I didn’t see it when it was first broadcast, but I can remember when Channel 4 had Martin Durkin’s “documentary” about climate change was aired. It made quite an impact on people I knew, friends, family – as well as mobilising a wider section of the climate change sceptic media. The documentary alone probably accounts for a significant amount of the people who think there’s a major scientific debate about climate change, in terms of what causes it, it’s effects on the environment or that man’s activities don’t have a meaningful effect on climate change.
Put simply, it was the first time “climate sceptics” made a large scale intervention in the mass media, beyond blogs, partisan newspaper articles etc and on to TV in a documentary seen by about 2 million people. And they succeeded in “shaping the debate” to use market speak, it may not have convinced everyone that climate change was all bollocks, but it did succeed in planting seeds of doubt in an established scientific consensus.
Unfortunately for the level of scientific debate, the “documentary” was a fraud from start to finish. It’s” a mess of altered graphs that have been consciously misrepresented and full of scientific “logic” that you could get out of Hollywood.
The Australian network ABC has done a really good job ripping the documentary to pieces, which you can see in the you tube link above. It goes on for a few more segments, generally showing the maker of the documentary, Martin Durkin as an embarrassed schoolboy who has been caught out. Here’s a summary of some of the mumbo jumbo that gets exposed,
* The documentary quoting a Professor Frederick Singer, the First Director of the US National Weather Satellite Service as a source on global warming but ignoring his dates of service – which were between 1962 and 1964.
* It claims CO2 emissions aren’t a problem because CO2 as a whole only forms 0.054% of the atmosphere, (natural and man-made CO2 emissions included) without taking two things into account; a) just because something is small doesn’t mean it can’t have a significant effect, and b) that natural CO2 emissions have a feedback loop that man made emissions are disrupting. For example the melting of arctic ice means that instead of reflecting heat, the arctic will actually absorb heat.
* Most damning is the documentaries conscious misrepresentation of graphs in making its case. For example it produces a graph (below) claiming that the Middle Ages warm period is warmer than the period marked on the graph as NOW. In fact “NOW” on the graph is 20 years ago! The most recent IPCC graphs show the temperature has increased steeply, well above that of the Middle Ages warm period. Durkin consciously chose not to use the latest IPCC graphs because they challenged his argument.
* The other piece of dodgy graph work refers to a familiar claim made by climate change skeptics – that climate change may be happening, but it is because of solar activity and not man. Durkin’s second graph (below) shows an apparent correlation between solar activity and temperature on Earth but again consciously misrepresents it. The graph itself, if you look closely ends at 1970 – because from the 70’s onwards the Earths temperature rose steeply whereas solar activity decreased. In fact the Danish scientists whose data Durkin distorts responded to the documentary saying further research on their part denied any link between solar activity and global warming!
The documentary maker himself, Martin Durkin isn’t a stranger to fraud – Channel 4 was forced to make a public, prime time apology when OFCOM ruled that A Durkin documentary “Against Nature” misrepresented the views of environmentalists. In July of this year, OFCOM ruled that The Great Global Warming Swindle breached several broadcasting standards – adding to Durkin’s impressive track record as a bullshit artist.
Behind Durkin is not, as you might believe, Exxon, Shell,etc who have previously funded “scientific institutions” like the George C. Marshall to promote their own biased science. It is in fact a group of libertarian “Marxists” around the online web journal Spiked that best outlines Durkin’s political background.
Spiked vehmently attacks anything and everything it perceives as being connected or influenced by the environmental movement and uncritically defends China’s development under capitalism, on the basis that “Green ideology” stands in conflict with human progress, fighting poverty etc. The journal itself is edited by former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party in the UK – formerly a section of the Left in the UK with a variety of eccentric ideas; that Socialists should share platforms with fascists to debate and beat them in argument for example.
Ultimately it was one of these bonkers political positions that led to them getting totally fucked. The RCP’s magazine “Living Marxism” claimed ITN had depicted a Serb-Cetnik concentration camp in Bosnia falsely. LM claimed that in reality it was nothing more than a holding camp, where refugees were free to go any time they wanted, kind of like Butlins but with Radovan Karadzic instead of redcoats. This led to ITN suing the fuck out of them, and their magazine, Living Marxism – going bankrupt.
Its from there they made the retreat into the internet, and working class politics and an advance into entryism in the mass media and ruling class politics . One of Boris Johnsons advisers writes a column in Spiked for example, and they also run an “Institute of Ideas” which has lavish corporate sponsorship.
Their magazine claims that Torquemada and Stalin aren’t lucky enough to read it today, ostensibly because Spiked are such radical, blue sky, free thinkers challenging the establishment. But when their flagship intervention in the mass media on why climate change is all bollocks is an obvious fraud from start to finish then Uncle Joe would probably be more upset he didn’t get a chance to exchange hints and tips.