The Great Global Warming Swindle: open letter to Martin Durkin from 37 signatories (April 2007)

Martin Durkin
Managing Director
Wag TV

24 April 2007

Dear Mr Durkin,

We are writing to object to plans by Wag TV to distribute DVD versions of the programme ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’, which was produced by your company.

The programme misrepresented both the scientific evidence and the interpretations of researchers that have been documented in the scientific literature when it was broadcast last month. Both Channel Four and Ofcom have received a number of complaints since the programme was first broadcast on 8 March 2007. Many of the objections to the content and style of the programme have received coverage in the UK national media.

A complaint from one of us (Bob Ward) is currently under consideration by both the broadcaster and Ofcom. It outlines seven major misrepresentations of both facts and views that occur in the programme, and claims a breach of Section 5.7 of the Broadcasting Code. A document describing the details of these seven misrepresentations, which has been submitted in support of the complaint, accompanies this letter.

We do not dispute your right to make a programme that includes different opinions about climate change. We are not seeking the censorship of differing viewpoints or the curtailment of free speech. We recognise and support the right of the programme-makers to report different viewpoints on climate change. However, we believe that it is in the public interest for adequate quality control to be exercised over information that is disseminated to the public to ensure that it does not include major misrepresentations of the scientific evidence and interpretations of it by researchers. Such quality control does not appear to have been applied to your programme.

We believe that the misrepresentations 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 view of the seriousness of climate change as an issue, it is crucial that public debate about it is balanced and well-informed.

We understand that Wag TV has plans to distribute a DVD version of the programme. Although we recognise that DVD versions of programmes are not covered by the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, we feel that it would be very much against the public interest to distribute the DVD without removing the major misrepresentations that appeared in the broadcast versions of the programme in early March. 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.

Yours sincerely,

  • Dr Myles Allen, Climate Dynamics Group, University of Oxford
  • Professor Nigel Bell, Professor of Environmental Pollution, Imperial College London
  • Professor Harry Bryden FRS, Professor of Physical Oceanography, University of Southampton
  • Professor Peter Cox, Met Office Chair in Climate System Dynamics, University of Exeter
  • Professor Harry Elderfield FRS, Professor of Ocean Geochemistry and Palaeochemistry, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Alastair Fitter FRS, Department of Biology, University of York
  • Dr Piers Forster, Roberts Research Fellow, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
  • Professor Chris Freeman, Royal Society Industry Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor
  • Professor Joanna Haigh, Department of Space and Atmospheric Physics, Imperial College London
  • Dr Jason Hall-Spencer, Royal Society University Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Plymouth
  • Dr Edward Hanna, Senior Lecturer in Climate Change, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Stephan Harrison, Department of Geography, Archaeology and Earth Resources, University of Exeter
  • Dr Celine Herweijer, Principal Scientist: Future Climate, Risk Management Solutions, London
  • Professor Brian Hoskins CBE FRS, Royal Society Research Professor and Professor of Meteorology, University of Reading
  • Sir John Houghton CBE FRS, former Chief Executive of the Meteorological Office and former chair of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Professor Phil Jones, Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia
  • Dr Richard Kirby, Royal Society University Research Fellow, School of Biological Science, University of Plymouth
  • Dr Simon Lewis, Royal Society University Research Fellow, Earth & Biosphere Institute, University of Leeds
  • Professor Georgina Mace OBE FRS, Director of Science, Zoological Society of London
  • Dr Anson MacKay, Lecturer in Environmental Change, University College London
  • Dr John King, Principal Investigator, British Antarctic Survey
  • Dr Yadvinder Malhi, Reader in Terrestrial Ecology, University of Oxford
  • Lord May of Oxford OM AC Kt PRS, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
  • Professor I Nick McCave, Woodwardian Professor of Geology, University of Cambridge
  • Professor James Muir, Professor of Aquaculture and Aquaculture Development, University of Stirling
  • Professor David Powlson, Lawes Trust Senior Fellow, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
  • Professor David Rafaelli, Professor of Environmental Science, University of York
  • Professor Chris Rapley, Director, British Antarctic Survey
  • Prof. Peter Raven ForMemRS, President, Missouri Botanical Garden, and George Engelmann Professor of Botany, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Dr Dave Reay, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor John Shepherd FRS, Professor of Marine Sciences and Director of the Earth System Modelling Initiative, University of Southampton
  • Professor Bob Spicer, Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research, The Open University
  • Professor Paul Valdes, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol
  • Bob Ward, Director, Global Science Networks, Risk Management Solutions, London
  • Professor Nick White FRS, Professor of Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford
  • Dr Eric Wolff, Principal Investigator, British Antarctic Survey
  • Professor Carl Wunsch ForMemRS, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physical Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology