The Great Global Warming Swindle - Overview
The Great Global Warming Swindle is a controversial documentary originally aired on the UK-based Channel 4 in March of this year. Since this time the issues raised in the film have caused a lot of debate, not to mention righteous indignation from the environmental movement.
The core concept behind the film, and cause of its controversy, is that contrary to what the mainstream media are telling us, global warming and climate change are not the byproducts of our industrial emissions, but rather a natural occurrence.
Citing historical periods in which the temperature was both significantly higher, and lower, than it is at the present the film-makers contend that global warming is directly indexed to changes in the volatile sun. In periods where the sun flares more than usual, creating 'sun spots', the earth's temperature increases, and in times when the sun is far less active, the temperature of the earth drops significantly.
They contend that the impact of carbon emissions is all but negligible in terms of climate change, when held up against the far more significant effects of solar activity.
Man-Made Global Warming As The New Morality
But making such claims goes against the spirit of the age. Man-made global warming has become an orthodoxy, and those that challenge this prevailing idea are quickly branded as apologists for the rich industrialists attempting to shirk responsibility for their actions.
Whether this is the case or not I will leave to you to decide, but nevertheless the issue becomes at least troubled when you are presented with scientific data that directly contradicts that being broadcast on our television screens. Certainly it is difficult to know who to trust in an age where scientists can be easily bought off, and data massaged into any argument you would care to squeeze it into.
However you feel about the evidence presented, though, it seems healthy to at least question the status quo. When scientific theories become orthodoxes, it is quite possible that they stand in the way of the truth.
In spite of claims to the contrary, the idea that global warming is man-made, and therefore the direct responsibility of all of us, has gained enough prestige and mileage to make it very difficult to present counter-claims. Nonetheless, this is exactly what The Great Global Warming Swindle attempts to do.
Among the claims made by the film-makers, one of the strongest points to rise above the facts and figures is the idea that the scientific consensus that we are being presented with is in fact a fallacy.
Our firm belief in man-made global warming has been well-bolstered by the parading of scientific credentials, and more importantly consensus on the stage of the worldwide mass media. Scientists, we are told, are in agreement and it goes beyond a shadow of a doubt that global warming is a direct consequence of carbon emissions from industrialized nations.
As this information is presented to the public on the television news, we repeatedly hear of the 1500 scientists who have come to consensus on the issue, under the guise of the IPCC - the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change.
But one ex-member of the panel, Professor Paul Reiter criticizes it extensively in the film, and has testified against its findings in the UK House of Lords.
Reiter notes that those who disagreed with the 'consensus' and left the panel were nevertheless included in the head-count of scientists quoted to the public, reinforcing the idea that 1500 scientists were in agreement, even when this was not the case. He notes:
''After much effort and many fruitless discussions, I... resigned from the IPCC project. My resignation was accepted, but in a first draft I found that my name was still listed. I requested its removal, but was told it would remain because "I had contributed". It was only after strong insistence that I succeeded in having it removed.''
(Paul Reiter, 2005)
Furthermore, Reiter notes that even if you discount the scientists wrongly included in the impressive consensus head-count, you still have to take into account the fact that IPCC is in fact made up a great many members, not all of whom are even scientists. He comments in the film that:
''This claim that the IPCC is the world's top 1500 or 2500 scientists, you look at the bibliographies of the people and its simply not true. There are quite a number of non-scientists/''
Whatever your thoughts on the veracity of the IPCC findings, it is nevertheless interesting to hear of the falsification employed by the mass media to strengthen the sense of scientific consensus in the public eye.
The Problem With The Co2 Story
The film-makers argue that the man-made global warming theory is seriously flawed in its approach. It is suggested that the biggest growth in carbon emissions took place in the post-war boom in industrialization during the latter part of the 1940s, but that it is at exactly this point that climate temperatures took a nose-dive, after a long period of consistent growth.
This claim is then further reinforced with the idea that changes in temperature brought on by greenhouse gasses are thought to occur most powerfully in a part of the atmosphere called the troposphere. In actual fact, the scientists interviewed on the matter explain, the surface temperature of the earth is higher than that measured in the troposphere - suggesting that greenhouse gases are not accountable.
Co2 And Temperature - About Face
But what of the famous graph from Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth? Surely Gore revealed a direct correlation between co2 levels and temperature change?
This isn't refuted by the scientists featured in the film, but one key point is made that turns the whole idea upside down. It isn't temperature change that follows co2 emissions, they claim, but rather the reverse.
The film illustrates how there is an eight hundred year lag between changes in temperature, and a subsequent change in co2 levels that directly correlates to these changes. In other words, co2 emissions rise and fall in correspondence with changes in global temperature. This is, it is explained, largely due to the main source of co2 emissions in the world - not factories, humans or even animals, but evaporation from the ocean.
