Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
Man-made global warming is real, because it was humans who created the idea and proved, independent of nature, that human activity was the cause. It is a real idea; it is not real in fact. It is in the same context as Goethe’s comment that “The unnatural, that too is natural.” Proponents of the idea believe it’s real, because they created an imaginary world called a computer model. It proved the idea was real, because they claimed the model represented the real world. Naturally, in this unreal real world, the science is settled, the debate is over. Nowhere is this more narrowly defined and vigorously promoted as real than in government and our schools.
Marshall McLuhan, philosopher of communication theory, created several important phrases and ideas that represent how we see the world. He identified the “global village” in his book, The Gutenberg Galaxy. The analogy has important applications, such as the fact that people living in the village think they know what is going on, but they don’t. In any village, the most destructive people are the gossips. They deliberately spread falsehoods that destroy people’s reputations and lives. The mainstream media are the gossips in the global village.
A second perceptive McLuhan phrase is that ”the medium is the message”. I learned what this meant for environmentalism and climate when asked to provide stories and examples for TV programs. At least half the ideas were rejected because, “they don’t lend themselves to television.” The medium was determining the message. The problem of imaging industrial pollution has long been discussed among skeptics because it usually devolves to showing a smokestack. Nowadays, the only thing emanating from most stacks is water vapor, made visible through condensation.
The most successful use of the media to determine the message was Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth. UK judge, Justice Burton, ruled on the charge by a parent that the movie did not meet provisions of sections 406 and 407 of the 1996 Education Act. This reads,
“406. The local education authority, governing body and head teachers shall forbid … the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school.
407. The local education authority, governing body and head teacher shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils while they are (a) in attendance at a maintained school, or (b) taking part in extra-curricular activities which are provided or organised for registered pupils at the school by or on behalf of the school they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views.”
In his judgment Justice Burton wrote,
I viewed the film at the parties’ request. Although I can only express an opinion as a viewer rather than as a judge, it is plainly, as witnessed by the fact that it received an Oscar this year for best documentary film, a powerful, dramatically presented and highly professionally produced film. It is built round the charismatic presence of the ex-Vice-President, Al Gore, whose crusade it now is to persuade the world of the dangers of climate change caused by global warming. It is now common ground that it is not simply a science film – although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion – but that it is a political film, albeit of course not party political. Its theme is not merely the fact that there is global warming, and that there is a powerful case that such global warming is caused by man, but that urgent, and if necessary expensive and inconvenient, steps must be taken to counter it, many of which are spelt out. Paul Downes, using persuasive force almost equivalent to that of Mr Gore, has established his case that the views in the film are political by submitting that Mr Gore promotes an apocalyptic vision, which would be used to influence a vast array of political policies,
Justice Burton did not ban showing the film in schools. He ruled that it should be shown, but prefaced by directions by the teacher about the bias and the nine errors. Very telling, was the fact that this required different booklets for teachers in science, social science and civics classrooms. He also ruled (Item 5) that
Channel 4 has produced a film which was referred to during the hearing, although I have not seen it, which presents a counter-view, a sceptical approach to the climate change debate called “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. This has not been sent to schools, although there is reference to it in the Guidance Note on the website, to which I have referred.
I was privileged to be a significant part of Martin Durkin’s film, “The Great Global Warming Swindle.” I spent time with him explaining what was going on and people he could interview. I also discussed an earlier film by Channel 4 called, “The Greenhouse Conspiracy”, which is remarkably relevant 15 years later.
Last year, I was approached by Luke Dillard to help with a documentary on global warming. I flew to Austin at my own expense and spent an entire day talking and filming. I made a PowerPoint presentation similar to those I give publicly. During the visual presentation and afterward, the producer asked questions. My only other input was, I provided a list of potential experts. He chose them. I also had no input about the format or title. I approve of the title, The Global Warming War because it is a war and as Aeschylus said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” I invite you to watch the documentary, which is well received by the public I spoke to because it addresses issues they know about and provides a scientific explanation. It doesn’t push a singular view, but leaves viewers to reach their own conclusions.
You can access the video here, but be aware you must rent or purchase the video, as Luke has to cover costs. Please note that I receive nothing from this enterprise other than the satisfaction of participating in another effort to help the people understand how they are being deceived for political gain.
Another effort to produce an effective documentary is the work by Marc Morano. A trailer of this work, Climate Hustle is available on his web site. It will be another work that confirms McLuhan’s thesis that the medium is the message. However, there is another reason for talking about Marc. A few years ago, while in Washington to make a presentation to Congress, I also gave a talk at a function organized by Amy Ridenour, President of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Marc attended and we talked afterward about climate and his role as an assistant to Senator James Inhofe.
I raise this because these were valuable connections, but also because Senator Inhofe is likely to be the next Chair of the Environment Committee. His book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, indicates he understands the science, but more important, knows how it was used for a political agenda. Inhofe made a Skype appearance at the recent Heartland Climate conference in Las Vegas to great applause.
Interestingly, Inhofe used print media, which was dominant before visual imagery, as McLuhan acknowledged with his reference to Gutenberg. It is still an important medium because it gets you invited to TV interview programs. It’s a hybrid in McLuhan’s ‘medium is the message’ theory, as we transition from the dominance of books to the dominance of visual imagery.
Gore’s film was a major part of the belief that man-made global warming is real. In his 2007 appearance before Congress, he also used the terms, “the debate is over”, and “the science is settled”. The false image of a polar bear ‘drowning’ and the emotional and scary artificial scenarios of oceans spilling over the land were very effective. The film was produced in Hollywood, the land of make-believe, so it won the Oscar.
But there is one major failing in the entire visual global warming story. Martin Durkin withheld, for some time and at his own personal expense, the DVD version of The Swindle because there was a minor error on one graph. The IPCC were wrong in their predictions every time, but instead of acknowledging their science was wrong, they doubled down with threats of impending disaster. Recent (November 2, 2014) release of the Summary for Policymakers is the latest example. Gore’s movie had nine errors identified by a judge, who ordered they, along with the bias, be identified for the classroom. To my knowledge those errors are still in the movie, but unlike the classroom, it doesn’t come with a warning when viewed by the public. But then, he and his fellow Nobel winners, the IPCC, are in a man-made political world, not the real world.