Thursday, May 24, 2007

Allegations Surface That ABC Was Pressured Into Screening "Discredited" Documentary Debunking Global Warming

Further proof that if you whine long and loudly enough, and you happen to write for the Rupert Murdoch media, you can get pretty much whatever you want.

Global Warming "Truthers" Andrew Bolt and Daily Telegraph opinion editor Tim Blair led the thinly populated parade of those demanding the ABC screen a documentary that supposedly debunks the "myth" of global warming.

That the ABC hadn't already screened The Great Global Warming Swindle, the likes of Bolt and Blair would have you believe, amounted to a conspiracy to censor "the debate" about whether or not severe climate change is a reality, and whether or not humans are responsible for global warming.

Now ABC programmers have reportedly caved in to "pressure" from the ABC board of directors to screen the British documentary in July, not long after the Howard government delivers its own long awaited report into how it plans to deal with rapid climate change:

The program caused controversy when it was aired on Britain's Channel 4 in March. Eminent scientists and some of the scientists interviewed later accused the documentary makers of using fabricated data, half-truths and misleading statements.

The ABC science journalist and broadcaster Robyn Williams, who advised the TV division not to buy the program, told the Herald yesterday the director of ABC TV, Kim Dalton, had intimated in a conversation that he was under pressure from the board on the issue.

"Kim implied on April 16 the board had pressured him into it … that is what our inference was from what he said and did [in that conversation]," said Williams, who described the documentary as "deeply misleading" and "part of the school of total bollocks science journalism".

A reporter on the ABC's Four Corners program, Jonathan Holmes, who took part in that conversation, said: "My impression was whether you call it pressure or some kind of indication from the board or members of the board or a member of the board that he [Mr Dalton] should look at the documentary and consider running it."

Mr Dalton denied he had come under any influence from the board or that he had spoken to any of its members about the program.

Asked whether he thought running a program that had been shown to include falsified data would damage the ABC, Mr Dalton said: "I don't think it will at all. It will affect our credibility in a way that shows where there are areas of public importance that we will provide the forum for them to be discussed."

The rights to screen The Great Global Warming Swindle had reportedly already been snatched up months ago by Channel 9, who then sold them on to ABC, presumably at a tidy profit.

It should make for a moribund night's viewing. The only way the screening of Swindle could be made even more perfect for the Boltists is if the ABC pulled it's top rating comedy show, The Chaser, off air to make way for it.

The Great Global Warming Swindle
has been available to view, for free, on the internet for months, and it makes its case about as convincingly as the documentary it is supposed to counter - Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Pretty unconvincingy.

Both documentaries push their politically weighted barrows right up to your face and dump a load of factoids and graphs, and demand you must believe it all, or be doomed by your own ignorance.

Just like An Inconvenient Truth, The Great Global Warming Swindle is light on facts, and big on clever editing, questionable statistics and opinion. Both documentaries lack overwhelming and cohesive scientific evidence to back up their claims.

It's a shame that both documentaries can't be screened together, on the same night. At about 3am.

If The Global Warming Swindle is an example of the kind of documentaries the ABC-haters think should make for a good, informative night's viewing on the national broadcaster, they need to get out more.

Here's global warming cult-buster Andrew Bolt recently showing the sort of valuable insight he is famous for :
"...the chances of you seeing The Great Global Warming Swindle on your TV are pretty low."
Not if you have mates on the ABC board and you use a blog and newspaper funded by the global warming "cultist", and frequent flier, Rupert Murdoch, to whine on and on about how not screening the documentary amounts to censorship and proof that the ABC is infested with cursed "Lefties".

The truth is the ABC probably would have shown The Great Global Warming Swindle anyway, had Channel Nine not first secured the rights to screen it in Australia.

But mounting a media campaign to "pressure" the ABC into screening the documentary allows global warming skeptics, like Bolt, to claim a victory for his followers.

So why is this doco repeatedly claimed to be "discredited"? George Monbiot attempts to debunk the debunkers of the Swindle :

The problem with The Great Global Warming Swindle, which the ABC plans to screen and which caused a sensation when it was broadcast in Britain earlier this year, is that to make its case it relies not on visionaries, but on people whose findings have been proven wrong. The implications could not be graver. Thousands of people could be misled into believing there is no problem to address.

The film's main contention is that the rise in global temperatures is caused not by greenhouse gases but by changes in the sun's activity. It is built around the premise that in 1991 the Danish atmospheric physicist Dr Eigil Friis-Christensen discovered that recent temperature variations on Earth coincided with the length of the cycle of sunspots: the shorter they were, the higher the temperature. Unfortunately, he found nothing of the kind. A paper published in the journal Eos in 2004 reveals that the finding was the result of incorrect handling of data. The truth is the opposite: temperatures have continued to rise as the length of the sunspot cycle has increased.

Cherry-pick your results and choose work which is outdated and discredited, and anything and everything becomes true. The twin towers were brought down by controlled explosions; homeopathy works; black people are less intelligent than white people; species came about through intelligent design. You can find lines of evidence which appear to support these contentions and professors who will speak in their favour. This does not mean that any of them are correct.

The first time I recall seeing the "sun causes global warming" theory anywhere was on the Russian 'news' site Pravda, a site where you can also find stories about how the moon landings were faked, how communities of wolf-boys live happily in Siberian forests and reports on how the Russian Army fought against UFO invasions.

Of course that doesn't mean the "Blame The Sun" theory of global warming isn't true. Just as it doesn't mean that the Russian Army didn't really go into battle against UFOs.

Believe whatever you want. But don't throw a hissy fit when the majority of the public don't share your beliefs.

Now that the ABC has shown it is not scared to show documentaries chock-full of "discredited" claims that "question the accepted truth", viewers should look forward to seeing some other widely discredited documentaries, like the ones that question the truth about the Holocaust and the myriad of conspiracy theories surrounding the events of 9/11.

Hell, there are docos on the internet that claim President Bush and his dad are members of satanic human sacrificing cults. Why not screen one of those on the ABC as well?

After all, as Andrew Bolt so succinctly puts it, showing the other side of a widely accepted truth is "not a spoof, it's debate".