Monday, March 12, 2007
I am writing to record what I told you on the telephone yesterday aboutInteresting to see Profesoor Wunsch's letter.
your Channel 4 film "The Global Warming Swindle." Fundamentally,
I am the one who was swindled---please read the email below that
was sent to me (and re-sent by you). Based upon this email and
subsequent telephone conversations, and discussions with
the Director, Martin Durkin, I thought I was being asked
to appear in a film that would discuss in a balanced way
the complicated elements of understanding of climate change---
in the best traditions of British television. Is there any indication
in the email evident to an outsider that the product would be
so tendentious, so unbalanced?
I was approached, as explained to me on the telephone, because
I was known to have been unhappy with some of the more excitable
climate-change stories in the
British media, most conspicuously the notion that the Gulf
Stream could disappear, among others.
When a journalist approaches me suggesting a "critical approach" to a
technical subject, as the email states, my inference is that we
are to discuss which elements are contentious, why they are contentious,
and what the arguments are on all sides. To a scientist, "critical" does
not mean a hatchet job---it means a thorough-going examination of
the science. The scientific subjects described in the email,
and in the previous and subsequent telephone conversations, are complicated,
worthy of exploration, debate, and an educational effort with the
public. Hence my willingness to participate. Had the words "polemic", or
"swindle" appeared in these preliminary discussions, I would have
instantly declined to be involved.
I spent hours in the interview describing
many of the problems of understanding the ocean in climate change,
and the ways in which some of the more dramatic elements get
exaggerated in the media relative to more realistic, potentially
truly catastrophic issues, such as
the implications of the oncoming sea level rise. As I made clear, both in the
preliminary discussions, and in the interview itself, I believe that
global warming is a very serious threat that needs equally serious
discussion and no one seeing this film could possibly deduce that.
What we now have is an out-and-out propaganda piece, in which
there is not even a gesture toward balance or explanation of why
many of the extended inferences drawn in the film are not widely
accepted by the scientific community. There are so many examples,
it's hard to know where to begin, so I will cite only one:
a speaker asserts, as is true, that carbon dioxide is only
a small fraction of the atmospheric mass. The viewer is left to
infer that means it couldn't really matter. But even a beginning
meteorology student could tell you that the relative masses of gases
are irrelevant to their effects on radiative balance. A director
not intending to produce pure propaganda would have tried to eliminate that
piece of disinformation.
An example where my own discussion was grossly distorted by context:
I am shown explaining that a warming ocean could expel more
carbon dioxide than it absorbs -- thus exacerbating the greenhouse
gas buildup in the atmosphere and hence worrisome. It
was used in the film, through its context, to imply
that CO2 is all natural, coming from the ocean, and that
therefore the human element is irrelevant. This use of my remarks, which
are literally what I said, comes close to fraud.
I have some experience in dealing with TV and print reporters
and do understand something of the ways in which one can be
misquoted, quoted out of context, or otherwise misinterpreted. Some
of that is inevitable in the press of time or space or in discussions of
complicated issues. Never before, however, have I had
an experience like this one. My appearance in the "Global Warming
Swindle" is deeply embarrasing, and my professional reputation
has been damaged. I was duped---an uncomfortable position in which to be.
At a minimum, I ask that the film should never be seen again publicly
with my participation included. Channel 4 surely owes an apology to
its viewers, and perhaps WAGTV owes something to Channel 4. I will be
taking advice as to whether I should proceed to make some more formal protest.
Cecil and Ida Green Professor of
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
His given complaints are
1) That it wasn't explained that a "critical" programme about warming would be critical.
2) That the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (3 parts per 10,000) has no effect on the amount of warming. He is wrong on this. Venus has a temperature of up to 500C only slightly because it is closer to the sun but very largely because its atmosphere is pure CO2. In any case if the amount didn't matter then there would be no reason to worry in the first place.
He says it has been "deeply embarrassing, and my professional reputation has been damaged" which is consistent with the idea that he is being lent on.
If the leaning is being done by the management of his university the concept of academic freedom is clearly under threat.
1) Wunsch thought he was being asked to explain his opposition to some wilder statements about global warming whilst himself believing firmly that it is happening. He then found his comments included in a film rubbishing global warming entirely. I think anyone can see why he might be annoyed and feel deceived. As has been pointed out, the makers of this film have a history of misleading and misquoting contributors and it's no surprise to find them at it again.
2) You think you know better than a professor when, so far as I know, you have no scientific qualification. I do not think so.
Your speculation about pressure put on the good professor thus becomes entirely superfluous. I really think you should read the articles you blog more carefully.
Seems he was taken out of context in the video and is protecting his professional status.
Other graphs used out-of-date information or data that was shown some years ago to be wrong.’
together with the observation that:
‘Until recently, when found to be wrong, scientists went back to their labs to start again. Now, emboldened by the denial industry, some of them, like the film-makers, shriek "censorship!". This is the best example of manufactured victimhood I have come across. If you demonstrate someone is wrong, you are now deemed to be silencing him.’
In fact the programme is correct about that cooling period as the Indie paradoxically admit later (they have an explanation for the cooling which they assume settles the matter though they produce no evidence).
I & others have responded to Monbiot's piece in the Guardian.
You may note that the Guardian has at no time suggested that the Guardian's promise that the Netherlands will dissappear under the sea this year was rubbish. I think you will agree this proves that the Guardian do not apply 1/10000th as much concern to the accuracy of their own reports as to attempting to denigrate others.
In addition, the print article questions two other graphs, the first which presents an erroneous temperature record for the last 1,000 years and the second which uses out of date data to make a spurious connection between temperature and solar activity.
These graphs were central to the thesis of the programme that the present global warming is not alarming and that it is due to solar activity, thus we cannot do anything about it anyway. Without the graphs the programme vanishes up its own sunspot activity.
If there is a case to argue against global warming surely it is not best served by grubby little lies.
at 18 minutes in.