Adam Curtis : Daft Punk

[ UPDATE : BRILLIANT DECONSTRUCTION OF ADAM CURTIS’ WORK FROM BEN WOODHAMS ]

The final part (I really hope it is the final part) of Adam Curtis’ trilogy on “Evil” Computers and “Devillish” Enviromentalists – “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” – a title drawn from a poem written by what would appear to be a madman – has now been uploaded to YouTube, allowing me to view it without taking part in the memory-eating public monitoring disappointment that is BBC iPlayer :-

Adam Curtis certainly reveals himself as a little monkeyish in this episode, throwing overarm and underhand javelins at “liberals” of all hues and cries, particularly environmental ones; and throwing in liberal references to primates wherever he can, seemingly to suggest that mankind has un- or de-evolved by adopting computing tools and studying the natural world.

Continue reading Adam Curtis : Daft Punk

The BBC Gets It Completely Wrong Once Again

Hat Tip : George Marshall, ClimateDenial.org

In my humble opinion, Andrew Neil is completely beyond redemption. He has recently invited Global Warming sceptic Nigel Lawson onto the Daily Politics show. Nigel Lawson is no scientist, apparently, and so cannot really be expected to have a learned view on Climate Change, so why was he asked to “debate” with Professor Bob Watson, a proper scientist ? A certain lack of equality in the value of their views, there, I think. Why give equal weight to both, Andrew Neil ?

Back in Febriary, Andrew Neil invited arch-sceptic Fred Singer onto the Daily Politics show. Doesn’t Andrew Neil know anything at all about the history of this man’s involvement in anti-science lobbying in the United States of America ?

It is reported that Fred Singer “bullied” a researcher, Justin Lancaster with “unwarranted” lawsuits :-

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/04/nobody_should_trust_s_fred_sin.php

http://www.desmogblog.com/national-post-promotes-singers-sleazy-attack-on-al-gores-mentor

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=S._Fred_Singer

Plus, Fred Singer has been documented by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway as having taken part in long-term anti-science communications with the public :-

http://climateprogress.org/2010/08/10/merchants-of-doubt-distorting-science-while-invoking-science/

James Hoggan’s “Climate Cover-Up” book makes other aspects of the tale clear :-

http://hubpages.com/hub/Climate-Cover-Up-A-Review

Is this Fred Singer’s main mode of public activitiy – lawsuits and denial ? Doesn’t he do any actual science any more ? Or is he just a widely-travelled after-dinner speaker funded by various industrial special interests ? It’s “plausible”, a word he himself uses in denying the last 30 years of Global Warming. So why is Andrew Neil inviting him onto his TV show as an authoritative voice ? It’s ludicrous !

So back to the recent past and the introductory film for the Daily Politics show featuring the “debate” between Professor Bob Watson and Global Warming sceptic Nigel Lawson. To my mind at any rate, the BBC film was appalling. Narrated by the young Adam Fleming, it was dripping with Climate Change sceptic thought. Here’s what I wrote to the Crisis Forum :-

“Dear Crisis Forum, This is a really appalling re-write of recent history from the BBC :- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11574503 “Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims” : I counted at least 10 inaccuracies in a piece of film shorter than an ad break. Surely some of you have some energy left to complain ? http://www.joabbess.com/2010/10/19/bbc-licence-to-manipulate/…”

Here’s what Bob Ward wrote in response :-

“20 October 2010 : I think this was broadcast on The Daily Politics yesterday and was followed by a “balanced” discussion, chaired by Andrew Neil, between Bob Watson and Nigel Lawson – it is worse than the introductory report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11576013. While I have high regard for the BBC’s coverage of climate change, The Daily Politics frequently exercises double standards by uncritically promoting the views of ‘sceptics’ while being fiercely critical of mainstream researchers. This approach appears to reflect Andrew Neil’s own views on the subject, as can be seen through his blog (eg http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/dailypolitics/andrewneil/2010/01/the_dam_is_cracking.html). I think it is worth drawing attention to the coverage of climate change by The Daily Politics for Professor Steve Jones’s review of the impartiality of the BBC’s science coverage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/march/science_impartiality.shtml : Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science ”

Here’s what George Marshall, of ClimateDenial.org, had to say in reply :-

“21 October 2010 : On youtube there is ANOTHER dreadful interview on the Politics Show with Bob Watson and Fred Singer. The whole preamble and Andrew Neil’s handling is from a sceptic perspective :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF2hley0SGA
. So I have a few questions. One is why Bob Watson keeps agreeing to go on this show? I realise that he wants to represent the science, but, to be honest, he does not do so well enough and seems to be poorly prepared and briefed to go against these people. In any case, by appearing he is accepting and condoning the phoney debate. It does make me wonder whether there are grounds for a specific approach to The Politics Show but (as we’ve discussed Bob). Certainly I am all in favour of people ringing them up and complaining. Overall though, I think it is better to have an overall strategy for dealing with this than launch into a single skirmish – but don’t want to discourage Jo or anyone who is seeing red. George”

So my appeal is this : Adam Fleming, young reporter for the BBC – what do you actually think about Climate Change ? I know you had to narrate an appallingly inaccurate script over the Daily Politics show film, but what do you personally think of the issue ? Tell us that you’re sane, and have read something about this. Recant from the sceptic BBC position. “Come out of her my people”, and be redeemed into scientific sanctuary.

