Is something ailing The Register’s Lewis Page ? Despite having access to the text of a recent research paper about the Sun’s recent output, and its short-term impact on surface temperatures on Earth, and having had plenty of time to read plain English reviews of the paper’s findings in everyday language, he still writes it up poorly (in my humble opinion). Could this be due to internal bias, I ask myself ? Or is Lewis Page being wilfully contrarian ? Who can say ?
[ UPDATE : MARTIN ROBBINS, WRITING IN THE GUARDIAN, SUMS UP THE PARLOUS STATE OF SCIENCE JOURNALISM BRILLIANTLY…BY PARODY : http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2010/sep/24/1?showallcomments=true : “This is a news website article about a scientific paper” ]
Predictably, sadly, Niall Firth writing for the Daily Mail, appears to have read a press briefing from Nigel Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, and proceeds to repeat errors :-
“Royal Society issues new climate change guide that admits there are ‘uncertainties’ about the science : By NIALL FIRTH : 30th September 2010…”
First up, the reporter documents the false claim that the Royal Society was “forced” to make changes to its public guidance on Climate Change science because of the views of the sceptic-deniers. Nothing could be more flimsy an assertion :-
“…The UK’s leading scientific body has been forced to rewrite its guide on climate change and admit that it is not known how much warmer the Earth will become. The Royal Society has updated its guide after 43 of its members complained that the previous version failed to take into account the opinion of climate change sceptics…”
Well, actually, the reason the Royal Society has been persuaded to issue new Climate Change guidance is because people (including Niall Firth, apparently) do not appear to have understood the science of Climate Change, as they have been listening to the inaccuracies put forward by the sceptic-deniers.
The Royal Society today publishes its latest layman’s summary of Climate Change, and thankfully manages to avoid several representational pitfalls that sceptic-deniers could have leapt on and said “See ! We told you !”
Unfortunately, to my mind, it still has a few chinks in the door that should have slammed shut and permanently sealed off the sceptic-denier “contributions” on the subject.
Let’s look at the Royal Society narrative of progress by degrees, for example.
In section 28, “Aspects of climate change on which there is wide agreement : Climate forcing by greenhouse gas changes”, it reads :-
“…Application of established physical principles shows that, even in the absence of processes that amplify or reduce climate change […], the climate sensitivity would be around 1 degree C, for a doubling of CO2 [Carbon Dioxide] concentrations [in the atmosphere]…”
The related material in section 36, “Aspects of climate change where there is a wide consensus but continuing debate and discussion : Climate sensitivity”, goes on to talk about how global warming causes changes in the hydrological cycle, and how water vapour builds up in the atmosphere because of global warming, leading to further global warming :-
“…The more complex climate models, supported by observations, allow climate sensitivity to be calculated in the presence of processes that amplify or reduce the size of the climate response. Increases in water vapour alone, in response to warming, are estimated to approximately double the climate sensitivity from its value in the absence of amplifying processes. There nevertheless remain uncertainties in how much water vapour amounts will change, and how these changes will be distributed in the atmosphere, in response to a warming. Climate models indicate that the overall climate sensitivity (for a hypothetical doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere) is likely to lie in the range 2 degrees C to 4.5 degrees C; this range is mainly due to the difficulties in simulating the overall effect of the response of clouds to climate change mentioned earlier…”
Here follows an extract of a conversation I have had with members of the Claverton Energy Research Forum, which I have cut-and-paste into a more easy-to-read fashion below the fold :-
As you can see, there are Climate Change sceptic-deniers everywhere, even in the most knowledgeable and respectable circles.
Countering Climate Change denial from so-called “sceptics” takes a lot of time and energy, and is a bump-in-the-road nuisance/irritation distraction from the main priority for human civilisation, which is how to stop being addicted to Fossil Fuels.
I would like to bring before the court of public opinion some evidence that indicates that the leadership at The Guardian newspaper could be said to have become partially intellectually bankrupt.
Simon Hoggart pronounces on Climate Change Science despite not knowing a thing about it. I do not understand how this piece of writing was published, as it contains a number of inaccuracies.
Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) is staying put.
