LONDON -- With a packet of claims that are almost certain to defy conventional wisdom, a television documentary to be aired in Britain this week condemns man-made global warming as a myth that has become "the biggest scam of modern times."
The program titled "The Great Global Warming Scandal" and set for screening by TV Channel 4 on Thursday dismisses claims that high levels of greenhouse gases generated by human activity causes climate change. Instead, the program suggests that the sun itself is the real culprit.
The documentary, directed by filmmaker Martin Durkin, is at odds with scientific opinion as outlined in a United Nations report in February, which blames mankind for global warming.
In his program, Mr. Durkin rejects the concept of man-made climate change, calling it "a lie ... the biggest scam of modern times."
The truth, he says, is that global warming "is a multibillion-dollar worldwide industry, created by fanatically anti-industrial environmentalists, supported by scientists peddling scare stories to chase funding, and propped up by compliant politicians and the media."
Channel 4 says that the program features "an impressive roll-call of experts," including nine professors, who are experts in climatology, oceanography, meteorology, biogeography and paleoclimatology.
It also says the experts come from prestigious institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Pasteur Institute in Paris, the Danish National Space Center and universities and other schools in London, Ottawa, Jerusalem, Alabama, Virginia and Winnipeg, Canada.
"It's very rare that a film changes history," says Martin Durkin, "but I think this is a turning point, and in five years the idea that the greenhouse effect is the main reason behind global warming will be seen as total bunk," he says.
His program collides sharply with the premise outlined in former Vice President Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," which presents a bleak picture of how a buildup in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide affects the global climate, with potentially disastrous consequences.
"Al Gore might have won an Oscar," says Mr. Durkin, in a preview of the documentary, "but the film is very misleading, and he has got the relationship between [carbon dioxide] and climate change the wrong way around."
One of the filmmaker's experts, paleontologist professor Ian Clark of the University of Ottawa, says that global warming could be caused by increased activity on the sun, such as massive eruptions, and that ice-core samples from Antarctica show that, in fact, warmer periods in Earth's history have come about 800 years before rises in carbon dioxide levels.
Mr. Clark's findings appear to contradict the work of other scientists, who have used similar ice-core samples to illustrate that raised levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have accompanied the various global warming periods.
"The fact is that [carbon dioxide] has no proven link to global temperatures," says Mr. Durkin. "Solar activity is far more likely to be the culprit."
Scientists in the Channel 4 documentary cite what they claim is another discrepancy involving conventional research, saying that most of the recent global warming occurred before 1940, after which temperatures around the world fell for four decades.
Mr. Durkin's skeptical specialists view this as a flaw in the official view, because the worldwide economic boom that followed the end of World War II produced more carbon dioxide, and therefore should have meant a rise in global temperatures -- something he says did not happen.
"The Great Global Warming Swindle" also questions an assertion by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report, published last month, that it was backed by some 2,500 of the world's leading scientists.
Another of Mr. Durkin's professors, Paul Reiter of Paris' Pasteur Institute, an expert in malaria, calls the U.N. report a "sham" because, he says, it included the names of scientists -- including his own -- who disagreed with the report and who resigned from the panel.
"That is how they make it seem that all the top scientists are agreed," he says. "It's not true."
Mr. Reiter says his name was removed only after he threatened legal action against the panel. The report itself, he adds, was finalized by government appointees.
Yet another expert in the Durkin documentary, Philip Stott, professor emeritus of biogeography at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, is more circumspect.
"The [climate] system is too complex to say exactly what the effect of cutting back on [carbon dioxide] production would be or, indeed, of continuing to produce [carbon dioxide]."
"The greenhouse effect theory worried me from the start," Mr. Stott says, "because you can't say that just one factor can have this effect."
"At the moment, there is almost a McCarthyism movement in science where the greenhouse effect is like a puritanical religion, and this is dangerous," he says.