Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Sherlock Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”
A recent article titled “Two Competing Narratives on Carbon Dioxide,” asks the question “Is carbon dioxide our friend or foe?” The official answer is “foe,” because of the predetermined assumption of those using climate for their political agenda that global warming was only bad. From 1985, when the foundation meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was held in Villach, Austria, to the present is 32 years and reflects how effective they have been in selling a totally one-sided argument. I know, because I received more angry responses when I dared to suggest global warming has benefits and is far less threatening than global cooling. What they could not allow was any research that identified or even hinted at any benefit to higher levels of atmospheric CO2. Or a warmer world.
From the start, the IPCC objective was deliberately and carefully orchestrated to demonize carbon dioxide. The larger structure saw Working Group I prove that the human portion of atmospheric carbon dioxide was causing global warming – they never even considered the null hypothesis. Working Groups II and III accepted that finding without question. The positive side of many variables was ignored. This includes the fact that while humans add carbon dioxide, they also remove an estimated 50 percent of what they add, but only the gross figure was ever used. This bias pervades all the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from the definition of climate change given to the IPCC to the standard environmental escape hatch of the precautionary principle identified as Principle 15 of Agenda 21.
A major vehicle to promote the validity of the IPCC was the so-called Stern Review. Commissioned by the Labour government of Gordon Brown, of which Stern was a member, it was an economic study that instead of doing a balanced cost/benefit analysis said,
“Climate change is a result of the greatest market failure the world has seen. The evidence on the seriousness of the risks from inaction or delayed action is now overwhelming. The problem of climate change involves a fundamental failure of markets: those who damage others by emitting greenhouse gases generally do not pay.
All he had to do was look at the impact of cooling produced by people like Martin Parry for the World Meteorological Organization Stern’s work was completely in line with the bias applied to alternate energies. Only benefits were considered; balanced Cost/Benefit analyses were never applied. The perspective was further distorted by massive government subsidies at so many different levels that they became almost impossible. Stern’s work was given credibility within a year of releasing the Review in 2006, just like the Nobel Prize given to the IPCC, by making him Lord Stern in 2007. A strange reward for a socialist.
Every action, study, procedure, and policy was directed to one side of the hypothesis that human CO2 was causing global warming (AGW) and it was all bad. Funding came mostly from government and was only given to research that proved the hypothesis.
Documentaries are carefully planned, scripted, and produced. Considerable thought is given to the message and the assumptions made to ensure it is effectively transmitted. The decisions determine what is included, but equally important what is omitted. The BBC publishes a very detailed list of Editorial Guidelines. In a section on “Accuracy,” they provide considerable latitude.
The requirements may even vary within a genre, so the due accuracy required of factual content may differ depending on whether it is, for example, factual entertainment, historical documentary, current affairs or news.
Accuracy is not simply a matter of getting facts right. If an issue is controversial, relevant opinions as well as facts may need to be considered. When necessary, all the relevant facts and information should also be weighed to get at the truth.
So, a producer can determine content and emphasis but must include sufficient evidence to support the veracity and credibility of the story. Presumably, this means any documentary will include fundamentals essential to understanding; one can expect coverage of certain pivotal information depending on the topic.
I was watching episode 9 of the BBC’s TV Life Series titled “Plants” narrated by David Attenborough. (The video has commercials, but you can skip most). I was waiting for the standard reference to global warming impact on plants. I thought it would come early in the discussion about the importance and uniqueness of photosynthesis defined as
“the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis in plants generally involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a byproduct.”
There was no mention of photosynthesis – it was the first dog that did not barkin the night. Obviously, you can make a documentary about plants without mentioning photosynthesis as Attenborough has done but, frankly, I don’t understand how you can provide an overview of the history, evolution, role, and importance of plants in the Earth system without discussing it. The omission, especially in the context of other omissions in the program indicate it was a conscious decision. The question is why? The answer is it would speak to the benefits of increased CO2 levels.
The program spoke of the development of trees and their adaptation to life in some remarkable locations. It examined the various ways they sought light and water. It spent considerable time on the importance of nutrients, even having two segments on meat-eating plants, like the Venus Flytrap, which obtain them by catching and absorbing insects.
I thought they would bring up global warming at the end when they talked about the extent and importance of grasslands. They emphasized the importance of rice and wheat to human nutrition and advancing human societies, but still made no mention. Again, the dog did nothing in the night. Then I realized that not once in the entire documentary did they mention CO2 or even Oxygen. I watched it again to confirm that the dog wasn’t even there, let alone barking. The focus of the documentary was that
“Plants’ solutions to life’s challenges are as ingenious and manipulative as any animals.”
Surely nothing is more ingenious about plants and critical to their very existence than the presence of chlorophyll and its ability to combine sunlight and CO2 to produce nutrition. You don’t even need to include the by-product of oxygen that is essential to all animal life.
The documentary was released in 2009 when the political agenda of global warming was at a critical point. The “hockey stick” graph had been under intense scrutiny since the 2003 publication by McIntyre and McKitrick. Andrew Montford’s detailed and definitive exposé “The Hockey Stick Illusion” was due for publication in 2010. Concern about the production of policy based on deliberately corrupted science pushed somebody to leak 1000 emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), the major climate research centre at East Anglia in November of 2009. The Kyoto Protocol, the major political vehicle dependent on the corrupted science was due for final approval at the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties (COP15) in December 2009. The hiatus, the levelling of temperatures after 1998, was reaching troubling lengths for promoters of the AGW claim. Weather patterns shifted so ordinary people were becoming skeptical, and promoters decided a change of terminology was required. A 2004 leaked CRU email from the Minns/Tyndall Centre on the UEA campus said,
“In my experience, global warming freezing is already a bit of a public relations problem with the media.”
To which Swedish Chief Climate Negotiator Bo Kjellen replied,
“I agree with Nick that climate change might be a better labelling than global warming.”
Apart from cold weather and a levelling temperature curve, the alarmists faced the problem that CO2 continued to rise. Skeptics were aware that this contradicted their basic assumption that a CO2 increase caused a temperature increase. Everything the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had done since its inception was to demonize CO2. Now, as people other than skeptics began to ask questions, there was the danger that people could learn that CO2 was essential to life and that plants especially benefitted from an atmospheric increase. Research started to appear from agencies NASA that anyone who studied long-term climate change and was familiar with palynology or plant physiology knew that plants thrive on higher CO2 levels.
The researchers looked at what was driving the increase in plant growth between 1982 and 2009 and found that CO2 was the main culprit, and that up to half the world’s land is becoming greener as a result.
Dr. Sherwood Idso studied and published on CO2 enhancement for years as his important website attests. He appeared in two classic documentaries on the subject, the first The Greenhouse Conspiracy as early as 1990 and later The Great Global Warming Swindle. When Patrick Moore, former co-founder of Greenpeace and a biologist, became active in the climate debate his first major campaign was about the benefits of increased CO2. It was the theme of a presentation to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2015.
The BBC “Plants” documentary lists three technical advisors or staff members of The Open University, “is the UK’s largest academic institution.” Mike Dodd is identified as an ecologist, David Robinson as a zoologist and Janet Sumner as a geologist with specialization in volcanology. All three must know about CO2 and its role in plant growth, but Sumner likely knew more about its atmospheric effects because of specialized work in volcanic degassing.
The documentary ends with an addendum on the process and techniques of slow motion filming used to produce the film. This is remarkable, and the visual results are stunning and revealing, but growth at any speed is not possible without photosynthesis. Its omission in this documentary is the dog that did not bark in the night because they couldn’t allow it to bark.