He’s come out loud and proud, defending himself, his Science and his institution, and he’s being backed up by his boss, too :-
Meanwhile…the Scientific American magazine uncovers a genuine cover-up in Climate Science :-
“Nov 24, 2009 : Climate change cover-up? You better believe it : By David Biello…”
Far be it from me to comment on a matter under criminal investigation… Oh, OK then, I will.
As some readers of this post will know, some time in the recent past, a person or persons unknown allegedly took some files from a computer server belonging to the CRU, the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
They may have been “hackers”, “stealing” the files. They may have fabricated them. That is a matter for the Police and authorities yet to decide. The files may have been taken/invented last week : another fact open to investigation.
These alleged files allegedly contained information and e-mails pertaining to work by Climate Change scientists spanning a number of years.
A huge round of applause for Kevin Rudd, Australia’s Prime Minister, for lambasting, basting and roasting the Climate Change deniers :-
When is Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister going to appear on TV and tell it to us straight ?
Climate Change is real, and it’s happening now, and the sceptics, deniers, delayers and cynics are all wrong. And somebody with some kind of respect needs to be saying that, regularly, with backup, in all the media channels.
It’s time that scepticism, denialism, delayism and cynicism were ruled out of order.
“Established science is excluded from account”
It appears to me from the following blog post :-
that Richard Black is either (a) entirely ignorant of the relevant science or is (b) deliberately not including the relevant science.
He does not include the well-known counterpoints to Piers Corbyn’s theories on Global Warming.
He poses a challenge to Climate Change scientists that has already been answered in the literature.
In his web log of 30th October 2009, Richard Black issues a challenge :-
Magnetic attraction of climate ‘scepticism’
Friday, 30 October 2009
There’s been interest on this blog and elsewhere about a meeting organised on Wednesday by Piers Corbyn, the independent UK weather forecaster who argues that the sources of modern-day climate change lie in magnetic interactions around the Earth rather than greenhouse gas emissions on it.
So – a genie to your Aladdin, though emphatically not all-powerful – I thought I’d go along.
Held at Imperial College London – Mr Corbyn’s alma mater – the meeting featured presentations from Northern Ireland’s famously “climate-sceptical” environment minister Sammy Wilson, botanist and ex-BBC TV nature presenter David Bellamy, and a handful of academics – as well as from Mr Corbyn himself.
To: Richard Black, BBC
It is with relief (but not triumph) that I can announce to you the end of Climate Change “scepticism”.
The new Canadian publication “Climate Cover-Up”, by James Hoggan, points the finger fairly and squarely at vested corporate interests in the continuing saga of Global Warming denial and delaying tactics, both in North America and in the United Kingdom.
He has collated evidence showing that the contrarians have an agenda to confuse and disinform the public, and that the Media have just gone along with this. Probably because editors don’t know any better. Possibly because journalists are too lazy or busy to learn the science.
The Science of Climate Change couldn’t be clearer, the agreement between specialists and experts in the field couldn’t be closer; Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” couldn’t be more accurate, and has been vindicated by numerous proxies.
Kevin Grandia of DeSmogBlog in Canada, kindly sent me a copy of the new publication “Climate Cover-Up” for review last week, which plopped through my letterbox, postal strike notwithstanding, on Tuesday.
It took me until yesterday evening to read the whole of James Hoggan’s book in snatches on the train and Tube, and it contained information about Climate Change denial that made my hair curl.
Everyone should read this book.
Here’s a round-up of some of the published opinion regarding the new Superfreakonomics book (since the last time I weblogged about it) [ UPDATE : adding a few more links at the end. ] :-
“An open letter to Steve Levitt : raypierre @ 29 October 2009 : Dear Mr. Levitt, The problem of global warming is so big that solving it will require creative thinking from many disciplines. Economists have much to contribute to this effort, particularly with regard to the question of how various means of putting a price on carbon emissions may alter human behavior. Some of the lines of thinking in your first book, Freakonomics, could well have had a bearing on this issue, if brought to bear on the carbon emissions problem. I have very much enjoyed and benefited from the growing collaborations between Geosciences and the Economics department here at the University of Chicago, and had hoped someday to have the pleasure of making your acquaintance. It is more in disappointment than anger that I am writing to you now.”
I must say, the Daily Telegraph gets top marks for loyalty.