Solar Activity And Climate Change
But if co2 follows rather than dictates temperature change, what is responsible for the rapid climate changes we are starting to experience? In a nutshell, argue the film-makers, climate change is directly indexed to activity, or lack of activity, on the surface of our volatile sun.
In those periods in which the sun is most active, displaying a greater amount of 'sun spots', the temperature of the earth increases, at some points in history leading to a climate significantly warmer than that we are currently used to. The example of the medieval warm period is cited, in which vineyards were present as far north as northern England, an idea inconceivable in the current climate.
Equally, when the sun is less volatile and displays less sun spots, the result is a significant drop in the mean temperature, resulting in a cold period. This has been mapped out over 400 and 1000 years, with figures for sun activity and climate change remarkably interconnected.
The Polar Ice Caps
Another popular myth that the film-makers claim to expose is that of the melting polar ice-caps. Time and again we are presented with images of ice falling off into the sea at an alarming rate, along with the message that this is a direct consequence of our actions.
Not so, claims Professor Syun-Ichi Akasofu, director of the International Arctic Research Center. He claims that if you study polar ice over time, it is in a constant process of expanding and contracting, and that the images we see on our televisions of ice sheets falling away into the sea is as natural as the falling of autumn leaves.
If there is a grain of doubt as to the carbon emissions model of man-made global warming, why then does it persist, and to whose benefit?
Among the beneficiaries and funders of research into man-made climate change are those in support of nuclear energy. After years of being told of the dangers and long term damage possible through the use of nuclear energy, it is once more considered to be a viable and acceptable replacement for the environmentally unsound carbon-based means of energy production.
The film cites the case of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who both supported nuclear power and was fiercely set on wiping out the power of the UK labour unions, focused as they were around the coal mining industry. Here is one example of a politician with every incentive to fund research into the benefits of nuclear energy, and the dangers of co2 producing fuels, such as coal.
The Environmental Industry
In addition to the nuclear lobby, it is also noted that there is now a very strong global environmental industry, spreading from local government, across a range of public sector organizations and NGOs, and even to the thriving trade in eco-disaster journalism.
If suddenly the idea that man was not responsible for the changes in our climate gained traction, a significant number of jobs and even entire micro-industries, like that of the hybrid-car, would feel a powerful knock-on effect.
The danger, of course, is that those with power in these roles will do what needs to be done to maintain the status quo. Journalists will publish increasingly apocalyptic projections in a bid to outdo one another, car manufacturers will continue to sing the praises of their higher-priced ecologically sound models, and politicians will continue to raise taxes in a number of areas under the guise of protecting the environment. Impending ecological disaster, like it or not, is big business.
Keeping The Developing World From Developing
A more alarming aspect of the film is the notion that developing nations are being effectively prevented from benefitting from the fruits of industrialization. Now that the industrial world is being cast as the fundamental cause of our immanent destruction, much is being done to encourage the use of sustainable energy sources - such as solar and wind power - in developing countries.
Unfortunately, as one interviewee points out, while solar energy is currently sufficient to run a transistor radio, the technology is ill-equipped to fuel a steel industry, or power the homes of the millions of people still deprived of electricity.
The close policing and enforcement of environmental restrictions in the developing world is effectively preventing people from enjoying the same basic amenities that developed nations take for granted. Whether this is from a genuine concern over the impact of even greater global carbon emissions, or a concern over maintaining a cheap workforce, national debt and resource to be plundered is up for debate.
Either way, though, enforced environmental restrictions are having an impact on those whose living conditions would never be deemed acceptable in the developed world.
To give you a chance to decide for yourself, here is the full film, which runs at approximately 1' 15":
We are told that global warming is a direct consequence of our actions, and that chief among the problems has been an increase in co2 emissions. Rarely a day goes by that we do not see new and startling images of the devastating effects of global warming, alongside apocalyptic projections of the shape of things to come.
But is it possible that this mass media campaign of terror tactics actually has shaky scientific foundations? And is it also possible that this new orthodoxy protects the interests of those that would benefit from the propagation of the man-made global warming theory?
Certainly plenty of jobs depend upon the now burgeoning industry surrounding the theory, from those in national and local politics, to those making a living from alarmist headlines and computer generated images of our cities under water. But that is far from incontrovertible evidence - where there is a crisis, there will always be those that exploit it.
However, if the very notion that the changes we are witnessing in our climate have been brought about through our own industrial emissions were to be proven wrong, what then?
The scientists that present their claims in The Great Global Warming Swindle seem convinced that this is indeed the case, and present a solid argument that suggests that global warming is indexed to solar changes rather than carbon emissions. This makes for a compelling and unsettling claim, for if it is indeed true, we are all being duped and manipulated by mass media propaganda.
Who to trust? You decide.
If you would like to read more about The Great Global Warming Swindle, you might want to check out the following links:
Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "Co2 Climate Change Debunked? The Great Global Warming Swindle"