Analysis of The Great Global Warming Swindle
The Great Global Warming Swindle (GGWS) is a controversial documentary on climate change by British television producer Martin Durkin1. It first aired on the BBCs channel 4 on March 8, 20072. This documentary argues against conventional scientific understanding of the degree and cause of recent, observed climate change. The overwhelming view amongst climate scientists is that twentieth century global warming is largely due to an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases resulting from increased industrialization during the last 100- 150 years. His program collides sharply with the premise outlined in former Vice President Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which presents a bleak picture of how a buildup in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide affects the global climate, with potentially disastrous consequences. Durkin presents an alternative view that recent global warming is neither significant nor due to human activity. The documentary does not attempt to argue the latter view through any critical deconstruction of climate science orthodoxies. Rather, it contends that modern climate scientists are at best seriously misguided in their collective opinion on the nature and causes of global warming, or are at worst guilty of lying to the rest of the community. Publicity for the documentary leans heavily towards the latter, stating that global warming is “the biggest scam of modern times”.3
The documentary uses a series of techniques to shake the viewer’s belief in current orthodox understanding and to present an amenable contrary viewpoint. Several experts, labeled as ‘authoritative’, are interviewed to lend credibility to the documentary.4 These commentators are presented as ‘insiders’ who cast doubt on the integrity of climate change science and the IPCC assessment process that has led to current orthodox understanding. Alternate scientific contentions are presented in a credible way by selectively presenting facts and heightening uncertainties without context or by specious reference to the actual published science. The motivation and morality of scientists driving current orthodox understanding is questioned through aspersions that are conspiratorial in nature.
Many of the people that were interviewed did not have the proper credentials and were under qualified. For example, Patrick Moore is a Canadian Professor who has no training in climate science. He makes public statements in favor of genetic engineering and logging in the Amazon. In 1986 Moore had an altercation with Greenpeace and has since put most of his energies into undermining the arguments of environmentalists, particularly his former colleagues. His main claims involve the idea that environmentalists ‘treat humans as scum’. In the 1990s, Moore worked as a consultant for the British Columbian Timber Products Association, undermining the attempts of Greenpeace to preserve forests.5 Also various large corporations and companies paid many of the people that were interviewed off. Fred Singer is a retired Professor from the University of Virginia and has never had an article accepted for a peer reviewed scientific journal in the last 20 years6. He has argued that CFCs do not cause Ozone Depletion. There are numerous scientific studies that disprove his ludacris assertion.7. In 1990, Singer founded ‘The Science and Environment Policy project’, which contradicts climate science and has received direct funding from Exxon, Shell, Unocal and ARCO 2000 8. Patrick Michaels is another such person interviewed in The Great Global Warming Swindle. He is one of the most prominent climate change skeptics in the US and made the claim (in the movie) “I’ve never been paid a nickel by the old and gas companies”9. This is actually not true as according to journalist Ross Gebspan, Michaels has received direct funding from German Coal Mining Association ($49,000), Edison Electric Institute...