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Global Warming (TM) Religion? Big Business? Both? (updated x3)
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, March 11, 2007

If you have a spare hour, watch this video.

It is entitled "The Great Global Warming Swindle". It features a bunch of "heretic" scientists (plus one of the founders of Greenpeace and a former editor of the "New Scientist) and their concerns about the whole Global WarmingTM movement. It's also an answer to "An Inconvenient Truth". Best of all, it's not a slide show set to music and it's not boring.

(HT: Steverino)

UPDATE: In the name of fairness, one of the scientists featured in the film is not at all happy about his inclusion.

UPDATE II: Some of the scientists who were featured in the film have received threats because of their skepticism.

Update [Bryan]: Carl Wunsch's more complete objection can be found at RealClimate here.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Al Gore should be required to hand his Oscar over to the folks that made this video.

"There’s going to be a 10-meter rise in the sea level by next Tuesday." Classic.
Written By: the wolf
WOW this is a great video, It encapsulates all I have been saying for years. I have sent it to all my friends, asked them to watch then send it to there friends. This should have won the Academy Award instead of Gore’s “An inconvenient lie”“ Everybody should see this. Please send it to all your contacts. Perhaps this political/religious Bovine Scatology can be stopped with the truth.
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
Carl Wunsch, the guy who wasn’t happy about his involvement, isn’t totally in the "swindle" camp. He sticks to comments like these rather than going so far as to posit the alternative theory of the "Great Global Warming Swindle" producers or get political about it. He calls the models of the activists into question, and suggests that a combination of misunderstandings of the working of the ocean and bias towards "dramatizable" results may be at fault. That’s it.

In the video, these are his contributions:

~25 minutes in:
* "The ocean is the major reservoir into which carbon dioxide goes when it comes out of the atmosphere, or to—from which it is re-emitted to the, the atmosphere.
[pause, cut away]
"If you heat the surface of the ocean, it tends to emit carbon dioxide, so similarly, if you cool the ocean’s surface, the ocean can dissolve more carbon dioxide."

* 26:45 in:
"The ocean has a memory of past events, uh, running out as far as 10,000 years. So for example, if somebody says, ’Oh, I’m seeing changes in the north Atlantic; this must mean that the climate system is changing,’ it may only mean that something happened in a remote part of the ocean decades or hundreds of years ago, whose effects are now beginning to show up in the north Atlantic."

* 50:50 in:
"Even within the scientific community, you see it’s a problem. If I run a complicated model, and I do something to it, like melt a lot of ice into the ocean, uh, and nothing happens, it’s not likely to get printed. But if I run the same model, and I adjust it in such a way that something dramatic happens to the ocean circulation, like the heat transport turns off, ah! It will be published. People will say that this is very exciting; it will even get picked up by the media. So there is a bias, there’s a very powerful bias within the media and within the science community itself toward results which are, uh, dramatizable."
[musical flare]
"The Earth freezes over: that’s a much more interesting story than saying, ’Well, y’know, it fluctuates around, sometimes the mass flux goes up by ten percent, sometimes it goes down by twenty percent, but eventually it comes back.’ Well, y’know, which would you do a story on, I mean, that’s what it’s about."

57:00 in:
"People say, ’Oh, I see the ocean doing this last year; that means that something changed in the atmosphere last year.’ And this is not necessarily true at all; in fact it’s actually quite unlikely, because it can take hundreds to thousands of years for the deep ocean to respond to, uh, forces and changes that are taking place at the surface."
I think I can see how, in an interview lasting even 15 minutes to half an hour, some of his comments could create a different context for some of what he says. On the other hand, I find it more likely that he just didn’t like the overall gist of the film. He just wants to show that the science is very complicated and that the supposedly strong case for man-made global warming rests partly on models that may be biased toward more dramatic results and misunderstandings of ocean science. He probably would disagree with how the film gets much more political and even acts fairly certain about an alternative theory, which he probably doesn’t stand behind, really.

Even still, the comments he does make seem to strengthen the case against the "certainty" in the climate change activists’ camp.
All that said, it certainly is nice as propaganda. Not to say that the whole thing is manufactured and hogwash... just that it is heavy-handed in arguing in only one direction. It attacks a political movement (and makes use of innuendo and guilt by association to do so) and the scientific basis for it, without really conceding any points might be even slightly reasonable.
Written By: Bryan Pick
He calls the models of the activists into question, and suggests that a combination of misunderstandings of the working of the ocean and bias towards "dramatizable" results may be at fault. That’s it.
Well I saw nothing which I would say mischaracterized his position or what he said. His apparent objection, as you note, is a claim that he wasn’t aware of the intent of the film.

OK. But I’m not sure where he comes off looking bad because the film went after the other argument when all he did was, in fact, ’educate’ us as to how the oceans react to change.

