Extracts from Ofcom Complaint, by Category

Misrepresentation of the
Views of Most Climatologists

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Comment 35: Pretence that climate scientists are unaware of historical climate fluctuations / Comment 77: Slander against US climate scientists / Comment 82: Claim that scientific research funding is primarily media-driven

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 its an opinion.

[Because no individual climatologists were named in this section of the film, it was considered by the Standards Division of Ofcom, and not by the Fairness Division.]


We are told that the earths climate is changing. But the earths climate is always changing. In earths long history there have been countless periods when it was much warmer and much cooler than it is today: when much of the world was covered by tropical forests, or else vast ice sheets. The climate has always changed; and changed without any help from us humans.

[Comment 35: The narrator is trying to make the public believe that previous warming and cooling periods have been overlooked by climatologists; and they are therefore mistaken in their theory of greenhouse warming. Yet the entire field of palaeoclimatology is a study of historical climates. The documentary makers actually make reference to these historical climate studies in discussing ice-core data, so they must be aware that climatologists are aware that the climate is always changing. For the narrator to try to mislead viewers in this way is a clear breach of the Broadcasting Code.]

(In breach of the 2003 Communications Act Section 265, Ofcom 5.4, 5.5, 5.7, 5.11, 5.12, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.6, 7.9, 7.14)

[Dr Philip Stott]

It could be used to legitimise a whole suite of myths that already existed – anti-car, anti-growth, anti-development; but above all, anti that great Satan, the US.

[Comment 77: The implied idea that the worlds climatologists, many of whom are based in the US and are financed by US government funds, are motivated by a view of the US as being great Satan, is a logical fallacy as well as being a slander.]

(In breach of Ofcom 5.7, 5.10, 7.11)


By the early 1990s, man-made global warming was no longer a slightly eccentric theory about climate – it was a full-blown political campaign. It was attracting media attention; and as a result, more government funding.

[Comment 82: The great majority of the diverse research communities that have been drawn to research climate change have had no direct engagement with either media or politics: indeed many have sought to clearly mark out the distance between their research and popular and political debate. This has been seen as a factor in delaying widespread public understanding and engagement with climate change as an issue (see Smith 2005, http://tinyurl.com/2cm7qt).

It is right and proper that if a scientific problem is identified and judged by peer review committees to be serious, it should attract more funding; but to suggest that media attention necessarily yields funds is wholly incorrect. Not all potential problems that have been identified by scientists and which have received a great deal of media attention go on to attract large amounts of funding (for example, MMR vaccine, and the health effects of mobile phones); because many of them are judged by peer review funding committees to be either insufficiently credible or insufficiently serious.

In addition, the cumulative effect of this collation of statements and images is to implant in the viewers mind the idea that almost all of the worlds climatologists have reached the scientific conclusions that they have reached, in many thousands of peer reviewed research papers, in support of environmentalist agendas. This comment fails to reflect the fact that the institutions and individuals engaged in the IPCC process are all well established in their fields of research. They have not been needy of funding. It gives an entirely false impression of the nature of academic research funding, and damages public understanding of the IPCC process: a process that was purposefully designed to be transparent, accountable and working to the highest standards of academic rigour. The editorial point driving the editing of this sequence lacks all credibility and no evidence was provided to support this idea.

Finally, the programmes wording denies the scientific consensus on climate change that has existed since the mid-1990s by not acknowledging this and instead presenting its supposed movement from an eccentric theory into a political campaign. This is inaccurate and misleading. Spencer R. Weart, 2003, The discovery of Global Warming (http://tinyurl.com/368wk) tracks the long history of scientists attempts to explain global warming and the institutional underfunding of global warming scientists throughout the 20th century.]

(In breach of the 2003 Communications Act Section 265, Ofcom 5.4, 5.5, 5.7, 5.11, 5.12)