Responses to the Ruling from other
Head of the IPCC WG I Support Unit for the Fourth Assessment, and Professor of Climate Change, Victoria University, Wellington
I am happy – and not surprised – that the Ofcom decision on complaints against the Great Global Warming Swindle film has come out in favor of the international science assessment process. While it is important that broadcasters maintain standards of fairness to organisations such as the IPCC, it is even more important that they be fair to the thousands of scientists around the world who voluntarily contribute their views and their time in trying to provide a balanced picture of what science does and does not know about climate change.
People should be able to have confidence that scientific findings are not being affected by political pressures and the Ofcom decision shows that the film breached standards of fairness in its unbalanced portrayal of such allegations. While science will always be about challenging ideas, this has to be based on accurate and up to date information. Because the film used obsolete data and failed to address the real basis on which key scientific statements were made, it failed to make a credible contribution.
Professor, Solar Terrestrial Physics Group, University of Southampton
For me the real problem here was that there is no room for “spin” in science: It doesn’t matter what you think, want or say – it does not change a scientific reality one iota. Every good scientist knows this and is on his/her guard against their judgement being perturbed by what they would like to be true. Indeed, I would say this is the primary attribute needed of a good scientist.
Apart for all the misrepresentations, the inaccuracies, the selective use of data, the use of old ideas that have been overtaken by new research, what irritated me most about The Great Global Warming Swindle was its view of scientists’ motivation. I refer to the trite, incorrect and tired old idea that scientists only support global warming because it helps them gain research funds. This inappropriate application of free-market economy concepts to science is utter nonsense. What every scientist wants is to be famous for being right, what every scientist dreads is being notorious for being wrong. The programmes’ view is analogous to saying nurses and doctors deliberately give bad medical treatment because they will flourish financially if there are more sick people. Such unbridled self-interest may exist in the world of TV producers (I wouldn’t know, I don’t inhabit that world) but it is complete nonsense to characterise the world of science that way. I personally have written papers on global warming but never received any research funds to do so whatsoever. I carried out that research because it was interesting, important and I believed I could make a useful contribution – and those are the factors that motivate real scientists.