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HomeClimate WatchClimate the Movie – Part 1: History of the earth and CO2

Climate the Movie – Part 1: History of the earth and CO2


THE documentary Climate: The Movie is the most needed and the most important contribution to the debate about the so-called climate crisis since the ‘alarmism era’ began in the late 1970s. Yesterday our climate science (sceptic) expert, Paul Homewood, reviewed the film for TCW.  You can read what he says about it here. The film is one and half hours of careful argument and evidence and requires considerable concentration! We thought it would help, for readers’ reference, if we published the transcript in sections over the rest of this week. 

Today we start with the film’s preamble followed by the first sections on the scientific history of the earth and the ‘history’ of CO2.

You can watch the full film here. The transcript follows: the sections in bold type are the commentary.


Opening Sequence

‘People are dying and entire ecosystems are collapsing and we are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth – how dare you!’  GretaThunberg’s speech to the UN, September 23 2019.

This is the story of how an eccentric environmental scare grew into a powerful global industry.

STEPHEN KOONIN: It’s a wonderful business opportunity – ok you want climate? We’ll give you climate.

TONY HELLER: There’s a huge amount of money involved, this is a huge big money scam.

JOHN CLAUSER: There are not just billions of dollars, there are trillions of dollars at stake.

It’s a story of self-interest and big government funding.

ROY SPENCER: People like me, our careers depend on funding of climate research (pause). This is what I have been doing just about my whole career, this is what the other climate researchers are doing with their whole career, they don’t want this to end.

MATTHEW WIELICKI: If CO2 is not having the huge negative impacts that we claimed it was originally then how are we going to stay in business?

TONY HELLER: A lot of people’s livelihoods depend on it – they’re not going to give that up.

This is the story of the corruption of science.

PATRICK MOORE: There is no such thing as a climate emergency happening on this planet now – there’s no evidence of one.

WILLIAM HAPPER: The climate alarm is a nonsense, you know . . . it’s a hoax, I’ve never liked hoax, I think scam is a better word, but I’m willing to live with hoax.

It’s a story about the bullying and intimidation of anyone who dares to challenge the climate alarm.

MATTHEW WIELICKI: To speak up against or about climate alarm in any sort of sceptical way was essentially career suicide.

BENNY PEISER: Activists are even calling for any scepticism to be criminalised.

It’s the story of an assault on individual freedom.

WILLIAM HAPPER: It’s a wonderful way to increase government power, if there’s an existential threat out there worldwide, well you need a powerful worldwide government, you know, to cope with it.

BENNY PEISER: We see all these authoritarian measures being adopted in the name of saving the planet.

WILLIAM HAPPER: You’ve suddenly got the population under control all over the world.


We called it industrial progress. Since the industrial revolution, the development of free market capitalist mass production has made ever more goods ever more affordable to ever larger numbers of people.

Mass production marched hand in hand with mass consumption. In the modern age, ordinary people enjoy a level of prosperity never before achieved in human history.

But all the while, we are told, we were destroying the planet. Computers have calculated what is in store for us, as we produce and consume ever more.

The weather will get worse. The planet will boil. We greedy humans must accept limits of our lifestyle.  Consume less. Travel less. Those who deny the climate crisis are not just wrong, they’re dangerous, spreading the poison of doubt among a gullible population. These deniers should be shunned and shamed and censored. For these climate deniers are flat-earthers. They are anti-science.  

Teaching at New York University is one of these climate deniers. Professor Steven Koonin is one of America’s leading physicists. He was a science adviser to President Obama, and both vice-president and provost of Caltech, one of the most prestigious scientific institutes in the world.

STEPHEN KOONIN: I teach climate science to my students at NYU, and I always tell them to check the data or the papers yourself, and they all come out of that course with their eyes wide open.

Professor Koonin’s best-selling book Unsettled argues that mainstream scientific studies, accepted by official agencies, do not support the notion that there is any kind of climate crisis at all.

