A few days ago I posted a Blog entry and also a website news item at www.hazmatmag.com and www.solidwastemag.com about a documentary from the UK entitled The Great Global Warming Swindle, which takes apart the conventional wisdom about man-made climate change. Not surprisingly, I received emails from various folks who feel the documentary is itself a "swindle" -- a piece of propaganda for the "other side", i.e., the climate change "deniers." I thought readers would be interested in reading a couple of the more thoughtful of these replies. I have removed the author's names not because they asked me to, but because I haven't made the time to seek their permission. One is a lawyer and one is a consultant and they are both quite well read on the climate change topic and debate. There is an excellent web link among these to a website where people who disliked the Swindle documentary list their objections. When you're done reading these two letters, I invite you to click at the bottom of this entry to read the extended post, where I've copied and pasted Lawrence Solomon's latest article in his "The Deniers" series (from the FP Comment page in the "Financial Post" section of the National Post newspaper.) Once again, Larry has done an excellent job publicizing science that's highly problematic for the UN International Panel on Climatge Change (IPCC). It turns out that this ice core data is not as reliable as the IPCC has suggested, and other data sets may offer a better history of CO2 in the atmosphere (and paint a picture that is at odds with the IPCC version of things). The "chilling" point of this article (pun intended) is how the scientist got fired for publishing information that runs contrary to received wisdom on climate change, because it created funding problems for his employer. This whole issue of how scientists are shunned or outright fired for publishing contrarian information is (for me) the most telling thing. Anyway, here are the letters. Dear Guy, I watched it. The premise of the 'documentary' seems to be that the 'theory' of man-made global warming is wrong, and that it is perpetuated because "thousands of jobs depend on it" and "funding for scientific research depends on it". Some observations: Billions of dollars in corporate profits are dependent on continuing to emit large quantities of toxic pollutants and CO2. The majority of mainstream media in the developed world is controlled by conservative interests that are financially locked with large corporations. A number of the 'authorities' in this film are highly suspect (i.e. look at where they get their money). For example, Patrick Moore has been completely discredited and exposed as a corporate mouthpiece for the nuclear and the GMO food industry. I could go on. That having been said, there are a number of things in the film that are clearly true. Science IS very political. There are some credible, independent scientists who are genuinely skeptical about the link between human activity and global warming. The majority of the people who are up in arms about global warming have at best a superficial understanding of the subject (people crave simple, easy to understand answers to complex problems, even if these answers are wrong). However, I believe that the only sane way to approach issues like this is with an open but skeptical mind, and a consistent application of the precautionary principle. Net: This is a propaganda film for sure. I wonder who financed it? Following the money is always interesting and enlightening. In closing, the possibilities are: 1. The skeptics are right, and either global warming doesn't exist or it is not influenced in any significant way by human activity; 2. Global warming is real and human activity is a significant contributor to it. If we cut back on our greenhouse gas emissions it will cost us a LOT of money that we would otherwise spend on _________. You fill in the blank, but I guarantee that it will not be combating poverty or some other noble cause. In this case, if the skeptics are right, the money could have been spent on _________. If global warming is real, our species (and most of the others that share the planet with us) will be better off (i.e. we may survive). If we do not cut back on our greenhouse gas emissions, and the skeptics are right, we will have spent all that money on ___________ and reaped the benefits. If global warming is real, not to be too dramatic about it, but we are screwed as a species. To me, given the trade off, the sane course of action is clear. However, if we don't care a fig about future generations, our generation can probably enjoy more material comforts by plowing ahead on our current course. And as Fred Reed once said, "Inability has always been more of a check on human activity than wisdom." Other commentary: http://www.medialens.org/alerts/07/0313pure_propaganda_the.php Dear Guy, The fact that I am writing this from my office while I should be practicing law (I know its almost midnight) gives you some idea that I think the attention to the "Swindle" may be a swindle. A couple suggestions. Weigh the "Swindle" against other sources - do not accept its information as gospel (and perhaps not even as considered) - I do not think it really challenges much except the urge not to think critically. One web site that you may find interesting is the link below that I found by "googling" climate change swindle and "debunking". I am not suggesting that it is the greatest source (I have not double checked its facts) but it does provide some counterarguments and I am not so sure that the "Swindle" producers double checked all their sources. http://portal.campaigncc.org/node/1820 Consider: A review of the journal articles noted in The Weather Makers adds to ones breadth of knowledge. For instance, the Science article that explains that (contrary to the, until recently, conventional wisdom) the glaciers in Patagonia are indeed shrinking. Another thought….where are the follow ups on the swindle and is the worlds scientific community really so easily duped (consider the IPCC which included scientists from the US and Australia - those bastions of critical political thought on climate change). I note with interest the recent American studies regarding the shrinking polar sea ice cap. It was considered obvious to all in my undergrad climatology class (20 years ago) that if there is less ice at the poles the albedo will decrease and the absorption of energy by the oceans at the poles increases. No scientific disagreement that if the polar caps melt the place will get fairly warm. The current issue of NewsScientist reports that the near surface ocean temperature decline over the last couple years is explained away. Apparently, they changed the type of ocean based temperature sensors a couple of years ago but did not properly calibrate the new equipment to the old. So at first it looked as though the temperatures in the near surface levels of the oceans had decreased which is now known not to have been the case. I really could go on but I have to get back to the salt mines….I probably wouldn't spend this much time but you have a good soapbox and I want to share these thoughts with you. I am not so sure that the "Swindle" will turn out to be good journalism with the benefit of hindsight. I would bet a Guinness that in 30 years climate change and the cause is even more obvious. That said, I really do not want to collect on the bet….we can go Dutch but I will say "I told you so".