Adam Fleming : BBC Complaint

Dear BBC

I am writing to complain about a short news article presented as online video, narrated by Adam Fleming, which contains a number of inaccuracies regarding the operation of Climate Change science and the results of inquiries into it.

The piece that I am referring to is here :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11574503
“Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims”

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TEXT ON WEB PAGE

19 October 2010
Last updated at 13:48

Press coverage has cast further doubt on climate scientists’
claims that man-made global warming is real and adversely
affecting the planet.

Polls show that the public are becoming increasingly confused
about the issue. Adam Fleming reports.

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TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO IN FILM PRESENTATION

It’s the year that “uncertainty” became the buzzword in the
climate change debate, even for scientists who are convinced
that human activity is warming the planet.

Last year saw the publication of private e-mails written in
these buildings, the Climatic Research Unit at the University
of East Anglia. Experts spoke of doing “tricks” with numbers.
They hinted at the deletion of data that didn’t fit their
theories.

This summer, an inquiry, the last of three, left the
scientists’ reputation intact, but told them that they had to
be more honest about how they reach their conclusions.

Then came “Glaciergate”. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, the group of international scientists that
inform global environmental policy, had written a report
saying that most of the glaciers in the Himalyas could melt by
2035, but that was proved to be wildly inaccurate.

The head of the IPCC, the Indian academic Rajendra Pachauri
came under pressure to quit. In future [the] chairman will
serve just one term, and again the academics were told to be
more honest about the question marks in their research.

Back at home, David Cameron has pledged the “greenest
Government ever”, but there are limits. This week the Coalition
announced it wouldn’t fund tidal power in the Severn Estuary
because the bill was too high.

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Firstly, and most importantly, Adam Fleming repeats not once, but twice, the erroneous view that scientists were instructed by the “Climategate” inquiries and the IPCC review to be more “honest”.

That is not only a poor choice of word, it completely undermines the results of the inquiries and the review, which recommend more “openness” about data and methods, whilst at the very same time vindicating scientists of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Much of Climate Change science is very public already. Many data sets are totally within the public realm, and all the research papers are widely available. There are moves to publish more of the data and more of the methods for the models and computer programming. Some of the data and methods have been proprietary, or countries, universities or even individual researchers have placed restrictions on their use. The basic problem is that a non-expert cannot look at some of the data and understand it without background information (“metadata”) on how the data should be treated, how it was assembled and which adjustments should be made to make sense of it in a variety of frames of reference. For example, if I were to give you a database about road traffic accidents at a variety of blackspots and I didn’t tell you what the data measured, the parameters for how data was included, or how information was collected, how could you understand what it really signified ?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is to undergo reform in order to deal more effectively with the public, including the media, as it appears that the media consistently get the messaging wrong. The IPCC is not going to undergo reform in order to change its basic discoveries from the science. The science still stands, and the scientists are still right. The implications of the synthesis of Climate Change science is that there are very real risks of very serious disruption to the Earth’s climatic regime, and the evidence is constantly accumulating to back up this projection.

Uncertainty did not become a “buzzword” last year. Way back in 2007, the IPCC published (for free, on the Internet) their Fourth Assessment Report, which contained very clear summaries of which parts of Climate Change Science are robust and where the uncertainties are.

The use of the phrase “even for scientists who are convinced that human activity is warming the planet” suggests that there is a significant portion of scientists who are not convinced that human activity is warming the planet. This is misleading. Of those scientists who have researched Climate Change, the overwhelming majority accept that human activity is warming the planet. Global Warming from humankind’s emissions of Greenhouse Gases is basic Physics, and it’s ridiculous to even suggest otherwise.

The “Climategate” e-mails were not put to “publication” last year. It would be more accurate to say that they were “leaked”, but the actual process of how they came to be in the public domain is more complicated than that. It appears that a number of people had access to the material well before it was broadcast as the e-mails were released with additional material alongside suggesting all manner of nefarious goings-on that could not be drawn from the e-mails themselves, when read in their proper context. A more accurate description would be to say that the e-mails were “stolen” and their contents “hacked” with unfavourable commentary before they were released onto the Internet in a carefully staged campaign to create maximum disturbance to the Copenhagen UNFCCC conference.

“Experts spoke of doing “tricks” with numbers.” This sentence is incorrect. The “tricks” were not to change the numbers in the data, but ways to present the data to reveal certain trends.

“They hinted at the deletion of data that didn’t fit their theories.” That claim is “wildly inaccurate”.

“…told them that they had to be more honest about how they reach their conclusions.” This is incorrect. The three inquiries sought to persuade Climate Change science as a whole to share more data and methods than they currently do, so that others can understand how the data is used to come up with the conclusions. It is a call for full disclosure, not a reprimand over deception.

“Then came Glaciergate.” That is incorrect. The typographical reproduction error regarding the fate of the Himalayan glaciers was discussed in the media before “Climategate” unleashed badly commented confidential e-mails on the world. If you don’t know that, you haven’t done your research properly.

