Climate - the Movie: a hot mess of (c)old myths!

The Desmog Climate Disinformation Database documents, "individuals and organisations that have helped to delay and distract the public and our elected leaders from taking needed action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and fight global warming." It's a who's who of the organised climate change denial movement, in other words.

In Martin Durkin's recently released film, entitled, 'Climate - the Movie', 17 academics, retired academics and bloggers were interviewed. How big a proportion of them have their own page in the DeSmog database? Go on, have a guess.

It's 76%.

Climate change denial is like a kind of flying circus. This same old carnival troupe is wheeled out time and again to spread doubt about climate science. Why? Because that's what they are good at doing, with decades of combined experience under their belts.

More than 2 dozen long-debunked myths

The first 42-odd minutes of this 80 minute long festival of misinformation, once the initial 'elevator-pitch' is done with, are dedicated to "The Science". But instead of that, what one is exposed to is a veritable Gish-gallop of climate myths, with the phrase, "we are told" liberally scattered among them. In order of appearance, with the myth's fixed number in our database, here they are - click the links for the details:




Quick rebuttal



Medieval Warm Period was warmer

Globally averaged temperature now is higher than global temperature in medieval times.



We're coming out of the Little Ice-age

Scientists have determined that the factors which caused the Little Ice Age cooling are not currently causing global warming.



It's freaking cold!

A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures.



Temp record is unreliable

The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites.



It's Urban Heat Island effect

Urban and rural regions show the same warming trend.



Satellites show no warming in the troposphere

The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming.



CO2 was higher in the past

Climate has changed along with CO2 levels through geological time.



CO2 is plant food

The effects of enhanced CO2 on terrestrial plants are variable and complex and dependent on numerous factors



CO2 is just a trace gas

Many substances are dangerous even in trace amounts; what really matters is the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.



CO2 lags temperature

CO2 didn't initiate warming from past ice ages but it did amplify the warming.



Increasing CO2 has little to no effect

The strong CO2 effect has been observed by many different measurements.



There's no correlation between CO2 and temperature

There is long-term correlation between CO2 and global temperature; other effects are short-term.



Ice age predicted in the 70s

The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming.



Models are unreliable

Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.



Climate's changed before

Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.



UAH atmospheric temperatures prove climate models are wrong

The most likely explanation for UAH data warming less than expected is that the UAH data set is biased low.



Clouds provide negative feedback

Evidence is building that net cloud feedback is likely positive and unlikely to be strongly negative.



It's cosmic rays

Cosmic rays show no trend over the last 30 years & have had little impact on recent global warming.



CERN CLOUD experiment proved cosmic rays are causing global warming

of one out of four requirements necessary to blame global warming on cosmic rays, and two of the other requirements have already failed.



It's the sun

In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions



1934 - hottest year on record

1934 was one of the hottest years in the US, not globally.



Wildfires are not caused by global warming

Global warming worsens wildfires by creating drier conditions with more fuel for fires to spread further and faster.



Hurricanes aren't linked to global warming

There is increasing evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger due to global warming.



Polar bear numbers are increasing

Polar bears are in danger of extinction as well as many other species.



Great Barrier Reef is in good shape

Evidence clearly shows that both ocean warming and acidification due to human CO2 emissions are damaging the Great Barrier Reef

With 25 myths (and a few more - see below), the list is rather long, so here is a one image summary with the ones we spotted check-marked:

Myth Rebuttal Chart for Climate the Movie

Fig 1: most of the myths rehashed in the movie in one handy graphic (click for larger version)! To create your own “myth-bingo-card”, download it from here.

It would be fun to turn up at a Chinese takeaway with just the numbers, to see what you get. Mind you, it would be a pretty expensive surprise!

Additional myths and misdirections

There are a few claims that are not in our database. Did you know that at the height of the last glaciation, there was a "CO2 famine" that, had it gotten any worse, would have made life on Earth go extinct? No, neither did we. The claim may have originated from a post at the Wattsupwiththat? blog from June 2017, which doesn't present any actual evidence for it. 

After that, the movie drifts off into a mixture of stuff. Apparently, until the 1980s, climate change was just a scare caused by a few radical environmentalists. Then Al Gore came along, there was limitless government money all of a sudden for climate research (so long as you sang to the same hymn-sheet) and a Consensus was formed, with which "to bludgeon opponents". Etcetera etcetera etcetera. Never mind the likes of Foote, Tyndall and Arrhenius, who in the 19th Century had pretty much worked out the greenhouse gas properties of CO2.

 Fig 2: The History of Climate Science and how far back it goes. Image source

Next thing, we are subjected to 'Climate versus Freedom', which is a mishmash of populist conspiratorial themes that mention the World Economic Forum, the EU and various other perceived bogeymen. The BBC, who only recently stopped giving deniers equal exposure, are not spared. The environmental movement is, the movie mansplains, the “sworn enemy of free-market industrial capitalism”. Tired old cliches abound, for example the meme that workers, ”don’t attend climate protests because they’re too busy working". Meanwhile, "Big Government" wants nothing more than to control us, with comparisons made to Covid lockdowns. And on and on and on it goes. 

Finally, they insist that climate mitigation measures will hurt the poor. Erm, are they forgetting that adverse climate events are already impacting the poor disproportionately? In the final thrashings of the movie, Chinese coal-fired power stations get a mention (no surprises there). When, the film pleads with its viewers, will people realise that climate change is an "invented scare", an assault on, "freedom and prosperity"? If you can get through to the end of this 80-minute assault on reality, medals, or maybe replacement head-vices, should be awarded. Arrhenius must be turning in his grave…

Other debunkings….

For three other takes on this non-documentary, see the review at DeSmog here, the one by Dave Vetter at The Climate Laundry here and a short video by The Disproof here.

Posted by John Mason on Saturday, 23 March, 2024

Creative Commons License The Skeptical Science website by Skeptical Science is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.