For 20 years or more, dire warnings about global warming and “climate change” have taken the mass media of entertainment by storm. Every few years, climate change doomsayers have claimed that the world only has 12 years to turn the tide. They said practically the same thing 12 and 15 years ago; however, that they’re saying this year!
Many news stories, many news programs and many movies, including many documentaries, have sounded the alarm about global warming and climate change, such as Al Gore’s 2006 Oscar-winning documentary, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. A recent documentary released on Netflix is an excellent recent example of these warnings. The question arises, therefore, how scientific and how accurate are the basic claims by the climate change doomsayers, using the Netflix documentary as a primary example?
BREAKING BOUNDARIES: THE SCIENCE OF OUR PLANET is a Netflix documentary about the research of environmentalist activist Johan Rockström of Sweden, who says that the man-made effects of global warming, production of carbon dioxide or CO2, ocean and freshwater pollution, and air pollution are reaching a tipping point of global destruction. Narrated by British environmentalist Sir David Attenborough, the movie identifies nine areas of planetary threat systems, including such things as climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, land surface converted to cropland, freshwater pollution, and other forms of pollution. Rockström and his team of environmental scientists say all these systems threaten the survival of the planet and the human race. They also claim that some of these systems are exceeding or approaching tipping points of no return.
To prove Rockström’s assertion, the movie identifies various problems besides pollution, biodiversity loss and ocean acidification. These other problems include global warming, increased production of carbon dioxide or CO2, loss of ice in Greenland, destruction of the Amazon rainforest, loss of coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef along Australia, massive wildfires in Australia in 2019-20, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The movie presents these problems in a scary, emotional way, but all of them are based on unscientific falsehoods and exaggerations, if not overt lies.
In 2009, a whistleblower showed how the scientific establishing was manipulating and destroying the evidence about global warming, as depicted in a series of emails between 1999 and 2008 from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in Great Britain. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other international and national environmentalist groups used the fudged numbers to predict that the world’s temperatures will rise to catastrophic levels. In addition to fudging the numbers, the CRU totally ignored data showing that, in the Middle Ages, there was a spike in temperatures, followed by a period called the Little Ice Age (about 1600 to the early 1800s AD). What the emails showed was a series of “fraud, lies and cover-ups,” says Cap Allon in “How Did the Global Warming Scam Survive ‘Climategate?’”
Environmentalists and many politicians, governments and international groups continue to promote the fraudulent theory of global warming, even though temperature data since 1999 now shows that temperatures have remained stable, and have even cooled slightly. Thus, in reality, Earth’s temperatures rise and fall in cycles, driven by the cycles on the sun, not by carbon dioxide or CO2 as environmentalists and this documentary claim. In fact, 90 percent of the Earth’s warming since the Little Ice Age is due to water vapor, not CO2, says Dr. Frank in the above article. “CO2 is only 0.40 percent of the atmosphere,” writes Frank. Finally, Frank adds that a study of climate reports found that more than 1,000 peer-reviewed studies challenging the theory that man-made CO2 causes global warming were published in Europe and Asia, but not published in U.S. professional journals. In addition, despite the documentary’s hysteria about the loss of glacier ice in Greenland, according to an article from The Cornwall Alliance, a science and economics website, Greenland lost a record 530 billion metric tons of glacial ice in 2019, but that still only amounted to 0.02% of the Greenland Ice Sheet, or 530 kilometers out of 2.58 million cubic kilometers (Joakim Book, “Playing Fast and Loose with Numbers,” The Cornwall Alliance, April 23, 2021).
Meanwhile, Germany’s shift away from nuclear power plants and toward green energy since 2000 and in the wake of the earthquake that knocked out a nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011 has been an utter disaster. For example, in 2019, Germany suffered widespread electricity blackouts. Also, earlier this year, a severe winter blanketed millions of solar panels in snow and ice and made Germany’s wind turbines idle. Because of these problems, and others, Germany has begun turning back to coal and natural gas and lobbied fervently for the Russian oil pipeline that President Joe Biden recently endorsed. You can read about this in an article titled “Failure: Germany turns back to coal and natural gas a millions of its solar panels are blanketed in snow and ice” by Lurie Foti, that appeared on the website World Newsera, on Feb. 11, 2021. In that article, Foti notes:
In 2000 when the program was first launched, 6.6 percent of Germany’s electricity came from renewable sources such as solar and wind. In 2019, almost two decades later, the share reached 41.1 percent. That’s where the good news ends. In 2000, Germany had an installed capacity of 121 gigawatts with 577 terawatt-hours generated, which is 54 percent as much as it theoretically could have done (that is, 54 percent was its capacity factor). But in 2019, the country only produced a meager 5 percent more (607 TWh).
