Saturday, March 17, 2007


I've been having too much fun cycling to do much blogging recently, but I tracked down an on-line copy of the Global Warming Swindle program a few days ago.

It was basically nonsense, of course, and has been extensively fisked by the usual suspects all over the place (eg here and here), so I'll not bother repeating the job here. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining look at the world according to sceptics, although those of us in the reality-based community will find most of that world hard to recognise.

Most disappointingly after all the promotional hype about how they were going to feature the "world's top scientists", the program just wheeled out a handful of the usual suspects, many of whom are long past their best-before dates and well into "gone emeritus" status. The only surprise appearance was Carl Wunsch who is obviously hugely embarrassed by being associated with such a bunch of nutcases and who claims to have been deceived. I have limited sympathy, to be honest. From the published messages, it seems to have been clear enough from the start what the program was going to be like (see Exhibit A below), and the director has previous form on this sort of thing. Furthermore, Wunsch didn't really seeem to be misquoted - OK, the context of his comments was not clearly presented (he was talking primarily about ocean circulation) but the point he made about scientists (sometimes) exaggerating for effect is obviously a fair and general one. It will be interesting to see if he really follows through with his threats of an official complaint. The deliberate errors concerning data in other parts of the program are IMO clear grounds for some sort of reprimand but I don't see that Wunsch in particular was really treated unfairly. I'm sure that the program wil son be consigned to the dustbin of history - I expect the longest-lasting effect will be that no reputable scientist will work with Durkin for the foreseeable future.

One thing that surprised me was the scenes attributed to a BBC program ostensibly on climate change, showing apocalyptic scenes of storms and flooded cities. Were they for real? That is, did the BBC really show those scenes as purporting to illustrate future climate in a documentary piece? If so, that seeems just about as reprehensible as anything this propaganda piece showed. But I don't recall any outraged complaints...I hope some readers can help me out.

Exhibit A:
"The aim of the film is to examine critically the notion that recent global warming is primarily caused by industrial emissions of CO2.It explores the scientific evidence which jars with this hypothesis and explores alternative theories such as solar induced climate change. Given the seemingly inconclusive nature of the evidence, it examines the background to the apparent consensus on this issue, and highlights the dangers involved, especially to developing nations, of policies aimed at limiting industrial growth."


Anonymous said...

Evidence James. You haven't got the evidence against it. Don't pretend that you have.The documentary was flawless.

Anonymous said...

"The deliberate errors concerning data in other parts of the program are IMO clear grounds for some sort of reprimand but I don't see that Wunsch in particular was really treated unfairly. "

What errors? Deliberate or otherwise.

Bullshit Annan.

James Annan said...

Oh don't be silly. They('ve already changed one of the temperature graphs and they also used a completely discredited "analysis" of solar data. Take your silly denialism elsewhere please.

Anonymous said...

I think you're being a bit unfair on Wunsch- nothing in that e-mail hints at how loopy the programme was actually going to be. Perhaps he could have researched Durkin a bit more carefully, but as an American he seems be under the impression that British TV still has integrity, rather than the joke it now is.

BTW: There seems to have been a big upswing in denialist activity since the doc, in Stoat, RC, etc. Worth comparing IP addresses perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Re: the BBC programme, it was "Britain under Threat", a documentary presented by David Attenborough and others last year. You can see the original footage presented in the "Swindle" film here (under "sea level / future"). It refers to increasing threats to London of storm surges under rising storm intensity and sea levels. Hope this helps.

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LuboŇ° Motl said...

Don't be silly, James. You must know that about 6/7 of the viewers of the Swindle program know that its essential points are clearly correct, after they see the documentary.

That's why Channel 4 will continue to cover it and plans a debate about global warming. If you continue to pretend that you don't understand why the silliness is almost over, you will look very stupid to 6/7 of your readers.

You should get ready that the industry of liars and parasites will soon be stopped.


Anonymous said...


I think the BBC documentary in question is the one backed up by the CPDN model.

My perspective on the documentary was that it would have been quite persuasive to the average joe. If you are a skilled documentary maker and you select your interviewees carefully and never talk to anyone who disagrees with you. Then you really should be able to convince most viewers. Watch a "who shot JFK?" documentary sometime and by the end they'll convince you their theory is the only possible solution.

Of course many pro-climate change docs work to the same template. It is a bit more ethically justified if your work is not based on fringe scientists. But I still have problems with it especially as many climate docs focus on alarmism.

Richard V

James Annan said...


I've given up trying to get those clips to work, so will refrain from commenting further on that.