He says his remarks were taken out of context, and I’d be interested to see the context in which they were first given, because, as you point out, it seems he’s providing information and not opinion.

I’m not sure of the difference the context would make in that regard. The only place he really voices opinion is when he talks about the fact that for the most part the changes won’t be exciting and the media tends to go for exciting so they’re likely to focus on change which would be perceived as dramatic.

On another subject, one of the more interesting parts of the film is when one of the scientists talks about the fact that warming will most likely moderate weather while those talking about warming as a problem tend to report exactly the opposite will be the effect (killer hurricanes, etc).
Not to say that the whole thing is manufactured and hogwash... just that it is heavy-handed in arguing in only one direction.
But shouldn’t the opposition be heard from as well. I think the point here is that in fact there is another argument, and that argument makes some sense, especially when you listen to the numbers and the trends they present.

Are they arguable. Probably. But I would like to know about the 800 year CO2 lag and why that isn’t discussed in the pro GW arguments.

I also thought the point about developing countries to be compelling. They don’t need inefficient and expensive technology just because it is "environmentally friendly" per some. They need efficient and inexpensive power if they’re ever to develop.

So I thought the film brought up some very good and honest questions. Obviously, given the title, it had a very particular slant. But if you know that going in, perhaps you can separate the wheat from the chaff (facts from propaganda) and investigate the whole thing further, now having two sides to the argument rather than just the predominant "one" previously available.
Written By: McQ
We’re mostly in agreement here, McQ. I, too, would like to know the particulars of what Wunsch has to say, i.e., what context was missing.

The fact that they were presenting an opposing viewpoint/argument is just fine by me. However, I wouldn’t jump so quickly from mocking my opponents’ certainty on a scientific issue (and political action based on it) to trumpeting my own certainty about a particular alternative theory (and political action based on that), as the producers of the film seemed to. As much as this untrained eye thinks their approach has merit, and as entertaining as the video stayed for 75 minutes, I still think they would have done well to show more modesty. Bringing up questions, I agree, is laudable.

That African economist toward the end of the film, James Shikwati, is great. He came to my attention some time ago. Read an interview in Der Spiegel with him from July 2005:
"For God’s Sake, Please Stop the Aid!"

The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. The avid proponent of globalization spoke with SPIEGEL about the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem.
Edit: Heh, I just noticed on the sidebar at Der Spiegel:
Our Warming World: * Climate Change Is Happening: Try as the world might to reverse the trend, it may already be too late.
* Graphic Evidence: What climate change looks like

Red China, Inc.: Does Communism Work After All? China is cornering an ever larger share of the world market. Many are wondering if a planned economy could work after all.
Written By: Bryan Pick
I remember that. It was a phenomenal piece. And, when you read through it, he made some good sense. Just as good as that he was making in the film.

And I agree that the film might have been better served to present this as an alternative view of what is actually occurring vs. characterizing the other POV as a ’swindle’. Another 20 minutes adding more facts to the theories they laid out would probably have been better spent than attacking the AGW crowd.

I did find interesting though their description of the IPCC "to 2500" scientists. Heh ... apparently whoever they got on the list, if you believe the folks in the film, were the defacto "top 2500".
Written By: McQ
Certainly the film had more scientific documentation than Al Gore’s. It correctly pointed out the misrepresentations of those who claim it’s all humans’ fault. The scientist who now dissociates himself from the film presented only scientific fact. He should be proud of his honesty rather than whine, he didn’t know the film would debunk conventual wisdom.

The presentations of the “Humans are the cause of global warming” cult seemed accurate. The cofounder of Greenpeace presented a convincing argument of the need for escalation of fear to generate more income.

All in all, this is a fair and accurate presentation of the facts of global warming as recognized by most of those scientists who study the problem.
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
James - If you’re interested in Patrick Moore, the featured cofounder of Greenpeace, you can visit his website.

One of the main pieces is this, "Environmentalism for the 21st Century." If you don’t want to keep flipping pages, here’s the printer-friendly version.

The other pieces, like "Trees are the Answer," are entertaining too.
Written By: Bryan Pick
And I agree that the film might have been better served to present this as an alternative view of what is actually occurring vs. characterizing the other POV as a ’swindle’.
It seems to me the other side is a “swindle”, Organizations don’t go out of business when their goals are met, they just change goals. Remember “The March of Dimes” campaign against polio? After polio was eradicated they didn’t go out of existence, they just changed their goals.
Environmentalism is a great way to raise money. Who can be against saving the environment, even if it doesn’t need saving. The film is correct, you have to keep escalating the danger to keep the money rolling in. Too many people have their jobs, reputations, and ego invested in the theory Humans are the cause of global warming, to back down. What we are seeing is Luddism at its worst. The motto seems to be, “Don’t let facts get in the way of a good fund raising campaign” Unfortunately the facts say Humans are irrelevant to global warming. Claiming otherwise is an extreme form of hubris.
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
You shouldn’t believe that Michael Crichton is the leading authority on global warming. Even if it isn’t an incontrovertible fact that climate change is man made, the sheer amount of evidence supporting this view should convince every resonable human that it’s criminal negligence to bet the future of western civilization on the chance that carbon emissions and other side effects of our industrialized societies have nothing to do with it. You wouldn’t take such a chance on a matter of life and death in your personal decisions, why do you think it’s ok on a national level?
Written By: Gray
You’d think on the same Guardian site that instead of attacking the credibility of the documentary. They would try and argue the points in the film that the film argues against which are the very same points that they link to in an interactive demo on that page.,,1267004,00.html
Written By: emmess
URL: http://
Gray, I’d encourage you to reexamine the video’s point about the Precautionary Principle.

