25 Apr 2007 Censoring Global Warming Skeptics
“This isn’t about censorship, it’s a question of quality control.”
-Bob Ward, former spokesman for Britain’s Royal Society, on a campaign he is organizing to block the DVD release of a British documentary skeptical of the notion that human beings are causing catastrophic global warming
In the mid-1980s, in the first first op-ed I ever had published by a newspaper, I quoted Nelba Blandon, Interior Minister of Nicaragua’s Marxist Sandinista regime, saying of the opposition newspaper: “[La Prensa] accused us of supressing freedom of expression. That was a lie and we could not allow them to publish it.”
The quote encapsulated the Sandinista attitude toward repression: They not only practiced it, they were so unconcerned about doing so, they didn’t recognize it even as they were doing it.
Fast forward two decades. From the the Guardian, April 25:
Dozens of climate scientists are trying to block the DVD release of a controversial Channel 4 programme that claimed global warming is nothing to do with human greenhouse gas emissions.
Sir John Houghton, former head of the Met Office, and Bob May, former president of the Royal Society, are among 37 experts who have called for the DVD to be heavily edited or removed from sale. The film, the Great Global Warming Swindle, was first shown on March 8, and was criticised by scientists as distorted and misleading.
In an open letter to Martin Durkin, head of Wag TV, the independent production company that made the film, the scientists say: “We believe that the misrepresentation of facts and views, both of which occur in your programme, are so serious that repeat broadcasts of the programme, without amendment, are not in the public interest … In fact, so serious and fundamental are the misrepresentations that the distribution of the DVD of the programme without their removal amounts to nothing more than an exercise in misleading the public.”
Myles Allen, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford who signed the letter, said the programme “took a very cavalier attitude to science. There are important issues around climate change that the public should be discussing, but all this programme did was rehash debates that were had and finished in the scientific community 15 years ago.”
The programme featured scientists known as climate sceptics, such as Richard Lindzen at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Phillip Stott, emeritus professor at the University of London. It argued that mainstream researchers ignore evidence that counters the consensus that most recent warming is down to human activity. It said there were problems with the computer models that predict future climate change and that solar activity, not greenhouse gas emissions, is to blame for recent warming…
…Dr Allen said: “What Martin Durkin and Channel 4 don’t understand is the way science works. Science is about the arguments, not the people who make them.”
…The letter was coordinated by Bob Ward, a former press officer with the Royal Society. He said: “This isn’t about censorship, it’s a question of quality control. We have no objection to the DVD being distributed if all the errors are corrected, but if they correct all the errors then the whole premise of the program will fall to pieces.”
Mr Durkin said: “This contemptible attempt at gagging won’t work. The reason they want to suppress The Great Global Warming Swindle is because the science has stung them. By comparison look at the mountains of absurd nonsense pedalled in the name of ‘manmade climate change’. Too many scientists have staked their reputations and built their careers on global warming. There’s a lot riding on this ridiculous theory. The DVD will be on sale shortly at a shop near you.”
Bob Ward, John Houghton, Myles Allen and the others who advocate censoring scientific opinion should reconsider the meaning of the statement Allen made in this piece: “Science is about the arguments.”
And you can’t have arguments if one side can keep the other from speaking.