During the twenty-year period, the Germans also paid a hefty price for the program. For example, the average cost of electricity for German households has doubled since 2000. By 2019, households had to pay 34 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 22 cents per kilowatt-hour in France and 13 cents in the United States, according to data from IEEE Spectrum.
A recent peer-reviewed scientific study by 23 scientists from 14 different countries has found that the sun is more to blame for global warning than carbon dioxide or CO2 emissions. Dr. Ronan Connolly of Center for Environmental Research and Earth Sciences, lead director of the study, says, “Depending on which published data and studies you use, you can show that all of the warming is caused by the sun, but the IPCC (the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) uses a different data set to come up with the opposite conclusion. In their insistence on forcing a so-called scientific consensus, the IPCC seems to have decided to consider only those data sets and studies that support their chosen narrative” (see “Study by Nearly 2 Dozen Scientists Finds Sun, Not CO2, May Be Chief Cause of Global Warming,” by C. Douglas Golden, The Western Journal, Aug. 17, 2021). What Dr. Connolly says about the UN and its panel on climate change can also be said about this documentary.
The documentary’s claims about the Amazon, deforestation of the Amazon and the threat of soy farms and cattle ranches are also false. According to Dan Nepstad, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Amazon, “The Amazon produces a lot of oxygen, but it uses the same amount of oxygen through respiration so it’s a wash. The Amazon produces a lot of oxygen, but so do soy farms and [cattle] pastures” (Michael Schellenberger, “Why Everything They Say About the Amazon, Including That It’s the ‘Lungs of the World,’ Is False,” Forbes Magazine, August 26, 2019). Soy farms and cattle ranches are not the problem, Nepstad says. Forest fires during years of drought are the bigger problem. “For $2 million a year we could control the fires and stop the Amazon die-back,” he adds, however.
The documentary claims that, currently, 1 million out of 8 million plants and animals are threatened with extinction. In the last 40 years, however, there have only been two extinctions per year (Gregory Wrightstone, “New UN Report on Looming Mass Extinctions Exposed in US House Testimony,” Cornwall Alliance, May 25, 2019). Also, in reality, only about 1.8 million species have been identified in reality. Finally, contrary to BREAKING BOUNDARIES, there is no longer a bee crisis. It abated in 2011 when people identified the problem to be disease, pesticide and pests. The crisis has been solved, and honeybees are at their highest level in the United States in years.
In addition, there is no tremendous threat from ocean acidification, according to Cliff Ollier, Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia. (Cliff Ollier, “Ocean Acidification Is a Myth,” The Saltbush Club, May 4, 2019). In reality, the ocean is less alkaline, but not acidic. He also says that carbon dioxide or CO2 actually increases the growth rate of most or even all ocean species. It is also essential to the survival of coral reefs.
Furthermore, coral reefs are not dying because of man-made global warming. Not only does recent scientific research show that coral reefs can thrive in warmer waters, it also shows they can thrive when volcanic activity releases more CO2 into the oceans. So, even though extreme warmer weather can indeed destroy a significant part of a coral reef, the alleged link to man-made global warming has been refuted, as shown above. Furthermore, contrary to this documentary, the most recent report on the Great Barrier Reef by AIMS, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, found that there’s the same amount of coral reef today as in 1995! In fact, the AIMS report discovered only about 8% of the Great Barrier Reef had suffered from the higher temperatures generated from a prolonged El Niño event in 2016-17. Also, a recently reported survey of coral reefs on the opposite side of Australia in the three coral atolls that comprise the Rowley Shoals found that a long marine heatwave in December 2019 only killed about 10% of the reefs instead of the estimated 60% that had been bleached.
As the documentary reports in an emotional segment, wildfires in Australia in 2019-20 were pretty bad. However, they still pale in comparison to devastating wildfires during 1974-75, 46 million acres compared to a whopping 290 million acres in 1974-75. Also, since 1975, the devastation of Australian wildfires has steadily decreased. In addition, the record heat wave experienced by Australia in December 2019 was accompanied by a cold wave in India and devastating floods in East Africa. All three of these events were caused by “a phenomenon called Positive Indian Ocean Dipole,” not global warming or man-made climate change, according to Vijay Jayaraj, an expert in environmental science (see Vijay Jayaraj, “Record Heat and Cold Expose Climate Alarmists’ Bias,” Cornwall Alliance, Jan. 8, 2020). As with the recent wildfires in California, the Australian bushfires are being caused by arsonists and by environmentalist activists, who have forced governments to stop the removal of combustible material in Australia’s bush country as well as in California’s forests. Conclusion? Carbon emissions and global warming are not the problem!
