’s tower blocks

    “I just want to know about your different lives
    On this is here people farm
    I heard some of you got your families
    Living in cages tall and cold”

    and depending on which website you take the lyrics from could equally say

    “Yeah well, maybe, hmm…
    Maybe it’s just a change of climate”

    i.e. no spaces between “a” and “change” giving the sentence a different meaning

  41. Ray Ladbury:

    Re 77. Hopp, you seem to have a few misconceptions about climate research. First, the 90% “probability” that humans are contributing to climate change is probably more of a Bayesian probability–a conservative estimate that the vast majority of experts could agree on. You might also look at it as a confidence level–in other words there’s only a 10% probability that the results could line up the way they have by chance or via some other mechanism. For Earth sciences, this is high confidence indeed.
    The most serious misconception, though, is the idea that climate scientists have a dog in this fight–they don’t. If anthropogenic climate change were disproved tomorrow, they would be doing research on something else. Even those who did not find jobs in climate research would find jobs doing models for hedge funds or something else more remunerative than climate research. The people who do this research do it because they think it is important. They see that changing climate represents a variety of threats to modern human civilization, and they want to do something about it. To impugn their integrity by implying that their puny salaries could buy their scientific opinion is not just flat wrong, hell, not even just laughable, it is insulting.
    Since you, yourself, are not a scientist, and since virtually ALL the experts have concluded that climate change is occurring and that we are responsible for it, don’t you think that you ought to consider the possibility that they, with their decades of research and study, might understand it better than you?

  42. Brian:

    For those that might be interested, I’ve made an image showing the graph from the programme, overlaid with the NASA GISS temperature data (black and red lines).

  43. Bishop Hill:

    Can anyone help me? I’ve read this from RC which explains the mainstream explanation for the CO2 rise lagging T.

    Q1: If there is a feedback mechanism, what stops it accelerating exponentially?

    Q2. Is the mechanism by which T initially starts to rise still not understood?


  44. Robert Smith:

    If you are disappointed/angry at the propaganda that was The Great Global Warming Swindle here is where to complain:


    Complain to C4 itself:

    channel 4 complaint form

    or complain to the advertisers:

    Volkswagon, Hastings & Direct, Bradford & Bingley, Visa, Yakurt, Orange, Audi, Virgin Media, Mitchelin, Zurich finance, Wrigley (orbit gum), Ing Direct (finance), Magners Cider, confused.com (insurance), Christian Dior (J’adore), Kraft foods (Toblerone, Cote d’or), Nat West, Love Films, Citreon, Nissan, Expedia, Microsoft, Ibuleve, Otex ear drops.

  45. Unwashed random#:

    Please don’t be too hard on C4. I’m here reading your fascinating comments as a direct result of watching “it”. I want to be sceptic about AGW but I accept rigorous science.
    It seems to me that to be safe we must act to do the least harm and most benefit. Holding back emerging economies from developing would certainly condemn another generation to grinding poverty and early death. It might be easier for us to adapt to a warmer climate than explain ourselves to the developing world if dT turns negative for the next 30 years.
    Can anyone point me to work done on plant carbon fixing as a result of an extended growing season in northern land masses?

  46. hopp:

    You simplify the issue. It’s not insulting at all. There are many scientists out there looking for jobs, who would love to have this level of funding the climatologists enjoy. I’m not doubting their sincerity. But the fact is the political truth existed before the scientific consensus. And 90% and 10% is nothing really, the numbers are arbitrary. Correct me if I remember wrong, but in the previous IPCC report (not the latest one) it was estimated that the earth would warm 1.4C-5.8C if nothing was done to curbe the CO2 emissions. I mean 1.4C-5.8C, what is that? Why not 1.3C or 6.1C? How do you count it with so many different factors from solar activity to cloud formation, to water vapor, to CO2 emissions etc.

    No one scientist can really handle the issues of GW in one single piece. No one can claim to have such expertise. Everyone is relaying on others, and trusting their authority. It’s like a puzzle that is placed together, with many of the parts missing and then it’s run through man made computer models, that naturally cannot even come close to matching the complexity of the climate.

    You have made it into a religion. [edit]

    You have your answers ready made. One example. gavin here (if I remember correctly) linked to an article that was supposed to disprove the cosmic rays factor, but all the article was to distort the words of the Nordic scientist, compare him to some guy from 1850’s (personal attacks again), and then what he really had in store to debunk the cosmic ray theory was that, well… we don’t know enough about it yet.

    [Response: You completely misread the article. The point was not however very subtle – there is a possibility that GCR affects climate which I have frequently acknowledged. However, that is not to say that the evidence presented for it has been convincing (it hasn’t not by a long shot) and the spin that the scientists involved have put on it is extremely misleading and unjustified by the evidence. People who are convinced by the GCR/climate connection – especially for the modern period – cannot possibly have been paying attention. The contrast between the evidence for greenhouse gas forcing of modern climate change and GCR is huge, and no objective observer could think otherwise. -gavin]

    Even Einstein held faith in his special theory in face of growing evidence. As long as AGW remains unproven one way or the other, and we have to rely on suggestive evidence, conclusions and models, healthy skepticism should be encouraged. And this would be the case in any other scientific question (with the possible exceptions of GM and such – for similar reasons). Every single time some dears to criticize AGM he is attacked in person, he recieves hate mail, threats and abuse and is – often wrongly – accused of ties to oil/coal companies.

