Accused Of Falsifying Data In Documentary On Climate Change
By Steve Connor
08 May, 2007
makers of a Channel 4 documentary which claimed that global warming
is a swindle have been accused of fabricating data by one of the scientists
who participated in the film.
The Great Global Warming
Swindle was broadcast on 8 March and has been criticised by leading
scientists for errors, distortions and misrepresentations.
The film has also been referred
to the regulatory watchdog Ofcom which is considering a complaint from
37 senior scientists that the programme breached the broadcasting code
on the misrepresentation of views and facts.
Now even a climate sceptic
whose dissenting views were used by the film- makers to bolster their
claims about the "lies" and "swindles" of global
warming has accused the documentary of promulgating falsehoods.
director of the Danish National Space Centre, has issued a statement
accusing the film-makers of fabricating data based on his work looking
at the links between solar activity and global temperatures.
Dr Friiss-Christensen said
that a graph he had produced some years ago showing the link between
fluctuations in global temperatures and changes in solar activity -
sunspot cycles - over the past 400 years had been doctored. The documentary
used the graph to pour scorn on the idea that the global warming in
recent decades is the result of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide.
Solar activity, the programme stated, is the cause of global warming
in the late 20th century.
However, Dr Friiss-Christensen
has issued a statement with Nathan Rive, a climate researcher at Imperial
College London and the Centre for Climate Research in Oslo, distancing
himself from the C4 graph. He said there was a gap in the historical
record on solar cycles from about 1610 to 1710 but the film-makers made
up this break with fabricated data that made it appear as if temperatures
and solar cycles had followed one another very closely for the entire
"We have reason to believe
that parts of the graph were made up of fabricated data that were presented
as genuine. The inclusion of the artificial data is both misleading
and pointless," Dr Friis-Christensen said.
the commentary during the presentation of the graph is consistent with
the conclusions of the paper from which the figure originates, it incorrectly
rules out a contribution by anthropogenic [man-made] greenhouse gases
to 20th century global warming," he said.
Dr Friis-Christensen, a physicist,
believes that solar cycles play an important role in climate change
and that not enough effort has gone into addressing the theory. The
fabricated data did not, he said, make any difference to the overall
view he takes but he is still critical of the way the film handled the
scientific evidence. Asked by The Independent whether the documentary
was scientifically accurate, Dr Friiss-Christensen said: "No, I
think several points were not explained in the way that I, as a scientist,
would have explained them ... it is obvious it's not accurate."
The C4 programme also used
out-of-date solar cycle data relating to the past 30 or 40 years which
made it appear as if temperatures and solar activity were rising together
when in fact solar activity has levelled off for the past few decades.
"After 1985 we don't see any rise or shortening of the solar cycles
compared to what we saw in the temperature [record]," Dr Friiss-Christensen
Dr Friis-Christensen is the
second scientist to appear on the programme who has criticised the way
the film was made. Professor Carl Wunsch of the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology said that the way his interview was edited gave the misleading
impression that he was not concerned about rising levels of carbon dioxide
- a diametrically opposite view to his stated position.
Martin Durkin, who wrote
and directed the programme, was unavailable for comment but admitted
in an email to Mr Rive that the graph was wrong. "Thank you for
highlighting the error on the 400-year graph. It is an annoying mistake
which all of us missed and is being fixed for all future transmissions
of the film. It doesn't alter our argument," Mr Durkin said.
However, the graph and its
fabricated data will still be included in the DVD of the programme which
went on sale yesterday. The advertising for the DVD says: "Everything
you've ever been told about global warming is probably untrue. This
film blows the whistle on the biggest swindle in modern history."
Mr Durkin has already apologised
for an error in another graph used in the film which had to be corrected
before the film's second transmission on the digital channel More 4.
The scientists who have written
to Ofcom include Sir John Houghton, the former chief executive of the
Met Office, Lord May of Oxford, a former government chief scientist
and past-president of the Royal Society, and Professor Chris Rapley,
director of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. In a letter to
Mr Durkin they call for changes to the programme before the DVD version
is released, even though DVDs are not covered by the Ofcom Broadcasting
"So serious and fundamental
are the misrepresentations that the distribution of the DVD without
their removal amounts to nothing more than an exercise in misleading
the public," they say.
© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited
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