UPDATE2 10/18/2011 – The experiment has been replicated several ways, see:
UPDATE: New images added prove without a doubt the faked split screen. See below.
It has been over a week now since the Gore-a-thon aka “24 hours of climate reality”. The front page of the Climate Reality Project has changed from “live mode” to offering clips of video shown during the 24 hour presentation. Note the circled video on the front page below Mr. Gore. I’ve discovered that by watching carefully it reveals an “inconvenient truth” of the worst kind.
Analysis of this “Climate 101” video highlighted on Mr. Gore’s website is something I’ve been working on for the past week and a half. It has been carefully reviewed (with video graphics tools) and has been inspected by a number of science, engineering, and television professionals I’ve had review the video, my video captures, annotations, and writeup to be certain I have not missed anything or come to an erroneous conclusion. It also took me awhile to locate and get the items shipped to me to do the work I needed before I wrote this article. Now that I have them, and have done some simple replications to confirm my suspicions, I can write about them while presenting corroborating photographic evidence.
First, I wish to direct your attention to this video, produced by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project titled “Climate 101”. I direct your attention to the 1 minute mark, lasting through 1:20. I suggest you click on the little X-arrow icon to expand full screen of the right of the slider tool bar, since this video is in high-definition and the details of my concerns require that higher resolution to view them properly.
It is worth watching a couple of times to get fully familiar with the sequence.
I’ve been in television broadcasting for over 20 years, and I’m quite familiar with editing tricks, I think I spotted more than a few in the video.
There are five scenes that appear, each an edit in that 20 second span of video during which an experiment is set up which supposedly demonstrates that CO2 in a heated jar causes that jar to be warmer than a second heated jar with ambient air in it.
In that 20 second span, I looked for things that changed, indicating that it wasn’t done in a continuous shot. I found evidence that the scene was changed at least three times, suggesting multiple takes.
The giveaways were that I saw objects change in the scene, most notably the CO2 tank, which has three different rotation positions. See the video captures from the Climate 101 video below, with my annotations. Note the position of the safety valve (1) and the label (2) change (click images for HD resolution):
Climate 101 scene @1:01 –
Climate 101 scene @1:05 –
Climate 101 scene @1:09 –
(UPDATE 10:27AM : spotted by commenter “mkelly” – note the thermometers are reversed in the 1:05 video capture versus the 1:09 video capture – note the green card mark on the thermometer scale as explained further in the story) So clearly, this wasn’t done in one take. By itself, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it did make me wonder why for such a simple sequence (putting the tube in the jar) they had to have three separate edits.
Such a simple thing could surely have been accomplished in a single take. All they would have had to do was zoom the camera in/out as the actor did the work, then take the appropriate scenes from the single shot to the final cut. They could have done several continuous takes and chosen the best one, it just seemed odd they had to keep moving/rotating the bottle to do it. It made me wonder if the experiment maybe didn’t go so well and they had to keep trying it.
These scene discontinuities made me curious, and it made me look further to see what else might have been edited in such a way to reveal that what looks like a continuous flow of scenes…actually isn’t.
I’m glad I did.
Now I know there will be lots of arguments about whether this experiment is a valid test of CO2 greenhouse theory or not. It is deceptively simple, and it fits with the claims of it is “high school physics” made by Al Gore and others before and during the 24 hour Climate Reality Project. His specific claim was:
“The deniers claim that it’s some kind of hoax and that the global scientific community is lying to people,” he said. “It’s not a hoax, it’s high school physics.” – Al Gore in an interview with MNN 9/14/2011
Let’s put the arguments about applicability of the experiment aside for the moment, and just concentrate on what was presented in the experiment section of the video, because there is plenty to look at in the video with a skeptical eye.
One thing that caught my eye after I noticed the edits with the CO2 tank positions changing was the split screen scene with the thermometers side by side, one with temperature rising faster than the other. It is located starting at 1:10 in the video continuing to 1:17 it is the longest “continuous” scene in experiment section of the video, though we all know that thermometers don’t jump up in spurts like that.
