Extracts from Ofcom Complaint, by Category

Unsubstantiated Allegations
Regarding IPCCs First
Assessment Report

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Comment 73: Claim that IPCC First Assessment predicted climatic disaster / Comment 74: Implication that IPCC First Assessment disregarded the role of the sun

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.

[This section was considered by both the the Fairness and Standards Divisions of Ofcom.]

[Nigel Calder]

They came up with the first big report which predicted climatic disaster as a result of global warming.

[Comment 73: The First Assessment Report (FAR) of the IPCC, published in 1990, predicted temperature rises by the end of the 21st century of 3°C (as a best guess under business-as-usual) accompanied by a sea level rise of 65cm. Both figures are consistent with the later reports (http://tinyurl.com/2trfqy and http://tinyurl.com/2xl4c6 [IPCC 2001, 2007]), and although posing a serious problem, it could not be construed as disastrous. The IPCC also acknowledged considerable uncertainty in these projections, and were very cautious in their language. For example, in the Executive Summary they stated that [r]apid changes in climate will change the composition of ecosystems: some species will benefit while others will be unable to migrate and will become extinct – a balanced assessment, incompatible with warnings of unmitigated disaster.

This caution, given the considerable uncertainties in 1990, is also reflected in their conclusion that The size of the warming [so far] is broadly consistent with predictions of climate models, but it is also of the same magnitude as natural climate variability. Thus the observed increase could be largely due to this natural variability; alternatively this variability and other human factors could have offset a still larger human-induced greenhouse gas warming. The unequivocal detection of the enhanced greenhouse effect from observations is not likely for a decade or more. Bert Bolin (the IPCC Chairman at the time) has noted that this statement describes very well the state of knowledge in 1990 and research during the fifteen years since then shows that this conclusion was indeed well expressed and largely correct. (see Professor Bolins comments in Appendix G: [below]). Subsequent IPCC reports have progressively strengthened the conclusion that humans are changing the climate, consistent with their conclusions being driven by accumulating evidence, rather than the desire to conform to a pre-existing ideology.]

(In breach of Ofcom 5.7)

[Nigel Calder]

I remember going to the scientific press conference and being amazed by two things: first, the simplicity and eloquence of the message, and the vigour with which it was delivered; and secondly, the total disregard of all climate science up til that time – including, incidentally, the role of the sun, which had been the subject of a major meeting at the Royal Society just a few months earlier.

[Comment 74: The IPCC First Assessment Report does in fact acknowledge and discuss the role of variability of the Sun, in the Summary for Policy Makers and in the main text (Section 2.3.1, p61-63). Other factors that influence the climate, apart from carbon dioxide and the sun, were also discussed in the Report.

Furthermore, in his statement below, the narrator appears to the viewer to agree with what Nigel Calder has just said: which means that it is not just one interviewee making a clearly inaccurate statement, but much more seriously, an apparent attempt by the film maker to misrepresent the history of the IPCC to the audience, in clear breach of the Ofcom Code relating to impartiality on matters of current policy and in clear breach of the Communications Acts remit for Channel 4 programmes to be educational.]

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


But the new emphasis on man-made carbon dioxide as a possible environmental problem didnt just appeal to Mrs. Thatcher.