The ABC studio assault, led by Tony Jones, was so vitriolic it appears to have backfired. We have been inundated with messages of support, and the ABC, I am told, has been flooded with complaints. I have been trying to understand why.
First, the ferocity of the attack, I think, revealed the intolerance and defensiveness of the global warming camp. Why were Jones and co expending such energy and resources attacking one documentary? We are told the global warming theory is robust. They say you’d have to be off your chump to disagree. We have been assured for years, in countless news broadcasts and column inches, that it’s definitely true. So why bother to stamp so aggressively on the one foolish documentary-maker – who clearly must be as mad as a snake – who steps out of line?
I think viewers may also have wondered (reasonably) why the theory of global warming has not been subjected to this barrage of critical scrutiny by the media. After all, it’s the theory of global warming, not my foolish little film, that is turning public and corporate policy on its head.
The apparent unwillingness of Jones and others at the ABC to give airtime to a counterargument, the tactics used to minimise the ostensible damage done by the film, the evident animosity towards those who questioned global warming: all of this served to give viewers a glimpse of what it was like for scientists who dared to disagree with the hallowed doctrine.
Why are the global warmers so zealous? After a year of arguing with people about this, I am convinced that it’s because global warming is first and foremost a political theory. It is an expression of a whole middle-class political world view. This view is summed up in the oft-repeated phrase “we consume too much”. I have also come to the conclusion that this is code for “they consume too much”. People who believe it tend also to think that exotic foreign places are being ruined because vulgar oiks can afford to go there in significant numbers, they hate plastic toys from factories and prefer wooden ones from craftsmen, and so on.
All this backward-looking bigotry has found perfect expression in the idea of man-made climate disaster. It has cohered a bunch of disparate reactionary prejudices (anti-car, anti-supermarkets, anti-globalisation) into a single unquestionable truth and cause. So when you have a dig at global warming, you commit a grievous breach of social etiquette. Among the chattering classes you’re a leper.
But why are the supporters of global warming so defensive? After all, the middle classes are usually confident, bordering on smug.
As I found when I examined the basic data, they have plenty to be defensive about. Billions of dollars of public money have been thrown at global warming, yet the hypothesis is crumbling around their ears.
To the utter dismay of the global warming lobby, the world does not appear to be getting warmer. According to their own figures (from the UN-linked Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the temperature has been static or slightly declining since 1998. The satellite data confirms this. This is clearly awkward. The least one should expect of global warming is that the Earth should be getting warmer.
Then there’s the ice-core data, the jewel in the crown of global warming theory. It shows there’s a connection between carbon dioxide and temperature: see Al Gore’s movie. But what Gore forgets to mention is that the connection is the wrong way around; temperature leads, CO2 follows.
Then there’s the precious “hockey stick”. This was the famous graph that purported to show global temperature flat-lining for 1000 years, then rising during the 19th and 20th centuries. It magicked away the Medieval warm period and made the recent warming look alarming, instead of just part of the general toing and froing of the Earth’s climate.
But then researchers took the computer program that produced the hockey stick graph and fed it random data. Bingo, out popped hockey stick shapes every time. (See the report by Edward Wegman of George Mason University in Virginia and others.)
In a humiliating climb down, the IPCC has had to drop the hockey stick from its reports, though it can still be seen in Gore’s movie.
And finally, there are those pesky satellites. If greenhouse gases were the cause of warming, then the rate of warming should have been greater, higher up in the Earth’s atmosphere (the bit known as the troposphere). But all the satellite and balloon data says the exact opposite. In other words, the best observational data we have flatly contradicts the whole bally idea of man-made climate change.
They concede that CO2 cannot have caused the warming at the beginning of the 20th century, which was greater and steeper than the recent warming. They can’t explain the cooling from 1940 to the mid-’70s. What are they left with? Some mild warming in the ’80s and ’90s that does not appear to have been caused by greenhouse gases.
The whole damned theory is in tatters. No wonder they’re defensive.
The man-made global warming parade, on one level, has been a phenomenal success. There isn’t a political party or important public body or large corporation that doesn’t feel compelled to pay lip service. There are scientists and journalists (a surprising number) who have built careers championing the cause. There’s more money going into global warming research than there is chasing a cure for cancer. Many important people and institutions have staked their reputations on it. There’s a lot riding on this theory. And it has bugger-all to do with sea levels. That is why the warmers greeted my film with red glowing eyes.
Last week on the ABC they closed ranks. They were not interested in a genuine debate. They wanted to shut it down. And thousands of wonderful, sane, bolshie Australian viewers saw right through it.
God bless Australia. The DVD will be out soon.