STEPHEN KOONIN: Of course I’ve been called a denier and my response is ‘Tell me what I’m denying, because I’m quoting to you from directly from the official UN’s scientific reports.’

Dick Lindzen also dismisses the claims of climate alarmists. He’s one of the world’s leading meteorologists, was professor of meteorology at both Harvard University and MIT, and has served on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

DICK LINDZEN: Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if you go to their section on working one group one which is the science, they don’t support any of these claims and I assure you having served on them it’s biased. But you couldn’t get any real scientists to agree to some of the nonsense that’s being promoted.

Will Happer, another denier, is another of America’s leading physicists. He has been a science adviser to three presidents, and professor of physics at both Columbia and Princeton University. 

WILLIAM HAPPER: There’s this mischievous idea that scientific truth is determined by consensus; in real science there are always arguments, no science is ever settled, so it’s absurd when people say the science of climate is settled, there’s no such thing as settled science, especially climate.

Dr John Clauser is one of the most respected scientists in the world. In 2022 he won the Nobel prize for physics. 

JOHN CLAUSER: The science is appallingly bad in my opinion – there are a large number of scientists who are in violent disagreement, they refer to themselves as sceptics, since I am no longer worried about losing funding or a job or whatever, I call myself a climate change denier.

These very eminent and respected scientists, and others like them, are not flat-earthers. They do not deny science. So what’s the evidence that has caused them to dismiss the climate alarm as nonsense?


For the last 500million years, temperatures have varied greatly, but for almost all that time, the earth was much, much warmer than today. We are told that current temperatures are unprecedented and dangerously high. It’s possible to check if this is true, because we have evidence of earth’s climate history, dating back hundreds, thousands and even millions of years.

The desert of Judea, by the Dead Sea. Professor Nir Shaviv from the Racah Institute of Physics has come here looking for clues. Thousands of years ago, this place was under water, and etched into the rocks are lines which, if you know how to read them, tell the story of earth’s climate history.

NIR SHAVIV: And here is the climate. We’re at the lake bed of what used to be Lake Lissan. It’s a lake that existed until the end of the last ice age. Back then the lake level was maybe 100metres above where we are located. When we want to reconstruct the climate of the past we have to look for evidence – for clues. And the lake existed, it had deposits and by looking at these layers here, we can actually reconstruct how the climate has changed.

Warmer water means more life, the accumulation of more shells and bones from sea creatures, and other changes that are reflected in the ancient layers of the lake bed. The lines act as a kind of thermometer. And this is just one of the many ways geologists can reconstruct past climate. 

NIR SHAVIV: In other places we can go to stalagmite caves and see the annual rings that we have in the stalagmites, or we can drill cores from the bottom of the ocean and look at layers there, or many other places. But here I think this is one of the nicest places because you can actually see, you can actually see, how the climate has changed.

So when we look back in time what do we find? For 200million years dinosaurs roamed the Earth . . . An Earth marked by fertile dense forests, teeming with life. And at no time during those 200million years were temperatures as cold as they are today.

STEVEN KOONIN: If you go back maybe 200million years it was maybe 13 degrees warmer than it is now. So, on a geological perspective, this is not at all unprecedented.

Compared with the last half billion years, the earth right now is exceptionally cold. In fact, there are very few times when it’s been this cold. 

STEVEN KOONIN: We’re relatively cold. Maybe not quite the coldest it’s been in 500million years, but pretty close to it.

MATTHEW WIELICKI: We are in a remarkably cool period if we look over the last 550million years. In fact, only one other time period in that last 550million years was the temperature as cool as it is now.

The mammals who now inhabit the earth began to evolve around 60million years ago, when the world was much warmer than today.

MATTHEW WIELICKI: If we just look at the last 65 million years – so this is after the dinosaurs go extinct, mammals really start taking over, and our evolutionary ancestors start to live on the land.  Any time period within the last 65million years was warmer than it is essentially today.

