A Global Warming Swindle play-by-play

Read time: 5 mins

Want to learn more details about the climate change “experts” that appear in the Great Global Warming Swindle? Check out our in-depth research database on the most prolific self-proclaimed climate change”skeptics.”

The UK Channel 4 documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle ” has been touted by deniers and slammed by a lot of others, including one scientist who appeared in the film. Having taken a quick glance over the movie, the first thing that jumps out is that it's the same guys we write about on DSBlog all the time. There's nothing new here that we have not heard ad naseum from the same handful of global warming deniers.

Here's a few obvious points:

Putting lipstick on a Llama: Tim Ball, retired professor at the University of Winnipeg's department of geography, has magically turned into “Professor Tim Ball, University of Winnipeg, Department of Climatology.” Here's some more on Tim Ball. $100 in iTunes to the first person to find the elusive department of climatology at the University of Winnipeg. I'll even give you the list of departments at U of W to make it easier.

Climate scientists are lying to us: Off the top, the narrator states we are all being lied to. In one broad brush stroke, the Swindle film brushes off the following groups who have stated that global warming is a serious problem and we humans are to blame: the National Academies of Science (or their respective equivalent) of China, France, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, United States, Japan, Italy and and Germany (pdf); the UK's Royal Society (pdf ); the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; NASA; and NOAA, to name just a few.

Of course, the Channel 4 film also forgot to mention that there has been no science in the peer-reviewed scientific literature refuting the consensus view that global warming is real and humans are the cause.

The two Paul's: Paul Reiter and Paul Copper make an appearance.

The “Great Science Funding Conspiracy” is put forth by Roy Spencer . Spencer claims that “climate scientists need there to be a problem in order to get funding.”

Virginia's “Climatologist” (can I still say that?), Pat Michaels claims global warming is a big business. Darn rights it is Pat: How much did you make last year from the coal-fired electrical industry?

Nigel Calder might want to refresh his CV for “Swindle Part 2.” Calder is touted in the film as the former editor of “New Scientist” magazine. Which is true, he was the editor between 1956 and 1966.

And this is all in the introductory scene.

To continue:

The Little Ice Age as evidence. Is this earth-shattering news uncovered by the crack team of researchers at Channel 4, destined to rip apart the scientific conclusions of climate scientists around the world? Have they never heard of this “little ice age?” Should someone phone NASA? Nope, here's a little background on the Little Ice Age written by an atmospheric scientist in language that is easy to understand.

The Medieval Warming period. For those DeSmog readers well-versed in the “science of global warming denial,” it comes as no surprise that a mention of the Little Ice Age would be quickly followed by the next favorite bit of distracting blather: the Medieval Warming Period. Like the LIA, the MWV, has been factored into the science of climate change and factored out as a sign that somehow the global warming today is part of natural variation. Here's an explanation of the medieval warming period .

Blind betting now. I have paused the video and I am going to guess that the next little piece of earth-shattering news in the film will be the “Global Cooling of the 70's.” Wish I had wagered money on that one. Here's some more information on the “Global Cooling of the 1970's.”

And back to Tim Ball, who at this point in the film, is still parading as a Professor at the University of Winnipeg's department of climatology.

Water vapour makes up 95% of the atmosphere, C02 is unimportant. Again, I will first ask: Do you think the world's climate scientists are unaware of this? Do you think that they have all (in their mass money-making conspiracy) just ignored this in their scientific conclusions? The answer is no, scientists are well-aware of water vapour. Unfortunately the best debunking of the water vapour myth is quite technical, but it is the best one around and is written by a scientist here.

And surpise, surpise here comes Dr. Fredrick Singer. This is the same guy who challenged the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke. Not to mention the fact that he is affiliated with 11 think tanks and associations that have recieved funding from oil-giant ExxonMobil.

Then comes Carl Wunsch who is kicking himself for even appearing in the film.

Philip Stott and solar variability: “Isn't it bizarre to think that is humans, you know, when we are filling up our car, turning on our lights, we're the ones controlling climate? Just look up in the sky at that massive thing the sun.” And here's where we start into the really good material. “Even humans are our $6.5 billion are minute compared to that [the sun].”

So here's some more on the skeptic's solar variability argument.