I figured at first they just cut down a longer continuous scene, done with two cameras, so that it fit into the time allotted and then rotated from horizontal and edited them in split screen, which are tried and true techniques, and there’s nothing wrong with doing that.
But thanks to the fact that this was shot in HD video, and because I was able to expand the video to full resolution outside of the web page format bounding, I noticed something that gave me reason to doubt the veracity of this section of video. I suspected it had been faked, but it would take me some time and materials to prove it.
One thing that struck me was how clean the image of the two thermometers was. Remember this is an experiment where the two thermometers are placed inside two glass jars. A proper experimental procedure would be to film them while they are inside of the jars, experiencing the conditions of the experiment, in fact, they were presented just like that with a closeup at 1:02 in the video, you can actually read the thermometer scale:
Note this video capture at 1:02 looks quite different from the video at 1:17 showing the thermometers split screen. There are several differences:
1. Throughout the video from 1:00 to 1:20, the thermometers in the jar are shown horizontal, the split screen at 1:17 shows the thermometers vertical.
2. There’s a greenish-yellow background in the split screen at 1:10 to 1:17 which isn’t seen anywhere else in the experiment video at all.
3. The split screen thermometer scene has not a hint of the optical distortion seen at 1:02 in the video. Note that the thermometer scale is distorted by the glass, and if you look closely by expanding the video capture above to full resolution by clicking on it, you’ll see that the tick marks are distorted differently all along the scale. This is what you would expect from thick glass like the jar is made of.
I considered these possibilities for each point above:
1. That was editing to show the thermometers side by side, perfectly acceptable if the edit was done from combining two separate video streams filmed simultaneously on two cameras while the temperature was rising inside the jar. Cutting down the time is also acceptable, which would account for the “spurts”
2. They may have placed a paper or cardboard background behind the thermometers while filming in the jars to make the scales more visible and to remove visual clutter, but didn’t show it in the video. While using such backgrounds is understandable, not showing that you have done so is a bit of a no-no, but it isn’t a deal killer.
3. While I thought about it a lot, I couldn’t reconcile the glass caused optical distortion issue. Why was it missing from the split screen thermometer scene? I decided I couldn’t answer the question without getting my hands on the objects and re-creating the optical situation with a camera.
That took some doing, because Al’s “high school physics” experiment didn’t come with a bill of materials and list of suppliers. So, in my spare time I started looking for the jars, the thermometers, and the globes so that I could exactly recreate the experiment scene.
I found them all, thanks to Google visual image search and Ebay.
Replicating the scene – materials:
Anchor Hocking Cookie Jar with Lid http://www.cooking.com/products/shprodde.asp?SKU=187543
Geratherm Oral Thermometer Non-Mercury
Globe Coin Bank
It took a few days for everything to arrive from the three different suppliers, here they are all together on my desk at work, I actually bought two sets:
What I wanted to do was to recreate the closeup shot like we see in the video at 1:02 to see if I saw similar optical distortions, then see if there was any way that I could get a clear closeup view of the thermometer scale like we see in the split screen at 1:10-1:17.
My theory was that the thermometers aren’t actually in the jar when they were photographed for the split screen.
Checking for optical aberrations:
I used a piece of double-sided foam tape to affix the thermometer:
Here’s a closeup of the thermometer affixed to the globe. Note how clear and distortion free the scale is.
Here’s my attempts at photography of the thermometer inside the jar. I had a lot of trouble getting focused on the thermometer scale due to the autofocus mechanism being distracted by the glass which is in the foreground. Note that you can see the optical aberrations caused by the glass on the thermometer scale. The scale is not straight and the tick marks are also distorted.
