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Global Warming - Ruling on Documentary Answered

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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Gjdj3 (author)2008-07-22

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!

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Kiteman (author)Gjdj32008-07-22

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.

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forgesmith (author)Kiteman2008-07-23

...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.

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Kiteman (author)forgesmith2008-07-23

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?

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skunkbait (author)Kiteman2008-07-27

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.

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skunkbait (author)Kiteman2008-07-27

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.

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Kiteman (author)skunkbait2008-07-27

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?

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skunkbait (author)Kiteman2008-07-27

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!"

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Kiteman (author)skunkbait2008-07-28

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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forgesmith (author)Kiteman2008-07-23

Or maybe you just wanted a chance to grind an axe?
Or maybe I just notice how often you like to swing that ax of yours.
"Whoops! Sorry about your arm, thought it was a tree limb. Ah, I'm just joking, I was never swinging for a tree limb!"

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Kiteman (author)forgesmith2008-07-23

Really, some people ought to read all the way to the punchline.

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forgesmith (author)Kiteman2008-07-23

...all the way to the punchline.

...and not find it funny, although some people find Ebola hilarious...

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Kiteman (author)forgesmith2008-07-24

I don't understand - do you really not get the humorous intent of the MegaChurch comment, or did I hit a nerve?

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forgesmith (author)Kiteman2008-07-25

Actually I think the "Mega" was likely stuck in to avoid implying just the Catholics, maybe the Anglicans over there, your unnecessary capitalization was noted. The new mega-churches are just good-old-fashioned revivals held on a weekly basis, nothing wrong there.

How many "innocent jabs" does it take before an infection starts? Some may say one should only worry about hitting a nerve. In any case, best practice is to just stop the little pricks.

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Kiteman (author)forgesmith2008-07-25

A megachurch is a church having around 2,000 or more attendants for a typical weekly service. The Hartford Institute's database lists over 1,300 such Protestant churches in the United States. According to this data, about 50 churches on the list have attendance ranging from 10,000 to 47,000.

And, for the Hartford Institute:

Virtually all these megachurches have a conservative theology, even those within mainline denominations.

Megachurches tend to grow to their great size within a very short period of time, usually in less than ten years, and under the tenure of a single senior pastor. Nearly all megachurch pastors are male, and are viewed as having considerable personal charisma.

The senior minister often has an authoritative style of preaching and administration and is nearly always the singular dominant leader of the church.

Plus, in their own words: http://www.megachurch.com/

As far as I'm concerned, the more jabs the better.

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forgesmith (author)Kiteman2008-07-25

Megachurches tend to grow to their great size within a very short period of time, usually in less than ten years, and under the tenure of a single senior pastor. Nearly all megachurch pastors are male, and are viewed as having considerable personal charisma.

So, since the same dynamics are involved, you are against Sen. Barack Obama. Well that's good to know, very informative.

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Kiteman (author)forgesmith2008-07-26

>Gets out tape measure<

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have a new site record for the leap to an illogical conclusion event.


Inductive inference has its limits, you know, and you stepped way over them by basing one of your premisses on a selective quote taken from a selective quote.

Unless you actually think Obama got the Democratic Party from a membership of a few thousand to a membership of some 72 million in the span of his campaign for the candidacy?

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forgesmith (author)Kiteman2008-07-26

Inductive inference has its limits, you know, and you stepped way over them by basing one of your premisses on a selective quote taken from a selective quote.

Unless you actually think Obama got the Democratic Party from a membership of a few thousand to a membership of some 72 million in the span of his campaign for the candidacy?

You were talking about mega-churches, which you somehow think are funny, which are Christian. Therefore you are referring to a part of a whole. Obama is a Democrat, running a campaign, him and those supporting him are part of a whole. Therefore your inquiry is meaningless, there never was an implication made concerning increases in Democratic Party membership to begin with, and like was compared to like, a part of a whole to a part of a whole.

Going straight down your post, Obama's campaign is very large, likely the largest in the country currently. His views are on the conservative side for his party. His campaign has grown to a great size in under ten years, under his tenure, and he is widely regarded as very charismatic, and male. He is an authoritative speaker, administers his campaign in an authoritative manner, and he is the single dominant figure of his campaign.

You somehow view mega-churches as funny, you oppose them. By every measure of your post outlining the dynamics and specifications of a mega-church, Obama'a campaign has the same dynamics and specifications. Therefore it would be logical that if you wish to object to mega-churches based on their dynamics and specifications you would also object to Sen. Barack Obama, specifically his campaign but he is the head of it and it is clearly indicated you also object to the leaders of mega-churches.

However, by your latest post you indicate it is in error to assume you are against Obama, therefore it is indicated that your objection does not rest within the dynamics and specifications shared by both mega-churches and his campaign, no matter what you previously posted to the contrary. The primary difference is Obama represents a political party, a mega-church represents a religion. Thus your initial comment reduces to an objection against a religion, confirmed and expanded on by your "And why on Earth would I want to spare any particular denomination?" comment.

Thus the original "MegaChurch" comment, despite your attempts to "spin" it otherwise, in summary was just a cheap shot at religion, specifically religion in the US, where you, as you have in the past, indicated that the US was inferior to your country due to the influence of religion somehow undermining our ability to perform scientific pursuits, then it was in education and now it is global warming research. This has no factual basis, thus the position is illogical, it is unscientific.

Your bias is still showing, Mr. Intellectual Scientist.

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Kiteman (author)forgesmith2008-07-27

I have never hidden my contempt for organised religion. Neither have I hidden my disgust at attempts by the religious right to subvert the (American) Constitutional separation of Church and State. You've wasted 400+ words trying to "out" opinions that I have published all over the web (including my profile here). Your strident attempts to "reveal" my bias are, however, quite revealing in themselves.