    That’s not how science works. That’s politics.

    [Response: Well, you’d be pretty surprised at some of the mail I get as well. The ties to oil and coal companies aren’t a complete determinant of the quality of someones argument, but in my experience it is generally quite telling. I note however that in denying receiving any such money Tim Ball was let us say ‘being economical with the truth’. He is heavily funded by lobbyists like the High Park Group and ‘Friends’ of Science both of which get substantial funds from such companies, and he prefers not to ask where the money is coming from. But as I said that is interesting but irrelevant for the quality of the arguments made. The arguments are specious – and their proponents know it full well. That is what you should be appalled at. – gavin]

  47. Ike Solem:

    Regarding the comments about ‘puny humans’, one might as well talk about ‘puny ants’ or ‘puny elephants’, both of which also have large effects on their local environments, or ‘puny phytoplankton’.

    For example, compare the effects of humans to that of glaciers – you’d think glaciers would be the real powerful earth-moving force, but it turns out that people cause ~10X more soil erosion than all other processes combined; see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041103234736.htm

    Humans also account for a large fraction of the global photosynthetic production; see Global patterns in human consumption of net primary production, Imhoff et al 2004 Nature

    The human population and its consumption profoundly affect the Earth’s ecosystems. A particularly compelling measure of humanity’s cumulative impact is the fraction of the planet’s net primary production that we appropriate for our own use. Net primary productionâ��the net amount of solar energy converted to plant organic matter through photosynthesisâ��can be measured in units of elemental carbon and represents the primary food energy source for the world’s ecosystems. Human appropriation of net primary production, apart from leaving less for other species to use, alters the composition of the atmosphere, levels of biodiversity, energy flows within food webs and the provision of important ecosystem services…”

    What’s strange is how political advocacy groups like AEI, CO2science.org, etc. immediately sieze on any such discussion of human effects as evidence that ‘humans are viewed as a cancer on the Earth by these wild-eyed environmentalist crazies’. Really, the point (as far as global warming goes) is that we need to stop pumping buried carbon into the atmosphere, and that means ending the use of coal and oil as energy sources and replacing them with renewable energy conversion and storage technologies – it’s really very simple. However, since the global economy revolves around energy sales, this means serious change – and if you own an oil well, or three, then obviously you are going to have a strong emotional response to anyone who tells you that you can no longer pump and sell oil.

    The best analogy of our current energy system is that of a small village that discovered ancient ruins filled with buried loot – the villagers began digging up and selling the treasure, and as a result grew into a large city – but eventually they are going to run out of buried loot, and digging it all up has fouled their rivers and their air – so they are in a quandry, and need to make major changes in their basic economic strategy. Vested interests are resistant to change, however, and so they hire public relations experts to prevent change from occuring, and they finance movies, books, and web sites to get their ‘message’ out. It’s an understandable response, but is very foolish in the long run.

  48. Philippe Chantreau:

    A lot of “skeptics” like to talk about water vapor but never mention the fact that combustion of a carbon/hydrogen based fuel releases both CO2 and H2O as vapor. In fact, it is the only process of which I can think that can allow an addition to the absolute amount of water on the planet, except for objects coming from space.
    Considering the vast amounts of fuel burned it should be sizable. I expect that this vapor will have simply the short atmospheric life span of all water vapor and simply join natural vapor in its cycle, but what role could the absolute increase of global water content play, if any? Has this been considered in any way?

  49. P. Lewis:

    This, I assure everyone, is not meant as an attack on any one particular person’s mental faculties or posts herein. One sees frequently people saying “I have an open mind” or “we must keep an open mind”. Fine, it’s an admirable sentiment. But, as HW Andrews said:

    While an open mind is priceless, it is priceless only when its owner has the courage to make a final decision which closes the mind for action after the process of viewing all sides of the question has been completed. Failure to make a decision after due consideration of all the facts will quickly brand a man as unfit for a position of responsibility. …

    Or perhaps more succinctly (Anon?)

    Never confuse an open mind with a vacant one.

    because, as GS Hilliard said:

    A vacant mind invites dangerous inmates, as a deserted mansion tempts wandering outcasts to enter and take up their abode in its desolate apartments.

    And there are people with personal agendas who prowl continually to ensnare the vacant minded.

    And before I leave the quotations, it is worth remembering what Alexander Pope said:

    A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.

    which is a good advice for anyone entertaining discoursing on any topic herein where you draw comment from professional scientists whose day jobs are climatology and atmospheric physics. Those professional scientists have open minds and can see more of the picture than the merely open-minded (or vacant-minded) scientific dilettante. More humility, less hubris (little chance, I fear).

  50. Colin:

    Comment 99:

    “While an open mind is priceless, it is priceless only when its owner has the courage to make a final decision which closes the mind for action after the process of viewing all sides of the question has been completed. Failure to make a decision after due consideration of all the facts will quickly brand a man as unfit for a position of responsibility.”

    And you are saying that ALL the facts are in and have been given due consideration?