Here’s another photo – I could not get the macro view focus right due to the glass confusing the autofocus sensor:
I decided that my camera was inadequate for this particular task, so I called in a someone who has a professional camera with a high quality professional lens capable of manual focus and macro function. It is a far cry from my little Kodak Easy Share Z1012 used to make the photos above:
- Camera – Canon 1D Mark IV
- Lens – Canon MACRO 100mm 1:2.8 L IS USM
Just as I did with my clunky little Kodak camera, the photographer had a lot of trouble getting a clear shot through the glass. Below is a collection of shots done by that photographer at different distances and focus settings on the professional camera. Note that I also rotated the jar to see is different sections made anything clearer. Click any thumbnail to enlarge it (warning large download ~ 10MB each)
The professional photography setup also could not capture an image through the glass jar that looked as clear as what was shown by my photo with the thermometer outside the glass, or as clear as the split screen images presented in the Climate 101 video from 1:10 to 1:17. I invite readers to inspect the images above carefully, examine the EXIF data of the unedited original JPEG images presented at the native resolution of the Canon 1D camera at 4296×3264 pixels and examine for yourselves if it is possible to shoot the thermometer scale through the glass and get an image that is free from any distortions.
Neither I nor the professional photographer could get a clear image through the jar glass that matched the clarity of the thermometer scales seen in the split screen, so I am forced to conclude that in the split screen scene from 1:10 to 1:17 on the Climate 101 video, the thermometers are not in the jars.
But wait, there’s more.
The background behind the thermometers:
Remember point 2 above where I was concerned about the greenish-yellow background in the split screen at 1:10 to 1:17 which isn’t seen anywhere else in the experiment video from 1:00 to 1:20? Well, there’s something odd about that too. The background appears identical in both sides of the split screen. What first tipped me off was a speck on the thermometer.
Here’s a video capture from the start of the split screen sequence. I’ve highlighted something I found curious, a speck on the thermometer scale that appears on both thermometers:
At first I thought it was dust, but then I realized that wasn’t possible, as dust would NOT appear identically on both thermometers in the split screen. I surmised it might be a manufacturing defect, printed on the scale. Fortunately, I have two thermometers from the same manufacturer that I can compare to. Here’s my closeup of them:
Nope, no speck, so it isn’t a manufacturing defect common to all thermometers.
Side note: Note above in the thermometer closeup how the scales are offset, this is due to the manufacturer hand calibrating these glass thermometers by trimming the card with the scale printed on it so 98.6 lines up with the top of the fluid line when the thermometers are placed in the temperature test well. Glassblowing is an inexact science, and each thermometer must be calibrated by a technician, then sealed. You can see how the cards don’t match here:
We can see this in the Climate 101 video also:
The green section of the card for the scale is clearly different lengths as part of the trimming process for calibration, so clearly we have two different thermometers.
OK, back to the main issue.
In addition to the identical speck on the two thermometer scales, I noted several other identical specks and aberrations in the split screen video. I’ve listed them by number on two video captures below from two different times in the video (click images to enlarge for best viewing):
Climate 101 video @1:10 –
Climate 101 video @1:16 –
I have 8 labeled points that are identical between each frame @1:10 and @ 1:16 In fact they are identical on every video frame from 1:10 to 1:17. The only thing that changes is the blue liquid in the thermometer tube.
- Dots on left top glass edge match exactly
- Speck on right top glass edge matches exactly
- Smudge/discoloration near number “38” on scale matches exactly
- Speck in background matches exactly
- Speck near number 98 on scale matches exactly
- Tick mark pattern near number “36” matches exactly
- Smudge in background matches exactly
- Reflective highlight in glass tube matches exactly
- While not numbered, note how the background shading matches exactly
With 9 points of agreement between the two images through all video frames there is only one possible conclusion:
The split screen is showing the same piece of video, shot by a single camera and edited to make it appear as two separate pieces of video with two separate thermometers. All that is required is to apply edits along different portions of the timeline. It is the same video shot by the same camera on each side of the split screen.
Summary of what was discovered:
- The video of the experiment showing filling of the jar with CO2 was shot in multiple takes because the CO2 cylinder has three different positions between 1:00 and 1:10. It suggests the experiment didn’t go smoothly and had to be repeated.