The earth’s mammals, humans included, appear to thrive when it’s warm – warmer than it is now. 

PATRICK MOORE: There’s no doubt that warm is better than cold in geological history. We are a tropical species. A human being in the shade naked dies at 20C. From hypothermia.

We evolved on the equator in Africa, and the only reason we were able to get out of there eventually was fire, shelter, and clothing.

Over the last 50million years, temperatures steadily declined, plunging the earth into what geologists call the Late Cenozoic Ice Age. We are still in that ice age.

PATRICK MOORE: The reason there’s all that ice around the poles is because we’re in an ice age.  Everybody knows that who knows anything about the history of the earth. This is an ice age.  We’re at the tail end of a 50million-year cooling period, and they’re saying it’s too hot.

If we zoom in on the past few million years, we see temperatures sinking, and as they do fluctuating between extremely cold periods and slightly milder periods. The extremely cold periods are called glacial maxima, when the planet is mostly covered in ice.  And the slightly less cold are called glacial minima, when there’s just ice at the poles. 

For the past ten thousand years, fortunately, we’ve been in a slightly less cold glacial minimum, known as the Holocene. With milder weather humans began to emerge from their caves and, several thousand years ago, we see the rise of the first great civilisations, in a blissful period which, according to many studies, was considerably warmer than today. This is known as Holocene climate optimum.

STEVEN KOONIN: It was called an optimum because people thought that warmer was better. 

Since then, temperatures have declined and begun to fluctuate. In Roman times there was a blissfully warm period. Followed by a brutal cold period in the dark Ages. Then came the balmy Medieval Warm period, according to many studies as warm or warmer than today. Followed by an especially cold period known as the Little Ice Age, possibly the coldest in the last 10,000 years. 

And here it is, the Roman warm period, the cold dark age, the medieval warm period, and then the very cold little ice age, from which – for the past 300 years or so – we’ve been recovering.

The longest instrumental record of temperature in the world comes from central England. And this is what it shows. Since the worst of the Little Ice Age, from 1650, the temperature has risen, gently, by little more than 1 degree Celsius.

WILL HAPPER: The central England record of temperature is a world treasure. It’s the longest continuous record that we have. And it’s certainly not a very alarming record. It began in the depths of the Little Ice Age, and so you can see the slight warming that followed the Little Ice Age there is certainly nothing very alarming happening today at the very end of the record. Most of the warming that we’re observing today is from recovery from the Little Ice Age, whatever caused that.

DICK LINDZEN: Well, you know, we’re talking about over the entire industrial period, of about 1 degree centigrade.

To put this in 1 degree in perspective, let’s look at New York Central Park. Records show that there has been no overall change in temperature here since 1940. But, from one year to the next, the average temperature can vary by 3 degrees Celsius without many New Yorkers even noticing. In fact between the warmest year in the 1960s and the coolest in 2000, there’s a difference of 5 degrees Celsius.

STEPHEN KOONIN: The average temperature on this day could be five degrees different to the average temperature on this day a year ago, or two years ago.

WILL HAPPER: You know, when I hear people pontificating about 1 and a half degrees leading to the end of civilisation I just think they’ve been smoking. You know, are you crazy? 

According to thermometer readings since 1880, there’s been a very mild increase in temperature. Only by stretching the Y-axis on this graph is the increase noticeable. This is the rising line, used by official agencies as proof of global warming. But is it accurate?

Professor Ross McKitrick is an expert in statistical analysis at Guelph University. He noticed something odd about modern thermometer records. Thermometers, even in the same region, give out very different readings, depending on where they’re located.

ROSS McKITRICK: I was interested in the question of how you explain the spatial pattern of warming. Some places warm a lot and some places don’t warm much, and it turns out that it’s highly correlated with the spatial pattern of economic activity.

