Friday, March 09, 2007

The Global Warming Swindle?

Yesterday Channel 4 broadcast a documentary titled The Great Global Warming Swindle. Fully expecting to see a number of marginal and rather nutty people come up with alternative explanations for the current trend in global warming, the film turned out to be quite a bit of an eye-opener.

I'm a chemist but not a meteorologist or climatologist and so, 10 to 15 years ago, when the first correlations between carbon dioxide and the globe's temperature started to appear I was naturally very sceptic. At first I was even quite doubtful about the actual reported temperature increases and it did indeed take some time to get the science right and the figures corroborated.

But gradually the body of evidence linking carbon dioxide emissions to the green house effect and the trend of increased temperatures augmented and I became less sceptical and more accepting. I would say that up to yesterday I was a 'believer'. I use the term 'believer' because although well versed in the physical sciences, climate change is definitely not my field of expertise and I therefore have no choice but to accept more or less on trust what the experts tell me.

I won't therefore really try and analyse the documentary on its scientific merits either but rather comment on some other observations.

In essence the scientists who refute the role of carbon emissions in the current rise in global temperature attribute the changes in temperature past and present to the activity of the sun and the clouds and claim to be able to predict climate changes much more accurately that the carbon-based model does. Many convincing arguments were put forward by clearly well-qualified and highly independent scientists with whom personally I wouldn't really like to argue the points.

However, the documentary makers made some other, perhaps more important points in particular regarding the rise of the carbon theory and how unassailable it has become and why. I found these arguments to be very persuasive, partly because strong parallels with other such 'movements' exist.

There is no doubt in my mind that carbon-based global warming has indeed become a movement, an ideology as it were, with adherents from all quarters and that this actually stands in the way of independent scrutiny.

The science of global climate change, the documentary asserts, has become an entire industry upon which many jobs now depend and which receives gargantuan amounts of research funds. And scientists, like everyone else, follow the money. As a result far more effort, time and money is spent on confirming the theory than is on researching alternative explanations. And not being part of the accepting scientific community can actually lead to dissident scientists being ostracised.

The role of the media is also clear and similar to the part they play in other areas of reporting: climate change reporting has become financially very rewarding and scare mongering sells vast amounts of copy. Most media outlets now also sport 'environmental journalists', often scientically unqualified, whose sole purpose in life seems to be to come up with juicy, but often inaccurate, global climate change stories. A picture of a crumbling bloc of arctic ice has nothing to do with climate change, yet sells well and easily to a trusting general public. It's become bon ton to attribute every bit of freak weather to global warming, even though the scientists themselves are much more cautious in using such spurious 'one-data-point-correlations'.

Finally, the debate, or rather what little is left of it, has become politicised to the point where it has been hijacked by point-scoring politicians and even global 'anti-capitalists' and romantic New Agers, the latter dreaming of a return to a non-industrial, agrarian utopia.

So, have I now become an overnight 'non-believer' (or more ominously put, a 'climate change denier')? I wouldn't go as far as that but this documentary has given me food for thought, much, much food for thought. I will definitely be exploring the alternative explanations further and will occasionally report on any findings. Stay tuned...

Update: I've been looking for the actual video but it may just be a little too early. Here's Channel 4's own plug of the documentary.

Update 2: Here are some parts of the film.


At 6:08 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

GREAT POST!!! reflected my thoughts and sentiments almost verbatum....

I have been "up in the air" (pun intended) regarding Global warming. Many of my conservative blog-mates do not believe in it and have "corrected" me when I have questioned either it's validity...or non-existence. As you stated...they informed me to "follow the money"...and there is definately truth to that.....

At this writing...I am leaning toward the fact the warming is ocurring because of natural long term climate unusual warming effect from the sun (mars is also getting warmer)...AND...some warming due to our various man made gas emissions...

In short...I really enjoyed your post....Cookie

At 7:40 PM, Blogger Gert said...

I'm going to try and find the actual film. I couldn't find it on YouTube (probably too soon). It's actually very worth watching. Much better than I exppected, to be honest (I'm not the biggest fan of C4).

At 3:54 PM, Blogger sig94 said...

I truly hope that the debate continues. Unfortunately there are very few of us who are 1) scientists and 2) climatologists (I hope that word isn't referring to the study of orgasms!).

The arguments and the science supporting them has been extrememly politicized to the extent that the observer is not so much influenced by data, but by his own political inclinations.

This is truly a pity and is a very dangerous condition as binding, far-reaching, public policy is often derived thusly. And perhaps that is what this is all about.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Thanks for this post. I have spent the last three days (when time permits) looking into the claims made in this film. I also did find the full film. I hope this helps. Below are two links to the article I finished last night.



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