Thursday, 15 March 2007

Wunsch still a warmist - Wunsch

Professor Carl Wunsch (right) says he was "completely misrepresented" by the film The Great Global Warming Swindle, and "totally misled" by the people who made it.
Carl Wunsch, professor of physical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the film, The Great Global Warming Swindle, was "grossly distorted" and "as close to pure propaganda as anything since World War Two." He says his comments in the film were taken out of context and that he would not have agreed to take part if he had known it would argue that man-made global warming was not a serious threat...
(Here's his very visible Mea Culpa to his colleagues for allowing himself to be included, which all but screams, "Don't worry! I'm still one of you!") Now, here's what he said in the film:
Transcript of TGGWS:

Professor Wunsch:
25:43 The ocean is the major reservoir into which carbon dioxide goes when it comes out of the atmosphere or to from which it is re-emitted to the the atmosphere. If you heat the surface of the ocean, it tends to emit carbon dioxide. Similarly, if you cool the ocean surface, the ocean can dissolve more carbon dioxide.

Professor Wunsch:
26:44 - The ocean has a memory of past events ugh running out as far as 10,000 years. So for example, if somebody says oh I'm seeing changes in the North Atlantic, this must mean that the climate system is changing, it may only mean that something happened in a remote part of the ocean decades or hundreds of years ago who's effects are now beginning to show up in the North Atlantic.

Professor Wunsch:
49:22 - The models are so complicated, you can often adjust them is such a way that they do something very exciting.

Professor Wunsch:
50:46 - Even within the scientific community you see, it's a problem.
If I run a complicated model and I do something to it like ugh melt a lot of ice into the ocean and nothing happens, ugh it's not likely to get printed. But if I run the same model, and I adjust it in such a way that something dramatic happens to the ocean circulation like the heat transport turns off, ugh it will be published. People will say this is very exciting. It will even get picked by the media. So there is a bias, there's is a very powerful bias within the media, and within the science community itself, toward results which are ugh dramatizable. If Earth freezes over, that's a much more interesting story than saying well you know it ugh fluctuates around, sometimes the mass flux goes up by 10%, sometimes it goes down by 20%, but eventually it comes back. Well you know, which would you do a story on? That's what it's about.

And here's the email sent to him, inviting his participation:
From: jo locke
Sent: 19 September 2006 16:22
To: Carl Wunsch
Cc: Eliya Arman
Subject: Climate Change Documentary
Dear Professor Wunsch,
Many thanks for taking the time to talk to me this morning. I foun
d it really useful and now have the issues much clearer in my mind.
I wanted to email you to outline the approach we will be taking with our film to clarify our position. We are making a feature length documentary about global warming for Channel Four in the UK. The aim of the film is to examine critically the notion that recent global warming is primarily caused by industrial emissions of CO2. It explores the scientific evidence which jars with this hypothesis and explores alternative theories such as solar induced climate change. Given the seemingly inconclusive nature of the evidence, it examines the background to the apparent consensus on this issue, and highlights the dangers involve
d, especially to developing nations, of policies aimed at limiting industrial growth.
We would like to do an interview with you to discuss the notion that there is a scientific consensus on the effects of global warming on the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt, the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift.
It has been widely reported that Britain and Western Europe could soon be plunged into a mini ice age, and we would like to show that it is simply not true that they will shut down. We would like to talk to you
about the numerical models and whether they give us a realistic perspective of the impact of climate change on the oceans. We would also like to talk to you about the 'memory' of oceans, and how it can take varying amounts of time for a disturbance to be readable in the North Atlantic.
Fundamentally, we would like to ask you whether scientists have enough information about the complex nature of our climate system.
Do the records go back far enough to identify climate trends, and can
we conclusively separate human induced change from natural change?
Our filming schedule is still relatively fluid at the moment, but we hope to be in Boston around the second week of November. Please don't hesitate to contact me or my producer, Eliya Arman, if you have any further questions, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Yours sincerely,
Jo Locke
Assistant Producer
2d Leroy House
436 Essex Road
London N1 3QP

t 020 7688 5191 f 020 7688 1702
Decide for yourself whether he represents someone who has been "duped," or a scientist wriggling under the light of the very real New McCarthyism that now affects all so-called "deniers."

Was Wunsch duped? Swindled? Misled? Or is he now simply trying to protect his reputation with his more warmist colleagues? You decide.

UPDATE: As always, Cox and Forkum get straight to the point:

LINKS: Scientists receive death threats for questioning global warming - Newsbusters
Scientists threatened for 'climate denial' - Sunday Telegraph
Soft censorship of global warming film - Bernard Darnton, Section 14
Swindled: Carl Wunsch responds - Real Climate

RELATED: Global Warming, Science, Free Speech, World Politics


  1. PC: For starters. it is clear that the doco-makers took a Wunsch soundbite - "If you heat the surface of the ocean, it tends to emit carbon dioxide etc..." and placed it out of it's original context such that it appeared Wunsch was supporting the hypothesis that heightened levels of CO2 could be naturally caused. His actual position is clear cut, and this is not it. That is the crux of the dishonesty.

    As for Wunsch himself, it's a bit rich to suggest that he was previously a Lindzen-type skeptic but is now feeling the heat from the evil warmists, and is recanting under duress. His position is well-articulated and any amount of Googling you may care to do will show that it is consistent with statements made well before the documentary was even a twinkle in Durkin's eye.

    I have largely refrained from commentary on it here because AGW is such a polarised topic on the blog that it would essentially be bashing myself against a brick wall. Suffice to say that with my understanding of the current science, it was disingenuous and misleading to say the least (primarily in the areas where it reports that the troposphere is not warming to expected levels, which has been roundly disproved, and in the one-dimensional discussion of the temperature-carbon lag).


  2. Nice to see you waking up how science really works pc. That cartoon says it all, doesn't it?

  3. Den, three questions:

    Was he misled?

    Did you leap as quickly to point out the many disingenuous and misleading science in Al Bore's film -- 120 one-sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative and plain wrong points according to this Skeptic's Guide to 'An Inconvenient Truth'?

    If not, why not?

  4. PC - I think it is clear that he was 'misled' inasmuch as the documentary maker presented a quote of his out of context that gave it a different, specific meaning. This must have been consciously done, and Wunsch has reacted strongly to this. Perhaps not 'misled' so much as 'shafted,' but were talking nomenclature here.

    As for your other two questions, as I think I made clear in the first post, I try not to pick fights on here to do with the science surrounding AGW as it is a bit of an echo chamber. I respect that you are always willing to offer an argument, but your intractability on this topic and that of other commenters is a big turn-off for debate. There are too many right-wing/libertarian sites proclaiming this documentary to be the 'long-awaited truth' on global warming, the secret reality that has been hidden from us for so long, whereas the reality is that solar variation only represents an alternative theory.

    When I do get stuck into a GW debate I try hard to be even-handed and steer clear of allegations of murky political intent, the likes of which you are pinning on Wunsch here (ie he is intellectually dishonest in his abject fear of the warmist illuminati). As you can imagine however, the central characters and director of the doco are fertile ground for such mud-slinging.

    I prefer much more to centre on the science. I am more than happy, enthusiastic even, to get into discussion on the research into the warming of the troposphere, and the temp-carbon forcing relationship which are the central issues that Durkin seeks to highlight in the documentary.

    I will pose you a question in reply:

    Even if Wunsch was not technically 'misled,' does that validate the documentary makers quoting him out of context? Does he have a right to feel aggrieved in this respect?

  5. The long awaited reality? No. But a long awaited clearing of the air, a demonstration that the 'consensus' is vastly overstated, and a long overdue public demonstration that much of the UN's science is flawed.

    It is a long overdue antidote to the much-flawed 'An Inconvenient Truth.'

    Is it perfect? No.

    Does it need to present an alternative (solar) theory? No. But it's useful to present an alternative explanation for warming, one that the GCMs don't even include as a supplementary cause of warming. Absurd.

    Does it need to go into the politics? Yes, it does. It goes to motivation. Did Lindzen need to point out the twenty-fold leap in funding? Once again, it goes to motivation.

