Thursday, March 15, 2007 By Steven Milloy
As Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” becomes mandatory viewing for many U.S. school children and nears becoming the “official truth” about global warming, it comes as most welcome news that an absolutely gripping film rebuttal has made its international debut, much to the chagrin of true believers in man-made climate change.
Last week, the UK’s Channel 4 premiered a 75-minute film entitled, “The Great Global Warming Swindle.” Through interviews with prize-winning climate experts and others, this masterful documentary explains the origins of global warming alarmism; debunks claims of man-made global climate change; exposes the motivations of organizations, scientists and activists sounding the alarm; and explains why it’s been extremely difficult, if not downright dangerous, for climate scientists to question global warming orthodoxy publicly.
According to the film, the origins of global warming alarmism had its roots in the 1970s-era fears of global cooling and an impending ice age, resulting from the 1940-1970 global temperature decline. Swedish meteorologist Bert Bolin suggested at the time that man-made greenhouse gas emissions might offset the cooling by warming the atmosphere.
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When Margaret Thatcher became UK Prime Minister in 1979, her mandate was to reduce Britain’s economic decline. Thatcher wanted to make the UK energy-independent through nuclear power – she didn’t like her country’s reliance on coal, which politically empowered the coal miner unions, or oil, which empowered Middle Eastern states.
So Thatcher latched onto Bolin’s notion that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide warmed the planet in a harmful way, thereby providing the perfect political cover for advancing her nuclear power agenda without having to fight the miners or Arab oil states.
She empowered the U.K. Meteorological Office to begin global climate change research, a move that eventually led to the 1988 creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations’ group that has come to be the “official” international agency for global warming alarmism.
At about the same time, as Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore explains on-camera, environmentalism became more extreme. By the mid-1980s, environmental goals – e.g., clean air and clean water – had become so mainstream that activists had to adopt more extreme positions to remain anti-establishment.
Then when the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended, many “peace-niks” and political activists moved over to environmental activism, bringing their “neo-Marxist” political philosophy with them. As Moore puts it, environmentalism became the “new guise for anti-capitalism.”
Global warming alarmism was thus borne from this combination of official British policy, environmentalism’s rejection of its own success and political opportunism by “unemployed” left-wing political activists.
With such an inglorious heritage, it’s no wonder the scientists in “The Great Global Warming Swindle” have little trouble dismantling climate myths.
Perhaps the most important bit of scientific knowledge presented is the actual relationship between temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide.
In “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore disingenuously describes the relationship as “complex” while implying that higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels cause higher global temperatures.
But according to the geological record and data from ice cores, higher temperatures actually precede higher carbon dioxide levels by about 800 years. Twentieth century data support this idea in at least two ways. First, most of the 20th century’s warming occurred before 1940, while most of the century’s greenhouse gas emissions occurred after 1940.
Next, when manmade greenhouse gas emissions soared in the post World War II industrial boom, global temperatures declined until the mid-1970s, leading to the aforementioned global cooling concerns.
The Channel 4 program notes that ongoing temperature measurements contradict global warming theory. According to the theory, lower atmosphere
temperatures should be warming at a much faster rate than those at the Earth’s surface. In reality, however, just the opposite is occurring.
Then there’s the sun – the gigantic yellow ball in the sky that climate alarmists want all of us to ignore in favor of minute emissions of an invisible gas that makes up less than one-half of one percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. As it turns out, solar activity – unlike atmospheric carbon dioxide levels – correlates quite well with historic temperature changes, including through its effects on cosmic rays and clouds, as the film demonstrates quite effectively.
So why does the world seem to be caught up in the vise-like grip of a controversy that is contradicted by available scientific data and its own dubious heritage?
According to the scientists in the movie, there is an intolerance of dissent on global warming. Official government sanction of global warming opened the floodgates of funding to climate researchers, who previously worked in obscurity.
NASA scientist Roy Spencer says in the program that climate scientists need for there to be problems to get more funding. IPCC contributor John Christy says of climate scientists, “We have a vested interest in creating panic because money with then flow to climate scientists.” University of London biogeographer Philip Stott says that “If the global warming virago collapses, there will be an awful lot of people out of jobs.”
The film also debunks the IPCC claim that the 2,500 scientists contributing to its reports also support its alarmist conclusions. One key IPCC contributor for example, the Pasteur Institute’s Paul Reiter, threatened to sue the IPCC if the group didn’t remove his name from a chapter with which he disagreed.
When I met Al Gore in January 2006 after a presentation of his climate slideshow, I asked him if he'd be interested in setting up a public debate between climate scientists. He declined – twice. At this point, I’d settle for a movie face-off – “An Inconvenient Truth” vs. “The Great Global Warming Swindle.”
Let the public see both sides of the story and then we’ll see who’s believable and who’s not.
Steven Milloy publishesJunkScience.comandCSRWatch.com. He is a junk science expert, and advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
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