If the measures needed to reduce carbon emissions lead to an increase (or even just the maintenance of) current poverty globally, then more people will die than would have otherwise. That’s the indisputable fact: poverty equals a lower life expectancy overall.

Doesn’t the precautionary principle demand the viewing of schemes to reduce carbon emissions skeptically?
Written By: JMD
URL: http://
I was perusing the latest issue of Sports Illustrated this weekend and saw their main story was titled -

Going, Going Green
As global warming changes the planet, it is changing the sports world. To counter the looming environmental crisis, surprising and innovative ideas are already helping sports adapt
Lots and lots of people are going to take the article for fact. Which is just going to make the discussion of this topic that much more difficult. Link
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
You shouldn’t believe that Michael Crichton is the leading authority on global warming.
Don’t think he’s even been mentioned yet, much less called a "leading authority" on anything... so that’s a straw man.
Even if it isn’t an incontrovertible fact that climate change is man made, the sheer amount of evidence supporting this view should convince every resonable human...
Stop. Your fingers are writing checks your brain can’t cash.

Lots of theories have a bunch of evidence backing them up right before they’re replaced by a model that explains the system better. The scientists make a number of observations in the video that call into question a number of the assertions made by climate change activists on the evidence they’ve collected.

For example, even in the link emmess provided (which, by the way, uses some older predictions that have since been modified and become less dramatic), the third or fourth frame shows the CO2 concentrations and the temperature variations and neglects to mention something shown in the "Swindle" video—that rises in temperature tend to lead rises in CO2 concentration, rather than the other way around. (Edit: For example, he could try linking to something like this instead.)

You could be right about the whole anthropogenic global warming thing—I’m modest enough to know that I could be wrong, especially since I’m not a trained scientist—but you’re going about your argument entirely the wrong way. And using strings of words like "every re[a]sonable human" doesn’t help your case. It makes you sound pompous without the authority to back it up.
it’s criminal negligence to bet the future of western civilization on the chance that carbon emissions and other side effects of our industrialized societies have nothing to do with it.
You’re "bet[ting] the future of western civilization" that you can jump the hurdles I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I’m betting that people are ignorant and subject to unintended consequences, and that political action is typically both costly and clumsily executed. So, if anyone’s going to take any action, not only will they have to prove that money spent on X program will ameliorate some of a specific problem, they also will have to prove that spending that money on X program is better than spending it elsewhere—like on a problem that we know is a problem, such as AIDS or malaria or a lack of clean drinking water. Or onerous burdens that hold back productive people from being able to protect themselves against Mother Nature’s mood swings.
Written By: Bryan Pick
Thanks for the latest update. Wunsch’s response is revealing. That he is a member of GW hyperventalions is fairly certain - yet he is still enough of a scientist that he doesnt entirely couch his rhetoric within AGW approved realm. We all need to be conservationists, constantly seeking to reduce our impact upon our enviroment. Wailing about the evils of civilization, demanding "something be done", especially when the science is inconslusive however, only plays into the hands of certain components of the AGW movement. Those that are against "un-ordained" progress. Funny how these folks are also those so regularly lamenting losses of freedoms under the more capitalist governments.

Written By: bains
URL: http://
Come on. Wunsch’s comments weren’t taken out of context. He just disagrees with he conclusions reached by the documentary. Given that he acknowledges the fallacy of some of the more publicized AGW doomsday prophecies (e.g. changes in the ocean are caused by contemporaneous changes in the atmosphere as was alleged when the AGW religionists tried to blame the 2005 hurricane season on recent ocean warming allegedly caused by recent atmospheric warming), it is really pathetic that he is trying to salvage his image with the AGW religionists.

Also, every one of Bryan’s criticisms of "Swindle" could apply to "An Inconvenient Truth". I went and looked at the link that McQ provided and read some of the RealClimate crowd’s comments. They are advocating legal action to prevent people from making movies like "Swindle". I think that tells us everything we need to know about the AGW crowd, their sincerity and their inability to make their case with the facts.
Written By: Anonymous

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