And I leave off with a seriously ticked MIT professor, Carl Wunsch, who states that: “The Great Global Warming Swindle, was 'grossly distorted' and 'as close to pure propaganda as anything since World War Two.'”

Here's the film:


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Well, the best I can say about the program is that I now have faces to associate with all the names. And what great fact-checking on credentials! Fred Singer was the head of what? As someone else observed–what, no hockey stick denunciation? No Mt.Kiliminjaro’s-glaciers-are-shrinking-from-deforestation argument?

There was more spin in that video than a hurricane! What a joke!

Do you mean “Psychiatric Nursing Program”? Was he supposed to be a professor there, or a missing observation?

“Here’s some more on Tim Ball. $100 in iTunes to the first person to find the elusive department of climatology at the University of Winnipeg.” Dropdown menu.

Thanks for a great post. The “Swindle” movie seems to have made an impression on some Slashdot members, e.g.

I posted a link to your blog entry by way of rebuttal: see my coment on Slashdot at http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=226173&cid=18328073

As of this posting Google Video has The Great Global Warming Swindle at 125,311 views, and rising.

That’s probably a few more people than are reading this web site, I’d guess. http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=9005566792811497638&q=global+warming+swindle

While our readership is quite large and growing leaps and bounds, it definitely can't compete with a somewhat popular google video. However, we'll still be around gaining more and more readership, as the Great Warming Swindle quietly slip off into youtube never, never land.

Yes, probably most of these people have watched it more than once: “62% of Canadians believe in angels. Maclean’s magazine, 1 July 2006”

62% of Canadians believe in Global Warming.

Even Ball says he believes in Global Warming. You don’t? Wow, a new level has been set in jerking of the knee.

They showed a graph to make the point that “most of the recent warming occurred before 1940 with only a small amount occurring after 1940.” They wanted to make this point since it is known that CO2 increases are much higher in recent years than in earlier years so this would “disprove” the connection between increased CO2 and increased temperatures.

To back up this “assertion” they showed a graph that clearly shows much bigger increases in temperature for the beginning half of the last century compared to the latter half.

However, the graph they produced is fraudulent. It follows exactly a graph of temperature versus time that is accepted by the climate science community. However, they moved the time axis by about ten years and cut off the last few years. This is not just an argument of the ”we said, you said” variety but is deliberate fraud. Whoever did this should be identified and taken to task.

This clearly show the levels the deniers are having to go to try and make their “science” look right.

This is discussed at stoat:

“More TGGWS fakery”, http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/03/more_tggws_fakery.php

It’s interesting: last night the film on Youtube was entitled The Great Global Warming Swindle a BBC Documentary. As I pointed out to someone, it was shown on Channel 4 in the UK not BBC. I see today that that has been corrected.

Link here

Also there is an article in The Independent

“…Other graphs used in the film contained known errors, notably the graph of sunspot activity. Mr Durkin used data on solar cycle lengths which were first published in 1991 despite a corrected version being available - but again the corrected version would not have supported his argument. Mr Durkin also used a schematic graph of temperatures over the past 1,000 years that was at least 16 years old, which gave the impression that today’s temperatures are cooler than during the medieval warm period. If he had used a more recent, and widely available, composite graph it would have shown average temperatures far exceed the past 1,000 years.”

Kevin, thanks for the excellent response. One thing you didn’t comment on (unless I missed it) was the graph shown in the film that indicates CO2 changes have lagged temperature changes throughout history. The implication of this is that temperature change causes CO2 variation, not the other way around. Any response?

I was just going to ask the same question. That was one of the greatest points from the Great Global Warming Swindle and it needs to be addressed

