Friday, March 09, 2007

They don’t like it up ‘em

Last night Channel 4 aired that Anthropological Global Warming ‘denial’ documentary George Monbiot tried to warn us about

And it was bloody marvellous

I’m kicking myself for not recording it. No doubt somebody else did and will be sticking it up on the web soon.

‘I wanted to call it “Apocalypse My Arse”, but in the end we decided on “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. It’s a provocative title, which helps with ratings.’

The program was far from perfect and committed many of the same sins that the Global Warming Climate Change Lobby does in its own propaganda. Even though the documentary made very many good points, it did contain flaws in its reasoning and oversimplifications that someone with a different point of view could go to work on.

Alternatively, you could just launch a pathetic ad hominem attack on the scientists in the show, dribble on about conspiracy theorists conspiring against the sacred work of the Global Warming movement or, funniest of all, complain that the documentary only presented one side of the case and that it wasn’t balanced – as the first commentator on this post whined

Boo fucking hoo. Someone from the movement that claims the 'debate is over' and labels all those who disagree as ‘deniers’ (i.e. Nazis) is pissed off that one show, just one show, didn’t recycle the same old crap we have to listen to day after day after day.

The ad hominen attack I linked to above was written by an ‘environmental journalist’ who was clearly stung by the suggestion that her breed have a vested interest in promoting climate change. Nonsense of course and a disgraceful slur on the thousands of hard-working, selfless humanitarians who devote their lives to traveling from one multi-million dollar, transglobal enviro-jolly to the next.

It’s a shame about all those poor souls in the developing world though – the Greater Good demands that they can’t burn any of their oil or coal, build any hydro projects or develop nuclear power. But hey, fuck ‘em. There are too many of the bastards anyway.

Hmmm, I love the smell of cultural imperialism in the morning.

And it’s no surprise that some of the 'deniers'' claims are dismissed as being ‘ludicrous conspiracy theories’ (I keep being told by the BBC and the Guardian that there are a lot of them about these days).

One of the ‘ludicrous conspiracy theories’ was the suggestion that many scientists advocate Global Warming because that’s where the funding is. This isn’t a conspiracy theory, it's simply an opinion on how academia works. I think back to my postgraduate days twenty years ago and remember quite clearly that some subjects were strongly favoured over others when it came to funding availability. Back then, as I recall, biotechnology and robotics were the shit hot subjects and you were well-advised to work them into any funding application. So what if someone claims that Global Warming has become the money magnet these days? How is that a conspiracy theory?

Well, it's easier to play the increasingly overused 'conspiracy theory' card than put together a reasoned response isn't it.

For a nice example of the grant funding paradigm in action, flip on a TV documentary channel and watch any archaeological documentary made in the last ten years. Almost all will conclude that the answer to whatever ancient question they have been discussing will include some reference to climate change.
They have to. That’s where the loot is.

A key obstacle faced by the Global Warming Lobby is the undeniable fact that the Earth’s temperature and climate have always varied, even before people even existed. Personally, my money has always been on some variant of this guy's ideas being a (the?) major factor in climate change. Climate variation is periodic and as old as the Earth – and it’s a good bet that the variation is somehow related to periodicity in the Sun’s output or the Earth’s distance from the Sun.

The problem with that line of thought from the Lobby’s point of view is that even the most rabid enviro-twat will have real trouble arguing that taxing the shit out of people in the developed world, suppressing development in the rest of the world and putting enviro-twats in charge of things will have any noticeable impact on the Earth’s orbit or the temperature of the Sun. Even middle-class hubris has its limitations.

I was particularly interested to see what the response would be to the claim made in The Great Global Warming Swindle that geological records show that, in the past, CO2 levels have only started to rise after global temperatures started picking up.

"We need to band together to END GLOBAL COOLING!!!

Oh wait, the Earth has started to warm...


Oh wait, it's starting to cool again.


This is fun! =]"

I trawled around a few blogs, clicked on some links and found some ingenious rationalisations that attempt to fit the evidence of a 'lag' in CO2 increases into the existing Global Warming paradigm. For example, utter shite like this

What does the lag of CO2 behind temperature in ice cores tell us about global warming?

This is an issue that is often misunderstood in the public sphere and media ... At least three careful ice core studies have shown that CO2 starts to rise about 800 years (600-1000 years) after Antarctic temperature during glacial terminations…

Does this prove that CO2 doesn't cause global warming? The answer is no.

The reason has to do with the fact that the warmings take about 5000 years to be complete. The lag is only 800 years. All that the lag shows is that CO2 did not cause the first 800 years of warming, out of the 5000 year trend. The other 4200 years of warming could in fact have been caused by CO2 ...

The 4200 years of warming make up about 5/6 of the total warming. So CO2 could have caused the last 5/6 of the warming, but could not have caused the first 1/6 of the warming.

From studying all the available data (not just ice cores), the probable sequence of events at a termination goes something like this. Some (currently unknown) process causes Antarctica and the surrounding ocean to warm. This process also causes CO2 to start rising, about 800 years later. Then CO2 further warms the whole planet, because of its heat-trapping properties…

In summary:
  • We don’t actually know what process has triggered past global warming events but it definitely wasn’t a CO2 rise

  • However, some people have decided that this unknown process, for some equally unknown reason, arbitrarily stops being significant just as the level of CO2 starts to rise. At which point elevated CO2 levels change from being a consequence of increased temperature to being a cause of increased temperature

Yup, I think I can see why this area is frequently misunderstood.



