Complaint to Ofcom Regarding “The Great Global
Appendix C: Backgrounds of the Contributors to the Programme
The programme misled viewers into thinking that the only contributor
to it who has any links to the fossil fuel industry is Professor Michaels, and that even he only
has a link to the coal industry (see Comment 118, page 98, and Comment 119, page 99). This was a clear case of misinformation by omission.
The programme misled viewers into thinking that one would have to
be prejudiced (see Comment 119, page 99) in order to be concerned about the links that some of the scientists in the programme have to the
fossil fuel industry.
In fact there are two very serious public interest reasons why it is quite legitimate to be
concerned about such links, and why they should therefore have been revealed. These are:
With regard to some scientific research into global warming having been funded by the
fossil fuel industry (see Comment 119, page 99), there is considerable peer-reviewed evidence that studies funded by corporations that have a
financial interest in the study’s outcome are much more likely to reach the desired conclusions
than those which aren’t – see, for example, Okike et al 2007 (PDF available at:
http://tinyurl.com/2rnyw3); Vartanian et al 2007 (http://tinyurl.com/2zpp5y); and Peppercorn at al 2007 (http://tinyurl.com/yvu5er).
Good science involves testing (and accepting or rejecting) a proposed hypothesis based purely on
the evidence, rather than starting with a predetermined conclusion and then trying to find evidence
that appears to support that conclusion. Wherever there is a risk that the latter might be
happening, the integrity of the entire scientific process is put at risk. This potential for
corruption – or even for unconscious bias – is clearly against the public interest; and to point
this out is clearly not to be guilty of prejudice, as the narrator of the programme claimed
that it was.
More importantly, most of the criticism of funding by the fossil fuel industry has not been of
their funding of research projects, as the programme claimed; but rather of their funding of
a huge, and very well–funded misinformation campaign, as is well-documented by media and scholars
(see 3.2 below). The deliberate efforts of this misinformation campaign was perpetuated and greatly
raised in profile by the Channel 4 programme (see for example The Vancouver Sun,
April 23, 2007, http://tinyurl.com/2wcrjg).
There is very strong and growing evidence (see
http://tinyurl.com/v8u2d, http://tinyurl.com/2ebvwa and
http://tinyurl.com/2udvt7) that a well-funded disinformation campaign costing tens of millions of dollars is currently being
run by a large number of lobby groups that are funded by the fossil fuel industry, many of these
lobby groups being directly linked to contributors to the Channel 4 programme; and that the
aims of this campaign are: to mislead the public about the existence of a link between CO2 and global warming; to convince the public that increasing the atmospheric level of CO2 is good for us; and to convince the public that there is much less consensus about the science of man-made global warming than there really is – all in order to confuse the public and
decrease public support for government action to reduce emissions.