Most obnoxious of all, perhaps, BREAKING BOUNDARIES blames the COVID-19 pandemic on deforestation, destruction of wildlife habitat and climate change. Of course, we now know that the virus started in a lab created by the Chinese Communist government doing virology and biological warfare research, and partially funded by the federal government’s U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases run by Anthony Fauci. The Chinese government did little to prevent the manufactured virus from infecting people around the world. Contrary to the pompous words of the documentary’s narrator, Sir David Attenborough, the COVID-19 pandemic has NOTHING to do with the physical state of the planet and its ecology, much less the human race’s treatment of them.
Finally, even if global warming is a problem, how big a problem is it? Well, climate scientist Bjorn Lomborg believes that man-made climate change is real, but he says the warnings about it have been vastly exaggerated. He points out that news outlets and climate change activists usually only report the worst possible outcomes, which encourages the general public to exaggerate the problem even further. Also, news outlets and climate change activists even lie about what’s happening. For example, in a recent article, Lomborg notes that in 2020, people said that storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean was the worst ever.
“The reporting ignored that almost everywhere else, hurricane intensity was feeble, making 2020 one of the globally weakest in satellite history,” he writes. Lomborg adds that the climate change activists are advocating policy energy shifts that would result in a reduction of more than 4% global economic growth by 2040. This reduction is not likely to happen, however, he says, because developing nations like India and China would have to cut their economic growth by significantly higher percentages, and they are refusing to do that. Lomborg also claims that, even if sea levels rise by three feet on the coasts by 2100, more and more nations will be able to adjust to this increase through technological advancements. He also notes that cold deaths in the most advanced nations, such as the United States and Canada, and cold deaths in less developed nations, such as India, are a much bigger problem than heat deaths. In fact, he recently argued that global warming has resulted in up to 166,000 fewer temperature-related deaths in the past 20 years
To sum up, the broad claims in BREAKING BOUNDARIES about global warming, CO2 production, coral reefs, loss of the rainforest, biodiversity, mass extinction, wildfires, and loss of Arctic ice in Greenland and elsewhere, are wrong. BREAKING BOUNDARIES is clearly promoting a false humanist, environmentalist agenda fueled by an unscientific political ideology.
That said, the movie does make a good case about agricultural pollution of freshwater, such as the agricultural pollution that the Baltic Sea has suffered. It also offers a couple solutions to the phony “existential” crisis it conjures. First, it says human beings can start by increasing their efforts to eliminate waste, apparently through more recycling. Second, and even better, it says we can plant millions if not billions of more trees, including more trees in agricultural areas. The other solutions the movie offers, however, such as reducing carbon emissions and reducing alleged global warming by eliminating fossil fuels, are clearly based on faulty science. In this light, it’s very telling that BREAKING BOUNDARIES nowhere advocates nuclear power as the best way to reduce carbon emissions and, thereby, reduce global warming. The movie’s omission of the nuclear power solution shows, more than any other thing, perhaps, that the radical environmentalist activists in BREAKING BOUNDARIES are misguided, deceitful phonies. These people aren’t really serious about fixing climate change or global warming. In fact, many other people have argued that their solutions are almost all socialist in nature and rooted in the murderous anti-capitalist ideology of Karl Marx and other communist gurus, an ideology that has killed far more people in the last 105 years than any other ideology.
Sadly, though, the same errors and falsehoods in this documentary cited above have infected the whole mass media of entertainment, not only the Hollywood movie studios and streaming outlets like Netflix but also Network and Cable TV News. Hopefully, this article, and the efforts of groups like The Cornwall Alliance, can help people fight these errors and falsehoods and expose the climate change lies and exaggerations of the radical, anti-capitalist, pseudo-scientific environmentalist movement in the mass media and society.
Tom Snyder, Ph.D. (Speech and Communications), is Editor and Vice President of MovieGuide® and a philosopher and film critic who has has taught at Northwestern University, the Mars Hill Institute, National University, and Simon Greenleaf University. This article first appeared in MovieGuide® and is reproduced here by permission.
Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash.