CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Great Media Swindle About Global Warming

Jul 10, 2007

At least ‘our’ ABC is going to show the film – or at least, some of it. But only to be followed up by a panel of experts, most of whom will seek to demonise the filmmaker and rubbish the film. I refer of course to the film, The Great Global Warming Swindle, which will be aired this Thursday night (July 12) at 8:30pm.

While it is nice to see the ABC trying to shed its image of entrenched bias, and allow the documentary to go ahead, there are still some problems here. First of all, it appears to be a shortened, edited version of the doco. Why not show the whole thing?

Secondly, there will be a panel of ‘experts’ following the film to debate its merits. Evidently the need for balance and getting all points of view is the rationale for this.

But why must the ABC go down this path? Do they think we are so uneducated that we cannot make up our minds for ourselves? Do we really need the follow-up discussion? Why the sudden urge to allow all points of view on the ABC? This has not been their custom in the past.

Undoubtedly it is occurring for this reason: the true believers about global warming were incensed that the ABC even dared to show the film in the first place. The ABC was hounded by the eco-warriors to not even show it. Now they are demanding time to trash the film and its message.

It appears that as a means of placating these vocal critics, the ABC has gone to this unprecedented and extraordinary step. Now there is nothing wrong with debate on the issue, and many of us do lack scientific expertise on these complex matters. So an informed debate could be a good thing.

But consider what is really happening here. There are complex and controversial social issues all over the place, and the ABC regularly airs shows about them, without seeing the need to provide some sort of balance by way of a follow-up debate.

The ABC regularly features shows pushing various agendas – usually leftwing and secular agendas. For example, it often features pro-homosexual docos. I do not recall ever seeing a panel discussion following such a show, in order to get some balance, or provide equal time.

It has a lot of programs which are really just excuses for anti-Christian bigotry. Often its “religion” program, Compass, will feature decidedly anti-Christian nonsense, especially on key days such as Easter and Christmas. I do not recall the ABC ever following up these attacks on biblical Christianity with a discussion session, meant to provide equal time and offer a bit of balance.

It often has programs bashing Howard, Bush, the US, and policy in Iraq, and so on. Again, when have there been follow-up debates in an effort to ensure fairness and balance? Many other examples could be produced in this regard.

Thus the question is: why is there such a pressing need to provide ‘balance’ here, when the ABC never does it for other hot potato issues? Why is the ABC running so scared on this issue, while so callously trampling over the concerns of many Australians on other hot topics?

But, we should perhaps be grateful for small mercies. Even an edited version of the doco is better than nothing. And concerning the documentary, Bob Carter, who is a geologist who researches ancient climate change, has a piece in today’s Australian, discussing why this film needs to be seen.

Says Carter, “Made by Martin Durkin, and called The Great Global Warming Swindle, this documentary explores the science of climate-change alarmism carefully and accurately. The message of Swindle, which is to be screened on the ABC this week, is that scientific knowledge does not identify carbon dioxide emissions as an environmental harm, nor does their accrual in the atmosphere cause dangerous warming.”

As mentioned, there has been hysteria in some circles about even allowing the film to be aired. Militant greens and others have declared war on the film and the ABC for giving it a run:

“Imagine a well-provendered and equipped military fortress in time of war, for that is what the alarmist, pro-IPCC, climate lobby group represents. Suddenly, loping across the landscape outside the fort, and carrying just a single-shot rifle, appears a lone member of the enemy army. Does the camp commander respond by sending out a platoon, including a psychologist with a megaphone to check what this naive infantryman is up to? Not on your nelly. Instead, the response is remarkable in its ferocity. Three panzer divisions come tearing out of the fort – manned, as it happens, by many distinguished scientists who have volunteered for their politically correct duty of suppressing alternative views – blazing away with all they’ve got. In a trice, the landscape is turned into a moonscape, pockmarked with craters and littered with debris.”

He continues, “For you see, science is not about the triumph of the weight of numbers, nor about consensus, nor about the will of the social majority. An idea such as the greenhouse hypothesis is validated not by shouting but by experimental and observational testing and logical analysis. And note especially that a hypothesis doesn’t care who believes in it, right up to and including environment ministers, heads of state and presidents of distinguished scientific academies. Rather, science requires that to be successful a hypothesis only needs to be clearly stated, understandable, have explanatory power and withstand testing.”

He concludes, “Every day we find public figures on Australian TV and radio stations muttering about there being ‘a consensus’ on dangerous, human-caused climate change, or that the science of global warming ‘is settled’. Such persons should be referred to the nearest psychologist, and gently dissuaded from inflicting their nonsense – for that is what it is – on the poor public. Science is never settled, and it is about hypothesis testing against known facts, not arm-waving about imaginary futures that have been created by PlayStation 4 computer buffs. Consensus nonsensus.”

