BBC : Craven Power Muddle

Once again, the BBC has allowed to pass unchallenged the impression that green power policy and renewable energy investment are behind the dramatic rise in British domestic energy prices.

Disappointingly, this has come from John Craven, whose accuracy is renowned.

However, on this occasion, he has allowed a blooper meme to consolidate in the public mind.

Here’s how Countryfile went yesterday evening :-

[ Countryfile, BBC One, 16 October 2011, 18:25. Part way through recording, starting at approximately 20 minutes 32 seconds. ]

[ Ellie Harrison ] Earlier in the programme we were looking at the expected huge rise in wind power across the UK. But in the race to create more of our energy this way, who will win and who is set to lose out ? Here’s John again.

[ John Craven ] Earlier, I discovered how the plan to put wind power at the heart of our future energy supply is creating a building boom in wind farms, both on land and out at sea. With billions being poured into wind power, and with it being at the centre of the Government’s strategy on renewables, the future seems certain. So who will the losers and winners be in this wind revolution ? The most obvious winner is the environment as less fossil fuels are burnt. But who else benefits ? Well, another clear winner is big business. Companies building the wind farms get a generous price for the electricity they produce. […]

Continue reading BBC : Craven Power Muddle

War in the Media

Some people may wonder why this YouTube starts halfway through a panel discussion from the Rebellious Media Conference at the weekend.

I certainly did. So I dug deep down in my appallingly scratchy notes and typed up a paraphrase of what Mark Curtis had said – the first speaker on the panel.

Warning – it’s not verbatim – it is interpolated from my illegible handwriting.

“War and the Media” : Panel Discussion : Rebellious Media Conference
8 – 9 October 2011 : Mark Curtis, Greg Philo, John Pilger
[Comments from Mark Curtis roughly reconstructed from jotted notes]

[…Tests the audience’s general knowledge about the world’s longest serving dictators…] It’s “Our Man in Oman”, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said.

We don’t hear much about Oman. Why is that ? Let’s make two assumptions, first, that journalists can read, and second that they are following government sources.

For the UK Government, foreign policy is increasingly about oil. UK has been developing relationships with the Gulf States. There is a policy of deepening support for the most undemocratic states in the region.

Britain continues to project military power. You can see this in a hundred years of UK foreign policy – just read a few speeches.

This is not what we are being told in the media. Was this a war for oil ? Is the Pope a Catholic ?

In the media, the view [expressed] is that Britain is about supporting democracy in the Middle East.

This country has two special relationships. The special relationship with the United States [of America] is about consumerism and investment.

The other special relationship is much less [publicly] known [communicated]. Saudi Arabia since 1973 […]

A problem – Saudi Arabia is funding radical Islam.

And when Cameron […] in Bahrain…I wonder what they were talking about ?

When Britain provides arms, the media reports that it contradicts our policy of promoting democracy – to maintain them in power. We don’t have a policy of upholding democracy. They are our allies. We don’t want them to fall.

Continue reading War in the Media

Adam Curtis : Chaotically Unstable

I’m looking quizzical, rubbing my chin. Adam Curtis appears to have lost control of his mind, or at the very least, is showing signs of unhealthy self contradiction. Where are the checks and balances ?

At the start of Part 2 of “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace”, he unpicks, and, I would suggest, stamps on, the idea that ecosystems are networks of feedback loops, tending to re-balance. And then at the end of the same presentation, he asserts that human revolutions fail, and society folds in on itself and returns to the state of power and control it was in before. Now which is it to be, Adam Curtis ? Self-correcting stability or non-correcting ebbs, flows and shifting sands ?

Continue reading Adam Curtis : Chaotically Unstable

Met Office Reports : Media Opinion Differs

Image Credit : Hobos 4 Life

Oo, it’s so hard knowing which version of reality to plump for, if you have to judge by the headlines alone.

