Climategate : Myles Allen is Confused

Dr Myles Allen, head of the Climate Dynamics group at the University of Oxford’s Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics Department is confused. “It is odd that we still don’t take climate change seriously”, he writes in The Guardian online, discussing the fact that a good proportion of the British public don’t believe in Global Warming :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/11/science-climate-change-phil-jones

He might need to wake up to the fact that the British Press are being misled, and in turn, misleading the country.

He ascribes Climate Change scepticism, “denier-tribe”, in print and online, to the Media’s fondness for the “narrative of the fallen idol”. He blames journalists for maintaining the assault on scientists, and says the journalists “know perfectly well” that they are being inaccurate, and asks why they continue to do it.

What Myles Allen perhaps misses is an analysis of where journalists get their information from. Has he not realised that the average reporter knows nothing about the Science of Global Warming, nor the Phenology of Climate Change ? They will react to whomever is talking loudest this week in order to get a “story”, it seems to me.

Thus you have the Daily Mail being quite accurate on the Science one day :-

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1233622/Copenhagen-climate-summit-Q-A.html

and then publishing the personal views of Dr David Whitehouse the next, which paint a completely different picture :-

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1235126/What-told-Global-Warming–missing-facts.html

Could this have something to do with Nigel Lawson and Christopher Monckton ? You bet it does. Dr David Whitehouse is the “adviser to the Global Warming Policy Foundation”.

My question is this : where is the Public Relations campaign for Climate Change Science to counteract this confusing state of affairs ?

Oh yes, nearly 2,000 scientists have signed a statement to support the science of Climate Change :-

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/news/latest/uk-science-statement.html

But that’s really not enough.

The Media should tell us the truth on matters of import. In my view it is ridiculous, and dangerous, for the Media to continue to publish the views of Climate Change denier-sceptics. It is incredibly socially destabilising to influence large numbers of people, leading them to deny the science.

At the very least, the Media should employ mainstream scientists to write and edit on Global Warming.

Moreover, somebody has to run a Public Relations campaign to bring the real Science to the Media.

The UK Government’s ActOnCO2 is not up to this task. Who is ? And who will pay for it ?

One thought on “Climategate : Myles Allen is Confused”

  1. Hi Jo,

    I agree with some of your comments about Allen’s view in relation to why the media is as poor as it is on reporting about climate change. But I do think you have missed much of what is good about the article.

    His criticism of Monbiot is absolutely correct. Monbiot in his despair was unable to react with any sort of reason. Monbiot seemed to take the out of context e-mails as interpreted by the deniers and was too fearful to look at the e-mails himself in a rigorous way to determine the context. He thus unfairly damns the scientists at CRU and demands their resignation.

    Allen’s comment about the WMO in his second last paragraph is also spot on. Especially the comment about looking through the e-mails of the Nasa temperature series.

    And narrative is important. An example. I recently went to a talk by someone from the Equality Trust. Now me being a bit of a policy wonk on this sort of stuff found it really interesting, lots of plots and graphs and numbers relating inequality to all sorts things like health including mental health etc. But I have learnt over the past that what engages me does not engage most people. They want the narrative, the human interest side, the anecdote to bring a story to life. Any PR campaign to present the story of climate change is going to have to generate a narrative that engages people. The climate change deniers like Lawson know this, they know the media is lazy and if they can provide the narrative it makes the lives of “journalists” easier. If a narrative isn’t provided then the media will create their own and with the pressures to conform to the current media model it will be an unhelpful one.

    So talking about narrative is not necessarily a bad thing, plus he actively challenged Newsnight which is no bad thing.

    Kevin

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