« Hansen; over paid, over hyped and over here | Main | Reap what you sow »

Earth: The Climate Wars

BBC - BBC Two Programmes - Earth: The Climate Wars

Dr Iain Stewart traces the history of climate change from its very beginning and examines just how the scientific community managed to get it so very wrong back in the Seventies.

Thanks to a tip off I managed to catch this tonight - not too bad until he got to the end where he trailed what is coming up, when he will be talking about the "well organised" sceptic movement and how it challenged science, but how science wins in the end...

I gather from this youtube clip he considers himself as an activist whose duty is to spread the word and encourage action about AGW, so my hopes of an impartial BBC program aren't too high....

More on Part Two


you used the terms BBC and impartial in the same sentance. ROFL ROFL ROFL

It was not as biased as I'd expected except for the closing sentences.

I noted a few points:
1) The old chestnut of the cfc and ozone was reopened. This is apparently "proof" of human impact on the climate.
2) The presenter (who is pro AGW) said Hansen testimony of 1988 had passed the test of time. Temperatures today are lower than when he made it so that is false.
3) He also claims that Hansen had carefully chosen a heatwave in which to make the announcement, for more impact. Sounds plausible.
4) There was a demonstration where an infra-red camera was aimed at one end a perspex container (cylinder) initially filled with air (assumed). A candle was lit at the other end and shown in infra-red. CO2 was introduced to the cylinder and the candle disappeared from the infra-red image. This is a very mis-leading experiment. Firstly, concentrations of CO2 were not controlled and therefore nothing like the atmosphere, most likely extremely high, and secondly the gas would have been cold due to expansion from pressurised storage. My feeling is that it would probably have done the same with any gas. Plus it does not represent the atmosphere in terms of the other processes that take place.
5) The JASON organisation said Polar regions to be affected most. It can be shown that there has been no warming, at least for Antarctica. Their other predictions were more or less in line with current IPCC predictions.
6) Unless I missed it, there was little if any mention of the computer models.
7) Also, CO2 from ice cores appeared to be missing.

Next weeks instalment will be interesting.

Dr Iain Stewart has a web page at the University of Plymouth where he is based:

This was the first of the programmes broadcast yesterday http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00dhlgl

Its been awhile since I did Physics.... but At 21.00 mins. into this programme the presenter says (while doing a demo)

"The carbon dioxide inside the tube is effectively trapping the heat..."

"The candles warmth no longer reaches the camera, instead it is absorbed by the carbon dioxide inside the tube

that is exactly how carbon dioxide works in the atmosphere."

SAY WHAT !!!!!!.

For a start the expanding Co2 from the high pressure cylinder would be very cold. Had the presenter waited for the gas to warm to 'room temp'. the candle would have shown up again....

He seems to be saying that he has found a way to store heat..... what a fantastic discovery.... No more wasted heat just store it in co2 filled glass cylinders and release it on a cold day when needed !!!

If this is the stuff that is being used as 'proof of warming being caused by humans' I for one am not going to watch the other two programmes....

Hope somone can shed more on this, but I am sure he has got the Physics VERY wrong....


"In 1979 they [JASON] produced their report: coded JSR-78-07 and entitled The Long Term Impact of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Climate. Now, with the benefit of hind-sight, it is remarkable how prescient it was.

Right on the first page, the Jasons predicted that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would double from their preindustrial levels by about 2035. Today it’s expected this will happen by about 2050. They suggested that this doubling of carbon dioxide would lead to an average warming across the planet of 2-3C. Again, that’s smack in the middle of today’s predictions."

So the Jasons produced the same predictions as the IPCC almost 30 years before, and what did they use for that? You can be pretty sure it wasn't a super computer running GCMs!

And just for the record:
"The creed that Nierenberg originated all those years ago still has its dwindling band of followers."


You are quite right. It was a very misleading experiment and proved nothing at all about climate. Everyone I have spoken to about it has seen at least one flaw. Sadly, some people will think it is proof.

If I was his boss at the University of Plymouth, I would be very concerned about the credibility of the institution.

@JD and Ian

It's worth understanding the "experiment" a bit better.

The thermograph camera was showing the amount of infra-red light coming through the tube. Infra-red is emitted by hot things. Cold things don't emit infra red. The cold CO2 *isn't* swamping the radiation from the candle with cold infra-red -- because cold CO2 doesn't emit infra red at all. Rather, when you can't see any infra red, that's because the CO2 isn't letting it through.