So let the debate begin!

www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,22044046-7583,00.html

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24 Responses to The Great Media Swindle About Global Warming

  • It would be great, if realists were able to obtain a copy of the full documentary. Also, after Al Gore cancelled two seperate global warming lectures in New York, due to Arctic like conditions in the city, they changed to the safer name “climate change”. That’s easy – the climate changes all the time. That’s why we talk about the weather. If it never changed, there’d be nothing to talk about.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie, Queensland

  • The original full length version as screened in the UK is available to view or download at Google Video. There is a DVD version soon to be made available – see the oficial website: http://www.greatglobalwarmingswindle.co.uk/

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • “…science requires that to be successful a hypothesis only needs to be clearly stated, understandable, have explanatory power and withstand testing.”

    This reminds me of the (possibly apocryphal) story of the Nazis and their hatred of Einstein’s science because of his Jewish birth.

    Hitler reportedly set up a show, parading 100 German scientists to denounce his science – particularly relativity theory.

    But he simply smiled and said “it doesn’t require 100 scientists to prove me wrong: one would be sufficient – but I am not wrong!”

    A modern equivalent of Galileo’s “Eppur si muove (and yet it moves)”.

    John Angelico

  • Bill,

    You ask “Do they think we are so uneducated that we cannot make up our minds for ourselves?”

    Given that climate change is one of the most complex problems that science has ever had to grapple with, I think it goes without saying that the lay public is generally “uneducated” about the issue.

    I’ve seen Durkin’s film and I doubt that too many viewers would know enough about climate science to see through the errors and misleading claims it contains. I’m amazed that you would endorse Durkin’s credibility, given his Marxist libertarian credentials and his history of involvement with wacky conspiracy theories.

    The film does indeed need discussion and rigorous debate, although I doubt the time allotted will be sufficient to cover all of the issues.

    Humanity faces some formidable challenges in the next few decades, with water shortages in Australia, the looming oil crisis and its consequences for world energy security, population pressure, and the potential for a climate disaster.

    I think we need much more information, more public debate and more scientific education of the masses so that there is a better understanding of the seriousness of the problems facing the next few generations. Politicians are unlikely to make more than token gestures, because their focus is too short term. It needs an educated public to force them into action.

    Steve Angelino, WA

  • Thanks Steve

    Having just watched the film and discussion, my main point still stands. Why did the ABC take the unprecedented step of effectively bashing the film and its message, all in the name of fairness, equal time, and getting all points of view? The ABC is constantly offering docos and programs about other equally complex, difficult and controversial issues, yet it never seems to think it must provide balance to those. And most of those programs are well to the left of centre, reflecting a fairly secular/leftist worldview. Why not provide the same rigorous scrutiny and hard questions to those programs as they did to this film? The ABC’s bias is simply showing here, big time.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • More bias from the ABC. Having also just watched the film and discussion I concur with Bill. ABC presenter Tony Jones gave a disclaimer before running the film to the effect that ‘the views of this film do not represent those of the ABC’. One wonders why no similar disclaimer is given whenever the ABC runs myriad leftist propaganda shows? This is probably appropriate given that those leftist opinions really are quite representative of the ABC.

    After the film, a prerecorded interview conducted by Jones of producer Martin Durkin was shown. Jones flew to the UK to conduct the interview. Jones gave Durkin a real grilling and challenged him with prerecorded clips of believing scientists challenging some of the film’s assertions. Under the circumstances Durkin did a pretty good job at defending himself and his film. Will the ABC now fly Jones to the USA to give Al Gore a similar grilling and challenge him with video clips of skeptical scientists showing how flawed Gore’s own film is? I won’t be holding my breath.

    Some of Jones’ challenges to Durkin were simply nit-picking. Like if it was fair to use the term “now” on a graph spanning one thousand years where the period of the late 20th century where the data stopped could reasonably be labled as “now”. Actually, given this nit-picking attitude of Jones, I was surprised how many claims made by Swindle were not challenged, thereby demonstrating the soundness of those arguments.

    And as I alluded to above, how would An Inconvenient Truth which is probably about 10% true and 90% propaganda stand up against Swindle which is probably 90% true and 10% propaganda, if given the same scrutiny? Some of the central tenets of the Gore film have been categorically debunked like his interpretation of the temp/CO2 relationship from ice-core data and the fraudulent ‘hockey-stick’ temperature graph.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Steve Angelino’s list above of humanity’s most ‘formidable challenges’ only proves how out of touch with reality the AGW believers really are. Absent from his list is Islamic terrorism, which has already claimed more lives than global warming ever will.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • So Steve Angelino agrees that we need more debate. That is a refreshing change from most global warming alarmists who claim “the debate is over; we need to act now”.

