Hostages to a hoax
* So you think I'm defying the scientific facts on climate change? Well, think again, says Martin Durkin
The Australian, July 07, 2007
I COULD not have upset the soft-left, soft-green middle classes more if I had crept in their kitchens and snuck genetically modified tomatoes in their paninis. Why did I make the film The Great Global Warming Swindle? The head of science programs at Britain's Channel 4, Hamish Mykura (who has a PhD in environmental science), asked me to. He suspected the global warming alarm was not based on solid science. So did his predecessor, Sara Ramsden, who was also eager to make a film in this area. I was an experienced science documentary producer used to handling complex subjects.
So what was our conclusion, after months of research that involved talking to hundreds of scientists and wading through mountains of science papers? It's all codswallop. The notion of man-made global warming started life as a wild, eccentric theory and, despite throwing billions of dollars at it, scientists have failed to stand it up. Man-made global warming is unmitigated nonsense.
This is not the first time scientists have talked rubbish. Absurd theories come and go in science all the time. A few years ago an ostensible consensus of scientists said one-third of the British population were about to pop their clogs because they had eaten dodgy hamburgers (the mad cow disease scare). Many scientists build whole careers talking out of their hats. But usually it goes unnoticed. There is no real harm done.
But global warming theory is different. It cannot be ignored. It is intruding into our lives to an extraordinary extent, shaping domestic and international policy in profound ways.
I urge readers to look at the evidence themselves. (We have assembled many relevant papers on a dedicated website, www.greatglobalwarmingswindle.com.) The global warmers try to discourage a close examination of the data. They say the time for debate is over, that there's a consensus of scientists who say it's definitely true. But this is rubbish. Check out www.oism.org and find an extraordinary petition carrying the names of 17,000 scientists who disagree.
The basic facts are as follows. There is nothing unusual about the present climate. The Earth has been far, far warmer than today and far, far colder. Our present interglacial (the mild bit between ice ages) is not nearly as warm as previous interglacials. Nor are we in a particularly warm part of the interglacial.
The recent warming, such as it is, represents a mild, welcome recovery from an exceptionally cold period in Earth's recent climate history, known to climatologists as the Little Ice Age. How mild is the recent warming? During the past 150 years global temperature has increased by a little more than 0.5C. But most of this rise occurred before 1940, when carbon dioxide emissions were relatively insignificant. After 1940, during the post-war economic boom, when human emissions of CO2 took off, the temperature fell, causing (you may remember) in the mid-1970s a consensus among scientists that we were about to enter another ice age.
As Lowell Ponte warned in 1976: "This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000."
Cripes. After that temperatures rose again (though not as steeply or as much as before) and peaked in 1998. Since then they have declined slightly.
Why do we suppose that CO2 is responsible for any of this? CO2 occupies a tiny proportion of the gases in the atmosphere. It is only a secondary greenhouse gas - water vapour is the main one - and greenhouse gases themselves form only one small part of the Earth's climate system.
CO2 has demonstrably never driven climate in the past. (Examine the ice core data at www.CO2science.org.)
If greenhouse gases were causing the temperature to rise, according to classic greenhouse theory, the rate of warming should be higher in the Earth's troposphere (at least 10km up) than at the surface.
But the opposite is true. All our satellite and balloon data tells us that the rate of warming was higher at the surface. In other words, observational data tells us, beyond any reasonable doubt, that greenhouse gas did not cause the recent warming.
But the present alarm is not based on observational data. It is based on models. These models attempt to forecast what will happen in the future, based on a set of assumptions. If your assumptions are wrong, so is your forecast.
If you assume that CO2 is driving the Earth's climate and that CO2 will increase, then you will, as sure as eggs is eggs, produce a forecast that the temperature will rise. But this falls well short of sound science. So why are certain scientists so passionately attached to this theory?
Scientists are not above the prejudices of their age. Global warming is a political theory. It's rarely stated, but we all know it. People on the Left tend to believe it. People on the Right tend not to.
The media and academe (as those of us on the inside know very well) are, in the main, soft left and soft green. We like things that are natural, we think the market is cruel, and we recycle not because it's logical but because it feels right. In these circles global warming has become part of social etiquette. It is as unacceptable to question it as it is to say that you admire George W. Bush or think organic food is a con.
This is the real strength of global warming theory. It taps into the middle-class aesthetic revulsion of consumer, industrial society.
The whole global warming alarm, I believe, raises serious issues about the way science functions in the real world, about the political bias of scientists, about censorship and intimidation within the scientific community, about the routine practice of scientists drawing false or inflated conclusions from ambiguous or uncertain data, about the manifest failure of the peer review process, about the extraordinary unwillingness of scientists who have invested time and reputation in a particular theory to consider evidence that directly contradicts it and about the elevation of speculation (models) to the level of solid data.
Who should you believe? There is nothing for it but to be grown up about it and look at the evidence yourself.
Here's some to get you going: the two graph, published in Geophysical Research Letters Volume 32, 2005 by a leading astrophysicist from Harvard University. One compares temperature change in the Arctic during the 20th century with levels of CO2.
The other compares the same temperature record to variations in solar activity as recorded, independently, by scientists from NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Note: these two graphs can be found in this same story at this link (scroll down):
The question posed by the astrophysicist is a simple one. What is driving the Earth's climate? Is it CO2 or is it the sun?
Martin Durkin is a British television producer and director.