Similarly, in the Greenhouse effect, it's the infra-red radiation from the warm surface of planet Earth that is what the CO2 stops leaving the system.

Yes, the CO2 in the tube in the programme was a lot more concentrated than the CO2 in the atmosphere. On the other hand, the infra-red in the programme only had to get through a tube a couple of feet long. But to escape planet Earth, infra-red from the surface has to get through an atmosphere several *miles* thick.

-- Jas.

I couldn't believe it when he produced the CO2 graph which showed that CO2 has increased in the last 50 years and said that this proves that "Humans have increased the level of CO2" ... but then later in the program mentions (under his breath) that CO2 has always been changing ... so how did he come to the conclusion that the CO2 increase was down to Humans??? Surely he should have quoted a statistic that showed how many tonnes of CO2 are emitted directly due to human activity as opposed natural CO2 emissions...

Also another trick that the BBC do is to misquote statistics, the graph showing the CO2 increase was scaled between about 350-360ppm (couldn't tell exactly because it was blurred) which makes the eye perceive that a huge increase has happened, however the graph had been scaled from 0 then there would have been no perceived increase ...

When I saw this series advertised I had a suspicion that it would be a politically motivated programme and having watched the youtube link you posted above has only served to confirm my suspicions.

The BBC has manifestly failed in its public duty to inform and educate its audience. It's clear to anyone who does their own research that climate and what causes it to change is complex; that CO2 probably does not play a pivotal role in warming (water vapour does); climate has been changing, century in century out, without any help or interference from mankind.

The AGW alarmists are running scared because their beloved computer models have failed to predict climate change accurately, e.g. recent cooling. The Met Office (big supporters of AGW) forecast that this year would be one of the hottest!!! And we're supposed to trust what these people say, downgrade our lifestyles and standard of living to pray at the alter of the socialist cloaked agenda that called 'environmentalism'

The Chinese and Indians must be laughing their heads off - they've no intention of buying the pseudo climax hoax

If I have not studied a scientific or medical matter to postgraduate level, is my opinion as good as someone who has? I am due to have a routine operation soon - I want a surgeon who has spent many years studying these matters at a recognized academic institution. If medical experts disagree, who should a rational layperson go with - the consensus based on evidence is a safe bet. I would not trust someone who has done 15 minutes of googling to operate on me.

Dr Stewart's views are the views of the vast majority of the scientists qualified in this area see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change especially the primary sources. The scientific academies (like the Royal Society) are the cream of academic scientists in a country they should know who the real experts are and who the charlatans are. They support the IPCC's view that humans are now changing the planet.

NASA on how climate change http://climate.jpl.nasa.gov/evidence/ or maybe all these scientists are lying. Maybe NASA is part of the conspiracy too - they faked the moon landings /sarcasm.

The quotes from Mrs Thatcher (the first UK PM with a science degree) showing her understanding that humans are now changing the planet were interesting and shows that right-wingers can believe the scientific consensus. She opened the Hadley Centre for Climate Change at the met Office http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/faqs/#faqSect3

Iain Stewart made a fundamental schoolboy error. On examining maximum and minimum thermometers he blithely told us that a point EXACTLY IN BETWEEN the max and min would give us the day's AVERAGE temperature. If this is what global warming theories are based on then God help us all. For those who miss my point, consider this - a day with 22 hours at zero degrees centigrade (min) followed by 2 hours at 16 degrees centigrade (max). If you need a clue, the average is NOT 8 degrees centigrade.


You make some very good points - the kind of points I personally make on other matters (such as alternative medice etc). Your main point, the scientific consensus point, is the thorn in the side for all AGW Sceptics IMHO.

However I must point out four things:

1. You should always have confidence to look at the data yourself. Read the reports (2001 report is my personal favourite - laughable in some parts IMHO) and then read what the sceptics/deniers have to say.

2. Recall examples where the mainstream science (and environmentalists) got it wrong. DDT a good example. Millenium bug...

3. You've assumed that scientific academies reputable and full of the best scientists. They might be, however I must point out that logically the best scientists will work outside of academic institutions - industry - where the money is better.

4. Look at the general logic of the argument. When I was at uni my oceanography lecturer couldn't fully explain why we get ice ages http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_ages#Causes_of_ice_ages - no-one knows. He couldn't explain past climate events but was more than happy to predict the future climatic events. I didn't subscribe to that.