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Kiteman (author)Kiteman2008-07-25

And why on Earth would I want to spare any particular denomination?

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Bricology (author)Kiteman2008-07-23

What do you make of Britons like James Whale who claim -- vocally, and with considerable support in the UK -- that global warming is entirely natural and not anthropogenic at all?

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Kiteman (author)Bricology2008-07-23

Basically, he's ignored by people capable if reading long sentences. He used to be semi-popular on talk radio (he had the midnight-loonie-call-in slot on a sport station), but got sacked for political bias (he told his listeners to vote for the right-of-centre candidate for London Mayor). Last I heard, he was a salesman on a shopping channel. We are in the lucky position of having decent science-advisers for the government at the moment (I exchanged emails with a couple of them when a creationist website tried to sneak their ideas into the science curriculum), and we've lost our PM with the too-strong connections to Christian conservatism. Added to that, and documentary that addresses a subject that could be considered controversial must, by law, be balanced and fair, drawing only conclusions that are supported by an objective analysis of available data.

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Gjdj3 (author)Kiteman2008-07-22

Sad, but true. The government has bribed/threatened/forced scientists to give the results that are best for the government (Read best for big business).

It's sad that in a country with so many great scientists and thinkers, the government still controls what is accepted as science.

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Tool Using Animal (author)2008-07-22

I like the bit about it being "well produced", seems anyone can be suckered with high production values. The same people who fell for this are probably the same kind of people who are always telling me how "awesome" "What the bleep do we know" is.

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Fah!, production values aren't needed, a little smile and some blagging... I reckon I could convince people that mars is slowly crashing in to the earth...

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Kiteman (author)killerjackalope2008-07-22

I thought it was the other way round - we're spinning out towards Mars, and GW is all that's stopping us freezing to death as we move away from the Sun...

;-)

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killerjackalope (author)Kiteman2008-07-22

No No kiteman, though that's what's happening pluto is coming out from beside the sun at incredible speeds, causing a collision in to mars, slamming it in to our path, rather than the original clipping each other collision this will mean a head on collision as the sun will start to revolve around earth the other way...

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Kiteman (author)killerjackalope2008-07-23

...then time will go backwards, none of this have been a problem any more and we can silence the Creationists as we watch evolution unwind, you to goo.

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killerjackalope (author)Kiteman2008-07-23

Then eventually the reversal will continue until a paradox happens, then we shall ride raptors to work and use Trex as backhoes...

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Kiteman (author)killerjackalope2008-07-23

We'd be living in Dinotopia... I can't decide if that would be cool or naff.

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killerjackalope (author)Kiteman2008-07-23

Cool for a week or two then naff...

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Kiteman (author)killerjackalope2008-07-23

Yeh, those dinos are too... nice and spiritual.

Boring.

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killerjackalope (author)Kiteman2008-07-24

Yeah, if I'm living in a world of dinosaurs I want to be escaping raptors in poorly painted jeeps...

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Kiteman (author)killerjackalope2008-07-24

Important word to emphasise, there: escaping.

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killerjackalope (author)Kiteman2008-07-24

Exactly... Small issue with humans these days, we've become very soft and squishy..

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Goodhart (author)killerjackalope2008-07-26

Like a Dalek Sec Hybrid ?

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Goodhart (author)Kiteman2008-07-26

Spoken like a testosterone ridden male LOL even though I am male, but I am not so ""aggressive""

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stuant63 (author)2008-07-24

I think I saw some of that documentary when it was on UK TV some time ago. One of its claims was that graphs of CO2 levels and global temperatures show an almost exact correlation. (just like Al Gore demostrated in his famous Inconvenient Truth film). But this Channel 4 documentary, if I remember correctly, said that the CO2 levels LAGGED BEHIND the temperature rises. (Al Gore has it the other way around - global temperatures increase as a result of changing CO2 levels). Did the C4 documentary really say this, can anyone remember, and if so, was it correct? If atmospheric CO2 levels do lag behind temperature change, what is the explanation?

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forgesmith (author)stuant632008-07-25

But this Channel 4 documentary, if I remember correctly, said that the CO2 levels LAGGED BEHIND the temperature rises. (Al Gore has it the other way around - global temperatures increase as a result of changing CO2 levels).
True. Read here.

The claim that CO2 increases lag temperature increases in the historical ice core record is not disputed, but the inference that the same relationship holds today...have been disputed...

Yet we're expected to see that relationship continue. Permafrost is melting, the contained organic matter will rot and release much CO2, which will then cause more warming. As polar ice melts, the dark exposed sea will soak up more light than the ice will thus yielding more warming without any additional CO2. Greater expanses of unfrozen land and ice-free warmer water will allow for more oxygen-using lifeforms thus more CO2 emissions.

As undisputed in the historical ice record, and by mechanisms we see today, first comes the warming then comes the CO2 increase. Al Gore's "truth" rests on the microscopic sliver of current geological time being completely reversed from everything that came before and what we'll expect later, as in starting now.

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Kiteman (author)Kiteman2008-07-23

Basically, he's ignored by people capable if reading long sentences.

And by people capable of writing them... :-/

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Bricology (author)Kiteman2008-07-23

Heh heh -- fair enough. Believe me, as an American by birth (but increasingly less so by choice) I'm keenly embarrassed by other Americans who dismiss AGW as some supposed "conspiracy of scientists". Those would be the same nefarious scientists who brought us the other conspiracies of evolution, electricity, advanced medicine and a spherical earth.

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bumpus (author)2008-07-22

Lotsa wurds, spahmnin' wiff meh un-intalegences

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killerjackalope (author)bumpus2008-07-22

Dingus! Git yer stinkin a$$ in he-uh nah boyt...

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