Sunday, April 08, 2007

The "Great Global Warming Swindle" Swindle

The Great Global Warming Swindle

That's the film aired in the UK recently purporting to show that Global Warming was a total fraud perpretated on the public by, er, well, the entire scientific community of a bazillion countries. I urge everyone to look at this video, for it represents the last gasp effort of the global warming deniers to make their case. It has all the tricks, sophistry, straw men and outright falsehoods we have come to expect from the professional denier class.

When you watch the video keep these points in mind:

(1) Of the eighteen 'experts' interviewed in this film, 6 are known in the public record as being majorly funded by the fossil fuels industry, either directly or through right wing think tanks (Ball, Clark, Lindzen, Spencer, Michaels & Singer), 5 are not research scientists in any discipline (Moore, Dreissen, Shikwati, Calder, Corbyn), 4 are scientists in other disciplines removed from climatology (Friis-Christensen, Stott, Shaviv, Reiter). Only three remain on that video that are climatologists doing real research. Of these three, Christy endorses the IPCC report, Akasofu urges action to curb carbon use because of the contribution man makes to warming, and Wunsch has openly protested to the show's producers that he was swindled and misrepresented. Text of Wunsch's letter here

(2) Data was made up. One of the main graphs shown on the film was attributed to NASA, showing temperature changes in the 20th century, did not in fact come from NASA, but from a small outfit called the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine. This is a one man shop run out of a prefab warehouse in rural Oregon by a protein chemist that splits his time between global warming rants and writing homeschool tracts and post nuclear survivalist pamphlets. His graph used outdated data ending in the 80's. The producer of the film admitted just taking a marker and extending the line to make it appear that the data was current. In other words, he made stuff up.

(3) Other Data cited was found to have serious math errors that, when corrected, eliminated the points the film tried to make. Dr. John Christy was prominently quoted in this film as the co-producer of a dataset of temperatures that showed that the troposphere was not warming, only surface temps were. The implication of this is that a heightened greenhouse effect is not being detected at all. A team of scientists for the US Climate Change Program poured over the Christy-Spencer dataset and found the errors, concluding in it's report that:

"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."
Who wrote that refutation of that entire argument? Dr. Christy himself. He was on that team of scientists that corrected his own data.

(4) Most if not all of the points have been debunked by elementary fact checking. One hilarious example was the supposition that England used to be a warm wine growing region, but now it's too cold to grow wine, showing that temps were hotter in medieval times (and by inference warming is natural and no big deal.) Well someone oughtta clue in these guys that they better stop growing wine in England:

For a thorough scientific debunking of virtually every word in the film, check out what real climate scientists have to say, or a handy layman's reference over at Grist Magazine, How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic.

(5) The show's producer quickly came unhinged by criticism. When two prominent scientists wrote them to question the numerous shortcomings of the data presented, the producer replied to them by e-mail : " you are a big daft @#%!" and "go @%$! yourself". The London Times is rarely hilarious, but this article on this weird behavior is a hoot.

Global Warming denial has been a lucrative cottage industry for a small band of marginal scientists willing to take copious amounts of money from the fossil fuel industry directly, or indirectly through fossil fuel industry funded "think tanks". Now that one by one the big company funders are giving up the fight and grudgingly acknowledging the science behind global warming, there's a mad scramble to save their reputations, leading to bogus propaganda pieces like this film. It's threadbare substance shows how little argument there really is about the basic points of global warming.