Mean and tricky take on cli­mate change

The Great Global Warm­ing Swindle 8.30pm, ABC

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Leigh Day­ton

IT’S hit­ting our screens tonight and its rep­u­ta­tion pre­cedes it. Al­ready, Bri­tain’s The Great Global Warm­ing Swindle has caused heated ar­gu­ments and ris­ing tem­per­a­tures on both sides of the At­lantic. And that’s be­fore most West At­lanti­cans have even seen it.

Among the lucky few are sci­en­tists sent boot­legged copies by Bri­tish col­leagues and in­ter­na­tional science jour­nal­ists who met re­cently at Melbourne’s Grand Hy­att. A DVD of Swindle was slipped un­der their doors, along with a news­pa­per ti­tled The New Cit­i­zen , from Lyn­don LaRouche’s right­ist Cit­i­zens Elec­toral Coun­cil of Aus­tralia. Much huff­ing and puff­ing en­sued.

Now, promo DVD in hand, I pre­dict more hot air. That’s so be­cause there’s no mid­dle ground here. Crit­ics claim the pro­gram, first broad­cast in March on Chan­nel 4, pro­foundly mis­rep­re­sents the science of cli­mate change, es­pe­cially ev­i­dence im­pli­cat­ing hu­mans in global warm­ing. Boost­ers praise Swindle ’ s writer and di­rec­tor Martin Durkin for his fear­less as­sault on the myth- rid­dled re­li­gion of global warm­ing.

And I do mean as­sault. Durkin not only goes tooth and claw at the sci­en­tific un­der­pin­nings of global warm­ing, he rips and snarls at cli­mate sci­en­tists them­selves. They’re in league with eco- hys­ter­ics, head­line­grab­bing politi­cians and a cyn­i­cal me­dia happy to play along. Worse, they’re fid­dling facts to fit the the­ory.

Why? To keep re­search dol­lars flow­ing. ‘‘ No one dares speak against it for risk of be­ing un­pop­u­lar, los­ing funds and jeop­ar­dis­ing ca­reers,’’ slams Durkin. So he does, declar­ing global warm­ing a nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non that hu­mans have noth­ing to do with. The real cul­prit is the sun.

Lit­tle won­der that when Swindle first aired, Bri­tain’s sci­en­tific com­mu­nity was ap­palled. In a let­ter to Durkin, 37 sci­en­tists, in­clud­ing Aus­tralian- born Robert May, Lord May of Ox­ford, out­lined ‘‘ ma­jor mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions of facts and views’’ in the doc­u­men­tary.

‘‘ In fact, so se­ri­ous and fun­da­men­tal are the mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions that the dis­tri­bu­tion of the pro­gram with­out their re­moval amounts to noth­ing more than an ex­er­cise in mis­lead­ing the pub­lic.’’

Given that Aunty is putting Swindle to air, af­ter pre­vi­ously telling The Aus­tralian that it wasn’t even for sale, I’d nor­mally say: watch and make up your own mind. But that’s im­pos­si­ble. With­out de­tailed knowl­edge of ad­vances in cli­mate change re­search it’s im­pos­si­ble to sort facts from dis­tor­tions, out­moded find­ings, spu­ri­ous graph­ics and out­right false­hoods.

It’s worth not­ing that Swindle comes from a par­tic­u­lar school of Bri­tish doc­u­men­tary- mak­ing, one that goes be­yond ro­bust scep­ti­cism.

In­stead, it’s ag­gres­sive, fre­quently nasty and de­lib­er­ately provoca­tive. Swindle is, in po­lit­i­cal par­lance, mean and tricky.

And Durkin? Im­me­di­ately af­ter the doc­u­men­tary, Late­line’s Tony Jones will have a chat with him. That should be . . . fun.

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