Global Warming - Ruling on Documentary

UK Broadcasting watchdog OfCom has ruled that the Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle broke broadcasting rules by implying that GW was not due to human activity.

The film's key contentions were that the increase in atmospheric temperatures observed since the 1970s was not primarily caused by emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, and that the modern focus on climate change is based in politics rather than science.

It is seen in some "climate sceptic" circles as a counter to Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth, and credited with influencing public perception of climate science. It has reportedly been sold to 21 countries and distributed on DVD.

GW experts featured in the documentary complained that they were quoted out of context, had not been told of the aims of the programme makers, and some quotes attributed to experts were, allegedly, made up by the reporters.

"It's very disappointing that Ofcom hasn't come up with a stronger statement about being misled," said Sir John Houghton, a former head of the UK Met Office and chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientific assessment.

"I know hundreds of people, literally hundreds, who were misled by it - they saw it, it was a well-produced programme and they imagined it had some truth behind it, so they were misled and it seems Ofcom didn't care about that," he told BBC News.

"The programme has been let off the hook on a highly questionable technicality," said Bob Ward, former head of media at the Royal Society, who played a prominent role in co-ordinating objections to the film.

"The ruling noted that Channel 4 had admitted errors in the graphs and data used in the programme, yet decided that this did not cause harm or offence to the audience."

Plaintiffs accused the programme of containing myriad factual inaccuracies, but Ofcom says it was "impractical and inappropriate for it to examine in detail all of the multifarious alleged examples... set out in the complaints."

On another issue - whether contributors to the programme had been treated fairly - Ofcom mainly found against Channel 4 and the film's producer WagTV.

Former UK chief scientific adviser Sir David King had been misquoted and had not been given a chance to put his case, the regulator said.

Ofcom also found in favour of Carl Wunsch, an oceanographer interviewed for the programme, who said he had been invited to take part in a programme that would "discuss in a balanced way the complicated elements of understanding of climate change", but which turned out to be "an out-and-out propaganda piece, in which there is not even a gesture toward balance".

The film alleged that the IPCC's scientific reports were driven by politics rather than science, and Ofcom ruled the organisation had not been given adequate time to respond.

Full BBC article, plus links

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Gjdj39 years ago
That's interesting. In your country things get pulled when they imply that Global Warming isn't due to humans. Across the pond we have a similar problem, only opposite!
Kiteman (author)  Gjdj39 years ago
Maybe because in this country we have Scientists involved in the GW discussion - the US appears to have hired a MegaChurch to make up it's mind for it.
...the US appears to have hired a MegaChurch to make up it's mind for it.
Your bias is showing, Mr. Intellectual Scientist. There are more than enough business interests who want the "Global Warming Myth" to not interrupt their cash flow to keep Washington away from it, and there are many religious people who feel we were appointed the stewards of the Earth thus must care for it, and are very involved in opposing global warming besides many other "green" initiatives.

With the "be nice" policy in mind, I shall only wonder if you have any idea whatsoever what your comment really says about you.
Kiteman (author)  forgesmith9 years ago
More what it says about how we outside the US see what is happening inside the US.

As far as we can see, there are three general groups who deny anthropomorphic GW visibly active in the US. The smaller group are those who deny GW is happening at all, at most it's a minor blip in the normal cycle of things.

The larger group are those who say, maybe GW is happening, but it will all be part of a natural cycle. Sun spots. Something natural.

The loudest group are those who simply say that everything is as God intends. They are the conservative churches who take the King James translation very literally, seeing "dominion over animals" as "do what you like with the world". Add to that the wide-spread fundamentalist belief that we are "in the End Times", then there is no not only no need to combat GW (since the world will have ended before the oil runs out), but some have even said that it would be a sin to combat GW, since it is clearly part of God's plan for the End.

Add to all that a president who is too-easily swayed by the religious right, then you can see where my comment came from.

Or maybe I was too close to the mark for your liking?

Or maybe you just wanted a chance to grind an axe?

Or maybe you just didn't realise that it was a joke and jumped into a big steaming pile of wrong conclusions?
I'm in the second group. But, If I thought mankind were causing GW, I would say it's morally wrong (from a Christian standpoint) to be such poor stewards of the things with which we've been blessed.
Kiteman (author)  skunkbait9 years ago
It would be foolish to think man is not exerting SOME influence on the environment. But if this is part of a natural cycle, our influence is like peeing in a pool (not nice, but not really the end of the world either). If we weren't lied to by the media about (almost) everything I'd be more apt to buy into "manmade" GW. Remember the global cooling scare twenty some-odd years ago? Sometimes the scientists get it wrong. Sometimes the media lies. I'm not going to cut down trees and burn plastic bags for fun, but I refuse to get worried until it's PROVEN to be manmade.
Kiteman (author)  skunkbait9 years ago
Apart from the direct correlation between human population and global temperatures, between human CO2 output and global temperatures, etc, what sort of proof do you need?

Just because the tabloid media can't be trusted, that does not mean respected journals like Nature, and more accessible magazines like Scientific American and New Scientist are lying to you.

True, sometimes scientists get it wrong, but when so many scientists (literally thousands) are checking the data on a daily basis, and almost unanimously agreeing with each other (and when the ones who are disagreeing tend to be the ones writing books instead of doing proper research), then I think we can trust what they are saying, yes?
Certainly bad media does not negate truth. I'd be interested though in the political and social sympathies of these scientists and their mentors. People tend to get tunnel-vision when it comes to treasured beliefs. You know that good science looks for results, direct cause and effect. Bad science looks to prove something that advances a given agenda. It's sort of like evolution. (BTW- I don't deny natural selection.) The theory has been rearranged several times because new evidence, contradicting previous thought, came to light. I think theories concerning GW will be modified again and again over the next 100 years (if it lasts that long). I mean we still don't understand all the cause and effect related to the ice-age some 10,000 years ago. I kinda feel like one of a handfull of remoras stuck to a 1,200 lb shark, discussing the shark's wellbeing. "Are we making the shark lose weight? Is he swimming too much/too deep? How could we help him get a better diet? Hey, you're sucking too much, Slow down! Hey, it's kinda moist here!"
Kiteman (author)  skunkbait9 years ago
GW is definitely a young science, and the systems are very hard to model in detail, but I think we've got the main facts sorted (it's real, it's our fault), and what we're doing now is filling in the finer details (exactly how long have we got before the changes are irreversible? Are there any animals/plants we should just stop trying to save? What combination of renewables has the biggest impact on GW, yet the smallest impact on Joe Sofa? etc)
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