    Unfortunately he perpetuates long-discredited scaremongering. Discredited doom-monger Paul Ehrlich in 1968 predicted mass famines in the West and shortages of commodities in the next decade or Humanity faces some formidable challenges in the next two after his book. But not only did the famines not eventuate, but in 1980 he made a famous bet with economist Julian Simon predicting metal shortages 10 years later, and Ehrlich lost on all five metals that he picked since the prices all dropped.

    Note also, oil crises have been predicted for a century. In 1920, the head of the US Geological Survey claimed that the US was already near peak production, but in 1948 they were producing four times as much. Similarly, in 1944, they estimated that proven worldwide reserves of oil amounted to 51 million barrels, but by 2002 the official estimate for proven worldwide reserves was over a billion barrels.

    The current Australian water crisis would be solved by the next rate bill if the price of water were set by the market instead of being set artificially low for the sake or “affordability”. If people had to pay the real price, they would have an incentive to conserve far greater than State Government preachifying, and without the need for force from the Wasserspolizei. And it would also provide an incentive for the biggest users to catch their own water in tanks, without needing taxpayer subsidies. But the leftists who set water policy evidently prefer water to be “affordable” even if non-existent than expensive but available.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Thanks guys

    The ABC presentation last night really was appalling, for numerous reasons. It was just one big hatchet job on someone who dared to even question the conventional wisdom about climate change. Given the secular left’s elevation of tolerance above all else, the ABC was remarkably intolerant toward climate change skeptics. The whole tenor of the interview and “discussion” after the show felt not unlike what the Spanish Inquisition must have been like, where heretics were made to recant under pain of death.

    Of course Tony Jones the ‘moderator’ was fully lined up against Durkin, as were five panelists, leaving just three to try to give a defence. Six to three: a typical ‘fair’ debate in the eyes of the ABC.

    And at least twice Jones or another heresy hunter cited Stephen Schneider. What they conveniently did not mention was that back in the 70s he was one of the biggest champions of the global cooling scare. But the ABC of course is quite selective in its moral outrage and heresy hunting.

    And right after the program they featured on ‘Nightline’ more discussion of the topic, again featuring denunciations of Durkin. Talk about overkill. Talk about being one-sided.

    I am eagerly awaiting the next complex and controversial issue to be aired on the ABC, and how it will go out of its way to bring ‘balance’ and all points of view to the subject. Not!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    Seems to me you have taken a political stance on this issue, when it’s actually a scientific problem which should be divorced from politics. From your far-right perspective, you see conspiracy theories everywhere and you see everything as biased.

    The Durkins program is flawed reporting and the ABC or any other news organisation has an obligation to ensure that the public is not misled. It gave the climate sceptics every chance to state their case, but it seemed pretty obvious to me that they are deluded and out of touch with the findings of the last decade.

    I wonder if you have actually looked at the scientific evidence?

    Steve Angelino, WA

  • Thanks Steve

    So I can hold you to this, right?: “the ABC or any other news organisation has an obligation to ensure that the public is not misled.” OK, the next time the ABC, for example, airs yet another pro-homosexual documentary, I look forward to you being there, championing the right of all the truth to get out, so the public is not misled.

    Or the next time the ABC blasts Christianity, especially on Easter, I look forward to seeing your public outrage about this lack of fairness and balance, and how you will call the ABC to account, demanding they provide equal time against the atheists and god-haters, in the interests of not misleading the public.

    The truth is, the ABC on a regular basis features “flawed reporting” – as you put it – on a whole range of issues, yet that never seems to bother them, or you. Why all the selective angst here, Steve?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • There will undoubtedly be more articles in days to come criticizing the lousy performance of the ABC last night. But a very good article looking at the hatchet job and bias of the ABC can be seen here: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=6111

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    You accuse me of “selective angst”. I’m certainly not being selective. I’m just responding to your opinion on Durkin’s film with my opinion about it. I can’t recall ever commenting about the ABC before. And there is no “angst” in my comments.

    As for the ABC’s approach to religion, Christianity gets more than a fair go, given the number of religion programs on both TV and radio, the majority of which are non-adversarial discussions about Christian issues. You’re being a bit precious here Bill.

    But religion is a matter of personal opinion, based on one’s cultural upbringing, education and experience. It’s entirely subjective, so who is to judge what is biased?

    You may claim that science is like religion, but if you understood the scientific method you would see why you are wrong. Any scientific theory has to be testable and falsifiable. That claim can’t be made about religion.

    So when someone like Durkins makes a film that is clearly and deliberately laced with false and misleading information, is it any wonder that he gets shot down in flames by scientists who know the real facts?

