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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

'Global Warming Swindle' is, Ironically, a Swindle

A british video has been making the rounds of the right wing global warming denial crowd. The UK's Channel 4-produced video, titled The Great Global Warming Swindle, is pure crackpottery -- porno for the Flat Earth Society. Among the claims made by this video is that global warming is a scam started by Margaret Thatcher to break the coal miners' union and move the UK to nuclear power. That the right has accepted this smear of a global figure they consider second only to Ronald Reagan shows you how desperate they are to find some reason to continue to believe they're not as wrong on climate change as they have been about pretty much everything since 2000 -- or earlier.

The video was directed by Martin Durkin. Durkin's history is bad. He's basically the british version of John Stossel. In 1997, he produced a documentary, titled Against Nature, which was nothing but an anti-evironmental screed. The claims made in that video quickly fell apart as interviewees for the piece complained that they were taken out of context and misrepresented as critics of environmentalism.

George Monbiot, The Guardian:

Mr Durkin has often been acused of taking liberties with the facts. In 1997 he made a series for Channel 4 called Against Nature, which compared environmentalists like me to Nazis, conspiring against the world's poor. No one would suggest that green claims should not be subjected to critical examination, but the people he interviewed were lied to about the contents of the programmes and given no chance to respond to the accusations the series made.

The Independent Television Commission handed down one of the most damning verdicts it has ever reached: the programme makers "distorted by selective editing" the views of the interviewees and "misled" them about the "content and purpose of the programmes when they agreed to take part". Channel 4 was forced to make a humiliating prime time apology. After the series was broadcast, I discovered that the assistant producer and several of its interviewees worked for the rightwing libertarian magazine masquerading as Living Marxism, which has just been successfully sued by ITN. All the arguments Against Nature made had been rehearsed in LM.

Another Durkin piece claimed to 'prove' that silicone breast implants were completely harmless. Now, Durkin is accused of doing exactly the same thing with The Great Global Warming Swindle as he had with Against Nature. Some people never learn...

The Independent:

It was the television programme that set out to show that most of the world's climate scientists are misleading us when they say humanity is heating up the Earth by emitting carbon dioxide. And The Great Global Warming Swindle, screened by Channel 4 on Thursday night, convinced many viewers that it is indeed untrue that the gas is to blame for global warming.

But now the programme - and the channel - is facing a serious challenge to its own credibility after one of the most distinguished scientists that it featured said his views had been "grossly distorted" by the film, and made it clear that he believed human pollution did warm the climate.

Professor Carl Wunsch, professor of physical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said he had been "completely misrepresented" by the programme, and "totally misled" on its content. He added that he is considering making a formal complaint.

Says Wunsch, "I am angry because they completely misrepresented me. My views were distorted by the context in which they placed them. I was misled as to what it was going to be about. I was told about six months ago that this was to be a programme about how complicated it is to understand what is going on. If they had told me even the title of the programme, I would have absolutely refused to be on it. I am the one who has been swindled."

While this sort of scandal would normally flare up and be forgotten, Durkin's timing is really bad this time around. This is the same Channel 4 that's still recovering from the Jade Goody Big Brother scandal, which resulted in accusations of racism toward a game show contestant and the channel itself. The resulting uproar sparked an international incident between the UK and India. This is pretty much the last thing they need. Martin Durkin may find it harder to get other programs produced in the future. Big loss.

If you go through right wing blogs, this video is all over the place. The gullibility of these people is amazing. Riehl World says, "[The video] contained more science in debunking Global Warming than I have yet to see produced by the Global Warming crowd." That's right, some video produced by a proven charlatan is more solid than the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which represents the international consensus on climate science.

In fact, global warming skepticism is such a noncompetitive field that Durkin couldn't find enough of them to fill the air time for his show. He had to misrepresent climate scientists as critics.

I've said it before. We can stop listening to these fools. The media has been especially irresponsible in giving cranks the same legitimacy as the science -- a failing they're also guilty of with evolution. There are two sides to every story, sure. But where we are now, the two sides are reality and laughable nutcases. CNN, for example, doesn't need to find an honest to goodness flat earther to tell everyone the moon landings were a scam every time there's a story about NASA. Likewise, there's no reason to find some global warming denier to comment every time there's a climate story.

Although, as this story shows, the skeptics are an endangered species. Martin Durkin couldn't even find enough of them to fill air time on a TV show. Global warming denial is not a growth industry.

The debate is over.


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Anonymous said...

I can respect the fact that there are those who truly believe that the earth is warming due to mankind. I would be more than happy to listen to a debate over the video discussed in this article. I watched it, and it is quite persuasive because it does give scientific data, and effectively gives facts that are aimed at debunking Al Gore and others who preach "man made" global warming. What dissapoints me with this article is that it gives absolutely ZERO "facts" to debunk the video it seeks to destroy. It DOES talk about the past of the person who produced the film. I am unfamiliar with his past work, and the author of this article might be correct about those works. However, that proves absolutely nothing of the validity or falseness of THIS video. Don't tell me about the corrupt past of the producer of the video, tell me where this video is wrong in it's FACTS. The author concludes with "the debate is over." My question is, what debate? To debate, you need to understand what is presented in opposition to your view, and show where it is wrong. The author fails miserably in this article to convince me that his view is more valid than the video.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the previous poster. The fact that one scientist was misrepresented about human population contribution to global warming is such a minor quibble I don't see how it can be blown out of proportion to undermine the credibility of the rest of the film. Either supply more facts about THIS film's mistakes or don't post such flimsy claims to your blog.

Wisco said...

You could do something crazy, like actually follow the links.