Channel 4 Thursday 8 March at 9pm
[link to www.channel4.com
In a polemical and thought-provoking documentary, film-maker Martin Durkin argues that the theory of man-made global warming has become such a powerful political force that other explanations for climate change are not being properly aired.
The film brings together the arguments of leading scientists who disagree with the prevailing consensus that a 'greenhouse effect' of carbon dioxide released by human activity is the cause of rising global temperatures.
Instead the documentary highlights recent research that the effect of the sun's radiation on the atmosphere may be a better explanation for the regular swings of climate from ice ages to warm interglacial periods and back again.
The film argues that the earth's climate is always changing, and that rapid warmings and coolings took place long before the burning of fossil fuels. It argues that the present single-minded focus on reducing carbon emissions not only may have little impact on climate change, it may also have the unintended consequence of stifling development in the third world, prolonging endemic poverty and disease.
The film features an impressive roll-call of experts, including nine professors – experts in climatology, oceanography, meteorology, environmental science, biogeography and paleoclimatology – from such reputable institutions as MIT, NASA, the International Arctic Research Centre, the Institut Pasteur, the Danish National Space Center and the Universities of London, Ottawa, Jerusalem, Winnipeg, Alabama and Virginia.
The film hears from scientists who dispute the link between carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures.
'The ice core record goes to the very heart of the problem we have,' says Tim Ball, Climatologist and Prof Emeritus of Geography at the University of Winnipeg in the documentary. 'They said if CO2 increases in the atmosphere, as a greenhouse gas, then the temperature will go up'.
In fact, the experts in the film argue that increased CO2 levels are actually a result of temperature rises, not their cause, and that this alternate view is rarely heard. 'So the fundamental assumption, the most fundamental assumption of the whole theory of climate change due to humans, is shown to be wrong.'
'I've often heard it said that there is a consensus of thousands of scientists on the global warming issue, that humans are causing a catastrophic change to the climate system,' says John Christy, Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center, NSSTC University of Alabama. 'Well I am one scientist, and there are many, that simply think that is not true.'
The film examines an alternative theory that explains global temperatures, based on research by Professor Eigil Friis-Christensen of the Danish Space Center. The professor and his team found that as solar activity increases, and the sun flares, cloud formation on earth is significantly diminished and temperature rises.
Ian Clark, Professor of Isotope hydrogeology and paleoclimatology at the Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa explains: 'Solar activity over the last hundred years, over the last several hundred years, correlates very nicely, on a decadal basis, with temperature.'
Finally, the film argues that restricting CO2 emissions could actually be damaging for people in the developing world. James Shikwati, Kenyan director of the Inter Region Economic Network, says: 'The rich countries can afford to engage in some luxurious experimentation with other forms of energy, but for us we are still at the stage of survival.
'I don't see how a solar panel is going to power a steel industry, how a solar panel is going to power a railway network, it might work, maybe, to power a small transistor radio.
'The thing that emerges from the whole environmental debate is the point that there is somebody keen to kill the African dream, and the African dream is to develop. We are being told don't touch your resources, don't touch your oil, don't touch your coal; that is suicide.