“…that was proved to be wildly inaccurate.” The use of the word “proved” is contentious, as it suggests that somebody did some science that contradicted what was in the IPCC. Not a bit of it. There are still ongoing discussions as to the speed of glacier melt, and its extent, and data collection is continuing. “Glaciergate” was an error in transmission, with an unsupported source. It was like a genetic coding error that leads a cell to a cancerous state. But the medicine is now available – the IPCC will be much more rigorous in future in double-checking what they report from.

“[the IPCC] had written a report saying that most of the glaciers in the Himalyas could melt by 2035”. It was not the IPCC who wrote the original error. Since Adam Fleming does not appear to know, it needs to be said again – the IPCC only reports on other peoples’ work – it doesn’t do any scientific research of its own. Minor mistakes in IPCC reports do not break Climate Change science.

“…the Indian academic Rajendra Pachauri came under pressure to quit”. The so-named “pressure” has only from the Climate Change sceptics and the dogbark media. I do not know of any person in the Climate Change science community who is applying “pressure” of any kind for Rajendra Pachauri to quit.

“…again the academics were told to be more honest about the question marks in their research.” This is incorrect. The IPCC are already very open about the “question marks” in their research. If Adam Fleming were to take the time to actually read the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, (note well, Richard Black, senior environmental reporter has admitted that he has not yet done this), you would discover the normal academic presentation of both sides of every argument about every facet of the science. They could not be more “honest” about how they arrive at their conclusions. What will change is that they will start to be more “transparent”. There is a major media initiative going on in the IPCC management to use modern communications techniques to present the findings to the public in a more structured, accessible way, in order to restore public confidence in the work of Climate Change science.

I don’t expect the BBC to answer this complaint in the time period that they pledge, and I don’t expect them to answer correctly.

I don’t expect the BBC to start getting their Climate Change information right at the moment, but when the IPCC media team get to work, I can assure you the BBC will be changing its tune.

The BBC has proved consistently that it cannot report accurately on Climate Change. It would be far better if they outsourced their reporting on Climate Change to people who actually know something about it, instead of repeating Climate Change sceptic arguments as if they were the truth. This article by Adam Fleming is a revision of history and the current state of play and is not only “wildly inaccurate” to use his own phrase, it is “informationally contentious” in a manner that is misleading and ultimately incorrect.

BBC : Licence to Manipulate ?

Another Earth-shatteringly ridiculous piece on the practice of Climate Change science has dribbled from the loudspeaker of the BBC :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11574503
“Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims”

Why am I surprised that they seem content to repeat falsehoods and rehearse a patronising tone ?

Where’s the proper investigative journalism ? Why get somebody so young and fresh-faced as Adam Fleming to tear up his good reputation so soon into his career ? I mean, he’s only done kids’ TV before now, as far as I know. Why was he only briefed with Climate Change “sceptic” fantasy nonsense ? And what will the University of East Anglia Press Office do to react ?

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Date: Tue 19 Oct 2010
From: Jo Abbess
Subject: The BBC Gets It Completely Wrong Once Again
To: Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia Pres Office

Dear Press Office at CRU UEA,

I am completely astonished at the paucity of the latest
offering from the BBC on so-called “Climategate” (see
forwarded e-mail I have sent to Professor Phil Jones).

I would see this as a prime moment to correct the BBC
publicly, and you could be the people for the job, which is
why I am drawing this to your attention.

I’m sure you don’t need me to pinpoint the inaccuracies in the
BBC piece, but I can offer comments if you would like to hear
them.

Regards,

Jo Abbess

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Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2010
From: Jo Abbess
Subject: The BBC Gets It Completely Wrong Once Again
To: Professor Phil Jones
Cc: Dr Ben Santer, Dr Gavin Schmidt

Dear Professor Jones,

I can’t help asking myself why it is that the BBC has got
Climate Change science so, so wrong yet again.

Can’t they read ? And who have they been listening to ?

This is a really appalling re-write of recent history from the
BBC (see below). It’s insulting, judgemental and just plain
inaccurate.

They couldn’t have done worse if they had been deliberately
trying to be annoying, in my view.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11574503
“Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims”

I counted at least 10 “revisions of history” in a piece of
film shorter than an ad break.

Surely some of your colleagues have the energy left to
complain ?

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

TEXT ON WEB PAGE

19 October 2010
Last updated at 13:48

Press coverage has cast further doubt on climate scientists’
claims that man-made global warming is real and adversely
affecting the planet.

Polls show that the public are becoming increasingly confused
about the issue. Adam Fleming reports.

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO IN FILM PRESENTATION

It’s the year that “uncertainty” became the buzzword in the
climate change debate, even for scientists who are convinced
that human activity is warming the planet.

Last year saw the publication of private e-mails written in
these buildings, the Climatic Research Unit at the University
of East Anglia. Experts spoke of doing “tricks” with numbers.
They hinted at the deletion of data that didn’t fit their
theories.

This summer, an inquiry, the last of three, left the
scientists’ reputation intact, but told them that they had to
be more honest about how they reach their conclusions.