It's interesting to see such an unashamed meritocrat as Lumo side with the vote of unwashed masses over the educated elite who have actually studied the issues :-)

Richard, I agree with those points. Further, I think that both sides could probably benefit by trying a little harder to see things from the other point of view rather than demonising anyone who dares to push a little in the "wrong" direction...

Anonymous said...

"It's interesting to see such an unashamed meritocrat as Lumo side with the vote of unwashed masses over the educated elite who have actually studied the issues"

I've studied the issues and you are wrong and the documentary is right.

Its pretty sad MAAAAN when you have to fall back on that "I'm a member of the preisthood" JIVE!!!!

The fact is that temperature tracks with the sun.

And you have never come up with any actual evidence for this 2.6 or 2.9 degrees estimate for a doubling of the CO2.

You did it on the basis of other forcings like volcanoes and such (that is to say the 2.9 estimate). Never on the basis of CO2 itself.

Thats an invalid inference because this homogenised view of "forcings" is untenable.

It might be that the producers didn't fall for such transparently untenable norms of the climate science community.

Ever since I can remember commercial interests have put the element near the bottom of the kettle.

The placement of where the extra heat is being generated is important.

And you being a statistician and not a natural philosopher didn't see it.

So though you had no evidence whatsoever you thought it was AOK and fine to extrapolate from negative "forcings" due to volcanic aerosols ..... and treat CO2 as if its effects would be just the same but in reverse.

A trumped-up statistician ought to be careful not to criticise his scientific betters lest all the gloves come off.

James Annan said...

Look, if you can't say anything useful at least try to be amusing.

Anonymous said...

Come on James.

Objectively speaking I'm fucking hilarious.

You just can't see it cause your ass is always on the fence.

An uncomfortable place to be.

Come over to the bright side of the road.

And never utter the word "denialist" again.

Because thats just nigger-jew-talk in its bigotry.

Anonymous said...

>>Evidence James.

HAHA, not that James needs (or wants ;-) my support, but jeez, you have to do better than an "argument of authority" of Channel 4! What's next, Jade Goody will be the spokeswoman against global warming? It's hilarious that this "documentary" is being praised all around the right-wing blogosphere as "the final word"; yet you can't give "An Inconvenient Truth" ANY credit at all (I mean really, is it 100% wrong?)

Hell, Ch 4 got a bunch of paid-off hacks to reiterate the same BS that's been documented on realclimate for ages, and one "bona-fide" (Wunsch) is saying how he was misquoted, misinterpreted etc. Hardly a good case. If anything the Ch4 and the NYC "debate" shows that sadly, scientists ARE NOT media savvy so they come off as pompous twits at best when up against snake-oil salesmen like Myron Ebell. Perhaps they're too busy doing science (and blogging ;-) to worry about polishing themselves for the camera; except for the few that haven't done much science as they accept the Exxon bucks etc.

PS -- regarding the Attenborough show, the "catastrophic flooding of London" was CGI clips of what could happen if the Thames flood barrier was ovewhelmed/wore out, which isn't too far fetched (i.e. it wasn't based on ocean levels rising 10m or anything). So IMHO it wasn't quite the alarmist thing you may think. And although I didn't agree with everything they put in the two documentaries around CPDN; it was definitely not the "alarmist equivalent" of the Channel 4 tripe. Disclaimer: I had nothing to do with the documentary of course, I just helped get the computer programmes working for the experiment (they only showed one CPDNer on this "results" show, the most photogenic ;-).

Anonymous said...

Scientific consensus:

The Great Global Warming Swindle= flawed

An Inconvenient Truth=mainstream science

"I can’t say I’m outraged. Other people do worse. Of course, there are many [climatologists] who are more or less honest. But almost all of them are conformists".

Grisha Perelman comment on the "mathematical" consensus

Anonymous said...

wow, now Grisha Perelman is your argument from authority? ooh wow, yet another guy who hasn't done anything in climatology field? hell you may as well tout Lubos Motl as an expert. Actually I saw a dimwit on a right-wing website ( touting Lubos as a "Harvard physicist" against globing warming, as if he even had one publication in the field, HAHA! You guys are just getting pathetic with your "experts!"

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James Annan said...

not that James needs (or wants ;-) my support

Actually support is always welcome, and especially so from people who would probably prefer to disagree with me on principle :-)

Passing readers might find it worth noting that although Carl (and the people he works with) and I are probably at diametrically opposing poles in some respects of climate science, there's barely a fag-paper between our views when it comes to stuff like Durkin's dross.

Just because I occasionally leave up some of Graeme Bird's comments certainly doesn't mean I endorse any of them!

Anonymous said...

Birds comments can show the depths of stupidity and nastiness that people can reach on the internet.

Mind you I popped over to his place in a moment of weakness and left a couple of mocking comments, but they seem not to have been posted.