Where there are more people and there is more human activity, there’s more heat. This is known as the Urban Heat Island effect. This can be illustrated with a satellite heat map of Paris. The centre of Paris can be as much as 5 degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding countryside.

WILLIE SOON: Paris, London Beijing, Shanghai – you name it – New Delhi, all of them, absolutely demonstrated that effect.

So how has this affected the official temperature record? In the early part of the 20th century it was normal to erect weather thermometers just outside towns. Close enough to check every day, but away from the heat of urban life. But over the 20th century those towns have expanded. Suburbs have spread. There are more roads, more cars. Thermometers which were once outside towns, are now surrounded by shopping malls, offices, factories and houses.

ROY SPENCER: These towns and all the locations where these thermometers are located, on average they’ve all grown in population, since 1880. You’ve got buildings growing up around the  thermometers, you’ve got parking lots – so you’ve got all of these non-climate influences which are affecting the temperatures, which raises questions about the quality of the thermometer data for monitoring global warming.

To correct for this corruption of the data, an obvious solution is to use only records from rural weather stations, which have been less affected by urban development. This has now been done by a team led by Dr Willie Soon.

WILLIE SOON: We combine all the best rural stations, anything we can collect from we collect. And we show, if you don’t use this set and use only rural you get a very different kind of picture. 

According to rural temperature records temperatures rose from the 1880s but peaked in the 1940s. Then there was a marked cooling until the 1970s. After that temperatures recover, but are still, today, barely higher than they were in the 1940s.

WILLIE SOON: What we see is that basically we have a warming from 1900s or so to the 1930s and 40s, and then it cooled in a substantial way to the 70s, 76 or so. Instead of a long-term systematic warming trend, it has a variability. Every 50-60 years or so. Kind of a variation.

It’s not just rural thermometers that show little warming. Merchant ships and other naval vessels have been measuring the temperature of the sea since the 19th century. In red we see the land temperature record since the 1860s, which has been inflated by urban thermometers. But in blue is the ocean temperature record. From around 1900, the two begin to diverge. Ocean records show far less warming in the 20th century and the pattern more closely resembles the rural temperature record.

WILLIE SOON: Sea is not meant to be contaminated by the urban heat island effect, am I right? Yes? So, when we compare the two records, within the range of uncertainty this behaviour actually fits.

Scientists have also studied temperature change by looking at tree rings, which again shows very little warming. There’s a gentle rise till the mid 20th century, a cooling to the 1970s, followed by a mild recovery. Once again it shows temperatures today are barely different to those of the 1930s and 40s, and the pattern closely resembles rural temperatures.

Satellites too seem to be telling a different story. Our ability to measure global temperature accurately took a leap forward when satellites began to orbit the earth. One of the scientists who pioneered the use of satellites to measure temperature is Dr Roy Spencer, who in the 1980s was senior scientist for climate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

ROY SPENCER: We were discussing over lunch, isn’t there some way we can use satellites to monitor global temperatures, because as you know the temperature network of thermometers is pretty skimpy around the world. So it’s kinda hard to get a global temperature. 

Dr Spencer’s development of weather satellites was revolutionary. He and his colleague Professor John Christy have been awarded NASA’s medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement.

ROY SPENCER: Our satellite data begins in January of 1979 – that’s when we have complete global coverage – and we have it right up to the present.

There was one critical question about temperature that satellites were singularly well equipped to answer. 

ROY SPENCER: Has there been a spurious warming that has crept into the global warming temperature records over land that’s just a result of an increase in population? And that’s something that we’ve been analysing and working a lot on lately. We’re finding that especially in urban areas, er, it’s large, since 1980 most of the warming it looks like is due to the Urban Heat Island Effect. 

WILL HAPPER: We’re lucky to have a few independent scientists like John Christie and Roy Spencer with their satellite measurements of temperature. Before they started releasing this, the ground base temperature records were going wild. They were going up crazy with no bounds. But now they have to contend with the fact that there’s this independent and probably better way of measuring the whole globe’s temperature. Which is not alarming at all.

Evidence from multiple sources now agree that the official global temperature record, as used by world governments and reported in the world’s media, is showing far too much warming over the last hundred and twenty years, artificially inflated by urbanisation.

ROSS McKITRICK: You look at the weather balloon records, the satellite records, the rural records, the ocean records don’t warm nearly as much as land. All these indications show that the big warming pulse in the records is the northern hemisphere land record, and that’s also where most of the data contamination is happening. 

But of the mild warming that has taken place in the past 3-400 years, can any of it be attributed to human emissions of CO2?

Professor Henrick Svensmark is visiting the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and taking a stroll in the evolution garden, dedicated to preserving the oldest surviving plant species on earth. These plants aren’t just pleasing on the eye. They can also tell us about levels of CO2 in the atmosphere in earth’s geological past.

HENRIK SVENSMARK: What we have here is a ginkgo tree, and it is actually a living fossil, in the sense that this type of tree first appeared about 270million years ago. On the underside of the leaf there are what we call stomata, which are the cells that can uptake CO2. So they’re actually measuring how much CO2 is in the air, and they adjust the number of the stomata to how much CO2 there is. 

And by looking at fossils and by measuring how many there are at a different time it says something about what the level of CO2 was back in time.

So when we look back in time, what do we find? Over almost all of the last 500million years, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has been far far higher than it is now. Even with modern industry’s contribution to CO2 levels, by geological standards, the level of atmospheric CO2 today is close to being as low as it has ever been.

HENRIK SVENSMARK: We know, for instance, that the CO2 levels were much higher than we have today.  At present we have about 400 parts per million; 500million years ago, it might have been 2,000 parts per million. So a much, much higher concentration of CO2. 

MATTHEW WILEICKI: I think current estimates of global CO2 is 423 parts per million today. If we look through the Phanerozoic, the last 550million years, we would see CO2 on the order of 7,000 ppm. 

CO2 is plant-food, and the result of much higher levels of atmospheric CO2 in the past, was a much, much greener world.

MATTHEW WIELICKI: Periods of elevated CO2 tend to be time periods of huge biodiversity on the planet. In fact, we are in a CO2 famine if we look over the last 550million years.

At the depths of the most recent glacial maximum, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere sank so low, all life on earth came close to extinction.

TOM NELSON: They say CO2 is higher than it’s been for a hundred thousand years. What they don’t tell you in that period we’re talking about is that CO2 sank so low that all life on earth nearly died.

PATRICK MOORE: Twenty thousand years ago, CO2 is at the lowest level it as ever been in the history of the earth, 180 parts per million. If it had gone down another 30 parts per million, we’d all be dead.

MATTHEW WILEICKI: There is a low point of CO2 where photosynthesis becomes so inefficient that plant life would die. Then everything else  starts to perish after that.

WILL HAPPER: During the last glacial maximum, there’s good evidence that in many parts of the world there was plant starvation from not enough CO2. So we should be very grateful that CO2 levels are beginning to go back up; we are still far from the historical norm which would be several thousand parts to the million, there’s not enough fossil fuel to get there but at least we’re making a start.

But has the small recent increase in CO2 affected the temperature? We would now show you a picture of CO2, but we can’t, because it’s invisible. CO2 makes up a tiny fraction of the gases in the atmosphere, just 0.04 of a per cent. It is just one of 25 different greenhouse gases, which taken as a whole, form only one part of earth’s complex climate system. So what evidence is there that this trace gas is having any noticeable impact on the climate? If it were true that higher levels of CO2caused higher temperatures, we should be able to see it in Earth’s climate history. Here scientists are drilling into ancient ice cores. These cores tell us both about past temperatures and CO2 levels. Scientists have indeed found a link between temperature and CO2. The trouble is, it’s the wrong way round.

