The great global warming swindle

Last night I attended the Australian screening of a rather strange documentary called The Great Global Warming Swindle.  This film contains a bizarre mixture of half-truths, misinformation and fabrications to argue that changes in the climate seen today are not caused by human activity but are in fact the result of the Sun.  To make some sort of case, the program tied itself up in all sorts of knots, often falling back on results that were over 15 years old.  Essentially the broadcast tried to argue there's nothing to worry about, despite the plethora of evidence that suggests otherwise.

A favourite for some
There was a lot of controversy when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation purchased the wretched thing, but to their credit they set up an interview with the director, had a panel of experts and business people discuss the content and then opened up questions to a live audience. As I sat through the film listening to the nonsense that was being spouted, I suddenly became aware that  rather than being angered, many in the audience were sympathetic to  the arguments.  Once the questions began, I suddenly realised many of  my companions were either loonies or had been very badly informed. It struck home to me just how poor a job we’ve done as scientists in communicating our work.  For a topic that is so important and needs  people to make some very serious decisions I saw that we had a lot  more work to do. Somehow, amongst all the other news jostling for everyone else’s attention, the science has almost got lost in the  maelstrom.

In truth, there’s probably fault on both sides.  Scientists are a  mixed bag when it comes to describing their work and its relevance.   Add to this a media that often sensationalises stories and political  leaders obsessed with economic growth.  It's a confusing blend.  There’s a very real danger that climate change is becoming just another scare story.  Unfortunately, sticking our head in the sand won't make the problem  go away. Despair isn’t much use either.  We can still sort the problem but we need to act now, individually and globally.  Nations  need to take a lead but we can all play a role. There’s some  excellent books available on this topic. Dave Reay’s Climate Change Begins at Home is superb and gives great insights.  It's time we stopped debating the science and got on with dealing with the issue, no matter how politically unpalatable.

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