Estonian false information distributors have received the film positively - the work was translated and can be watched with Estonian subtitles. The myths it contains are spread in Facebook posts, the most popular of which have garnered hundreds of shares.

"Durkin's film shows how scientific research and official data do not support the belief that we are experiencing an increase in extreme weather events such as hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, etc.," one user wrote. She added that there is no scientific basis for declaring a climate emergency.

The film is nearly 80 minutes long and various foreign analyses have found approximately 30 different myths or false claims. Päevaleht Fact-check took up the two biggest false claims that Estonians have picked out of the film and started to spread themselves.

First, it is argued that today's temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels are not unusual or extreme and that in the context of the last 500 million years, both are at exceptionally low levels.

Another myth that runs through the film and is now spreading on social media is that rising CO2 lowers temperatures, not up. 

The facts

  • Today's climate and its changes cannot be compared to 500 million years ago, humans did not live during that time and the first vertebrates were slowly developing.

  • CO2 levels in the atmosphere have risen sharply since 1750 and are the highest in the last 800,000 years.

  • CO2 is a greenhouse gas, a gas that prevents heat from leaving the atmosphere and warms the earth. In 2023, a record amount of CO2 emissions was measured, and it was also the warmest year in the last hundred years.

  • The film features 17 "experts", most of whom are not climate scientists or are funded by large oil companies and corporations.

The post compares Earth's climate today with that of half a billion years ago, which remains approximately the Ordovician period (it started 485.4 million years ago). This time is characterized as the greenhouse period because the CO2 level was in the atmosphere at the time eight times higher than today.

Professor at the University of New South Wales, climate scientist Katrin Meissner told the fact-checking organization Science Feedback, that indeed there were times when CO2 levels were very high, but the natural conditions were quite different then. "Ecosystems and nature had adapted to these conditions. There were no humans and many modern mammals did not exist.”

Comparing times closer to human existence, scientists have analyzed air bubbles trapped in the Antarctic ice core that show the last 800,000 years CO2 levels in the earth's atmosphere. During that time levels in the atmosphere have naturally fluctuated between 170 and 300 ppm (parts per million). The current concentration of carbon dioxide is the result of human activity about 425 ppm – more than 30 percent higher than the 800,000-year high.

Since the beginning of the industrial age In the 18th century, human activity has increased atmospheric CO2 levels by 50 percent. This anthropogenic increase is greater than the natural increase in CO2 observed at the end of the last ice age for 20,000 years.

Graphs showing the recent rise of CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

So, claims of exceptionally low temperatures and carbon dioxide are false. The data shows clear and sharp growth in both categories.

The claim that CO2 lowers the temperature instead of raising it is also false. Carbon dioxide is the earth's main greenhouse gas that absorbs and releases heat. From the natural norm, a lower level of CO2 would not be enough to maintain the natural greenhouse effect - the temperature would drop to unlivable lows. Higher than natural levels of CO2 mean the same, but with excessively high temperatures.

From the DeSmog climate misinformation database it appears that 13 of the 17 experts who participated in the documentary are constantly spreading false information about the climate. Some of them are also connected to global fuel companies and most have no expertise in climate science.

The post in Estonian mentions, for example, Dr John Clauser, who was the 2022 Nobel Prize laureate in physics. Although climate science is based on physics, not all physicists are experts in climate science – Clauser specializes in quantum physics, but he never published peer-reviewed research papers on climate change.

Verdict: False. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has been on the rise in recent centuries, which in turn has also led to record-high average temperatures. Posts claiming the opposite are sourced from a documentary based on pseudoscience.