This post is a response to the global warming hoaxers that have emailed me to gloat over the recent decision by UK regulator Ofcom in the case of the Channel 4 movie the Great Global Warming Swindle. The Gorebots think that the Ofcom decision means that the entire movie has no value and is discredited.
It is unfortunate for the hoaxers that prior to the Channel 4 Ofcom ruling, their own propaganda piece was in the UK courts. Following Gorebot logic, the verdict in the case against An Inconvenient Truth discredits their film to an even greater degree.
Anyway, to set the record straight, let’s look at the facts. I’ve found the actual decisions and am excerpting the relevant parts for you below. Read them and decide for yourself which movie was found most inaccurate.
[Format Notes: complaints/findings are bolded, the court/regulator explanation is in red and quotes from the works are italicized. Spelling is UK English throughout.]
Part One: The Great Global Warming Swindle (decision)
Rule 7.1 : “Broadcasters must avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or organisations in programmes.”; Ofcom’s investigation found that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, the former Government Chief Scientist, Sir David King and
Professor Carl Wunsch were treated unfairly in the programme. In
particular, the programme made some significant allegations without
offering an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond. In the case
of Sir David King, the programme makers also criticised him for
comments he did not make.
Rule 5.11:“….due impartiality must
be preserved on matters of major political and industrial controversy
and major matters relating to current public policy…”; and
“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”.
Ofcom did not find parts one to four of the programme, which focused
on the scientific debate about the causes of global warming, in breach
of the Code. Ofcom concluded that these parts of the programme were not
matters of political or industrial controversy or matters relating to
public policy and therefore the rules on due impartiality did not apply.
In addition, while Ofcom had concerns about aspects of the
presentation (and omission) of fact and views within the programme, it
did not believe, given the nature of the programme, that this led to
the audience being materially misled. As such, Channel 4 has not been
found in breach of Rule 2.2 of the Broadcasting Code.
Part Two: An Inconvenient Truth (verdict)
1. ‘Error’ 11: Sea level rise of up to 20 feet (7 metres) will be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland in the near future.
# In scene 21 (the film is carved up for teaching purposes into 32 scenes), in one of the most graphic parts of the film Mr Gore says as follows:
“If Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida. This is what would happen in the San Francisco Bay. A lot of people live in these areas. The Netherlands, the Low Countries: absolutely devastation. The area around Beijing is home to tens of millions of people. Even worse, in the area around Shanghai, there are 40 million people. Worse still, Calcutta, and to the east Bangladesh, the area covered includes 50 million people. Think of the impact of a couple of hundred thousand refugees when they are displaced by an environmental event and then imagine the impact of a 100 million or more. Here is Manhattan. This is the World Trade Center memorial site. After the horrible events of 9/11 we said never again. This is what would happen to Manhattan. They can measure this precisely, just as scientists could predict precisely how much water would breach the levee in New Orleans.” # This is distinctly alarmist, and part of Mr Gore’s ‘wake-up call’. It is common ground that if indeed Greenland melted, it would release this amount of water, but only after, and over, millennia, so that the Armageddon scenario he predicts, insofar as it suggests that sea level rises of 7 metres might occur in the immediate future, is not in line with the scientific consensus.
2. ‘Error’ 12: Low lying inhabited Pacific atolls are being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming.
# In scene 20, Mr Gore states “that’s why the citizens of these Pacific nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand”.
There is no evidence of any such evacuation having yet happened.
3. ‘Error’ 18: Shutting down of the “Ocean Conveyor”.
# In scene 17 he says, “One of the ones they are most worried about where they have spent a lot of time studying the problem is the North Atlantic, where the Gulf Stream comes up and meets the cold wind coming off the Arctic over Greenland and evaporates the heat out of the Gulf Stream and the stream is carried over to western Europe by the prevailing winds and the earth’s rotation … they call it the Ocean Conveyor … At the end of the last ice age … that pump shut off and the heat transfer stopped and Europe went back into an ice age for another 900 or 1000 years. Of course that’s not going to happen again, because glaciers of North America are not there. Is there any big chunk of ice anywhere near there? Oh yeah [pointing at Greenland]”. According to the IPCC, it is very unlikely that the Ocean Conveyor (known technically as the Meridional Overturning Circulation or thermohaline circulation) will shut down in the future, though it is considered likely that thermohaline circulation may slow down.
4. ‘Error’ 3: Direct coincidence between rise in CO2 in the atmosphere and in temperature, by reference to two graphs. # In scenes 8 and 9, Mr Gore shows two graphs relating to a period of 650,000 years, one showing rise in CO2 and one showing rise in temperature, and asserts (by ridiculing the opposite view) that they show an exact fit. Although there is general scientific agreement that there is a connection, the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts.
5. ‘Error’ 14: The snows of Kilimanjaro. # Mr Gore asserts in scene 7 that the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro is expressly attributable to global warming. It is noteworthy that this is a point that specifically impressed Mr Milliband (see the press release quoted at paragraph 6 above). However, it is common ground that, the scientific consensus is that it cannot be established that the recession of snows on Mt Kilimanjaro is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.
6. ‘Error’ 16: Lake Chad etc # The drying up of Lake Chad is used as a prime example of a catastrophic result of global warming. However, it is generally accepted that the evidence remains insufficient to establish such an attribution. It is apparently considered to be far more likely to result from other factors, such as population increase and over-grazing, and regional climate variability.
7. ‘Error’ 8: Hurricane Katrina. # In scene 12 Hurricane Katrina and the consequent devastation in New Orleans is ascribed to global warming. It is common ground that there is insufficient evidence to show that.
8. ‘Error’ 15: Death of polar bears. # In scene 16, by reference to a dramatic graphic of a polar bear desperately swimming through the water looking for ice, Mr Gore says: “A new scientific study shows that for the first time they are finding polar bears that have actually drowned swimming long distances up to 60 miles to find the ice. They did not find that before.” The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm. That is not to say that there may not in the future be drowning-related deaths of polar bears if the trend of regression of pack-ice and/or longer open water continues, but it plainly does not support Mr Gore’s description.
9. ‘Error’ 13: Coral reefs. # In scene 19, Mr Gore says:”Coral reefs all over the world because of global warming and other factors are bleaching and they end up like this. All the fish species that depend on the coral reef are also in jeopardy as a result. Overall specie loss is now occurring at a rate 1000 times greater than the natural background rate.” The actual scientific view, as recorded in the IPCC report, is that, if the temperature were to rise by 1-3 degrees Centigrade, there would be increased coral bleaching and widespread coral mortality, unless corals could adopt or acclimatise, but that separating the impacts of climate change-related stresses from other stresses, such as over-fishing and polluting, is difficult.
Channel 4 misquoted the IPCC and two scientists, but was not criticized for their portrayal of the science. Al Gore was found to have misrepresented and exaggerated the science. Which seems more egregious to you?
The Problem with Zealots
Global Warming’s Fatal Flaw