These articles were published on the same day, based on the same report from the Meteorological Office, in different high quality newspapers :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/nov/26/global-warming-met-office

“World is warming quicker than thought in past decade, says Met Office : Report comes as scientists predict 2010 could be hottest year on record : Damian Carrington, The Guardian, Friday 26 November 2010 : The world warmed more rapidly than previously thought over the past decade, according to a Met Office report published today, which finds the evidence for man-made climate change has grown even stronger over the last year…”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8159991/Global-warming-has-slowed-because-of-pollution.html

“Global warming has slowed because of pollution : Global warming has slowed in the last decade, according to the Met Office, as the world pumps out so much pollution it is reflecting the sun’s rays and causing a cooling effect. By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent, 26 Nov 2010 : The latest figures from more than 20 scientific institutions around the world show that global temperatures are higher than ever. However the gradual rise in temperatures over the last 30 years is slowing slightly. Global warming since the 1970s has been 0.16C (0.3F) but the rise in the last decade was just 0.05C (0.09F), according to the Met Office. Sceptics claim this as evidence man made global warming is a myth…”

I think I’ll go with Damian Carrington’s version, because at least he mentions more than one possible reason for why Global Warming hasn’t been accelerating as much in the last decade as the ones immediately prior.

Despite the slow down in acceleration, the temperatures are still rising, so there’s no need to use the word “cooling” in Louise Gray’s sub-heading.

And there’s no reason at all for Louise to mention the anti-science so-called “sceptics”, who are actually deniers. They would deny the Moon was made of rock, if they could manipulate the tiniest piece of evidence, or twist the most innocent of words, to make it appear that there were uncertainties about the exact composition of the samples taken from Earth’s satellite by the NASA astronauts.

There is still an outside probability that the Moon could be made of cheese, folks, according to the type of argument put forward by the sceptic-deniers.

But as we all know, that’s impossible, because the Moon landings were faked, and in fact, the Moon is only painted onto the sky dome, as it isn’t actually there any more as it was removed during an undocumented altercation between nuclear states some time in the 1990s.

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

What a Disaster !

Apparently, there’s no link between mounting insurance losses from natural disasters and manmade Climate Change :-

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/study-finds-no-link-tying-disaster-losses-to-human-driven-warming/

Well, that’s alright then, I can just forget all about Global Warming and go and focus on something more important instead.

Thanks Andy Revkin for lightening my load, and releasing oceans of deep joy into my life :-

Continue reading What a Disaster !

Make Me a Model

Statistical analysis of the raw data on Global Warming suffers from two major pitfalls :-

1. You are looking at the combined effects from several causative sources. Unless you have the means to distinguish the various factors, you cannot apply statistical techniques to the data and expect to get anything truly meaningful out. All that can be said, at best, is, “The Globe. Still Warming.”, as the warming trend over a long enough period of time has managed to stand out over the short-term variations.

2. Looking at the data purely by eye, some of the warming or cooling effects are clearly short-term, others longer-term; so picking a range of years/months/seasons at random, or according to some bias, is likely to distort the analysis. This is known as “cherry-picking”. The results of cherry-picking include the fallacious and discredited claim that, “Global Warming stopped in 1998”, or the much more crafty and misleading, “There has been no statistically significant Global Warming since 1998”.

Some researchers are content just to point to the overall effect of the raw data – global temperatures on land and at sea are rising sharply and the charts should be sufficient to understand the basic problem.

However, some people still contest that Global Warming is taking place, or that if it is, it isn’t serious. This then, is the cue to do an in-depth analysis into the known factors in global temperatures, and to attempt to “deduct” obvious short-term warming and cooling features in order to eyeball the underlying trends :-

Continue reading Make Me a Model

Unqualified Opinion (1) : Dan Gardner

There are several journalists out there who simply can’t cope with the real risks posed by dangerous Climate Change.

Following a rather reasonable, rational article by Louise Grey, Tom Chivers gave the “loaded dice” metaphor to straighten her up on language :-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/7937269/Pakistan-floods-Climate-change-experts-say-global-warming-could-be-the-cause.html

“Pakistan floods: Climate change experts say global warming could be the cause : The world weather crisis that is causing floods in Pakistan, wildfires in Russia and landslides in China is evidence that global warming predictions are correct, according to climate change experts. : By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent : Published: 10 Aug 2010 : Almost 14 million people have been affected by the torrential rains in Pakistan, making it a more serious humanitarian disaster than the South Asian tsunami and recent earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti combined. The disaster was driven by a ‘supercharged jet stream’ that has also caused floods in China and a prolonged heatwave in Russia. It comes after flash floods in France and Eastern Europe killed more than 30 people over the summer. Experts from the United Nations (UN) and universities around the world said the recent “extreme weather events” prove global warming is already happening. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-president of the body set up by the UN to monitor global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the ‘dramatic’ weather patterns are consistent with changes in the climate caused by mankind. “These are events which reproduce and intensify in a climate disturbed by greenhouse gas pollution,” he said. “Extreme events are one of the ways in which climatic changes become dramatically visible.”…”

Continue reading Unqualified Opinion (1) : Dan Gardner

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

Fiona Harvey : Whoops, Cat !