Then came “Glaciergate”. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, the group of international scientists that
inform global environmental policy, had written a report
saying that most of the glaciers in the Himalyas could melt by
2035, but that was proved to be wildly inaccurate.

The head of the IPCC, the Indian academic Rajendra Pachauri
came under pressure to quit. In future [the] chairman will
serve just one term, and again the academics were told to be
more honest about the question marks in their research.

Back at home, David Cameron has pledged the “greenest
Government ever”, but there are limits This week the Coalition
announced it wouldn’t fund tidal power in the Severn Estuary
because the bill was too high.

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

Met vriendelijke groeten,

jo.

Dearth of the Oceans

An incomplete recording of the BBC Horizon programme “The Death of the Oceans ?” narrated by David Attenborough is below.

It’s about Global Warming, of course (and overfishing, and sonar making whales deaf – which is the bit that’s missing at the end). But it’s also about Global Warming’s evil twin – Ocean Acidification.

Believe what you will about the Anthropogenic component of Global Warming, and I know some of you resist the Science as if it were a hairy, sweaty, alcoholic dentist threatening to pull your teeth without Novocaine, but there’s no way you can deny that the increasing concentration of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, most of it a direct result of humankind’s burning of Fossil Fuels, is turning the Oceans into a giant bucket of fizzy soda, and is threatening marine life, which is a huge risk to the whole of Life on Earth.

The only solution is to stop burning so much Coal, Oil and Gas. Really, that’s the only way.

Oh, you can fight this inevitability with every brain circuit you have, trying to force others to believe that everything’s still OK, that the Earth is not dangerously heating up, that Life on Land and in the Oceans is not on the cusp of mass extinction, and that Progress is just fine, and Economic Recovery, or Shiny New Technology, or Geoengineering will save us, but one day you will understand. You will accept. The global systems of production, transport and agriculture have to change. The Carbon-based Industrial Age will be gone in only a few decades, only a couple of hundred years after it started.

You can relax. Everything will be fine – eventually. When we have Wind Farms on every ridge top, Solar Power plants in every desert, Geothermal stations in our Town Halls, Combined Heat and Power running on Biomass in every street, Marine Power-gathering machines, Organic food, small electric cars, useful 24 hours-in-a-day networks of electricity-powered public transportation. The time is coming for the new human world to be born – and it will be green, clean and less energy-hungry than before.

It’s going to be a bit of a traumatic birth and the Climate Medics are working hard in the delivery suite, but soon, very soon, Green Investment will see the light of day – those who are wealthy will, as one, put their finances towards Renewable Energy and Energy-efficient machines and Energy Demand Management, real assets, with real returns on investment, and the future will be secured.

Part 1/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4rloPBrA6w

See at top for video.

Part 2/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdn1RpqKziE

Part 3/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKPNcQyljds

Part 4/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIKOKG3L3zo

Richard Black : Reports Inconclusive

[ UPDATE : REUTERS GETS THE KEY POINT THAT RICHARD BLACK APPEARS TO HAVE MISSED : http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS253216740320100923 : “Global Warming May Have Slowed in the 1970s Due to Suddenly Cooler Oceans…the article also suggests that the cooling coincided with an unexpected influx of freshwater, most likely from melting ice, that flowed from the Arctic Ocean into the North Atlantic.” ]

Global Warming May Have Slowed in the 1970s Due to Suddenly Cooler Oceans”Richard Black seems to have been told to raise the level of uncertainty over Climate Change Science :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11391238

“23 September 2010 : Oceans divide over 1970s warming : By Richard Black : Environment correspondent, BBC News : The surfaces of the oceans went through a short period of rapid temperature change 40 years ago, scientists have found – but the cause is unknown. Top layers of Northern Hemisphere water cooled by about 0.3C; the south saw roughly the same degree of warming. Writing in the journal Nature, the team suggests that air pollution cannot be responsible for the changes, as has been suggested for mid-century cooling. They do not suggest a cause. It is not clear what could link all the oceans…”

Hang on a minute !

What does the Nature Letter actually say ?

I asked for a PDF from David W. J. Thompson, which he kindly provided :-

“…The resulting regression map reveals that the drop is reflected throughout much of the world’s ocean, but has its largest amplitude over the northern North Atlantic. The spatial concentration of the drop can also be seen in residual SST [sea surface temperatures] time series calculated for select Northern Hemisphere ocean areas; it is evident in area averages for the entire North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, but has its largest amplitude in data averaged over the northern North Atlantic, above 50 degrees N [North]. This region is marked by large exchanges of heat between the ocean and atmosphere that are considered capable of influencing hemispheric-mean temperature. The timing of the drop corresponds closely to a rapid freshening of the northern North Atlantic in the late 1960s/early 1970s (the ‘great salinity anomaly’)…”

“…The suddenness of the drop in Northern Hemisphere SSTs is reminiscent of ‘abrupt climate change’, such as has been inferred from the palaeoclimate record, but is inevitably obscured in analyses of twentieth century decadal variability based on low-pass filtered versions of the SST data…”

“…The timescale of the drop is important, because it is considerably shorter than that typically associated with either tropospheric aerosol forcing or oscillatory multidecadal SST variability. The horizontal structure of the drop is also of interest, because it indicates that the drop might reflect atmosphere–ocean interaction in the dynamically active northern North Atlantic…”

So, contrary to what Richard Black summarises, the authors are effectively suggesting a cause.