Well, I had to dig through 3 or 4 weblinks to find where the CO2 lag behind global temperature observation was “disposed of”. Below is what I found. It seems like unsupported conjecture to explain it away. On the side of GGWS you have observed data. GGWS debunkers have conjecture and theory on their side. Conjecture is fun and theory can be interesting but neither constitutes evidence. Here’s what this website considers “disposed of”: Scientists (who?) believe (why?) that the end of an ice age is likely triggered when the amount of heat reaching the Earth rises as a result of a periodic change in the Earth’s orbit around the sun. Jeff Severinghaus, Professor of Geosciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, explains why the rise in CO2 initially lags behind the temperature rise: “The reason has to do with the fact that the warmings take about 5000 years to be complete. The lag is only 800 years (huh?). All that the lag shows is that CO2 did not cause the first 800 years of warming (how?), out of the 5000 year trend.” (Real Climate, ‘What does the lag of CO2 behind temperature in ice cores tell us about global warming?’, December 3, 2005; www.realclimate.org/index.php /archives/2004/12/co2-in-ice-cores/) The best current explanation for the lag of 800 years is that this is how long it takes for CO2, absorbed by the ocean in an earlier warm period, to be “flushed out” (data? why would it take 800 yrs? because it supports global warming?)at the end of an ice age. Once that CO2 has been released into the atmosphere its heat-trapping properties as a greenhouse gas lead to even stronger warming: an example of positive feedback. (See Caillon et al., ‘Timing of Atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic Temperature Changes Across Termination III,’ Science, 14 March 2003: Vol. 299. no. 5613, pp. 1728 - 1731) Professor Severinghaus summarises: “In other words, CO2 does not initiate the warmings, but acts as an amplifier once they are underway.”

If you want an understanding of CO2 and temperature correlations over the past ice ages read these two posts on realclimate.org:



It always amazes me that those who discount AGW are eager to claim that there are many factors affecting present day climate (sun, CR’s, etc) but when it comes to looking at the past they will only accept one factor (CO2) when it suits their false arguments.

Of course there are many factors that affect climate over geological time (note 100 years is not geological time). These are factored into the models and it is found that for the past 100 years CO2 concentrations are the main (60-70%) drivers of global warming.

In the past, orbital variation (Milankovitch cycles) was the main cause of ice ages. The change in temperature then modulates CO2 concentrations. After a lag, CO2 concentration becomes the main driver.

Good science acknowledges all relevant factors and can explain them; poor science concentrates on one factor and cannot explain changes in temperatures over a long period of time.

Ian Forrester

I explain why CO2 lags T in the ice cores and why the present-day situation is completely different in a talk I gave to students in Edinburgh, which you can get from http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/chris . It also looks at the techniques the documentary used in order to be so persuasive.

Your play-by-play is made up largely of mudslinging… focusing primarily on CVs instead of content. That said, I admit I learned some things from the referenced articles that I didn’t know before. Thanks for that. Is a Sierra Club-funded scientist ‘one of the good guys’? Have they no agenda? Slamming a guy because he did research that was funded by an oil company… by that logic, we should discard all those who were funded by left-leaning organizations with their axes to grind, funding sources to protect, etc. Oh right… then we’d be left with almost nothing. Is Roy Spencer wrong? Is it not easier to get funding when society is alarmed? That’s a reasonable conclusion, and pretty easy to substantiate. The public is best served by discussion of real science. I noticed you didn’t mention the bit about the dire predictions of death & disease because of insect proliferation, a claim directly refuted by the ‘swindle’ film. Nor did you mention anything about the consequences for the 3rd world. Nor did you mention anything about how the miniscule man-made contribution to greenhouse gases (in terms of percentage of the total) can cause violent temperature swings (claims that the IPCC is now modifying). There is much propaganda to sift through on all sides. The truth is most likely somewhere in the middle. Speaking of propaganda – can someone help me understand why the IPCC would go to the press with conclusions they’re supposedly certain of (i.e. global warming is certainly man-made), yet take years to release the actual studies? Then you hear of them revising down earlier predictions… This all sounds very much like they’re working to make the science fit their desired conclusions. This wreaks of propaganda.

Sorry for the display of the above… I had line breaks in there that didn’t come through, so it all got run together. :-(

FINALLY someone with rational thought! I thank you for your bravery in the face of the “emotional juggernaut” aka Global Warming….

MY GOD! Why don’t you people do some research? If it wasn’t so scary I’d be laughing. I’m not laughing…

Why is being a skeptic considered a “denier”? I was skeptical about WMD and people thought I was crazy, delusional. How could I be so skeptical when a politician and the media told me they were 100% certain that Iraq had WMD? Here’s how. Everyone became so emotional that they forgot to listen to the skeptics like the group who had been sent to Iraq to look for WMD for years. They said there was nothing there but us “skeptics” were “crazy” “out on the fringe”. In the 70’s in my school we were taught of the coming Ice Age since temps had been cooling for 30+ years. We were in effect, doomed. But this time it’s different. Sure it is because a politician and the media tell us so. Dr. William Gray is the most respected hurricane forecaster in the U.S. He has been studying the atmosphere with his colleagues for 50 years. He laughs at the man-made global warming nonsense. So do his colleagues. But no one wants to listen to them and they’ve been doing this for 50 years. Dr. Gray believes this will be thought of as the Ice Age scare of the 70’s was. Pure nonsense. Of course none of us will have to worry since the WMD, SARS or Avian Flu will kill us before then.

