Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The real swindle...

behind Channel 4's Great Global Warming Swindle is that the programme itself was a con, full of inaccuracies and deliberately edited data to support its point that global warming doesn't exist. Ofcom's ruling against this made national headlines, but perversely argued that it didn't cause any material harm (I'm sure the millions of people already suffering from the effects of global warming might have something to say about that).

George Monbiot has posted two articles on this topic in today's Guardian - the first is a detailed rebuttal of the programme, the second time he's done this. Click here to read it. As always it shows the hallmarks of proper investigative journalism. Monbiot uses facts - not supposition or lazily reworded press releases - to back up his arguments, and systematically destroys the credibility of this programme.

Yet Channel 4 have no qualms about showing it, pointing out that for every negative response they received, six people replied in a positive fashion. What does this tell us? Well, Monbiot may not say it in so many words (click here for what he does say in his second article, "The self-justifying myth"), but what I think he's saying, is that those six people are stupid.

And they are. Global warming is an uncomfortable truth, as is the fact that humans are responsible for it. The facts - those that are probably peer-tested and rigorously scrutinised - all point to this. And then along comes a programme like this monstrosity from Channel 4 and people are falling over themselves to believe it, even though it presents lies and distortions as truths. Even now, those people are still choosing to believe it.

As Monbiot says, "We tell ourselves a story of our lives in which we almost always appear as the heroes. These myths prevent us from engaging with climate change.

"We are too important to be denied any of the delights we crave, but too insignificant to exert any impact on planetary processes. We fill the whole frame of the story when it suits us and shrink to a dot when that scale is more convenient. We are capable of occupying both niches simultaneously.

"It is not just because The Great Global Warming Swindle is at odds with the entire body of scientific knowledge on this subject that I have bothered to contest it. It is also because it is consonant with the entire body of human self-deception. We want to be misled, we crave it; and we will bend our minds into whatever shape they need to take in order not to face our brutal truths."

Here's the deal: you all thought climate change was something your grandchildren might have to deal with, but now it's here. And now. Your children won't just have to deal with it, but they'll be looking to us to make a proper start. It's time to take our heads out of the sand. You might be surprised at how easy those first, significant steps are.

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