[ Citation : “An abrupt drop in Northern Hemisphere sea surface temperature around 1970”, Thompson D. W. J. et al. Letter in Nature. : doi:10.1038/nature09394 : Vol. 467, 23 September 2010 pp 444 – 447 ]

Richard Black : “Bad Boy” ?

Richard Black takes the subject of Climate Change as far away from the actual science as possible, by apparently giving in to resentment over his treatment at the hands of Joseph Romm :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/09/something_new_and_not_altogeth.html

“‘Warmist’ attack smacks of ‘sceptical’ intolerance : Richard Black | 16:42 UK time, Wednesday, 22 September 2010 : It seems that something new, and not altogether welcome, may be happening in the politicking over climate change. I have written before of the orchestrated villification that comes the way of climate scientists from some people and organisations who are unconvinced of the case for human-induced climate change – “sceptics”, “deniers”, as you wish. Journalists, including your humble correspondent, receive our fair share too. This week, for the first time, I am seeing the same pattern from their opponents. Joe Romm, the physicist-cum-government-advisor-cum-polemicist, posted a blog entry highly critical of the Arctic ice article I wrote last week. Headlined “Dreadful climate story by BBC’s Richard Black”, it takes me to task, essentially, for not mentioning human-induced climate change explicitly. He then gives my email address and invites his readers to send in complaints. Many have, perhaps swayed by judgemental terms in his post such as “spin”, “inexcusable”, and “mis-reporting”, with several citing his interpretation as gospel truth. He is as entitled to his views as anyone else. But this is, at least in my experience, the first time that “warmers” – those who, like Dr Romm, believe climate change is taking us to hell in a handcart and who lobby for more urgent action on the issue – have resorted to the internet equivalent of taking banners onto the street in an attempt to influence reporting of the issue. At least, that is the surface complaint; what my omission hides, he hints heavily, is an agenda aimed at downplaying the impacts of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions…”

What makes Richard Black, or his editor, think it’s a good use of his time to cover this matter ?

He has admitted, in my direct hearing, that he hasn’t really read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, so maybe he should start there instead of covering the A, B, C of normal BBC “environmental reporting protocol” ?

Continue reading Richard Black : “Bad Boy” ?

Rajendra Pachauri Must Stay !

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, you know, he’s like everybody’s grandfather.

Some report he’s a bit irritating, awkward, even, but that’s only when he has to respond to deliberately riling Media questions and smear campaigns.

His heart’s in the right place, he’s good at motivating people, he can see the big picture, he’s actually a very good communicator, and he’s done a lot to take the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forward.

That’s no reason for various voices in the Media to start a new round of calling for his head. “Resign !” cry the so-called “libertarian” commentators, those voices that perversely reason that if Pachauri resigns, or gets tipped out, that it will set the IPCC back five years.

What we desperately need now is stability in the organisation of the IPCC – the Fifth Assessment Report will be monumental enough without the organisation having to adapt to a new leader that needs to learn how to corral everybody into good and productive working relationships.

Continue reading Rajendra Pachauri Must Stay !

Roger Harrabin : Potentially Alarming

I have been rather, erm, critical, of Roger Harrabin’s approach to reporting the “Climate Change narrative” in the past, but I have to say, I think he has pulled up his socks somewhat with a two-part Radio 4 presentation “Uncertain Climate” :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00tj525/Uncertain_Climate_Episode_1/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00tmcz3/Uncertain_Climate_Episode_2/

But of course, the BBC has to keep people sweet, and obviously continues to “play both sides”, don’t they ? How else did Roger get to interview Steve McIntyre of the truly annoying Canadian whine (it’s not his fault, I have to add, that I find his voice unbearable) and Nigel Lawson ? And Judith Curry ?

Or maybe not. Roger Harrabin admits to a stand-up row with Al Gore. Hopefully he’s still welcome in the United States of America.

There seem to be about 50 mentions of the word “uncertainties”, and an obsession about temperature rise projections – with no focus on the melting Arctic – which is not at all uncertain as it is a demonstrable fact.

Wake up ! The Arctic’s melting !

Newsnight : Complain to the BBC

I don’t expect much from it in terms of any kind of sensible, relevant reply, but here’s my two eurocents’ worth, as loaded at :-

https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/

The BBC are undergoing a review on balance in Science reporting. They need to get Climate Change right, and that could start by one of their programme editors actually trying to understand what programmes like this do to an unprepared or semi-prepared audience.

The Newsnight audience have been left with the view that “maybe Climate Change is not so bad after all”, which is the worst take-home message they could be given.

See further down the post for e-mail traffic related to the Newsnight broadcast of 23rd August 2010.

Continue reading Newsnight : Complain to the BBC

We Just Don’t Know

Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill) appears on BBC Newsnight, the flagship British widescreen influential TV show for those who work until super-late o’clock and want to watch something serious after having a few beers, and all he can say is “we just don’t know” to the Kirsty Warkian question of whether Climate Change is (a) happening or (b) problematic.

