Prof Carl Wunsch: The Causes of Climate Change


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

The Causes of Climate Change

Open Letter to Channel 4 Head of production of "The Global Warming Swindle."

By Prof Carl Wunsch

Global Research, March 18, 2007

Mr. Steven Green
Head of Production Wag TV
2D Leroy House
436 Essex Road London N1 3QP
10 March 2007
Dear Mr. Green:

I am writing to record what I told you on the telephone yesterday about your 
Channel 4 film "The Global Warming Swindle." Fundamentally, I am the one who was
swindled---please read the email below that was sent to me (and re-sent by you).
Based upon this email and subsequent telephone conversations, and discussions 
with the Director, Martin Durkin, I thought I was being asked to appear in a 
film that would discuss in a balanced way the complicated elements of 
understanding of climate change---in the best traditions of British television. 
Is there any indication in the email evident to an outsider that the product 
would be so tendentious, so unbalanced?

I was approached, as explained to me on the telephone, because I was known to 
have been unhappy with some of the more excitable climate-change stories in the 
British media, most conspicuously the notion that the Gulf Stream could 
disappear, among others. When a journalist approaches me suggesting a "critical 
approach" to a technical subject, as the email states, my inference is that we 
are to discuss which elements are contentious, why they are contentious, and 
what the arguments are on all sides. To a scientist, "critical" does not mean a 
hatchet job---it means a thorough-going examination of the science. The 
scientific subjects described in the email, and in the previous and subsequent 
telephone conversations, are complicated, worthy of exploration, debate, and an 
educational effort with the public. Hence my willingness to participate. Had the
words "polemic", or "swindle" appeared in these preliminary discussions, I would
have instantly declined to be involved.

I spent hours in the interview describing many of the problems of understanding 
the ocean in climate change, and the ways in which some of the more dramatic 
elements get exaggerated in the media relative to more realistic, potentially 
truly catastrophic issues, such as the implications of the oncoming sea level 
rise. As I made clear, both in the preliminary discussions, and in the interview
itself, I believe that global warming is a very serious threat that needs 
equally serious discussion and no one seeing this film could possibly deduce 

What we now have is an out-and-out propaganda piece, in which there is not even 
a gesture toward balance or explanation of why many of the extended inferences 
drawn in the film are not widely accepted by the scientific community. There are
so many examples, it's hard to know where to begin, so I will cite only one: a 
speaker asserts, as is true, that carbon dioxide is only a small fraction of the
atmospheric mass. The viewer is left to infer that means it couldn't really 
matter. But even a beginning meteorology student could tell you that the 
relative masses of gases are irrelevant to their effects on radiative balance. A
director not intending to produce pure propaganda would have tried to eliminate 
that piece of disinformation.

An example where my own discussion was grossly distorted by context: I am shown 
explaining that a warming ocean could expel more carbon dioxide than it absorbs 
-- thus exacerbating the greenhouse gas buildup in the atmosphere and hence 
worrisome. It was used in the film, through its context, to imply that CO2 is 
all natural, coming from the ocean, and that therefore the human element is 
irrelevant. This use of my remarks, which are literally what I said, comes close
to fraud.

I have some experience in dealing with TV and print reporters and do understand 
something of the ways in which one can be misquoted, quoted out of context, or 
otherwise misinterpreted. Some of that is inevitable in the press of time or 
space or in discussions of complicated issues. Never before, however, have I had
an experience like this one. My appearance in the "Global Warming Swindle" is 
deeply embarrasing, and my professional reputation has been damaged. I was 
duped---an uncomfortable position in which to be.

At a minimum, I ask that the film should never be seen again publicly with my 
participation included. Channel 4 surely owes an apology to its viewers, and 
perhaps WAGTV owes something to Channel 4. I will be taking advice as to whether
I should proceed to make some more formal protest.

Carl Wunsch

Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physical Oceanography

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of 
the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on 

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© Copyright Carl Wunsch , Global Research, 2007

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