- The thermometers in the split screen appear not to have been filmed through the glass of the jars, because the split screen video contains no optical aberrations of any kind. Neither myself nor the photographer with professional gear was able to get clear shots through the jar glass that equaled the clarity of the thermometer scales shown in the split screen video. This strongly suggests the thermometers were never in the jars for the split screen video showing temperature rise.
- The greenish-yellow background in the split screen at 1:10 to 1:17 isn’t seen anywhere else in the experiment video at all, and not in the jars, suggesting it was used only for that scene, which also suggests the thermometers were never in the jars for the split screen video sequence.
- The video of the split screen shows two identical backgrounds, and two identical thermometers with 9 points of exact agreement in the backgrounds and the thermometers. Clearly the split screen contains two copies of the same video from one camera, edited in the timeline to make the liquid in the thermometer rise at different rates.
The only conclusion one can make from these four points is that the video of the “simple experiment” is a complete fabrication done in post production.
I’ve double checked my work, and I’ve had other people look at this video and the points I make and they see the same issues. They concur the video of the experiment was fabricated using editing techniques too.
While everyone can make mistakes (I know, I’ve made some big ones myself), this isn’t a case of a simple mistake, its a production that had to have been screened and approved before releasing it. It is mind blowing that this video, which was intended to be shown to millions of people (recall that Mr. Gore’s claim was 8.6 million views), was not clearly identified as an illustration or artistic license and not a true record of an experiment if that was their intent. Yet, they invite viewers to try replicating it themselves.
This level of fabrication on something that is so simple makes me wonder. Mr. Gore claimed in the MNN interview on 9/14 that:
“It’s not a hoax, it’s high school physics.”
Why then, does Mr. Gore’s organization go to such lengths to fabricate the presentation of the “simple high school physics experiment” they say proves the issue in that venue? Perhaps they couldn’t get the experiment to work properly using the materials chosen? Maybe it might not be so easy to perform at home after all? Maybe a few controls are necessary such as the Mythbusters team used in the video below. Why else would they need to fake it in post?
Even if Mr. Gore and his team wanted to claim “artistic license” for editing the video for the experiment, why would they do so if it is so easy to replicate and do yourself? The narrator, Bill Nye the Science Guy actually invites people to do so at about 0:46 in the video. Why not simply do the experiment and record the results for all to see? Of course a one word lower third caption on the video at that point saying “DRAMATIZATION” would be all that was needed to separate a real experiment from one fabricated in post production – but they didn’t do that. I’ve watched the film several times, checked the audio, and the credits at the end. There is no mention nor notice of any dramatization regarding the “simple experiment” segment that I can find.
If Mr. Gore’s team actually performed the experiment and has credible video documenting the success of his simple “high school physics” exercise, I suggest that in the interest of clarity, now is the time to make it available.
About the experiment:
So far all I’ve concentrated on is the stagecraft I observed. It’s clearly obvious that the split screen scene with thermometers was not filmed inside the cookie jars. I’ve established that it is a staged production from start to finish and the split screen of two thermometers but was edited from a continuous video of a single thermometer with temperature rising then frame sequences were inserted out of order to compose each side of the split screen.
Of course the whole Climate 101 CO2 experiment is questionable to begin with, because it doesn’t properly emulate the physical mechanisms involved in heating our planet. Note the heat lamps used, likely one of these based on the red color we see in the lamp fixture:
Heat lamps like this produce visible red light and short wave infrared (SWIR is 1.4-3 µm wavelength). As we know from the classic greenhouse effect, glass blocks infrared so none of the SWIR was making it into the cookie jar. All that would do is heat the glass. John Tyndall’s 1850’s experiments used rock salt windows, which transmit infrared, for exactly that reason. Adding insult to injury, CO2 has no SWIR absorption bands. What CO2 does have though is higher density than air. The gas in the cookie jars was primarily heated by conduction in contact with the SWIR-heated glass.