Come on Andrew ! It’s not “too early to say” or even “too early to call”. It’s in black and white and online. It’s called the IPCC report, and has been followed by American and European government studies, and a mountain of academic research analyses which back it up : the world is warming, the reports are that change is already significant, and the prospects are risky.

There is still something that “we just don’t know” about. We just don’t know if Andrew Montford has read the Science. If he were to put his virtual nose between some of its digital pages he might well learn a thing or two. He seems fairly intelligent. So, here’s hoping.

Oh, and by the way, will he feel he has to disguise himself if he wants to come and talk to the freethinking carbonbusters at Climate Camp ? No need, Andrew. Peace-loving people will welcome you for a vegan curry over at the RBS Royal Bank of Scotland Headquarters, no worries, mate. But can you please take off the earnest brown tweed jacket ? It makes you look so much like Nicholas Stern, love.

BBC Hedges

[ YouTube Credit : The link to the video above comes thanks to the endeavours of that most fair and balanced individual James “no net global warming since 1998” Delingpole. “No net global warming since 1998” ? James ! You’re quoting Pat Michaels, but did he perhaps make that up ? Or was it something that Christopher Monckton might have made up ? ]

The BBC puts the blame on Climate Change – almost – in a report on the Russian heatwave-wildfire disaster.

But they just can’t bring themselves to admit it as an organisation – and put the claims into the mouths of others – using quotation marks in the headline (‘partly to blame’) and ascribing the opinion to “researchers”, the “UK Met Office” and “experts” :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10919460

“10 August 2010 : Climate change ‘partly to blame’ for sweltering Moscow : By Katia Moskvitch : Science reporter, BBC News : Global climate change is partly to blame for the abnormally hot and dry weather in Moscow, cloaked in a haze of smoke from wildfires, say researchers. The UK Met Office said there are likely to be more extreme high temperatures in the future. Experts from the environmental group WWF Russia have also linked climate change and hot weather to raging wildfires around the Russian capital. Meteorologists say severe conditions may linger for several more days…”

Well, I’ve got a bit of a question to pose – it might not be possible to ascribe the current weather conditions in Russia (and Pakistan and China and and and…) to Climate Change, statistically. I mean no one weather event can be said to have been caused 100% by Climate Change. But would these extreme weather events have happened without Climate Change ?

That is by far the most important question to ask, and Michael Tobis does just that :-

http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/08/moscow-doesnt-believe-in-this.html

“…Are the current events in Russia “because of” “global warming”? To put the question in slightly more formal terms, are we now looking at something that is no longer a “loading the dice” situation but is a “this would, practically certainly, not have happened without human interference” situation? Can we phrase it more formally? “Is the average time between persistent anomalies on this scale anywhere on earth in the undisturbed holocene climate much greater than a human lifetime?” In other words, is this so weird we would NEVER expect to see it at all?…”

Continue reading BBC Hedges

Hell Freezes Over : BBC Apologises

Jaw-droppingly, the BBC have apologised for the contents of a Today Programme. Not the one that caused poor, deceased Dr David Kelly so much embarrassment, God rest his soul. No, the one that featured the breaking of the “Climategate” e-mail scandal :-

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/08/bbc_apologizes_to_university_o.php

The BBC picked the wrong scandal story to run with, it appears.

The real scandal of Climategate is how the scientists’ e-mails were “liberated” from the University of East Anglia, and then annotated to give heavily biased interpretation, then released to the general public via the Internet, and how the Media were taken in.

Certain people at the BBC chose to go with the fake scandal, it seems – the narrative fabricated and dictated to them by Climate Change deniers.

Anyway, now the BBC have made an apology, of sorts. Better late than never, but all the same, it would have been better earlier rather than later.

Thankfully, despite the late apologies, this particular alleged witch-hunt didn’t end with a suspected suicide. Although it did include reports that Professor Phil Jones had, in fact, contemplated suicide; the reporting of which just added to his completely groundless public humiliation at the hands of the Press. Which they should apologise for, in my humble opinion. Just as good (old) George Monbiot had the good grace to offer some regret for :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jul/07/russell-inquiry-i-was-wrong

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7180154/Climategate-Professor-Phil-Jones-considered-suicide-over-email-scandal.html
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7017922.ece

http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/CRUstatements/rebuttalsandcorrections/johnhumphrys

“BBC apologises to University of East Anglia for “incorrect” remark”

“The BBC has apologised for an “incorrect” remark made by John Humphrys that UEA researchers had “distorted the debate about global warming to make the threat seem even more serious than they believed it to be”.”

Continue reading Hell Freezes Over : BBC Apologises

“Kill Kill Kill This”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TINzvWrtjYI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyutuErxPo8

Carol Browner, Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy in the United States of America, has been all over the Media, announcing the policy to “kill kill kill this” BP nightmare story, telling the world that a turning milestone point has been reached :-

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/PDFs/OilBudget_description_%2083final.pdf

Have they decided that BP have been punished enough now for the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher, and the reputation of the company needs to be rehabilitated sharply in order to protect the Economy ?