Wolfie said...

Hi Stef, I have it recorded in beautiful MPEG2 clarity but have not as yet had time to watch it so I won't comment right now. Sounds very interesting judging by your post - I look forward to it.

Tony said...

I don't know who is right, but I'm trying to change my life, I have gotten rid of my car and I am trying to consume not as much. Even if you are right, I will no longer fuel the Oil-War-Multinationals-Consum-Capitalism-Shitcycle - at least not as much as I used to. Even if all the scientists should change their tune on their global-warming-song, I will try not to cosume "like stupid" in the future.

Stef said...


Sounds like a reasonable position to me and one I personally agree with

I haven't owned a car for the last 15 years. Waste and pollution piss me off more than most people.

But that is no reason to embrace what may very well be a 'noble' lie and the people who promote that lie

Anonymous said...

Er, Stef. The notice on the matress? Is it a hoax?

Stef said...

Nope - that was part of a short-lived "enviro-crime" labeling initiative undertaken by Lambeth Council a couple of years ago.

It made a difference

Frank O'Dwyer said...


"The ad hominen attack I linked to above was written by an ‘environmental journalist’ who was clearly stung by the suggestion that her breed have a vested interest in promoting climate change. "

Um, that's an ad hominem attack. Much of the 'documentary' was an ad hominem attack. The *title* of it is an ad hominem attack.

"It’s a shame about all those poor souls in the developing world though – the Greater Good demands that they can’t burn any of their oil or coal, build any hydro projects or develop nuclear power."

Actually Kyoto exempts developing countries.

Stef said...


I'm on the 'wrong' side of this Man Made Global Warming thing and because of that I am acutely conscious that we 'deniers' have been fair game for the old ad hominem treatment. And it was extremely gratifying to see just a smidge of the same kind of bile going the other way - that's why I gave my post the title that I did.

Was the documentary fair, balanced and above reproach? Nope, but it did raise some important questions about Global Warming and from the comments I've seen over the last couple of days it has encouraged at least a few people to check some of the data out for themselves rather than relying on the word of journalists, especially Guardian journalists - two or three of which have hardly covered themselves in glory in their responses to the program

Stef said...

Re. Kyoto

Agreed - there's no way developing nations would have signed up if exemptions weren't on the table

And it doesn't take much scratching around to establish that a minority, but a vociferous minority, of the environmental movement has a hard on for 'managed' development and population control. Three guesses which parts of the world will be expected to bear the brunt of that

Frank O'Dwyer said...


By the title I meant the documentary title rather than the post title - I mean the accusation of a swindle is not supported by anything like the level of evidence such an extraordinary claim would require. I'm not totally convinced about AGW, but I think this program was obvious propaganda and tosh although the greenpeace guy was interesting and also funny.

Here I should disclaim that I only saw the 1st hour of the program - partly because I thought it was only going to be an hour long, partly because I had to get up early the next day, and partly because I'd seen enough. I will watch the whole thing again sometime but I really wasn't impressed with what I did see.

Yes there are some fair points to be made about the ad hominem on both sides but at the same time when the likes of Prof Lindzen sets himself up as an authority it's fair enough to question that. Especially when as far as I can see the guy is a moron.

That said there is always the noble opposition on any issue. I would regard you as such but not the people behind, and in some cases on, this documentary. There are some murmurings that at least one of them was misled as to the type of program they would be on. Anyway maybe we'll get some discussion of the issues but I wouldn't hold my breath, not even if it reduces CO2 emissions :-)

Stef said...


I appreciate you were referring to the title of the documentary.

And re. the title of the documentary, the producer has certainly been up front about that...

‘I wanted to call it “Apocalypse My Arse”, but in the end we decided on “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. It’s a provocative title, which helps with ratings.’

re. hidden agendas

very possible, probable even - though that would, of course, be a conspiracy theory ;) - but that possibility cuts both ways...

there are all sorts of individuals, NGOs, foundations and think tanks pursuing what I believe to be an elitist, anti-human agenda behind the shield of global warming. Ditto for Make Poverty History, Stop the War and all those other ostensibly grass roots movements that don't seem to be scaring the people who should be scared very much at all

Wolfie said...

OK Stef, I've just seen the video.

I really enjoyed it, great entertainment with lots of very good points but some flaws too.

I'll try and find some time to write something about my thoughts - unfortunately I'm rather busy at the moment with other things.

Don't expect a rebuttal though, I don't believe in absolutes. Which is why I'd suggest you get your sceptical hat on too because some of those scientists were a little too sure of themselves so be true seekers of truth. The truth has a disappointing habit of being somewhere in between what we would like and what we don't think is the answer.

Stef said...


I think everyone is full of shit, including me.

Flaws there were aplenty. The program was unashamedly polemical and clearly intended to jiggle people up a little. That is, after all, the established style for shows advocating Man Made Climate Change. Sauce for the goose and all that...

Couldn't agree with you more re. absolutism and truth BTW