Moreover, the CO2 injection in one cookie jar would raise it from 0.04% CO2 to very near 100% CO2 which is hardly comparable to the atmosphere going from 0.03% to 0.04% CO2 during the industrial age. Gore’s team provides no indication of the concentration of CO2 in the jar, that’s hardly scientific. Here’s how current greenhouse theory works:
All that said, in principle it does demonstrate that CO2 absorbs long wave infrared (LWIR 8–15 µm). Energy would likely be transmitted into the gas through conduction with the heated glass (which would likely get very hot) and it would then re-radiate inside the cookie jar as LWIR, and cause the CO2 jar to heat up faster and higher. But this is hardly news. The LWIR absorptive characteristics of many different gases under different pressures and mixtures was experimentally verified in thousands of experiments performed by Tyndall 150 years ago.
This characteristic of CO2 is the theory of operation for millions of CO2 sensors routinely employed in commercial buildings with high occupancy rates to determine when ventilation fans should turn on and off to exhaust the CO2 buildup from a lot of people breathing the same air in a confined space.
So while some might say the stagecraft involved in the Climate 101 presentation wasn’t dishonest it was most assuredly staged with great literary license and dramatization of an effect that was experimentally verified elsewhere with far greater precision and attention to replicating the real world.
I should make it clear that I’m not doubting that CO2 has a positive radiative heating effect in our atmosphere, due to LWIR re-radiation, that is well established by science. What I am saying is that Mr. Gore’s Climate Reality Project did a poor job of demonstrating an experiment, so poor in fact that they had to fabricate portions of the presentation, and that the experiment itself (if they actually did it, we can’t tell) would show a completely different physical mechanism than what actually occurs in our atmosphere.
If Mr. Gore wants to convince the world, he’d do far better at emulating the Mythbusters TV show; show all the materials, steps, measurement, and results like they do.
As it stands, the video fabrications in the “simple experiment” by Mr. Gore’s Climate Reality Project is no better than the stagecraft done by Senator Tim Wirth turning off the air conditioning (to make it hot in the room) when Dr. James Hansen testified before lawmakers in June 1988 about CO2 being a problem.
The public, and especially young budding scientific minds, deserve better than stagecraft.
Of course LWIR radiative CO2 heat retention is only a small part of the global warming issue. There are still raging debates over climate sensitivity, uncertainty, feedbacks, and most recently whether clouds provide positive or negative feedbacks in our atmosphere.
But from my point of view, if everything is so certain, the science so settled, why does Mr. Gore resort to these cheap stagecraft tricks to convince people?
UPDATE: In comments, Mariss Freimanis runs a Photoshop difference analysis, proving the split screen image is the same. He emailed his analysis to me, shown below.
1) I have attached ‘analysis_before’ which is a cropped shot of your original with it’s circles and arrows.
2) The ‘analysis_right_thermo’ is the right thermometer overlaid already positioned to overlay the the left thermometer.
3) The ‘image_analysis_after’ shows the results of subtracting away the right overlay from the underlying left image.
1) The attached jpegs are reasonably sized in the sense that they don’t throw away any information. The ‘after’ image black area still contains some residual ‘non-black’ background noise from the subtraction process. This is largely due to my choice of a times-4 repixelation of the original. The image offset was not precisely 0.25 pixels so it reflects some residual image alignment errors.
2) This method reveals minute differences between two images. For the background to be as featureless as it is, it requires both thermometer’s reflections to be identically lit from the exact same light source angle (parallel ray source), their seemingly identical mottled green backgrounds to actually be identical and of course, the thermometers would have to have exactly the same ‘fingerprint’ flaws. It would take one hell of a telephoto lens to see both thermometers from exactly the same perspective. This is inconceivable.
3) The 0.25 pixel offset drift is significant because it reveals the same thermometer was used to sequentially film the composite image. Little things change with time such as thermal expansion. It marks the passage of time. That drift indicates they weren’t filmed simultaneously.
For those that might be concerned about the images above not being full resolution HD and having annotations, here’s the before and after difference image at 1:17 in the video:
Note the only thing that changes is the fluid level and the reflection of it (thin line to the right) in the glass tube. This proves the “result” split screen is the same image, not two thermometers showing results.