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A comment on 'The great global warming swindle'

I took a look at the program. It is cleverly made. A real gem in propaganda wars (but fraught with distortions and half truths):

A number of my observations are listed below:

"The IPCC is political." This is correct, but the other way round than suggested. In the summary for policy makers statements of the last IPCC report various conclusions were toned down due to objections (on a political basis!!) by e.g. China. (see: Gobal warming obstructionism) If the IPCC report is biased, it might well be on the cautious side.
Non-scientists are influencing the contents of the policy makers' conclusions. However, quite some of them are definitively no "panic making Greenpeace activists". On the contrary: A notable example is Hans Labohm from the Netherlands, a well known greenhouse sceptic. He is an "expert reviewer" of the IPCC report.

Political interference in science: If there is one government politicizing science it is the Bush government! Its interference is much more pervasive than in the IPCC case.
see e.g.: This small bit on my weblog (the English part)
or: The Science blog in New Scientist (look at March 9th 2007)

There is talk of censorship. However: No specific examples are given. It is off course possible that minority view are shoved aside. This happens everywhere, so also in science. However: If I look into newspapers, I observe that sceptics get (often much) more attention than mainstream scientists.
On the other hand all kinds of alarmist stories (sometimes grossly wrong, "The Netherlands will be flooded by 2100" and that sort of rubbish) do make it to the headlines.
This makes an assessment on this subject from newspapers quite difficult. Their attitude seems to be: "Bone dry science" is "not interesting" ...
It is either climate change denial / scepticism or "Greenpeace panic stories". I personally get most of my information from peer reviewed journals, and not from newspapers (often full with disinformation ...).

The complot theories on a monster alliance between Thatcher (anti coalminers) and the Greens look in my view pretty ridiculous; almost as ridiculous as the "WTC controlled demolition complot stories" for September 11th 2001.

"There is no link between CO2 and the temperature on Earth (Veizer et.al.) on a long geologic timescale (500 million years)." However: One very important factor was not considered in his study: The configuration of the continents on this planet.
See: Chapter 2.1 of my small climate change article ("greenhouse" versus "icehouse configuration" - from Tjeerd van Andel's "New views on an old Planet").
The low temperatures on Earth during the Ordovician / Silurian (440 Myr BP) in spite of a much higher CO2 concentration can be explained by the lower energy output of the Sun (2-3% lower than today) and the continent configuration.

"The middle ages were warmer than today." Not true. "There were vineyards in northern England." Doubtful. There were in the south of England. You know why it stopped? In the 16th century wine drinking went out of favour ... That was the main raison! There are many fairy-tales about it ...
see: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/07/medieval-warmth-and-english-wine/
Today the wine growing is farther north than ever. In the north of Holland wine of good quality is grown in the last 10-15 years.

"Climate has always changed". Correct, but not relevant for the current discussion. The relevance is that (partly due to human influence) the average world temperature is going up by 0.15 - 0.2C per decade. In western Europe it is (at least) double of that.

Statement: "When the economic growth after the war went up spectacularly, the temperature went down." This can be explained by (yes!!) solar activity and aerosols partly due to human activity (SOx, dust, soot).
See: http://www.euronet.nl/users/e_wesker/solspot.html#solspot
It also disregards that on a global basis the industrialisation of the world accelerated dramatically during the 80-ties and later. (SE Asia, Brazil, India, China ...)
So we are dealing with a distortion of the picture - propaganda.

"Volcanoes are emitting more CO2 than mankind." False! They emit a couple of hundreds of millions tons of CO2 per year on a long year average basis. So: A couple of %'s of the human emissions.

"The natural CO2 mass flows dwarf the human emissions (800-900 billion tons per year versus ~30 billion tons)." However: About half of the human emissions accumulate in the atmosphere. So again: Distortion, propaganda.
If I would design a chemical plant for Shell and would disregard the accumulation of by-products in the cycle of the process I would probably be dismissed of the job ...

"The CO2 concentration followed the warming during the Ice ages." This may well be correct, but doesn't invalidate the opposite. Since Svante Arrhenius (more than 100 years ago) it is known that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. More over: If CO2 helps to warm the world, it also leads to more water vapour in the atmosphere, thus amplifying the effect to some extend.
It is like stating: "When the temperature in a burning house goes up it will burn faster. So lighting more fires is irrelevant, because the intensity of the fire follows the height of the temperature." Again: Rubbish.

"Cosmic rays - in conjunction with solar activity influence climate." At most this has a minor influence.
See my small study on cosmic radiation. And: Just compare it with a similar plot for T vs. CO2.

Straw man tactics: It is stated that "according to theory" tornadoes / mid latitude storms will grow stronger. This is not the case, and it is not stated in the IPCC report. There are even (slight) indications that mid-latitude storms decrease in intensity.
See my small study on the wind climate in The Netherlands.
So statements are incorrectly attributed to climate change reports. Straw man tactics. Again: Distortions, propaganda.

Finally the highly malicious suggestion that environmental policies "deny the developed world to develop". This is rubbish. It is in principle possible for many people to get a life quite a bit like ours. The real issue is that we (in the West) get rid of our wasteful use of precious (finite) resources. One can also think in terms of "convergence and contraction".

Humanity (over 6 billion people ... ) can cope with change, but cannot cope with too fast change.

I always think of the famous assertion by Ghandi: "There is enough in the world for every bodies need, but not for every bodies greed." The level of civilization / wealth, which can be attained, will to quite an extend - but not all - be connected to the level of technological development.

Some more on my rough view on this issue can be found in this small article.

Summarizing: 'The great global warming swindle' is in my view itself to quite an extend a swindle. One can point out quite a few distortions and half truths in it. The only point which I agree with is their criticism addressing some environmental action groups (grossly) overstating their positions.

Evert Wesker, 14/3/2007


Postscript 15/7/2008:
Below a very useful site which summarizes the half truths and falsifications in a very complete way.

http://www.ofcomswindlecomplaint.net/
idem, pdf file


The program itself can be watched here.