WILL HAPPER: It’s true, over the last few million years of the ice age that we’re in now, that CO2 and temperature are correlate but if COis the driver, it has to change first, and the temperature has to change second.

MATTHEW WILIECKI: In fact, when you start to look at the data very specifically you see the exact reverse. Temperature starts to rise first, and then on the order of a century, two centuries later, we start to see a rise in CO2.

ROSS McKITRICK: It’s long been known that the temperature actually moves first. So, temperature goes up, CO2 goes up after that. Temperature goes down, CO2 goes down.

TONY HELLER: Ice ages start when CO2 is at its maximum, and ice ages end when CO2 is at its minimum. The exact opposite of what would occur if carbon dioxide was controlling the temperature.

TOM NELSON: The question ‘does CO2 drive the temperature?’ is easily resolved, you can look back in time over hundreds of millions of years and see levels have changed radically many times. Did this cause temperature change ? No. Absolutely not. COhas never driven temperature change in the past. Never.

Nor is it clear in recent times that CO2 is having any effect on temperature. Here we see industrial output of CO2 since 1750. From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century there only was a slight increase. It’s not until the 1940s that industrial production of CO2 begins to take off.  But this doesn’t match the temperature record. According to rural thermometers, most of the warming in the past 200 years occurred before the 1940s and have barely changed since then.

STEVE KOONIN: One of the embarrassments that the IPCC doesn’t like to talk about was that the 1930s, when human influences were much smaller, were particularly warm. 

WILLIE SOON: That’s the puzzle, the first early part where we have such sharp warming, from 1900 to 1930s and 1940s – the CO2 could never cause that temperature rise.

That the 1930s and early 40s were so hot was puzzling. More puzzling still was what happened next.

WILL HAPPER: By the end of World War 2, COwas really going up. And yet the temperature was going down. 

WILLIE SOON: From 40 to 70, while CO2 continued to rise, this thing started to cool. What happened?

PATRICK MOORE: Journalists were writing about the coming ice age. It was on the cover of Time magazine.

TONY HELLER: The 1970s was the new ice age, that was the big story.

And how about since the 1970s? According to computer climate models, over the past half century, rising COshould have led to this increase in temperature. But according to multiple satellite and balloon measurements, what actually happened was this:

ROY SPENCER: What we’ve found from the satellite data is that the global atmosphere is not warming up as fast as the climate models say it should be. There are a couple dozen climate models now that have been worked on for decades, billions of dollars, tens of billions of dollars have been invested in these climate models, and we find that generally speaking virtually all of the climate models produce too much warming over this period, since 1979 up to the present.  

Now even if we say that surface thermometers are correct, they still don’t produce as much warming as most of the climate models say there should have been in the last fifty years. 

STEVEN KOONIN: The models individually, and even collectively when you average all of them in so-called ensembles, they don’t get it right. 

WILL HAPPER: You can already see that the main support of the climate alarm movement, these enormous computer models, they’re clearly wrong. They don’t agree with what we observe. They’re all running much too hot. They don’t get the geographical distribution of temperatures anywhere close. They don’t get El Niño, La Niña cycles. They’re just nonsense

All climate models are based on the assumption that CO2 drives temperature change. But actual observations and historical evidence clearly suggest that it doesn’t.

JOHN CLAUSER: Yes, I assert that there is no connection whatsoever between CO2 and climate change. That’s all a crock of crap in my opinion.

PATRICK MOORE: There is no truth to the idea that the earth is warming now more than it has been in the past. It’s a lie. There is no truth that CO2 is higher than it should be. That is a lie

Earth’s climate has changed many times over the course of its long history, and will continue to change, without any help from us.

WILL HAPPER: Climate always changes, you know? Who denies climate change – it’s always changing.

But if CO2 doesn’t drive climate change, what does?

Tomorrow: Natural climate change and extreme weather

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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