True science comes from dissent, skepticism, and analysis. Not from propaganda.

Kevin – are you there? I am honestly curious about the items I posted. Can you help?

Let’s revisit the Siberian peat bog. It’s the size of Germany and France combined. It is past the “tipping point” and will release “billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases”. It’s the first time this melting has happened “since it formed 11,000 years ago”. So in other words it wasn’t frozen 11,000+ years ago. Why not? Who should we blame for that “thaw”? Hmmm….. “Scientists are particularly concerned about the permafrost, because as it thaws, it reveals bare ground which warms up more quickly than ice and snow, and so accelerates the rate at which the permafrost thaws.” Yes, an elementary child knows this. That’s what’s happening everywhere, you get it? And it’s the same thing that happened the last time the ice melted. As more land mass is reveal the melting will accelerate. Amazing, isn’t it?! Maybe we can erect giant air conditioners and shades over the glaciers to prevent this natural occurrence from repeating its cycle. And, BTW, I would like my $100.00 in iTunes please. :)

I too would like to see a response from Kevin. I don’t deny that GW exists. I just don’t think we have as much to do with it as Mr. Gore would have us believe. To think that on the earth the effect of humans can have such an influence is akin to the belief that the earth is the center of the solar system. When are we going to realize the we are just another species on this planet and not gods? The 3rd world argument is a good one. We should make sure these people NEVER have the use of fossil fuels (as our country did). That’s like saying we should be the only country in the world with nuclear technology (and there are some that feel that way). What gives us the right to control other countries in that way. Honestly. Here we are America land of the free, and we do everything we can to cap the freedom of other countries. If you have a fear that other countries would create nuclear wepons and destroy us then use the deterent (worked against Russia) or actually try to go to a table and talk with them. Should we try to find other means of fueling automobiles? Absolutely. As soon as you can get big oil to stop paying off inventors for patents and threatening the others let me know, you may get somewhere. But until then I like what I once heard a scientest say about the whole Global Warming thing. He found it VERY FLAWED and not very scientfic to predict what will happen in the next 100 years based on 200 years of data on a rock 3 billion years old. Scientifically speaking, we just don’t have enough data. And one last thing for everyone who says the sky is falling. I was around in the 70’s, you remember when we were at risk for slipping into another ice age because of global warming. It seems they keep moving the target on the whole deal. In the meantime I can’t listen to anyone who will forecast the earth in the next 100 years until I get a weather man who can forecast it correctly for the next 100 hours :)

Your last argument (re: forecasting climate vs. forecasting) weather is flawed, I’m afraid, and the distinction between “weather” and “climate” often seems to be misunderstood. Head over to Realclimate.org (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=181, for example) and read a discussion of links between hurricane activity and climate change: while you can never prove that one particular weather event stems from global warming, the climate models do allow you to infer statistical probability of future weather trends. These models are constantly improving, and are tested by plugging in data from the past - when you run the models you can observe how well their predictions actually match the weather that DID occur. Therefore, predicting bigger global trends years from now is in fact “easier” (read: more reliable) than predicting localized weather events weeks from now.

This site is entrenched in “I am right, you’re wrong” mentality. When it comes down to attaching the person, this is the bottom and is unscientific as it gets. I have great doubts about man made GW,after reading a lot of material and from all sides, and making my own judgments, the science is flawed without a doubt. Go ahead and call me names, but think for yourself for a minute - the theory and its promotion are mostly a product of the governments and government backed researchers, when was the last time they told the anyone the truth. Al Gore? if it wasn’t for the GW bandwagon he would have taken his rightful place in obscurity by now. Case in point, the dangers of second hand smoke - yes this is just not true folks - the science was flawed, but it took over and is now “the truth”.