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Slap on the wrist for ‘Swindle’

A ruling came in yesterday on complaints about the UK documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. On The Great Beyond, Katharine Sanderson notes that despite very negative headlines about the ruling,

you might say that Channel 4 got off pretty lightly for their documentary that suggested that global warming wasn’t caused by humans burning fossil fuels. Ofcom [the complaint board] charged the programme with misrepresenting certain scientists, which leads to those critical headlines, but ultimately the regulators said that the programme didn’t mislead viewers.

This is extremely frustrating to the climate scientists and other critics who’ve said the program is as wrong on the scientific details as it is on the overall anti-warming message. Katharine’s post and the BBC story round up several of their reactions, and complainants have a response page here. At the rhetorical extremes, George Monbiot’s Guardian column calls the show “consonant with the entire body of human self-deception” – while Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill blasts Ofcom for crusading against “Climate Blasphemy”.

Maddeningly, Ofcom is just as ready as the scientists are to dismiss Swindle’s skepticism. “The link between human activity and global warming… became settled before March 2007”, say the regulators – and that’s why they don’t fault Channel 4 for not providing an impartial viewpoint. The channel only has to do that for controversial issues.

If the scent of culture clash here entices, see this analysis of the Ofcom findings. It’s from Steve McIntyre, whose Climate Audit blog is pitted against mainstream climate research, but in this case he critiques the complainants’ strategy rather than their science.

Anna Barnett


  1. Report this comment

    tony lovell said:

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    Dodgy Geezer said:

    “ultimately the regulators said that the programme didn’t mislead viewers.

    This is extremely frustrating to the climate scientists"

    You don’t seem to have read the actual finding!

    Ofcom felt (quite reasonably) that it wasn’t qualified to pronounce on the actual science. It was able to pronounce on provable inaccuracies, and it found that there were very few, minor ones. There was a minor error on a graph which was corrected, and, as an example, Sir David King complained that he was quoted as saying that the Antarctic would become the ‘only’ habitable place on Earth, when he had said the ‘most’ habitable place.

    Such errors were minor, and did NOT mislead viewers. Consequently the program was vindicated. But you would not think so if you read the BBC, or any other establishment headline. That is what the sceptics are complaining about – they are unable to perform proper science because their views are treated as ‘blasphemy’.

    There is a growing realisation across the world that the anthropic CO2 warming theory has major flaws, and these are being prevented from being examined properly by political pressure. Such actions damage the foundations that science rests on.

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    Dr Andrew Glikson (Earth and paleo-climate science) said:

    The single most telling point regarding “The Swindle” program is that it did not display climate temperature records from about the 1980s — the period during which mean global temepratures rose by nearly 0.5 degrees C … (This omission was identified in public on the Australian ABC LateLine program following the screening of the program).

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