Mr Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth was launched in May, 2006. Its message was that global warming is going to roon us all, and the polar bears too. Initially, the film received eulogistic - and, one might say, generally scientifically ignorant - reviews in substantial newspapers and magazines worldwide.
As the film came to be watched by qualified persons, devastating critiques of the looseness of its science began to appear on the Internet. More than 20 basic errors, some of them schoolboy howlers, were identified.
From his film, Mr Gore seemed to have lived his life on an imaginary planet on which natural change didn’t exist, and all change was anyway morally bad. Yet the official science community, represented for example by members of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), welcomed the film. The public continued to flock to its screening, and platoons of Julie Andrews in dirndl dresses danced and sang in the Alpine meadows.
In March, 2007, UK television Channel 4 screened another film about climate change which had a different message. Made by Martin Durkin, and called The Great Global Warming Swindle, this documentary explored the science of alarmist global warming a lot more carefully and accurately.
The message of Swindle, which is to be screened on the ABC tonight, is that scientific knowledge does not identify carbon dioxide emissions as an environmental harm, and nor does their accrual in the atmosphere cause dangerous warming.
So how is the screening of Mr Durkin’s thought provoking film being received?
Interestingly, in the case of the Bulletin of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, which published a highly critical film review written by several high-ranking IPCC scientists. As well as six other critical reviews written in response to the UK screening of Swindle, the BAMOS paper is being widely circulated in influential circles prior to the Australian screening. For instance, through the Deans of Science in the universities, through the influential lobby organisation the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS), and through the Australian Marine Science Association, among others.
Imagine a well provendered and equipped military fortress in time of war - for that is what the alarmist, pro-IPCC, climate lobby group represents. Suddenly, loping across the landscape outside the fort, and carrying just a single-shot rifle, appears a lone member of the enemy army.
Does the camp commander respond by sending out a platoon, including a psychologist with a megaphone to check what this naïve infantryman is up to? Not on your nelly. Instead, the response is remarkable in its ferocity. Three panzer divisions come tearing out of the fort - manned, as it happens, by many distinguished scientists who have volunteered for their politically correct duty of suppressing alternative views - blazing away with all they’ve got. In a trice, the landscape is turned into a moonscape, pockmarked with craters and littered with debris.
Why does this lone gunman represent such a threat to the warmaholic camp? Does it perhaps relate to the fact that on closer inspection several sections of the fortress wall are sagging, undermined by collapse from below and within? How could a lone gunman have effected that? Is it just possible that there are more powerful forces on earth than military and industrial might, or scientific authority? White ants, perhaps; or even scientific logic?
In any event, our lone infantryman is now wandering around, dazed, dirty, half-blinded, and staggering drunkenly on the rim of a crater; and not a dirndl dress in sight. But you know what? He’s still standing, he miraculously still has four limbs, and what he is saying - that human carbon dioxide emissions are not a dangerous environmental hazard - still accords with all the facts and makes complete sense.
For you see, science is not about the triumph of the weight of numbers, nor about consensus, nor about the will of the social majority. An idea such as the greenhouse hypothesis is validated not by shouting but by experimental and observational testing and logical analysis.