Now, I’ve met Fiona Harvey, and she gives the general impression of being a reasonable woman, with her own mind, smart, knowledgeable and pragmatic.

What she writes about is Environment in general, but she takes in Policy, Politics, Economics and Science, and her output is normally balanced, accurate, and free from interference from propaganda and propagandists. Well-rounded, I’d say. Informative and straight.

So how come she’s writing a Financial Times article with quotations from extreme Climate Change sceptics and deniers ?

I suspect a heavy editorial hand :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6d1fd25c-9a69-11df-87fd-00144feab49a,dwp_uuid=728a07a0-53bc-11db-8a2a-0000779e2340.html

“Research says climate change undeniable : By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent, Published: July 28 2010”

Continue reading Fiona Harvey : Whoops, Cat !

Judith Curry : Credibility Seppuku ?

Dr Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, should read up a little on the history of anti-science, its methods, its proponents and its arguments, before throwing in her lot with the anti-science people of today : Steve McIntyre and his buddies.

To demonstrate that anti-science arguments are nothing new, she should try to work out what science the following excerpt is about, and when the events it describes took place :-

Continue reading Judith Curry : Credibility Seppuku ?

Tim Holmes : Wrong on Balance

PLEASE IGNORE ANY ADVERTISEMENT THAT MAY PLAY AT THE START OF THIS VIDEO. Video Credit : The Guardian

At risk of tumbling after The Guardian newspaper journalists into a deep dark rabbit hole of possible intellectual compromise falls young Tim Holmes, who attended the Guardian’s “some parts of the debate have been edited out for legal reasons” Climategate event on 14th July 2010 :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2010/jul/15/climategate-guardian-debate

What on Earth were The Guardian thinking, inviting Steve McIntyre and Doug Keenan to share a platform with Professors Trevor Davies and Bob Waston at a public meeting ?

Don’t The Guardian know that the general public have had their views so seriously warped by the Climate Change sceptic-deniers that no serious, open discussion/debate would be possible ? All you seem to get from sceptic-deniers is hot-and-cold insults, sniping and over-detailed analysis of minuscule slithers of Science. Their position is rock-solid anti-Science, from my analysis. There is nothing to be gained from talking to them in my opinion.

Continue reading Tim Holmes : Wrong on Balance

The New Media-Free Phil Jones

The scandal of the Media puff-and-guff affair known as Climategate looks set to have one lasting effect – extreme reticence to talk to the Press on the part of Climate Change Scientists.

Stolen and maliciously-interpreted electronic mail did not betray corruption at Ivory Climate Science Towers; nor provide evidence of professional misconduct; nor give wings to the narrative that the world’s scientific academies were all in cahoots to deceive, fabricate or create any kind of unwarranted slant on Climate Change.

I wrote to the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) to convey my felicitations that Professor Phil Jones has been fully reinstated with no dishonour after his token “stepping aside” as the Climategate invective heatwave started rolling off the (virtual) printing presses.

Continue reading The New Media-Free Phil Jones

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

Fred Pearce : Scorned Again

I’m sorry to say that my general opinion of Fred Pearce’s work has taken a sharp tumble. I found his latest New Scientist piece disappointing, and for me he has continued to be uninspiring today in The Observer newspaper, Sunday sister to The Guardian :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/04/climatechange-hacked-emails-muir-russell

“Climategate was ‘a game-changer’ in science reporting, say climatologists : After the hacked emails scandal scientists became ‘more upfront, open and explicit about their uncertainties’ : Fred Pearce : Sunday 4 July 2010”

His style is robustly “journalistic” and suffers from a basket of semantic fuzziness, but I’m just going to highlight a few phrases and words here.

Continue reading Fred Pearce : Scorned Again

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