    Now, was Wunsch misled? Well, I think it's clear enough that he knew where the film-makers were coming from, and he had a fair idea of the direction they were going to take. Perhaps he wasn't aware they would take such a forceful approach, but that is a film-maker's right - and given the importance of the topic, why wouldn't you be forceful?

    After all, it's the strangling of western industry we're talking about here.

    Was he quoted out of context? I just don't know. If he was, it hardly discredits the programme.

  6. With all due respect PC, you have no idea what happened during filming process. He may have been misled in a way that is not detectable from the letter (e.g. the producers saying they will use the full explanation of something and then actually only using the bit they want). A filmmaker being open about their position in advance (the letter being your 'evidence' that he was clearly not misled) does not protect you from actually being misled.

    If you are asked a series of questions and provide hours of footage (as probably happened) and only a few carefully selected bits are taken out of context and put in a film, then yes, you have been misled.

    Was he quoted out of context? I just don't know.

    He probably was, given that he said he was "completely misrepresented".

    If he was, it hardly discredits the programme.

    Bollix and I don't actually think you believe that.

    The reality is that the docco is as appalling as "an inconvenient truth" and relies heavily on very very short sound bites that are not presented in context.

    Did you leap as quickly to point out the many disingenuous and misleading science in Al Bore's film

    Since when do 2 wrongs make a right?

    And lets turn that back on you. If you are going to criticise "an inconvenient truth" because of "disingenuous and misleading science", be consistent and do the same here.

    Of course, this is your blog and you are within your rights to say whatever you like, but if you don't it becomes very clear those who read this that your position is just as unscientific and uncritical as the looney warmists. The way I see it is that you are just at the other end of the global warming debate spectrum.

    The people in the middle probably have something useful to say.

  7. If the water in Wellington Harbour is not lapping the ground somewhere near Avalon in fifty years we will know who is right. Of course, the lights would have gone out by then and we will all be living in the greenies medieval paradise.

  8. Robert Winefield16 Mar 2007, 10:42:00

    "If he was, it hardly discredits the programme.

    Bollix and I don't actually think you believe that."

    So every other person who appeared on that program, including former co-founder of Greenpeace (Patrick Moore) is to be ignored too?

    Are they all dishonest?

    And what of Wunsch's comments. Nothing he said on that program is incorrect. It is standard textbook oceanography.

    And the comments about 'gee whizz' research getting all the qudos is not new either.

    The media don't report all the nuts and bolts science that goes on. If they did, my research would have made the papers - twice.

    Strangely, the News editors didn't cover my findings about the genetics behind a cell-wall protein on a certain genus of fungi. Naturally I'm devastated that they believe that reporting on such a finding wouldn't sell their product - but there it is.

    So you have to ask yourself, were his statements taken out of context? I don't believe they were. They were complete answers to questions asked of him in the E-mail. Read Peter's transcripts.

    Possibly he offered unsolicited opinions about Global warming and these weren't included. If so, why is the documentary maker obliged to include every single word that the interviewed party makes?

    As long as the responses reflect the complete and truthful answer to the questions posed to Wunsch, he has nothing to bitch about.

    If he didn't want to be included in a anti-Global Warming documentary he was fully at liberty to turn down the interview. Caveat Emptor and all that. If you accept an interview from someone you've never heard of before, it is smart to check their credentials.

    Wunsch and every other scientist does as much every time he publishes a scientific paper. Or do you think that they just send their results off to the first Journal editor in their Rolladex?

    IMHO he's got nothing to bitch about.

  9. Anonymous (another one, sigh) told me: "If you are going to criticise "an inconvenient truth" because of "disingenuous and misleading science", be consistent and do the same here."

    But I don't see "disingenuous and misleading science" in Martin Durkin's film. But there are fully 120 one-sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative and plain wrong points in 'An Inconvenient Truth.'

    Have you criticised Al for any of those?

  10. Berend,

    Nah, PC's cartoon doesn't show how science works; it just illustrates a problem that scientists have to contend with, namely the religion of environmentalism.


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