    In the discussion afterwards, Bob Carter was trying to claim that global temperatures haven’t risen, which is quite absurd. He’s entitled to dispute cause if he can provide an alternative explanation that is supported by the evidence, but when he tried to dispute observable facts he just looked like an idiot. That global warming is happening is fact. That it isn’t caused by solar activity is fact. That CO2 causes warming is fact. That CO2 levels are the highest in the last million years (i.e. since the first humans existed) is fact. That these levels are caused by human activity is fact.

    Just where in this argument do you disagree, and why?

    And why is it so damned important to you to dismiss the accepted theory? I just don’t get it. Has this got some connection with your religious views, or your conservative politics, or something else?

    If you had the power to actually influence society’s response to global warming, instead of just blowing hot air into the blogosphere, would you take more care to study the evidence? Because this is one area where scepticism is a risky and dangerous game.

    Steve Angelino, WA

  • So Jones flew to England to grill Durkin. Jones is another alarmist with the motto: “spewing greenhouse gases is OK for me but not for thee!

    And citing Schneider—good grief:

    “To capture the public imagination,
    we have to offer up some scary scenarios,
    make simplified dramatic statements
    and little mention of any doubts one might have.
    Each of us has to decide the right balance
    between being effective,
    and being honest.” [interview for Discover magazine, Oct 1989)

    See Stephen Schneider: Greenhouse superstar.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • The ABC presenter did not answer a question asking why he did not take as great effort to expose the flaws of Al Gore’s documentary and another guy’s. The ABC is clearly very biased and I think a number of ABC people should be fired. I doubt it will happen though.
    Matthew Mulvaney

  • Bill I am grateful for this post. Stephen A. misses the point, I feel. I would say that it is the scientists who need sorting as to which ones are under educated. Am I to believe that a scientist has a special ability as an analyst over any other researcher or comentator?
    Stan Fishley

  • Ian Plimer had a good article, in The Age surprising enough, that also made some good points about the ABC’s treatment of the Swindle film. It’s called Global warming zealots are stifling scientific debate.

    Also Tim Blair had an interesting article entitled Fear of a global ‘coldening’ in the Sydney Daily Telegraph (Beware some of the language in this piece).

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Icecaps are shrinking on Mars too. Maybe alGore and his aging rocker pals have flown too many jets on Mars as well 😉
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Thanks Steve

    Many would beg to differ with your views about the ABC. And religion is ultimately about truth claims, and must be judged accordingly. As to GW, science is of course all about questioning, doubting, being skeptical, and always challenging the current wisdom. You should be fully in favor of this standard scientific methodology, instead of suspending your usual skepticism and becoming an absolutist here.

    The film made many points where and how the science of GW is to be queried. Simply having a majority does not determine what is scientifically correct. Several decades ago science was pretty well convinced of a global cooling threat to planet earth. Would you say the doubters back then were wrong to challenge the reigning orthodoxy?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Let’s examine Steve Angelino’s ‘facts’ shall we. He says:

    That global warming is happening is fact. That it isn’t caused by solar activity is fact. That CO2 causes warming is fact. That CO2 levels are the highest in the last million years (i.e. since the first humans existed) is fact. That these levels are caused by human activity is fact.

    Firstly, it does appear as if there has been some warming during the last century. How much and whether it will continue is open to debate. Probably it is natural and cyclical.
    Secondly, that it is caused by solar activity is also a possibility as are other non-CO2 related causes.
    Thirdly, CO2 does cause warming but it is disputable how important it is relative to the other greenhouse gases, namely water vapour.
    Fourthly, that CO2 levels are the highest in the last million years, is pure speculation based upon assumption. No one was around one million years ago to check and those of us who believe the biblical record of history would dispute this at several levels.
    Fifthly, that the present (allegedly unprecedented) levels of CO2 are entirely cause by human activity is also open to debate. Whilst fairly accurate estimates can be made of the contribution to atmospheric CO2 caused by man’s burning of fossil fuels, the contribution from natural causes is somewhat harder to measure.

    So, on closer examination, Steve’s ‘facts’ are looking more like assertions. He claims to understand science and ridicules those of us who don’t agree with him as being somehow ignorant of science. How then does he explain those many qualified scientists who are also AGW skeptics? Even the anti-creationist geologist Ian Plimer is a skeptic (I linked to his most recent article above).

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • “For the brave few who stuck with all 174 hours of Live Al, there was something oddly touching about seeing rock gazillionaires who’d flown in by private jet tell Joe Schmoe all the stuff he doesn’t need. Your own car? A washer and dryer? Ha! Why can’t you take the bus and beat your underwear on the rocks down by the river with the native women all morning long?” —Mark Steyn
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • There is an interview on ABC Radio National Counterpoint program with Martin Durkin. It is available as a podcast here The Durkin interview starts about 35 minutes into the program.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Thanks Ewan

    And Durkin defends himself here: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22105154-7583,00.html

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • See also The ‘Great Global Warming Swindle’ Debate.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

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