On the occasion of the publication of a book based on Global Warming myths and mendacities, by Christopher Booker, the author himself gets a huge chunk of online column to promote himself, his views and his opus, without the shred of a question about a possible conflict of interest :-
So Climate Change scepticism is not only a legitimate position to hold, it’s a bag of laughs, a jolly jape, a wheeze and a pile of fun. Well, that’s according to Clive James writing on the BBC Online :-
“Friday, 23 October 2009 : In praise of scepticism : Claims over global warming are not accepted by all : A POINT OF VIEW : In a light-hearted essay, Clive James takes a look at Montaigne, golf-ball crisps and our attitude towards climate change sceptics…”
Yes, it’s all erudite : in terms of philosophy it’s even quite appropriate to apply scepticism to various branches of science…I’m thinking social sciences…But not to Climate Change Science.
Empirical science, as you all know by now, is the study of things natural, taking measurements, postulating mechanisms and predicting the results of further observations, against which the theory is evaluated.
From this piece from Mr laugh-a-minute James, I would posit a theory : that Clive writes poorly-informed opinion pieces about Science.
Compare and contrast the perfectly reasonably statements from Gordon Brown against the fearmongering of Christopher Monckton :-
If Climate Change takes a “One World Government” to solve it, I say “bring it on” ! (And can we have Gordon Brown as the President ?)
The Competitive Enterprise Institute in the United States of America wants to save the bottled water market.
It also wants to try to convince people that Climate Change policy is bad news, against Freedom, and based on fear.
There will be a new film, charmingly entitled “Climate Chains” with a whole new palette of Climate Change denial and policy refusal arguments, so it would be well worth watching it when it comes out, to help us work out how to nip these myths in the bud.
Following in the wake of the rabidly successful crowd-funded “Age of Stupid” film, the Climate Change deniers hit back with a little film of their own.
By some fluke of irony, just like the film that was entitled “The Great Global Warming Swindle”, which was a swindle, this film calls itself “Not Evil, Just Wrong” :-
“They want to CLOSE OUR FACTORIES” ? I’ve got news for you, sunshine. You don’t own the factories. The factories are owned by the big, rich people.
Last year I complained to Roger Harrabin of the BBC by electronic mail regarding what I considered to be an unhelpful headline to an online article concerned with Global Warming. I also criticised the way that part of the article was written, as it had the potential to be misinterpreted.
Some of the people who read this web log who are in personal communication with me will know what happened next, but I’m not going to go over it again at this juncture, suffice it to say that a person or persons unknown reported the electronic mail exchange to a group of people who self-style as “Climate Change sceptics”, after which I found myself curiously infamous, and found it best to lie low for a while.
Even after this furore, why do we continue to see horrible headlines ?
***************** College, University of ****************
MSc ******************************* programme
Year : 1 : Course Module : Climate Change
Reading Task : 6th October 2009
Read : Michaels, P.J. (2009) : “Global Warming and Climate Change”.
In : Cato Handbook for Policymakers (ed. D. Boaz, 7th edition). Cato Institute, p. 475-485.
Available from :-
1) How does he explain the observed periods of warming in the IPCC record?
Michaels states : “human activity has been a contributor since 1975.”
After a week of parry and counter-riposte, it is time to shout “en garde” to the editors at the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
In a peaceful way. Without swords.
In answer to one of my many raging, almost apoplectic, detractors, I have written this.
Since I believe that sceptics can be people, too, I’m going to respond to you, even though I think you’re being unfactual, and I feel you’re being unreasonable.
Some of the science that needs to be presented is the psychology of denial.
People who deny the science of Global Warming do so because they don’t want their life, wealth and freedom to be interfered with.
They feel they deserve liberty. But anybody who lives in any kind of community, especially in an urban environment, is not free at all, and never can be.
Whenever I am in the Westminster area of London, I try to make time to go and sit awhile with Brian Haw at his Peace Camp opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The juxtaposition of ragged ad hoc unspun protest shrine facing the ornate Gothic seat of power carries an enormous significance, not only for me, but thousands of activists and tourists and peaceloving citizens.
Brian must be the most photographed and sought-after person in London. He is an icon, alongside Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace.