Extracts from Ofcom Complaint, by Category
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Key to colour-coded commentary text
Bright red text: Actual falsification of data, and/or misrepresentation of the views of a contributor to the programme
Dark red text: Narration, or on-screen graphics, or an accumulation of consecutive interviewee statements that taken together amount to narration; which are either factually inaccurate, or apparently intentionally misleading, or are an attempt to give the impression that a contentious opinion is a fact.
Blue text: Interviewee is either factually inaccurate, apparently intentionally misleading, or expresses an opinion as if it were a fact without context being provided to make it clear that it’s an opinion.
[This section was considered by both the the Fairness and Standards Divisions of Ofcom.]
Extract from Complete Transcript and Rebuttal
[Comment 137: Sir David King has said no such thing – what Sir David actually said, and the context in which he said it, is described in detail in Appendix H: [below]. This is another extreme ad hominem attack as well as being further example of the “straw man” fallacy; and is in clear breach of Section 7 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, as Sir David was not given the opportunity to defend himself against this false allegation.
The closing statement in a documentary is what the viewer is left with as their most lasting impression of the programme’s message; so this statement by Dr Singer amounts to narration and ending with such a clearly distorted message is a major breach of several Ofcom regulations, as listed below.]
(In breach of the 2003 Communications Act Section 165, Ofcom 5.4, 5.5, 5.7, 5.11, 5.12, 7.2, 7.3, 7.6, 7.9)
The Great Global Warming Swindle ended with Dr Frederick Singer saying: “There will still be people who believe that this is the end of the world – particularly when you have, for example, the chief scientist of the UK telling people that by the end of the century, the only inhabitable place on the earth will be the Antarctic; and it may, humanity may survive, thanks to some breeding couples who moved to the Antarctic –I mean this is hilarious. It would be hilarious, actually, if it weren’t so sad.”
This is a serious distortion of the 2004 testimony of Professor Sir David King, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government, to a House of Commons Select Committee. In fact, he said (http://tinyurl.com/2j2yt7 [British Parliament website, Publications and Records])
Fifty-five million years ago was a time when there was no ice on the earth; the Antarctic was the most habitable place for mammals, because it was the coolest place, and the rest of the earth was rather inhabitable because it was so hot. It is estimated that it was roughly 1,000 parts per million then, and the important thing is that if we carry on business as usual we will hit 1,000 parts per million around the end of this century.
First of all, King said nothing about the survival of the humanity depending on breeding couples moving to the Antarctic. This is a complete fabrication.
Secondly, King was not predicting that Antarctica would be the only habitable place on Earth. He said that, if we continue emitting carbon dioxide under a business as usual scenario, then by the end of the century atmospheric levels would reach levels not seen for 55 million years. Extending the analogy, he then noted that the most habitable place for mammals at the time was Antarctica. Hence, Singer exaggerates by changing the “most habitable” to “the only inhabitable” place on Earth. Furthermore, King’s “prediction” was contingent on a particular scenario, and appears to have been meant to draw attention to the seriousness of the problem by analogy to the past, rather than a precise prediction of the future consequences of climate change.
Nevertheless, one could criticise King for not making it sufficiently clear that 1,000 ppm is a worst case scenario (see http://tinyurl.com/3xuqxy for the SRES scenarios used by the IPCC); or question the accuracy of an analogy to such ancient conditions, when, for example, the positions of the continents were rather different to today. Whilst King’s statement may be open to criticism, responsible journalism and responsible scientists would criticise what he actually said, rather than ridiculing an exaggerated caricature – especially when he was not given the opportunity to defend himself.
For a more detailed discussion of the origin of this oft-quoted myth about Sir David King, see http://tinyurl.com/2unkmr.