An Open letter to Professor Lisa Jardine about The Great Global Warming Swindle

4/8/2008  An Open Letter e-mailed to Professor Lisa Jardine who is Centenary Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London and has many other eminent qualifications, public roles, and Honours.

Go to: for the details of her many achievements.

The letter was sent in response to her BBC Radio 4 broadcast on ‘A Point of View’ 20.50 1st August 2008 which you can hear again from the BBC website.

Dear Professor Lisa Jardine,  (an Open Letter, posted on the website - details below)
Thank you for your excellent programme on  ’A Point of View’ 1st August.   You know how poor the standards of English and clarity of thought are in our media so it is especially valuable that you demonstrated such exemplary standards in both.
At the end of the programme you expressed your concern about some aspects of adversarial debate which of course we agree has an important role in freedom of expression.   I believe that there is an urgent need for this to be explored in the media because of programmes such as ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ and you have the opportunity to do that.
Could I suggest that an essential difference exists between matters where every opinion can have its own justification and matters about scientific conclusions which have predictable outcomes so that some opinions can be demonstrably wrong and others vindicated?   
(I am sure you could skip this paragraph if you are familiar with its content, but I have to state the climate scientists’ conclusions explicitly to distinguish them from the details which they are still investigating  -)     In the case of global warming there are many matters of detail that are being discussed and tested in the normal scientific method but this does not negate the existence of virtually unanimous conclusions from the scientific consensus among those scientists who are established researchers in climate science.   These conclusions are that global warming is primarily caused by greenhouse gases, obviously emitted by burning fossil fuels, which have been increasing steadily (as recorded since 1958 and confirmed by several other means) and that these levels are now far beyond any previous levels going back beyond the last ice age.   They conclude that these levels act through a delayed process which changes the climate so that many of the conditions essential for human survival will be affected and therefore prudent action must be to reduce carbon emissions now.    In the case of the ozone hole few people argued against prudent action but this threat requires a reassessment of human aspirations and assumptions about lifestyles and, not least, an end to profits and status for some very powerful people.
So can we agree that The Great Global Warming Swindle cannot be justified on the grounds that all opinions about these specifically-stated scientific conclusion are equally valid.  To challenge these scientific conclusions rigorous evidence should have been presented in the first place to the climate scientists and appraised in the light of the climate scientists’ replies.    If a genuine scientific challenge had been submitted there are many among the climate scientists who would have followed it up - as they do on all the detailed aspects of the evidence they work with and all of their basic conclusions could be overturned in due course, if the evidence were compelling.   In fact, the climate scientists at almost immediately put out a totally convincing line-by-line rebuttal of each point made in The Great Global Warming Swindle without dissent but this has not been answered or publicized by Channel 4.
So The Great Global Warming Swindle did not seriously intend to challenge the conclusions of the climate scientists in the way I have suggested yet it asserted that its statements about global warming were true - as if they had been thoroughly tested against the climate scientists work.   This clearly gave many viewers a completely false impression.   Surely this is irresponsible on a matter of such importance and has it not caused pain and damage by giving people contrary messages about their future and delaying the urgent task of reducing greenhouse gases and making adjustments in our lifestyles to attempt to prepare for the consequences?  A programme like this is not ‘balanced’ by broadcasting some better programmes - that results only in confusion just as smokers were given confusing messages about the scientific evidence on lung cancer.
If train drivers, doctors etc. behave irresponsibly they are censured.   The Typhoid Mary case showed that even the liberty of an individual who had become a menace through no fault of her own has to be limited to protect society.   Do we not require that Ofcom regulation, or some much better system, makes those involved in the media accountable when they act so irresponsibly?   They have enormous power to harm the public.   In fact it is arguable that promoting the belief that all opinions on all questions are equally valid and therefore that the media can broadcast anything it likes without accountability, is seriously undermining the attitudes and motivation of large sections of our population.
If you would like to reply I will post what you send me on the website below, unedited and in full, immediately below this posting.
I wish you well in your work,
Dr. Morris Bradley