I made the mistake of taking in a BBC TV news bulletin on the matter. I heard several talking heads say it’s “good news” that roughly three quarters of the accountable oil from the spill has “disappeared” :-


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10870159

Breaking this story is “good news” for the stability of pension funds, maybe. But what is the real extent of the real damage to the real world, the world of oceans and fish and plankton ? Will the world be watching as the researchers scavenge data and clues to the marine ecotastrophe that is still unfolding ?

Continue reading “Kill Kill Kill This”

Dutchwash

In a scandal taking in virtually the entire mainstream Media, hordes of public commentators and powerful opinion-formers, and multitudes of social discussions at watercoolers, school gates, corridor junctions and dinner parties, a pack of Climate Change self-styled “sceptics” have run rampant, roughshod over Climatological Science, unhearing fingers jammed in their ears, baying for the blood of researchers over non-errors in the United Nations reports on Global Warming.

Now of course, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has cleared the Science of all wrong-thinking, and naturally enough, the pseudo-scandaleers have retorted with foul cries of cover-up. As an example of the Media infection/infarction – note how different the following two newspaper articles are about the non-scandal non-whitewash report everyone’s not calling “Dutchwash !”.

(1) Daily Telegraph

This report is rather confused, I find. The journalist, or their editor, do not seem to have a full handle on what is accurate and what is assertion :-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7872791/IPCC-climate-change-report-played-down-positive-impacts.html

(2) The Guardian

I think more balanced – but a bit frayed at the edges :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/05/dutch-support-ipcc

Are they deliberately taking “sides” on this ? Creating an artificial “debate” ?

Summary : a few minor adjustments would have made the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report better, but there’s no need to change the report conclusions.

In other words – strong concern (not destabilising alarm) about the risks of dangerous Climate Change is an appropriate reaction.

How can Society express greater, now properly validated, concern about Climate Change without it degenerating into outright panic ?

And is Richard Black at the BBC, surprisingly, pleasingly, pitching it about right in his appraisal of “Dutchwash” ?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10506283.stm

The Merchantess of Doubt

My summer reading includes a number of easy-read popular science volumes, including a thoughful, factful and scholarly work called “Merchants of Doubt” co-written by Naomi Oreskes, famous for her study of the contrast between Climate Change Science and the Media representation of it, startling figures that appear in Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” :-

http://pandeliterary.com/authors/naomi-oreskes/

http://marketplace.publicradio.org/features/moving-by-degrees/bios/oreskes.html

One passage, early in the book, has highlighted for me that the mainstream Media have completely forgotten the lessons of yesteryear.

Continue reading The Merchantess of Doubt

Scientists Advised To Avoid Media

Following the BBC Panorama “investigation” into Climategate, broadcast yesterday evening, scientists are being advised not to be interviewed alongside Climate Change sceptics and deniers.

“It was extremely ill-advised for Bob Watson to agree to appear in the same programme as Bjorn Lomborg” was one opinion voiced, “it creates the illusion that Bjorn Lomborg might be right. Whereas, of course, he is not.”

Bob Watson was effectively tricked. He was asked to give an authoritative opinion, which was then presented side by side with the views of the discredited Bjorn Lomborg and John Christy.

As for Bob Ward, he should never, ever have agreed to appear alongside Bjorn Lomborg. He should have realised he could not get his message across properly.

Continue reading Scientists Advised To Avoid Media

BBC Panorama on Climategate

The BBC risk ending up with yet more egg on its face after broadcasting a Panorama “investigation” with more errors than you can shake a pepper grinder at at :-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/default.stm

But it’s worse than merely embarrassing.

Entitled “How ‘climate-gate’ turned nasty”, it was a genuinely nasty piece of work in my view, showing images out of place, endorsing the work of non-experts, overlaying poor and inaccurate narration and editing interview comments inappropriately.

I feel that some of the mistakes made by the reporter, Tom Heap, were laughable.

I will mention just one thing here, out of all those that riled me. Several times during the programme, the “reporter” mentioned that Renewable Energy was expensive. At one point the film showed an offshore wind turbine and said that the electricity produced by wind power was three times more expensive than conventional sources.

He did not mention that the price of onshore wind power is comparable in price to fossil fuel generation but blocked by recalcitrant Planning authorities.

He didn’t mention that it is to be expected that Wind Power will be somewhat expensive at present – the investment phase in the new infrastructure is still ongoing.

He neglected to mention the high levels of return on investment, and solid asset base with continuing value, that a fully operational Wind Power network would provide, as outlined by the Offshore Valuation study :-

http://www.offshorevaluation.org

And he also neglected to mention that ongoing research and developing into Wind Power is dragging the prices down.

From this, I take it that the BBC can clearly not be trusted to provide accurate and complete information on the development of Renewable Energy.

As for the Science, I’ll probably get round to digging into this mess at some point, but one thing needs to be emphasised here : the views of John Christy and Bjoern Lomborg (a non-scientist) are at the very end of the spectrum.