Reply to David Swift:

Iain Stewart is correct in his explanation of how mean daily temperature is calculated. Of course in your example (22 hours at zero and two hours at 16 degrees Celsius) then 8 degrees Celsius is not representative. However a day such as this would be highly remarkable.

Decades of temperature observation has informed us that a daily mean (average) temperature based on the mean of maximum and minimum is perfectly acceptable and representative.

Reply to Greg Spellman :

Regarding your comment about the measurement of average daily temperature. Of course my example is extreme but I present it to make a valid point about scientific accuracy. You can't just divide the two extremes of daily temperature to find the exact average. This whole debate depends on accuracy and exact measurement of extremely small differences. Iain Stewart is guilty of the sort of fuzziness which gives television science a bad name. It doesn't give me any confidence in the rest of his assertions about global warming, which may or may not be a bad thing.

Reply to David Swift

I have to agree and also point out that this isn't just 'television science' fuzziness ..this is real science fuzziness!

It would be interesting to do some quick research on a sample of sites that have, say, hourly measurements and take the average of those to see how robust the (max+min)/2 calculation is.

Reply to David Swift

I have to agree and also point out that this isn't just 'television science' fuzziness ..this is real science fuzziness!

It would be interesting to do some quick research on a sample of sites that have, say, hourly measurements and take the average of those to see how robust the (max+min)/2 calculation is.

Appalling programme.

Greg, go and have a look at Watt's up with that http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/ and specifically the how not to measure temperature series. The guy is a meteorologist with anti-AGW leanings, trying to force rigour on the collection of climate measurements. What he shows is what's wrong with the fuzziness climate science.

Effect of the ozone layer
I would urge everyone to read Robert A. Ashworth's appraisal of global warming at :-
I only came across this appraisal via a post in wattsupwiththat. Ashworth shows that the depletion of the ozone layer is the major cause of recent global warming. Ozone layer depletion was caused by man-made CFCs, which are now largely phased out. Therefore the earth will now remain in a steady (slightly warmer) state than before CFC production. With some effort it would be possible to remove residual CFCs from the upper atmosphere.
I wish I had known about Ashworth earlier, so apologies for my ignorance to anyone here who already cited his work. Where is the promotion of this by the BBC ?

Global Warming Propaganda on the BBC

The three-part BBC ‘documentary’ program “Earth: The Climate Wars,” which was presented in September, 2008 is a blatant propaganda piece for the promotion of the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).
The program’s presenter, forty-two year old Scottish geologist Dr Iain Stewart, employs a lot of trendy expressions, a ‘gee whiz’ style, and a snide, deprecating attitude toward anyone who dissents from the theory of AGW. Stewart’s presentation might impress children or adolescents, but critical thinkers can see through the faulty logic and misinformation which Stewart attempts to conceal with his bluffing, bullying style.
After presenting evidence of rising global temperatures during the past thirty years, Stewart proclaims that the cause is AGW, without mentioning that the increase in global temperatures may have been due to natural causes. During the entire three hours of “Earth: The Climate Wars,” there are no references to the established scientific record of paleoclimatology, which demonstrates that today’s global temperatures and CO2 levels fall within the normal range to be expected within the natural Ice Age cycle. Nor does the
program present a balanced discussion of the credible theory that variations in solar output may account for the recent global warming.
Stewart drools with envy over the privileges which are provided to the members of JASON, a scientific think-tank based in San Diego that is funded by the US Department of Defence. In the late 1970s the DoD and the corporate sponsors of JASON delegated its members to investigate AGW, even though at the time none of the scientists at Jason were climatologists. It was the scientists at JASON who developed the computer models on which much of the speculation and prognostications about AGW are based.
The Northern Hemisphere winter of 2007-8 marked a downturn in the global heat spike which began about thirty years ago, and the current winter of 2008-9 may turn out to be even colder. In response to the current downturn in global temperatures, the advocates of the theory of AGW have retrenched, and now they are claiming that AGW is causing the global cooling.

-- Gregory F. Fegel

We love your programme Earth the power of the Planet.We are a Non Profit Organisation helping monitor the Environment,Daily Weather Obs to various recipients.Also do soup kitchen twice weekly for local township dwellers.We would be pleased to have you as our guest should you find yourself in these waters.
0027 (0)44 532 7540 Fax+Phone
18km East of Knysna 2km off N2
Hope to hear from you. Best
wishes Charlie+Rachel Jackson
We used to live in Perthsire.

Post a comment