Thursday, 7 August 2008

Ofcom & The great global warming swindle

I know it's been given enough attention on the blogworld already, but because the movie the great global warming swindle is cited so frequently by denialists, i simply have to have a little post about it.

Czech president Vaclav Klaus at the premiere of TGGWS

As they've received some complaints (like this one, no less than 123p), the British Office of Communications (Ofcom) which is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, had a closer look at Martin Durkins much cited and much critised movie The Great Global Warming Swindle and came to a clear judgement about at least some of the complaints.

The accuracy questions of the movie were not subject to the judgement Ofcom made. Which seems to be a strange decision: Dave Rado, one of the plaintiffs writes :

although the accuracy sections of our complaint were considered under section 2.2 of the broadcasting code, that was not the section that we had complained under.

We complained primarily under section 5.7, but Ofcom decided section 5.7 only related to news programmes. We don't think the code makes it at all clear that it the requirement for accuracy only applies to news programmes (which is why we complained under that section) - and if it's really true that science documentaries are not expected to be accurate, that is a serious indictment of the broadcasting code.

in a few other fields, Ofcom did come to a judgement and came to this summary of adjudication which was to be read out and displayed on Channel 4s More4 channel, at 10pm BST on August 05, 2008 :

Summary of Adjudication

Complaints by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Sir David King and Carl Wunsch
The Great Global Warming Swindle, Channel 4, 8 March 2007

This is a summary of adjudication by Ofcom, the communications regulator. It concerns 3 complaints about the programme The Great Global Warming Swindle, a documentary that challenged the scientific theory that man-made activities are a major cause of global warming.

Ofcom found the programme was unfair in a number of ways.

It made significant allegations about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, questioning its scientific credibility, but failed to offer the IPCC a timely and appropriate opportunity to respond.

It unfairly attributed to the former government Chief Scientist, Sir David King, comments he had not made, and criticised him for them. It also failed to provide him with an opportunity to respond.

The programme makers did not properly explain the nature of the programme to one of its contributors, Professor Carl Wunsch, when he agreed to take part, and the broadcast unfairly implied that he had agreed with the premise of the programme.

For a full copy of the adjudications go to Ofcom’s website at

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