Bjorn Lomborg’s work has been discredited, and he cannot be trusted in my view :-

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/06/the_lomborg_deception_1.php

John Christy has had to retract some of his scientific claims :-

http://climateprogress.org/2008/05/22/should-you-believe-anything-john-christy-or-roy-spencer-say/

They are in no way representative of the main caucus of Climate Change Science, and I feel it is extremely poor of the BBC to allow its viewers to be propagandised into believing that there is a serious debate about how significant and serious Climate Change is.

There isn’t. The governments of the world have invested public money in trying to find out the problems that could arise from Global Warming and the Climate Change it can cause, and the results are that we are at serious risk.

I think it is immoral and unethical to leave Panorama viewers with the idea that Climate Change might not be happening, or might not constitute a major threat to their way of life and the lives of those they care about.

In summary, I think the BBC cannot be trusted to relay Climate Change Science to us.

This bumbling attempt to cover all bases as if they were all relevant is going to confuse the public even more than they are already. The BBC is therefore complicit in mass deception, according to my analysis.

Oh, and Tom Heap, people breathing out Carbon Dioxide doesn’t add to the sum total of Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere – it merely recycles it. On the other hand, digging up Fossil Fuels from the ground and burning them, they do increase the amount of Carbon Dioxide in the air. How little you know about the basic science. You are in my humble opinion entirely unqualified to broadcast on Climate Change.

Once again, the Media have failed to communicate the facts.

Roger Harrabin : Two Degrees Short Of Accuracy

A journalist with a history of Climate Change scepticism writes an opinion piece for a poplular science magazine. The result ? The propagation of error.

Now, I have spoken to Richard Black at the BBC and offered to try to be more conciliatory towards Roger Harrabin in future, but I can’t let this one pass me by.

Here he is, writing in New Scientist, about his trip to the Heartland Climate Change sceptics conference :-

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627645.300-take-the-political-heat-out-of-climate-scepticism.html

There are some statements of unquantifiable waffliness, and some dubious conclusions, but the one sentence that stood out for me as pernicious enough to comment on was this one :-

“Most [sceptics] agree with the scientific consensus that basic physics means [Carbon Dioxide] CO2 will warm the planet by about 1 degree C above pre-industrial levels.”

It is to be welcomed that Climate Change sceptics are finally beginning to accept that the world is warming, and that mankind’s activities are the majority factor.

What I don’t like is Roger Harrabin’s assertion that the “consensus” on Global Warming is that the planet will warm by “about 1 degree”.

Continue reading Roger Harrabin : Two Degrees Short Of Accuracy

Sceptic Backlash : Questions Answered

Last Wednesday’s “Sceptic Backlash” meeting ended with a lively Question and Answer session. Here it is as I recorded it :-

http://www.campaigncc.org/scepticsmeeting


Q. (from Christian Hunt, a plant in the audience from Greenpeace)

– You say it’s just the journalists who are the sceptics. What happens if another Government comes in and scepticism gets political footholds ? [ reference to Conservative Party Climate Change sceptics ]

A. (Phil Thornhill, Campaign against Climate Change)

– People shy away from the problem if they can’t find solutions. We propose a million Climate jobs – there are lots of ways of dealing with the crisis. That’s the kind of thing we should be emphasising.

Q. Andrew Neill interviewed Caroline Lucas and asked her about the Phil Jones interview with the BBC where he said there had been no “statistically significant” warming in the last 15 years. Has there been no statistically significant warming or not ? Why wouldn’t Caroline Lucas, head of the Green Party, say “you’re wrong” ?

A. (Phil)

– I wrote her a rather long e-mail. You can’t really debate Science in the popular Media. Most people don’t understand.

– The tip for answering this kind of question is – in 15 years, it’s hard to spot a trend against the background noise. It’s a difficult thing to explain.

– It’ a clear case of how once you start debating the Science it gets twisted. She should have said “this is a typical case of the misrepresentation of Science”.

A. (Ben Stewart, Greenpeace Media)

– She was fine to say “I’ll take a pass on that”.

Continue reading Sceptic Backlash : Questions Answered

The Media Cannot Be Trusted

When the BBC’s Roger Harrabin arranged a set of questions recently for Phil Jones, the unjustly smeared head of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA), I just wish he had asked for advice from an expert on countering Climate Change denier tactics before answering :-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8511670.stm

The questions made my Public Relations nerves twitch with embarrassment for Phil Jones. The trajectory of events was entirely predictable.

A friend or colleague with experience of having to face down the Climate Change deniers would have strongly advised Phil Jones to answer the questions with extreme care, especially the first one, and demand that anyone who quoted his answer quote him in full, in context.

Continue reading The Media Cannot Be Trusted

The BBC Reviews Its Trust

The BBC Trust are to review the BBC’s treatment of Science in the BBC Media. I can’t say for sure whether that’s going to result in anything helpful or not, since it’s going to be effectively an “internal inquiry”. Their quest for objectivity may end up in compromise and playing to the heckling balconies :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/06/bbc-trust-science-impartiality-review

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/6941616/BBC-to-launch-review-into-allegations-of-bias-in-its-science-coverage.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1241209/BBC-probes-bias-science-coverage.html

Continue reading The BBC Reviews Its Trust